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Lives of Girls Who Became Famous Sarah Knowles Bolton

Elizabeth Fry

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After her marriage she guided her children rather than attempt "to break their wills," and lived to see happy results from the good sense and Christian principle involved in such guiding. In her prison work she used the least possible governing, winning control by kindness and gentleness.

Elizabeth grew to young womanhood, with pleasing manners, slight and graceful in body, with a profusion of soft flaxen hair, and a bright, intelligent face. Her mind was quick, penetrating, and original. She was a skilful rider on horseback, and made a fine impression in her scarlet riding-habit, for, while her family were Quakers, they did not adopt the gray dress.

She was attractive in society and much admired. She writes in her journal: "Company at dinner; I must beware of not being a flirt, it is an abominable character; I hope I shall never be one, and yet I fear I am one now a little.... I think I am by degrees losing many excellent qualities. I lay it to my great love of gayety, and the world.... I am now seventeen, and if some kind and great circumstance does not happen to me, I shall have my talents devoured by moth and rust. They will lose their brightness, and one day they will prove a curse instead of a blessing."

Before she was eighteen, William Savery, an American friend, came to England to spend two years in the British Isles, preaching. The seven beautiful Gurney sisters went to hear him, and sat on the front seat, Elizabeth, "with her smart boots, purple, laced with scarlet."

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As the preacher proceeded, she was greatly moved, weeping during the service, and nearly all the way home. She had been thrown much among those who were Deists in thought, and this gospel-message seemed a revelation to her.

The next morning Mr. Savery came to Earlham Hall to breakfast. "From this day," say her daughters, in their interesting memoir of their mother, "her love of pleasure and the world seemed gone." She, herself, said, in her last illness, "Since my heart was touched, at the age of seventeen, I believe I never have awakened from sleep, in sickness or in health, by day or by night, without my first waking thought being, how best I might serve my Lord."

Soon after she visited London, that she might, as she said, "try all things" and choose for herself what appeared to her "to be good." She wrote:

"I went to Drury Lane in the evening. I must own I was extremely disappointed; to be sure, the house is grand and dazzling; but I had no other feeling whilst there than that of wishing it over.... I called on Mrs. Siddons, who was not at home; then on Mrs. Twiss, who gave me some paint for the evening. I was painted a little, I had my hair dressed, and did look pretty for me."

On her return to Earlham Hall she found that the London pleasure had not been satisfying. She says, "I wholly gave up on my own ground, attending all places of public amusement; I saw they tended to promote evil; therefore, if I could attend them without being hurt myself, I felt in entering them I lent my aid to promote that which I was sure from what I saw hurt others."

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Lives of Girls Who Became Famous
Sarah Knowles Bolton

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