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Lives of Girls Who Became Famous Sarah Knowles Bolton

Elizabeth Fry

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She was also much exercised about dancing, thinking, while "in a family, it may be of use by the bodily exercise," that "the more the pleasures of life are given up, the less we love the world, and our hearts will be set upon better things."

The heretofore fashionable young girl began to visit the poor and the sick in the neighborhood, and at last decided to open a school for poor children. Only one boy came at first; but soon she had seventy. She lost none of her good cheer and charming manner, but rather grew more charming. She cultivated her mind as well, reading logic,--Watts on Judgment, Lavater, etc.

The rules of life which she wrote for herself at eighteen are worth copying: "First,--Never lose any time; I do not think that lost which is spent in amusement or recreation some time every day; but always be in the habit of being employed. Second,--Never err the least in truth. Third,--Never say an ill thing of a person when I can say a good thing of him; not only speak charitably, but feel so. Fourth,--Never be irritable or unkind to anybody. Fifth,--Never indulge myself in luxuries that are not necessary. Sixth,--Do all things with consideration, and when my path to act right is most difficult, put confidence in that Power alone which is able to assist me, and exert my own powers as far as they go."

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Gradually she laid aside all jewelry, then began to dress in quiet colors, and finally adopted the Quaker garb, feeling that she could do more good in it. At first her course did not altogether please her family, but they lived to idolize and bless her for her doings, and to thankfully enjoy her worldwide fame.

At twenty she received an offer of marriage from a wealthy London merchant, Mr. Joseph Fry. She hesitated for some time, lest her active duties in the church should conflict with the cares of a home of her own. She said, "My most anxious wish is, that I may not hinder my spiritual welfare, which I have so much feared as to make me often doubt if marriage were a desirable thing for me at this time, or even the thoughts of it."

However, she was soon married, and a happy life resulted. For most women this marriage, which made her the mother of eleven children, would have made all public work impossible; but to a woman of Elizabeth Fry's strong character nothing seemed impossible. Whether she would have accomplished more for the world had she remained unmarried, no one can tell.

Her husband's parents were "plain, consistent friends," and his sister became especially congenial to the young bride. A large and airy house was taken in London, St. Mildred's Court, which became a centre for "Friends" in both Great Britain and America.

With all her wealth and her fondness for her family, she wrote in her journal, "I have been married eight years yesterday; various trials of faith and patience have been permitted me; my course has been very different to what I had expected; instead of being, as I had hoped, a useful instrument in the Church Militant, here I am a careworn wife and mother outwardly, nearly devoted to the things of this life; though at times this difference in my destination has been trying to me, yet I believe those trials (which have certainly been very pinching) that I have had to go through have been very useful, and have brought me to a feeling sense of what I am; and at the same time have taught me where power is, and in what we are to glory; not in ourselves nor in anything we can be or do, but we are alone to desire that He may be glorified, either through us or others, in our being something or nothing, as He may see best for us."

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Lives of Girls Who Became Famous
Sarah Knowles Bolton

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