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Lives of Girls Who Became Famous Sarah Knowles Bolton

Elizabeth Fry

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After eleven years the Fry family moved to a beautiful home in the country at Plashet. Changes had come in those eleven years. The father had died; one sister had married Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton, and she herself had been made a "minister" by the Society of Friends. While her hands were very full with the care of her seven children, she had yet found time to do much outside Christian work.

Naturally shrinking, she says, "I find it an awful thing to rise amongst a large assembly, and, unless much covered with love and power, hardly know how to venture." But she seemed always to be "covered with love and power," for she prayed much and studied her Bible closely, and her preaching seemed to melt alike crowned heads and criminals in chains.

Opposite the Plashet House, with its great trees and flowers, was a dilapidated building occupied by an aged man and his sister. They had once been well-to-do, but were now very poor, earning a pittance by selling rabbits. The sister, shy and sorrowful from their reduced circumstances, was nearly inaccessible, but Mrs. Fry won her way to her heart. Then she asked how they would like to have a girls' school in a big room attached to the building. They consented, and soon seventy poor girls were in attendance.

"She had," says a friend, "the gentlest touch with children. She would win their hearts, if they had never seen her before, almost at the first glance, and by the first sound of her musical voice."

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Then the young wife, now thirty-one, established a depot of calicoes and flannels for the poor, with a room full of drugs, and another department where good soup was prepared all through the hard winters. She would go into the "Irish Colony," taking her two older daughters with her, that they might learn the sweetness of benevolence, "threading her way through children and pigs, up broken staircases, and by narrow passages; then she would listen to their tales of want and woe."

Now she would find a young mother dead, with a paper cross pinned upon her breast; now she visited a Gypsy camp to care for a sick child, and give them Bibles. Each year when the camp returned to Plashet, their chief pleasure was the visits of the lovely Quaker. Blessings on thee, beautiful Elizabeth Fry!

She now began to assist in the public meetings near London, but with some hesitation, as it took her from home; but after an absence of two weeks, she found her household "in very comfortable order; and so far from having suffered in my absence, it appears as if a better blessing had attended them than common."

She did not forget her home interests. One of her servants being ill, she watched by his bedside till he died. When she talked with him of the world to come, he said, "God bless you, ma'am." She said, "There is no set of people I feel so much about as servants, as I do not think they have generally justice done to them; they are too much considered as another race of beings, and we are apt to forget that the holy injunction holds good with them, 'Do as thou wouldst be done unto.'"

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Lives of Girls Who Became Famous
Sarah Knowles Bolton

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