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Title: The Childhood of Distinguished Women
Author: Bower, Selina A.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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           THE CHILDHOOD OF DISTINGUISHED WOMEN.


              [Illustration: WINDSOR CASTLE.]

                       THE CHILDHOOD
                            OF
                    Distinguished Women.

                            BY
                      SELINA A. BOWER,
             AUTHOR OF "FROM ADVENT TO ADVENT."

                          LONDON:
         JARROLD & SONS, 3, PATERNOSTER BUILDINGS.
                 [_ALL RIGHTS RESERVED._]



             _To be had also from the Author._
      ADDRESS--MRS. BOWER, RINGLAND VICARAGE, NORWICH.



                   LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.

                                                  PAGE.

    WINDSOR CASTLE                       _Frontispiece_

    THE TOWER OF LONDON                              24

    GREENWICH HOSPITAL                               36

    INCHMAHOME                                       48

    NORWICH CATHEDRAL
    (copied from a photograph, by permission)        60

    ST. CLEMENT'S CHURCH, NORWICH                    72



The Childhood of Distinguished Women.



I.

THE PRINCESS ALICE.


The Princess Alice was the second daughter and third child of our own
beloved Queen Victoria and the late Prince Consort, "Albert the Good."

Our deepest sorrowful interest has recently been excited by the touching
and sudden way in which this lovely and gifted woman has been called
from her home on earth to her eternal home in heaven.

The Princess was born on April 25th, 1843, and was very gladly welcomed
by the warm, true mother's heart of Her Majesty, who has ever shown and
expressed the deepest love for her happy circle of girls and boys.

The first incident in the babyhood of the Princess Alice which attracts
attention is the record of her christening. It was a very brilliant one,
the Archbishop of Canterbury officiating, on June 2nd. The sponsors were
the late King of Hanover, Ernest, the present Duke of Coburg, and the
Princesses Sophia, Matilda, and Feodora.

We will give the Queen's own words about the important choice of the
royal infant's names; Her Majesty thus writes:--"Our little baby is to
be called Alice, an old English name, and the other names are to be Maud
(another old English name, and the same as Matilda) and Mary, as she was
born on Aunt Gloucester's birthday." Again, in writing to her uncle, the
Queen's account of the little Princess's conduct was that "little Alice
behaved extremely well."

When quite a young child, the Princess Alice was remarkably quick, and
earnestly enjoyed the acquirement of all the knowledge suitable to her
years, and soon displayed intellectual talent of a high order.

Peculiarly sweet and amiable in her disposition, and patient and
untiring in her love, the young Princess was a favourite in the royal
nursery and schoolroom.

Her illustrious father found her when even a child as to age, quite his
companion as to comprehension and mental capacities.

Two very special characteristics place the beloved Princess Alice in the
highest range of distinguished women, and call for the deepest regard
and respect from all hearts.

From her earliest youth, whatever was learned by her was _thoroughly_
acquired, quietly and completely mastered, definitely and decidedly
finished. And with her highly-refined, cultivated, and capacious mind,
she also combined every domestic and feminine grace and duty, and was
the useful, helpful English maiden, as well as singularly intellectual.

"In her teens," the Princess was pronounced to be "one of the most
accomplished young ladies in England."

When the Queen visited Scotland in 1844, the Princess was too young to
accompany the royal party, and Her Majesty thus writes of the
separation. Just when they were ready for the journey, "Alice and the
baby (Prince Alfred) were brought in, poor little things, to wish us
good-bye."

But in the course of a few years, all the children were able to
participate in the Scotch journeys, and the Princess Alice became the
constant companion of the Queen, riding with her over the lovely hills
on ponies; visiting the poor women in the cottages, calling at the shop
to purchase comforts for them; and at various times climbing the
ascents to Feithort, or up Morven, Loch-na-Gar, and Ben Mac Dhui. This
latter ascent was made through the dank mountain cloud; but this did not
daunt the royal travellers, the Queen recording--"However, I and Alice
rode to the very top, which we reached a few minutes past two; and here,
at a cairn of stones, we lunched in a piercing cold wind.... Luncheon
over, Albert ran off with Alice to the ridge to look at the splendid
view, and sent for me to follow."

In December, 1861, Prince Albert was attacked by the terrible disease
which eventually proved fatal. The Princess Alice, although only
seventeen, was the constant, unwearied nurse of her well-loved parent,
and tended and watched him with the strongest filial love. To the last
she kept her post, and when her aid and gentle care were no more needed,
for he had passed away, she turned to soothe, comfort, and support her
beloved mother with womanly and dutiful affection.

On the 1st of July, 1862, the Princess Alice married Prince Louis of
Hesse, and proved a pattern wife and mother. But in 1878, her own little
household group was smitten with diphtheria, and in nursing and
caressing her darling children, she caught the disease herself. One
child preceded her, the Princess Mary, who died November 16th, and on
December 14th, the anniversary of her honoured father's death, she, too,
was summoned home.

The changes and sorrows of life, and, perhaps, especially the death, of
a darling little one, who fell from a window, in 1873, and was killed by
the fall, had been blessed to her by the Holy Spirit of God; and scenes
of family sickness and bereavement seem to have led the endeared
Princess Alice to that loving and sympathizing Saviour who is ever ready
to save the heart that fully trusts in Him.

The whole English nation mourned for her, as for one near and dear to
each, and a solemnity pervaded all classes, though Christmas was at
hand.

Possibly the anticipation of Christmastide had been bright in her own
loving spirit: if so, that anticipation was realized, for the first
Christmas in heaven with Jesus Himself must indeed surpass the most
joyous and happy one ever spent on earth.


In Memoriam.

THE PRINCESS ALICE, WHO DIED DEC. 14th, 1878.

    She is taken to celebrate Christmastide,
      In Emmanuel's land of light;
    The notes of her carol swell far and wide,
      And her raiment is lustrous white.

    Introduced to the happy, and blood-bought throng,
      For whom Jesus, the Christ, was born,
    How sweetly will echo her triumph song,
      On the Heavenly Christmas morn!

    And the day she was taken was linked in love,
      By fond memory's silver chain,
    With him who had entered the Home above,
      Which knows neither parting nor pain.
    At the dawn of the wintry, and short, dark day,
      The angel of death hovered near,
    To herald the sorrowful mother away,
      From trouble, and trial, and tear.

    Let us mingle our prayers, asking God to bless,
      With earnest, affectionate cry,
    Our well-beloved Queen, in her new distress,
      Her comfort our God can supply.
    May she treasure the thought with tremulous praise,
      That those who were lent, and not given,
    Are joining with us in the angels' lays,
      And keeping their Christmas in Heaven!

_Montacute, Ilminster, Somerset, Christmas, 1878._



II.

MRS. HANNAH MORE.


Mrs. Hannah More spent her happy childhood at Stapleton, near Bristol;
and her early girlhood in Bristol itself, as a pupil in the school of
her three elder sisters.

Besides these three sisters, whose names were Mary, Betty, and Sally,
there was also one younger than Hannah herself, named Patty.

The five little girls were the children of a Mr. Jacob More, the head
master of a foundation school at Stapleton.

Mr. More had married the daughter of a farmer, who had been carefully
brought up, and possessed considerable mind and also great judgment.

Hannah was born in 1745, and, together with her four sisters, learned to
read at home, the mother herself teaching them.

It is not difficult to picture that happy home, with all its quiet
influence of love, for the five little girls appear to have been good
children, very affectionate to each other, and would form a sweet,
bright group as they stood with respectful attitude and intelligent
faces round the kind mother, and repeated with interest and earnest
emulation, the familiar "A, B, C."

Presently, something more than this was needed, but books were scarce.
Mr. More had been educated for the Church, but his desire to be a
clergyman was frustrated. He removed from Norfolk, his native county,
and in his transit to Stapleton, which in those days was a long and
difficult journey, he lost the greater part of his library. He therefore
endeavoured to supply from memory, information and instruction to his
five daughters, and Hannah was always extremely delighted to stand by
her father's knees and listen to his stories of Grecian and Roman
history, and also to gain thus from him a fair amount of classical
learning.

The nurse who assisted the busy mother with her happy charge, had lived
for some time in the family of Dryden, and often interested and amused
Hannah and her sisters with accounts of the poet.

When Mr. More found that Hannah evinced such a desire for information,
he began to teach her Latin and Mathematics; but as she outstripped all
his pupils in the foundation school with extreme rapidity, the father,
fearing that it might tend to make Hannah unfeminine, ceased these
instructions. They seem, however, to have been supplemented by a
different mode of education. The parents were poor, too poor to supply
all the requirements of so large a family. Very wisely they determined
that the children should be trained to support themselves. Miss More
was, therefore, sent to a good school in Bristol, as a weekly boarder,
and every Saturday, on her return home, she was required to teach her
four sisters _all_ that she had learned in the week!

When this sister was twenty years old, she, together with Betty and
Sally, opened a school themselves in Bristol; and Hannah, then twelve
years of age, and Patty were sent as pupils.

On one occasion Hannah was taken ill, and Dr. Woodward, evidently a
literary man of that time, was sent for to attend her. But so great was
her conversational power, that the kind doctor forgot the purpose for
which he came. After some time, he took his leave, but exclaimed,
presently, "Bless me! I forgot to ask the girl how she is to-day!"

This remarkable talent, thus early developed, was one of Mrs. Hannah
More's charms through life, and existed to the last lingering days of
an intelligent old age.

Hannah's other great talent, as a writer, was also early and fully
indicated. As a mere child, she would scribble poems and prim essays
upon every scrap of available paper, and a story is told of her, that
she had one grand ambition constantly before her young life, and that
was to be old enough to "possess a whole quire of paper!" As a
schoolgirl, Dr. Johnson, the elder Sheridan, and the astronomer
Ferguson, seem to have been on terms of some intimacy, and exercised a
talented influence upon the strong sense and mental capacity of Hannah
More.

England was experiencing change during the younger years of this
well-known and justly honoured writer; the upper circles of society were
gay and semi-infidel in principle, disposed to laugh at, and ridicule
anything of a religious character; the lower were so intensely ignorant
that they devoted themselves to indolence and vice. But already Wesley
and Whitefield were preaching the simple gospel of the Lord Jesus
Christ, and, through the influence of His Holy Spirit, awakening numbers
to study, appreciate, and rise to the full reception of the truth as it
is in Him.

Mrs. Hannah More threw her literary influence and ability into the
effort to raise and benefit her fellow-countrymen; though I am not aware
that, during her early years, she in any way displayed personal and
positive perception of the great love of that Heavenly Father who
provided the special salvation and restoration so singularly suited to
the wants and capacities of every child of man. But her evident respect
for religion is singularly shown in the apparent sorrow that any
disregard should be manifested towards God's Word; she once remarked,
with emphatic disapproval, "We saw but one Bible in the parish of
Cheddar, and that was used to prop a flower-pot!" She died in 1833, at
the age of eighty-eight.

[Illustration: THE TOWER OF LONDON.]



III.

LADY JANE GREY.


Henry Grey was the Marquis of Dorset, and married Frances Brandon, the
daughter of the Duke of Suffolk and his beautiful wife, Mary, the sister
of Henry VIII. This Mary was for three months Queen of France; and when
Louis XII. left her a widow, she was again married, almost immediately,
to Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk. Their child Frances was the mother
of Lady Jane Grey, who was born in 1537. There were two other little
girls younger than Lady Jane, Katherine and Mary.

All the three children were treated with very great severity, which was
not unusual at that time. Lady Jane, perhaps because she was the eldest
girl, was expected to be quite perfect in her manners, movements, and in
all that she said; to use her own striking expression, to do everything
"Even so perfectly as God made the world."

Her parents enforced obedience by threatening and taunting her; and also
by literal _pinching_ and _nipping_, besides still more severe and
revolting bodily punishments, which worried and fretted the gentle,
noble child, almost past endurance.

However, probably partly owing to all this torture, Lady Jane derived
her pleasures from far higher sources than her years warranted.

Her tutor, Mr. Elmer, unlike her parents, was extremely gentle and kind;
and when with him the child became perfectly free and happy, learning
her lessons with great patience, care, and interest, and enjoying that
true cultivation of mind, which is the result of all study that is
rendered attractive.

Mr. Elmer had abundant reward for his toil, in winning and retaining the
affection and respect of his young pupil; and also in the rapidity with
which she mastered, not only the usual routine of general knowledge, but
the higher forms of classical learning. In Greek especially she was
proficient, and Plato was to her more interesting than any story book.

When her father, who was at this time made a Duke, was out with the
Duchess and friends, hunting in the park, Lady Jane preferred remaining
in her bedroom with her books, and, on being questioned why she did not
join the party in their sport in the park, she replied that such
amusements were but "shadow."

The surroundings of her home life were not congenial to the natural
gentleness and sweetness of her disposition, and this, with perhaps also
her love of the Greek language, led the young girl to study deeply, and
to love God's Holy Word, and very shortly before her sorrowful death,
she sent her Greek Testament to her sister Katherine, as the most
precious gift which she could offer. The truths of that Word fell softly
into the heart that yearned for love, and the salvation and sympathy of
the Saviour seems to have been accepted by Lady Jane in her earliest
years, and evidently proved her support and consolation in the tragedy
that closed her young life here, as well as during the six months'
previous imprisonment in the Tower.

Born, as she was, in transition times, Lady Jane quickly formed her own
judgment, and was thoroughly Protestant in her faith. She was often with
her cousin, Edward VI., and her decided opinions upon the Reformation,
together with her arguments in its support, and her dislike to the
Romish errors which they both condemned, made the boy-monarch respect
her highly, and there was a warm attachment between the youthful
cousins.

Her childhood had scarcely faded into early girlhood, when Lady Jane
became the bride of Lord Guildford Dudley, fourth son of the Duke of
Northumberland. There was a treble marriage; Lady Jane and her two
sisters were married at the same time at Durham House, Lady Jane, the
eldest, being only fifteen years of age!

The rest of her sad story is quickly told. Owing to the ambition of her
own father, and her husband's father, after the death of King Edward,
she was, sorely against her own will, induced to claim the English
crown. It was long before she yielded to the persuasion of Archbishop
Cranmer, and, when she did so, it was with many tears, and these words,
"If this right be truly mine, O gracious God, give me strength so to
rule as to promote Thy honour, and my country's good!" Queen Mary, the
right heir, was duly crowned, and, after ten days, Lady Jane Grey was
informed by her own father that she was not, in reality, Queen. She was
subsequently sent to the Tower, and after six months' imprisonment, the
sentence of death was carried out on February 12th, 1554.

Three short days were allowed for immediate preparation, during which
Lady Jane calmly wrote to her father, and conversed with Dr. Feckenham,
who tried to induce her to become a Romanist. This she firmly declined,
though she did so with the greatest sweetness.

Her last words are evidence of her hope and trust; as she laid her head
upon the block, she said, in trembling tones, "Lord Jesus! receive my
spirit!" and the short life of earth was merged in the eternal life of
Heaven!



IV.

SELINA, COUNTESS OF HUNTINGDON.


Not very far from Ashby-de-la-Zouch, in Leicestershire, there is now a
fine Gothic building, where the old mansion of the Hastings family
formerly, and for centuries, had stood. The situation is lovely, for
Donnington-park, with its large forest trees and magnificent old oaks,
forms a more than usually beautiful surrounding to the extensive and
immediate grounds. Those, to the north, were precipitous, and the broken
craggy ground, with hanging woods, give additional charm to the sweeping
valleys and alternating hills.

To this venerable old English home, Lady Selina Shirley came, as the
bride of Theophilus Hastings, ninth Earl of Huntingdon, when she was
nearly twenty-one, from her own adjacent home, Stanton Harold, which lay
between Donnington-park and Ashby-de-la-Zouch.

The two homes thus near, were singularly similar. For the home of Lady
Selina's childhood was also a fine old edifice, very massive, with noble
and spacious apartments, standing in the midst of an extensive park,
with soft, swelling hills, and still softer green-clad vales. The
tasteful grounds, too, were rendered more attractive by a large
ornamental lake, which clearly mirrored a handsome stone bridge, as it
lay peacefully resting against the sloping lawn. The church, with its
pretty tower, adjoined the house, and Sunday after Sunday, the child, as
she sat or stood in the old family pew, became familiar with the long
inscriptions that were on the monuments of her own ancestors, and which
plainly indicated that all, whatever the rank and station, must pass
from the present to a future state.

The Shirley family was celebrated for two specialities--the purity of
its genealogy, which could be traced up to the time of Edward the
Confessor; and the piety of its most distinguished members, which, as it
arose from a living faith in an eternal Saviour, must result in a
future, which no human calculation can limit to its possessors, and in
an infinite and everlasting life through Him alone.

The grandfather of Lady Selina Shirley had twenty-seven children, her
father being the second son. She was born at Stanton Harold, on the
24th August, 1707. Two sisters, one older and one younger, shared the
nursery with Lady Selina, and participated in the play, the happy
strolls in the park, and presently in the early lessons. Elizabeth, the
eldest, became the celebrated Lady E. Nightingale, and Mary, the "baby"
of the family, was afterwards Viscountess Kilmorey.

Lady Selina was decidedly talented, very benevolent, unusually grave and
serious, and extremely graceful. Though not strictly beautiful, yet the
large, bright eyes, the well-formed mouth, and the bold, intellectual
brow, when illumined by the animation of the ardent spirit, were far
more attractive than those perishing charms which exist only in features
and externals.

She was a sensitive child, as well as serious, and often went alone to a
small room to pray, and in childish, earnest fervour she would pour out
every little trouble into the ear of that Father in heaven who listens
to each whisper of distress.

When the Lady Selina was nine years old, a child just her own age died,
and the passing funeral attracted her notice. She followed to the grave;
listened to the beautiful and solemn service; heard those thrilling
words, as the body was slowly lowered, "Earth to earth, ashes to ashes,
dust to dust." Her eyes filled with tears, and, awe-struck and
frightened, the young girl earnestly asked God to prepare her for her
last hour, that she might die happily and without alarm. After this, she
would often go to that little grave to think, to weep, to pray, and was
much impressed with this first realization of death!

On December 25th, 1717, her grandfather died, and this deepened those
impressions, adding earnestness to her prayers, and strengthening her
seriousness, although it was not until nearly ten years after her
marriage that she became personally interested in the love of the
Saviour, and sought full salvation through His work; and by the power of
the Holy Spirit became a decided disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Lady Selina was very highly educated, being trained with extreme care,
for her social position, and her naturally high intellect, and evident
talent, were developed by sound instruction in all the various branches
of interesting study. Her retentive memory and brilliant fancy availed
themselves of all the knowledge presented to them; and even when quite
young, her sound understanding and clear judgment were beyond her years,
as they appeared in the conversation and observations in which she took
part.

Probably all this was preparing her for those peculiar efforts in the
religious world, with their lasting influences, which have made Selina,
Countess of Huntingdon, a truly distinguished woman.

But it was the grace of God alone which influenced her to utilize all
this preparation; and that grace; having first filled her heart with a
deep sense of sin, and of the utter insufficiency of her own ability to
procure salvation, then led her to the most unbounded and simple trust
in Jesus. Her love and gratitude made her anxious to work for Him; and
her own peace rendered her desirous that others too should possess like
peace. Thus the whole of her energy was directed to seek the honour and
glory of her Saviour, and the safety of every sinner through Him.

During her last illness the Countess often repeated, "I long to be at
home! My work is done! I have nothing to do but to go to my heavenly
Father;" and almost her last words were, "I shall go to my Father
to-night."

She entered that Father's heavenly presence on June 17th, 1791, in the
eighty-fourth year of her age.

[Illustration: GREENWICH HOSPITAL.]



V.

QUEEN ELIZABETH.


Queen Elizabeth, who was the second daughter of King Henry VIII., was
born at Greenwich on the 7th of September, 1533, in a tapestry-covered
chamber in the palace. This tapestry represented the parable of the Ten
Virgins, and the half-unconscious eyes of the royal infant often rested
upon the hazy blue dresses of the quaint maidens with their odd little
lamps, as the days of early babyhood went softly by.

The King had his young daughter very magnificently christened by
Archbishop Cranmer. It was Archbishop Cranmer who drew up the Church
Catechism, and who was some years afterwards a Christian martyr, in the
reign of Queen Mary, Elizabeth's eldest sister.

Besides the Princesses Mary and Elizabeth, Henry VIII. had one son,
Edward, who succeeded his father as King of England.

When Elizabeth was between two and three years old, her mother, whose
maiden name was Anne Boleyn, the daughter of Sir Thomas Boleyn, and
niece of the Duke of Norfolk, was put to death by the King's wish, in a
most unjust and wicked way. The poor little child probably knew nothing
of this, for she was sent to reside, under the care of Lady Margaret
Bryan, in the manor of Hunsdon. She appears to have been greatly
neglected, as presently a petition went from Lady Margaret to Court
requesting that suitable dresses and apparel for Elizabeth might be sent
at once; for, wrote Lady Margaret, "She had neither gown nor kirtle, nor
no manner of linen, nor foresmocks, nor kerchiefs, nor sleeves, nor
veils, nor mufflers, nor biggins;" a funny list of juvenile attire for a
young Princess! However, the little girl was well cared for by Lady
Margaret, and soon learned to read, to write, and to sew beautifully,
and could play "indifferent well" upon some musical instruments.

In 1537, Elizabeth's brother Edward was born, King Henry having married
again, and at the christening of this Prince, Elizabeth seems to have
appeared at Court for the first time. The tiny Princess was allowed to
hold the chrism on the occasion, and afterwards presented her baby
brother with a "shirt of cambric," which her own small fingers had
industriously embroidered.

In the course of a few years, Elizabeth had acquired a fair knowledge of
astronomy and geography, besides mathematics and architecture; and could
speak five languages fluently, as well as her own native English.

For some time the Princess Mary also resided at Hunsdon, and was
evidently kind to her younger sister. The two girls, whose lives were to
be so distinguished, but so different, probably spent together the
happiest portion of those lives in the comparative seclusion of Lady
Margaret's home, busy, and occupied also with domestic employments, as
they stored their minds with the literature of the period.

At that time, Elizabeth's vanity, which was a sad trait in her latter
years, was not perceptible, for in a sketch of her when about twelve,
she is spoken of as dressing with peculiarly "simple elegance," and
almost despising personal adornment.

Being tall, she was commanding in person, and she was impetuous in her
bearing. Her complexion was pale, her hair rather light, her face long
and narrow, with an aquiline nose; and though her temper was hasty, she
was usually so bright and cheerful that her companions scarcely heeded
her fits of passion. She was also sensible and shrewd, and when very
young, showed a disposition to rule and govern.

The grave faults of her latter days, her vanity, her strong epithets of
abuse, her caprice, and her increasing warmth of temper, were probably
the results of the personal disappointments of her strange life. And
perhaps her dread of death, points us to the real source of these
faults, for it seems to indicate that Queen Elizabeth had not been so
earnest in seeking God's grace, and the influence of His Holy Spirit, as
she ought to have been, to preserve her from evil in this life, as well
as to prepare her for the future life where there will be no evil, in
the kingdom of the "King of kings and Lord of lords," the happy realm of
Jesus.

Elizabeth was fourteen when her father died, and then she wrote a
celebrated letter in choice Latin to her young half-brother Edward, with
whom she was always on excellent terms.

The two children were Protestants, Mary alone remaining attached to the
Papal power, which Henry VIII. had so unflinchingly put down during the
latter part of his reign. Elizabeth's cherished and noble Protestantism
remained firm through all the changes of her eventful life; and when,
after the reigns of her brother Edward VI., and her elder sister Mary,
she herself was placed upon the throne of England, she finally
established the Protestant religion in the country; and to her, under
God, we owe a deep debt of gratitude, for the long and happy years which
have intervened until the present time, and during which God's most Holy
Word has been left to us, a free and open book, in which we may each
read and learn for ourselves His will, and about that spiritual service
which He requires, and which alone can fit us for His presence, when He
calls us from His world below to His world above.

Queen Elizabeth died on March 24th, 1603, before the morning dawned,
after a reign of nearly forty-five years, at the age of sixty-nine.



VI.

MRS. HEMANS.


Let us sketch a scene in the west of our island home. Long, rolling,
soft, beautiful blue waves are dashing lightly upon a clear beach of
wide sparkling sand, leaving behind, as the tide gradually ebbs, a
ribbed and rippled surface. A rather narrow coast-line presents a
somewhat scanty amount of cultivation; cottage and mansion lying here
and there, as convenience or fancy may have suggested to the possessor.
Now and then a tiny clean Welsh village, or small town, claims a space
of country which may be rather broader than usual. This coast-line is
immediately hemmed in by high, wild, stern mountains sloping quickly
upwards towards the sky, with soft grey clouds sometimes poised midway
up the steep sides, or resting in filmy folds upon the top. Snowdon,
rather to the south of the locality that we are sketching, and a little
inland, often raising its high summit above the rest like a
silver-haired veteran surrounded by companions, who vie with each other
in emulation of their leader.

A large house, Grwych (pronounced Griech), stood some years ago where
this coast is rather narrow, the mountains towering up in front, and the
sea softly laving the sandy shore behind. A set of six young children
with their parents occupied this house. They had happy playhours in the
old garden, or on the smooth sand; and Felicia, the fourth child, not
always disposed for the gay romp of the cheerful group, took constant
possession of a large apple tree, into which she could climb; its leafy
boughs well hid the little girl and her book, which she then enjoyed in
unmolested quiet. Until she was five years old Felicia Dorothea Browne
had lived in Liverpool. She was born there in Duke-street, on the 25th
September, 1794. Her father's ancestry was Irish, that of her mother was
Venetian, and probably the Italian origin of the gentle poetess gave
rise to the beauty and extent of her imagination, as perhaps also from
her father she might derive the quick bright flow of language from which
her pen sped on in an easy graceful stream.

She was an extremely beautiful child, with long curling golden hair,
which became dark brown as she grew older; her complexion was clear and
bright, the colour coming and going with every varying impulse and
impression. Her mother, herself talented and clever, cultivated her
young daughter's tastes, and at the early age of seven years the little
Felicia produced some attempts at composition. She had an extremely
retentive memory, read well, and evinced great love of reading.
Shakespeare was one of her favourite books at this time, and she took
delight in juvenile attempts at personifying the characters. Happily,
this was but a temporary freak.

Her studies do not appear to have been at all conducted with regularity.
French, the English Grammar, and the rudiments of Latin comprised the
only systematic training which she received. Highly imaginative as she
was, and surrounded by the wild beauty of the Welsh hills, the varying
sights and sounds of the wide deep sea, with her love of books and
capacity to retain, as well as enjoy, her cultivation progressed, and
knowledge increased rapidly without effort on her part, or on the part
of others.

There is a story told of a constant childish raid. When the mother
thought the little one safe for the night, she would slip quickly and
quietly down to the bright laving sea, and bathe alone in the clear
water, softly creeping back to bed undiscovered; and perhaps throughout
her life the same wrong tendency towards insincerity and love of hidden
mischief is discernible.

A visionary belief in spirits and apparitions also appears to have
influenced her at times, when mystery, rather than truth, assumed
possession of her mind. Even little children in the present day need
scarcely be told that there are no ghosts; but, being highly sensitive
and nervous, she was peculiarly open to every passing fancy.

Early in life, Felicia visited London, but cared little for its gaiety;
and with true childlike impatience longed to be at home again in the
dear old house by the sea, though she enjoyed the works of art to which
this visit afforded access.

Felicia Browne's first book of poems was published in 1808, when she was
only fourteen, and this, together with another volume published in 1812,
met with severe criticism. The poor child felt this so acutely that she
became ill, and had to keep her bed for several days.

These books were the only two which she wrote before her married life
commenced, so that her fame as a poetess was acquired as Mrs. Hemans,
and not as Felicia Browne.

There is no evidence to prove that in youth she gave her heart to the
Saviour of sinners; but some of her poems in after life are deeply and
touchingly full of yearnings for "The Better Land," or they sketch in
soft melodious metre the swift decay of earthly beauty and joy, which is
indeed always "Passing Away." As years and sorrows gathered, she also
studied God's Word with earnestness and zeal, and the sixteenth of St.
John was her favourite chapter; it was also the last which she read
before her death. We may certainly hope that "The Comforter," who is
promised in that chapter, guided her safely into "all truth," and led
her simply to trust in Jesus, that in Him alone she "might have peace."
For only Jesus can prepare any child of man, through the influences of
His Spirit, for the purity, beauty, and happiness of His Heavenly Home,
in that "better country," of which Mrs. Hemans once wrote--

    "Eye hath not seen it, my gentle boy;
    Ear hath not heard its sweet sounds of joy;
    Dreams cannot picture a world so fair,
    Sorrow and death may not enter there;
    Time may not breathe on its faultless bloom,
    For beyond the grave, and beyond the tomb,
            It is there, it is there, my child."

Mrs. Hemans passed away in the evening twilight, on the 16th of May,
1835, at the age of forty-one.

[Illustration: INCHMAHOME,

The Child-Queen's child garden, with her little walk and its boxwood,
left to itself for three hundred years. Yes, without doubt, 'Here is the
first garden of her simpleness.']



VII.

MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTS.


James V., of Scotland, was dangerously ill owing to severe
disappointments and defeats experienced in his border war with Henry
VIII., of England, and dying at Falkland, when, on the 8th of December,
1542, a message came to him from Linlithgow Palace, stating that his
Queen, Mary of Guise, had a baby daughter. The king, rendered sorrowful
by his trials and his sickness, replied, in his own expressive language,
"Ay, it cam' (meaning the kingdom of Scotland) wi' a lass, and it will
gang wi' a lass," and this prediction seem fulfilled in Mary's fate.

The king, her father, only lingered five more days, and on his death the
tiny infant became Queen of Scotland and the Isles.

When about nine months old, Mary was solemnly crowned, on the 9th of
September, 1543, at Stirling Castle, having been carefully taken there
from Linlithgow for the coronation by Cardinal Beaton, who performed the
ceremony. Her mother was presently appointed regent.

After a few months, Mary went to reside on a small island in the Lake of
Monteith, called Inchmahome.

Four other noble children were her companions, and all these four
children bore also the name of Mary; Mary Beaton, Mary Fleming, Mary
Seaton, and Mary Livingstone, and all were of the same age.

Mary remained on this island until she was nearly six years old. The
five young girls, so isolated and lonely as regards the rest of the
world, must have amused themselves with the usual routine of baby
pastimes, but a great change now took place. The Queen of Scots was
removed to France, and the four companions of her baby days also
accompanied her to the gay scenes of the French Court.

Henry II., King of France, received Mary with great enthusiasm and
respect, and a triumphal procession was arranged to convey her to the
palace of St. Germain-en-Laye.

Her extreme beauty drew much attention. She had bright auburn hair,
dark hazel eyes, a fair complexion, and a "dimpled chin."

When the king saw her, his surprise at her loveliness made him enquire,
with truly characteristic French politeness and love of compliment, "Are
you not an angel?"

Mary was shortly afterwards placed in a French convent to receive a
royal education, and appears to have been much attached to those who
instructed and tended her. She said adieu to them all very reluctantly,
when she returned to the gay Court life at a still early age.

The description of her at this time is that she was very accomplished,
having acquired some skill in music, singing, dancing, and even in
poetic effusions. She also had pursued more serious studies, both
historical and classical, and was altogether so bright and intelligent
that Brantôine remarked, "Ah! kingdom of Scotland! I cannot but think
your days must be shorter, your nights longer, now you have lost the
Princess by whom you were illumined!"

Her dress appears to have been a subject of much whim and caprice:
sometimes she would wear a Highland costume, then again the fashionable
French or Italian mode of those days, and her time was spent completely
in gaiety and amusements.

Mary, Queen of Scots, was born and educated in the Romish religion, and
was, in after life, a rigid Papist. Lord Shrewsbury, who had charge of
her by Queen Elizabeth's orders, intimates in his letters, which are
still extant, that he thought of her rather "as a mischievous, cunning
Papist, than as an injured Queen."

Owing to various conspiracies and plots, Mary was sentenced to die,
eventually, by Queen Elizabeth, and her execution took place on February
7th, 1587.

There is a touching little story about her favourite dog. The tiny
animal hid itself in her dress when she was taken to the scaffold, and,
after her death, he refused to leave her body, and had to be forcibly
taken away.

Mary, Queen of Scots, led a gay, dissipated life, and her death was sad
and solemn. Having been trained a Romanist, the Holy Word of God was not
placed in her hands and made the guide of her life, and her sins brought
much sorrow and difficulty which seemed to draw her on from sin to sin,
instead of leading her to humble repentance and simple faith in the Lord
Jesus Christ.

The Bible alone is the guide which God has given both for this present
life, and for the future life; and God has given this book to each and
all, to read and to study with earnest prayer for His Holy Spirit's
teaching, that each and all may understand it, and may act upon its
_teaching_.

Perhaps if Mary had read God's Word herself, and seen the beauty and
purity of its commands, and learned from it all the great love of God,
and His way of salvation for sinners through the "One Mediator between
God and men, the Man Christ Jesus," she would have escaped the
temptations of her own great beauty and of her royal position, and not
have perished as she did. We ought, indeed, to value our Bibles, and to
seek grace to study them, so that, although there are snares and
temptations around us, we may always know what God's will is, and also
know how to resist those temptations through His mighty help. And we
should also thank God that He has given us His Holy Word to lead us
safely through all earth's changes to the unchanging Heaven, and that He
has promised to give those who trust in Jesus and love Him now, far more
than an uncertain crown of gold, even a "Crown of glory that fadeth not
away."



VIII.

POCAHONTAS, THE ROSEBUD.


Long ago, and far away, this Indian Princess was born, in 1594.

Pocahontas was a distinguished woman for two reasons, which render her
short life one of singular interest.

One of these reasons was the effectual aid she rendered when quite a
young girl to the early English settlers in the United States.

The other reason, and a far higher one, was that Pocahontas was the
first heathen amongst the Red Indians who was converted to Christianity
in Virginia. The readers of "The Rosebud" will be interested to know
that a young girl bearing the name of Pocahontas, which means "The
Rosebud," was thus the earliest native of those dark lands who was led
from the sad shadows of heathen superstition, ignorance, and idolatry,
to that Jesus who is truly "the Light of the world."

The father of Pocahontas was a Red Indian chief in the state of
Virginia, and the dark little baby grew and played under the shade of
the sugar-maple, or the long-leaved India-rubber tree, probably
gathering with her tiny fingers the large blossoms from the trailing
passion-flower, or the snowy white magnolia, and grouping them with the
crimson rhododendron, or gorgeous drooping fuschias, which grew wild in
the tangled forests near to her father's wigwam.

When very young, she boldly induced her father, who was the great chief
Powhattan, to spare the life of an English captain, one of the first
settlers in North America, who had been taken prisoner by a native
tribe. This captain, James Smith, had been sentenced to a very cruel
death, and Pocahontas, then only thirteen years old, interceded so
bravely and eloquently that Captain Smith was spared. He was allowed to
live in Powhattan's wigwam, and, after a short time, was set completely
free.

Rather more than two years after this, the Indian tribes became alarmed
as to the movements of the English residents, and again endeavoured to
take the Captain prisoner. Pocahontas, with the brave resolute strength
of both mind and body which characterised many of those swarthy natives,
started on a lonely journey of nine miles, through the wild, overgrown
forests, threading her way amongst uncultivated cotton trees, or
trampling down the smaller tobacco plants; alike heedless of the lovely
beauty of the gay flowers along her path, and fearless of the grisly
bear, the treacherous boa constrictor, or the powerful vulture called
the condor, as she pursued her mission of mercy. Having found Captain
Smith, and apprised him of his peril, Pocahontas sped home again, lest
her father should miss her and enquire about her absence.

The persevering Princess continued pleading well and earnestly for some
time in behalf of the English settlers, but at last her father, perhaps
weary of her entreaties, sent her away to the chief of another tribe.
Instead of protecting the girl thus placed under his care, the
treacherous chief sold her to an English Captain, named Argill, who
intended to make good use of his bargain in transactions with her
father, Powhattan. These transactions failed, and poor Pocahontas, the
Rosebud, remained a captive. The English treated her with extreme
courtesy and kindness; and amongst the number of officers was a Mr.
Thomas Rolfe, who offered to teach the native girl the English
language.

She proved a very gentle, amiable scholar; and Mr. Rolfe, being himself
an earnest Christian man, also taught that dark mind the bright and
lustrous truths of God's most Holy Word. The Spirit of God blessed that
teaching, and the light thus introduced by His influence, alone became
the means of revealing to the warm heart of Pocahontas, the love of that
living Saviour of sinners, who died for all, that all may live for Him.
His blood can purify the Red Indian girl just as effectually as the fair
English maiden, and both equally require that blood to take away the sad
stains of sin in heart and life, which are as dark, as deep, and as
deadly in the one as in the other.

Powhattan seems to have been permitted some intercourse with his
daughter, for with his consent she eventually married Mr. Rolfe, and
subsequently Pocahontas came over to England, and was presented at Court
in 1616. Queen Anne appears to have been very friendly with the Indian
Princess. Her intelligence was great, and her modesty and unaffected
manners interested all who knew her.

She did not live to carry out her intention of returning to her own
native land, Virginia, but died at Gravesend in 1617. Her little son
remained in England for some years, and was educated as an English boy.
He then sought his mother's country, and from him many of the well-known
families of the State of Virginia claim descent.

Pocahontas, or the Rosebud, has been the heroine of many stories and
songs, but the most beautiful thought connected with her memory is that
those to whom her generous help and interest opened a fair land on
earth, should be the means, through the power of the Holy Spirit of God,
of opening to her that "land of pure delight, where saints immortal
reign;" and that from our own dear native country she should have passed
away, to enjoy for ever that "infinite day" which "excludes the night,"
through Him who is "The Way," for the dark daughter of another soil, as
well as for the favoured children of our own.

[Illustration: NORWICH CATHEDRAL.

(_Copied from a Photograph, by permission_)]



IX.

MRS. OPIE.


Norwich has been called "The City of Gardens;" for behind the large
houses belonging to professional men, and business men, which front the
narrow irregular streets, there are sweet lawns and well-cared-for
flower borders, with trees and shrubs planted so thickly round the
walls, or the walls themselves so covered with the trailing tendrils of
fresh creepers, that imagination might fancy the scene one of pure
country loveliness.

The beautiful taper spire of the rather small, but very elegant
Cathedral, appears above the verdure-covered walls, its stone notches
resting softly in attractive clearness upon the cloudless blue sky; or,
perhaps the battlements of the square, massive block of the Castle, rise
quietly above the grave old buildings of the city, the slopes of the
castle moat, gaily draped with innumerable lilacs in the spring, resting
in drowsy dignity below.

Another feature of the fine old city of Norwich is the quaint
churchyard, with blackish stone walls around and sometimes intersected
diagonally with a narrow paved walk, or perhaps surrounded by a
roughly-paved street, with posts to guard each entrance, and with the
dignified name of "Church Alley."

In a house which stood in one of these churchyards--St. Clement's--a
physician, named Dr. Alderson, lived rather more than a hundred years
ago. He had only one child, who was born on the 12th of November, 1769.
This little girl was christened Amelia, after her mother, who taught and
trained her both wisely and well.

To this, probably, the success of Amelia Alderson, afterwards Mrs. Opie,
as a writer, was mainly due, although the great care of the parent did
not altogether enable the daughter to conquer all faults, for Sydney
Smith once plainly told her that "Tenderness is your _forte_, and
carelessness your _fault_."

Amelia was a bright, cheerful, golden-haired girl, with lively fancy and
strong imaginative powers, decidedly talented and capable of high
cultivation.

When a very tiny thing, she would lie quietly in bed to listen to the
church bells which had awakened her, and, looking up to the sapphire sky
at early dawn, she gazed and listened, as her mistaken ideas suggested
that the chaste chime was the music of the angels hidden in the depths
of the blue!

But her thoughts were not always thus happy, for the child invested
other objects with attributes of terror, and black beetles were a source
of inconceivable dread and horror.

She was also extremely timid about deranged people, perhaps the more so
because the large "Bethel" in Norwich is a conspicuous building, and
forms a home for poor lunatics, and possibly her father was interested
in the restless patients who were located there.

Negroes also appear to have produced the same amount of fear in the
little girl as the black beetles.

Mrs. Alderson was too wise and sensible to allow these nervous fancies
uncontrolled play, and most earnestly applied herself to teaching and
helping Amelia to overcome them.

Both teacher and taught were indeed successful; for before long the
child would shake hands with an imbecile whom she sometimes met, speak
kindly to her, and at last even begged to be taken over the "Bethel"
itself, where the sorrowful sights and sounds moved the warm heart to a
deep and sincere pity for trials which no human love can mitigate.

This judicious mother died when Amelia Alderson was about fifteen years
old, and from that time until she was eight-and-twenty, household cares
and superintendence occupied her largely, for she entirely managed her
father's home and presided at his table.

The literary and poetical career of this reputedly pleasant woman
commenced after her marriage with Mr. Opie, the celebrated portrait
painter, which marriage took place at Marylebone Church in London, on
the 8th of May, 1798.

Much later still in life, and after even the earlier years of widowhood
had passed, her far higher career as a Christian character was ushered
in by Mrs. Opie becoming a member of the Society of Friends, and for
more than twenty-five years, consistency, peace, and quiet, marked her
calm course. Ere joining the "Friends," she had been induced to give up,
not only writing fiction, but reading it also.

Mrs. Opie died on the 2nd of December, 1853. Just as the day passed
away, the dawning of her eternal day began--a day that we cannot measure
with our present ideas, it is so long, so bright, so cloudless. The day
of grace closed, and the day of glory opened, for Mrs. Opie loved and
served Jesus on earth, so that she was taken to serve Him in Heaven.

The early teaching of the mother appears to have been blessed to the
child in later life, even as its influence also preserved her amidst
some difficulties during younger days, for Mrs. Opie writes very sweetly
of her mother's care thus:--

    "Oh! how I mourn'd my heedless youth,
    Thy watchful care, repaid so ill:
    Yet joy'd to think some words of truth
    Sunk in my soul, and teach me still.
    Like lamps along life's fearful way,
    To me, at times, those truths have shone,
    And oft when snares around me lay,
    That light has made the danger known."

The truths of God's most Holy Word will always brighten each day of this
life, not only cheering, but sufficiently lighting it for the safety of
those who seek also the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit. The long,
long day with Jesus, by-and-bye will have no snares, no dangers, no
regrets to cast their sorrowful shadows across its pure, sweet sky, for
His presence will be everlasting light, and He has taken away all the
sins of His people who believe in Him, and as there is no sin in Heaven,
there is no suffering, and no shade of pain.



X.

GRACE DARLING.


One of the most dangerous and rugged coasts of England is that of
Northumberland. This is partly owing to the proximity of the group of
tiny islands called the Farne Islands; which number about twenty. When
the sea is at all rough, and the wind high in this vicinity, the wild
waves rush with violence between the somewhat narrow island channels,
and lash themselves into fretted fury, as they curl over in frothy foam.
Many years ago, on one of the Farne Islands named the Longstone, a
lighthouse was built, that vessels might be duly warned of the danger
and difficulty of the rocks and shore.

In 1815, a tiny, gentle baby girl was born in the little lighthouse
home, who presently received the name of Grace Horsley.

Her father was William Darling; a most suitable man for his post as
keeper of the lighthouse, being vigilant, steady, attentive, and
careful, not only in the special duties to which he was appointed, but
also in training a numerous family with diligence and discretion.

So little Grace was not a lonely child in a quiet home; but one of a
merry, active, happy troupe of northern children; sometimes playing in
the clean, white-washed rooms and staircases of the lighthouse, or at
other times clambering about the rough rocks, and watching the eddying
waters all around.

Still the life of the young girl was not all play, with the dear
brothers and sisters whom she loved.

Lessons had to be learned, and they were well learned too; copies had to
be written, and in these little Grace soon excelled, for she "wrote a
beautiful hand."

The kind, homely parents, too, taught her to think, and as she read
nicely, and was bright and quick in acquiring the information within her
rather limited grasp, she became very intelligent.

A fair share of household duties also fell to her lot, and these were
discharged in a quiet, orderly, and unobtrusive way.

Though very neat in her dress, she was never smart; the only trace of
feminine vanity was this:--After her brave conduct in the shipwreck of
the "Forfarshire," the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland sent for Grace
Darling to Alnwick Castle, and presented her with a gold watch, which
she always wore when visitors came to the lighthouse; taking care that
the watch-seal should be slightly conspicuous on the plain, simple
striped cotton gown!

Thus the childhood and girlhood passed gently on in almost unvarying
home love, duty, and quiet happiness, until the 5th of September, 1838,
Grace being then in her twenty-third year.

On that night an awful storm rose in tempestuous fury and swept up to
the Farne Islands, raging and swelling around, and tossing the black
billows into surging foam amongst the cliffy little isles that chafed it
into such majestic madness. A steamer had left Hull a day or two before,
and as her boilers were not in good repair, she was soon rendered
helpless in the wide ocean, and presently drifted on towards the
perilous Longstone Lighthouse. She struck on one of the dreaded islands,
and the cries of the few survivors who could cling to that portion of
the wreck which was forcibly driven between the rocks, reached the ears
of Grace Darling, who immediately awakened her father. Utter darkness
prevented them from seeing where the wreck lay, and both father and
daughter watched till the dawn. An attempt to rescue the moving forms
which they could faintly discern in the misty daylight was almost
hopeless, but for all that it was made, and the two stepped without
hesitation into the frail, small boat, which they then rowed towards the
wreck. Here the difficulty increased, as the tempestuous sea threatened
to dash the boat and its occupants on the rocks where the "Forfarshire"
was stranded. But the father succeeded in landing, Grace pushing off
with the boat to avoid its being engulphed, and with her oars balancing
it amongst the rolling billows until the nine survivors and her father
were safely with her in the tiny craft. Then both rowing back to the
lighthouse, they carefully nursed, cheered, and tended those rescued
men, Grace especially devoting herself to them with unremitting care.

This event gave Grace Darling the notoriety which her noble conduct so
well merited.

It was on the 20th of October, 1842, when the wild equinoctial gales had
not long swept over the surrounding seas, that she died gently in the
midst of her own loving family circle, at the early age of twenty-seven.

It is easy to imagine the gratitude and joy of the nine perishing men
who were rescued from an awful death!

May you, dear young readers, value far more highly that eternal
salvation from darker death than the one which threatened them, that
salvation of those who trust themselves fully to the loving Saviour's
power and willingness to save! To save _from_ both the guilt of past
sin, and the power of present sin of heart and life, through the
influence of the Holy Spirit of God, and to save _for_ the calm,
unshaken rest of a bright Home of Light, when the last wave of this
stormy sea of life is left outside, and exchanged for the unbroken
beauty of heaven's crystal "sea of glass!"

[Illustration: ST. CLEMENT'S CHURCH, NORWICH.]



XI.

MRS. FRY.


Elizabeth Fry, subsequently so well known as the kind visitor and
instructress of the females in Newgate, was born on the 21st of May,
1780, in St. Clement's parish in the old city of Norwich.

Her father's name was John Gurney; her mother, whose maiden name was
Bell, was a lineal descendant of Robert Barclay, the Apologist of the
Quakers.

The Gurneys of Norwich trace their family back to the days of William
Rufus, if not to the times of William the Conqueror.

Elizabeth was one of twelve children, and the third daughter in this
large family of Quakers.

When she was four years old, her parents removed from the city to the
beautiful estate of Earlham, where her childhood passed away in much
worldliness and gaiety, for the Quakers of this period were extremely
lax in carrying out their peculiarities.

Earlham Hall is scarcely two miles from Norwich, and is a stately
mansion surrounded by a lovely park, the river Wensum adding its charms
to the scenery by its graceful windings in the vicinity. It was here,
surrounded by luxury, beauty, and profusion, that the child played; and
the old Hall was her bright, glad home.

Her mother seems to have been very fond of Elizabeth, and in writing
about her, remarks:--"My dear little Betsey never offends, and is, in
every sense of the word, truly engaging."

This may have been maternal partiality, for whilst a mere child, she was
somewhat obstinate in disposition, and averse to study. It is even
stated that she was thought a very dull child as to lessons, but this
was probably because she had a great dislike to routine; and preferred a
ride on horseback, a merry dance--for she was particularly fond of
dancing--or a song with her sister Rachel, with whom she sang duets
well.

However, Elizabeth evidently made progress in accomplishments, and was
taught drawing, as well as music and dancing.

The young girl was naturally extremely nervous and sensitive; when only
seven years old, she would quietly watch her mother when asleep, with a
terrible dread that that beloved mother should not wake again. Or at
times the wish would come into her heart, that the walls might close
upon herself, and her dear parents, brothers, and sisters, and bury them
in one grave together, rather than that she should ever have to suffer
separation from them.

When her mother died, Elizabeth was a fair-haired, sweet-looking child
of twelve, with soft blue eyes, and a silvery attractive voice, which in
later life told the beautiful story of the love and life of Jesus, with
wonderful influence, to the poor degraded outcasts in prison. One poor
woman, on hearing her read, said, "Hush! the angels have lent her their
voices!"

After the mother's death, the father and friends remained as gay as
before, and an almost sceptical tendency crept over the family. With
Elizabeth's nervous disposition, a dread of death was inevitable; she
frequently alluded to it, calling it "This wonderful death," and in her
diary she complains of dark restlessness of mind, and some disbelief in
the truths of the Bible.

Happily this was arrested, for before Elizabeth was eighteen, an
American "Friend" came to Norwich and his addresses given in the chapel
roused the attention, and led the unsatisfied spirit to deep sorrow and
mental anxiety. Elizabeth, who appeared as one of the listeners, in such
gay clothing that her boots--purple laced with scarlet--were the
especial envy of a younger sister, left the "Meeting" humble and
weeping; and at night she remarked that she had for the first time
_felt_ that there was a God, and added, "May that belief never leave me,
or, if it does, may I at least always remember that I _have_ felt there
is a God and immortality."

She had a long struggle with herself, being fond of notice and flattery,
and possessed of considerable pride.

When "His Royal Highness of Gloucester" was in Norwich, she wished him
to visit Earlham, but confessed, after she had seen the Prince, that her
wish was the result of pride.

Soon after this she went to London, and was introduced to London life,
but immediately after her return to her home, she gave up the gaiety
which she had proved to be utterly unsatisfactory, and commenced a life
of devotion to God, that resulted in loving obedience to His will.

Elizabeth's first efforts to teach to others the way of life, which the
Holy Spirit had revealed to her through Christ, was attention to a
dying servant. This was followed by instruction to an increasing class
of boys whom she had in the laundry at Earlham Hall, and on her marriage
with Joseph Fry, these lads numbered eighty-seven. Shortly after this
marriage, which had removed her to London, she began her work of love in
Newgate, where for many years she taught the poor women of the sympathy
and care of Jesus. She passed away at the age of sixty-seven, with a
beautiful, lingering smile, and the simple words of trust and faith, "It
is a strife, but I am safe."



XII.

AGNES STRICKLAND.


Let us turn to an old Westmoreland family, residing between three and
four hundred years ago, in the style of the period, at Sizergh Castle.
Sir Thomas Strickland, the head of that family, manifested loyal
attachment to the house of Stuart, and some of the lands and hereditary
possessions, both in Westmoreland and Lancashire, were eventually lost
through the steady adherence of Sir Thomas and his relatives to this
cause.

We read of one daughter of the house in the time of Henry VIII., whose
name, like that of the character we are sketching, was Agnes Strickland,
marrying Sir Henry Curwen, of Workington Castle. And their son received
Mary Queen of Scots, when she landed upon his estate. Camden, the
historian, is also descended from the same branch of the family of
Strickland.

A second Agnes Strickland married the eldest son of the Archbishop of
York, Francis Sandys, and the family of the Stricklands appear to owe
their conversion from Romanism to the Protestant faith to the influence
of another son of the Archbishop, named George, who was a poet about two
hundred years ago. They then became as staunch in the principles of the
Reformation as they had previously been firm in papal policy.

One branch of the Strickland family settled at Raydon Hall, in Suffolk,
and here the third Agnes Strickland was born, who has been so justly
celebrated as the Historian of "The Queens of England from the Norman
Conquest." Raydon Hall is a very lonely place on the sea coast, quite a
mile from the nearest village, and there is no dwelling at all near to
it, except one farm-house upon the estate.

The seclusion being thus extremely great during the long, bleak winter
on the eastern coast, the family residing there would have passed many
dreary months but for the intellectual tastes of its talented members.

There were eight children. Agnes was the third daughter, and the girls
were very amicable and sociable in their simple life, varying the
sterner work of severe study with delightful games, or in the care of
pet animals, or by strolls in the gardens and grounds around the Hall. A
governess had the partial training of Agnes and her sisters, but their
father, himself a literary man, and intensely fond of history,
topography and genealogy, principally conducted their education;
compelling the girls to master subjects far beyond the usual attainments
of young ladies, and requiring some knowledge of algebra and mathematics
from the not always compliant and obedient daughters.

Mr. Strickland suffered from gout, and was frequently confined to his
chair or bed.

He then supplied abundant work for Elizabeth, Agnes, and the other
sisters in reading to him. This they were delighted to do, and took
almost as much interest in history as the father. But Mr. Strickland
also endeavoured to carry out his wish that the girls should be
proficient in mathematical studies, and in this Elizabeth alone seemed
to be docile, for she would patiently pore over the figures on her
slate, whilst Agnes and the others bestowed very sisterly pity upon her.

Agnes had a more classical turn, preferring the history, and also
poetry, making sundry attempts at versification herself; but this taste
Mr. Strickland rigorously checked, considering the effort as a waste of
time. At last the child obtained her father's consent to let Latin take
the place of problems, and she then set to work upon an old book in that
language, learning to repeat a number of dialogues:--a mode of studying
language extremely irregular, and by no means commended by the anxious
parent.

Still Agnes also managed to write verses which presently came under Mr.
Strickland's notice, and when twelve years old she composed a poem
called "The Red Rose." This was intended as a sketch of the fortunes of
the House of Lancaster, but was so severely criticised by her father,
that she tore up the manuscript by his advice, and promised not to try
poetry again. But three years afterwards she made another venture in
that line under the title of "Worcester Field," which was published,
although, however, it is not well known.

Her fame arose gradually soon after this period, when, through the death
of the father, reverses of fortune induced Agnes and her sisters to make
literature a profession. She then assumed her true taste, and evinced
marvellous talent as a writer of history, making the lives of England's
Queens no longer dull, dry, and uninteresting, but beautiful sketches of
true character, and of real, though bygone times; painting, too, in
vivid colours, the social positions of our royal matrons with wonderful
skill and ability.

Agnes Strickland died on the 13th of July, 1874, leaving us a powerful
proof of the importance of early and attentive education.

The young girl, living in such seclusion on the Suffolk coast, little
imagined in her childhood that her future fame was depending upon the
interesting and valuable information which she was beginning to
accumulate, and which she was learning to love as she read in dutiful
diligence the books indicated by her careful father.

And yet that quiet commencement led to high honour, and England has well
acknowledged her debt of gratitude to Agnes Strickland for her splendid
additions to historic lore. Large labour, constant care, and stern study
enabled her to use the talents which God had given, talents, of which
she was unconscious as a child.

May not this thought induce a spirit of earnest effort in each young
heart now? God has given talent in some degree, and of some description,
to all, and He requires the improvement of that talent, whatever it may
be.

In conclusion, Agnes Strickland wrote with womanly and wonderful beauty
the history of England's Queens. There was once a history written, of
far greater beauty, and by far higher power, of Him who is the "King of
kings and Lord of lords;" a history traced by His own hand alone, as He
guided "Holy men" of old by the power of the Holy Ghost. One portion of
this History is traced in blood--the "blood of Jesus Christ, His Son,
which cleanseth from all sin" those who receive in penitence, faith, and
love, the "record that God gave of His Son." May the same Holy Spirit,
which dictated the Holy Word of God, write the History of His character
and love so deeply within our hearts, that we may receive His full
salvation now, and the "eternal life" which He so freely gives
hereafter!

[Illustration: finis.]



               PRINTED BY JARROLD AND SONS, NORWICH.

                 *       *       *       *       *



                        BY THE SAME AUTHOR.

     _Crown 8vo., 3/6. Handsomely bound in Cloth, Gilt Edges_:

        FROM ADVENT TO ADVENT: OR, PIECES IN PROSE & POETRY,

             On Subjects selected from Sunday Services.


    "A series of brief, thoughtful, and ably-written meditations.
    The poems are the spiritual utterances of a devout mind. We
    recommend the book with the greatest pleasure."
                                              _Hand and Heart._


    "Each prose composition is followed by a poetical one;
    'collect,' 'meditation,' and 'poem' succeed each other in
    due order throughout the book, and every page contains
    instructive and edifying matter. The verses show a command
    of metre in all its varieties, the ideas are well
    expressed, and the rhymes are good.... We sincerely wish
    it success."
                                        _The Voice of Warning._


                              REVIEWS.

    "Very high praise is due to the talented wife of the Vicar
    of Ringland, not only for the conception of this work,
    "From Advent to Advent," but for the admirable way in
    which she has carried it out, and the remarkable literary
    ability therein displayed."
                   _The Norfolk Chronicle and Norwich Gazette._

    "We hardly know which to commend most--the admirable
    arrangement of the work, or the excellence of its
    composition. Both afford abundant evidence of great genius
    and tact, to which is added the advantage of a large and
    ripened experience.... An unceasing stream of meditation
    and praise, in language which no Christian lips could
    refuse to utter.... They simply breathe the pure spirit of
    the Gospel, and express it with a beauty and pathos which
    will attract every reader. The work supplies a long-felt
    want. It forms an admirable companion to the Prayer
    Book.... Even the verses, taken by themselves, would form
    a second 'Christian Year,' of which a Keble need not be
    ashamed. To the prose compositions like praise must be
    accorded. The work is well-bound and printed, and forms an
    attractive little volume, well suitable for Sunday School
    prizes, for presentation to friends, and for the general
    circulation which it deserves extensively to obtain."
                           _Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal._

    "A valuable volume."
                                      _The Rev. Hely H. Smith._

                 *       *       *       *       *



Transcriber's Notes:

    Punctuation has been normalized.

    Page 14: "caresssing" replaced with "caressing".
      "... in nursing and caressing her darling children...."

    Page 50: "Inchmahone" replaced with "Inchmahome".
      "... a small island in the Lake of Monteith, called Inchmahome."

    Page 67: "troup" replaced with "troupe".
      "... happy troupe of northern children; sometimes playing in...."

    Page 69: "engulphed" retained as printed.

    Page 81: "latin" replaced with "Latin".
      "... let Latin take the place of problems...."





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