Elizabeth Fry eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 232 pages of information about Elizabeth Fry.
out ungrateful, impudent and hardened.  Yet her loving pity followed even them:  still, like the Lord whom she served, she loved them in spite of their repulsiveness and ingratitude.  And when some notably ungrateful things were reported to her respecting the female convicts on board the Amphitrite, she only prayed and sorrowed for them the more.  Especially was this the case when she heard that the ship had gone down on the French coast, bearing to their tomb beneath the sad sea waves, the 120 women, with their children, being conveyed in her to New South Wales.  Not one hard thought did she entertain of them:  all was charity, sorrow and tenderness.  And if for one little moment her new theories as to the treatment of criminals seemed to be broken down, never for an instant did she set them aside.  She knew that perfection could only be attained after many long years of trial and probation.  While undermining the old ideas, she set herself an equally gigantic task in establishing the new.



Hitherto our little monograph has dealt mainly with Mrs. Fry’s public life and work.  Possibly, however, the reader may now feel curious to know how she bore the strain of private responsibilities; how as a wife, mother, neighbor, and Christian, she performed the duties which usually fall to people in those positions.  It does not appear that she was wanting in any of them.

As the wife of a city merchant, as the mistress, until reverses came, of a large household, as the mother of a numerous family of boys and girls, and as the plain Friend, and minister among Friends, she seems to have fulfilled the duties which devolved upon her with quiet, cheerful simplicity, persevering conscientiousness, and prayerful earnestness.  She was much the same in sunshine and in shadow, in losses and in prosperity; her only anxiety was to do what was right.  From the revelations of her journal we find that self-examination caused her frequently to put into the form of writing, the questions which harassed her soul.  There can be no reasonable doubt that she was harassed as all over-conscientious people are—­with the fear and consciousness that her duties were not half done.  How few of this class ever contemplate themselves or their works with anything like satisfaction!  A short extract from her journal penned during the first years of her wedded life affords the key to this self-examination, a self-examination which was strictly continued as long as reason held her sway.  This entry is entitled “Questions for Myself.”

“First.—­Hast thou this day been honest and true in performing thy duty towards thy Creator in the first place, and secondly towards thy fellow-creatures; or hast thou sophisticated and flinched?

“Second.—­Hast thou been vigilant in frequently pausing, in the hurry and career of the day, to see who thou art endeavoring to serve:  whether thy Maker or thyself?  And every time that trial or temptation assailed thee, didst thou endeavor to look steadily at the Delivering Power, even to Christ who can do all things for thee?

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Elizabeth Fry from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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