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I believe, literally, nothing had been done, but to light the fires, and prepare the breakfast.
The little ones were all present during breakfast time, receiving from mamma the materials of occupation and amusement; and pictures of sacred subjects, little Sunday books, and various articles of that sort, made valuable by being never produced except on Sunday. My friend told me, that though they had similar things in the week, she always had a choice set for Sunday, a means that was certain to succeed in making them desired; and when the set was worn, and the novelty quite exhausted, they passed into the common nursery store, and new ones were provided; by which the Sabbath was a distinguished and desired day: this was all she could do for them while so young, there being no Infant-school near, to which they could be sent. Some little things were given them to learn; but it was made rather a matter of credit and ambition than necessity, to have plenty of things to repeat at tea-time. After breakfast, every body disappeared till the service-bell rang; then all were expected to assemble, to go together to divine worship.
On our return home, my friend said to me, “ You will excuse our leaving you alone till dinner. It is our rule to separate, and pass the time alone. And our doors are closed against all comers. The girls go to their rooms, or to the garden, where they like, but are strictly enjoined to be each one alone. For my own part, charged as I am with the care of such a family, the right to be alone with God, and do nothing but communicate with myself or him, is a privilege I cannot forego for any thing. I never even read, except a little in my Bible: I read enough on other days. It is so sweet to me to feel I may do nothing, after a week of
which every hour is employed; it is really the greatest luxury I know. If I could find no thoughts of my own to employ my mind, this morning's services would amply have supplied them. I believe the girls feel the same; but I do not constrain them as to occupation : merely that they should not be in company. We shall meet you at dinner hour. I hope you will not want anything, for it is very likely your bell might not be answered: there are folks in the nursery, however.”
At the proper time we met at a dinner entirely cold; and remained together, talking or silent, as we pleased ; but no one spoke of yesterday's business, or to-morrow's plans : and what pleased me almost as much, nobody said, “ I am going to so and so; where are you going ?" We were all going, of course, to our accustomed place of worship. We went; and when we returned, all the children came forth to tea, with hymns and verses to say: we each took our share in hearing them. There was abundance of joy, and abundance of cake and fruit, to lay by for to-morrow, though all were supplied; and I remarked that some were sent down for the servants. Then the Sunday books and pictures were surrendered, and in half an hour all was peace again.
The elder party remained together; sacred music was then proposed, and every one was to do her part. All sang together, or those who excelled sang apart for the pleasure and improvement of the rest. Books were on the table if any one liked to read; but not the same that lay there always. Prayers were as usual, and we retired.
Here are three patterns for making a Sunday profitable. My readers can choose between them.
I begin to feel very much like a pedlar, who goes about the country, delivering at one place the wares be collects at another. Often the ladies ask me for what they want. I tell them I will look out for it where I go, and bring it them; and I always feel obliged by the commission. It is not long since I was asked, “if it is possible to acquire Simplicity ?" There is enough in the question to occupy the philosophic mind, and put the quickest reasoner to a pause. For there is an anomaly in the ideas the words convey. To acquire, in this sense, implies to study after, to put on--it implies intention, and design; and those are not features of Simplicity. And again the want of Simplicity implies something too much already; not a deficiency to be supplied. The pure white web may be dyed of many colours, and when tired of one colour, we may dye it of another; but he is a skilful chemist who brings it white again. Can the learned acquire ignorance? Can the guilty acquire innocence ? Can the beautiful flower, that the sun has faded, and the rains have stained, and the worms have gnawed upon, close up its petals and blow again, as fair and spotless as it opened first? It was a deep question. I thought it might be solved by one passage of Scripture : but mindful of my profession, I said I would inquire, and report what I could learn. I tell a tale of truth-disguised in outward circumstance, but true in all that is essential
to the subject. I expect that many a heart in reading it will own its truth; and see, in the issue of it, the object of their hopes, if not as yet attained. And let the young attend. The once-stained tissue will discharge its colours easily; the spirit that has dyed itself deeper and deeper in the schemings of selfishness and pride, has a hard task in this backward process.
Janet Bevoir was an only child. The offspring of anxious wishes and long-protracted expectations, she came into the world the most important being of her little sphere. I do not know how an heirapparent feels, when he first discovers what it is to be a king; but I suppose not much unlike to what Janet felt, when she found herself the single object of attention to all about her; to whom everything was devoted, and in whose person everybody's happiness was vested. While she slept, the prettiest babe that ever was seen, as many have been pronounced, unconscious yet of anything, many were the consultations held between the parents and the maiden aunts, about the education of the little Janet; and if there was any difference of opinion as to the method, all were agreed that it was time to begin. As early as she was capable of looking out upon her own condition, Janet perceived two parents, three aunts, a governess, and two servants, intently set to see what Miss Janet would do, what Miss Janet would
say, what Miss Janet must eat, drink, and wear; in short, the whole business of whose existence was to bring Miss Janet to perfection. She must have been perverse indeed, if, against such a current of testimony, she had not believed every thing she said and did to be of the utmost importance, and become intently occupied with herself. The pretty creature was far enough from such per
versity : with a disposition of more gentleness and timidity than strength, and parts rather brilliant than solid, extreme sensibility was the prominent feature of her character.
Janet must neither move, think, nor speak unwatched and undirected. She never took a thing from the table but she must lay it down again, and take it
she never came into the room, but she was sent out again to come in properly: she never spoke, but her words were reasoned upon, modified, and explained ; corrected, if they were wrong, applauded and repeated from mouth to mouth, if they happened to be right. By no means was the little Janet left to suppose it was her family only she was trained to please: she had every reason to think otherwise. When company was expected, the aunts came to see Janet's dressing : she was charged to mind how she came into the room, how she put the plums into her mouth, what she answered to those who might speak to her, and whom she was to take especial pains to please. And when the company disappeared, how Janet had behaved, and what was thought of her, was all that seemed important to be retraced. Being an attentive and docile child, with a good deal of natural tact, Janet seldom failed to perform her part to the letter of her instructions: but she was not seven years old, before it was evident that she was performing always. She never spoke from the impulse of her little heart, but as she thought would be most applauded and approved. She never moved in the careless elasticity of infant spirits, but with a recollection always of being observed. The great evil to poor Janet from all this, was the perpetual concentration of her thoughts upon herself, and upon the effect produced by herself on others; never al