Page:A Life of Matthew Fontaine Maury.pdf/167

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153
MAURY WITH HIS CHILDREN.

improving conversation, and that those who had recourse to them for amusement were apt to depend on them, and could not exert themselves to be agreeable as they should and would do, if they had not this entertainment. He himself did not know one card from another.

Our mother taught us our Bible lessons, and catechism, and she and aunt Eliza, who was a beautiful needlewoman, gave us regular tasks in mending and darning. We seldom went to church more than once on Sunday, as it was so far from the Observatory to St. John's (Rev. Dr. Pynes), so Papa had us up regularly for the evening service, which we would read verse about, "the stranger that was within our own gates" generally taking part also.

He read aloud to us Scott's novels, Shakespeare's plays, and many of the British poets, particularly Scott's poems, Wordsworth's, and Mrs. Hemans', Of these he was very fond.

He would never allow us to read works of fiction whilst we were students, and would punish most severely any departure from the truth, or act of disobedience. These two sins, he said, were the only ones he intended to punish his children for; and he was very careful not to make unnecessary issues with them, and never to give an order unless he saw that it was obeyed and not forgotten.

A punishment he once inflicted on Betty and myself I shall never forget. Betty borrowed 'Helen,' one of a very handsome and complete set of Miss Edgeworth's novels, from cousin Sally Fontaine in Washington, thinking, or persuading herself, that Papa would not object, as that was so mild a type of fiction, and we both read most of it. He found us at it one Saturday. He didn't say one word, but took the book, and one of us in each hand, marched us downstairs into Mamma's room (which was opposite the front parlour, and where there was almost always a small fire burning on the