Page:Elizabeth Fry (Pitman 1884).djvu/25

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ELIZABETH FRY.

lar by her orthodoxy of manners and appearance, she was, in the midst of the Frys, "the gay, instead of the plain and scrupulous one of the family.” For a little time she experienced some difficulty in reconciling her accustomed habits with the straight tenets of her husband's household and connections, but in the end succeeded. It seems singular that one so extremely conscientious as Elizabeth Fry, should have been considered to fall behindhand in that self-denying plainness of act and speech which characterised others; but so it was. And so determined was she to serve God according to her light, that no mortification of the flesh was counted too severe provided it would further the great end she had in view. Her extreme conscientiousness became manifest in lesser things; such, for instance, as anxiety to keep to the strict truth, and that only, in all kinds of conversation.

Thus, she wrote in her Journal:—

 

I was told by——he thought my manners had too much of the courtier in them, which I know to be the case, for my disposition leads me to hurt no one that I can avoid, and I do sometimes but just keep to the truth with people, from a natural yielding to them in such things as please them I think doing so in moderation is pleasant and useful in society It is among the things that produce the harmony of society; for the truth must not be spoken out at all times, at least not the whole truth Perhaps I am wrong—I do not know if I am—but it will not always do to tell our minds I am one of those who try to serve God and Mammon Now, for instance, if I wish, to say anything I think right to anyone, I seldom go straight to the point, but mostly by some softening, round-about way, which, I fear, is very much from wishing to please man more than his Maker!

 

It is evident that Elizabeth Fry dared to be singular; very possibly only such self-renouncing singularity could have borne such remarkable fruits of philanthropy. It required some such independent philo-