Emily Bathurst; or, at Home and Abroad
"My dear brother," said Mrs. Bathurst to Mr. Munro, a few weeks after the preceding conversation, "I wish you would use your influence with Emily. She has rather annoyed me of late by the style of dress she has adopted. I really felt mortified on Thursday when we went to Georgina Prescott's wedding, at the singular plainness of her attire. I have been trying in vain to persuade her to procure some new dresses, as we are going to pay several visits on our way home, and with the allowance I give her, I do expect that she should not look unlike other girls of her age and position in society."
At this moment Emily entered, and her brow seemed somewhat clouded, which Mr. Munro did not fail to remark. Mrs. Bathurst shortly after retired to her boudoir, in order page 168to leave Mr. Munro at liberty to say what he liked to his niece.
"I suppose mamma has been telling you how badly I was dressed on Thursday," remarked Emily rather abruptly.Mr. M.
She certainly did not seem pleased with your appearance.E.
I really have spent so much money on dress since I received a regular allowance, that I must appropriate a great part differently now.Mr. M.
If you are satisfied with the course you have adopted, and feel that you are acting consistently, I suppose you are happy on the subject.E.
Now, uncle, that is just like you. I suppose it must be right to deny myself for the sake of others. Of course I did not much like to be the plainest dressed girl at the wedding breakfast, and to tell you the truth, though I did not mention it to mamma, several of my friends asked me why I looked so unlike other people, but I thought I ought page 169not to care for their remarks, since they do not know my motives.Mr. M.
I am not sure that it is always right to disregard the opinion of others, and I am sure it is wrong to disregard a mother's wishes.E.
Now, uncle, you are angry with me.Mr. M.
No, indeed, Emily, I am not, but I think you are not quite pleased with yourself.E.
How very hard it is to do right. I thought that you at least would help me; and Emily sighed deeply.Mr. M.
Are you quite sure, Emily, you are not following your own way?E.
Indeed, dear uncle, I do not think I wish to do so. I will just tell you how it happened. You know my godfather said everybody ought to lay by part of their income, and consider it sacred to God. I have not done this since I had an allowance, and therefore wished to make up for past failures.page 170 Mr. M.
But you forgot what your mother gave you your allowance for.E.
I am afraid I did. I looked on it as all my own; but mamma does not expect me to lay it all out on dress. She wishes me to have pocket-money to spend as I like.Mr. M.
Then that part alone, you may spend as you like.E.
I see I am wrong, and am very sorry. Do tell me what I ought to do.Mr. M.
My dear child, I do not wish to blame you. I do rejoice to see that you are beginning to act on principle. But you are a young beginner: you will need, as we all do, much prayer that God would give you a "right judgment in all things." What is your allowance?E.
Mamma gives me 60l. a year.Mr. M.
That is very liberal. Perhaps you tried to appropriate half for charitable purposes?E.
I did.Mr. M.
There is nothing more difficult page 171to decide in the case of others than the proper proportion which they ought to devote to God. None who think at all on this subject can surely devote less than a tenth of their whole income, but this seems small when a young person has only her own personal expenses to bear; and I have known some devote an eighth, sixth, or even a third. But the latter was the case of one who had a small independent income in her father's house. Your case is different. Your mother gives you an allowance, a part at least for a particular purpose, and expects you to dress in a certain way. Her wishes should be your law.E.
But may I make no difference now I wish so much to give more to God?Mr. M.
My dear Emily, I cannot be supposed to understand much of the economy of a lady's wardrobe; but I have heard my own dear child say to her young friends," We ought to make this difference, if we desire to dress consistently, for even the toilet should be under Christian regulation. We should page 172avoid showy or extra expensive attire, nor should we throw away a good dress because its fashion may be gone by. Buy everything good, and according to your station. Do not think more about the matter than necessary, and never make it a subject of conversation. I never wish to hear it said of me, How beautifully she dresses,' and, on the other hand, 'How singular she makes herself.' By a judicious selection of materials, by carefulness, and only moderate regard to fashion, it is possible for the Christian lady to expend far less than she may suppose on external decoration."E.
It is difficult not to do wrong.Mr. M.
Indeed it is, Emily. There must be a conflict between right and wrong as long as we live in the world, and in avoiding one error we are always apt to fall into another. Try and find the narrow road between the two extremes of needless expense and needless singularity. Still devote part of your income to God, and then contrive occasionally some act of self-denial, that page 173you may have extra thank-offerings to give to God when, you have received special mercies. There is one rule which you will rarely err in following: "Obedience to your mother's wishes, especially when they cross your own." She does not wish you to go much into society, and she allows you to spend your time much as you please, and there is no case in which we ought to disobey a parent, unless her wishes distinctly oppose a plain command of God.E.
I think I was dissatisfied with myself for opposing mamma's wishes about some new dresses, because I thought my present dresses good enough.Mr. M.
Scripture is full of injunctions of obedience to parents. Surely if children considered what they owe to those who have loved and cherished them so long, they would shew more attention, love, and respect than they often do. It is wonderful how trifling and almost nameless attentions in the family circle increase the happiness of life. And the absence of them, trivial though they page 174may seem, belies our Christian profession, which should make us "pitiful and courteous." I was witness to a little scene in your aunt's house in Warwickshire, which will instance the kind of trifle I mean. She was sitting writing, and Lucy was also busily engaged with her pen. Caroline was deep in a book, and Fanny was employed with some work. Presently, your aunt said, "Will one of you fetch me 'Arnold's Life?' I left it in the study." A second's silence occurred, when Fanny said, "Would you mind waiting a moment, mamma?" Lucy got up, "I will ring the bell, and send Lawrence for it." The book was brought at length, and all were busy and quiet again. Presently your aunt rose to leave the room. "Where are you going, mamma?" "I want my knitting, which, I believe, is in my dressing-room." "Shall I go, mamma?" "No, my dear, you are all busy, and as I wish to speak to Stevens I will fetch it on my way." When she had left the room, Lucy said, "I wish mamma would ask some one in particular when she page 175wants anything, and then that one would, of course, go directly. I could not offer, as I was so anxious to finish this letter for the post" Caroline said, "Fanny, you might have gone. My book must go away tonight." "I don't see that at all," said Fanny, "I must have begun a row again." Thus all were dissatisfied, feeling they ought to have gone readily when their mother spoke, and that she did not ask them again, because they were unwilling to move the first time; and half inclined to quarrel with each other because each felt herself wrong. How different would their feelings have been had each remembered that it was her duty, by obliging acts, to contribute to the comfort of others, and to deny herself, to repay a little of a mother's unceasing and tender care.
Mrs. Bathurst returned to the room, and Emily went up to her and said, "Forgive my wilfulness, dear mamma. I ought to have done directly as you wished. Will you go with me to Redmayne's today, and help me to choose the dresses?"page 176 Mrs. B.
With pleasure, my dear. I was going to Putney87 for some plants, but I will defer that to Monday.E.
No, mamma; I will go with you to Putney to-day, and Monday will be quite soon enough for my dresses; and then we can take them at once to Mrs. Stewart, because you know you do not like to give her work on Saturday.Mrs. B.
Just as you please, my dear. I am quite satisfied to see you like yourself again. It is so unlike you to oppose my smallest wish.
87 A district in south-west London.