Charlotte M Yonge. Abbeychurch
This Gutenberg Etext of Abbeychurch; Or Self-Control and Self-Conceit, by Charlotte M Yonge was prepared by Sandra Laythorpe. A web page about Miss Yonge is at www.menorot.com/cmyonge.htm.
SELF-CONTROL AND SELF-CONCEIT,
BY CHARLOTTE M YONGE, THE AUTHOR OF THE HEIR OF REDCLYFFE.
The Original Printed Text of this work is in the possession of The Charlotte M Yonge Fellowship.
'Never think yourself safe because you do your duty in ninety-nine points; it is the hundredth which is to be the ground of your self-denial, which must evidence, or rather instance and realize, your faith.'
Rechauffes are proverbially dangerous, but everyone runs into them sooner or later, and the world has done me the kindness so often to inquire after my first crude attempt, that after it has lain for many years 'out of print,' I have ventured to launch it once more- imperfections and all-though it is guilty of the error of pointing rather to a transient phase of difficulty than to a general principle. The wheels of this world go so quickly round, that I have lived to see that it would have been wiser in the clergyman to have directed rather than obstructed the so-called 'march of intellect.' I have lived also to be somewhat ashamed of the exuberant outpouring of historical allusions, which, however, were perfectly natural among the set of girls from whom my experience was taken: but these defects, as well as the more serious one of tyrannical aversion to vulgarity, are too inherent in this tale to be removed, and the real lesson intended to be conveyed, of obedience and sincerity, of course remains unchanged.
The later story was a rather hasty attempt to parody the modern sensation novel, as Northanger Abbey did the Radclyffe school, but it makes the mistake of having too real a mystery. However, such as they are, the two stories go forth in company, trusting that they may not prove too utterly wearisome to be brought forward this second time.
May 9th, 1872,
SELF-CONTROL AND SELF-CONCEIT.
One summer afternoon, Helen Woodbourne returned from her daily walk with her sisters, and immediately repaired to the school-room, in order to put the finishing touches to a drawing, with which she had been engaged during the greater part of the morning. She had not been long established there, before her sister Katherine came in, and, taking her favourite station, leaning against the window shutter so as to command a good view of the street, she began, 'Helen, do you know that the Consecration is to be on Thursday the twenty-eighth, instead of the Tuesday after?'
'I know Lizzie wished that it could be so,' said Helen, 'because the twenty-eighth is St. Augustine's day; but I thought that the Bishop had appointed Tuesday.'
'But Papa wrote to him, and he has altered the day as Papa wished; I heard Mamma and Mr. Somerville talking about it just now when I went into the drawing-room,' answered Katherine.
'Will everything be ready in time?' said Helen.
'Dear me!' cried Katherine, 'I wonder if it will. What is to be done if that tiresome Miss Dighten does not send home our dresses in time? We must go and hurry her to-morrow. And I must get Mamma to go to Baysmouth this week to get our ribbons. I looked over all Mr. Green's on Monday, and he has not one bit of pink satin ribbon wide enough, or fit to be seen.'
'Oh! but I meant the things in the church-the cushions and the carving on the Font,' said Helen.
'Oh dear! yes, the Font is very nearly done, we saw to-day, you know; and as to the cushions, Mrs. Webbe may have Sarah to help her, and then they will certainly be finished. I wonder whether there will be any fun!' said Katherine.
'Is a Consecration an occasion for fun?' asked Helen very gravely.
'Why, no, I do not exactly mean that,' replied Katherine, 'but there will be a great many people, and the Mertons staying here, and Rupert is always so full of fun.'
'Hm-m,' said Helen, 'I do not suppose he will be come back from Scotland.'
'And Mrs. Turner says,' continued Katherine, 'that of course as the Bishop is coming to luncheon after Church, Mamma must give an elegant dejeuner a la fourchette to everybody. Next time I go to St. Martin's Street, Mrs. Turner is going to give me a receipt for making blanc-manger with some cheap stuff which looks quite as well as isinglass. It is made on chemical principles, she says, for she heard it all explained at the Mechanics' Institute. And Aunt Anne will be sure to bring us some of their grand fruit from Merton Hall. What a set-out it will be! The old Vicarage will not know itself; how delightful it will be!'
'So you think the happiness of the Consecration day depends upon the party and the luncheon,' said Helen.
'No, no, of course I do not,' said Katherine; 'but we must think about that too, or we should not do what is proper.'
'Someone must,' said Helen, 'but it is happy for us that we are not called upon to do so yet.'
'Why, we must help Mamma,' said Katherine; 'I am sure that is our duty.'
'Certainly,' said Helen; 'but we need not dwell upon such thoughts for our own pleasure.'
'No, I do not, I am sure,' said Katherine; 'I do not care about the grand dejeuner, I am sure I think a great deal more about the Church and the Bishop-I wonder whether he will come by the railroad.'
At this moment, the door was thrown back hastily, and Elizabeth, the elder sister of Katherine and Helen, darted in, looking full of indignation, which she only wanted to pour forth, without much caring whether it was listened to with sympathy or not.
'So have you heard,' she began, 'these Hazlebys are coming. Did you ever hear of such a nuisance? Anything so preposterous? Mrs. Hazleby at a Consecration-I should as soon think of asking Gillespie Grumach.'
'It is for the Major's sake, of course,' said Helen; 'he will like to come.'
'Ay, but he is not coming, he cannot get leave,' said Elizabeth; 'if he was, I should not mind it so much, but it is only Mrs. Hazleby and the girls, for she has the grace to bring Lucy, on Mamma's special invitation. But only think of Mrs. Hazleby, scolding and snapping for ever; and Harriet, with her finery and folly and vulgarity. And that at a time which ought to be full of peace, and glorious feelings. Oh! they will spoil all the pleasure!'
'All?' said Helen.
'All that they can touch, all that depends upon sympathy,' said Elizabeth.
'Well, but I do not see-' said Katherine.
'No, no,' said Elizabeth, 'we all know that you will be happy enough, with your beloved Harriet. How frivolous and silly you will be, by the end of the first evening she has been here!'
'I am sure I think Harriet is very silly indeed,' said Katherine; 'I cannot bear her vulgar ways, bouncing about as she does, and such dress I never did see. Last time she was here, she had a great large artificial rose upon her bonnet; I wonder what Papa would say if he saw me in such a thing!'
'Pray keep the same opinion of her all the time she is here, Kate,' said Elizabeth; 'but I know you too well to trust you. I only know they will keep me in a perpetual state of irritation all the time, and I hope that will not quite spoil my mind for the Service.'
'How can you talk of Mamma's relations in that way, Lizzie?' said Helen.
'I do not care whose relations they are,' said Elizabeth; 'if people will be disagreeable, I must say so.'