The Journal by E. V. Lucas
It was the custom in Mr. Pemberton's family for the children and
their governess, Miss Lambert, to assemble in the parlour every
Saturday evening that she might read a journal of their behaviour
during the past week in the presence of their father and mother. Those
who were conscious of having acted rightly longed for the time of
examination, as they were sure not only of receiving applause, but also
of being admitted as guests to supper, when an agreeable entertainment
was provided for them.
The countenances of the guilty were easily distinguished. Gladly
would they have avoided the eye of their parents on these occasions,
but that was not allowed; they were obliged to appear. Indeed, their
attendance constituted part of their punishment.
Mr. and Mrs. Pemberton always invited company to be present when
they had received an intimation from Miss Lambert that no faults were
registered in the journal, which frequently happened, as they were
children of docile dispositions, though sometimes they acted without
consideration. Several ladies in the neighbourhood took particular
pleasure in bringing their sons and daughters to be spectators of those
After the journal was read, rewards were bestowed on those who had
deserved them. Supper was then served up, which generally consisted of
dried fruits, milk, with blanc-mange, jellies, etc., placed with great
taste by Miss Pemberton, who was always required to set out the table
on those nights.
The repast being over, the time was spent pleasantly, either in
cheerful conversation, or some amusement suitable to the festivity of
Charlotte Somenors, one of their intimate companions, was frequently
invited to partake of their pleasure on a happy Saturday, for so they
termed those days when none of them had reason to be oppressed by the
fear of punishment.
The last time she attended one of those meetings I requested her to
give me an account of the transactions of the evening, with which I was
so much pleased that I committed it to writing, lest the circumstances
should escape my memory; and as I suppose it is likely to amuse my
young readers, and at the same time to furnish them with instructive
examples, I transcribe it for their use. The company being met, Miss
Lambert introduced her pupilsCaroline, Emma, Lucy, and Georgeafter
which she sat down and began to read as follows:
'It is with great pleasure I recall the events of the last few days.
Although they will not present a perfect model of virtue and obedience,
they at least prove that the dear children entrusted to my care are
willing to repair the faults which they have inadvertently committed. I
trust that the errors which this journal records will be considered as
wholly effaced by the repentance and confessions they have occasioned.
'Monday.Morning lessons particularly well attended. George
learned a hymn of Mrs. Barbauld's at his own request. A dispute arose
between the two young ladies in the afternoon on the subject of
choosing a walk.
'Miss Pemberton was desirous of winding along the banks of the
river, as far as the church, that she might see the fine new monument
raised to the memory of Lady Modish. Her sisters insisted on going to
the next village, as they wanted to buy muslin for a doll's frock.
After some little altercation on each side Caroline, with affectionate
condescension, gave way to her sisters' inclination, though, as eldest,
she had the right of choice, saying she could see the monument another
time. I thought her conduct deserved a reward; therefore, after
purchasing the articles her sisters wanted, I indulged her by extending
our walk to the church.
'Tuesday.George came running in out of breath to show me a
birds'-nest he had just taken. It belonged to the blackbirds that used
to amuse us with their song in the grove. Alas! George, you have
robbed my favourite birds of their eggs. We shall no longer be charmed
with their warbling; they will droop, and perhaps die of grief.
'The gardener told me where to find the nest. He lifted me up to
take it, and I thought there was no harm in it, as the young ones were
not hatched, and intended to make my sisters a present of the eggs.
'The young ladies cried out with one voice that they never could
accept a gift procured by such cruelty, and desired him to make haste
and replace it where he found it.
'At first he was reluctant to comply with this proposal, but after I
had convinced him of the affection of the old ones, even towards their
eggs, and the pains it had cost them to build the nest, he repented
that he had taken it, and was as desirous as any of us that it should
be returned to its former situation. He has now the satisfaction of
daily watching the solicitude and tenderness of the hen, which sits
close, and we hope will hatch in a few days.
'Wednesday.I was surprised on entering Lucy's apartment to
hear her command Betty in a very imperious tone to wash out all her
doll's linen immediately.
'The poor girl remonstrated that she had a great deal of business to
do, and should have no time; but that she would wash it the first
opportunity with pleasure. Lucy repeated her commands, and would
receive no excuse. When she saw me she blushed, conscious that her
behaviour would not meet my approbation. I sent Betty downstairs, and
explained to Lucy the impropriety of such conduct. Gentleness to
inferiors, said I, is the mark of a good understanding, as well as of
a sweet disposition. Servants are our fellow-creatures. Though situated
less fortunately than ourselves, are we to increase the unhappiness of
their lot by the tyranny of our treatment towards them? Circumstances
may change. Your father may become poor, and you may be reduced to the
conditions of a servant. Consider how unkind harsh words would appear
to you, and never say that to a domestic which would wound you in their
situation. Merit is confined to no rank. Betty is a worthy young woman,
and entitled to your respect as well as tenderness, for the many kind
offices she performs for you. What a helpless being would you be
without her assistance! She makes your clothes, and aids you to put
them on; she nurses you when you are sick, and attends you on all
occasions. Can you forget the obligations you owe her, and command her
with haughtiness? There is but one way to repair your fault. You have
insulted her; ask her forgiveness.
'That I will do most willingly, replied Lucy. I love Betty, and
should be very sorry to have said anything to vex her. I spoke without
'She ran downstairs directly and made a proper apology to Betty, and
I have the pleasure to add has since bought a pretty ribbon with her
pocket-money, which she has given her as a token of her regards.
'Thursday.Emma is extremely fond of keeping animals of
different kinds in a domestic state, and I laid no restraint upon this
inclination whilst I observed her attentive to supply the daily wants
of each. On Thursday morning I had the mortification to find her
bird-cages dirty, and the glasses for food and water almost empty. I
made no remark, but proceeded to the room where she keeps her
silk-worms. The trays were filled with dead leaves, which the poor
insects crawled over, vainly endeavouring to find a piece sufficiently
moist to satisfy their craving appetite. From thence I went to the
rabbits, and found them without victuals, and so hungry that they had
begun to gnaw the belts of the hutches. I inquired for Emma, but was
some time before I could discover where she was. At length I found her
very busy in making a garden with her brother George, so much taken up
with her new employment that she had totally forgotten to clean or feed
her poor prisoners. When I told her the situation they were in she shed
tears and reproached herself with great neglect. She did not lose a
moment in making all the reparation in her power, but immediately left
the garden that had so much engrossed her thoughts and supplied her
dumb family with suitable food and attendance. This circumstance
afforded me an opportunity of expressing my sentiments on depriving
birds of their liberty, and confining them in cages, a custom I cannot
approve, as it not only subjects them to suffer much when they are
first caught, but frequently exposes them to a cruel death from the
negligence of those who have the care of them.
[Illustration: George was despatched to desire one of the
servants to bring a basket, in which we carried the poor
'Cowper has written some pleasing lines on a goldfinch starved to
death in a cage, which Emma has learned by heart, and will repeat when
I have finished reading. Her concern was so great for her carelessness
that she offered to let her birds fly, and turn the rabbits out on the
common. Pleased with her intention to do right, I gave her high
commendations; but informed her that they were rendered unable to
provide for themselves by being kept in a state of confinement, and
therefore even liberty would be a barbarous gift to them now.
Punctuality in supplying them with everything necessary was the only
kindness that can be shown to them, since they have forgotten the
habits of their state of Nature. She has been very exact since this
conversation in feeding and cleaning them, and does everything in her
power to make amends for their loss of freedom.
'Friday.As we were walking through the meadows Caroline
observed something white lying near a hedge. Curiosity tempted us to
approach it. As we drew near we found it was a young lamb almost dead,
by some accident abandoned by its dam. Its helpless condition called
forth our pity, and we consulted how we should contrive to carry it
home. After much deliberation George was despatched to desire one of
the servants to bring a basket, in which we carried the poor sufferer.
Cold and hunger were its principal disorders, which were soon relieved
by the assiduity of my humane companions. We chafed it by the fire,
whilst another prepared bread and milk, that it might suck through a
quill. Caroline could not sleep, lest the lamb should suffer for want
of food, but rose several times in the night to give it nourishment.
Such kind treatment soon restored it to health. It is decorated with a
blue ribbon about its neck, and is already become a general favourite.
'Saturday.George has been so much taken up in playing with
the lamb this morning that he has suffered himself to be called three
times to attend Mr. Spicer, his writing-master, before he made any
reply, and when he did come, I am sorry to say that the blots in his
copy-book showed that his attention was not fixed upon his employment.
After some reproof he acknowledged his fault, and wrote another copy in
his very best manner.
'I have now finished the account of the most remarkable transactions
of this week, and though I am sensible that it exposes the levity and
thoughtlessness of my pupils, I flatter myself that there are some
marks in the disposition of each which promise improvement and more
caution for the time to come.'