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AN ACCOUNT OF A FRAY,

Begun and carried on for the sake of an apple; in which are shown

the sad effects of dissension and rage.

The greater part of the first week after the arrival of the little girls was spent in settling and arranging the classes. On the Saturday afternoon, however, it being a fine evening, the children were all allowed to divert themselves in the garden ; and their governess, who delighted in affording them every reasonable gratification, brought out a little basket of apples, which were intended to be divided equally among them. But Mrs. Teachum being called hastily away, one of her poor neighbours having met with an accident which required her assistance, she left the fruit in the hands of Miss Jenny Peace, with a strict charge to see that every one had her due share of it.

But, alas! the evil of the heart, that deadly evil of which every one of us has such large experience, turned kind Mrs. Teachum's design of giving pleasure into an occasion of pain and sorrow. There happened to be in the basket one apple something larger than the rest; and upon this the whole company immediately placed their desiring eyes, every one of them crying out at once, “Pray, Miss Jenny, give me that apple." Each, hearkening to the suggestions of her own heart, found some reason why she was to be preferred to all her school-fellows, and brought forward this reason with all the vehemence of selfishness: the youngest pleaded her youth, and the eldest herage ; one insisted on her goodness; another claimed a title to preference from her rank in the school; and one, in confidence of her superior strength, said positively she would have the large apple: but, all speaking together, it was difficult to distinguish who said this, or who said that.

Miss Jenny begged them all to be quiet, but in vain, for she could not be heard; they had all set their hearts on the one fine apple, looking upon all the rest as not worth having. For this is one sad effect of envy, and an eager desire after any thing not within our reach, that it prevents our partaking of those pleasures which are actually offered us, imbittering every joy, and poisoning every sweet. And on this account, He who knew the heart of man said, “ Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” Matt. v. 5.

In vain Miss Jenny endeavoured to calm the turbulent spirits of her companions. She spoke to them of the sinfulness of their conduct, and reminded them how greatly they were offending God by their greediness, instead of manifesting that spirit of meekness by which Christian children should ever be distinguished. But they would not hearken to her; and several of them not having been accustomed to be addressed in this manner, seemed not even to comprehend what she meant. She offered next to divide the disputed apple into eight parts, and to give up her own share of the contents of the basket to satisfy them: but she might as well have been silent; for they were all too eagerly talking to attend to her proposal. At last, as a means to quiet the disturbance, she threw the .apple which was the cause of their contention, with her utmost force, over a hedge into another garden, where they could not get at it.

At first they were all silent, as if struck dumb with astonishment at the loss of this one poor apple, though at the same time they had a basket-full before them. But this failed to effect Miss Jenny's intention; for though the apple was the obvious cause of their quarrel, the latent cause of all lay in their own evil hearts—the present fray was no more than a breaking forth of those sinful dispositions which exist within the breast of every child of Adam. Perhaps some of you, my young friends, who

peruse this little book, may never have heard the subject of human depravity familiarly explained. In this case, lest you should be led to suppose that these little misses of Mrs. Teachum's school were worse than others by nature, I will here endeavour to make plain to you the important doctrine of the depravity of man's heart. And first, I must tell you that God made man in his own image, pure and free from sin, without one disorderly appetite or improper feeling ; but holy, upright, and glorious, like his Maker, requiring no covering for his beautiful and spotless body, nor any imputed righteousness to conceal, as with a garment, the deformity of his soul. But Satan, the enemy of mankind, tempted our first parents to depart from God; in consequence of which, and in a manner not easy to be understood, the whole nature of man received so vitiating a taint, that every feeling and motion of his heart became sinful, and that continually; insomuch, that this strong description of the wickedness of man, among many others, is given in Scripture—“And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Gen. vi. 5.

But although this is universally the case of man upon earth, although we are born children of wrath, and heirs of hell, yet, through the mercy of Christ, a way is opened unto us for escaping these evils. The Lord Jesus Christ, by his death upon the cross, paid the price of our redemption, and procured for us the gift of the Holy Spirit of God; which being received by faith, enters the corrupt heart of man, cleansing and purifying, sanctifying and renewing it in the lost image of God. You are therefore, my dear children, unless you have already received the Holy Spirit by faith into your hearts, in no better a state than these little girls of whom you have just been reading. And if you have received that Spirit, you will think humbly of yourselves, and feel a consciousness that, when you are enabled to do better than these little ones, it is not through your own strength, but through the power of the Holy Spirit.

But to return to my story.-As soon as the little misses had recovered from the amazement into which they had been thrown on seeing Miss Jenny Peace cast the apple over the hedge, they all began again to quarrel ; and the present subject of disagreement was, which of them had most right to the apple, and which ought to have obtained it: and their anger, by degrees, reached such a pitch, that no words could vent half their rage. They fell to pulling of caps, tearing of hair, and dragging the clothes off each other's backs; not exerting themselves indeed so much in direct blows, as in scratching and pinching each other.

Miss Dolly Friendly as yet was not engaged in the battle; but on hearing her friend, Miss Nancy Spruce, exclaim that she was hurt by a sly pinch from one of the girls, she flew on this sly pincher, as she called her, like an enraged lion on its prey: and not content merely to return the injury her friend had received, she struck with such force as felled her enemy to the ground. And now the little combatants, no longer distinguishing between friend and foe, fought, scratched, and tore, like so many furious cats, when they dart their claws at their rivals' hearts.

In the midst of this confusion appeared Mrs. Teachum, who had returned with the hope of seeing her little girls happily enjoying the repast she had provided for them: it was not however till after she had been standing near them some time, that either her presence or voice

could recall them from the phrensy of their passion. But when, on a sudden, they all faced about, and saw her, shame and fear of punishment instantly abated their rage. Each of the little girls showed in her right hand, fast clenched, indubitable marks of her having mingled in the fray. One of them held a little lock of hair, torn from the head of her enemy; another grasped the shred of a cap, which, in aiming at her rival's hair, had deceived her hand; a third clenched the scrap of an apron; a fourth retained the fragment of a frock: in short, every one unfortunately held in her hand a proof of her having been engaged in the battle, while the ground was all strewed with rags and tatters, torn from the backs of the little inveterate combatants.

After standing for some time in astonishment at this disgraceful spectacle, Mrs. Teachum at length required Miss Jenny Peace, who appeared to be the only dispassionate person in the assembly, to tell her the whole truth, and to relate the cause of all this confusion.

Miss Jenny felt herself obliged to obey the commands of her governess; though her good-nature led her to endeavour, as far as was consistent with truth, to mitigate rather than to increase Mrs. Teachum's displeasure.

The guilty persons now began to excuse themselves as fast as tears and sobs would permit. One said, “Indeed, madam, it was none of my fault, for I did not begin: but Miss Sukey Jennett, without any cause in the world, for I did nothing to provoke her, hit me a great slap in the face, which made my tooth bleed. The pain did indeed make me angry, and then, to be sure, I gave her a little tap ; but it was only on her back, and I am sure it was the gentlest tap in the world, and could not possibly hurt her half so much as her great blow did nie.”

“I am surprised at you, miss !” answered Miss Jennett : “how can you say so, when you know that you struck me first, and that yours was the great blow, and mine the gentle tap?"

Such like defences they would all have made, though it was easy to perceive that every one had been equally culpable. This however is the nature of human creatures: until the Holy Spirit of God touches the heart, it is never convinced of sin, but finds something still to allege even in behalf of the most atrocious crime. Blessed and happy, therefore, are they who early in life are brought to a knowledge of themselves.

Mrs. Teachum soon silenced the whole party; and ordering them immediately into the house, she took the basket of apples, and followed them in.

What the punishment was which Mrs. Teachum inflicted on these naughty children I did not hear; but no doubt it was of such a kind as they would not easily forget.

The next day was Sunday; and in the evening, calling them all to her, she represented unto them the exceeding sinfulness of their late conduct. She endeavoured to make them comprehend, that the action of which they had been guilty was not a mere hasty offence, into which, as some people would represent it, they had been led by accidental temptation; but that it was the natural effect of evil passions abiding in the heart, from whence, as from an evil spring, every sinful act proceeds. She then explained to them the means by which their hearts had become so corrupt and sinful. I have spoken on this subject before, instead of here repeating what Mrs. Teachum said upon it, I will proceed to inform you, that when this pious woman had, as she hoped, made her pupils acquainted with the doctrines of the fall of man and of human depravity, she pointed out to them the cure of these evils. And this she did by relating what Christ had done for their salvation; assuring them, that whoever should be united by faith to this adorable Saviour would receive into his heart the Holy Spirit of God; which Spirit, working by a secret and powerful influence, would regenerate the heart, refining and sanctifying it, till at length it would be completely restored unto the glorious image of God.

Mrs. Teachum concluded this address to her young people by a solemn prayer; in which she confessed

But as

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