Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Horace and Georgiana
We have not known thee as we ought,
Nor learned thy wisdom, grace and pow'r
The things of earth have filled our thought,
And trifles of the passing hour.
~T. B. Pollack
In the second chapter, Mrs. Prentiss takes us right over to meet this young lady to whom Horace is so intent upon proposing, and when we meet her, we're able to understand Aunt Jane's distress over it. The young lady, Georgiana, is the antithesis of what any of us would hope that any of our sons would give us as a daughter-in-law. I don't have a son, but if I did, I'd hope he would look for a girl who exemplifies, or at least is striving for, those character traits of the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31. They don't start developing after marriage, now do they?* So hopefully a godly young man would be looking for these virtues when choosing a mate. Not Horace. But then, the question arises as to whether or not he is a godly young man.
Of Georgiana Fitzsimmons we read:
. . .Miss Georgiana's idea of a father was of a man who spent his life in making money for her to spend--of a mother, as a woman who looked after the servants, ordered good dinners, and kept out of her way on all desirable occasions. . .She found it quite agreeable to have lovers; it was out of the question to go into society with such a figure of a man as papa, who, as she often assured him, only knew enough to sell calico, and it was convenient to have fine looking young men like Horace Wheeler attend her when she went out. . .
Such was Horace's choice. Poor fellow. It doesn't take long in the story to realize that the "things of earth have filled his thought" rather than God's requirements. He has determined that he must have this "glorious creature":
. . .At last he bethought him of a ring of some value, that had been his mother's. He could put this ring upon her finger, and at the same time whisper some words that would reveal that to one human being only could he entrust this sacred relic. Georgiana would shed tears,half accept and half refuse it; he should then in this tender moment speak of his hopeless love--hopeless, because of his poverty and her position, and she should throw herself into his arms, declaring that a cottage with him., etc., etc.
This was Horace's plan, but was it God's? Those of you who've read this book know what happened by chapter's end. Not wanting to give away too much of the story, I won't go into detail about that, but I will ask you to reflect on this statement: "Sometimes God brings judgment by giving us what we want; other times He shows His mercy by withholding our wants from us." What would you want for your son in this situation, God's judgment or His mercy?
This chapter made me reflect on God's mercies and judgments and the various ways they come to us. It also made me think of the qualities of character I would hope that a son would look for in a prospective wife, and that I would want to see in my daughters. If you have a daughter who ever reads this book, you may want to encourage her to ask herself this question: "Is there any of Georgiana in me?" In fact, I don't think it's ever too late to ask ourselves this question.
And finally, I took note that Aunt Jane did not make a personal appearance in this chapter. But she was there. Somewhere unseen, she was praying. We can have little doubt that these prayers had something to do with the outcome. Such will be the case with our loved ones. Are they off somewhere doing whatever it is they do? Are they married? Away in college? At work? Who knows what kind of situations will come up in their lives. I just hope that even when we're not seen we'll be praying.
*(Note: My daughter brought something to my attention after I had posted this. I hope no one construes my statement in the first paragraph to mean that a woman CANNOT develop virtuous qualities after marriage. Someone can be saved after marriage for sure, and God can certainly do works of grace in any area of a person's life at any time. My point is that virtues that a godly man desires in a woman are most often there before the wedding. It's that old warning that a person in love should not think he or she can change the other person who does not really have a heart for God, but should choose wisely.)