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The Parents' Review

A Monthly Magazine of Home-Training and Culture

Edited by Charlotte Mason.

"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."
Notes and Queries.

Volume 1, 1890/91, pg. 478

I have read with much interest Mr. Rooper's paper, "Art for Children," in the May number of the Parents' Review. What particularly struck me was his query as to whether children care for pictures such as Raphael's Sistine Madonna. My own experience leads me to believe that even very young children have often an intuitive appreciation of the beautiful in the art, and appreciation with which we do not credit them, and certainly do not foster, when we hang their nurseries with the cheap coloured prints and bad wood engravings which are generally considered "just the thing for children." Far be it from me to decry the many beautiful reproductions which make all children familiar with the paintings of artists. Many of the coloured sheets of the Graphic and Illustrated London News are eminently suited for children's rooms, but is not possible that children can appreciate pictures which appeal strongly to their imagination and give their minds thoughts which perhaps they can hardly explain, but which unconsciously elevate them in a way that a picture of a little girl in a pink frock, washing a terrier, can never do? My own nursery at first possessed only the usual coloured children's pictures, and I was much astonished one day by my little girl, aged three, asking if the photograph of Raphael's Sistine Madonna might be removed from her father's bedroom into her nursery, because she "did so like to look at it." It always remained a great favourite, later on being hung, at the child's own request, above her cot in the night nursery. The engraving of Holman Hunt's "Triumph of the Innocents" seems to give the same child (now nearly four and a half years old) keen delight; also Burne-Jones's "Six days of Creation"; proving, I think, that there is something in a child's mind which unconsciously responds to the truest artistic feeling and that a child's fancy is not always taken by a bright colour, which merely catches the eye and does no more. Neither of my children care for Lear's nursery nonsense book, the bad outline and crude colouring seeming to offend their eye, and they are not old enough to see the comic side of it. I always buy them photographs of the various places they have been to, and these in their oval frames are hung round the nursery chimney-piece and give them great pleasure, besides serving to keep the various places fresh and distinct in their memories. I should like to know what other parent, think of the advisability of some fairy tales to children, in many of which the persons and and animals tell the most bare-faced lies, and do very cruel things. On hearing one tale read, my little girl said, "But that was not true, I thought it wrong to tell untruths." In this case no retribution had followed the untruth, and it seemed to confuse her ideas of right and wrong so much that I gave up these fairy tales, keeping to those in which no moral question is involved. Still, I should like to know the opinion of others on this point. Fairy tales as a whole, to my mind, play a very delightful and important part in the development of a child's mind.--

If you agree with the purport of this letter, will you kindly suggest in the next number of the Parent's Review, that parents should be more careful not to leave the magazine in the way of the children. I know of one mother who even gives it to her little girl to read. The child knows as well as the parent when the latter fails to carry out the principles taught in your magazine. I know one little girl of eight years of age who will stand by, indifferently, almost contemptuously, while being scolded angrily by her mother, and when the "lecture" is over will turn quietly to her sister, saying, "She will be sorry for it by and by!" If children are placed in a position to criticise their elders, I do not see how we are to foster the spirit of reverence, for very few parents are above criticism. Many parents believe that the children will have no interest in such reading, but I think they are mistaken. I well remember the delight with which, as a little girl, I read "How I manage my Children," which had been left about by accident (for my mother always kept books of that description, and all medicine books, in one of her own drawers). Fortunately for me, our parents trained us so wisely, that I found no occasion to sit in judgment upon them. -- E. T.

"A Father," in your most excellent magazine, Parent's Review, for May, asks for the best half a dozen stories for children. Surely you will pardon me for saying that matchless story of "Joseph and his brethren," in the book of Genesis, should stand at the head of these, whatever they may be. Pardon my venturing to suggest—FREDERICK WHITFIELD, Vicar of S. Mary's, Hastings.

TO THE. MOTHER OF ERNEST. -- .1. When Ernest next flings his arms round your neck and promises to be less selfish, would it do to agree with him on some definite manifestation of his good intention, e.g., more courtesy to yourself, or chivalry towards his sister, on particular occasions? 2. Ought you not to protect Sylvia's rights, and teach her to be wise and brave about protecting them herself? She is as likely to be marred by the present state of things as he. 3. A delicate digestion, together with sweets and cakes at his own discretion, may account for much of his tiresomeness. 4. Make a dead-set at his teasing the little ones. -- F. T. P.

Madam,- I am greatly astonished at the following passage on page 333 of Parents' Review (June). "The passionate child, who slaps his nurse, receives a slap in return. "This is mentioned as an "appropriate punishment ' -- apparently for a very young baby, as in the following paragraph it is implied that the desire for love and sympathy comes at a later stage. What an example! What a storm it would raise! If the child is in it passion, the nurse should be absolutely calm. She may put the child down from her arms, look astonished, grieved, &c., &c., but a slap in return! It also says, "The greedy child is denied the food it has snatched." I believe what is usually called a "greedy child," is a child whose food does not properly nourish it. It needs to see a doctor, not to be punished. Then, "The little thief has his toys taken from him." Why call an un-moral baby "a thief"? It takes anything it sees, but it is in no sense a thief, and people cannot be too careful in avoiding big words -- "thief," "naughty," &c., &c., in presence of or in reference to infant. The rest of the article is very interesting, but it seems to me a great pity that this treatment of babies should be mentioned with any approval. -- I. J.
[By the kindness of the author of "Motives" we are enabled to publish at once a reply to the letter of "I. J." -- Ed.]

Dear Madam,—I think it will be well to offer some explanation to your correspondent, as she seems to have not quite understood me. The whole thing turns on the principle enunciated in the the article. Whether we are justified in appealing to lower motives, ere the higher are operative. Do these prepare the way for the higher? Is there a stage in a child's education, at which it is not wrong to say, "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth" May we at this stage use as motives, the fear of pain, the love of nice things? I do not, of course, mean that the pat should be given angrily, as though for revenge, but calmly, judicially, to make baby see it is naughty. 2. Your correspondent objects to the word "thief." She is right in feeling the word unsatisfactory; it is ambiguous, being used for a person who takes with and without conscience of wrong. We have the two words manslayer and murderer, which make such a distinction, but I could not think of any synonym for " thief," which would not seem absurd (I believe Professional thieves are called purveyors). I therefore prefixed "little," which appeared to modify be hard word. The same objection applies to the word " greedy." Again, I can only say, I know of no other word. 3. It is, of course, an open question, whether there is such a thing as greediness, i.e., whether the bodily appetites are infallible guides, when we are in a state of health. Rousseau would have said "Yes," -- so would some teachers in St. Paul's day; he replies to them in I Cor. vi. 13, on which see an admirable sermon by Robertson. It is a doctrine not without advocates now. Your correspondent may be dealing, as I was, only with the baby-stage, but it is a question so fundamental, hat I think we ought to have clear thoughts about it. I think, however, the distinction is made in the words "naughty" and "wicked"; we use the former for one whom we do not regard as too young to be quite responsible.
Yours truly, D. BEALE.

I am anxious to have a German hymn book recommended to me. Is "Zionslieder" a good arrangement, or is there a newer and better. one? I also wish for a good German fairy-tale book, specially for children. Are Hauff's "Märchen" good? I should like an opinion on Tiecks "Phantasus," by some one who knows the book. Also on Sara Coleridge's "Phantasmion," which I have vainly tried to procure. It seems to be out of print, for although a new edition was got up in 1874, published by H. S. King, and with preface by Lord Chief Justice Coleridge, the whole of the stock of this publisher was burnt out. -- "NUSICAA."

Typed by happi, January 2016