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. 231

Two of our favourite song-books were not mentioned in the article on Nursery Songs in the March number--"Merrie Games in Rhyme from ye Olden Time, Hon. E. M. Plunket (Wells, Gardner & Co.), and Henry Leslie's "Songs for Little Folks" (Cassell).--M. L. H. D.

I should be very grateful for some hints how to teach a girl of ten to be quick over such things as dressing and undressing, preparing for a walk, &c. If I try to "hurry her up" it seems to make her slower. I know from conversation with other young mothers that my difficulty is a very common one, and we feel sure that your advice in the pages of the Parents' Review would be helpful to many. My little girl is an only child, and . . ., she is constantly with me, and . . . This dawdling over dressing, &c., is an almost daily difficulty, and yet she is not by any means of a heavy, lethargic nature. She is remarkably light and active in mind and body. Is it wise to offer little rewards for quickness? The natural punishment for not being ready for a walk would be to be left at home; but, then, one grudges their missing the fresh air.--MUTTER.

I should be so very glad to know where to get any reliable information as to schools for boys. It has struck me that questions asked in the Review might very possibly be answered privately by members who would be willing to write direct to those who publish their questions--so many people do not mind writing a letter who would shrink from the unknown difficulties of appearing in print. I was wondering also whether some members would not like to pass on their copies of the Review to those mothers perhaps more sorely in need of help than any others, who, through straitened means, could not afford even a monthly sixpence. Applications for such aid, or offers of willingness to help, might come better through you than by any other way.--L. C. Y.

[We must answer this kindly and suggestive letter at once, as it covers points raised by many correspondents. We are constantly asked to recommend schools, classes, &c. To do so, excepting through the medium of advertisements, would be invidious. But we hope that our educational advertisements will, in time, form a useful directory. To this end we propose that advertisements which come to us recommended by two subscribers, and accompanied by such details as shall enable us to judge of the work, and, if necessary, to make inquiries, shall be inserted at a reduced rate. We think it best that questions asked in the Review should be answered therein, for the benefit of all, and also, that we may secure the help of the correspondence syndicate. To the last kindly suggestion there can be but one answer, but it is only in such cases as our correspondent describes that we should advise that the Review should be borrowed. We hope that a careful index and a cover for each volume (of six numbers) will help to make the Review, in time, an educational encyclopedia.--ED.]

Can anyone suggest an indoor game or toy for wet weather which would combine exercise with amusement, to supply in a measure the loss of the out-of-doors walk? Something of the kind is wanted for a solitary child. She has a swing and rocking-horse, but they do not quite meet the need. --"PRIMROSE."

Mrs. W. W. N. would like to know if the Parents' Review will include recommendations of schools, classes, and instruction generally for the assistance of parents bringing their children to town annually for educational purposes, and, if so, what classes of singing of sol feggio can be recommended, not on the tonic-sol-fa system.--[Answers should be in the form of advertisements.]

No doubt a "Reforming Father" has done so already--but if not, he can't do better than read aloud some of Plutarch's Lives (Langhorne's Translations, Murray) Lysander, Alcibiades, Aristides, Agesilaus, Agis, Dion, Solon, Alexander the Great--for example. Like the Apocrypha, they are profitable for "example of life and instruction of manners." They are delightful and most easy reading (when Plutarch does not turn aside to moralise), and to know that great men lived and great deeds were done more than 2000 years ago is a wholesome correction to the "We are the people" temper of our times. The "Lives" must be read with necessary omissions.--C. S.

Will the Editor or any reader of the Parents' Review assist a mother to make a wise selection of books for her little girl's reading? The child is not yet nine, and devours any book she can lay hands on, from Mrs. Burnet to Charles Kingsley--reads books straight through, preface and all--V. M. H.

To a "Reforming Father."--Why not try "Sintram," if you have not read it already? It is ever a fearful joy for old and young; a feast for the imagination; whilst it is full of spiritual and ethical teaching for all who can read between the lines.--C. S.

"Starland" is a most interesting book on astronomy, being talks with young people about the wonders of the heavens, by Sir Robert Stowell Ball, F. R. S., Royal Astronomer for Ireland, published by Cassell & Co. These lectures or talks were given in Dublin, I think. I don't know the price of the book. I don't know whether it is the kind of book your correspondent wishes, but I should be sorry not to let any one have the chance of reading it who has not already done so.--A. P.

Parents seldom take the trouble they ought to take towards an inquiry into the nature and conditions of the profession into which they advise--or even, as too often happens, they force their sons to enter. I therefore believe that it will be helpful to parents and others unacquainted with the profession of architecture to know something in a practical form of the present lines upon which a young architect is, for the most part, not built but tumbled up. "That in view of the present position and prospects of architects' assistants, this meeting is of opinion that the existing system of articled architectural pupilage should be abolished, and a revised scheme of education be substituted," is the conclusion recorded in "Notes" of the Architectural Association, January, 1890. Let us suppose the choice of architecture as a profession settled, wisely or unwisely--then here is what follows in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred. Articles are drawn up which fully enough explain and determine the duties of the master to the pupil, and of the pupil to the master, the premium to be paid by the parents in consideration of the instruction to be given, and the advantages to be afforded to their boy in the office of the master, and so forth. The unwitting parents and the hopeful boy feel that nothing could be fairer between man and man, and that if the boy does not get on under such circumstances, why, it will be his own fault, and the more fool he, with such advantages showered upon him. But, as a matter of fact, in all but a very few exceptional cases, the boy is left to pick up information where and when he can. Well, the term of pupilage, which frequently lasts five years--commonly three or four in London, four in the English provinces, and almost invariably five in Scotland--at length comes to an end; the articles are signed and handed over to the pupil; no questions are asked by the parents, who, taking upon trust the fulfilment of the terms of the articles, have fancied all going on, in due course, as it should go. Now the pupil has in general to look out at once for some remunerative employment. If he be country bred, the chances are he sets out for London without hesitation, all on fire--assuming genuine enthusiasm--with hope for the future. He finds, to his dismay, that the ranks of assistants in his profession are overcrowded to a degree hitherto incredible to him. Still, after a few weeks of very unpleasant endeavour--"touting" expresses it--he may be fortunate enough to obtain employment in a good office at, say, from twenty to thirty shillings per week--thirty-five at most--and he works on and studies privately or at classes as he can find time. But he feels disheartened when he discovers that for months or even years he has to drudge on towards, say, two guineas per week; then, a few years later, he may get two and a half guineas; then, if he be really competent in his business, have some faculty of design and construction in him, and be quick in execution, he reaches three, three and a half, or even four, or even four and a half guineas per week. There, however, upward advance, as an assistant, generally stops, and he enters upon a dead-level, stretching well into middle life. So much for the architect as an assistant. If he now, believing himself fairly competent in his profession, aspires to become in his turn a principal, now in truth he appreciates the extreme difficulty of attaining to this. For it is a fact, which outsiders cannot too well consider, that unless a man, who attempts to start business on his own account, possesses a little money capital by which independently to exist for some few years, and likewise a little interest in high places, it is a sad lookout for him; no matter however competent an architect he may be, however clever and loving a worker, however honourable a man, however well fitted for a high place in his profession--the attempt to open successfully an office of his own is quite hopeless. If, then, by his parents' reasonably-founded advice, joined to his own strong inclination, a boy enters this profession, let the parents determine to at least compensate in every way in their power for the existing chaotic condition of architectural education, determine to help him to fit himself for becoming, time and circumstance allowing, a worthy member of his profession. Let them not sit down comfortably upon the all-promising terms of the articles, and fancy all must be going well. Of the nobility of the architectural profession of itself I could say much; but the purpose of this paper is to induce parents and guardians to see the pressing necessity of really taking trouble to ascertain the peculiar nature of this profession before advising youths to accept or reject it.--J. M. K.

Holiday books must depend on the taste and age of the audience. Have Dickens, Walter Scott, Kingsley, all been exhausted? Try "Schools and Schoolmasters," Hugh Miller; "Silas Marner," "New Wines," "Little Women," &c., but nothing beats Dickens. The success of a book often after it is begun is marred by not following two rules--read steadily not less than three-quarters of an hour, and allow no talking.--M. L. H. D.

Blue serge year after year! Surely children are led very much by their clothes in their views of beauty and colour. Art is not denied to the economical. The world is full of colour, and children should be its bright flowers. However, be practical. All kinds of homespuns, all-wool beige, with bright sashes, Ruskin cloth, made by hand in the Isle of Man (Miss Franks, 23, Mortimer Street), are of endless wear for winter. Fisher jerseys, with red turkey twill shirts, are most comfortable, as well as beautiful. Avoid cotton, and dress only in wool.--MOTHER OF SEVEN GIRLS.

Might I suggest to the distracted mother the following time table which I have successfully tried for nine months, and which may prove of some little service, as we are similarly situated, we also having four children and one nurse. Breakfast, 7.30; Prayers, 8. After that the children go into the garden, if fine, or into the nursery, while I go into the kitchen and arrange the day's meals. At nine o'clock the two older ones come down to have lessons, and I teach till eleven. During this time the baby sleeps, and nurse tidies her night nursery. At eleven they have their lunch, dress and go out for two hours. I then practice, or write, or paint. At one o'clock I dine with the three eldest children, and then go to the nursery while nurse gets her dinner downstairs. I feel very strongly that a nurse's nerves need this rest, and absence from her charges. She generally comes up again about half-past two, when I dress and go out, often to pay calls, but more often with the elder children for country walks. At five we have the nursery tea, and at half-past five begin to undress the baby. As the nurse finishes bathing each child I give them their supper, and see each one into bed. At seven o'clock my husband returns, and I am at liberty to be with him. I often sew after the children's dinner, and also in the evenings. Since I work with system I have never felt hurried or overdone, and I trust that my experience may be of some little service to mater.--TIME TABLE.

For some years past many thoughtful and able persons have been engaged in plans and schemes which should directly benefit the large body of reduced gentlewomen. The day has gone by when it could be regarded as a disgrace for gentlemen's daughters to use their heads and hands, for the purpose of rendering themselves independent of the slender means of their parents, and the increased poverty of the upper middle class renders the necessity for girls to work quite as great as it is for their brothers to do so. Then came the consideration--"What is there open to an educated girl, aged from nineteen to twenty-one?" All could not (mercifully, we may add) be professional artists, authors, or musicians. They had not the gift of genius; but many had a safer gift, that of thoughtful common-sense, and bright helpfulness. To be a hospital nurse was a most natural and noble ambition, but only time and experience could show how few of those who began it enthusiastically were fitted for this work. The training is long and arduous, the profession overcrowded--the difficulty of earning a steady livelihood as patent as in all other undertakings. Few, I think, will disagree with me when I say that there is overwork, too severe a tax on mind and body for gently-nurtured girls. Undoubtedly the bodily labour could be better borne by women whose inherited lot has been to work with the hands--the brain being the less active agent. "But it is the need of intelligent, thoughtful minds that is felt in nursing the sick," we are told--and it is true; but it must be remembered that the double stress should be of much shorter duration than the usual hours. A labourer can work with his body from six a.m. to six p.m., never being required to make great mental efforts during that time. An author can write for hours--and his fatigue is only mental; he can then refresh himself by a brisk walk, or relax the tension in some other reasonable manner. For the hospital nurse it is different. Bright, clever nurses are singled out, and their co-operation invited by the doctor in the most difficult cases in the hospital. They walk long wards during the watches of the night; they stoop over beds, lift patients; and their hours of double labour--mind and body--are very long. I knew a girl under twenty in a hospital for children, and often went to the ward of which she had sole charge--one little servant under her to scrub and carry up trays being all the aid she had. There were seventeen poor little children, some with very painful diseases, and from eight a.m. to eight p.m. this devoted girl attended with unwearying patience. A month after I last saw her she had broken down completely, and I do not know if she recovered. It seems to me that the system rather encourages early martyrdom to a religious, enthusiastic girl; and it would be well if the lives of such could be prolonged instead of shortened, as the world can ill spare these pure, unselfish spirits. Then another branch of industry suggested itself. Certain mothers persuaded themselves that it would be most desirable to have ladies attend to their children and nurseries--that refined influences for their early years thus secured, the children would receive endless benefit. There is no doubt that the care of children is one of the most beautiful of a woman's duties, and that a lady who loved them could happily earn her livelihood in this way. It promised well, and perhaps in some instances is working well; but, alas! why did the spirit of avarice so soon destroy the real beauty of the scheme? We know that the poorest, most ignorant nurse girl does not work without wages, and that her people would not let her do it. We know that a responsible nurse demands and gets from £18 to £25 a year. What has been the cruel course taken towards the educated gentlewoman? Advertisements throng our papers. "A good home is offered to a young gentlewoman who will undertake the entire charge of four children. No salary." In some liberal instances "Church privileges" are added as an inducement. Where a salary is offered it seldom reaches £18--and this requires that the lady should give all her mental as well as physical powers to her employer. She is required to teach English, French, and music; cut out and make the clothes, and attend to the care of the children's bodies. This gentlewoman is a sort of compendium machine--the nurse, the governess, the dressmaker, all harmoniously wrapped in one human parcel, and labelled "a lady by birth!" The offer of a home is one which may be a great inducement to a poor lady; but I would remind her, and those ladies who shower their niggardly advertisements upon us, that an ordinary nurse demands a good home in addition to her wages, and gets it. So do the housemaids, the cooks, and the footmen--even lazy little "buttons" get it! Will some higher-minded members of our class offer employment to ladies on terms at least as good as those their servants receive? It looks ill for England that the poverty of so many of her well-born daughters should be the warrant for their ill-paid slavery. Try first if they can do the work they essay to do, and them pay them "not grudgingly nor of necessity."--M. D.

Typed by Blossom Barden, Sept 2015