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, pg. 956

    "So it happeneth When work and will awake too late, to gaze
    After their life sailed by, and hold their breath."

Will you allow me to say "one word more" about mothers and daughters? One sympathizes deeply with parents when the truth first comes to them that their children are not utterly dependent on them. It is a fact that the more devoted and unselfish a mother has been towards her young children, the more difficult it is for her to adapt herself to them when they are grown up. She has so long been their visible Providence, she is so sure she only wants what is for their good, that she is apt to forget the right of each individual soul to carve out its own destiny. Who should know her children if not their mother? Yet she has had no experience of life in her father's house after early youth was past, and unless she is endowed with that rare gift, sympathetic imagination, she may live a lifetime with her daughters, and never grasp their position.

One knows girls who feel it very hard that they cannot take up any work which involves three or six months' absence from home in a year, without being supposed to have broken the entire Decalogue, whereas, if they married and went out to India or Japan, they would be followed with their parents' warmest blessings. They would in all probability receive a handsome allowance too, ora substantial sum down. Why cannot a father follow the example set by some, of investing the principal of the money for the daughter's allowance in her name on her majority, and, as time foes on and she remains at home, adding to the original sum? He is no loser by appealing for money. Under his guidance she learns something of investments, dividends, cheques, and is not hopelessly helpless when larger responsibilities devolve on her. Every father in at all easy circumstances ought to feel bound in honour thus to provide for his daughter's future; and spend her lifein a way which each year makes it more impossible for her to earn her bread. How many cases can one call to mind of groups of elderly unmarried women left almost penniless, who have been compelled to lead luxurious, indefinite lives, and who have been prevented from developing their talents to any practical purpose. Their father meant to leave them well off, but his wealth failed, his sons mismanaged his business, in one way or another the comfortable fortune vanished. The married daughters, the sons may have had their share, but those who have given their best days to his service are left to struggle with poverty alone. To all fathers who mean to provide for their daughters by will, I would say,

    "Let love antedate the work of death,
    and do this now."



I should like to say that having bough the "Star of Childhood" recommended by "Vera" in the Parents' Review for May, I do not find it equal to the special praise she bestowed upon it. I may not be a "rightminded parent," for I think that it is too High Church to direct the child, as soon as he awakes, "to make the sign of the cross" (page 5). The sign of the cross also appears in various places (pp. 3, 4, 11, 12, etc.), evidently as a direction to make it at different parts of the prayers. There are several unsuitable passages throughout the little book, besides. --Nausicaa


It is beginning to be perceived that women (like men) must be all round in their training to become efficient workers. One of other great branch of knowledge a woman may with advantage take up and specialise in it, but together with that special work (which should enlarge her mental scope, and altogether strengthen and improve her mind), there is a certain range of practical knowledhe in which she is bound to acquire proficiency to fit herself for the possibilities and responsibilities of her life.

Without quite endorsing Carlyle's severe dictum about the proportion of fools in the world, most of us hold that systems of education should be devised in the interest of the average rather than of the specially gifted being. A complete educational equipment for women must comprise practical knowledge of the domestic arts as well as intellectual culture, -- in other words, must comprise "lower" as well as "higher" education. Both are needed to make up an all round training.

These considerations suggest themselves in connection with a somewhat new departure in women's education, the Forsyth Technical Colleges for Training Women in Domestic Arts. Its originator, Miss Ethel Forsyth (a daughter of the late well known Indian administrator, Sir Douglas Forsyth), was much impressed during her long residence in India by the unnecessary discomforts and privations to which many young married English ladies are subjected by their ignorance of the practical arts and functions of household management. As wives and mothers in a trying climate and out of reach of many facilities easily obtainable in this country, the absence of this practical knowledge leads not only to unnecessary discomfort and privation, but often to ill health and costly mistakes, involving outlay that can ill be spared from official incomes. Miss Forsyth resolved to try to initiate a reform in the education of Enlish girls to remedy these evils, and accordingly, in October, 1887, started the Forsyth Technical College, with a curriculum designed to supplement, or rather to complement, that of the high schools and ladies' colleges.

It seems to me that the Forsyth College curriculum could advantageously be tacked on in the last year of schooling (when a girl is in her eighteenth year), and it is to be hoped that the Girls' Public Day School Co. and kindred associations, which have done so much for women's education, will recognize the value of the curriculum as a complement to that which they have made peculiarly their town, and that they will endeavour (either by establishing such classes themselves or by making use of the Forsyth organization for their students) to round off and perfect their system of education. --F.M.C.


A FEW THOUGHTS ON THE HOLIDAY QUESTION. -- After an absence from England of about twenty years, nothing strikes one more than the change that has taken place as regards holidays. In the good old days governesses and servants remained on from year to year, the family exodus to the seaside or country house being their only change. Schools contented themselves with a month or five weeks at Christmas, and a maximum of six weeks at midsummer; and the work being spread over some nine and a half months, instead of a bare eight months, was not considered excessive. Mais nous avons change tout cela. The holidays are really the most important part of the year to provide for, occupying four months, during which all is hustle and jostle. All, from schoolmasters and schoolmistresses down, must have their four month; governesses demanding an equal holiday to those given by schools, and servants feeling they may justly claim what others take. There is a constant coming and going, constant interruptions in the routine of the family household, as an old fashioned servant in a large family remarked, "an always being in a middle." But if we believe all progress must be towards thelight, then this holiday mania must mean that the old order changing, giving place to new -- brings with it something to be gained, something to increase the good and happiness of all concerned. As far as we can see it has, however, produced two evils, viz., school work is much harder and more excessive than formerly, when there was more time to do it in, and servants having tasted the sweets of change have become very restless, moving about from place to place and looking upon their several "situations" as so many hotels, that one being the best in which most liverty is granted and a greater number of holidays allowed.

To enable these new conditions of life to be carried out, there must be some "keepers of the stuff left behind at home." The mother of a family, the mistress of a household, cannot get away with any comfort; she takes the responsibility, the cares and anxieties with her, and during holiday times her work is increased, her leisure curtailed, her mind is on a continual strain how to provide for the necessities of each change; how to fill the gaps; how to provide to the amusements and the other demands made by the constant shifting of scenes and actors. She has to keep the servants from being put out, and to make the home elastic to bear the coming and going of its several members. It would seem as if our household machinery where a little too heavy for the requirements of our present life.

English servants become more or less mechanical in their work. They perform the same duties, in the same place, and at the same hour every day. They get (especially the older or more experienced ones) into a regular and fixed groove, and dislike any interruption. To bring in a friend at a moment's notice to dinner, or breakfast, or luncheon in as everyday occurrence in an Indian household, and puts no one out. If the additional plate and fork are not already laid, as is often the case, they are quickly brought, and no sullen looks accompany it -- quite the reverse. The Eastern servant looks on hospitality as an honour to his employer, and is quite willing to take his share in it. But in England it is always resented by the servants, and the stranger gets a poor welcome from them.

Could not a Conference be arranged in some fitting centre, and a deputation of mistresses and servants attend, and come to some understanding? The whole face of society and social life has changed, and we are drifting along into new phases, and the sooner we rouse outselves to this fact, the better for all. --X.Y.Z.

Typed by etomaria, Apr 2018