The Parents' Review

A Monthly Magazine of Home-Training and Culture

Edited by Charlotte Mason.

"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."

Volume 2, no. 2, 1891/92, pg. 391-394

"En hoexkens ende boexkens."

The Three Sisters; or, Sketches of a Highly Original Family (Sampson Low, Marston, and Co., 2 vols.) justifies its title. The Denbighs are an original family; the sisters are actual persons; and, whenever, whether in story-book or real life, you get a person standing forth in his or her proper individuality, there you get originality. "Dorry" has another claim; "the quaint child" is something more than unconventional; she is original as an artistic creation; we do not know of another "Dorry" in all literature; and that delightful world of the people born of the pen may greet her as "an acquisition to society;" that is, if they do talk about each other. Do they? We suspect Dorry, though: is she not rather a pathetically faithful and tender study from the life? Anyway, she is good to know, this brave, sweet, loving, droll, pathetically prudent woman-child. We must congratulate Miss D'Esterre-Keeling on her courage in attempting a theme so like that of "Little Women," and on her success in creating a companion group of sisters, fully as interesting as the "Marshes," and in so different a way. The American girls have plenty of fun and incident in their lives--are always cherished in a happy home. These three Irish girls and their mother struggle for dear life to get the means of living, in a Residenz, the capital of one of the minor German States, where Nora studies music. Fifty years ago the second title of the work would doubtless have run, "or, the Triumph of Character over Circumstances." The theme, upon which no variation is attempted, is dreary and depressing; you prepare yourself for dull or sad reading; and there is hardly a page over which you do not laugh uncontrollably; the fun lying entirely in the way "the family" take life. The pluck, resource, and indomitable courage and energy of "the Denbighs"--ladies always, whatever the situation--are worth reading of, and we should like "The Three Sisters" to be in the hands of girls, especially for the sake of the lessons of life, which go home with the more force because they come with no mark of design. May we in all humility ask the author one question? Does she think it fair to take away the reader's breath by marrying Elizabeth, without rhyme or reason, or one tittle of love-making by way of concession to human weakness?

The Educational Annual (2s. 6d.), compiled by Edward Johnson (George Philip and Sons), is a mine of information dealing with every sort of educational establishment in the kingdom, public or private. For example, do you wish to know what scholarships and exhibitions are attached to the several colleges? what are the expenses of residence at each? Here you find detailed and accurate information.

Wayside Sketches, by Edward E. Hulme (S.P.C.K.), is very pleasant little volume, illustrated, in which the writer describes hedge-plants, insects, birds, and all that gives interest to an English country "wayside," with a loving hand. The subjects treated of in "Wayside Sketches" are as various as those which solicited Gilbert White when he wrote of "Sweet Selborne." What is especially interesting to us is that Mr. Hulme got his "turn" for this sort of nature-love from "a little book that became one of our treasures at a period so remote that we cannot now assign it a date. This was entitled 'Sights in Summer.'"

Fifty Years Ago: A Layman's Address to Rugby School, Quinquagesima Sunday, 1891, by T. Hughes, Q.C., Q.R. (Macmillan and Co., 6d.) One more tribute to Dr. Arnold, by the author of "Tom Brown's School Days," must interest us for the sake of the past and of the future. It is good to hear once more the stirring notes, which, after Arnold, and in the name of Arnold, have done so much for British manhood; and many a father will be glad to have this pamphlet, containing in a dozen pages the quintessence of the Rugby teaching, to give his boys, who will read what the author of "Tom Brown" has to say, or to read over himself now and then by way of quickening sluggish thoughts and strengthening infirm purposes. Hers is the concluding peroration:--"I will never believe that the living faith which was breathed into this school fifty years ago will ever be allowed to fade out while the world stands; the faith which made the Rugby of my time a missionary school, from which the whole higher education of England drew a new inspiration, and a new life; the faith, once more to quote Arnold's own words, 'which is the opposite of all idolatry, the doctrine of the person of Christ, not His Church, not His sacraments, not His teaching, not even the truths about Him, or the virtues He most enforced, but Himself--the only object which bars fanaticism and idolatry on the one hand, and gives life and power to all morality on the other.'

"Keep Him alive in your hearts, my boys, and go forward bravely, you
'Who stand before us in this shade,
The youth who own the coming years;
Be never God or land betrayed
By any son our Rugby rears.'"

Pepacton, by John Burroughs. The "Pepacton" appears to be the Indian name for the eastern branch of the Delaware, the author's native stream; and one summer he takes a naturalist's voyage down stream in a boat of his own building, and he tells us all he sees and hears and does as he punts down stream or camps on the banks with the peculiar charm of the Home Naturalist. Now he reminds you of Gilbert White, now of Gilpin, now of Isaac Walton, and you get to know the blue bird, the wood chuck, the hickory, the oriole, just as you know thrushes and tomtits and hawthorn bushes at home. Then, there is in the same little volume and "Idyl of the Honey Bee," and, "A Bunch of Herbs," wherein he is envious, for no American poet may see such a sight as Wordsworth's

"Host of golden daffodils;"

but then, does he not give us a list of upwards of forty species of fragrant native wild flowers and flowering shrubs and trees to make up--several of them strangers to us?

In Fresh Fields, Mr. Burroughs comes to England, chiefly to see what Nature is about with us.

The publisher (David Douglas, Edinburgh) has done good service in introducing Mr. John Burroughs's "Six Books of Nature, Animal Life, and Literature" to English readers in "one shilling volumes." They are, "Winter Sunshine," "Locusts and Wild Honey," "Birds and Poets," "Pepacton," "Wake-Robin," and "Fresh Fields." We cannot imagine a more delightful birthday gift for an intelligent boy or girl.

Everyone knows Pet Marjorie, the little girl who had the honour to be Sir Walter Scott's child friend. Is there, out of the Bible, anything so tender as this:--"'I am off the fang, I can make nothing of Waverley to-day; I'll awa' to Marjorie. Come wi' me Maida, you thief.' The great creature rose slowly, and the pair were off, Scott taking a maud (a plaid) with him. 'White as a frosted plum-cake, by jingo!' said he, when he got to the street,….to the house of his dear friend, Mrs. Keith, of Corstorphine Hill. Sir Walter was in that house almost every day, and had a key, so in he and the hound went, shaking themselves in the lobby. 'Marjorie! Marjorie!' shouted her friend, 'where are ye, my bonnie wee croodlin doo?' In a moment, a bright eager child of seven was in his arms, and he was kissing her all over. Out came Mrs. Keith, 'Come yer ways in, Wattie.' 'No, not now; I am going to take Marjorie wi' me, and you may com' to your tea in Duncan Roy's sedan, and bring the bairn home in your lap.' 'Tak' Marjorie, and it on-ding o' snaw!' said Mrs. Keith . . . 'Hoot, awa'! look here;' and he displayed the corner of his plaid made to hold lambs . . .'Tak' yer lamb,' said she, laughing at the contrivance; and so the Pet was first well happit up, and then put laughing silently into the plaid neuk, and the shepherd strode off with his lamb.

"Didn't he 'face th' angry airt,' and make her bield his bosom, and into his own room with her, and lock the door, and out with the warm rosy little wifie, who took it all with great composure! There the two remained for two or three hours, making the house ring with laughter; you can fancy the big man's and Marjorie's laugh. Having made the fire cheery, he set her down in his ample chair, and, standing sheepishly before her, began to say his lesson, which happened to be--'Ziccotty, diccotty, dock, the mouse ran up the clock, the clock struck wan, down the mouse ran, ziccotty, diccotty, dock.' This done repeatedly till she was pleased, she gave him his new lesson, gravely and slowly, timing it upon her small fingers--he saying it after her:--

"'Wonery, twoery, tickery, seven;
Alibi, crackaby, ten and eleven;
Pin, pan, musky, dan;
Tweedle-um, twoddle-um,
Twenty-wan; eerie, orie, ourie,
You, are, out.'

* * * * * *

"He used to say that when he came to 'Alibi, crackaby,' he broke down, and 'Pin, pan, musky, dan,' made him roar with laughter. He said musky, dan, especially was beyond endurance, bringing up an Irishman and his hat fresh from the Spice Islands and odoriferous Ind.; she getting quite bitter in her displeasure at his ill behaviour and stupidness.

"Then he would read ballads to her in his own glorious way, the two getting wild with excitement over Gil Morrice." *

It is not only the fascination of this lovely friendship which attracts us to "Pet Marjorie." In all our efforts at education, the one thing we want to guide us is a faithful transcript of a child's mind. How does he take it all? Now here we have a hint, for Marjorie kept a journal, an altogether original document. She was away at Edinburgh on a two years' visit to her aunt, and kept this unique diary, presumably, for her mother's benefit. Here you get Marjorie--all the more a typical child because so exquisitely gifted.

Here, but this is from a letter, is a specimen of Marjorie's style:--

"I am now going to tell you of the horrible and dreadful plague that my multiplication gives me; you can't conceive it--the most devilish thing is 8 times 8 and 7 times 7--it is what Nature itself can't endure."

We fear Marjorie never finally worsted this enemy; she died before she was eight! But "Pet" has tempted us beyond reasonable limits, so only one word more. Should the little book be out of print a stiff demand might secure us a new edition.


1. The prize of One Guinea offered by "Vera" for the best short article on the management of a nursery, with rules, is held over until our next issue, because, until the date of going to press, rules have been sent in, but not articles. Competitions should be sent not later than July 10.

2. Mrs. Alfred Booth offers a prize of One Guinea for the best list of family, or nursery, dinners for a fortnight (summer). The dishes should be nice, nourishing, digestible, inexpensive, seasonable, not difficult to cook, and should offer sufficient variety. Upon these points the award will be made.

Competitions to be sent in by July 30, to Editor, care of Publishers, Paternoster House, Charing Cross Road, W. C.

*From and article in North British Review, cited in Pet Marjorie. Messrs. Simpkin and Marshall, London and Edinburgh. 1s. 1864.

Typed by Blossom Barden, Feb 2013