The Parents' Review
A Monthly Magazine of Home-Training and Culture
"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."
"En hoexkens ende boexkens."
"Of making many books there is no end," but do not let us, in our hurry after the new, forget the books on which we ourselves grew up. What have we produced to surpass Mrs. Gatty's Parables from Nature? (2 vos, 2s. 6d. each. Geo, Bell & Son). "Tell me what the rooks are doing and saying. Tell me what how they are conducted; tell me by what message the distant colonies are warned of the particular spot and hour of meeting. Tell me by what rules the place is chosen. Tell me how the messenger is instructed; tell me by what means he delivers his message. Tell me why they meet on level ground and walk like men and not rather in their own deep woods, where they might fly and roost on branches, and run no danger, and need no guard? Tell me what do they say, what do they say, what do they say, when they meet at last, and whether they are there for business or for play? Tell me these things, and I will listen to you when you point out to me the councils and the workings of the Creator of rooks and men." And then the delicious train of reasoning by which the rooks prove that man is no more than a degenerate rook, grown huge, wingless and featherless, through many ages of heavy feeding and lazy ways!
This again, "Wait till I let the Bee out, Brother," said the little girl, taking him gently up in a soft handkerchief, and then she looked at him kindly and said, "Poor fellow! So you might have been a queen if they had only given you the right food and put you into a right-shaped house! What a shame they didn't! As it is, my good friend" (and here her voice took a childish mocking tone), "as it is, my good friend, you must go away and drudge away all your life long, making honey and wax. Well, get along with you! Good luck to your labors!" And with these words she fluttered her handkerchief through the open window, and the bee found himself once more floating in the air. To say a word about the exquisite English, the sympathy with the creature-world, the subtle moral teaching, the stimulus to a study of nature with which these two dainty little volumes teem is unnecessary; every lover of books knows them. But do not let the children of this generation grow up without like pleasant intimacy.
Of almost equal grace and delicacy, of as high moral and spiritual teach (if lacking, perhaps, in the keen humour which characterises "Aunt Judy"), are the two little volumes of Earth's Many Voices (2s. each, S.P.C.K.), another friend of our childhood. There are parables from nature, also, when the gentian and the crocus, the poplar tree, the stream, and all things that a child would like to be intimate with, take voices and speak that they do know
"Now Robin had stood very quietly for the last few minutes, only turning his little head from side to side now and then, as if he were pondering something, and examining both sides of the question.
"'I suppose,' he presently remarked to the wallflower, 'you think daffodils ought not to wear yellow, nor the laburnum such long golden plumes, nor the horse-chestnuts those splendid red and white crests--how splendid they are you never can tell, for you never were up in the chestnut tree--you think it all too fine, of course.'
"'Nay,' was the answer, 'surely the daffodil has a right to be a gay daffodil; the laburnum ought to wear her golden plume, because she is a laburnum, and my brown blossoms would be as unfit for her as her golden ones would be for me. The chestnut has a right to those splendid crests, because he is a chestnut tree; they look beautiful on him because they are fit for him, and--don't call me proud, Robin--I almost think my brown gown must be beautiful on me, because it is proper for me, for it seems to my mind that whatever is proper is beautiful.'"
Earth's Many Voices is adapted for children of a smaller growth than is Mrs. Gatty's Parables from Nature.
Of the same quality, only "more so," are Mrs. Barbauld's exquisite prose "Hymns," and that lovely fairy tale of Richard Jefferies, where a little boy chances, unawares, on a talk of the wheat-ears and the butterflies.
I have no doubt other parents agree with me in wishing we knew the addresses of Rolandi and Hachette, or of some agent in London, from whom we might order "Mon Journal," or "Le Journal de la Jeunesse," or "La Nature," for our children. Will Mrs. Lane kindly give us addresses to write to, and cost of annual subscriptions? --J.M.S.M.
"Holiday House," by Catherine Sinclair, Ward, Lock & Co., 3s. 6d., is a lively, amusing, good book for children from six to twelve years of age. --J.M.S.M.
Typed October 2013; Proofread Nov 2023 by LNL
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