The Parents' Review

A Monthly Magazine of Home-Training and Culture

Edited by Charlotte Mason.

"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."
The "P.R." Letter Bag

Volume 3, 1892/93, pgs. 555-558

(The Editor is not responsible for the opinions of correspondents.]

Dear Editor,--As this is the month of travelling, a few suggestions for a long journey with children may be of use.
An early start is wisest, otherwise the excitement increases every half-hour. A definite mid-day rest in the train is a wise plan; a little prize to be won by those who really fall asleep has a marvelous effect. The meals should be as regular as at home; the dinner perhaps a little earlier. There is no need to keep on feeding. Every one has his or her own menu. We have found little half-pound gallypots filled with corn-flour or jelly, to be eaten with doll's spoons, one for each child, a great success. Avoid much meat and bottles of milk; provide fruit and lettuces, and lemonade made at home. Some children travel with dolls and doll's luggage, and play with them all the way; for those who do not, pencils and paper for drawing, coloured squares for paper folding, string, for cat's cradle or watch-chains, are easy to manage. Games of twenty questions, counting gates and railway bridges, making rhymes, beguile the time. Each fresh employment should be brought out as a novelty, and the children left to amuse themselves. The elder ones may learn much from a good map. Engrossing story-books are not desirable either for the eyes or the mind. The children should look about and see all they can. Journeys ought not to be weary things. Children should be taught to remember that their elders can get tired too. Why have not the elders more of the children's power of enjoyment, and their happy trustful faith that "all will be well"?
M. L. H. D.


Dear Editor,--Will you allow me to say a few words on singing for the little ones. Let them sing, teach them songs, sing with them. I do not think every one may be able to introduce singing as freely as I should advise in the daily routine of lessons. In schools this could not be, except at stated times; but in home education there is more freedom, and often may a little dulness, a little inattention, a little impatience be dispelled by means of a merry song.

In some early happy teaching of mine I found the usefulness of a few simple tunes set to the words of the pretty instructive verses which the good Germans teach to the children. It was my object to teach plenty of German words to the little ones under my care, and to give them therewith a store of sweet thoughts. Every day they learnt a few lines of children's poetry in German, simple verses about fields and flowers and birds, and all that is bright and beautiful.

When the turn came for German poetry in the lessons, there was a cessation in other occupations, that all might join in the songs. I often think of them now, when many years have passed; I think of the fresh little voices singing with the spirit of real enjoyment, of the burst of merry music so joyous and so hearty. These come to my memory with the conviction that it is well for the children to sing.

We were in the country at that time, and in our walks, if we were tired and the little ones kept up with difficulty, the happy songs encouraged them; we kept step to the tunes--we forgot the worst of the weariness. The words of the songs were sometimes English, but I found what pleased me best among German verses for children. I did not wish to teach nursery-rhymes; I wanted what would raise and refine the thoughts. Should not all teaching always tend to the highest of all aims? A little nonsense may be a useful diversion, but what is attractive to children need not consist of nonsense only.

Caroline H. S. Siffken


Dear Editor,--My friend ___ introduced to me the Parent Review almost at the beginning of its course, and I have from then till now been a constant reader of its articles. Very deeply thankful I have felt for its admirable teaching how to train our children into wise and noble men and women, and its many suggestions, full of insight and comprehension, how to deal with children with difficult temper and strange, morbid dispositions. This monthly, carefully read and thought over by intelligent mothers, should make children understood as they were not wont to be, and their childhood a series of triumphs over difficulties and obstacles. Happy woman yes, to help to establish better times for parents and children, I am sure that fathers and mothers, and the children also, owe you much gratitude for the valuable help which month by month you give them . . .

But the quoting of one passage from Sir John Lubbock in p. 384 of the July number suggests to me some painful disappointment:

"Only a few years ago, bacteria seemed mere scientific curiosities;" while now, "the researches of Burdon-Saunderson, Greenfield, Koch, Pasteur, Toussaint, and others seem to justify the hope that we may be able to modify these and other germs, and thereby appropriate inoculation to protect oneselves against fever and other acute diseases."

Forgive me for saying that you can have very little knowledge of what is involved to God's creatures by the "interesting researches" of Burdon-Saunderson and the rest of these gentlemen. I don't wish to write the bitter things that are in my heart--the result of knowledge attained by reading on both sides of the question.

So, instead of wasting your time over my poor, inadequate words, I venture to send you the current number of the Zoophilist and some other pamphlets, which I beg you to read carefully through. It is not all pleasant reading I know to my cost; but if the mere details are harrowing, what must the reality be of prolonged torture to the poor helpless brutes.

The charge of exaggeration against those who oppose vivisection is futile. We have no mean of knowing what goes on in these laboratories, except on the information of the vivisectors themselves--they are their own reporters, and their handbooks the source of all our knowledge.

This is no mere question of research and extending our knowledge; it is, above all a moral question. And it is a matter which (I say without impertinence) you are bound to look into, not merely from the intellectual side, for you hold a post of responsibility in God's sight and man's. You instruct the parents, many of them, of English-speaking people, and beware that you do not call evil good, and put darkness for light; because if you do, there are many with unformed or hesitating opinions who will follow your lead, and who will end in "justifying the wicked."

Quite recently a gentleman in commenting to me on this expression, "seems to justify the hope," &c., added: "This is as far as they ever get, and they never reduce anything to certainty or utility. The fact is, that although they can identify certain bacteria, they are utterly unable to exterminate them in the body of the suffering patient." Pray, forgive my letter, which has grown too long and believe me, dear madam, faithfully yours,

(Mrs.) Hannah W. Oliver.


Royal Gardens, Kew.
Dear Editor,--May I send you a few thoughts that have occurred to me on reading the letters on sceptical children and also the article "Mothers and Sons." T. G. R. speaks of our union round the Cross. It seems to me that there are many beautiful metaphors in the Bible which tell of our union in Christ together with our dependence on one another. There is the town, that new Jerusalem, in which each stone is built up into the right place, indispensable to the perfection of the whole; the body, in which each member has its work with Christ at the head; the vine, in which each branch should bear fruit, drawing its nourishment from the main stem, Christ, and often through some of the other stems. There is the nation, with Christ as king, ruling through his ministers; the family, with Christ as elder brother and co-heir; and the familiar allegory of the flock and the Good Shepherd. It seems to me that a child should be taught that to allow himself to entertain for one moment doubting thoughts is to admit treachery into the camp, that God gives faith to all who seek it, and that failure in faith is a sin, a flaw in the stone, which, but for God's mercy, must endanger the surrounding stones.

These things may and should be very real to a child. He should feel, not that they are beautiful stories and allegories, but realities. I think most children, very young children at any rate, are very ready to accept such things as real if they are only explained to them in a sufficiently realistic way. They will see that they have their work with respect to others, their proper place, that all must be done in right order and loyally, that there be no flaw in the building, no failure in fruit, no rebellious subjects, no cold-hearted children. Please insert this letter or not in the P.R. as you think well; and believe me yours faithfully,
C. C. C.


Dear Editor,--As much as I delight in the Parents' Review, I find the advice therein more useful for children rather older than mine. I have two--a boy, three years (very sharp for his age), and a little girl of sixteen months. May I ask for a few hints on educating and amusing them, especially the boy? I suppose he is too young to be sent to a Kindergarten, but could I not teach him some of the games, &c. (especially drilling, as he is getting round-shouldered). If so, where could I learn them?

I should also be glad to hear of some nice books for a child that age, with stories that I could learn to repeat to him, as he dearly loves to be told stories, especially about horses.

He is a child with a wonderful memory, and is very observing. I am not at all clever myself, and feel it such a responsibility to bring them up well; so shall be grateful for any hints.

Is there any means by which I could learn some of the training of the House of Education, as, unfortunately, I cannot afford to have a "Tante." [CM-trained governess] I suppose I could not hear of a nice girl through this paper, with a sweet temper, and really fond of children, who would be taught nurse's duties by me, as I have had so much trouble with my nurses?

Could not we who have children's interests at heart establish some place where girls of the lower class could be trained somewhat similar to "Tante," for it is generally the children of parents who cannot afford high wage who suffer most.--Yours, etc.,
"Anxious to Improve."


Dear Editor,--Will it aid any parents troubled by their children's difficulties (vide E. C. in July number) to know that I have found it of the greatest help, in avoiding doubt or dread, to always refer to death as not of the person but only of the body. We never die! Oh no, we live for ever; the body only dies and turns again to dust.

We always refer to dying as "going home," and if I cannot honestly say this of any one who has passed away, I then say, "God wanted him," or some similar expression.

I impress on the children that the passing away is like going out of one room, across the passage, and another door opens to admit the child or friend who is the subject of conversation. One of my children, when about four years old, longed often "to go to the lonely home and see God." Another, about three, wanted to send her best book, "the little blue one, mother," to show God how much she loved Him, "and for Him to keep it and read it!"

I think they have no fear or dread, though now thirteen and seven years old.--Yours truly,
Y. A. M.

Proofread by LNL, August, 2023