The Parents' Review

A Monthly Magazine of Home-Training and Culture

Edited by Charlotte Mason.

"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."
Aunt Mai's Budget

by Mrs. Francis F. Steinthal.
Volume 5, 1894, pg. 217-227

[Emeline Petrie Steinthal, 1855-1921, was a sculptor, painter, and co-founder of the P.N.E.U. with Charlotte Mason. She was married to Francis Steinthal. They had four children: Paul Telford, Dorothea, Francis, and Paul Cuthbert, who all lived well into adulthood.]

MY DEAR CHILDREN,--Shakespeare writes of "cuckoo-buds of yellow hue that paint the meadows with delight." Will you tell me what "cuckoo-buds" are, and if you have found any this month?

All happy country children will also hear the cuckoo, and will try to imitate him. So, when you write, tell me all you can about this "herald of spring." Several children have written accounts of their gardens, and of what they intend to sow and grow this year. Some of our seeds have been eaten by our mischievous peacock and hen, and you know quite well that all naughty deeds bring their own punishment, so they are in a large net cage, where they sit in the sun looking very sorry for what they have done.
Your loving



These classes are open to the children of all parents who take the Parents' Review, and no charge is made for membership. All competitors are requested to kindly fasten the name and address on each garment, and enclose stamps for the return postage. Aunt Mai is much to be pitied at the close of each month. Out of forty contributors, only seven obeyed the rule that names and addresses must be fastened on each garment. The consequence is that poor Aunt Mai has to carefully pin the letters--in some cases only the envelopes--on to the work, and when they arrive, ten or twelve by each post, this is by no means a light and easy task. Kindly give the age each month, as this saves constant references to the Parents' Review. The pattens are Madam Goudard's, in "My Dollies's Wardrobe" (I/-), and the work must be sent on or before May 30th, to Aunt Mai, Warfemead, Ilkley.

Class I. Age 11 to 14. Memie Allen and Lila Rendel each receive a book.
Very good work has been done by Edith Strode, Edith Fraser, May Lewis, Alice Petrie, 11, Joan Tindall, 11 Margery Dunthorne, 12 Charlotte Casement, 12 Marguerite Dowding, 13, Mary Newman, 12 Jenny Adamson, 12, Gertrude Madden, 11, Maud Baxter, 11 Maud Gordon, 12, Agnes Tolter, 13.
In May all the previous prize winners will be allowed to again compete for the books.

CLASS II. Age 10 and under. Dorothy Yeo, 7, and Doris Robson, 9, divide the prize. They are followed closely by Christabel Dennison, Maud Spielman and Cicely Cholmondley, 8. Dorothy Senior, 9, Kathleen Drew, 7, Joan Newman, 10, Una Morriss, 9, Blanche Morriss. 8, Winnie Lee, 10, May Vernon, 9, Beatrice Marsh, 6, Hilda Green, 9, Félicité Metcalfe, Jennett Backhouse, 10, Rhoda Goddard, 9, Esme Penrose, 8, Hilda Spafford,10, Margaret Lawrence,9, Ruth Turner,1 0, Helen Boyd, 9, Dorothy Hannan, 6, Emmie Wilson, 10, Hilda Whitfield, 8, Have all worked well, and carefully. Several children have embroidered the flannel petticoats beautifully.
In May, both classes are to make the skirt of the sailor dress, and in June, the blouse of the same.



"April showers bring May flowers" is the old saying, and you will find it true, for with good management, subject, of course, to favourable weather, our gardens ought to be gay with bloom from now till October. Snowdrops, crocus, and the various other spring bulbs may be pulled up as soon as the leaves fade. Place the bulbs in the sun to dry by degrees, each sort and color separately if possible so as to be ready for autumn planting. Phloxes and perennial sisters should be divided, this strengthens the plant and greatly improves the bloom. Water frequently with liquid manure. Prick out in pots annuals that have been sown in heat, those that are already strong and hardened, plant out where they are to bloom. Continue sowing sweet peas, mignonette, nasturtiums and other hardy annuals for a succession. When the weather is dry do not forget to water either very early in the morning or after the heat of the sun is over. Tulips, hyacinths and scillas now in full bloom must be protected from the heat of the sun by day, as well as from cold winds and occasional frosts at night. Plant pansies for late flowering. Some evergreens transplanted this month often do better than when moved earlier in the season, but will require copious watering if the weather is dry. Should the weather be mild geraniums may now be bedded out after being hardened. Do not plant too close together, but leave room to grow shrubby. Arrange that the colors blend or else contrast. Lawns to be mown, and both gravel paths and lawns to be rolled and kept clean and tidy.


Little Cooks.

A small Raspberry Cream.-- A pint of cream, 1/2 oz. of isinglass, a large tablespoonful of raspberry jam. Put half the cream into a bowl, and put the isinglass (just covered with milk) in a warm place to melt, then put the jam into a sieve, hold it over the bowl and rub it through with a spoon, mixing in the remainder of cream to make the raspberry juice run through, then well whisk the cream and juice, colour a little more, if needed, with a drop of cochineal, mix in the melted isinglass without beating, and pour into a wet mould.

[Isinglass: gelatin made from fish.
Cochineal: red dye

Soup.-- Half a cupful long rice; broth from beef; stick of celery; parsley root. 1. Pour cold water over long rice. 2. Put on fire. 3. Boil, strain, and replace in pan. 4. Take broth, strain it into the pan, put the lid on, and keep it on a slow fire. 5. Slice celery very small. 6. Wash in cold water, strain; add to soup, also parsley root.


Book Club.

Raberta Baxter and Löis Foot have sent thoughtful papers. I am surprised that there have not been more readers of Scott. Surely his works are in every library. I fear the accusation lately brought against the reading public by one of our most original and delightful writers, that no one reads Scott in these days, has, alas, some foundation.

In May we will take Dr. John Brown. "Recollections of Dr. John Brown," by Alex. Peddie (Percival and Co.) and Horea Subsecive.

1. Give a short sketch of Dr. John Brown.
2. Who was Marjory Flemming? For what is she remarkable?
3. Describe the Laird of Stoneywood in a "Jacobite Family," and some of his adventures.

This club is open to girls from 14 to 18. If at any time the parents consider that younger children can read the books suggested, I should be glad to receive a notification of the same, as they would possibly not be able to answer the questions. Papers to be sent to Wharfemead, Ilkley.



Happy Days.

I have been wondering if my little readers have yet been able to visit some pond or brook in search of Caddis larvae. I hope you have, and trust your search has been successful. It is difficult to remember things which we only read about, but if we have once seen for ourselves we do not so easily forget. This is one of the reasons why I am so anxious for you to use your own eyes, and make excursions on your own account. Since I told you the story of the Caddis-fly I have seen some wonderfully pretty cases made of dainty shells. These little shells being in their turn the homes of other tiny creatures. Would you care to hear of another happy day I spent with some other little naturalists? This time the scene is changed. The little Caddis-fly you heard about in March lived in the "North Countree": to-day, I want you to go with me down to the South of England, right away to Bournemouth. If you have ever been there you will know what a delightful place it is for making excursions. There is the sea-shore with all its wonders, the moor with its curious plants, lizards and butterflies, and the pine-woods with their cones and squirrels. No wonder then, that when I invited my three little friends to accompany me on a day's outing, there was much discussion as to where we should go.

"To the sea-shore for shells," said Muriel.

"The pine woods to look for squirrels," said Herbert, while Eric voted for a fishing-place. The wire net and the bottles had a great attraction for him.

He volunteered to act the part of guide to a pond on the moor, and was so much in earnest that we decided to follow his lead. It was not very far, so we were able to take little five-year-old Herbert, and very proud he was, as he trudged along, carrying the fishing-net and a bottle. Eric took charge of the butterfly-net, and Muriel of the botanical tin. I assure you we looked quite a scientific little party as we set out on that bright June day. No cold wind this time, but a blue sky and a blazing sun. Eric was very anxious to hurry us on. "There is nothing here but heather," he said. "Oh! Eric," called Muriel, "there are all sorts of things, and even the heather is not all alike."

I suggested we should walk in different directions, gather as many different kind of flowers as we could find, and meet again by a certain stone, which we saw in the distance. When we reached our meeting place we were all anxious to have a rest so we sat down on the springy heather and talked about our flowers. "Now," I said, "I will shut my eyes, you describe the flowers you have got, and I will guess what they are. We carried on our guessing game for some time, but I should tire you if I were to tell you all about it. They had found two kinds of heather, one with pink bell-shaped flowers, arranged in a cluster a the top of the stem; this was the cross-leaved heath. In the other specimen the flowers were purple, and arranged along the stem, not in a cluster; this was, of course, the common heather or ling. Have you ever tried how many kinds of heather you can discover on one moor?

Herbert had wandered off into a boggy place and found some lovely bright yellow flowers with fluffy stamens. I daresay you know the flower, one of the prettiest of our moorland plants, the Bog Asphodel. Eric, restless soul, was again urging us to move on, so we continued our journey, gathering flowers and counting the butterflies as we went.

At last the pond was reached, a pretty little pond almost surrounded by bushes; rushes and other water-loving plants grew near its edge. Rivalling all the gayest flowers in the brilliant colouring were two magnificent dragon flies (Fig. I) darting about over the surface of the pond, first chasing each other, then pursuing smaller insects, whose little lives were soon over when caught by one of these cruel dragon-flies. We sat down on the bank and watched their quick manoeuvers. We admired their gorgeous coat of armour, and the delicacy and strength of their gauze-like wings. Muriel said the colour of their coat was yellow, Eric blue, and little Herbert thought they were all colours at once. I think he was about right. Have you ever watched a dragon-fly's swift sunlit flight, and did you not think that its body shone with the radiance of a hundred jewels?

Sitting on the bank of that little pond we had a solemn discussion as to whether, if we had to give a prize for beauty among the insects, we should give it to the butterfly for its daintily-coloured wing, or to the dragon-fly for its brilliantly coloured body. Which would you have voted for?

Suddenly, we saw a movement in the water; what was it? We all fixed our eyes on the same spot. We saw only the ever-widening rings which indicated that something had disturbed the water. We waited and watched. "A newt, a newt," cried Eric. Yes, we had just time see that it was a newt, when down it went. "Oh!" said Herbert, much disappointed; " I never saw it at all, where has it gone to?" "It has gone down below the water again," said Eric, "I saw it." "Why did it ever come up?" asked Muriel. "The newts, Muriel, although they live in water, have lungs for breathing air just as we have, so they must come to the surface of the water every now and then in order to breathe. A man who is a very good swimmer may keep under the water for some time, but sooner or later he will be obliged to come up for a breath of air. It is the same with newts."

"Let us see if we cannot find another, putting his little nose above the water." Once more a little newt came up, the children were so excited they all tried to catch him at once, making a great deal of noise the while; consequently, he escaped quite easily. These little people had not yet learned the art of being quick, quiet, and patient.

The newt is a near relation of the frog. Do you think there is a family likeness? I think there is, although the newt has a long tail, while the frog has no tail at all. In their young days they are very much alike. The little frog we call a tadpole. I daresay you have often watched tadpoles swimming about by means of their little tails. How do tadpoles breathe? They have gills like the fishes, so they need not come to the surface at all. Young newts resemble tadpoles very closely; they, too, breathe by gills. As the little tadpole grows older, it loses its gills and gets lungs instead. It also loses its tail. Then it leaves the water and becomes a frog, jumping about on the marshy ground around the pond. The newt, on the other hand, never leaves the water, so it still needs its tail to swim with. But it, too, loses its gills, and breathes by means of lungs, as I have already explained. The frog and the newt then, are really very much alike, the principal difference being, that Sir Froggie as he grows older prefers to jump about in damp places, so he finds it more convenient to be without a tail: whereas Mr. Newt has an affection for the water, and not wishing to change his place of residence, keeps his tail to enable him to swim about.

While I had been trying to explain something of all this to Muriel and Eric, Herbert had been digging his net into the mud at the bottom of the pond. Eric jumped up to see how he was getting on, "Nothing there, I'm sure," said he, as he contemplated a mass of brown mud which Herbert had in the net. "Oh! but I'm sure I can see something moving," said Muriel. "Look here!" as she gently moved the mud on one side, revealing a rather large, ugly-looking creature, the very colour of the mud itself. So unattractive it looked, that the children were half inclined to have nothing to do with it. But when I told them, that, by-and-by, it would change its dusky coat for the bright covering of a dragon-fly, they were most anxious to hear all about it. How astonished they were, when I said that the dragon-flies which we could still see hovering over the pond, were once dull, brown little creatures like the one we had just put into the bottle! "Then the dragon-fly is like the caddis-fly," said Muriel, "it begins life in the water?"

"Yes, Muriel, you are right, and if we could ask the insects which we see flying about in the air, where they spent their early days, a great many of them would answer, "Once I was a little larva living happily under the water"--Here I was interrupted by a remark from Herbert. "I wish I could turn into water-baby like Tom did, then I could just go down into that pond and talk to those little insects."

"I am afraid you cannot do that, Herbert, although the clear, cool water does look rather tempting, but shall I tell you what I believe this little, brown creature would say if it could talk?" The older children were at once interested, and gathered round to listen to what the brown larva had to say.

"My cradle was a tiny egg, which my mother placed on one of the green rushes at the edge of the pond. I was rocked by the gentle blowing of the wind, and the quiet moving of the water. One day I crept out into the world. My world was that little pond. I looked about me, for from the first I had a very good pair of eyes, and saw all sorts of creatures, some smaller than myself and some larger. At first I felt quite frightened. There were my friends, the caddis-larvae, building their shelters of sticks or stones; the snails had their shells for castles of safety--how was I going to protect myself? I did not know how to make a case of sticks, and how the snail made its shell I had not the least idea.

"As I grew bigger and stronger, however, I was pleased to find that I had quite a tough, strong coat, and need think of no further protection. I was a great deal bigger than many of the creatures in the pond, and not only was my coat strong, but it just matched the mud at the bottom of the pond, so I knew that as I ran about my enemies would not be able to see me very easily. I daresay I should have been handsomer if I had been brightly coloured, but then I should not have been half so safe. With my three pairs of legs I ran about fairly quickly, and I could also swim--not with my tail as the big newts do, nor with my legs as the water-beetles do. Five little doors I have at the end of my body. I open these and in rushes the water. I squeeze the water quickly out of my body again, and the result is that I shoot along in the opposite direction. It is rather a jerky way of swimming, but it answers very well. Sometimes I was hungry and then I had to go out hunting. I am afraid I was rather cruel; but I must live. You wonder, I daresay, how I caught my prey. My mouth does not look very dangerous, does it? (See Fig. 2.) But watch, and I will shoot out a splendid pair of pincers, made on purpose for catching little insects. (Fig. 3.) I can hide these sharp teeth away, when I do not wish to use them. Down in that pond there, I hid quietly in the sand, and, then when some little insect passed by, I suddenly shot out my pair of pincers and caught the poor little thing. (Here Muriel quoted):--

    "I weep for you," the walrus said,
    "I deeply sympathise."
    With sobs and tears he sorted out
    Those of the largest size,
    Holding his pockethankerchief
    Before his streaming eyes.

I forgot to tell you that as I grew bigger my coat became too small. I have been obliged to change it several times. But before I cast one skin I am careful to get another ready to take its place.

"This morning I was resting quietly at the bottom of the pond, when you came and caught me and put me in this bottle. Now I don't know what will happen next, but I hope you will be kind enough to put me back in the pond--I feel so dull and lonely."

The children were now so much interested that they somewhat reluctantly allowed him to return to his favourite haunts, on condition that I would finish the story. So I continued, "Although he looks so brown and ugly now, he is really getting ready to be a perfect dragon-fly. The wings of the dragon-fly are forming within those small brown larval wings, the legs of the fly are developing within those six little brown legs. A new mouth is being prepared, in fact all sorts of wonderful changes are going on within that brown skin. Every time he changes his coat, he is a little more like the perfect insect. At last the day comes when everything is quite ready. On that day the little larva would appear to us just the same. We should not see much alteration; we could not guess that a real dragon-fly was packed away within that brown coat. But watch, the larva creeps up the stem of a water-weed, the brown skin cracks along the back, and then, oh! wonder of wonders! through this little opening, the dragon fly makes its way into the bright world. It is weak at first, and its wing are all crumpled, but after resting for a short time on its empty skin, it gains strength, stretches its wings, and begins its new life." Many questions were asked, and we answered as many as we could. Then we packed up our traps and returned home, the children declaring they would often come to the pond and watch for a dragon-fly leaving its old brown skin. I wonder if you can understand these few lines about the dragon-fly, they describe exactly what we have been speaking of.

    "To-day I saw the Dragon-fly
    Come from the wells where he did lie.
    An inner impulse rent the veil
    Of his old husk: from head to tail
    Came out clear plates of sapphire mail.
    He dried his wings; like gauze the grew;
    Thro' crofts and pastures wet with dew
    A living flash of light the flew."
    [The Dragon-fly, by Tennyson]

I think you might perhaps learn the last verse.


Typed by GandalfStormcrow, Jan 2019; Proofread by LNL, May 2021