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 7, 1896, pgs. 13-24

[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,--I trust you are all very busy writing our Christmas tales, which I hope to receive before the 20th of this month. It is so easy to children to do something the first time; but how often do little tongues complain, "Oh, I am so tired for doing that over and over again: I wish I had anything else!" But my nieces are not quite like other nieces, are they? I expect you mean to show all the outside children that you stick to your work, and do it even better the second time than the first. I do not mind how much binding you give me to do, and won't look cross and disagreeable when the postman staggers to the door, weighed down with your MSS.--only, of course, I'll feel sorry for the poor man,--but not at all for myself.

Now, my dears, I won't give you anything else to think about this month; but will put on my best thinking-cap and find something very nice for December.
Your loving
Aunt Mai.

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This and all other competitions are open to the children of readers of the Parents' Review. Stamps must be sent for return postage. Each article must have a label on it, with child's name, address and age clearly marked on it.

All work in this and in other competitions to be sent before the 30th to Aunt Mai, Wharfemead, Ilkley.

This month, make the best dress.

Class I. Age 11 to 15.--Dorothy Gabain wins a prize. Freda Hollis and Dorothy Sayer send well-made nightgowns; also Emily Mackenzie.

Class II. Age 10 and under.--Irene Walker (8) wins a book. Muriel Bentley Baumann (10), Madgie Crook (10), and Ruth Gabain (9) send good work; also Agatha Tibbits, Cicely Wicksteed and Rosamund Wicksteed.

The holidays have greatly affected the competition this month.

Founder: Mrs. Edmund Strode.

Remember that the cloak or top covering must be sent this month before the 30th.

Marks are given for neatness, sewing and button-holes.

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This month, make a muffler and mittens.

Dorothy Senior (11) wins a book for a pretty green frock, smocked with yellow.

Mary Priestman (10), a dainty blue checked dress; Lucy Scott Moncrieff (15), a scarlet frock, smocked with white silk; and Margaret Kendall (15), a crimson one. Cecilia Coote, Winifred Tibbits and Eva Mackintosh sent.

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Mordaunt and Daisy Betts again carry off a prize for Queen Elizabeth, who is simply perfect.

Dress Queen Victoria.

Next year National Costumes of different countries will be made.

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Illustrations of the extract from "Phantastes" have been sent by--

M. A. and A. J. Thompson, Marion and Eveline Thompson, Joan Abbay, Dorothy Senior, Marjorie Franklin, Lucy B. Wilson, Dorothea Steinthal, Katharine Marriott, Vera Dawson, May and Clinton Lewis, Madgie B. Crook, Grace and Lorna Lawrence, Mary and Frances Anson, Muriel, Eric and Archie Bentley Baumann, Marjorie and Evelyn Powys, Daisy and Mordaunt Betts, Nina and Daisy Johnstone Douglas, Eric Steinthal, Gabrielle and Ethel Lomas, Cecile Parke, Phyllis, Joyce and Mary Sayer, Winifred Grice, Cecily Cholmondeley, Rachel Barclay, Margaret Bussé, Marjery Webb, Marguerite Dowding, Marguerite Hume, Dorothy and Freda Rope, Gladys and Marjory Rimmington.

Subjects for November:--
I.--A bow of self-coloured ribbon.
II.--One illustration to Stephenson's poem ("Garden of Verse")--

The Land of Counterpane

When I was sick and lay a-bed,
I had two pillows at my head,
And all my toys beside me lay
To keep me happy all the day.

And sometimes for an hour or so
I watched my leaden soldiers go,
With different uniforms and drills,
Among the bed-clothes, through the hills.

And sometimes sent my ships in fleets
All up and down among the sheets
Or brought my trees and houses out,
And planted cities all about.

I was the giant, great and still
That sits upon the pillow-hill,
And sees before him dale and plain,
The pleasant land of counterpane.

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Freda and Ellie Hollis, Whitkirk Grange, Leeds, send 10s. 6d. to this fund. Others who kindly promised to send subscriptions are requested to do so before November 30th, so that some little ones may have a happy Christmas.

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Perhaps some of my young readers will laugh at the idea of a paper about cats; but, like all animals, they, their habits, uses, and diseases are interesting to study. There are many varieties of tame cats, as you will see if you ever visit one of the cat shows at the Crystal Palace or elsewhere. One of the most curious is the Manx or Isle of Man cat, which has only a short stump instead of a tail. The fur is coarse, not sleek like that of our tortoiseshell or tabby cat. The most beautiful and valuable of all is the Angola or Persian cat, which so closely resemble one another that it is difficult to tell the difference. Both are large, with long silky hair, varying in colour from grey to blueish grey and white; the tail long and bushy. Chinese cats are also large, and have silky fur, but long drooping ears, quite unlike any other cat. Tortoiseshell cats were originally brought from Spain, and are more delicate in appearance and constitution than the common Tabby.

Cats become very fond of their owners, and show such attachment to the house they have been brought up in that they will hardly ever stay if moved to a fresh home, but will travel great distances to return to their former abode. For centuries the cat has been a favourite pet. The ancient Egyptians prized and revered their cats so highly that after death they had the bodies embalmed or made into mummies, a tedious and costly operation only performed on great and famous personages. Cats are subject to various ailments, but generally know where to go for a cure, grass being a valuable medicine. Should, however, your pet be seriously ill and require physic, you must administer it with a teaspoon slowly, first taking the precaution to wear a pair of strong leather gloves. Get a piece of carpet and roll the patient in it, only exposing the head; open the mouth wide, and then pour the dose slowly down the throat, taking care not to spill any on the coat of the animal.

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I. Chocolate Pralines.--Blanch a quarter of a pound of sweet almonds; pound them with a quarter of a pound of sifted sugar; work this into a paste, and make them into small round balls, the size of a very small marble. Put a small pan into hot water; take a quarter of a pound of the best chocolate and dissolve it in the pan, without any water. When the chocolate is quite dissolved, drop the almond balls singly into the chocolate, and when they are quite covered with the chocolate take each one with a two-pronged fork, and after they have dripped put them on a flat surface covered with paper and just turn the fork once to make the little top twist that one sees on all Pralines. If round chocolate drops are only required, a knitting needle used to lift out the balls will suffice. The Pralines must be left to dry in a cool place, but may not be left in a draught.

II. Bread Dumplings.--Soak a quarter of a pound of bread in a little milk, and when thoroughly soaked rub it through a sieve. Add a quarter of a pound of butter, one dessert-spoonful of sifted sugar, a pinch of salt, a little cinnamon, a quarter of a pound of ground sweet almonds, and one egg, stir these all well together; grate half a pound of stale bread. Have ready a pan with boiling water, and just before putting the dumplings into the boiling water, stir the grated bread into the mixture.
The following is the way to turn the mixture into little dumplings:--Take a dessert-spoonful of the mixture and dip it into the boiling water, add a few at a time, and when they rise to the surface take them out with a skimmer, drain them well, and serve very hot on a dish with any kind of stewed plums.

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The following members have sent answers and received marks accordingly, viz.:--

Div. I.--Susan Venables (6), Kathleen Bird (5), Winifred Grice (6), Pearl Borrer (5), Honora Sneyd (5), Alexander Colles (5), Joan Campion (6), Elsie Alexander (6), Bernard Ward (6), Grace Laurence (5), Madeline Graham Watson for two papers (12).

Div. II.--Rhoda Goddard (4), Cicely Foster (6), Dorothy Senior (6), Clare Pelly for two papers (12), Lorna Laurence (5), Esmé Graham Watson for two papers (12), Kathleen Hosking (5), Hawthorne Robertson (6).

Div. III.--Kathleen Colles (6), Ethelwyn Robertson (6).

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(Continued from page 12.)

George o' Dreams was fully contented with this explanation, for he was beginning to feel a little anxious as to what would be said in the village if he returned as a King with a Princess for his wife. So he took a grateful farewell of the King of Fancies, went up the five hundred steps accompanied by the Dream Princess, took her silver veil from her head and threw it down the trap-door, which he then tried to shut. But it was so heavy that it slipped from his hand and fell to with a tremendous noise as if a hundred cannon had been discharged together. For a few minutes he was quite stunned, and when he recovered his senses he found himself sitting on the old millstone in front of his cottage, and by his side stood his Princess, who was of flesh and blood like any other mortal. She took his hand and stroked it, saying: "You foolish old thing, all this time you have forgotten to tell me how much you love me. Were you so frightened of me?"

And the moon rose and shone on the river, the ripples kissed the banks and the forest whispered just as of yore. Suddenly a tiny black cloud obscured the moon's face for an instant, and something which looked like a piece of white calico folded up, fell at their feet, and then the moon shone out with renewed splendour. They lifted up the piece of cloth and unfolded it, but it was so thin and had been folded so many hundred times that they took a long time in so doing. When they had succeeded in entirely spreading it out, they found it to be the map of a large country. Through the middle of it ran a river, and on either side were cities and forests and lakes.

They said that this must be their kingdom which the generous King of Fancies had dropped to them from the skies; and when they looked at the little cottage, they found it transformed into a magnificent castle with glass stair cases, marble walls, velvet carpets, and pepper-pot turrets roofed with blue slate. They took each other by the hand and entered the castle, and, as they did so, their subjects assembled, bowing low before them. Drum and trumpets sounded, and pages of noble birth walked before them, strewing flowers at their feet, for they were now King and Queen.

The next morning the news went through the village like wild-fire that George o' Dreams had returned, bringing with him a wife. "I expect she will be a beauty," said everybody. "I saw her early this morning when I was going to the forest," said one of the villagers, "she was standing with George o' Dreams at the door of the cottage. She is nothing much to look at, being small and slight and sickly looking. Very shabbily dressed too. I wonder where she came from. He has no money, so I don't suppose she has any either."

In such foolish wise did these silly people gossip; for they could not perceive that she was a princess, and in their stupidity, they did not see that the cottage had become a splendid and immense castle, for the kingdom which had fallen from the skies for George o' Dreams was an invisible one.

So he did not bother himself about these silly folk, but lived happily and contentedly with his Princess in his invisible kingdom. And they had six children, who were of course, princes and princesses, but nobody in the village knew that they were, for they were quite commonplace every-day kind of people, and much too stupid to perceive it.

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"And how do you like your new book, Annette?" asked Aunt Flo, as she started for a walk with her twelve-year-old niece.

"It's pretty enough, auntie," was the answer, "but the two tales in it are just like so many others that I've read lately. The first is about some ragged children who lived in a garret, and were just as good and sweet as little angels; and the second is about a rude little girl, who plays all sorts of wild tricks that I should have got into dreadful disgrace for, but everybody laughed at her. I used to be very fond of stories about poor miserable children, but now I'm tired of them."

"I can understand that," said her aunt. "There are so many of them that they lose their interest--you get sated. When I was your age there were very few children's books of that sort--or, indeed, of any sort; and most of those we had would seem very tame to you, I expect. I would have been considered highly improper to make an amusing tale out of a naughty child's mischievous exploits."

"How dull you must have been!" sympathised Annette, thinking of her own crowded book-shelves.

"I don't know about that. We valued our books all the more because they were so few, and we read them over and over till we almost knew them by heart."

"Can't you tell me about them, auntie?"

"With pleasure, though I think you know some of them already. There were three generations of books on my first book-case, which was only a home-made affair of boards and cords. The oldest of all was The Looking-Glass [M. Berquin, 1796], a book of moral tales translated from the French (and very useful morals some of them had), which had been my grandmother's when she was a little girl."

"I know!" cried Annette; "that brown book with the s's like f's, and all those curious little pictures."

"Which are not to be despised, for they are by [John] Bewick, who was a famous illustrator in his day. Your mother and I used to think the costumes perfectly hideous, but now they would be considered highly picturesque and artistic. Next came some of the treasures of my mother's early days; the two I most valued were the Girls' Own Book [Lydia Maria Child, 1856] and the Girls' Week Day Book. [Dorothy White, 1836]"

"Week-DSay Book! Did that mean it was not fit for Sundays?"

"I suppose it did," said Aunt Flo, "though there was more religious instruction in it than in most of our modern young people's Sunday books. It is a girl's simple record of her home and school life, and your mother and I were very fond of it. I remember one incident we used to exclaim at as an example of the severity of parents in former days. The writer's grandmother saw her daughter admiring herself in the glass, and, to correct her vanity, touched the poor girl's cheek with a hot iron she was using--lightly, it is said but it left a scar for days--saying, 'Favour is deceitful and beauty is vain!' "

"Oh, how horrid!" cried Annette. "I should never care to read such a barbarous book."

"There was a great deal of good fun in it, though," said her aunt. "How we used to laugh over the part where the child runs up to the old stammering tripe-seller with the question, 'Old Hubble-Bubble, how old art thou?'--having just heard the words read at prayers. I am afraid we enjoyed the fun too much to feel properly shocked at the little girl's rudeness in calling him by his uncomplimentary nickname, for which her parents rightly made her apologise."

"And what was the other girls' book like?" asked Annette.

"The Girls' Own? It was a fat, red volume, which gave instructions on every possible sort of employment and recreation for girls-games, exercises, riddles, and directions for making all sorts of toys and knicknacks--it was my unfailing resource on a wet day. Quite lately I read a long article on it in a new magazine, the writer of which was rather amused by the admonition of the Girls' Own to its little readers to always remember that they were 'miniature ladies.' But though girls are not expected to be as prim and sedate now as they were forty or fifty years ago, there is a sense in which they still need that advice, in the matter of courtesy and politeness, I mean. Don't you think so, Nettie?"

"Yes, I do," said Nettie emphatically. "Some of my schoolfellows are awfully rude to each other. If they don't care for a girl they won't take a bit of pains to hide it from her, even though they haven't really anything against her."

"I hope you don't follow their bad example," said her aunt.

"I'm not so bad as some," confessed Nettie, "though I daresay you would say there's room for improvement. After all, children needn't be so very particular how they walk among themselves."

"Only when it is a case of hurting another's feelings, and then we cannot be too particular," rejoined Aunt Flo.

"But all don't feel alike," argued Nettie. "Some girls would cry for things that others would only laugh at."

"Then it will be a good exercise for your powers of observation to find out who minds what. But to return to the Girls' Own. I never hear of Michael Angelo without being reminded of that book, for there I got my first ideas of him, and those very unfavourable ones. He is described in an enigma as having publicly sold his children, and I used to imagine him exposing his unfortunate sons and daughters in the market-place, and detested him accordingly. After long years it dawned upon me that his statues were meant, and then I felt quite ashamed of having so misjudged him. Another book of my mother's that I used to pore over was The Fairchild Family [Mary Martha Sherwood, 1818], but all that I now remember of it is the part where Henry, the conceited little son and heir, strutting about his father's new property falls into a barrel of pigswash. I know it was a very entertaining book, and, as in all Mrs. Sherwood's tales, the rod was laid on liberally for childish misdemeanours. Then there was Anna Ross [Grace Kennedy, 1827], who was a very exemplary little girl, but I fear I respected her more than I cared for reading about her, and that I secretly regretted her virtuous resolve to live with her pious relations at the manse instead of with the gay worldly ones in Edinburgh, whose doings were so much more entertaining."

"I remember grandmamma telling me that Anna Ross was her only Sunday story-book," remarked Annette. "And now about your own books, auntie, you had not many, you said?"

"About two dozen; and then friends used to lend me theirs. Two of my earliest favourites I always think of together, both being stories of the olden time, and both square flat books of the same size, only one was green and the other blue--Robin Hood, and Tales from Spenser's Fairy Queen. Dear old Robin Hood! Many a blissful hour did I spend with him and his outlaws in Sherwood Forest. How I revelled in Friar Tuck's exploits and Little John's; even now I never see a tall clergyman in a short surplice without thinking of Little John--and in the scene, where the king, disguised in his plain white robe, returns all the buffets of the outlaws, and reveals himself just as they are combining to pay him back. The only drawback to Robin Hood was its melancholy conclusion--I always began to feel depressed when I came to that sad last chapter--Robin Hood's pardon, rebellion, and death. Poor Robin, how I wished he could have been content to obey the king's orders! That book was history; the Tales from Spenser were pure fiction, and they gave me pure pleasure, mixed with a little agreeable horror, such as children love to feel at some of the wizardly, uncanny parts. I prepared me to enjoy the Fairy Queen itself, when I was older."

"We read the first, The Red Cross Knight, at school with Miss Aylmer, last term," said Nettie. "She said it is considered the best."

"I can see that now," said her aunt. "but in those days my favourite 'tale' was Sir Arthegal, because of the important part played in it by his noble wife, Lady Britoneart, for I had always a great admiration for female warriors, and I was delighted to learn that Spenser had given her a whole book to herself."

"And what modern books had you, Aunt Flo? Laneton Parsonage [Elizabeth M. Sewell, 1886] was one, I know. I remember your reading it to me when I was ill, and how creepy I felt at the part where Alice ventures down the forbidden corridor and into those ghostly rooms, 'where the silence was not even broken by the ticking of a clock.' That Lady Katherine was a dreadful old woman, but she must have been rather stupid, when she sent Alice away as a punishment, not to see how much jollier it was for her to be at school with her friends Ruth and Madeline, than alone with her in that great gloomy house."

"I think children in those days felt 'disgrace' more than they do now," said her Aunt. "Laneton Parsonage taught me one very important lesson--to shun the first beginnings of deceit. I had another book by the same author, Amy Herbert, which I liked less than the other then, because it was less 'plotty,' but looking back upon it now I think it the prettier of the two. An earlier and greater favourite with me than either was Ministering Children [Maria Louisa Charlesworth, 1855], which was my chief Sunday story-book."

"I belong to the Ministering Children's League," said Nettie. "That was called after the book, wasn't it? I read it once, but I almost forget it, except that it was nearly all about people at a farm."

"That was one of the secrets of its charms for me," said Aunt Flo. "As a child, farm-house life was my ideal of earthly happiness, and in a book like that I could almost smell the wood-fires and the new-mown hay, and the milk frothing into the pail, and hear the harvest-carts rumbling along the lanes. I will buy you a 6d. copy, Nettie, and you can give it to some country child when you are away on your summer holiday, after you have made proper acquaintance with all my dear little friends--Jam [Jane], the grocer's daughter, who was so eager to help the poor, and Rose, the sunbeam of the farmhouse, and Mercy, her friend, the gentle little cottager, and--most interesting of all--Patience, the sullen, neglected pauper child, who develops into the faithful, strong-souled Christian servant."

"Now I remember," said Nettie, "we heard at the children's service about a poor boy who was ill a long time in one of the back streets, and he used to repeat over and over a prayer that he learnt from some loose leaves of Ministering Children that he picked up in the road; and after he died his bad old grandmother used to say the prayer, and she became quite a changed character."

"I know! The prayer Miss Clifford taught Rose; and a very sweet and simple one it is. It will be a nice Sunday employment for you, Nettie, to make some copies of it on cards, either in printed letters or in a bold round hand, and keep them to give to any ignorant child. It is pleasant to think that the dear old book is still carrying its message, as well as being the root of all the Ministering Children's Leagues and Young Helpers' Bands and other associations of children for helping the needy that have sprung up since it first appeared."

"Oh! auntie," said Nettie," we are nearly at Marshfield; and I'm sure you have some more books to tell me of. Had you any fairy-tales? But perhaps you didn't care about them?"

"Indeed I did--especially if there was an allegory running through them: tales that were merely full of marvels, like the Arabian Nights, I never cared to read twice. Hans Andersen's were a mine of treasure to me, though that was scarcely one of my childish books, for I was nearly twelve when I first saw it. My favourite early fairy-book was Granny's Wonderful Chair, by Tom Hood's daughter [Frances Browne]. The chair told a fairy-tale to its little mistress whenever she chose to sit in it and say, 'Chair of my grandmother, tell me a story.' The only one I can remember was about a little boy and girl called Loveleaves and Woodwonder, who were left to the care of neglectful servants, and were taken pity on by a certain kind Lady Greensleeves, who lived in a wood. It never struck me then that this was only another name for 'Nature, the dear old nurse,' of Longfellow's lovely poem, The Fiftieth Birthday of Agassis, which I first heard about that time, and admired immensely. [Poem is below.] I was very fond of Nature, and enjoyed any book that helped me to understand it quite as much as a tale. Mrs. [Mary Wright] Sewell's Walks with Mamma was one such, and [Charles Alexander] Johns' Botanical Rambles another--only it was rather a grievance to me that in my walks I never discovered any of the curious specimens that others seemed to find so easily. But here we are at our destination, so we must say good-bye to the books; perhaps thirty years hence you will be entertaining a young friend with a list of your old favourites."

L. N. H.


[The children's writer Francis Freeling Broderip, 1830-1878, was the daughter of poet Thomas Hood and sister of the humorist Tom Hood. Frances Browne, 1816-1879, was a blind Irishwoman, and she was the author of Granny's Wonderful Chair. Aunt Flo may have gotten them mixed up.]

The Fiftieth Birthday of Agassiz

It was fifty years ago
     In the pleasant month of May,
In the beautiful Pays de Vaud,
     A child in its cradle lay.

And Nature, the old nurse, took
     The child upon her knee,
Saying: "Here is a story-book
     Thy Father has written for thee."

"Come, wander with me," she said,
     "Into regions yet untrod;
And read what is still unread
     In the manuscripts of God."

And he wandered away and away
     With Nature, the dear old nurse,
Who sang to him night and day
     The rhymes of the universe.

And whenever the way seemed long,
     Or his heart began to fail,
She would sing a more wonderful song,
     Or tell a more marvellous tale.

So she keeps him still a child,
     And will not let him go,
Though at times his heart beats wild
     For the beautiful Pays de Vaud;

Though at times he hears in his dreams
     The Ranz des Vaches of old,
And the rush of mountain streams
     From glaciers clear and cold;

And the mother at home says, "Hark!
     For his voice I listen and yearn;
It is growing late and dark,
     And my boy does not return!"

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
May 28, 1857

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