The Parents' Review

A Monthly Magazine of Home-Training and Culture

Edited by Charlotte Mason.

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

Volume 7, 1896, pg. 71

Professional Women upon their Professions, by Margaret Bateson. Miss Margaret Bateson, who for a long time has so ably edited the Women's Employment column in the Queen, has written a book, and it is certainly one which the mothers of adolescent maidens would do well to read. In Miss Bateson's own pretty and precise wording we will see why it was written--

"I had before me the images of some girl who has not yet found her niche in the world. The world is before her where to choose; but she would give much gratitude to anyone who would guide her in her choice. But somehow, there appears to be no mentor at hand--no one who can offer almost any suggestion. A lowliness of spirit falls upon her that is all the more intense because of the very excess of guidance which her infant and scholastic years were surrounded. Then she was told every moment what was the duty of that moment; now there is upon such matters a silence that may be felt. True, that perhaps she need not do anything. Let her gather the rosebuds. By all means let her gather them. Let her not miss one, unless it be that some other may pluck it. To be sweet-and-twenty, and to live romance--what is the use of bringing the distinctions of committee rooms and examiners' boards into terms of comparison with the great privilege of youth? 'Les émotions, c'est la vie'; and who that is worthy the gift of life at all would waste the glamour of life's June in musty study or fusty office? But for some, June comes not, and she brings so many storms in her train for others that they are almost glad when she is gone. But gone she is, soon or late, for all. Then succeeds the time of reaction and of blankness; the time when the girl becomes aware how great are her capacities, not only for emotion, but for thought and action, and how utterly nonexistent are the opportunities for their development--at all events, in that part of the social system in which she finds herself. The centre of feminine professional activity is for her so near and yet so far. She is indeed in sorry plight. Often, I am inclined to think, the plight of those who live with her at this period is scarcely less sorry. These, her sympathetic kinsfolk, are rendered indifferent advisers, both by their limited experience of professional life, and by the very ambition which they feel for the maiden's future. To them, the choice for a young woman of good education and belongings lies between the complete domestic obscurity on the one hand, and the very highest distinctions that art or letters can offer on the other. If their Gwendolen Harleth cannot rival the artistic Klesmer of the day, why she must be content to become Mrs. Grandcourt [all characters from George Eliot's Daniel Deronda]. To write novels, but not to write the novel of the age; to write articles, but not to write for the Nineteenth Century; to act, but not at the Lyceum; to paint, but not for the Academy; to play, but not on the platform of St. James's Hall--these are possibilities which, until lately, have scarcely entered the provincial parental mind. A man, it is understood, may be very middling indeed, and no remarks made; but not a woman."

"And yet what happiness there is in being middling! It would be easy enough to write pages concerning the pleasures and the immunities that middling folk enjoy, but that would not be to my present purpose. What I would rather suggest is the intense happiness that merely being and doing something yields."

* * *

"Hampered, then, as our maiden is in the solution of her life's problems by excessive ambition, coupled with insufficient suggestion on the part of her natural advisers, she is prone to seize eagerly upon any hint that comes to her in the form of chance conversation. She hears from Miss Smith that Miss Brown told her that the celebrated actress, Mme. X--- began her career as an artist's model. From that moment she thinks of artists' models with lively admiration. Then she reads somewhere that Mr. Walker, the novelist would never have known what a genius he possessed for fiction had he not competed once for a guinea prize in Rag Fair. She fastens upon these undigested facts because none others are forthcoming, and the chances are, if she is a girl of spirit, and if the insipidity of her life has become unendurable, that she proceeds to take some desperately ill-advised step.

"What the girl really wants is half-an-hour's talk with an experienced woman who has ideas to offer about the profession towards which the girl's own thoughts incline. Face to face with a woman who has succeeded herself, and who is generously wishful that others should emulate her success, the girl will obtain a stimulus and an encouragement that will be to her the much-needed stirrup cup upon her long journey. It is for this reason that I have been emboldened to ask questions in the name of inquirers, whose needs I know, if I know not them, and I have recorded the answers, not with the ability wherewith they were given me, but after the humble measure of my powers."

What follows is a series of "interviews," but so different are they from the ordinary newspaper "interview" that one hesitates to apply to them the same word. In the first place, as to the choice of the person interviewed, we quote again: "It has formed no part of my project to converse with persons simply for the sake of their individual professional eminence, nor to tabulate the contents of this little volume upon the plan of a lions' tea-party, for such assemblages are habitually tiresome. To discover in each instance a person with living ideas and aspirations concerning her profession has been my sole aim." In the second place, we soon perceive that the substance of each interview is given to us by the interpretation of a mind so perfectly refined and true, that the personal element is never garish.

In these half-hour chats the whole subject of "What shall we do with our daughters" is touched by a very light hand, but those who will give heed will soon perceive that the handling is firm and deft . It might give a shock to the average "mamma" to be told, brutally, that her daughter's music and drawing have no market whatever; but as she reads on in this book she will insensibly become master of this piece of information, and of many others, which will give her the wide out look over the world of women which will enable her to keep her place in her daughter's esteem when that damsel begins to look over the walls of the home-garden.

Space is limited, or there is much in these interviews that it would be well to quote, yet I must not close without drawing attention to the last chapters, "Journalism" and "The home-life of professional women." They are extremely clever bits of writing, and under the playfulness of the style there is true insight into the "inwardness" of the subjects discussed.

Chronological Chart of Contemporaneous Literature, by K.R. Heath (J. Baker & Son, price 10/6). Our readers will rejoice in Mrs. Heath's chart. Conceive five centuries of English literature, all our notable authors and their chief books named year by year as they come out, without any over-crowding and without the appearance of a single date in the body of the chart. Different colours indicate different literary periods--the Miltonic period, for example, from 1620 to 1670, is in royal-purple; the Victorian literature is on a yellow back-ground. It is difficult to give an idea of the simplicity and suggestiveness of the arrangement. The names of the authors appear in black lettering, of their works, in red; and each important work appears in the square set apart for the year of its publication. Thus for the year 1850 we have Pippa Passes, R. Browning; Barnaby Rudge, C. Dickens, Heroes and Hero-Worship, T. Carlyle; The Great Hoggarty Diamond, W. M. Thackeray; Punch began. We can hardly conceive anything more unlike the dreary catalogues, bristling with dates, of authors and their works, to which we are all accustomed. The sheet should hang in every school-room. Children of eight and nine would learn to associate the names of authors with their works, and the literary period they belong to by means of a delightful puzzle-game on the chart. They would soon know who wrote, and what was written, in the thirties, forties, the fifties; what works came out in the blue (the Lake Poet period, 1800 to 1830) and would become very clever in associating book and date with author. A number of games, exercises on the chart, might easily be devised, and a little word here and there about the book in question, or a passage read from it, would probably lead to the habit of reading, and to a love of literature. Older girls and boys, who are studying literature, would find great help in this chart, and it would be a valuable addition to every library; for, probably, most of us would soon come to an end of our information as to who wrote what, and when it was written.

Principles of Education, by [Elizabeth M. Sewell] the author of Amy Herbert, in two vols. (Longman, Green, Longman, Roberts & Green, price 12/6). In the rush of educational thought which characterizes our day, we hope mothers will not lose sight of Miss Sewell's invaluable Principles. A work so practical and sensible, so full of insight, wisdom, and piety, should have its place on every mother's bed-room book shelf. The work has a peculiar value from the fact that it was issued some thirty years ago. We are in danger of losing something of the delicate refinement of thought and feeling which was the characteristic feature in the bringing up of our mothers and grandmothers. Here we find this element conserved for us, and it is a great thing to keep the best of the old ideals before us. The author's insight and foresight led to her anticipate much that has since been accomplished; for example, the raised status of governesses, through the establishment of some such training-college as the House of Education. Mothers who desire to bring up their daughters as Christian gentlewomen will find much to help and inspire them in Miss Sewell's Principles of Education.

The Education of the Feelings, by Charles Bray; with an introduction by William Jolly, H.M. Inspector of schools (Longmans, Green & Co., price 2/6). This treatise was published in 1838, "to urge the great importance of moral education, to point out the natural laws which the Creator has established, by which the feelings are to be trained and cultivated." The fact that the work has gone through four editions, and is now re-edited, with an introduction by Mr. Jolly, indicates its practical value. The elements of morality are treated here with sound sense, simplicity, and practical exemplification. Mr. Jolly quotes in his introduction, Ruskin's remark, "Intellectual before--much more without--moral education is, in completeness, impossible, and, in accomplishment a calamity." And this is a most admirable manual for the methodical education in morals--the theory as well as the practice--which no child should go into the world without having received. It is a part of the materialistic doctrine of education, of the notion that the development of certain faculties is the final aim of education, that the definite study of morals has been lost sight of. Thirty or forty years ago thoughtful people brought up their children upon this work, or Abercrombie's Moral Feelings.

Elements of Morality, by Mrs. Chas. Bray (Longmans, Green, & Co., price 1/6). We hope all mothers know this charming introduction to the study of morals, fit for children of ages varying from six to twelve. There is no introduction to the present edition, but we believe we are right in saying that Mrs. Chas. Bray wrote this most charming little volume as an introduction to her husband's more advanced treatise. We cannot imagine the little boy brought up upon Mrs. Bray's Elements turning out other than a Christian gentleman. The New Zealander's remark to Bishop Patteson contains the gist of the whole matter--"Gentleman-gentleman thought nothing that ought to be done too mean for him. Pig-gentleman never worked."

Primer of Psychology, by Geo. Ladd (Longmans, Green &Co., price 5/6). Professor Ladd is to be congratulated on having produced what is really a primer of psychology, plain and easy to be understood. We are not sure that the author's exposition is in all cases adequate to the facts of consciousness. His chapters on Ideas and Reasoning, for example, strike us as curiously limited interpretations: though they express fairly well the psychological thought of the day, they leave the impression that there are not "more things in heaven and earth" than the psychologist has ever dreamed of. The singularly clear thought and lucid expression of the little manual should be valuable to the young student; and one is glad to see that the notion of distinct faculties capable of development is clearly shown to be untenable. Another point of interest is the prominence given to the theory of rhythmic pulsations in our mental states--a note which we probably owe to the American school of psychologists. We could wish that the tentative positions of the whole subject had been more fully indicated.

R.T.S. [Religious Tract Society] Health at Home. No. 2 Moral Training of Children, by Alfred T. Schofield, M.D., M.R.C.S. Many readers of the Parents' Review have expressed a strong desire for little educational tract that they could put into the hands of cottage mothers. "The Moral Training of Children," by our Chairman, Dr. Schofield, is quite perfectly suited for the purpose. Here are our principles expressed in clear, strong, simple sentences, brightly written, but without any attempt at the reading-made-easy style, which is rather mistakenly supposed to be the right thing for cottage readers. Instead of a long article on Form Habits or Begin Early, we have bright short paragraphs, with pithy sentences, likely to be remembered. We most earnestly advise our readers to possess themselves of a dozen or two of these penny tracts for distribution at mothers' meetings, cottage visiting, or as occasion offers. This is a most important part of P.N.E.U. at work. They may be had at the office.

Women Workers Report of Conference. (Published at Office Union of Women Workers, 2/-). Probably the year offers no more instructive or inspiring volume than the Official Report of the Conference of Women Workers. The range of subjects is very wide Unions, Nursing, Industrial, and Training Schools, Temperance, Poor-Law Guardians, Women's Settlements and Colleges, Religious Associations, Health Associations--in fact, the tremendously wide range covered by women's efforts appears to have been represented at the Conference, and it is not too much to say that every paper is marked by clear good sense, literary form, insight, power, and purpose. We commend the discussions on Education, Home Life, and The Responsibility of Refinement, as particularly interesting to our readers.

The Circular Tablet (George Philip and Son, 2/6). Mothers interested in Kindergarten teaching may be interested in this. [The Circular Tablet. A Connecting Link in the Froebel Series of Gifts, by E. E. Lawrence, 1896]

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