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 10, 1899, pg. 57

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My Dear Children,--I wonder how many of you know how oil paints were first discovered and made known to artists! We are so accustomed to imagine that everything we see and use, has always existed, and do not very often try to find out the beginning. Shall we therefore try to learn all we can about the first oil paintings and their painters? Well, in the year 1473, a portrait painter called Antonelle of Messina arrived in Venice, bringing with him a great secret, which he was much afraid would be found out. Some of you boys and girls have secrets sometimes, have you not? Perhaps you know where there is a throstle's nest, with young ones in it, and you are so afraid they may get hurt if your baby brother or sister know where it is, that you keep the secret very well, and get quite nervous if you see anyone walking close to the tree or bush. Now that is just the feeling Antonelle had when he arrived in Venice. He had learnt a great secret from Jan Van Eyck, a painter in Bruges--how to use a new medium to paint with, and also that canvas could be used and not always wood or walls. You can imagine how all Venice crowded round his first portrait. The bloom of the cheek, and the light in the eye, and the texture of flesh surprised everyone. How was it possible to get such rich colour and such a glow of life on canvas? How all the artists must have met every evening to discuss these questions, and have wondered how they also could discover the secret, and share the benefit! The head of the painters in Venice at the time was Giovanni (John) Bellini, and as Antonelle could not be induced to tell his secret, the artists decided that Bellini must find out by what you boys would call a trick. It was not quite fair to poor Antonelle, but if he had died and had left no record of how to get oil paints, the world would have lost very much, and I think you all know and understand that we must all be as generous with our talents and knowledge as we are with our money. I think Antonelle would see the joke after a time. Bellini pretended to be a gentleman who wanted his portrait painted. He put on the "Venetian toga," which was not like the artists' dress of the day, and you can imagine how he would gravely sit down in the chair and arrange his long robes in a graceful fashion. But all the time he was watching the colours on the palette, the bottles on the table and the brushes, and quickly discovered that the artist dipped his brush from time to time in oil, which was the primitive way of using the new colour. Bellini was such a straightforward gentleman that I expect he did not wait to the end, but would throw off his long robe and with a big laugh tell Antonelle that he had learnt all he wished to know.

Bellini after this, painted, as long as he lived, beautiful Madonnas and angels with wondering sweet eyes. When you are older you will probably go to Venice and see the babies seated about the steps of the throne of Mary, piping on heavenly flutes, or playing on stringed instruments, only seeing the infant Lord, on whom all their eyes are turned. I think Bellini must have had very dear little babies of his own, he seems to love them so much.

Now one tale about an older brother, Gentile Bellini, who was also an artist. In 1478 the Sultan of Turkey asked the Venetians to send him a portrait painter, as he wished to be painted, so Gentile Bellini was chosen. I expect he was very nervous when he arrived in Constantinople, as the Turks were then very fierce, and had no regard for human life. However, the Sultan received Gentile very kindly, and all went well, until one day a horrible incident occurred.

Gentile was painting the story of John the Baptist, who was worshipped by the Turks, as a prophet. When the Sultan saw the head on a charger he began to criticize, and declared that when the head was severed from the body the neck disappeared. Gentile began to argue with him, so Mahommed, in order to prove his words, called a slave to him and swept off the poor man's head that the painter might be convinced.

Poor Gentile was so terrified that he begged to be allowed to return home lest a similar jest should be played on him. The Venetian felt that after such experiences he deserved a reward, so they gave him a pension for the rest of his life. Are you not thankful you did not life in Constantinople in the 15th century?

Will you try and make the "letter box" a success? I shall not, of course, print letters that do not give some information that may interest others, or ask for help in any difficulty that the writer may have. For instance, a Santa Claus might tell me of his child in the Order of Chivalry, which may induce some reader to also "mother" a poor little one. Letters must be written on one side of the page only. Your loving, Aunt Mai.

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All competitions are open to the children of readers of the Parents' Review.

Rule I.--A fee of 1$. entitles a child to work in any competition.

Rule II.--All work and drawings to be sent to Aunt Mai, Wharfemead, Ilkley, before the 30th.

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Little Authors.

The subject--"A Little Heroine"--has evidently not inspired the authors, who prefer to write tales of imagination.

The Ladies Olga and Dorothy Godolphin Osborne, Margaret Lovell and Josephine Scruby have sent capital stories.

This month write "The Autobiography of a Feather."

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Little Workers' Society.
Founder: Mrs. Edmund Strode.

Each member makes two garments a year for a child known to the worker.

In November make a knitted jersey for a boy (see Parents' Review, April, 1899.)

Workers under ten make a comforter and muff (see Parents' Review, March 1899.)

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Aunt Mai's Cot.

Will some children write to S. Chad's Home, Far Headingley, Leeds, and ask for some clothes to make for little "Curley," as she is in need of some.

Ellen is still very ill, and at times suffers greatly; seldom or ever does she get a good night's rest. She has been much pleased during the last month with the boxes of flowers which have been sent to her by kind friends.

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Order of Chivalry.

Miss E. Wyvill is again at Denton, Ben Rhydding, Yorkshire, and will be delighted to receive the names of children who would like to have a poor little child to write to and help. There are many children now in London, Leeds and York, who would be so happy if a kind child would "mother" them. One little girl of eleven wrote to tell her Santa Claus that she was so glad she had got a situation as nursemaid to three children. It is such a joy to this little maid to hear from her kind friend, who writes her long letters from her boarding school.

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Art Club.

Rule I.--No drawing must exceed 12 by 12.
" II.--Drawings must be sent flat.
" III.--All work must be original.

Work for July:--
I. Paint the prettiest corner of your prettiest room.
II. Design a cover for "Alice in Wonderland."
III. Juniors under nine paint a rose.

The following artists have sent work:--
Irene and Maitland Durant, Dorothy Brooks, Marion and Eveline Thompson, Margaret Preston, Margery Webb, Noreen Sim, Margaret and Winifred Edminson, Gladys Howarth, Edith Walker, Mabel Mathwin, Francis Butt, Lizzie Bonner, Elsie Helm, Edith Helm, Gladys Seed, Evelyn, Sylvia and Marjorie Powys, Marjorie Barbour, Gladys Clark-Kennedy, Grace Maitland Heriot, Nella Heath, Basil Leverson, Dorothy and Nellie Goodwyn, Joyce Thompson, Naomi, Audrey and Stella Peake, Molly, Vera and Robin Broadmead, Constance Mary Vallence, Erica Stevenson, Madgie B. Crook, Phyllis and Dorothy Lovell, Mary Rees, Catherine Cecil, Honor Rundle, Joan and Christina Abbay, Myra and Christie Hibbert, Arnold Callard, Evelyn and Ruth Waley, Beryl Todd, Jessie and Harold Dickson, Cicely P. Foster, Eldred and Kenneth Reynolds, Lawrence and Norman Cadbury, Violet Todd, Grace and Lorna Lawrence, Josephine and Dorothy Scruby, Cicely Cholmondeley, Lillie and Margaret Bagwell (who are asked to send their addresses, as drawings have been sent twice with only a name on), Rachel and Christina Barclay, Eileen Godfrey, Lady Olga Godolphin Osborne, Lady Dorothy Goldolphin Osborne, Emily Haslam, Josephine, Philippa and Eric Hickson, Dorothy Marriott, Ruth Edminson, Evelyn and Daisy Weatherell, Sylvia and Eileen Smyly, and Beryl Durand. [So many artists regret that the drawings could not be returned, that it has been decided that they shall be in the future.]

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Our Letter Box.

The following letter was not sent to the letter box; but as the writer would like some information about the proper food for tadpoles, it had better go into it:--

My Dear Aunt Mai,--Mother and Phyllis and I went a lovely walk on Friday along a place called Goyl's Valley, but at the end we got lost, for we went up the wrong road, and we walked up hill for about a mile and a half, and then we met three men, who told us we must go back and up another very steep hill, and at last we got home, and we had walked about four miles. In the valley we saw some little animals or fishes in a little stream just by the road. When we got home we told father, and we looked for them in some books, and we found what we thought to be tadpoles, or another name for them is Pollywogs; so we went on Sunday afternoon and took father and Eric, and father said that they really were tadpoles; but we couldn't bring them home, for we didn't know what they ate, but we saw about four of them eating something like one of their tails, only I suppose they wouldn't eat each other. Dorothy Lovell.
[Will any boy or girl tell Dorothy how to keep tadpoles?-- Aunt Mai.]

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The Daffodil-Elf and His Adventures.

"Well, this is a queer place!" thought the daffodil-elf, as he peeped over the edge of the daffodil's yellow cup, and got his first view of the world, or rather the field where his daffodil grew. For in each daffodil lives a tiny elf; they are very shy, so are rarely seen, for if they hear anyone coming, they skip into the yellow cups, and crouch in the bottom, where, being yellow, they are quite concealed.

This particular elf had, the day before, been imprisoned in the beautiful pale yellow bud of the flower. A gentle rain had fallen, washing off the dust, as if to prepare it to greet the piercing eye of the kind old sun, who is displeased if the flowers look dusty. When the rain had finished its task, the sun shone warm and bright, and coaxed apart the golden petals, till the flower was wide open; and then the elf mounted upon the soft, gaily-coloured stigma, and peeped over the frill-like edge of his abode.

A fair view met his eye, for the field where the daffodil grew was large, and the fresh, green grass was dotted here and there with sweet spring flowers; primroses, delicate wind-flowers, graceful bluebells, and above all, daffodils. The field gently sloped up to a small wood, whence came the sweet songs of birds; hedges bounded two sides of the field, which terminated at the bottom of the slope, where a shallow stream rippled gaily along, making a pleasant murmur. It was near this stream that our elf had his home, and after gazing all round with deepest interest, his eyes finally rested on the dancing, sparkling water, while a feeling of wonder and amazement took possession of him.

As his daffodil had an exceptionally long stalk, he could see well; and after a time, when he got over his surprise at the beauty of the field, he began to long to get nearer the stream--to see its sparkling water closer--to find out where it came from, and where it went. He wondered how this could be managed, and cast about him for the means; for a flower-elf's life is short. As he was thinking, a gust of wind swept over the field, down from the wood, carrying with it a few dead leaves. One of these rested for a moment just beneath the daffodil-elf, who, quick as thought, sprang from his flower on to it, and lying down flat, held on with all his might. Scarcely had he touched it, when another puff of wind lifted it from the grass, and whirled it towards the stream. The elf gasped, and shut his eyes tight, for going so fast made him giddy; but in a second he opened them again, and gave a little scream, for he felt very cold and strange. On looking round, he found he was in the water! He nearly let go the leaf in his fright; but remembering that his safety depended on it, he climbed on to a part which was not in the water, and sat himself down, to wait for what might happen next.

The leaf, sheltered by the bank, floated quietly along, bobbing up and down on the ripples. The elf would have been quite happy, but for his fears as to how the adventure might end. Stretching his neck, he looked over the edge into the clear water and saw all the things at the bottom, stones and pebbles, and, in the deeper parts, fish, which made him tremble by their size. Once the leaf was nearly wrecked on an old tin pot, a portion of which stuck out above the water. After a time, the leaf began to get soft and water-logged, much to the alarm of the elf, who knew that, should it sink, his chances of reaching the land were very small indeed.

Then the leaf began to float closer to the bank, and at last it got right under the fringe of grass along the edge. The elf sprang into the air with all his might, and grasped at a blade of grass. Luckily he caught it, for the leaf sailed on from under him, and he was left swinging in mid-air. After remaining motionless for a minute, he worked himself along the blade till he came to the bank, and glad he was once more to be on land. He could see nothing for the thickness of the grass, so he climbed up a buttercup, sat in one of the petals, and looked around. Quite near was a large group of daffodils, and he wished to get to it, for the elves of the different flowers are very friendly.

He saw, stretching from one grass-blade to another, in the direction in which he wished to go, a spider's web, and along this he walked, as on a tight-rope. When it ended, he sprang from blade to blade, and thus reached the flowers. After recovering his breath, he climbed into one of them, and found it was inhabited by the sweetest little girl-elf imaginable. She was very kind to him, made him rest in her flower, gave him a tiny drop of rain (which she stored in one of the petals), and fanned him with a buttercup-petal. When he recovered, he told her all his adventures, and she promised to help him get back to his flower. She went to a bluebell-elf, and asked him to send a message to the Fairy Queen for her. So the little elf shouted into one of the bells of his flower--for each bell is a tiny telephone, in communication with the Fairy Queen's palace--and after a time, an answer came, saying the Queen would grant the request.

So the little daffodil-elf hurried back to her flower, and said, "Dear elf, I sent a message through the bluebell to the Fairy Queen, asking her to get you back to your flower, and she says she will do so. You must therefore be ready, for I expect her messenger will arrive soon."

Just as she finished speaking, a very large fly came buzzing up and said, "I come from the Fairy Queen, to take an elf back to his flower; is this the one?"

"Yes!" cried the elf.

"Then get on my back," said the fly.

The elf did so, and when he had taken leave of the fair owner of the flower where he had stayed, the fly mounted into the air, and swiftly bore him home again. The elf was delighted to be back, and found everything just as when he had left it, except that another bud had opened, and its inhabitant was a most polite little elf, who made such friends with our hero, that he never thought of leaving his home again. Phoebe Rennell (Age 15).

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Senior Art Club.

This Club is intended for Aunt Mai's pupils when they leave her at the age of sixteen, but it is open to any readers of the Review, either lady or gentleman. The terms are 6$. for six months. All work marked for exhibition is criticised by Mr. David Murray, A.R.A., on the yearly "Pupils' Show Day," in Miss Stewart Wood's studio, 44, Holland Street, Kensington. All particulars of the Club can be obtained from Miss A. Y. Davidson, Secretary, 41, Bessborough Gardens, London, S.W.

Rule 1.--Work is sent to Miss Stewart Wood, 44, Holland Street, Kensington, by the 23rd of every month, and the portfolio leaves her on the 1st of the month following. Subjects are issued on the 21st of each month, but members may receive subjects for a term in advance on application to the Secretary.

Rule 2.--The name and address of contributor is written on the back of each study, and paper is placed over the face of the principal subject for protection and for the writing of criticism. Secondary subjects are usually numbered and criticised en masse. Oil students are required to use thin French canvas (Young, Gower Street, London, 2$. per yard), to reduce postage. For same purpose no mountings or stretchers are allowed.

Rule 3.--All work marked "for exhibition" is shown to Mr. David Murray, A.R.A., at the end of the winter term. Miss E. S. Wood writes his criticisms, and occasionally a letter of her own advice to the students, and lends them examples of good work. Studies are returned in June, or if a member especially wishes, in December also.

Rule 4.--All dues to be paid between the 20th and 26th of month preceding a new term, by those who wish to join for six months. Members may join for a month on payment of 1$. per month, but have only one subject criticised. Summer: May-October; Winter: November-April. Subscription, 6$. per term. Fines: 6d. for failure to send in principal subject; 6d. for sending in work late; 1$ for keeping portfolio more than a night (unless Sunday intervenes); 1$. for damaging or failing to return, within a specified time, books, casts, &c., borrowed from the critic or other members. Fines, and any extra donations, go to defray heavy postal expenses of Critic and Secretary. All complaints, suggestions, and payments sent to the latter, 41, Bessborough Gardens, London, S.W.

Subjects for July.

I. Standing Corn.--A field of ripe wheat, barley or oats, is not hard to find in England, and the colour is so rich, especially in the first-named, that it is a most excellent study, if not always very manageable in a picture. The gradations of tone learnt in your former studies will be of use here, for the glow of the field, even in the distance, is so intense as to make it confusing at first to decide on the strength of tone necessary for the foreground. Some of the heads of corn will shew more in detail in the nearer parts.

II. A Sky Study. similar in character to the June subject.

III. A Close Study of cottage gardens, old barns, a bit of old paling, or any objects not likely to change rapidly. A grey day is preferable, as the lighting is less apt to change.

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Loan Training Fund Bazaar.

During May, Mrs. Johnson, 24 Netherall Gardens, South Hampstead, has kindly sent Syrian silk and embroidered bag and table cloth worked in Beyrout, to the value of £1 1$.

E. B. Eastbourne is also thanked for her postal order of 5$.

A Bazaar will be held in Manchester, in November, to raise £15,000 for the Gentlewoman's Employment Association. Part of this will be given to the Loan Training Fund, which will enable gentlewomen from any part of the country to obtain training for any profession they may wish to enter.

The following notice from their report may interest my readers, and explain why it has been decided to have a special "House of Education" Stall:

"Thirty-two ladies have received help from the Training Fund since its establishment in 1892.

"Eight of these have been trained at the House of Education, at Ambleside, about which a few words of description may be of interest. The House of Education was the outcome of the views of the little group of educational enthusiasts who founded the Parents' Review and the 'Parents' Union,' and was an attempt to put the home teaching of children on a more rational and systematic basis than heretofore. Very wisely, however, it was the training of the teacher that was resolved upon, and this training is so real and thorough, as carried on under the stimulating supervision of Miss Charlotte Mason, in the beautiful house overlooking the lake and mountains at Ambleside, that every girl comes away fired with enthusiasm for her calling, and what is still more important, capable of inspiring the children who may fall to her care.

"It is recognized that book learning is but a small part of the education of the child; every aspect of nature and of life is studied, that the growing mind may be supplied with material suited to it, interest awakened in small things and great, the eye trained to see and the hand to perform, while all the time the individual character is studied and developed.

"The students must have previously received a thoroughly good education, and must be over eighteen years of age. There is a small practice school in the grounds at Ambleside, in which are six or eight children of ages ranging from five to fifteen, the idea being to approximate the teaching to that required in a home schoolroom, where the pupils are of necessity of different ages and calibre.

"That such an Institution is welcomed by parents is obvious from the fact that the students of the House of Education have hitherto never had to wait for an engagement, but are able to undertake unusually well-paid work, immediately after the training is completed.

"To return to those who have been trained here by means of the Loan Training Fund. Only one of the seven has required to borrow the whole of the fees (£65 a year for two years), but it is practically certain, that without the help of the Fund, these seven ladies would have been teaching as nursery governesses, at salaries varying from £20 to £25 a year, with the prospect before them of even this modest remuneration being out of their reach as soon as their youth was past.

"Whereas now, they are in receipt of salaries in resident situations ranging from £45 to £125, and are possessed of that special knowledge which is a valuable capital for the whole of their working life. One of the ladies was considerably older than the rest, being forty years of age, when she made the application for the loan. Her circumstances, however, were of such an exceptional character, that the Committee felt justified in giving her the help she asked for, and events have proved that they acted rightly. An exceedingly well-educated woman, she had been a successful (but uncertificated) governess, when severe illness overtook her, and was the cause of the gradual disappearance of the bulk of her savings. When she regained her health, she decided to invest the remainder of her little capital in the training at the House of Education, but found herself to the amount of £33 short of the sum required. This was granted her from the Loan Training fund, and was repaid the following year, when she received an engagement as a daily governess to one child, with a salary of £80 a year, and an additional allowance for board and lodging. The first girl trained here through the Association received £70 in her first situation, and now gets £125 as a resident governess.

"One has just completed her training, and taken up a post with a salary of £76; one will finish her course this year, and another has only just entered the College. All the others have repaid their loans under the time allotted, and there is every reason to hope that these also will be able to do the same with equal facility."

Postal Orders or gifts of work will be gratefully received by the president at the stall, Mrs. Francis Steinthal, Wharfemead, Ilkley.

Proofread July 2011, LNL