The Parents' Review

A Monthly Magazine of Home-Training and Culture

Edited by Charlotte Mason.

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

Volume 13, 1902, pg. 71-74

The Heart of the Empire (Fisher Unwin, 7/6), being "Discussions of problems of modern city life in England with an essay on Imperialism." This is a volume of singular interest and importance. It consists of nine essays on various aspects of city life, written for the most part, we believe, by University men who have made themselves at home with the problems they discuss during work in one or another "Settlement." We have seldom come across a volume containing more promise for the State. The mere fact of the collaboration of a body of men of intelligent standing, power and practical experience, to discuss in a manner at once scientific, sympathetic and practical, the questions which perplex us as a nation, is a happy sign of the times. The Housing Problem, the Children of the Town, Temperance Reform, the Distribution of Industry, the Church and the People, are among the subjects treated of. No one of the writers holds a brief and the discussion is, in every case, broad-minded and full of insight. Even the much abused publican and the offending brewer turn out to be, in many cases, respectable citizens, zealous for the welfare of the community, and this allowance does not hinder a searching examination into the sins of the publican and into the possibilities of protection and reform. The note of the paper is, on the whole, one of tempered hope. The chapter on the Children of the Town is very interesting reading. The town child comes before us as a person who, for good or evil, has developed a character of his own, charming in its responsiveness, elusive in its restlessness, but offering a great field for the work of education. We believe that Mr. Bray has put his finger on the weak place of our education in the fact that we have largely lost religious aim--idealism. "All work becomes purposeless and ineffective without some ideal to direct its course." The chapter on the Problem of Charity has very suggestive reading. The Church Army and the Salvation Army are credited with some power to give "backbone" to their clients. The "Church and the People" raises serious questions. We may not be prepared to consider the abolition of the necessary use of the Prayer Book, but such sentences as--"at present the typical clergyman is not intellectual," and "the clerical ideal of today is organization," give us pause. The chapter on Imperialism appears to us to be rather the manifesto of a party than a broad and temperate view of the mind of the nation. Such sentences as--"the destruction of nations is both the business and pleasure of life to Mr. Kipling's heroes," shakes one's confidence. A volume of such scope as The Heart of the Empire must needs have defects, and may, here and there, give offence, but we strongly recommend it to the earnest consideration of thoughtful persons.

The Defendant, by G. K. Chesterton (Brimley Johnson, 5/- net). The list of Mr. Chesterton's "Defences" is surprising. The dull sane man would suppose that it was impossible to hold a brief for Penny Dreadfuls, and unnecessary to hold one for Humility or Patriotism, or even Baby Worship. But Mr. Chesterton knows better, and, because he knows better, we begin to discern, dare we say it, another Coming of Elia. The grace of Elia, the pellucid flow of English undefiled, may not yet be for another; but the exquisiteness of Elia, his whimsically, his surprising unexpectedness, and his delicious phrasing--these things Mr. Chesterton knows the secret of. "The prophet who is stoned, . . . . is simply a rejected lover. He suffers from an unrequited attachment to things in general." "We have probed, as if it were some monstrous new disease, what is in fact nothing but the foolish and valiant heart of man." "Surely the idea that its leaves are the chief grace of a tree is a vulgar one, on a par with the idea that his hair is the chief grace of a pianist." But Mr. Chesterton's book does not lend itself to quotations, because the best of everything he says is the surprise of the next thing, and you cannot stop in the middle of any one of these delightful little essays. It is difficult to define whimsicality. It is a delightful compound of humour, insight, the power of seeing the other side, the recognition of the folly that there is in wisdom and the wisdom that there is in folly? Whatever it is, Mr. Chesterton has it, and a man or a maker of books can hardly be endowed with a rarer or more lovable quality.

The Mind of a Child, by Ennis Richmond (Longmans, Green & Co., 3/6 net). Mr. Richmond's book is practically a protest against, what seems to us also, a formidable danger. He says in effect that we are so taken up with the study of "the child," that we are practically losing touch with children. He thinks it is an impertinence on our part to treat children as though they were put before us mainly as a subject for analysis and classification. He admits the fascination of child analysis as a study, but considers that we should not pretend to ourselves that we follow this study from love of children; nay, he considers that it is owing to a false idea of children that we have arrived at a false idea of marriage. We do not recognise that there is nothing in the world so important as childhood, and therefore lose sight of the fact that the peopling of the world is the final cause of marriage. We can't help quoting Mr. Richmond at some length on the subject of "Child Study," and women, a section which is gradually increasing, which--on the question of child-education beginning to interest many who had hitherto acquiesced in the 'old-fashioned system'--have evolved a sort of science of child-study which centres itself upon the mind of a child quâ child. This is, I should imagine, a fascinating and interesting study for ourselves; but I cannot see how it can in any way, now or hereafter, help the children. A science can only be founded upon rules formed from collective experience; there are points of uniformity in childhood upon which such rule might be founded, but it is not these points which are engrossing the follower of this science of child study. I cannot see that there is any possibility of forming a science for discovering why children, as children, do this, that, or the other; for here you are trying to encounter the mind of the child, and the mind of a child is nothing. . . . The point I want to be able to put with conviction to my readers, especially to those who are bitten with the craze for child-analysis, is that there is no chance of our getting at a right standard in our ideal of child-education, so long as we are looking at it with the idea of considering children as children. We must think of them as only passing through stage after stage on a road of life which will never be completed. Physically, there is such a thing as being grown-up; every living thing reaches, physically, a state of completion, and because of this fact we are able, physically to form a science, to argue, to deduce. But mentally and morally there is no such thing as being grown-up; never are we in such a condition that progress is not an element of that condition. . . . Here we have no ground from which to argue, on which to raise a science; there are here no points of uniformity where collective experience can speak; and yet it is just here that we elders are trying to force ourselves in. . . . And in this we must fail; for the part of a child's mind which I have called his Individuality, the part where live his reasons for doing things, is entirely and absolutely out of our reach. It has nothing whatever to do with us. It is the child's business and his alone. I believe it is the lack of respect which the minds of children have met with in the past that has led to the mistakes in their education. I believe that we are in imminent danger of making quite as great mistakes as our forbears have done. In directing our attention to the fact that children have minds which command our consideration, we are in danger of thrusting ourselves in at a point where interference is an impertinence greater than any mistake of which our forbears were guilty." We cannot follow his argument, but Mr. Ennis Richmond offers valuable constructive thought on the subject of education, and we advise parents to read his book.

The Earlier Renaissance, by Professor [George] Saintsbury (Blackwood, 5/-). The Earlier Renaissance means, according to Professor Saintsbury, the closing years of the fifteenth century and the first half of the sixteenth, the time, that is, when Greek learning came to us and to France by way of Italy; the "Italianation" as the Elizabethans called it. Germany, which escaped this process, offers her own development. The period is singularly rich both in literary production and in the human interest which gathers round the names enrolled on this literary record. We turn over the pages of this volume and meet with Erasmus, Rabelais, Ariosto, Vittori, Colonna, Michael Angelo, Calvin, Louise Labe, Ascham, Surrey, Latimer, More, Luther, Hans Sachs, Ulrich von Hutten, to mention only some of the stars in the Renaissance firmament. A dull writer could not bore us with such material to hand, but the note of Professor Saintsbury's book is a deep under-lying enthusiasm, vitalising a mass of learning which might leave us cold were it not warmed by that fire. His balanced appreciation of Rabelais and Ariosto are examples of the author's fine critical power, and as for his comfortable humanness, what better example could we have than the footnote recommending the reader, with whom turnips do not disagree, to try Ariosto's "vinegar and wine sauce" with those vegetables.

The Wonder Child, by Ethel Turner (R.T.S., 3/6). We all know Mrs. Curlewis' Australian stories. Here, as in the others, the atmosphere of the Bush and Veldt holds the reader. The story is of a cultivated family cast away, so to speak, in the Australian Bush, how they suffer and how they emerge at last into the decencies of life, how the "Wonder Child" is voted to have a right to take her mother away from her father and the rest to act as her chaperone, how the little girl, after being feted by the world, comes home to find herself a stranger to her own people, and the family nearly ruined through the absence of the mother, and how all ends happily ever after.

The Beechnut Book, by Jacob Abbott (Methuen, 2/6). Edited by E. V. Lucas. Mr. Lucas has made a charming discovery, and it was well done to resuscitate a little book which some fifty years ago was famous among children here as in America. We cannot imagine a better story for simple folk who like a great many simple little details and time to take in one thing after another without hurry or worry. Beechnut is a boy, with a history, whose real name was Bianchinette, but Mrs. Henry's children called him Beechnut, which was easier to say, and the story is of the tales he told to the two, little Madeline and Phonny, and the clever things he did to amuse them.

[Beechnut: A Franconia Story by Jacob Abbott.]

Cassell's Magazine (Cassell & Co., 8/-). No publishers know how to produce popular magazines of more value and interest than do Messrs. Cassell & Co. There are several charming photogravures in the present volume, many capital and strong stories, much interesting information, and to crown all, no less a treasure than Mr. Rudyard Kipling's new novel--"Kim." The fact that Messrs. Cassell have been entrusted with a novel for which, we imagine, editors would contend, is a strong testimony to the worth of Cassell's Magazine. Mr. Kipling believes in the people, and chooses to give his best to them in the first place rather than to a more cultured public. That Cassell's Magazine should have been his choice in this instance is a proof that Mr. Kipling considers it to be a virile and wholesome serial.

Highways and Byways in the Lake District, by A. G. Bradley (Macmillan, 6/-). We hail a new book in the Highways and Byways series with special interest, and the text by Mr. A. G. Bradley, and illustrations by Joseph Pennell, add to the promise of the volume. Mr. Bradley has shewn discrimination in his choice of matter. We all know what is commonly called the Lake District and its literary associations, but do we know about the Statesmen, the Kings of Patterdale, Dacre Castle, Threlkeld Hall, the ways of the Dalesmen, the sport of the Dales, the Gullery at Ravenglass, Muncaster Castle, Calder Abbey, Levens Hall, Shapwells, the Kings of Mardale? We should like to put lake-lovers through an examination upon these and some other points. Mr. Bradley has not neglected the familiar routes, nor has Mr. Pennell. The latter gives us the mill at Ambleside [Fulling Mill?], the school house at Hawkshead, the Market Place at Keswick, a street in Hawkshead, Coniston viewed from the lake, touched with his inimitable pencil. But it is for his treatment of the Byways that we are most grateful to Mr. Bradley. No lake-lover should be without this lake-district book.

Typed by happi, Aug 2019; Proofread by LNL, Apr 2020