The Parents' Review

A Monthly Magazine of Home-Training and Culture

Edited by Charlotte Mason.

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

Volume 15, 1904, pg. 796-800

Parents and Children, by C. M. Mason, Home Education Series, Vol. II. (Kegan Paul & Co., 3/6 net.) The new edition of Parents and Children is a light and handy volume which will commend itself to the reader. The cover bears the badge of the House of Education--the rush, Dante's "humble plant," conventionally treated, with "For the Children's Sake" as motto. It contains a general preface to the Home Education Series, which sets forth at some length the principles promulgated in this Series. There is a full table of contents, index, etc. The chapters are divided under sub-headings and questions upon each chapter are appended. It is hoped that these various aids will commend themselves to students who intend to undertake the "P.N.E.U. Reading Course."

Home Education, by C. M. Mason (Kegan Paul & Co., 3/6 net.) The issue of Home Education in the new edition is delayed, because the publishers had issued a rather large impression immediately before the new series was announced; but they meet the public by selling the former, more expensive volume at the same price as the volumes of the Series and also by binding in, with this edition, the table of contents and the questions prepared for the new edition.

Christopher Marlowe, edited by Havelock Ellis, The Mermaid Series (Fisher Unwin, 3/6). We offer our congratulations to Mr. Fisher Unwin on the happy thought and perfect production of The Mermaid Series. The Press is continually raising the question--Are we, or are we not, a reading people? Meantime, the publishers have taken our education in hand. Without a "by-your-leave" or flourish of trumpets, they are bringing to our hand the best books in so delightful a format that we cannot choose but read. For the charm of the various Pocket Editions (we should like to give special praise to The Mermaid Series) is, that they offer you the best in the form of a light confection, and not in that of a heavy and responsible repast. An imposing row of carefully annotated volumes is depressing to all but the student, but what so tempting as the light linen-covered or leather-covered volume, with pleasant page and good type, which the reader can take up and lay down without ceremony?
Christopher Marlowe is a great acquisition. It is well we should know that it is "Marlowe's mighty line" we revel in, not only in his own work, but in that of the whole band of Elizabethan dramatists, including Shakespeare. Marlowe's ethical insight is of as high an order as his dramatic art. There are passages in his Doctor Faustus more convincing to the plain man than Goethe's more complex studies; and Edward II is, perhaps, unique as an ethical tragedy turning upon a motif, powerful enough in real life, and yet but little touched upon in either drama or novel--the excessive fondness which passes for friendship between man and man and woman and woman; perhaps the former development was the more common in the Tudor days of Marlow. A valuable introduction by Mr. J. A. Symonds and a freshly written critical notice by Mr. Havelock Ellis increase the value of this volume of The Mermaid Series.

The York Library (George Bell & Sons, 2/-) is another much to be commended "Pocket" series. The first volume of Emerson's works (issued in four volumes) is extremely promising. It contains the first and second series of Essays, and Representative Men. Emerson, like Plato, would seem to have touched upon all subjects of thought proper to the mind of man. He is always suggestive, if, unlike Plato, he is now and then discursive and incoherent. He throws you, as it were, the raw material of thought and leaves you to sift, accept, reject, classify, and, if you can, judge any part of the whole according to the science of the proportion of things. The quality of vitality he never lacks. The type and page of this volume is particularly attractive and we like the green linen cover.

The Friend, by S. T. Coleridge (York Library, Bell & Sons, 2/-). Vol I - Vol II Everything from the hand of "S.T.C." comes to us with an indefinable touch of the personal intimacy; and lovers of Coleridge will be especially glad to get The Friend in so convenient a form--"a Series of Essays to aid in the Formation of fixed Principles in Politics, Morals and Religion, with Literary Amusements interspersed." To-day, titles do not take us unto this kind of intimacy! And then, what a venture to send these essays forth in twenty-seven weekly numbers! The subscribers, few in number, did not, we gather from the Advertisement to the second edition, all pay up; and that, when each essay was almost a weekly letter from the pen of Coleridge! To attempt to summarise the contents, when all is occasional and delightful and full of matter as an egg is full of meat, would be vain; but this is the sort of thing one chances on, upon almost any page:--"I had walked from Gottingen in the year 1799, to witness the arrival of the Queen of Prussia . . . Recovering from the first inevitable contagion of sympathy, I involuntarily exclaimed, though in a language to myself alone intelligible--'Oh man! ever nobler than thy circumstances!'" And so on in a strain that the true Coleridgean would recognise amongst a thousand, and always with delight. We owe grateful thanks to Messrs. Bell for this most treasurable gift, but we wish they had favoured us with a better type and thicker paper.

Verses, Translations, and Fly-leaves, by C. S. Calverley (Bell & Sons, 2/-). Lovers of Calverley will delight to have the poet's ever-fresh whimsicalities in this, truly, pocket edition in limp brown leather. Perhaps a generation has arisen which knows not Calverley; if so, let us congratulate these new readers on the chance of getting fun of the choicest in really classical verse.

Erasmus Concerning Education, by H. Woodward (Cambridge Press, 6/-). We owe a second, exceedingly interesting educational monograph to Professor Woodward, and we are glad to have an educational authority whose researches led him into the literature of his subject. Desiderius Erasmus is not so fresh a topic to the English reader as was Vitterino da Feltre; but the author's treatment is scholarly and illuminating, and this study is built up, as he tells us, upon repeated and exhaustive readings of the text. The particular aim of the work is "to realise with precision the appeal which antiquity made to Erasmus and the message which he believed it to convey to the modern world." The examination of antiquity v. religion is especially interesting. On the one hand Erasmus perceived that antiquity was made the vehicle for pagan superstitions and morals; hence he saw much need for the careful editing and selection of texts. On the other hand, he held that the Logos communicated with the minds of men prior to Christianity; hence, the claims of antiquity upon educators. We are in much sympathy with both lines of thought. Erasmus was quick to detect fallacies in current thought; but, the author points out, the only region in which he had any original contribution to offer was that of Latin scholarship and education, practically, synonymous terms in the mind of Erasmus, who considered that modern languages and their literary contents held no disciplinary value for the learner. In fact the business of education was, in his eyes, to fit man to absorb the noble gift of the ancient civilisation. The examination of the three terms--Natura, Ratio, Usus, as used by Erasmus, is extremely interesting; and is wholesome reading as showing how much of what we call modern thought was familiar to this early thinker. But the figures by which he describes Natura, the soft wax or clay, the pliant twig, suggest fatal limitations. Space will not allow us to go into further details, but the sanest and most advanced thought about the food, dress and sleep of children, about the teaching of grammar, about a free career for girls, and much else, was forestalled by this fifteenth century humanist.

My French Friends, by Constance Elizabeth Maud (Smith Elder, 6/-). We experience a gay and happy sense of gratitude towards Miss Constance Elizabeth Maud for this introduction to la vie intime of her French friends. She infects us with their temper and our emotions rise as would theirs; nay, by a happy trick which exposes the author to the strictures of the critics she causes us to think French thoughts in French idioms. It is, no doubt, in questionable literary form to anglicise the run of a French sentence, to translate it verbatim, but the ruse is successful; the reader, half unconsciously, reads in French, omitting not a shrug nor a grimace, not a delicate moue. We all enjoyed The English Girl in Paris, though we may have thought parts of it a little daring. But to meet again "le petite chou" and the quite gracious and charming Mémé, the little Jules, Madame le Fleury and the rest is really like chancing upon old friends in the gay city. Each of the twelve sketches is masterly. The writer passes from grave to gay and each sketch adds to the reader's knowledge of Parisian life, at its best and most gracious. A Chef of Chefs is a sketch worthy of Teniers, as unforgettable as if the master had painted him. The Duel and The Marriage Manque both give us a side of French character which is equally attractive and amazing to the more solid English nature--the sort of dramatic playful element present in every situation. Who shall tell of My Coifleur and the dear Mémé's "transformation"? The delicate humour of the piece is worthy of Goldsmith. And then, the charming Poets' Reunion, apart from the interest of being admitted to a French salon of to-day where Academicians sit crowned, the light touch with which the poets and the contribution of each to the evening's enjoyment are handled, affords the reader a pleasure quite French in character. It is a little difficult to tell how much is due to a subject so gracieuse as La Belle France, but we are inclined to think that we may expect from Miss Maud some of the qualities of gentle satire, delicate humour, and light touch, which we seem to have lost with our older essayists.

Joseph Lancaster, by David Salmon (Longmans, 1/6 net). Readers who plunge into the annals of education in England are familiar with the names of Bell and Lancaster, and it is well that Mr. Salmon would give us this little monograph of perhaps the more worthy if the less successful of the two. Bell was able to leave a thousand pounds to Robert Southey as prepayment for "a witty biography" of himself. Mr. Salmon tells us that this little volume is the first about Lancaster. The fame of the two rests upon the fact that "each happened to invent a monitorial system, each was extravagantly vain of the achievement and each thought that he had earned an immortality of fame." In the beginning of the last century when the nation was willing to be educated, but had neither the will nor the means to pay for education, this great invention of setting children to teach children was hailed with a chorus of delight. "A boy of twelve," says a contemporary record, "often commands the whole school, and that with the same ease to himself and with equal obedience from the many hundred children of which the school is composed as a military officer would experience with a body of well-disciplined troops." No wonder the two reformers conceived that they had found the philosopher's stone. But alas, for the discoveries of time! We no longer set a boy of twelve to order a big school, both for the sake of the school and of the boy. But Lancaster was a born organiser. He has left us two mottoes worth more to-day than the monitorial system,--"A place for everything and everything in its place," and, "Let every child at every moment have something to do and a motive for doing it." Prizes and places were the reward for virtue, badges and orders of merit. The century that has intervened has assuredly done something for the cause of education!

Childhood in Health and Sickness, by J. Roberson Day (Kegan Paul, 5/-). Dr. Day has produced a very useful manual for mothers and others who have the care of children. His subjects are the conditions of health and the means of restoring health, especially as regards auxiliary treatment. Of medicines, Dr. Day tells us, he has purposely said little, except in the way of a first aid when anything goes wrong. He writes as a homeopathist, and perhaps for that reason, gives special importance to auxiliary treatment. Therefore, even if the medicines he has occasion to mention are not used, the book is still full of valuable matter. The author appears to us to be quite up-to-date in everything. He gives us, for example, the Fraser suit of three garments to be fastened at once to simplify the dressing of a baby. We should like to substitute the pleasure of brush drawing for that of collecting, but that is a detail. The Ling system of physical exercises has his commendation. The Walker Gordon milk, instructions for a weight chart, advice on the feeding of children, the treatment of many ailments and diseases, indeed most of the points that occupy a mother's attention as regards the bodily care of her children, are treated with enlightenment and common sense.

Our Great City, by H. O. Arnold-Forster (Cassell & Co., 1/6). When the biography of Mr. H. O. Forster comes to be written, perhaps his "little nameless unremembered acts," or efforts, for the education of its children will occupy no inconspicuous place in the record of his work for the Empire. The book about London is exhaustive on its own lines,--"The scheme of the book is simple. The position of London in geographical and historical space is explained and, as far as may be, accounted for." A summary of the part played by London and Londoners in the history of England follows. The chapters entitled, "Pictures from the Book of the Streets of London," are intended to show that the student of London's history need not confine himself to the printed page, but that in the truest sense, "he who runs may read."

Education Through the Imagination, by M. Macmillan (Swan, Sonnenschein, 3/6). Like other of her educational works, this volume of Miss Macmillan's is suggestive and interesting, and contains a good deal of curious and valuable information. We are entirely with the author in her contention that we do not allow scope for the imagination of a child in our educational methods. He wants to know more, to experience more, to have a wider life before that infinite gift of his, his imagination gets room to do what it can for him in the way of education. As the author says, "the class-room has its limitations," miserably narrow limitations, we fear, sometimes; and we are entirely with her in her plea for out-of-door opportunities for the children.

Register of Teachers for Sunday Schools (Swan, Sonnenschein, 2/-). No doubt it may be useful to all concerned to have the official list of teachers for secondary schools readily available for reference.

The Delightful Reading Box, prepared by Miss Mason (School Depot, West Norwood, London, S.E., 1/6). Do our readers remember that many years ago we published one or two articles called A First Reading Lesson in the Parents' Review? These First Reading Lessons required an arrangement of separate words which would make up into poems or sentences in order that the children should acquire the knowledge of a certain number of words at sight. A friend of education, the late Miss J. Miller, published a Pussy Box for us with those loose words of the several verses of I like little Pussy, put into beautifully sewn little cases, the words of one verse in a case. This was followed by one or two more little poems arranged in the same way. But, alas, these little boxes are no longer to be had. Therefore it was particularly delightful to us to receive The Delightful Reading Box from Miss Mason, with envelopes containing Our Shop, The Fisher Boy and sundry other rhymes, each with its own words and separate letters, and instructions for using them, very much on the lines of those in the papers we refer to. We strongly recommend the use of The Delightful Reading Box, and only wish that Miss Mason had given it a more engaging title.

Typed by Blossom Barden, Oct. 2023; Proofread by LNL, Nov. 2023