Billeder på siden

of Mary Tudor. In fashion and execution they differed scarcely at all from the modern layettes with which the modern baby of well-to-do parents is greeted,-and tortured. After infancy, clothes became for children much what they were for adults, but fashioned with a determined intention of hardening young lives and innuring them to extremes of temperature. Bare arms, necks, chests, legs, were the rule and a rigorous enforcement of early rising, chilly rooms, and cold water was common enough to make us believe that Charlotte Brontë's picture of Cowan Bridge is not exaggerated'. Indeed we need but turn to Arthur Young's Autobiography and read the touching pages which record the brief school experiences of his darling little daughter in 1797 to realise how, even in the case of the well-to-do, the physical helplessness of childhood was treated.

"I brought my dear angelic child (aged 14) with me (to London) who went to school in January in good health but never in good spirits for she abhorred school. Oh! what infatuation ever to send her to one. In the country she had health, spirits and strength, as if there were not enough with what she might have learned at home, instead of going to that region of constraint and death Camden House. The rules for health are detestable, no air, but in a measured formal walk, and all running and quick motion prohibited. Preposterous! She slept with a girl who could hear only with one ear, and so ever laid on one side; and my dear child could do no otherwise afterwards without pain; because the vile beds are so small that they must both lie the same way. The school discipline of all sorts, the food, etc., etc., all contributed. She never had a bellyful at breakfast. Detestable this at the expense of £80 a year. Oh how I regret ever putting her there or to any other, for they are all theatres of knavery, illiberality and infamy! Upon her being ill in March I took her to my lodgings in Jermyn Street where Dr Turton attended her till April 12, when I carried her to Bradfield. He certainly mistook her case entirely, not believing in a consumption, and by physic brought her so low that she declined hourly; he stuffed her with medicine at a time when sending her at once to Bristol or even to Bradfield, she went little more than skin and bone, with prescriptions for more physicking under a stupid fellow at Bury till she was a spectre. On June 13, she went to the Smith's (Bradfield

1 See also Recollections of Life and Work, Louisa Twining, Chapter II.

S. M. L.


neighbours) and there complained that such a young girl as I who came for air and exercise should be thus crammed with physic.'

Poor thing! her instinct told her it was wrong, but she submitted." (Autobiography of Arthur Young. Edited by Miss Betham-Edwards, PP. 268-4-)

Thus far "that wise and honest traveller" as Mr John Morley calls Arthur Young. Charles Dickens writing of the state of boarding schools such as Dotheboys Hall probably did not exaggerate the general features of ignorance and neglect which marked too many. It was only between 1852-59 that Mr Spencer published his striking chapters on Education, and thus gave a vague currency to the idea of infancy as an age with physical requirements of its own. If these are ignored the later work of those whose profession it is to care for childhood is hindered in no slight degree. Far less by the intelligence of teachers than by the work of scientific men we may, I believe, claim that at least a glimmering consciousness of the child's right to live his own life more or less at his own pace is, physically speaking, conceded-now-a-days-by all who consider themselves enlightened.

As to formal education in the early years of the century it is difficult to choose the sources of our information. But perhaps we may safely take as our guides some of the writings designed especially for what are called Infant minds.

A little book (published in London 1778) called Lessons for Children of Three Years Old is before me. It is well printed, with good margins and bold type and is meant to be a first reading book. It served indeed as this to the great-grandfather of a friend of mine. What strikes the modern critic most in this and like booklets is the general formal courtesy of the language employed and that the difficulties of thought and language are neither graduated nor explained. There is (luckily) little or no explicit moralising but moral lessons of an unmistakable nature are enforced by stories: the child who is cruel to a robin is abandoned by his parents and friends and finally eaten

by a bear in a wood in the good old direct fashion. We are not informed as to what becomes of the parents and friends—nor what kind of a bear in a wood it is which eats the boy: points which the modern "restless" curiosity would no doubt insist upon elucidating. The child in this and like books is tacitly held to be silly because he is little: to be "grown up” is more or less explicitly taught to be synonymous with wisdom. Models of Juvenile Correspondence (date 1803) are given in a volume of The Bookcase of Knowledge. I quote the preface and two of the model letters supplied.



To be capable of carrying on an epistolary correspondence with ease and credit to yourselves, is what we hope you will all endeavour to accomplish. The hints necessary to facilitate this important branch of education, are but few and we give them with the sincerest wishes they may be attended to. Let your language be natural and easy, avoid all high-flown far-fetched expressions and all useless repetitions; to your superiors, write with a becoming confidence, neither assuming nor servile; to your equals with an engaging freedom; to your inferiors with an affability that may prevent their feeling their inferiority; to all with respect; in a word, express your thoughts in writing as you would in speaking.

With these rules and a few specimens which follow, you will soon find the practice become delightful.

From a Young Gentleman to his Acquaintance.


We have been at Windsor and I must confess it is a most delightful place. We have passed our time very agreeably; yet I must own that there is nothing like home and my books. I am very much fatigued with the journey, and can only add that I am,

Your sincere friend,

And humble servant.

To a Young Gentleman on the recovery of his health.

The answer.


I receive your obliging letter, which contains a fresh mark of your friendship for me. I am now, I thank God, perfectly recovered.

I know not, whether I should not consider my last illness as a punishment for my crime in robbing Mr Freeman's orchard, breaking the boughs, and spoiling the hedges. However, be that as it may, I will do so no more. Believe me ever,

Your real friend,

And schoolfellow.

The volume devoted to Natural History in this Bookcase of Knowledge gives short accounts of animals of which I quote those descriptive of the Hen and the Peacock.

The Hen. The material assiduities of the Hen are become almost proverbial. When her chickens are old enough to provide for themselves, she abstains from all the food that her young can swallow, and she will boldly fly at every creature that she thinks is likely to injure them. In this domestic creature we have a striking instance of the goodness of our Creator, for while her young supplies (sic) our tables with the most delicate food, her eggs contribute to restore to health the sickly and weak.

The Peacock. Peacocks were first introduced into Europe from the Asiatic Indies. When it appears with its tail expanded, none in the feathered creation can vie with it in elegance and magnificence, but the harsh scream of its voice diminishes the pleasure received from its brilliancy, while its insatiable gluttony tend (sic) still more to alienate our attachment from the only merit which it can claim, its incomparable beauty.

The little girls whose brothers were desired to write such letters passed many hours of their lives in needleworkespecially in working samplers.

So high an authority as Miss Twining, born in 1820, bears this interesting testimony to the use of such employment.

“Needlework was an important part of education in those days and samplers were an invariable performance. At six years old I worked one in cross-stitch letters, with the alphabet and numerals, and, of course, appropriate mottoes, one of which I remember and have acted upon since, 'A stitch in time saves nine': however defective in rhyme, it is wise and useful. This was followed, by a still finer sampler, two years later, when we spent the summer at Tunbridge Wells, one motto being singular for a child of eight, 'After labour rest is sweet,' a prophecy which was to be

fulfilled after a long interval, by my removal to the same place, in search of repose and quiet after the work of my life was, as I supposed, nearly finished. Intense enjoyment was caused by these little performances and I doubt if any kind of needlework for children of the present day can furnish occupation so useful and so pleasant."

Recollections of Life and Work, Louisa Twining, pp. 33, 34.

A recent Exhibition of samplers (1900) showed the kind of verse employed: here are one or two examples from the catalogue:

1798. Vase of flowers, trees etc.

"O may Thy powerful word

Inspire a worm

To rush into Thy Kingdom Lord

& take it as by storm."

Sarah Becket, aged 8, December 1798.

1814. Alphabet and verse.

When I was young and in my prime

Here you may see

How I spent my time.
"Aged 6."

In the most interesting Journal of Emily Shore (who was born in 1819) mention is made of a Bookcase of Knowledge. Could it be that from which I have been quoting? If so how curious is the contrast between her methods of studying natural history, so delicate, candid, persevering,-and the pompous fatuities of the Bookcase of Knowledge! Emily Shore in her quiet country home watching nature with keen, loving observation learns at every turn some new and illuminating truth as to bird or plant. She is the fit contemporary of Darwin,-fit no less by her modesty than by her method.

These specimens of literature and hard work for the very early stage of childhood cannot be taken in isolation. They should be classed with the writings of Dr Watts, Jane and Ann Taylor and Mrs Sherwood (1775-1851). Dr Watts' Divine and

« ForrigeFortsæt »