The Parents’ Union School

The Parents’ Union School

The Parents’ Review, 1912, pp. 492-510
By Miss C. M. Mason

It is a great pleasure to me to meet, if not in the flesh, then in the spirit, people with whom I have had much intercourse, parents of children who belong to the P.U.S. I should like to thank them for the faith which has accepted the conditions of a school run upon unusual lines, a school which discards the tattered school-books which have passed through the hands of two or three generations of school children and buys the appointed books on many subjects, the teaching of which hardly approves itself to their common sense. But I believe that this faith meets with a royal reward. The children do exceptionally well when they pass out of the home schoolroom to the ordinary school; and, meantime, they prove themselves charming companions to their elders, companions with many interests and delights. They do not find home-life or schoolroom life dull and tiresome. The schoolroom interests become family interests and subjects of conversation; everyone is interested in discussing the first appearance of the willow warbler or the redstart, of the adoxa or purple orchis; everyone has an opinion about Botticelli’s Spring or Van Eyck’s Adoration; and I hope that the reading for the last term has revived many old interests in the whole family, has perhaps induced another delightful reading of Miss Austen’s novels and a renewed intimacy with her characters. Kingsley, Carlyle, Mazzini, have, no doubt, struck a sympathetic chord in many families, conscious of an aching sense of responsibility in these uneasy times; and how good to live again in the atmosphere of the Idylls of the King!

Echoes reach us now and then, such as, “Father is so much interested in Gilbert White’s Letters that he is taking that subject himself.” People give their children drawings to illustrate their studies in architecture: a correspondent says, “The way my two nine-year-olds have enjoyed Besant’s Alfred, pure and unadulterated is amazing.” That is it; the whole point is to give children books that are books, that is books whose existence is justified by

Originality in Thought,

and by a more or less literary style. Books in which the matter is watered down, compressed or simplified, we abstain from carefully, because children are lovers of intellectual strong meat. This is curiously illustrated in the practice of narrating, or relating, paragraphs or chapters which have been read, which is as you know a custom of the school; we test the value of the books set by the children’s narrations; books which are marked by the concentrated thought and easy style which distinguish literature produce narrations full of matter and expressed in good vigorous English, while the most well intentioned work of the talky-talky order results in a sentence or two of ill expressed twaddle.

Has it occurred to you how much this practice of narrating after a single reading implies? Try a chapter of Scott or of Jane Austen, read through once and then silently narrated, to put oneself to sleep in periods of insomnia, for example; I think few persons will be satisfied with the result. We find we have left out incidents, telling arguments, bits of description,—have failed to get the general hang of the narrative, and so on. Now, children do this admirably. They read with concentrated attention; the single reading of a long passage puts mere parrot-like repetition out of the question, they use their own words and affect their author’s style; and the fact that they read the works of many authors lends to their general composition an ease and vigour and a fulness of matter which we elders may well envy.

As some of us live beside our best friends for years and know mighty little about them until the presence of some stranger shows them to us in a new aspect, in like manner, I venture to think that the school has been the means of revealing many children to their parents.

“I thought The Idylls of the King much too old for them, but I find they delight in the book,” is the remark of more than one mother; but we elders are not by any means so superior to the children as we think in matters of intellectual comprehension. They do not know much, to be sure, but they can understand anything that is put to them with directness and force. Too many details fatigue their minds, while they take to general principles, duly illustrated, with avidity. And, indeed, they have need to do so for there is much for them to learn, and they have no time to waste upon twaddle, or upon text-books crammed with the mere dust of learning.

Recognizing that knowledge-hunger is as keen in children as is bread-and-butter hunger, we spread their table with a liberal hand, endeavouring to introduce them to each sort of knowledge that a rational human being should possess, the knowledge of God through the Bible, the knowledge of men through history, literature, ethics and art, the knowledge of the natural world through nature-study and science: and the response the children make to this liberal curriculum is delightful and stimulating. But, show an ordinary schoolmaster or mistress a single term’s programme in either of the classes, and you will be told that it is much better for the children to do some three or four subjects well than to run over so much ground; that matter got out of books is mere information, and at that, information derived from so many books must be of a scrappy character. There are, no doubt, schoolmasters and mistresses who have considered the nature of knowledge and who understand children’s enormous appetite for it. These hold, with Dr. Arnold, who says: “Adjust your proposed amount of reading to your time and inclination; but whether that amount be large or small let it be varied in its kind, and widely varied. If I have a confident opinion on any one point connected with the improvement of the human mind, it is on this.” It is satisfactory to have chanced on a justification, in the words of so eminent an authority, of the principle that has guided the construction of the

Parents’ Union School Curriculum

from its first issue to its sixty-third; but there is a reason in the nature of things and in the nature of their own minds why children should deal with wide and various knowledge grouped under the three headings I have indicated. The knowledge of God is, we know, eternal life, and there is one final source of such knowledge, the Bible itself. Therefore we endeavour to make children familiar with many of the books of the Scriptures and with the words of the text itself. I do not press the point, that this familiarity with Bible English should give them some mastery of English at its best, though it does so no doubt; we know how Ruskin’s noble style was, as he himself admits, largely derived from this well of English undefiled. But the training in the speaking and writing of English which the Bible affords is incidental; what we look for is a steadily widening and increasing knowledge of God, brought to a point, as it were, by a knowledge of our noble liturgy.

The knowledge of man includes a good many headings in our programmes: English History, French History, European History, Literature (both poetry and prose), Morals, Citizenship, Plutarch’s Lives, Art Studies, studies in Music and in Language, Modern Languages and Latin. These and kindred subjects should issue in the just judgment, wide comprehension, strong sense of duty and responsibility and devoted patriotism, the need of which is urged upon us by every national distress. Sympathy, tenderness, cultivated perceptions, a passionate sense of the beauty and duty of service, are among the equipments for life required in these exacting days; and all of these we aim at imparting by slow degrees, by more and more, through the words of the wise, which the children learn to delight in.

We are hardly aware how children lap up lessons of life like a thirsty dog at a water trough, because they know without being told that their chief business is to learn how to think and how to live; comment and explanation are usually distracting. By the way, I think there is one point about which we elders must be careful; it is easy to make children intolerable little prigs by giving a personal bearing to their work. It is bad enough to hear a mother say: “All the mothers care about in a school is that they shall be well looked after; it’s the fathers who want some sort of education for the boys so that they can go into business; but I’ve told these boys that if they want a motor car, they’ll have to work!” We see the materialism of such a view and are properly shocked; but a child is in a far worse case who suspects that to read about Alcibiades, King Alfred, Sir Galahad, should be to his advantage. The first thing that this School is designed to teach is a love of knowledge for its own sake, and this I think the children get; they learn that last accomplishment of noble minds, to delight in books for themselves; but any hint that a poem or a personage is administered to a child by way of a pill or a poultice, to do him good, is fatal to the slow, still operation of knowledge upon his personality.

Another point worthy of attention is that the effect of knowledge is not evidenced by what a person knows, the store of acquirements he possesses, but only and solely by what a person is. We have all been surprised from time to time by the unusual simplicity of some eminent man, and we give misplaced admiration to his modesty and reticence; now, reticence is not a great and frank quality; the fact is that the man of profound knowledge behaves as he feels; he has no store laid away in secret places: his knowledge has made him what he is and has been to some extent consumed in the process. This does not apply to what is commonly called learning, which is a noble means of attaining knowledge rather than knowledge itself. Learning is stored by the memory, and the child must learn his tenses and tables and dates, his Latin declensions and his French verbs with dogged persistence; but to mistake learning which, unlike knowledge, is a store that can and must be laid up in the memory, for knowledge itself, is in some sense to mistake shadow for substance. Learning is convenient but knowledge is vital. Learning is merely acquired information to which the memory gives entertainment but which does not

Influence the Life.

“With all thy getting, get understanding,” we are bidden. “Why will ye not understand?” is our Lord’s repeated demand of the Jews and of ourselves. Now, a child or a man who reads a book in such a way that his active mind appropriates the thought of the writer and can express it faithfully in his own words, has obtained knowledge, not a store to add to his resources in talk or for examination purposes, but aliment which increases the vigour of his personality. But surely, says someone, a child will get what he wants better from the lips of a teacher who knows how to explain and to approach him on his own level than from the pages of a book written for his elders! Here is one of the fallacies that we as a School exist to combat. For his intellectual diet, the child wants more meat, stronger meat, meat more various in quality, than any teacher can afford, and he is unfairly dealt with if he is not from the first brought into touch with great minds through their own written words.

First hand knowledge is what a child wants if he is to grow thereby; that is why oral lessons and lectures compiled from many books have a stimulating but not a sustaining effect. Now and then, no doubt, we hear a lecture from a man of original mind which is the working out of his own original thought; and such a lecture stands on the same level as an original book. But can we secure for our children the offices of a score of such lecturers, all of them working day by day on the subject each has most at heart? Even if we could, the distracting influence of personality would come between the pupil and the genius who is teaching him at the moment, and the result would tend to be stimulation rather than knowledge.

We can answer our imaginary critic at every point. It is better for a child to work at many subjects than at few, because children have an inherent need of knowledge on many subjects, and to acquire it is delightful to them. The brain is as much invigorated by regular, happy, various, work as is the physical frame; and the child who learns many things learns each of them as well as he who learns a few things learns those few, but the former has the added element of delight in his work. Only one caution is necessary,—a strict limitation in regard to hours of work. No young scholar should know what brain fag means; and every school time-table should be framed so as to secure ample leisure for the scholar and fitting work at fitting periods.

I think we have disposed of the notion that books afford only information while the so-called “lovely lesson” imparts knowledge. The third adverse criticism which we used to hear now and then, that information from many books must be of a scrappy character needs no further confutation than may be had from the examination papers shown in another room; all the papers, bad, good and indifferent, sent up at Christmas; those of the last term are still in the hands of the examiners. The questions you will see are by no means easy to answer and are really test questions covering about one-twentieth of the ground prepared. You will find no “howlers,” no use of words the meaning of which is not understood, no verbiage employed to cover ignorance. The children write with curious freshness; their work is in fact the work of original minds because their own apprehension has been employed throughout. You will notice, too, how active imagination has been in every case, scenes are described with a vigour which testifies to their having been visualized by the young writer, and personages are introduced in such wise that it is evident the children know them and will be rejoiced to meet them again in many an after allusion and study throughout life. By way of gauging the amount of imagination and concentration these children give to their work, let us ask ourselves how would it fare with one of us set to write a scene for acting from some passage in a book once read a couple of months ago, or even to illustrate such a scene by a brushdrawing full of details? You will also, no doubt, notice the free flow of vigorous and direct English, the quite admirable style of most of the children’s answers. We can all write well when we are full of our subject and know it well, and therefore, children in this School require no lessons in composition. In the course of time the children read through quite big books, getting a thorough and deeply interesting knowledge as far as it goes of the subject they are dealing with.

A long time ago the Pall Mall Gazette published an article headed Education v. Culture in which some points are made that are worth our notice. A contrast is drawn between the “College” girl and the “Society” girl,—in the following words: “The modern society girl is probably more conversant at the age of seventeen with the literature and art of the day, as well as with ancient history and its arts, than many a college bred girl; in fact, I can safely affirm that were she to adopt the pose of ‘blue stocking,’ instead of the detached air of insouciante girlhood, and enter upon a passage of arms with one of Girton’s or Newnham’s graduates, she would very soon make the last-named feel that her education had scarcely begun. The society woman, so-called, realizes that in cultivating her girls she must fit them to take their places amongst the greatest minds of the age, train them to be the possible mates of such men as create the world’s history, not only of her own, but of any other nation.” The writer goes on to make appreciative remarks about the Parents’ Union School and the House of Education from which it is said “cultured young women, prepared to spread culture among the cultured classes” are sent out year by year. “But it is not necessary to have one of these for one’s girls in order to educate them on such lines, for, for a mere ‘nothing’ one can have the system introduced and adopted into any home, a system which brings joy to the hearts of the little ones and satisfaction extraordinary to their elders.”

Now, this is a point I wish to speak upon. I should like to compliment untrained governesses working in the School upon the admirable papers their children often turn out, but I should like also to offer a word or two of counsel to mothers. When “faultily faultless” papers reach us they are a cause of grave anxiety; unduly perfect work done pretty much in the words of the book, reveal the anxious, strenuous teacher oppressed by the labours of her office who will play upon her pupil’s desire to get “100” for a long list of subjects; the children work as strenuously as the teacher, in season and out of season; I am not sure that overtime work is not allowed sometimes! The papers come and the children answer all the questions; if by chance there is a question that they cannot cover, we get letters about it on the ground that the children are losing certain marks which they might have had. I make no doubt that the examinations in these schoolrooms are conducted with integrity; the certificates we require to be sent in should secure that, and I am quite sure that in any case parents and teachers are awake to the importance of the education in integrity which the papers should afford. What I do fear is that the children are sometimes defrauded of by far the most valuable part of a term’s work; namely, an increased love of knowledge and an increased delight in books; they have been working throughout the term for marks, and not for knowledge; as Ruskin says, “they cram to pass and not to know, they do pass and they don’t know!” I wish we all realized what an enormous thing, what a joyous factor in our lives is this delight in knowledge, in knowledge and in the books from which chiefly we derive knowledge. Once parents understood

That Mark-hunger and Knowledge-hunger

cannot co-exist, public opinion would be brought to bear upon school methods and we should have boys and girls working, not towards the pass which is to finish their school career, but in that education which is to continue all their lives, as in their school-days, and whose reward is continuous intellectual activity and increasing joy in thinking and knowing, that is to say, a fuller and more satisfying life. This, for the individual; and, for the service of the world, many a larger, sweeter personality, because people are effective only in the ratio of their personality. I venture to hope that England will be the better for the Parents’ Union School which should train young persons capable of just judgment and willing service.

To return for a moment to the question of marks. If it were possible to keep a record without assigning any sort of marks we should certainly do so; but it is important that parents should know when a child falls below the average of his age and class. When this is the record on the report we find that parents are quick to take warning, the faults are remedied and the child is brought up to par in quite a short time. When the work in any subject is quite satisfactory for the scholar’s age and class, “100” is assigned, a mark fairly easy of attainment because it does not denote comparison with others but simply the value of the scholar’s own work judged by a common standard, an unusually high one I think. Sometimes parents express a wish for a class list because they want to know how their children compare with others; such a comparison is really implied in the marks, and parents may be satisfied that their children are doing very well indeed if the term’s report is satisfactory.

But that children should be imbued with a feverish desire to get above this one and that, to take so many places in the term, should have, in fact, the principle of emulation put before them instead of the love of knowledge, would do away with the peculiar value of the School, for we exist chiefly to secure that children shall love knowledge for its own sake. But practical parents need not be uneasy; children who have been conscientiously taught in this School do exceedingly well afterwards; and it is curious how what one may call the ethics of their early education cling to them. A lady wrote the other day of her son who was in the School thirteen years ago and had since had rather a distinguished career at Public School and College; but the odd thing was it never occurred to him to revise his reading. I think his mother said she suggested that he should do so for his degree and he replied that he had never thought of that. That is why early habits of work are so important, they cling to us through life; and that again is why it is important that children should get in touch with a wide range of subjects, because I believe it could be proved that people care in after life for those subjects, only, to which they were duly introduced as children.

I hope you will not think that I take undue advantage of the fact that I am (by proxy) in the pulpit for the nonce, if I discuss a few points that I should like to make clear. The Hon. Org. Sec. of the P.N.E.U. outdid herself on one occasion by making a brilliant discovery. She found out that people can’t read! that it is useless to provide them with printed matter for they only get the vaguest idea of what is meant to be conveyed. Only this morning I received a letter from a lady who tells me that she and her governess,—“were feeling that in the Parents’ Union School, everything was arranged for the teacher, nothing for the child to do”! This lady properly feels that children should not depend too much on their teacher but should work alone. Now, the whole object of the school is to secure that children should work for themselves, should deal with their books, drawings, etc., with very little help from the teacher and few oral lessons. This is what makes it possible for one governess to work with two or three children while the others are, not learning by rote, but studying, “reading,” in the sense in which a ’varsity man “reads.” If a child is to go on with his education all his life, he must begin to work for himself in the way of getting knowledge, of dealing with his own books. The teacher it is true has important functions, chief among them, to see that the children know and, next, to show quiet sympathy in their interest in the delightful things they learn. Interest, concentration, if not universal, are very general among scholars who get enough to do, not only with their hands but especially with their brains. There is no occasion for the teacher to resort to “Miss Honeyman’s” Dramatic Method as expounded in Punch. The interest is there in the knowledge itself, but the teacher must share this interest actively or her pupils become lethargic. Now, although it is delightful, it is not an easy thing to keep up the alertness of mind necessary to accompany even one class through a morning’s work. This is why the House of Education governesses do not take what is called “entire charge.” Work is not the easier but the more difficult when there is only one child to teach; and to be with a single child all day long is a greater strain than even a cottage mother bears; besides, the constant companionship of one person is an undue strain on the child. All this is the more true, the more enthusiastic the teacher and the more delightful the work. But people are beginning to understand that the education of young children is as important as that of their elder brothers and sisters, indeed, more important, because the years from six to ten when “a nice girl from the village” is often entrusted with the education of the children, practically decide the intellectual and moral status of the future man or woman.

This brings me to the question of the books used in the School, and I should like to thank all the parents of children in the School for their extraordinary appreciation of the books we use, which is the more welcome because the selection of these is a long, difficult, and never-ending task. It is a curious thing to say, when there are hundreds of text-books on each of the subjects of study taken up in the School, that there would seem to be but the one right book, and that is long to seek; but the difficulty of

Finding the Right Book

is an experience common to all students. We in England have inherited a curious parsimony in the matter of books.

Being by nature a conservative people, I suppose this particular meanness has remained with us since the days when manuscript books were too costly for the schoolboy’s use; and that is why, as Ascham tells us, the boy had to learn at second-hand, from the lips of his master, what he should have got direct from the MS. of the author. Books are cheap enough now for the slenderest purse, yet it is astonishing how small a sum annually even educated people in easy circumstances will spend at their book-sellers’. This inherited parsimony, together with our contempt for knowledge, results in the fact that oral lessons and lectures generally take the place of books in schools. Therefore I am grateful for the generous response parents make to a pretty large demand for books. But I should like to say to any parents who may doubt the need for such and such a book set, that, to omit it is to leave out a link in the chain by which all hang together. Scholars who have grown up in this School, from class Ia to class IV, and have kept their books, find themselves in possession of a delightful library which is also a history of their intellectual life. The books they used as children of six and seven, being of a literary character, are still interesting to them when they are grown up. They know their way about many books treating of many subjects; there are, as we know, two kinds of memory, one for facts, one for the place, page, line, of the right book which elucidates the fact; the latter is the practically useful memory, and this, these young scholars should possess. The stimulating influence of this scholar’s library, these “hundred” best books, let us say, which have been intellectually grasped between the ages of six and eighteen, can hardly fail to affect the atmosphere of the whole household as well as that of the schoolroom party. We know how parents join the scouting expeditions, make little journeys with the children in search, say, of bog-myrtle, or to see the sandpiper, have the pictures for the term framed and hung in the schoolroom (though a brown paper mount does just as well as a frame), in fact, allow themselves to be quickened in a hundred ways by the living interests of their children, and chief among these interests are the “delightful” books used in the schoolroom. Therefore, parents must not expect to get the full benefit of the School unless they do their part by providing the books set for each programme of work. Each child should have his own books because the practice of looking on is bad for the eyes and because the sense of property in his books, and of the duty and responsibility of taking care of them, is no small part of his education. As for the cost, we are told of a saying of Mahomet’s, how that if a man had twopence (or the equivalent of twopence) he should spend one penny on bread and the other on flowers. Let us apply the same principle to books.

To speak for a moment of another matter; the parent who goes to his boy’s schoolmaster and says, “I don’t want my boy to learn geography (or, say, Greek, or drawing), because he is rather exceptional,” is set down by the schoolmaster as a faddist. The latter may make a polite reply but is apt to murmur, sotto voce, “that is my business now.” And he is right. It is the teacher’s business to survey the wide range of subjects some knowledge of each of which is due to a child, and consider how they may be best proportioned and included. What the parent cannot undertake to do as a whole, he may not do in part; that is a way of speaking to “the man at the wheel,” which is not without risk.

The parents of delicate children are often afraid of too much mental strain and consider that when a child has nothing to do his brain is keeping holiday. Never was a greater mistake.

“The human (brain) is like a millstone, turning ever round and round
If it have nothing else to grind, it must itself be ground.”

And the poor little chap who is sent into the garden to play is really working furiously all the time. It is desultory, unorganized work which fatigues both body and brain, while the rhythmic regularity of prescribed effort is wonderfully easeful. Dostoïeffsky, in describing convict life in Siberia, repeats again and again that the definite, purposeful work in which the convicts are employed is the one thing that keeps them sane and well; and one thinks of the numberless children below par as regards either mental development or bodily health who are left to prey upon themselves because they are supposed not to be strong enough for mental work. The brain, be it remembered, is a physical organ, and regular and sufficient exercise is one of the conditions which keep it in health. Brain Specialists are coming pretty unanimously to this conclusion, that all children are the better for definite mental work, while such work is a necessity for those of retarded mental development.

Another bogey occasionally lifts its head,—that a child’s intellectual labour and resultant fatigue are in proportion to the number of subjects studied. Punch, of course, knows about it. We all know that “Miss Honeyman’s,”—Thesis for the D.Sc. degree, with its remarkable series of curves showing in Milligrammes the precise amount of fatigue endured by 5,875 children (male and female) varying in age from 6.329 to 7.215 years, in committing to memory the complete poem of “Mary and the Lamb,” bade fair to revolutionize the whole science of Experimental Psychology. But, as a matter of fact, a number of subjects and a variety of subjects, make for relief and refreshment and not for fatigue; the things that tire a child are too long lessons and too long school-hours. By recognizing this fact we are able to get in much more work than the ordinary time-table allows of, because our lessons are shorter, and the children concentrate attention on what they are about. It is the constant effort to pull together

Wits that are Woolgathering,

that fatigues child and man, and not rapid work done with full interest and attention.

While speaking on the difficulties that occur here and there in the working of the school, let me say a word to console parents who may be a little troubled because their children on entering the school are launched into the middle of certain books. Of course the same thing must happen in any school which they join because in a school children must work with their class. Now, very few subjects have either beginning or end, so it does not much matter where children come in so long as they alight on their feet; and, as the cycle of work goes round in the class they will want to use those parts of their books which they have missed. Anyway they have their books to refer to, and so are better off than children who depend upon oral lessons. The practice of beginning at the beginning and trying to overtake the class in the several books is much to be deprecated, and means the sort of overpressure which is fatal, not only to progress, but to that love of knowledge for its own sake which is the best thing to be got out of school life.

I have another little request to make. We try to order the child’s school life so as to include not only many interests but also gaiety and leisure. But mothers, especially London mothers, are so wistfully eager to secure every sort of advantage for their children that the poor little people are trotted about from class to class for biology, astronomy, singing, dancing and drawing, French and Italian, until there is no freshness, no keenness left in them. I have not come across a child who has profited much by these various classes, and I do find that children whose leisure is spent upon extra classes become rather dull and are not much interested in anything. Children must have ease, leisure, and play.

Now, may I touch upon what is really a difficult question, and that is the teaching of French. The popular way of solving the difficulty is to secure a French governess or an Englishwoman who has lived so long in France that she speaks like a native, and has possibly got into the rather lax habits of mind which we are apt to fall into when we live too long apart from the responsibilities proper to our native country. We are on the horns of a dilemma. Children must learn to speak French fluently; but I believe that many of our failures in knowledge and intellectual interest are due to the pursuit of French at all costs. Now, many men have very good French, but no parent would sacrifice a boy’s education as the mother does her girl’s to this single acquirement. A French under-nurse, holidays spent in France with a tutor, a few months spent in a French family before going to College, or a French boy or youth as a holiday companion, are expedients that appear to answer the purpose with a boy in addition to his school work in French. I think, some such supplementary opportunities might be arranged for girls rather than that their school work should be impeded. We take pains to send out governesses who speak French with some fluency and correctness, and who have some knowledge of French history and literature, but I cannot say that I think the time allotted to French in the school time-table will secure a thorough knowledge of the tongue without some supplementary effort. I have known an interchange of pupils for a few months between French and English families to work well, and there is a very well-worked organization to arrange for such interchange between families of a suitable condition in life.[1] We cannot afford to sacrifice our girls’ education to French as our grandmothers did, and, though I know that many French governesses are admirable teachers, I think a word of caution may be of use.

Parents are sometimes in doubt as to how long their girls should be in the school; as to the boys, there is no question, every boy should go to a preparatory school by ten at the very latest however good the work he may be doing in the P.U.S., but, there are many good preparatory schools which have adopted our methods so that his special work may be continued. Girls, however, of a certain class do not go to school and remain with us until they are, say, eighteen. The work in the fourth class (from 15–18) is exceedingly interesting and delightful, qualifying a woman for family and social duties and for service to the world.

Lady Campbell will kindly read a few of the questions set in the last examination paper for class IV, from which it is possible to see how far a girl who has done the work is equipped with knowledge, principles to guide her in life and interests to afford joy in living.


I. 3.—By what three stages did Ezekiel’s commission come to him? Describe each. What four remarkable actions was Ezekiel commanded to perform?

II. 2.—“Three cunning last assaults prepared the foe.” Describe each briefly, and answer the query, “What fragments gather we for our distress?” How may these temptations come to us?

3.—What was St. John’s purpose in writing his Gospel? Mention, (a), some religious ideas characteristic of St. John, (b), some titles of Christ peculiar to this Gospel.

4.—Write a short résumé of (a) The Holy Grail, or, (b), of three of Keble’s poems that you enjoyed, quoting lines where you can.

Every-Day Morals and Economics.

1.—Write, (a), as far as you can in the words of Alfred, his preface to Cura Pastoralis,—This Book is for Worcester, or (b), Asser’s account of King Alfred at Work.

2.—Discuss four different forms of (a), courage, (b), loyalty, that you have come across in your term’s reading. What duties towards others does Justice claim from us?

3.—Describe the vision of Philosophy that appeared to Boethius. How did he “lay bare his wound,” and by what “few small questions” does She seek a method of treatment?

Composition. (Composition is also taken into account in History and Literature.)

1.—Write ten lines, in the metre of The Passing of Arthur, on (a) Camelot, or, (b), some scene that took place there,

or,       2.—A scene for acting from Emma, or The Warden,

or,       3.—Write a short letter to The Times on the coal strike from, (a), a mine owner, (b), a miner.

English Grammar.

3.—Write some notes on the influence on the English language of, (a) Italian in the time of (i.) Ascham, (ii.) Spenser, (iii.) Milton, (iv.) Jeremy Taylor, (b), Spanish in the 16th and 17th centuries, (c), French in the time of Charles II. Give examples where possible.


1.—Describe the character of (a) Galahad, (b) Launcelot, (c) Percivale, quoting any favourite lines in connection with each.

2.—Write, in the style of Malory, of, (a) how Merlin saved Arthur’s life, or, (b), how the letters were found in the Siege Perilous.

3.—“Saunders Mackaye,” says Carlyle, “my invaluable countryman … is nearly perfect.” Give some account of him, and discuss, from Alton Locke, Kingsley’s attitude to the Chartist movement.

4.—Jane Austen “worked with so fine a brush” on a “little bit (two inches wide) of ivory.” Discuss this. Mention any biographical touches in Emma, and show wherein lay (a) the strength, (b) the weakness of character of the heroine.

5.—Trollope says he “knew every flame of the eye” of the actors in his stories. Describe some scene in The Wardenwhich, (a), you think justifies this, or, (b), gives indications of thought and manners which differ from those of our day.

6.—Compare and contrast the treatment of the Arthurian legend by (a), Malory, (b), Tennyson.

English History.

2.—(a) “He aimed at the education of his people”; (b) “he created English literature.” How did Alfred set about (a), and whence did he get help? Give some account of his work under (b).

3.—What two principles guided Alfred as Lawgiver? Discuss the way in which he followed both.


3.—“India was easily conquered, just as Italy and Germany fell an easy prey to Napoleon.” Explain this, and show that “the conquest of India was not in the ordinary sense a conquest at all.” Discuss the conditions which make the government of India by England a possibility.

4.—Explain, with a diagram, the general appearance and course of a glacier.

Geology, Etc.

1.—Describe an experiment which illustrates the possible arrangement of electrons within the atom. If the electron theory be true, how does it help us to understand, (a), an electric charge, (b), an electric current?


or,    1.—Write, in the style of Gilbert White, a letter on, (a), the birds, or, (b), the pond life, or, (c), the small mammals of your neighbourhood.

2.—Describe, with drawings, (a) the buds and bud scales of the beech, horse chestnut, violet, (b) the development of an acorn, (c) the marks on a sycamore twig, (d) three kinds of underground stem.


1.—What are the three great systems of shooting stars? How is it that they are visible to us? When may we expect them?


1.—Write, in French, a résumé of (a) La Trahison de Ganelon, or (b) La Vengeance.


1.—Write, in German, a résumé of Parsifal.


2.—Translate into English and retranslate in Italian 12 lines from either of the cantos you have studied in Il Purgatorio.


3.—Translate into English, and retranslate into Latin, (a) Horace’s Odes, Book II., stanzas 1–3, and parse stanza 4; or, (b) Virgil’s Ӕneid, Book, VI., lines 14–22, and parse lines 54 and 55.

Art Studies.

1.—A charcoal study (from memory) of a Botticelli group.

2.—A charcoal study of any, (a), Norman, (b) early English, (c), Perpendicular, and (d), Decorated work to be found in Winchester Cathedral. In what parts of the Cathedral is this work to be found?

Many parents, on the other hand, like their girls to go to school at fourteen or fifteen that they may make friends and see a little of the school world. It is sometimes urged against this that a girl loses more than she gains by being removed from

The Interests of the Home-life,

and especially from intercourse with her father. I think, myself, that school discipline is wholesome, but that it would be very difficult to make up for the educative value of the class IV curriculum. A good many schools are, however, doing ourwork admirably, and it might be possible for parents either to make use of these schools or to urge the taking up of this work in the schools to which they send their daughters.

The fact that we are marking the attainment of the School’s majority in this happy Winchester week gives me the opportunity to “talk of many things.” Many girls have been brought up, and thousands of boys and girls have had some part of their education with us; I believe there is a lady present who has been for twenty years a member of the school, and still her children are working happily and successfully while those who are launched upon various careers are doing very well indeed. Girls who have become mothers, men who have taken their degrees, still, I believe, cherish affectionate remembrance of their old school which has never until now taken on the definiteness of visible numbers. We believe the P.U.S. has not existed in vain. It is abstract as distinct from utilitarian knowledge for which I think children acquire a real love in this School; and, as many of the members belong to what are called the governing classes, I think it is possible that England may receive from your children a great impetus towards the pursuit of that knowledge, to the lack of which many of our failures as a nation may be traced.

“A highly practical spirit is founded on abstract knowledge,” we are told, and we who are practical, if anything, are rapidly finding ourselves outdone by a nation which puts knowledge first and takes practical aptitude as a consequence of abstract knowledge, that is, knowledge of Divinity, and the Humanities, (science and art, literature, history, ethics, etc.) We covet earnestly the best gifts, not that we may excel or equal any other people, but because:—

“We would indeed be somewise as Thou art,

Not spring, and bud, and flower, and fade, and fall—

Not fix our intellects on some scant part

Of Nature,—but enjoy or feel it all;

We would assert the privilege of a soul,
In that it knows, to understand the Whole.

If such things are within us—God is good—

And flight is destined for the callow wing,—

And the high appetite implies the food,—

And souls must reach the level whence they spring!
O LIFE of very LIFE! set free our Powers,
Hasten the travail of the yearning hours.”


[1] Miss Williams, Franco-English Guild, Rue de la Sorbonne, Paris.

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