In Memoriam--Charlotte M. Mason

Part I.
Some P.N.E.U. Principles. (from the Whitsuntide Conference Report, 1922.)
By Miss C. M. Mason

It gives me and gives us all extraordinary pleasure to meet so many P.N.E.U. members, especially when one reflects on the fatigues of travel through the weary hours of a long, hot and dusty day; for members are here from Ireland, Scotland, Wales, from the most distant as well as the nearer counties of England, and, of course, London has sent a large contingent, notwithstanding the 'Season.'

A few delegates from other educational Societies have honoured us by coming, but the general aspect of this 'great gathering' is undoubtedly P.N.E.U.; we are used to the same aspect in the children, who soon develop what used to be called in my early-Victorian youth 'an intelligent countenance'; and it is that same countenance we see here. Some of those present have upheld our teaching these thirty years and more. Lady Campbell brings a daughter who is a mother and a member, Mrs. Howard Glover does not bring a son who is a father, but we all know Mr. Cedric Glover who carries on our training in Musical Appreciation so brilliantly in the Parents' Review, and whom I first met as a 'musical baby' of three!


To our Honorary Secretary and her stalwart supporters we owe it that as a society we have lived in good fellowship for more than a generation.

The P.N.E.U. have taken pains to master a distinctive philosophy of education which some of us believe will do great things for many thousands of children and their homes.

This spiritual edifice, shall I call it, is a sort of coral atol raised by innumerable workers. There is our Hon. Secretary who cares more for our philosophy than even for its results, and who, with her committee, has afforded never failing sympathy and support to every new development. To instance one; when our late deeply lamented friend and colleague, Mrs. F. Steinthal, succeeded during the last decade in getting a village school in the Yorkshire Collieries to demonstrate that, notwithstanding a very scanty vocabulary and little in the way of cultured surroundings--the children of colliers are just as fit to profit instantly by a liberal education as are those of the leisured class,--the committee led by their Hon. Sec. threw themselves heartily into the new departure and appointed an organising secretary to visit and help these schools. We all know Miss Parish, and some may regret that she gives to the College what was meant, not for the State, but for the whole work of the Union. Let me reassure them; her work here is just as inestimable, and will perhaps prove as far-reaching as that she did from 'the Office.' Then followed Miss Wix, very able and enthusiastic, now one of H.M.'s Inspectors of Schools, and lastly, we all know and rejoice in Miss Pennethorne whose brilliant powers and enthusiasm have already effected great things. Then, we have the band of distinguished women, members of the Executive, who have held up Mrs. Franklin's hands for a generation, half a dozen of whom we have with us to-day: the race of chair-men, treasurers, etc., of the Executive, men of distinction; the last and not the least honourable of whom, the Head Master of Westminster, is with us now at the cost of much inconvenience. There are the families with home school-rooms, so largely and delightfully represented to-day; the


heads and teachers of a great many schools, primary and secondary, also well represented; that large and touchingly interesting contingent of families, some of whom are to be found in every one of our Dominions and Colonies: the four to five hundred old students labouring for the cause; our fellow-labourers in College, School and Office, who are doing great and original work; perhaps I may make special mention of Miss E. Kitching, my oldest (in service) and not least honourable colleague; in fact, I feel like a drone in a hive of workers, especially when I look at our present Chairman, who comes amongst us like a comet with a tail of some seventy schools, great and small, in the single country of Gloucestershire! Let us all praise famous men, and one more I am sure you will allow me to name who is prevented by illness from being with us,--Mr. Willingham Rawnsley, an ever welcome visitor in the schools of Yorkshire, Gloucestershire and elsewhere, who has served us, as have many other friends, by means of many addresses and articles in the Press including the PARENTS' REVIEW.

What after all are those principles which we all labour to advance? Let me first show a tangible result or two, inviting you to look at many such specimens in St. George's room, mostly Christmas examination papers; you notice the bulk of each set, but these are only specimens of what each child could do. The children read many books, probably one question is set on each book; a question which the cleverest crammer could not forecast. Whether they have read 50 or 250 pp., the answers are equally full, clear, accurate and to the point; and what is more, all are touched with emotion. Now, if life were long enough, the children could answer 10 or 20 questions on each book or section of a book, and each child would send in a volume of 200--300 pp., of vitalised knowledge all and evermore his own.

As regards the lessons you have listened to with sympathetic pleasure, may I let you into the secret. The children always pay absolute attention, nothing need ever be repeated, no former work is revised; they are always progressing, never retracing their steps, never going round and round like a horse in a mill.


This infinite power of attention in every child (and grown-up), our discovery, is on P.N.E.U. principle which puts education on a new footing, and promises the latter-day Renaissance we all long to see. People are becoming in love with knowledge, children and grow-ups, for of course parents and teachers share the delights of their children. No secondary motive, marks, prizes, place or the like, is required; children work with joy for the pure love of knowledge.

But what then is knowledge? That is a question which as yet nobody has been able to answer. Our approach to a solution is to adapt Matthew Arnold's rather inadequate definition of religion. ["Religion is morality, touched with emotion."] Knowledge is information touched with emotion: feeling must be stirred, imagination must picture, reason must consider, nay, conscience must pronounce on the information we offer before it becomes mind-stuff. Therefore the current text-books of the schoolroom must needs be scrapped and replaced by literature, that is, by books into the writing of which the writer has put his heart, as well as a highly trained mind. That is another P.N.E.U. principle; we try to use none but living books.

Then, a healthy mind is as hungry as a healthy body, and wants a large quantity of fit pabulum; also, the mind too, hates 'everlasting tapioca,' and must have a very various diet, selected not at random, but according to its natural requirements. Matthew Arnold gives us, again, if not a definition, a rough classification of knowledge: Knowledge of God, of man, of the universe, or, as we might put it, Divinity, the Humanities and Science; these three are the natural requirements of every child of man; so his syllabus must needs be wide, well-proportioned, well-balanced. Here is another P.N.E.U. principle which we act upon with courage and decision because we know of that inexhaustible fund of attention, that hunger and thirst after knowledge and that discriminating taste which can feed only upon literature and art, which are inherent in every child.

For the knowledge of God, the chief knowledge, we


use the Bible, Prayer Book, and certain devout and up to date commentaries. We avoid what school-boys used to call 'pi-jaw.' We do not exhort much, nor appeal to feeling, nor show pictures, not introduce models or handi-crafts; but the sincere piety of P.U.S. children is remarkable, and is perhaps partly due to the fact that they are never bored but always interested.

From the age of twelve or so, they read a Life of Christ in verse; they seem to recognize that the poetic point of view helps them to realize the Divine life, in itself the epic of the ages. A girl of thirteen and a half in her Easter examination tackled the question: "The people sat in darkness" . . . "I am the Light of the world." Shew as far as you can the meaning of these statements. She was not asked to write in verse, and was she not taught by a beautiful instinct to recognize that the phrases she had to deal with were essential poetry and that she could best express herself in verse?

"The people sat in darkness--all was dim,
No light had yet come unto them from Him.
No hope as yet of Heaven after life,
A peaceful haven far from war and strife.
Some warriors to Valhalla's halls might go
And fight all day, and die. At evening, lo!
They'd wake again, and drink in the great Hall.
Some men would sleep for ever at their fall;
Or with their fickle God's for ever be:
So all was dark and dim. Poor heathens, see!
The Light ahead, the clouds that roll away,
The golden, glorious, dawning of the Day:
And in the birds, the flowers, the sunshine, see
The might of Him who calls "come unto Me."

The Humanities cover a wide field: poetry, the drama, history, literature, biography, languages, essays, in fact where is the line to be drawn?

You have heard in the lessons some instance of the children's quick apprehension, complete comprehension and accurate reproduction of passages, not chosen because they were interesting, but because they followed in each case last week's lesson on the same subject. Many parents and teachers here felt no doubt that their children would have


'narrated' in an even more miraculous way; they were right; there seems to be no limit to what these "incredible children" [Mr. Rawnsley on certain P.N.E.U. elementary schools.] can do.

But I should like to call your attention to one point which you will see fully illustrated later: this method of narration lends itself amazingly to the teaching of foreign languages, and promises to make of us tongue-tied folk a nation of linguists with copious vocabularies.

The children will read later (once only) a scene or two from Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme and will narrate it in fluent French, grammatically used. The students will listen to a rather long lecture on Moliere, from Mdlle. Pierson, and when it is finished will narrate it practically without fault or ommission. Of course they have never heard this lecture before (though it was delivered to another division of the Senior Class at the Students' conference a month ago).

Miss Gardener, our Lecturer in Classics, will hear a class construe a passage from Cicero, and they will narrate the passage, acquiring a Latin vocabulary and knowledge of construction in the act. Miss Parish is obtaining results even more remarkable in Italian, and until this year German has been studied to as good purpose.

In Science, too, we have perhaps our peculiar methods; we do a great deal of field work, in geology, geography, botany, natural history, but we also use many living books. French scientists have perceived the poetry of science, and France owns a splendid library of scientific work of the nature of poetry though by no means written in verse; some of these have been translated and we gladly use them, but, also we have a few volumes of our own, written by our great men of science which fall under the heading of 'the Humanities,' because they are literature of the best; these our children use and they are helped to see what they look at and learn to wonder and admire. Also they narrate what they have read, and as a child in a Council School remarked, "We narrate, and then, we know."

We have, too, quite a code of 'principles' affecting character and conduct, aesthetic development and so on,


but the few I have dwelt on, regulating our dealings with mind, are enough for the moment. Let me add that what Wordsworth calls "The grand elemental principle of pleasure," is not with us confined to joyous occasions; joy reigns in all our schoolrooms, every lesson satisfies the mind-hunger proper to children; they are quite happy and content, and Satan finds less mischief there for idle minds to think.




Yesterday we spoke of some of our guiding principles and how they should influence us individually. But these are days when we feel that we are all due to the country, if only for the sake of our men who have fallen. Many schemes are being tried for the bettering of the nation; we hardly begin to see results yet, and some of us are painfully anxious to do something for which the State will be the better if only in gratitude for all we have received.

What is wanted is a democratic education to include not only the fit, the aristocracy of mind, high and low, rich and poor, but everybody. And now we of the P.N.E.U. are in a position to state that while an academic education will of necessity reach only the fit and few, the humanities in English meet a general appeal. We ceased to count after the first 10,000 children in elementary schools who shewed themselves capable of doing happy and excellent humanistic work, but we know now that history, drama, tale, poems of the best, appeal to every one.

Mind, capable of dealing with knowledge in its three kinds, knowledge of God, knowledge of man, knowledge of the natural world, science; mind in this sense appears to be a universal possession, and every one should have the joy and the manifold interests that such knowledge affords. Only a few on the other hand, some dozen, say, in a big school, will excel in academic knowledge, whether mathematical, linguistic or scientific. By all means let these have their


opportunity. We shall always want mathematicians and grammarians, but the rest put in their claims too. The stability proper to persons who have read wisely if not very widely should belong to us all. At the present time it does belong to the professional and upper classes, to public school men, for example, who, whatever may be their shortcomings, make themselves felt wherever they are, and do a good deal of the world's work. Home influences, the playing fields of Eton, anything but their school work gets credit for this admirable stability. But suppose that after all their humanistic studies have a tendency to make things seem worth doing even when they are done with little credit or profit; suppose that a sense of duty impels 'the educated classes,' and that, however insistent personal claims may be, they are subordinated to the claims of service; why, here is the very spirit we want to see in all classes of our countrymen; and the direct and very possible way to such a temper of mind is through a liberal education.

We have all heard rumours of educational reconstruction, which possibly affect us as does the rumble of London traffic--we do not analyse the roar, nor consider what it all means. Let me invite you to give your earnest attention to the question of education en bloc, because the P.N.E.U. is now being called upon to play a distinguished part in the upbringing of the coming generation: I am not speaking to members now of their own children but of the education of the country, in which we are required to give a lead. We may say with the prince in 'Rasselas' "How the world is to be, not 'peopled,' but educated, is not my concern and needs not to be yours." That has been our attitude in the past, even ours as a Society; but great things have happened to us: it has been found that our P.N.E.U. way of educating our children is capable of being used with incredible effect on children of all sorts and conditions. Things that have not been done before since the world was are now done through the movement which we are 'in.' Our Hon. Sec. could tell a marvellous tale of children of the slums of a big northern town; so could members of our executive committees; our Org. Secretary could unfold tales which should


hold us for days on end. We need not be afraid that such tales would leave us cold; no, education is a vital thing whose pulse we feel, and we can no more listen coldly to a tale of real education than we can to the story of Florence Nightingale or Shackleton, or any other of our benefactors, for we are all one body.

How is it then that only a philanthropist or a philosopher here and there has given much thought to the matter? For the same reason that though machinery of a great cotton mill is wonderful past whooping, the wonder stales on us in half an hour and we are chiefly aware of intolerable noise and dust. Our education in all classes of society has become mechanical with only little interlude of interest; the results are remarkable but not interesting; examinations are worked for and candidates pass with distinction; a servant applies (or would apply in the good old days) for a place in as good a letter as anyone need write; people, all the people, are educated up to a certain point, but are not as they would say themselves "the better of it!" Education has failed to bring to any class of society, as a class, new interests, keen mental enjoyment, aesthetic pleasure, elevation of character, principles of conduct. A few here and there try to make up for the defects of their education in these respects, but not always with much success. I once dined in the house of a young man who had built a reputation on Keats. We looked up favourite poems to be ready for a feast of enlightened talk. But our host was a mere collector, he had each edition and every commentary and was blank to any remark about the poems themselves. Apparently he had not read Keats at all, but only collected. The education we give makes such an attitude of mind possible.

Let us think of our Society as one of the "Services," that is, to the State; an idea we are all feeling after. "Save the country" appeals to all. What can we do? Absolutely the first service to the State is to present it with good citizens, and all sorts of schools, nearly all families, are in intention at any rate labouring towards that end.

What are the qualities that go to make a good citizen


and how far does a P.N.E.U. child exhibit them? We may for convenience think of the children here, for P.N.E.U. children besides their family traits, exhibit a certain hall mark by which they may be known, a mark composed of many markings: One of the audience suggested 'Integrity' as one of these; you all know how straight your children are about their examinations; how free they are from shifty ways, they know or they don't know, and are quite simple about it. These children do not ''ca 'canny'' or crib or transgress in any of the venial genial ways common among school children. Is not this attitude which we sum up roughly as integrity what we want in our citizens of all classes?

Again, the absence of self-consciousness, self-conceit, vanity, display, has been noticed in these, who are simply average P.N.E.U. children. These are qualities that should make a citizen put his duties before his rights; and, once more, should not such citizens be an asset to any nation?

This audience has been struck by the children's unconscious obedience, and again, what could a State desire more than citizens who obey its laws without knowing it, as indeed most of us do.

There is a singleness of purpose and motive about them which augurs well for their future as citizens, and promises another kind of purity about which we are all a little anxious, which is best ensured by a well nourished and active mind, for Satan finds some mischief still for idle minds to do.

Another asset offered by our P.N.E.U. children is the practice of instant absolute attention, what is called concentration. Think what it would be to the head of a house or a factory, a ship or a department, to be sure of fixed intelligent attention being given to every instruction! We all serve in one way or another, but the capacity to serve is dependent on the habit of concentration.

We claim that all these and many more of the properties of a good citizen depend on due nourishment with fitting knowledge. Let me repeat knowledge (to offer a


stumbling definition) is information touched with Emotion. For this reason it is that only literature and art offer children the pabulum they require. Who can feel emotion over a compendium, however praiseworthy? But literature, whether in the form of history, poetry, drama, scientific treatise, nourishes the soul; and with all the world in one scale and a single soul in the other, the scale holding the world kicks the beam.

A good citizen must know about the laws of his country, the means of administration, how the constitution has developed; these things he must learn from a pretty wide reading of history--English, European, French, Ancient,--the stirring tales of services rendered to their several countries by great citizens throughout the ages. No boy reads "How Horatius kept the bridge in the brave days of old," without secret resolves and dreamy eyes.

Perhaps the first business of a citizen is to be self-supporting; we all recognise that boys and girls too should be brought up to earn their living, it may be by administering their own estates or by more direct service, and here we are content to let his self-supporting duty end! But indeed this is only the beginning; think of the people who bore us by the inanimity, vex us by their flippancy, and the trivial nature of their pursuits, who use us as pegs on which to hang an idle hour,--and we shall see there are other ways of supporting himself which a citizen must practice besides that of providing his own bread and butter.

The mind is inexorable throughout life in its demand for daily bread; we do not recognise this fully, and therefore so many old and middle-aged persons become inane, tiresome and incapable of sharing the intellectual interests of their children. The citizen in whose bringing-up P.N.E.U. has had a part has had many of his innumerable emotions stirred by his "lovely books," "glorious books," and the emotion of the moment has translated the facts of history, travel, science, the themes of poetry or tragedy, into vital knowledge. That is the raison d'etre of narrating; the reader recovers as it were what he has read and looks at it, and in this looking his emotion becomes


fired. The Greeks recognised two emotions by the stirring of which tragedy should educate the people; but we try not only to purge but to invigorate the soul, by pity, tenderness, awe, reverence, delight in beauty, noble emulation in heroic action--the hundred impulses that play upon the mind (or soul) and by this play, transform the information we receive in literary form into the knowledge by which we live.

In seeing that children know good books and plenty of them, we secure delightful fields of thought and reservoirs of interest for their after life; the child of the Hall and the hamlet grow up with common possessions, and their good fellowship is secured. The high moral standard, the concentrated attention, of school days are brought to bear on labour for a livelihood, and master and man are alike blessed.

We have tried to show how pictures and music, birds and flowers and trees, geography, local history and geology, the atmosphere of great men (and what village is there which has not bred one great man?) public readings like that we have listened to on "George Borrow," the drama, useful and beautiful handicrafts and physical exercises, dances and songs, may become, some home delights, others the joys of the village community. A village Hall or public room and the Carnegie Library are all that citizens brought up in our schools require to make them in every sense, mental, moral and physical, self-supporting.

We have seen how our teachers appear to take a back place while teaching and let children's minds have free play; so, if I may make the suggestion, it is better to indicate to these educated villagers or townsfolk what is open to them in the way of intellectual life than to use leading strings, get up plays for them, lay ourselves out to amuse them in many kind ways; the hamlet may invite the Hall to take part, to sing at a concert, present a character in a play, or the like, but the village community should organise its own pleasures on the sort of healthy lines, perhaps, that we have tried to indicate here for indoor and out-door life.

You will not say, this is working for posterity, and "What has posterity done for me?" As a matter of fact


we all live for posterity and have no other business in the world. But we shall not have to wait for 'posterity' to grow up; what the children know the parents learn also and delight in; so the field is already white to the harvest. An apt nucleus for such work is the village P. U. School; already in two or three cases has a Parent's Association been set up in connection with a school (owing to Mrs. Franklin's initiative). But Welfare Clubs, Village Institutes and the like are already widely spread and perhaps we may be allowed to introduce a more intellectual element into their working, eschewing lectures, providing concerts and such aids to amusements, and encouraging the people to be their own purveyors--perhaps on P.N.E.U. lines.

A full life makes for content and happiness and these stand for the stability of which the nation is in sore need. All very well, say you, in Utopia! but what of our unhappy country where industry is continually interrupted by strikes, called often enough for whimsical reasons? Education as we interpret it is the only remedy.

We have but to read of the bitter wrongs issuing in the Chartist Riots in Disraeli's 'Sybil' for example, to be assured that the people must hold in their hands an instrument of redress; but education should ensure that this terrific implement shall not be handled impulsively and hastily. What the League of Nations should do to hinder or regulate wars, that I believe we of this one insignificant society may do to hinder strikes. Educate the nation and if the strikes come, they will be first well considered by balanced minds; no strike will be called without long and general deliberation; we shall have secured that pause in relation to social upheavals that the League of Nations aims at in the prospect of war.

But educate, educate, educate, is the watchword of the day. In what do we of the P.N.E.U. differ from others? Chiefly in two ways. Equal opportunity for all, is the offer of the State; this is no new thing; in countries where there is no hereditary aristocracy, like China and Turkey, it has been the rule for many ages. The Roman Church which is before all things democratic (and socialistic), has always offered unlimited opportunities for the fit, according to


"The good old rule, the simple plan,--
Let him take who has the power
And let him keep who can,"--

a rule as applicable to stores of the mind as of the pocket. The demagogue, the Socialist, the Bolshevist are the outcome of an education snatched as it were by mind-force. We spread education, not for the fit only, but for all; all partake, even to the backward child; and we claim to send out contented citizens, capable of a right judgment in all things, religiously, morally, socially, physically, fit to take their due part in a happy ordered state. Again, the manner of our education differs; schools in general send forth scholars who have learnt 'how to learn'; (they rarely show that they have learned this art!) We send out scholars who have learned and do know and find knowledge so delightful that it becomes a pursuit and source of happiness for a lifetime.

Two thousand years ago it was said to a dozen undistinguished men, "Go ye out unto all the world and preach the gospel to every creature"; and they did. We too have, by the Grace of God, a fragment of this gospel to preach; we who are here and who represent thousands of P.N.E.U. members, are vastly better provided as far as numbers go to spread this new Renaissance. Let us be up and doing; the enthusiasm perceptible in this room alone is enough to convert a world; how much more, to make our own people able to prefer (and to act) Shakespeare's plays rather than the trivialities of the Music Hall. Let us do battle with the schools for "a liberal education" for the boys we send to them. We cannot make or find a substitute for the Public Schools--a great national achievement; but we can urge the willing minds of Masters and Heads to afford at least the six or eight hours a week devoted to English and History, to the studies and conditions we have found marvellously effective. For our P.U.S. girls, I do not know that life offers compensation for the loss of the work in the Fifth and Sixth Forms; let them work out their scheme of liberal education to the full, if only that they may be prepared


to take up the crusade which I am tempted to urge on listeners so responsive and encouraging. We know the way, we have the means, we see opportunities everywhere--elementary and secondary, private and public schools are open to attack!

Let us part with the pledge.--

"I will not cease from mortal strife
     Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
Till I have built Jerusalem
     In England's green and pleasant land."

and may God be with us in our labours!

(The writer must apologize if these notes contain more of what she meant to say than of what she really said. The friendly attitude of the audience tempted her into informal talk.)


Part II.
Official Tributes.


Board of Education.         
Whitehall, S.W.1.         
12th February, 1923.

Dear Madam,

I do not think it is right that I should allow the death of Miss Charlotte Mason to pass without recording officially the deep regret of the Board of Education at the termination of her long and fruitful labours in the field of education, and their high appreciation of the great public services which she has rendered.

We know that Miss Mason started her work very early in life, and she carried it on with unremitting diligence and enthusiasm for over half a century. The fundamental principle of her teaching--a belief in the child's natural powers of appreciation--was unfamiliar in England when she was young. It is far otherwise to-day, and that perhaps is in itself the best evidence of what we owe to her and the most lasting memorial of her labours. Her influence, diffused through her books and the Union which she founded, was a source of strength to many hundreds of teachers, and though she did not come into direct relations with the public system of education as administered by the Board and the Local Education Authorities, there can be no question of


the profound and permanent benefit accruing to that system from her life and example, and from her efforts to establish and diffuse the principles which she followed. She was a high-minded, disinterested and a sincere worker for the advancement of education, who combined a generous vision and a good practical judgment, and on behalf of the President and my colleagues I join with the Parents' National Educational Union in deploring her loss and paying tribute to her memory.

Yours very truly,
     (Signed) L.A. Selby-Bigge,
          Permanent Secretary.

The Hon. Mrs. Franklin,
     Parents' National Educational Union,
          26, Victoria Street, S.W.1.


Miss Mason was grande dame, grand ame. Her thoughts and her tastes had lineage. To be with her, to come under the spell of her courteous and considerate self-possession, was to know what it must have been like to meet Madame de Genlis or some other of those great ladies of the ancient regime who won fine culture through teaching children and through sharing with them the love of things which are beautiful and true. Miss Mason had a genius for education. She had an inbred good sense and an unfatigued sensibility. Her mind was tempered by great literature. She loved the humanities. She had a very distinguished gift of leadership in co-operation. There was a tenderness, a humility in her self-confidence which recalled Vauvenargues' saying that 'great thoughts come from the heart.' And the greatness of the thoughts she lived with made her greater-hearted as her experience deepened and as the circle of her pupils grew nation-wide

It was fortunate for England to have the guidance which Charlotte Mason gave with patriotic and unselfish tenacity and with gracious largesse of heart and mind. What she did, no one else attempted on the same scale. Others who like her were national figures worked through another


medium. Lady Stanley of Alderley and Mary Frances Buss were steeped in the same tradition but became preoccupied with the problems of the public secondary day school for girls. Charlotte Mason represented the culture of the homeschool at its best. The writers of her generation had shown themselves a little blind to the beauties of the best home-teaching and forgetful of what had been achieved in good private schools, especially for girls. There were not a few private schools in which an attempt was made to reproduce the stimulus and restraining influence of a cultivated home. Charlotte Mason was a witness to their excellence. More than this, she disengaged from her knowledge of their work a reasoned statement of the educational theory of their practice. This, I think, was her great contribution to the thought of her time. But she gave something more precious than this. She gave herself.

As our grateful memories of her fall into perspective, we see what rank she takes in the succession of illustrious educators. Like Thring of Uppingham she realised that education is the transmission of life, of the life of the mind, kindled by the fiery particles which lie unquenched in noble literature. Like Thring she longed to give new opportunities to the rank and file, though she was not oblivious of the claims of the elite or unmindful of the value of their gifts. Her's was an unselfish, unexclusive humanism, tolerant of variety, never jealous of superiorities and eager to share in wide commonalty the precious consolations of culture. Born in an age of historical discovery, when the records of the past were being revealed with some assuagement of outworn controversies, history (not least in its appeal to the imagination) was the centre of her intellectual interest. But her standards of judgment were ethical. Plutarch and Sir Walter Scott stood high in her educational canon. Greatness in goodness was her ideal, and her ideal of goodness had in it, like Plato's, a place for beauty of pattern, colour and tune.

Through Ruskin and Thomas Arnold of Rugby, she was in direct succession from Wordsworth. In the luminous summary of principles which she prefixed to her series on


Home Education
, there is much that might be illustrated by passages from The Prelude. "Children are born persons." "They are not born either good or bad, but with possibilities for good or evil." "The principles of authority on the one hand and of obedience on the other, are natural, necessary, and fundamental; but these principles are limited by the respect due to the personality of children." "By the saying Education is an Atmosphere, it is not meant that a child should be isolated in what may be called a child's environment, especially adapted and prepared: but that we should take into account the educational value of his natural home-atmosphere, both as regards persons and things, and should let him live freely among his proper conditions. It stultifies a child to bring down his world to what has been disparagingly called the child's level." "In the saying that Education is a Life, the need for intellectual and moral, as well as physical, sustenance is implied. The mind feeds on ideas and therefore children should have a generous curriculum." Like Comenius, she believed in a course of reading which is massive and many-sided. Like Comenius she had to guard against the dangers of superficiality.

The liberal movement which broke upon education through Rousseau found expression in Miss Mason's work as in that of her predecessors. But it had lost its neurotic excitement. Charlotte Mason was a woman of temperate judgment as well as of eager charity. She was steadied by a deep religious conviction, by the reverence for human personality which has in it the quiet awe of faith in Divine guidance.

The Lake School of Poetry and her own Lake School of Education are not unconnected. She was in the tradition of Wordsworth and the Arnolds. And the gratitude felt for her teaching and example will be extended to those who worked with her and by their loyal activities helped in the diffusion of her ideas.

M. E. Sadler, C.B.
The Univeristy,
     Leeds, February, 1923



St. Radegunds,                  
February 16th, 1923.

What a wonderful thing personal influence is, or may be! From an invalid couch in a remote part of England, Charlotte Mason reanimated and reformed a large part of education in Great Britain. It needed no long visit to her at Ambleside to understand how this influence made itself felt. In her conversation, even on trivial matters, but still more on the greater issues of life and policy, one became vividly aware in her of a lucid view of affairs, and an intellectual grasp of principles, animated by the inward warmth of sympathy and hope. Surrounded by a group of faithful disciples, she directed the course of many a ship on the educational ocean which personally she never saw; and like many supreme organizers of great industries, while apparently at leisure herself, was exactly aware of what was doing in all the provinces of education where her principles were in action. Yet she was no bureaucrat; her practice was as various and elastic as her principles were constant; there was the method and even the letter, but above all the spirit. I hope and think that the chief secret of Miss Mason's ascendency was the fine ethical quality of her teaching. From Ambleside there issued many an earnest missionary imbued not only with a sense of order, a lover of learning and an insight into rudimentary and growing minds, but above all sanctified by a lofty ethical spirit, a spirit not merely added to her system of education, not merely supplied in parcels of so many hours a week, but penetrating the whole and carrying it into a higher sphere where it was enlarged, warmed and enlightened. We lament Miss Mason's death because of our personal loss, and our sense of what might have still have been done had a longer life been given to her; but, on the other hand, we may rejoice to know that she lived at a time of change, just when her hand upon the helm was most needed, and that her frail life was spared long enough to


make her mark upon England's education and to build up her own people for many generations to come.

 (Regius Professor of Physics, Cambridge)


Through having common interests in education, literature and religion, I was made acquainted with Miss Mason, and more than once had the pleasure of visiting her at Ambleside. To do so was to be made immediately aware of a mind and spirit that triumphed over difficulties which in many other people daunt their ambition and activity and in work. Miss Mason reigned from her couch. And her dominating influence was as much an inspiration as a governing force. She planned and schemed her courses of education, yet never once made more of the scheme than of the spirit of her lessons.

I had good ground for knowing also that to her, more even than poetry was Religion itself. This was proved in that work to which she gave much time and effort--the verse paraphrase and comment of much of the Gospel record, and to which she gave the title, 'The Savior of the World.' Others will write upon and commemorate her system of education. To me let it fall to mention the work dearer to her heart, perhaps than all the rest.

W. H. DRAPER,          
Master of the Temple.


THE GIRL GUIDES,                    
25 Buckingham Palace Rd,          
London, S.W.1.         
February 21st, 1923.

It is a very great pleasure to me to write something about Miss Mason and her wonderful work.

Never shall I forget the memorable day in May 1922, when I was at last able to pay my first visit to the House of Education. Its name and fame is so well-known in the Girl


Guide world, and as a humble worker in the educational field I had long wanted to meet the founder of the P.N.E.U.

The County Commissioner for Westmorland and I were met on arrival by the kindest welcome from Miss Mason, and her ready interest and willing discussion made me feel at once that, though actually somewhat outside her province, the Guides had her true sympathy and warm approval.

I remember so well one remark she made. After having luncheon amongst the students she took me to sit on the verandah and then leaning gently towards me from her wheeled chair, she said, "You know I am a little afraid of you"! No! not SHE personally of ME personally!--but she meant that the special appeal and romance of the Guides were sometimes apt to tug away enthusiasts from some of their urgent and more matter of fact work and studies.

It was an extreme pleasure to me to have had that time in the company of one to whom parents and children will always owe so much. In my mind's eye as I write I can see her sitting with folded hands on the verandah at Scale How watching her students at play, as keenly interested in the game as in everything that makes for the happiness and well being of youth.

(signed with Jane Baden-Powell's signature)


We have received the following from General Sir Robert Baden-Powell :--


How did the boys scouts start?

Oh Well! I believe it was largely due to--whom shall we say?--A Field Marshal's Governess.


It was this way; the Brigadier General, as he was at that time, was riding to his home after a field day when from the branches of a tree over-head his little son called to him "Father, you are shot; I am in ambush and you have passed under me without seeing me. Remember you should always look upwards as well as around you."

So the general looked upward and saw not only his small son above him but also, near the top of the tree, the new governess lately imported from Miss Charlotte Mason's training College at Ambleside.

Her explanation of the situation was that a vital point in up to date education was the inculcation of observation and deduction and that the practical steps to this were given in the little handbook for soldiers of "Aids to Scouting." The present incident was merely one among the various field stunts from that book which might be put into practice by her pupils and herself.

For example, they might as another exercise creep about unseen but seeing all the time, and noting down everything that the general did; they might lead him off on some wild chase while they purloined some tangible proof of their having invaded his sanctum. Taken as a warning of what he might expect I daresay the governess's explanation opened the general's eye pretty widely, if only in regard to his own future security against ambuscades and false alarms.

But it certainly opened mine to the fact that there could be an educative value underlying the principles of scout training; and since it had been thought worthy of utilisation by such and authority as Miss Mason I realised that there might be something in it.

This encouraged me in the direction of adapting the training for the use of boys and girls.

From this acorn grew the tree which is now spreading its branches across the world.

The Boy Scout of yesterday--(reduced alas by some ten thousand who gave their young lives in the war)--is already becoming the citizen of to-day--(and none too soon)--largely thanks to the Field Marshal's governess.



[By kind permission of the Editor of THE TIMES.]


Many hundreds of parents and teachers in all parts of the world will join in mourning Miss Charlotte Mason, who died in her sleep at the "House of Education," Ambleside, at noon yesterday. She founded the Parents' National Educational Union so long ago as 1887, and strove steadily for more than half a century to create a system of education that should form a balanced union of religious belief and literary and scientific thoroughness.

Her personal influence was probably more widespread than that of any educationist of her time. The loyalty which she inspired was more than could be accounted for by the mere weight and force of her educational philosophy. The "House of Education" founded by her rapidly acquired a tradition and a spirit radiating throughout the great system which she evolved of "home schools," with many hundreds of children and governesses widely separated in space but one in endeavour, working through the same syllabuses with the same books, and passing by means of test-papers, sent to Ambleside for correction, through the same series of grades. Until almost the last it was the pride of Miss Mason's many disciples that she knew all the children in the "Parents' Union School," looked through their work, and followed their progress. The "House of Education" has been, incidentally, the only institution that has offered special professional training to the private governess.

Charlotte Maria Shaw Mason was born on January 1st, 1842, the daughter of Joshua Mason, a Liverpool merchant. After a home education she was drawn to teaching work, and after some experience in various schools and in a training college, at Chichester she began her work as an educational reformer, and eventually founded the Union associated with


her name. The principles which she preached and which she lived to see widely adopted, both in the schools that confessedly carried out her ideas and in schools that tacitly adopted them, were the hunger for knowledge, the use of school life as a deliberate preparation for the larger interests of life, and the cultivation of a natural and earnest interest in nature and art. She continually preached the one-ness of education and the universal necessity of knowledge: "Without knowledge Reason carries a man into the wilderness and Rebellion joins company." That is a quotation from a remarkable series of letters on "The Basis of National Strength" contributed to The Times in 1921. Knowledge well balanced was her panacea for the dangers of revolution; and such knowledge must be universal. It was the due balance on different sides of education which in her view made for national sanity.

The Parents' Union School was founded in 1891 to press forward these principles, and by 1918 Miss Mason's ideas had permeated some forty elementary schools [Now over 200.] A number of preparatory schools adopted the syllabuses in greater or less degree and became known as "P.N.E.U. Schools," a guarantee to parents that the home point of view would at least not be disregarded. Great praise of the method came from various parts of the country--Bradford, Gloucestershire--and Miss Mason was satisfied to the last that her scheme of education was making considerable progress in elementary as well as secondary schools and in private teaching. Miss Mason's publications include "Home Education," "Parents and Children," "School of Education," "Ourselves," "Some Studies in the Formation of Character," "The Ambleside Geography Books," "The Saviour of the World" (a life of Christ, an issue running into six volumes), "The Basis of National Strength," and "A Liberal Education for All." Miss Mason's work was not dethroned by the various modern developments in the direction of freedom of education. Together with other educational reformers of to-day she saw children not as little unwilling receptacles for information, but growing creatures


struggling towards the light, eager to learn, eager to work, and too often starved of the means of doing so.


January 20th.


A correspondent writes:--Charlotte Mason was that rare combination, an original thinker and philosopher and at the same time a wonderful organiser and business woman. She was wise and witty, keenly interested in the things of the world, birds and flowers, books and people, but with an inner vision for the beyond, and the graciousness of manner and selfless consideration for others which marked the grande dame of a passing age. She treated the smallest child with courtesy. She was gracious to the youngest member of her household just as she was to the great of the land who were amoung her disciples. Her students and all who came under her influence caught the fire of her enthusiasm for her educational principles together with her singlemindedness and humility.

She never allowed her methods of teaching and philosophy of education to be called by her name, but by that of the society she founded to spread them. Thus her work will continue and be ably carried on by those she has trained and appointed for the task. She was at work up to four days before her death, and personally superintended the many arrangements for accomodating the ever-increasing number of students wishing to enter her college. Her end was the passing of a great spirit. With all her powers of mind and heart fresh and keen, memory and apprehension unimpaired, she fell asleep after many days spent for the good of humanity. Her teaching has spread to almost every part of the globe; the pupils of her correspondence school are to be found in home schoolrooms, in private and council schools, and many generations of happy children filled with the joy of living and of learning will rise up and call her blessed.




"There is ample reason for supposing that a great educational effort for the improvement of our methods of teaching our native language and literature will meet with its reward. We are in truth an artistic people, though we are shy of acknowledging it . . . and that great educator, Miss Charlotte Mason, whose death we are now deploring, has shown us how readily English children respond to the appeal of the masterpieces of English literature."



"Miss Mason and her gospel had a curiously conspicuous way of arousing enthusiasm. The present writer recollects, at a distance of thirty-six years, the sight of the first issue of the "Parent's Educational Review" and the interest awakened amoung those parents whom Frances Mary Buss summoned together in 1887 or thereabouts to start the first London branch of the P.N.E.U. Frequently since then one has come across in some remote country vicarage a struggling and not very well-equipped governess who would--on the showing of some sympathy--open out as a glowing adherent of Miss Mason's methods, testifying that, through her influence, teaching had been literally turned from darkness into light; while to meet a student from the House Of Education, Ambleside, was most assuredly to meet an enthusiast for education, and, as a rule, a lover of children. It is characteristic of the fine spirit of the woman that P.N.E.U. methods and ideals have never advertised her own name; yet to many her death will come with a sense of personal loss."


"Of Miss Mason it is difficult for us to speak when there are so many much better qualified to do so. Out of the love in her heart she gave up a long life to the betterment and well-being of her fellowmen, and of late years her influence, her writings and her teaching have spread far and wide


throughout the world: very high rank will she take amongst the educationists of this or any other age. But standing out above all this--that which so greatly endeared her to her students, to her staff and to her friends--was her humble, loving, Christian faith and character, the secret which won for her the love of all with whom she came in contact.

Go to Part II.