The Union and Its
It was in the autumn of 1886 that I first came into personal touch with
Miss Charlotte Mason, through reading her book "Home Education." I was
then a young mother, with four children, the eldest of whom was seven,
and Miss Mason's exposition of her ideas of what Home Education might
be, and should be, was an inspiration to me. A most delightful and
interesting correspondence ensued, in which Miss Mason outlined her
plans and projects for organising the Parents' National Educational
Union, and into these Lord Aberdeen and I entered with zest. This
accounts for the honour done us by Miss Mason, when she invited us to
become joint Presidents of the new Association when framed in 1887. We
accepted that invitation with considerable diffidence, being conscious
of our own lack of training and our absorption in public affairs, but
at the same time highly prizing the mark of confidence thus shown, and
the privilege of being connected with a scheme so full of opportunity
and potentiality. Miss Mason assured us that a Chairman of Committee
and an Hon. Organising Secretary and other Officers would be appointed
to take charge of the practical work of the Union, and that therefore
our regular attendance at Committees would not be required. Her
persistence overcame our scruples, and we deeply value
the association of our names with hers all through the period of her
great life work; and her patience with such truant Presidents as we
have been, whilst resident in other countries during many years.
We have had personal experience of the benefits of Miss Mason's
beneficent transformation of home education, not only in connection
with our own children, but more especially as it has affected our grand
children, and our grand nephews and nieces. In particular has this been
true in the case of two of our grandchildren, who were faithful pupils
of the Parents' Union School under teachers trained at Ambleside,
during seven years residence in India, and who certainly do the utmost
credit to the system, to the joy of their proud grand-parents.
There will be others, who lived in close fellowship with Miss Mason,
who will tell of the miracle of the far-spreading influence of that
frail life, and how she, invalid as she was, directed and watched over
every item of the work and the many developments of the P.N.E.U., of
the Parents' Union School, the PARENTS' REVIEW,
and of the House of
Education at Ambleside.
But we yield to none in our thankfulness and appreciation of the
magical effects which her genius, devotion and foresight--coupled with
her reverence for, and marvellous understanding of child life, have
wrought for thousands and thousands of children, to whom the treasures
of life have thus been revealed. They will send their tributes of
affection and gratitude from all over the world, and be in very truth a
"choir invisible" testifying to the
"Immortal dead who live again
In minds made better by their presence, live
In pulses stirred to generosity,
In deeds of daring rectitude, in scorn
For miserable aims that end with self,
In thoughts sublime that pierce the night like stars,
And with their mild persistence urge man's search
To vaster issues."
Ishbel Aberdeen and Temair.
February 12th, 1923.
I take the privilege of identifying myself, whole-heartedly, with this
When one writes at the end of a close friendship which has lasted
thirty years, there is much that one feels to be too sacred to put into
words. At the most it is one of the things of the surface that one
dares to speak, of the love and kindness and sympathy which Miss Mason
gave me during all these years one cannot speak. I hope that one day
some of the wonderful letters which are among my most precious
possessions may be published.
It is perhaps as her 'chela,' as she sometimes called me, that I may be
allowed to add my note to the chorus of praise and gratitude that we
are raising to her. When as a young mother of 26 I first read a number
of the PARENTS' REVIEW
and became a member, I at once felt that the
P.N.E.U. was the one 'cause' which appealed to me. Though still a young
woman I had married so early that I already had quite big children, and
I felt sorry that I had known of this rather late.
I was determined to learn all I could and to help others to avoid those
first mistakes which so often mean tears and sorrow. Circumstances made
it possible for me to make a pilgrimage to Ambleside and Miss Mason at
once admitted me to her friendship and taught me so much. It was she
who told me to read aloud daily to my children; and how possible a
daily half-hour is even in a busy life I proved for over 20 years. She
introduced me to the delights of open windows and fresh air and of the
country even when it rains. She shared with me, as through her work and
writing with thousands of others, her own love of the beautiful in
literature, poetry, art and nature and many owe her some of their
greatest happiness because of this.
The first Natural History Club was started in London and those rambles
of parents with their children have given
a new joy in life to hundreds of homes. Incidentally, Mrs. Perrin's
wonderful book of wild flower illustrations is due to the rambles.
We started the first Parents' Union School Class in 1894, taught by two
of her teachers, and thus through the idea of the combination of
families, Secondary and, later, Elementary Schools asked to be
enrolled. She inspired and helped all the efforts and always in that
wonderful impersonal way.
Her visits to our home every year up to 1914 were the annual festival
for all the household; former maids have written saying how her
gracious personality filled them with loving memories. The many
distinguished people who used the opportunity of her being in London to
sit at her feet and learn, from Board of Education officials to
teachers of every kind, have shown the result of such talks in the
whole trend of modern educational movements from the Report on the
Teaching of English, down to small reforms in private schools. It was
her humility of mind together with the power of her educational
philosophy which won for her the triumphs that we so rejoice she lived
to see. It was when she was visiting the home of the present poet
laureate that she encouraged Mrs. Bridges to produce her copy book and
thus give to the world the method of teaching beautiful writing, which
she was adopting in her P.U.S home Schoolroom for her own children. Of
this Miss Mason wrote in the PARENTS' REVIEW in
1899: "Five years ago,
we heard of a lady who was elaborating by means of the study of old
Italian and other manuscripts, a 'system of beautiful handwriting'
which could be taught to children. We have waited patiently, though
not without some urgency, for the production of this new kind of 'copy
book.' We have felt that the need for such an effort was very great,
for the distinctly commonplace writing taught from existing copybooks,
however painstaking and legible, cannot but have a rather vulgarising
effect both on the writer and the reader of such manuscript. At last
the lady, Mrs. Robert Bridges, has succeeded in her tedious and
difficult undertaking, and this book for teachers will enable them to
teach their pupils
a style of writing which is pleasant to acquire
because it is beautiful to behold. It is surprising how quickly young
children, even those already confirmed in 'ugly' writing, take to this
'new handwriting.' We shall welcome Mrs. Bridges' efforts in proportion
as we feel, with her, that 'the average hands, which are the outcome of
the old-copy-book writing, degraded by haste, seem to owe their common
ugliness to the mean type from which they sprang."
It was on one of her visits to London that she met the 'musical baby'
in 1895, and persuaded Mrs. Howard Glover to give the Union her ideas
on musical appreciation and to set the terminal programme of music to
be heard and understood. Miss Mason had the wonderful gift of revealing
to the parents, student, teacher and child their own innate powers and
of helping them to use these to the full. She trusted and believed in
us and so we dared not fail her.
But it was 'for the children' that she lived and worked and thus
through her, generations of children have learnt the joy of a liberal
education, the joy of learning and of serving. To the end our dear
teacher was herself learning and serving. She read daily for several
hours and was always taking in new ideas which stimulated her thought
and helped her to help us.
Her wit and her wisdom, her beauty of sprit and graciousness, are with
us always, her philosophy and teaching will live and bear fruit. We
thank God for His gift to the world of one of His most beautiful
spirits--Charlotte M. Mason.
THE death of Charlotte Mason, who finished a long life of great
intellectual activity by just closing her eyes to wake in another
world, has left a void in many a household in which for more than a
generation she had been the polestar to which hundreds of eager
children and grateful parents looked each day of their lives for
direction in their studies, and never looked in vain.
She was a great teacher, and had the genius to think out new methods,
and the fruitful ingenuity to set the methods going, and the
unfaltering industry to keep them going and growing in spite of the
fact that she had to lead an invalid's life for many years, so that by
her magic influence she has made a large section of society able to
choose the right path in the all-important matter of education,
directed to the formation of character and the widening of intelligence
as befits those who aim at being useful citizens and Godfearing men and
It was in the autumn of 1915 that Miss Mason, to talk with whom as she
lay on her couch on the verandah at "Scale How" was always a real
treat, asked me to listen as she unfolded a scheme which she had very
much at heart for bringing a new atmosphere into the lives of the
children in our elementary schools, and she begged me to go and see for
myself the really wonderful work which her method had in quite a short
time effected in some of the schools in Bradford, Yorkshire.
She told me that the principle was to teach "by the humanities, " that
is to say by supplying the children from quite the earliest teachable
age with plenty of really good English literature: and she was ready to
stake her reputation on the fact that they would understand and
assimilate what they read to themselves, and would love to feel that
they were getting of themselves daily new knowledge.
I found that Miss Mason had been under no deception. All that she had
expected had come to pass and the experiment was already a perfect
Now these children were not picked specimens--they were mostly miners'
children from the Yorkshire coalfield, but their bright, happy faces
showed that Miss Mason's idea that a child was naturally anxious to
know, and would be intensely interested in feeling that he was getting
fresh knowledge by his own endeavours, through quite a new way of
looking at the teaching problem, was a real incontrovertible fact. The
treating the child as a pitcher into whom so many facts were to be
poured was to be discontinued entirely, and the laborious task of the
teacher in lecturing
to a class who never tried to give their attention
was to be exchanged, to the great comfort both of teacher and pupil,
for a system by which the child was the labourer, and pleased to be so,
whilst the teacher guided, and explained difficulties and was at hand
to help if required; thus putting an end to the ingrained idea of so
many, indeed the vast majority, of teachers of the old method, that for
both master and pupil a terrible amount of "drudgery" was inevitable.
I have visited these Bradford Schools more than once, and also a very
fine group of Gloucestershire Schools, in and about Stroud, and a
notable and very large School at Brixton in the London Area.
All show similar results, and the results are astonishingly good, and
in all of them the teachers declare their indebtedness to Miss Mason's
guidance and say that nothing could induce any of them to go back to
the old methods.
Miss Mason started with the conviction that the brains of all normal
children are of the same caliber, and only require a constant supply of
food, which children of all classes, if the supply is good and
sufficient, readily assimilate.
Further, that each child was a person, and had its own points of view
and its own ways of dealing with the matters that interested it, and
was to be treated by the teachers as an individual, not simply as one
of a class. Some were quicker than others, but all in time--and there
was to be no hurry--would arrive; and each term would bring them
increased intelligence and power.
The method was being used throughout each school I visited, beginning
with the youngest; and the very first steps were, I think, the most
interesting. All school teachers will agree that the great difficulty
in teaching a class is to get and keep their attention.
This is the first thing our new method sets itself to do; and this,
once obtained in the lowest class, is never lost; the children being
eager to listen and to prove that they have done so.
The way this habit of close attention is acquired is really very
simple. The teacher takes a subject which
interests the children and reads part of a page in a clear and
interesting manner. All listen, for they know that the next step will
be that one of them will be called on to stand up and narrate to the
others what all have just heard read. Everyone follows the narration,
keen to correct if the narrator goes wrong, and with their help but
with none from the teacher, the class gets through the piece and begins
on another. But herein is the secret, all know that the teacher will
only read the bit once, so if they don't give their close attention
they will have no chance to join in the game.
In the next class the bit read is longer, and the accuracy and spirit
with which a child of 8 or 10 remembers and repeats a whole page almost
word for word is only less astonishing than the power the children show
of retaining for weeks and months, again almost word for word, what
they have once assimilated. And the powers thus derived from a habit of
attention extends to all their work and they are found to have mastered
and retained the subjects they have read to themselves.
This reading to themselves is their education. The books have always
been chosen for each term by Miss Mason herself and the child is
expected to labour and will in the course of a term have read two or
three thousand pages of really good literature, gaining thereby not
only information but a keen interest in many subjects, and
imperceptibly a greatly enlarged vocabulary and a power of clear
_expression which raises them at once to a level they could under the
old methods never even have dreamt of.
The first essential for working this wonderful new mode of education is
a plentiful supply of the right sort of literature. It is books and
more books that the children must have, both prose and poetry by good
authors who have the power of writing clearly and in good English and
have something interesting to say.
When once the children are well on their way they find a real delight
in their work as is testified by the universal look of brightness on
the faces of a whole class; and the increased intelligence, which is a
marked consequence of their reading, shows itself in the quick way in
master all the subjects put before them including, as one of
the Head teachers told me, even their needlework.
From Literature we pass to the Arts.
Music has long been acknowledged as an elevating and refining power and
a graceful handmaid of education. Miss Mason saw that besides music and
poetry there was a potency in painting.
That great headmaster, Edward Thring, made drawing a necessary part of
education, something to teach boys to observe and to assist the
imagination. Miss Mason had good photographs of the work of the best
painters both ancient and modern exhibited to her elementary school
children, who were quick to follow the details and to notice the
essential beauties and the means by which the painter had got his
effects, and they could write an account, after studying these
reproductions of famous pictures, which almost always showed what a
hold a fine work of art is able to get on a child's imagination. Now
here is, I cannot but think, a powerful aid to the educating of
children to see what is beautiful in nature and to give them a proper
feeling of disgust at the defacement and want of sympathy with those
natural beauties which is everywhere today exhibited by the papers,
tins and bottles left littering the ground after a picnic in any lovely
spot which English men, women, and children visit in their summer
We shall not get rid of these horrors until education has brought to
our people a proper love of beauty and reverence for Nature; and this
process must begin as Miss Mason wisely saw, in our elementary schools.
I have spoken of only the latest development of Miss Mason's Method;
all children interested her, and she had the real lake-dweller's love
of the beauties of natural scenery, and the greatest reverence for the
Lake poets and for all the eminent Victorians, and her enthusiastic
nature communicated an impetus to her friends for all that was best
worth living for, so that one felt how, from that invalid couch we all
knew so well, a benign influence radiated from her gracious presence,
which will light the way for many hundreds of her friends and pupils in
the future, and cause
all the present generation to keep her for ever in their most
I should like to add a word about the Parents'
Review, which Miss Mason
edited and in which she from time to time expounded her views, whilst
others who witnessed the result of her work often bore testimony in its
pages; the frequent papers on Natural History were a very pleasant
feature which we all looked forward to and followed with enjoyment. But
what is perhaps most remarkable is that the Review has had so long a
life--it began in 1890--and except at the first starting it has been
maintained entirely by voluntary contributions. May its life be still
William F. Rawnsley.
It was in the year 1887 that the nucleus of the P.N.E.U. was formed by
a small committee of members who had known Miss Mason's work in
Bradford. It is now nearly thirty years ago that I attended my first
meeting in London at a house in Grosvenor Square and there decided to
join at once. I hardly know what it was that attracted me so strongly
to the movement; whether the honoured names of educational pioneers
included in the list of officers of the Council, or the Programme with
its offer of the best classics on the subject in the lending library,
the lectures, discussions, co-operation in securing teachers, and
forming classes; or was it the Parents' Review--a
magazine of Home
Training and "Culture," magic
word! Anyhow I resolved to seek the
earliest opportunity of making Miss Mason's acquaintance and this
fortunately happened in the autumn of the same year. She was staying at
Highfield, Ilkley, a house which was a favourite resort for
intellectual and poetic natures in holiday time, high up on the edge of
the moor, and as I was in the neighborhood I ventured to write and ask
her to allow me to go over one afternoon, and met with her usual kind
response. Accordingly I climbed up from the station at Ben Rhydding one
hot August day
and there in the sunshine and the heather I spent a
happy and memorable hour with the sweet and gentle person for whom I
had acquired such an inward respect and veneration.
Her encouraging manner and quiet simple talk disarmed all nervousness
and made me entirely at ease; her understanding and
sympathy, her love of children and confidence in the good in them, her
ideas of developing their tastes and talents, of avoiding the stumbling
blocks put in their way by injudicious elders, her respect for the
efforts of well-meaning parents ignorant of their own inefficiency, and
her earnest desire to help them, her estimate of the value of early
environment, example and training, the formation of habits, the love of
Nature, the freedom of leisure, the atmosphere of truth that should
surround these tender little ones whom none may despise, the ultimate
goal of character, all these and many other ideals inspired me with
noble ambitions, though with a despairing sense of shortcoming; for
what mother could suffice for these things? Later glimpses, all too
short, but always a privilege, came in meetings at Bad Nauheim, where
the grave heart trouble that affected her for so many years, caused her
to spend several weeks each summer following the cure, which happily
brought invariable benefit. The wonderful patience and cheerfulness
with which she bore her physical frailty and limitations were a living
testimony to that Faith which was her 'sure foundation' and inspired
the optimism and calmness of spirit, the wise and steadfast philosophy
that made her such an unfailing counsellor to others in difficult ways,
and gave pause to realise she tapped the Source that makes "quietness
and confidence your strength."
I have often thought that the initials which form the familiar title of
the Union are a fortuitous combination for a work which the Founder so
ardently yet humbly regarded as a channel for the manifestation of the
Spirit [Greek symbols: ro "Ayioo IIveujua]. The House of Education was
to those who knew its true inwardness, a dedicated Temple of the Holy
Ghost and surely no one ever more adequately expresses the sevenfold
gifts in her sphere of influence than Charlotte Mason, the spirit of
Wisdom and Understanding,
of Counsel and Might, of Knowledge and true Godliness and of Holy Fear;
none more truly illustrated the charge of St. Paul "If ye live in the
Spirit walk in the Spirit." May we not apply to her the 'Old Lament of
Ephraem Syrus' in the Times
of February 8th:
From her home is borne a Woman
Whose dear Presence
was its guide;
Those now left there mourn in common,
As men wept when
In that House do Thou
I.B.S. Whitaker Thompson.
A FEW RECOLLECTIONS.
It was at a drawing-room meeting at the London house of the Duchess of
Portland, in the year 1892, that I first met Miss Mason and heard her
speak. I have always remembered the impression then made up on me by
her gracious personality, and great charm of voice and manner.
The title of the address is forgotten, but it concerned her gospel of
education and from that day others, besides myself, must have realised
that they had seen a new vision. That was the beginning too of a
friendship which has been for 30 years one of the greatest privileges
and pleasures of my life.
A little later in Florence I came upon Miss Mason and her friend, Mrs.
Firth, standing by Giotto's Tower, and together we studied his
beautiful medallions. I shall always especially associate with them
that of the woman weaving on the loom which Ruskin copied when he
revived hand-weaving in the Lake country.
In September 1894 I paid my first never-to-be-forgotten visit to Miss
Mason at Ambleside. At that time she and Miss Kitching lived at
Springfield, down in the valley, which was one branch of the House of
Education in the early days. The day after my arrival Miss Mason took
me across the road to view the big house on the hill which she
of moving into, so as to have all her students under one roof, and make
a worthy home for the House of Education. As we walked up the drive the
sun shone brightly, and in front of the house we stopped and turned
round to gaze on Loughrigg and Wansfell, with Windermere between and
said to each other, "Just think, Wordsworth stood here and looked at
all that!" for his niece Mrs. Harrison (nee Wordsworth) had lived at
Scale How in his life-time and till 1892. We went all over the house,
up and down and into every corner, and decided with Mr. Curwen, the
architect, who met us there, about the few alterations and improvements
which would be needed. Altogether we planned for a beautiful future,
nearly 29 years of which, with its fine record, now belong to the past.
Another day Miss Mason took me to Keswick on the top of the mail coach.
It was a good old fashioned coach with four horses, a leisurely vehicle
from which one had plenty of time to see everything. That day I had a
wonderful lesson in "sight-seeing," as Miss Mason understood it. And
what delightful fun we had, and how much enjoyment out of all kinds of
little everyday trifles!
Shortly after this time when Miss Mason had to realise the physical
limitations due to ill-health, she had the great wisdom to order her
life in such a way that every available grain of energy could be given
to the work which was so dear to her, so that in the many future visits
which I paid to her our excursions did not go beyond the beautiful
daily drives in the near neighbourhood.
These were taken in her little Victoria, driven by her faithful man
Barrow. Here we looked for red-starts, and there to see if the
daffodils were in flower, and some days we went round by Grasmere and
bought ginger-bread from old Sarah Nelson.
I wish I could give a clearer picture of it all. Those who were at that
delightful Conference at Ambleside last May will always carry with them
some idea of the charm of Scale How under its dear Mistress.
In any difficulty she always saw the right way. With few words, always
perfectly chosen, yet coming naturally and without trace of effort, she
said what you knew at once to be the right thing, though you had groped
long and had not found it. The right thought and the right word were
It is not yet the time to measure up her whole achievement. The full
harvest is not yet. But there is enough to justify the confidence that
posterity will see in her a great reformer, who led the children of the
nation out of a barren wilderness into a rich inheritance. The old
bidding prayers of our homes of learning rise to our lips. The children
of many generations will thank God for Charlotte Mason and her work.
A FATHER'S PART IN THE
I feel it is a great privilege, as the father of children brought up in
a Parent's Union Schoolroom, to bear testimony to the joy which this
training brings to both parents and children.
In following Miss Mason's method the early work of the children is full
of interest; every faculty has the opportunity of development, and the
powers of observation and appreciation are stimulated, so that in later
life the mind is prepared to receive intelligently fresh impressions as
they present themselves.
In the days of our home schoolroom there was great pleasure at the end
of each term in hearing the oral examination, and noting with keen
interest the progress that had been made and the intelligent
appreciation of the various subjects shewn by the children. Then there
were the country walks, which for me, owing to my professional
engagements, were few and far between; but when they could be indulged
in, were a source of great delight, as the children showed their
knowledge of the surrounding villages, of every lane and turning, of
every field-path leading to some well known meadow, wood, or stream,
and were able to point out
where the earliest primrose or wild daffodil
was to be found, to tell me when the herons had returned to their nests
in the lofty trees above the lake, or note the scent of the fox that
passed that morning.
As time went on and new interests developed, a real appreciation of
architecture shewed itself, and I was struck with the way in which the
children were able to compare the details of a church which I explained
to them with others about which they had read or which they had
visited. When I took them to the National Gallery there was great
pleasure in picking out the original pictures, the copies of which they
had studied in their schoolroom.
One remembers so well the Winchester gathering of 1912, when on
reaching the city the children knew their way about the town, having
mapped it out aforetime, and when they met their fellow pupils in the
school to note how, though having come from places far apart and never
having met before, they fell into their classes at once, so that
onlookers would think they must have worked together for many weeks, so
harmonious was the atmosphere. At the same gathering also, one was
impressed with the intelligent way in which all the children showed
their appreciation of the Cathedral, St. Cross, and other places of
interest about which they had read during the previous term.
The real work of the P.U School, led up naturally, and without any real
break, to the larger life of the public school, for which the children
by their early training were well fitted, as it seemed merely the
stepping from one classroom to another, so comprehensive and
intelligent had been the previous preparation.
The whole training seems to invite a close companionship between
parents and children through common interests and opportunities for
nature study and the discussion of the problems of their own life
history; thus the interest which parents and children take in each
other's lives is largely due to Miss Mason's influence in teaching us
as parents to realize that our children, from earliest babyhood, are
persons with an individuality of their own, and are to be treated as
such, not looked upon as mere playthings.
One cannot but feel what an enormous influence for good Miss Mason has
bestowed upon the children of the country, now that not only home
schoolrooms, but also large numbers of elementary and secondary schools
have adopted her teaching and ideas, and that the work commenced at
Ambleside has spread throughout the English-speaking world, and how
helpful it has been to our colonial brethren, my own knowledge of the
work done in New Zealand testifies.
Though the Founder has gone her influence remains and her work will
J. W. Walker, O.B.E., F.S.A.
The P.U.S. From a
Mother's Point of View.
The obituary account of Miss Mason's work in the Times took me back to
the days when, as a young mother, I started to teach my small boys with
the help of the P.N.E.U. school. Now I am asked to write a short
appreciation from the mother's point of view. I will try and put the
clock back 18 or 19 years to the days when I first started to teach our
children, two boys who began their school life in 1A and 1B. The years
went on and I went on teaching, the family increased, five boys and one
girl; gradually the elder boys went off to school, but the younger ones
took their places; my one girl I taught till she went to school at 16
and then at last, when the two youngest boys went to school about three
years ago, my teaching days came to an end. How little I thought when
the first P.U.S. papers came, for how many years I should go on with
the work--I who knew nothing of teaching and who had forgotten much of
what I had learnt at school; how could I accomplish such an impossible
task? Only by the arrival of the P.U.S. syllabus term by term.
As I look at some of the old books the intervening years are forgotten.
I am back once more in thought to the days gone by when the children
and I were learning together. History was a fascinating subject when
taught by Arnold Forster. Magna Charta meant something with the story
the sewing machine. Elizabeth became a real person as one read
Kenilworth and Westward Ho; French History, and later on as they grew
older, European History added different points of view. Geography--such
a dull subject in my day--lists of capes and bays, imports and
exports--quite another thing, as one wandered through Northern Italy or
took part in lion hunting in Africa; so too Nature Study by the help of
Mrs. Brightwen and her delightful pets or Gilbert White, or that old
friend 'Life and Her children'. Arithmetic was certainly the hardest
subject when one had forgotten all but the four rules; however, by
means of keeping just a little ahead, teaching myself by means of the
examples, even this difficulty was negotiated. Housekeeping had to be
done by 10 o'clock, for my bell rang then and my small people had to
leave the garden for their work till one, with a short break in the
middle of the morning. Scripture was always taken first and my mind
goes back with gratitude to Dr. Paterson Smyth's books which helped to
make the Bible stories so vivid--one could almost see Joshua and his men starting off
for the long night march from Gilgal to the relief of Gibeon.
Literature we generally took after lunch, I had old fashioned ideas of
the value of a rest then for the children, and I wish I had kept a list
of books that I read aloud to them then. How many subjects we took and
what a good library we gathered together and how exciting it was to see
the new books that arrived each term. Picture talks, with the
reproductions of artists of bygone days or modern times, Tales of St.
Paul's Cathedral, and Westminster Abbey, Shakespeare plays that we read
together--what a wide world we lived in, though we worked in the depths
of the country! Then the end of the term with the examination, I as
secretary taking down what my small people happened to remember (as
days went on it was rather a comfort when they were able to write down
their own answers), at the end of the week the big envelope went
off--what excitement when the report came back, always with the kindly
and encouraging criticisms, how interesting to see what marks were
given and what fortunate person would take a step up into another form!
Much water has flowed under the bridge
since those days, and the scholars are scattered far and wide: some of
the picture reproductions went to an Indian college where one of them
is now teaching.
I have been living in the past as I write, realising how much
happiness I owe to the vision of one woman. My case no doubt is similar
to many others, scattered all over the world. Others will write of Miss
Mason's work from the point of view of the trained teacher, but how
much greater is the debt of the mother who without any training at all,
could teach her children through the method that Miss Mason had worked
out. It was she who made the impossible possible, who shewed us term by
term what books to use and how to use them, who taught us to take the
children straight to the fountain head and let them learn from the
books themselves. It was she who realised what home education might
become, who changed the whole atmosphere of the home schoolroom, who
inspired us for our work and gave us the power to carry it out; a
pioneer who blazed the trail that many of us followed with keen
enjoyment and grateful hearts.
Gone are the school room days--I am back again in the present,--the
Indian mail is just in; for the two long letters, both so different yet
telling so much of lives lived in that far off land; for that power of
expression which means so much to those at home, how much we owe again
to the lessons learnt long ago in P.U.S. days.
E. M. CAPRON
A MOTHER'S TRIBUTE.
Would it not be true to say of Mothers that "some are born mothers;
some achieve motherhood; and some have motherhood thrust upon them?"
There are some women who although they are not called to marriage and
human motherhood, have yet begotten spiritual children who "rise up and
call them blessed." And of such surely was Charlotee Mason. Endured
with powers of vision, of love , of courage, and of patience, such as
are given to few, she has been the designer, the chief engineer and the
foremost labourer of a
road which now is trodden by many feet--both
young and older--with hope and joyfulness.
The task God has given to mothers must always be the most responsible
committed to any human being. It is nothing less than the training for
His Service of His own children--children whose bodies must be sound
healthy, whose minds must be disciplined and alert, whose souls must
learn to grow in the knowledge and love of their Father, if they are to
fulfil the purpose for which He has sent them here. It was this vision
which Miss Mason saw and which she gave her life to make real, this
ideal which she ever held before the eyes of those who in the dusty
ways of daily life were apt to rest content with a lower, a more
And so we mothers owe her a debt of gratitude which it is hard to put
into words, for her wonderful help and inspiration in this great work
of child training. As one who during the past eight years has had five
members of her family in the P.U.S. I am grateful for the privilege of
being allowed to try--ever so feebly--to voice this gratitude. It is
difficult to single out special points, but I shall always remember
with thankfulness how the Principal of one of our best known and
largest girls' schools commented on my daughters' "power of
concentration," and this I consider they owe almost entirely to their
P.U.S. training. I have been asked whether this education was a good
preparation for public schools run on somewhat different lines and I
have no hesitation in answering "yes," an opinion which is amply
justified by personal experience. The habit of concentration already
mentioned, the love of good books for their own sake, the encouragement
of wide and varied interests, all of these are to my mind the best
possible equipment for a boy or girl not only public school life but in
the wider life which follows, whatever its particular channel may be.
One other point stands out clearly--the unvarying personal interest
taken by Miss Mason in all her work: the little note in her own
handwriting on every examination mark sheet was an eagerly looked-for
joy even to those of us who had never been privileged to see or know
her more intimately.
We parents then would offer our tribute of gratitude to a loved and
honoured name in firm faith that the road so nobly planned shall lead
many travellers "on to the City of God." For though our leader has
passed into the fuller light, her work lives and grows.
"No work begun shall ever pause for death!
. . . Through such souls alone
God stooping shows
sufficient of His light
For us i' the dark to rise by."
It is no easy task to attempt to estimate the work and influence of
Miss Mason in Secondary Schools. The greatness of that influence must
be felt and acknowledged by all those who have watched with interest
the development and progress of education during the last thirty years,
and who have at the same time followed the teaching and studied
the methods of one who by her entire lack of self-advertisement, her
steady adherence to principles now acknowledged to be sound by the best
thinkers, must surely take a leading place among the educational
pioneers of our generation.
It is a comparatively easy task to recognise and appraise her work in
those schools which profess to follow the principles of the Union which
she founded, but her influence has been far-reaching and it is in
schools that have "tacitly adopted" her ideals without recognition or
even realisation of her leadership that the greatest progress has been
made, the most striking triumphs won. So great is the leavening power
of a noble and forceful personality.
It is hardly an exaggeration to say that there is scarcely a Girls'
School in the country that has not been directly or indirectly affected
by her teaching, and it is interesting to find some of her firmly held
principles embodied in the recently published Report of the Committee
appointed to inquire into the Differentiation of Curricula between the
sexes in Secondary Schools.
First and foremost of the gifts which Miss Mason
brought to secondary schools is the gift of Freedom,--the taking of the
child back to nature and reality and leading him into the realms of
knowledge not only through the glories of our great literature, but by
showing him his heritage in the world around him.
Let us go back to the year 1890 when Miss Mason came forward publicly
as an educationist.
There are many of us who remember well the conditions in the great High
Schools in the early eighteen nineties. We realise as we look back how
much gratitude we owe to the Headmistresses of those days for the firm
stand they made in their demand for equal opportunities in education
for boys and for girls. But we realise, too, the mistake that was then
made by the majority of teachers. They aimed at fitting the girl to
compete in all points with the boys, with too little regard for her
social well-being and physical fitness. The pressure of home-work came
heavily upon the girl after her strenuous work at school, too seldom
relieved by games, drill or any form of hand-work. The approaching
shadow of Pulbic Examinations in which Art, Music, and other aesthetic
subjects had no place cut her off from all pleasure in these subjects.
Time would not permit her indulging in them.
The study of English Literature, apart from the books and periods set
for examination purposes in the higher forms, was in some well-known
High Schools excluded from the curriculum. I, myself, remember being
introduced to some of the glories of English poetry by a mathematical
teacher who snatched moments in the intervals between examinations to
fire the imagination of her pupils and to make them realise the
beauties of their own language.
To how rich a heritage of books has Miss Mason introduced her
children;--with what abundance of intellectual food she has supplied
them to their lasting benefit! Shakespeare is now read by children of
ten years with enjoyment and intelligence, and annotated texts are
becoming the exception and not the rule.
Again, in those early days the History lesson with its dry text-book,
and short question and answer test gave
little opportunity for training in thought and judgment. The affairs of
the mother country were studied with little or no attention to the
contemporary history of Europe, and for World History no time could be
allowed. The teacher who realised a better way would seize moments to
read short extracts from the great historical writers. One remembers
being introduced in this way to Lecky, Tolstoi and others, and those
moments remain fresh in the mind when much besides is forgotten.
For the giving to the child a wider knowledge of history--a subject
which she believed was the most important in the training of good
citizens--Miss Mason makes ample provision, and there are few schools
to be found now where some teaching in World History as well as in
European and English History is not given.
In quite recent years similar conditions might have been found
prevailing in many of our large Boarding Schools, and even in the
Government Training Colleges,--the same starvation diet, the same
narrowly academic outlook.
But, thanks to the work of Miss Mason and others zealous in the cause
of education, light has come into many dark places. The Girl Guide
movement has been most helpful in this respect. The Heads of many
schools now realise that the movement is a valuable aid, not a
hindrance to the ordinary work, and are giving Guiding an honourable
place in the Time Table. It must not be forgotten in this connection
that the Scout movement may be said to owe its origin to Miss Mason.
But though progress in the schools has been steady much still remains
to be done, and this no one realised better than Miss Mason herself.
Those who were privileged to attend the P.N.E.U. Conference held last
May at Ambleside will remember well the inspiring words with which she
closed her second address--"Let us be up and doing. Let us do battle
with the schools for 'a liberal education.'"
P.S. Goode, B.A.
Every member of the Parents' National Educational
Union is realising the burden of a great loss in the death of its
founder, Miss Mason. Each has the knowledge that a great organiser and
leader has been lost. Each feels that a dear friend has gone; one whose
friendship was sweet because of its understanding, its sympathy, its
largeness. Her spirit went abroad in her letters and books. And when
one met her for the first time, it seemed like the renewal of an old
friendship, and one picked up the conversation of yesterday without the
poignant reminder of a break which "yesterday" often conveys.
One was conscious of the strength and urge of her spirit, of her
enthusiasm for the cause of education, her faith in it, her will to
pursue it. She expressed herself completely in the motto of all P.U.
Schools: "I am, I can, I ought, I will."
In forming the P.N.E.U. and establishing P.U. Schools, Miss Mason did
the supposedly impossible. She blended the democratic and the
aristocratic. By a seeming paradox she demonstrated a great truth. The
"demos" were to be the "aristos." All were to have liberal
opportunities of development, full and complete, aristocracy. 'The best
for all, that from the all would come, by Nature'--logic, the best.
Mason promised no pre-natal change in the nature of the inhabitants of
her "Utopia." The change would come as the fruit from the culture and
care of the growing child. Humanity was not to be shipwrecked before it
could reach her "New Atlantis."
Miss Mason had all the qualities of a great reformer; clear thinking,
intelligent continued effort, high ideals, and faith. Faith she had
abundantly. None who had the honour and privilege of meeting her in the
Shire Hall, Gloucester, and the pleasure of listening to her address to
the Heads of Schools in Gloucestershire working as P.U. Schools, will
doubt her abundant faith. Its rays shone
through all her words. She began by a confession of her own faith in
children, in human nature, in the work of education. She ended by
exhorting her audience to hold fast by faith.
The founding of the Parents' Union School in 1891 was followed by a
steady growth of its influence on education in the home countries and
the colonies, a growth springing from healthy root principles.
the extension of the Union's sphere was gratifying, it satisfied
neither Miss Mason nor the helpers she had trained and imbued with her
enthusiasm. The millions of children attending the State Primary
Schools were not touched, the hunger of their "perfect but immature"
minds unsatisfied because the rich and ample fare of mental food
provided in the programmes of the P.U.S. was not given them.
opportunity to extend the operations of the Union to the field of state
education came in the wonderful years between 1916 and 1919. The times
were favourable. The world witnessed the rebirth of spiritual interest
in education and a demand from civilised peoples for the best that
could be obtained from education. There was divine discontent with the
character and amount of education given in all types of schools.
success which followed the experiment at Drighlington proved the
practicability of the system in a new type of school; and the pamphlet
written by Miss Ambler, the head of the school and the pioneer of the
P.U.S. in State primary schools, made available to all interested in
education the results of the experiment.
The growth in the number of
State schools which adopted P.U.S. syllabuses and methods became rapid.
Interest was awakened, and inquiries from education authorities came
from many and widely separated areas. Miss Mason was happily spared to
live long enough to see a wonderful fruition of her labours.
of children are to-day receiving the education urged by the Union, in
schools provided and maintained by the State, and local education
the name of Miss Mason must surely be one heard in
hundreds of homes where a few years ago she was unknown.
The county of
Gloucester has more schools affiliated to the P.N.E.U. than any other
county. [Over 100 now.--ED.] The pity is that
the rest of England is not so conscious of its
loss as Gloucestershire is awake to its gain.
The number is increasing,
every term marking an addition to the roll of names of those schools
joined to the P.N.E.U.
It is as the Head of a P.U. School (elementary),
that I would pay a due but inadequate tribute to the genius of a great
educational reformer and organizer; would try to express a measure of
thanks, which must always fall short, for the example of a life-long
devotion and sacrifice to education of the nation's childhood, here and
throughout the English-speaking world. And I know that what is said
here will have willing assent from my colleagues, who will feel, like
myself, that "the half has not been told."
We remember Miss Mason because she taught us to regard the children as
"perfect but immature"; that their minds were each an indivisible
whole, with the dignity of a personality we must not outrage. She saved
us from the growing belief that man might be greater than his Maker.
We remember Miss Mason
because she showed us how practice in school might be natural and
simple, natural because it used the inherent element of interest which
the child brought to our schools. We knew this, but she showed us how
to use it and retain it. Natural, too, because those conditions of
attention and concentration were always present with interest, and
could not be cultivated from adventitious roots. Simple, because their
application did not involve a peculiar or elaborate training. The
educated mother, fortunate in having the leisure, may well and
successfully educate her child at home.
We reverence the memory of Miss
Mason because she showed us how happiness might permeate our
classrooms; how there might be joy in learning, joy which grew from the
"team" spirit in the class room. She made it possible for
sympathy to be a constant bond between teacher and taught.
We are thankful to Miss Mason for the wisdom and choice with which she
built up her programmes. By them our scholars were led from a land of
locusts and wild honey to a fertile plain of rich and varied food. By
them she made it no longer possible to describe our schools as
For those few reasons only we pay this valedictory tribute to Miss
Mason who did so much for the scholars and teachers in the nation's
We mourn her death, but in our mourning we remember she lived.
G. H. Smith (a Gloucestershire
I THINK that it may interest some readers of the PARENTS'
REVIEW to know something about dear Miss Mason's early
professional life, but I must state at the outset that the following
account is necessarily fragmentary. I have no memoranda to guide me and
my memory (at 73 1/2) fails me sometimes. Moreover, dear Miss Mason was
so much absorbed in her work that she spoke but little of her own life.
For many years before her death those who lived with her tried to save
her as much as possible from the fatigue of conversation; we always
read to her in her few leisure hours. Both Miss Mason's parents died
when she was comparatively young, and as her father was ruined by the
American Civil War it was necessary for her to work. She seems to have
made up her mind at once to devote herself to the cause of education.
There were no High Schools, or Secondary Schools for girls in those
days, and no women's colleges; it was only the teachers in Elementary
Schools who were supposed to need training for their work. Training
Colleges in those days were not very well managed, but Miss Mason was
determined to avail herself of any advantage that was to be had and
took a short course of training at the Home and Colonial Training
College in order to qualify herself for teaching in an Elementary
School. Then, as in later life, she thoroughly believed in children;
them and was always confident that in every class of life children
would respond to proper treatment. In fact she took up the profession
of teaching as work for God and for the country, and as she says in the
preface to her books, "each article of the educational faith I offer
has been arrived at by inductive processes; and has I think, been
verified by a long and wide series of experiment."
If I mistake not, it was about this time in her life that Miss Mason
made the acquaintance of two ladies, teachers like herself with high
aims who became dear life-long friends. I am not sure whether Miss
Mason took more than one school after finishing the short course of
training, but I know that about this time she became Headmistress of a
Church School at Worthing, and held this post for some years. Under her
management the school became quite famous in the neighborhood; perfect
order was maintained without any severity and the pupils worked with
intelligence and eagerness. It was not surprising that Miss Mason made
many friends in Worthing and was recognized as an authority on
education. At the time there was a movement among earnest people to
induce educated women of the professional classes to take up teaching
in elementary schools, and in order to further the cause The Bishop
Otter Memorial College in Chichester was set apart for training such
women as mistresses for Elementary Schools. Miss Trevor was appointed
Lady Principal, and Miss Mason had become so well known in the
neighbourhood that she was appointed Lecturer on Education and Teacher
of Human Physiology. In 1876 I went to Otter College as a student and
thus came under dear Miss Mason's influence. Unlike her, I was not a
born teacher, I was simply anxious to do some useful work and help my
family (my father was a clergyman and an invalid and I wished to help
him to retire.) Under dear Miss Mason's teaching, my views of life
changed; I saw that teaching might be a noble profession instead of a
mere trade, and I too longed to put her theories into practice. I am
that many old "Otters' would gladly testify to the help and
they received from Miss Mason's lectures on Education. I remember she
told us that the true teacher
must be prepared to lay down her life for her pupils. At the end of my
two years' training Miss Mason left the College and I remained for two
years on the staff to qualify myself for my certificate. Miss Mason
went to Bradford to teach in a school kept by one of the friends I have
mentioned, and also to get some time for writing on education. It was
at Bradford that she gave a course of lectures to ladies on "Home
Education"; these lectures were afterwards published under the title of
the book we know so well. I decided not to remain at Otter College
after I had gained my certificate as I wished to teach in a school, and
through Miss Mason's influence I was appointed Head-mistress of a
Higher Grade Board School in Bradford. I did not succeed very well in
this position; the little success I did achieve was due to Miss Mason's
advice. She wished me to remain and work for complete success, but I
was comparatively young and thought I should do better elsewhere and
Then a little later Miss Mason went to Ambleside to be with the other
of the old friends I have mentioned. Miss Mason taught in her school
and then gradually evolved and carried out the scheme of the House of
Education which has been such a wonderful success. Miss Mason began
with four students in a small house. I need scarcely say that it was
with great joy and gratitude that I accepted dear Miss Mason's
invitation to join her in 1898 as Vice-Principal of the House of
Education. The 22 years I spent there were the happiest years of my
life and I can only thank God for His goodness in allowing me to be
MISS MASON'S MESSAGE.
As we think of Miss Mason's long and beautiful life spent in ceaseless
happy toil "for the children's sake" we ask ourselves what it was she
strove to win for them, why it was that she was always happy no matter
how weary. Was it a method of education all summed up in one word,
narration? Was it the use of books? Was it love of Nature? Was it
power of self-expression in words, in material, in music? Was it
happiness? Was it goodness? Was it worldly success? One may say that
the good which Miss Mason sought included all these, but it went
beyond, it reached out till it became fulness of living. One of life's
problems is to see people whose learning is a byword and whose
companionship is so dull, no joy issues to them from their fountain of
knowledge, rather it seems that these learned people carry a heavy
burden. This problem has yet to be solved and may be considered later;
we are more tempted to rest our thoughts upon the sun-bathes path of
those who, following Miss Mason's teaching, know less but understand
more, understanding because of the fulness of life that is theirs.
Our beloved teacher has passed away from us. We may no longer take to
her our every perplexity; we may no longer look for her next article in
the Parents' Review which
will clear up some fresh difficulty for us; we may no longer hope for
the talk that will give us fresh insight into that full life which she
lived and which her disciples recognised without necessarily being
conscious of its source.
Longing as we do for comfort let us hear her speaking to us from the
book she prized more than any of her works, basing on it all her
"Day by day we are taught to pray, by way of summing up all our
requirements in this life, for "knowledge of Thy truth"--the prayer in
the Liturgy which seems to summarise most fully our Lord's teaching.
But our practice hardly keeps pace with our prayer; we are apt to put
two or three legitimate desires before what should be our primary
inspiration; to have
good--the cult of prosperity--is the prayer and effort of the natural
man; to be good--the cult of
sanctity--is the desire of the spiritually minded; to do good--the cult of
philanthrophy--sums up the religion of humanity: these things we should
have, be and do, but we are becoming aware that there is a further duty
which we may not leave undone. Our Lord's promise concerning the
teaching of the Holy Spirit implies this further obligation: "He shall
bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you."
"All," "whatsoever," double superlative, lays upon us the duty of
detailed devout study of each one of the divine sayings; for, how can
we remember that which we have not fully known." (Vol. V.) [All the
extracts given here are from "The Saviour of the World."]
"Nor knowledge good for man can mankind know,
But he vouchsafes it; He
is all our Light. (Vol. I.)
Accordingly Miss Mason pondered on the words and the life of our Lord
and as the light came to her she used it as she used all she had, in
the service of others.
Think ye that knowledge is a little thing
A man may hide in casket sure,
Certain its worth a beauty shall endure,
Nor, like a timid bird, take sudden wing?
Think ye that none against you count may bring
For that ye know, for 'tis your very own?
I tell you that your knowledge is a loan
For all men's use; ye shall not hide, nor fling
Into the dustbin of your memory,
That knowledge ye with pains have got of me;
Who knows and teaches not shall feel the sting
Of guilt intolerable when before
The Judge he stands; for him, hath little love,
A lighter chastisement decrees the King.
. . . .
. . . . .
. . . . . .
He that hath much needs impart the more,
And each shall give according to his store. (Vol. I.)
Six precious volumes of this work remain for us to study, rather should
we say, for us to use in our endeavour to achieve the fullness of life.
Miss Mason's intention was to produce eight volumes. The first appeared
at Christmas-tide 1908. Afterwards a volume appeared regularly every
Christmas till 1914. None of them were very generally appreciated,
chiefly because many of us would have preferred the thought expressed
in prose as we had heard her
speak, but that was because we did not
find all at once how closely packed with thought is every page of the
verses, nor see that no other form was possible. In the summer of 1915
Miss Mason saw the beginning of the movement in the Elementary Schools
which was from that time onward to engross all her time and strength,
and in 1917 she told us that the last two volumes of the Saviour of the
World would never be written. The six existing volumes are in constant
use in the Parents' Union School where the work of the children proves
their worth. The passage to be studied is read in the Gospels and then
narrated. The children then set to work to understand the passage more
fully by comparing the different accounts and by bringing all they know
to bear upon it; sometimes the teacher asks questions or points out
some new aspect but more often she learns a great deal from the
children. When the teacher and the children have found out all they
can, the verses referring to it in the "Saviour of the World" are read
by the teacher and narrated by the children--"The intellectual labour
we have given makes the conception our own, and we have gained some
fragment of that knowledge which is eternal life." (Vol. V.)
Searching for the source of Miss Mason's teaching let us begin with the
P.N.E.U. Motto and see how far the adoption of it is warranted by the
study of the Life of Jesus. We must read carefully and take time to
give the intellectual labour necessary to show us how Miss Mason's
teaching philosophy grew and by the few examples given we shall see how
those of us who did not know our Founder personally, may get into
closest touch with her thought and teaching.
Education is an Atmosphere.
"How fair thou art, O Soul! how still a grace
Mantles thy face!
What pure cool chambers do thine eyes reveal!
Sure dwells in thee some luminous mystery?"
"As you dull orb that yet shines to thee,
I do but stand
In the Light."
"What seest thou, O soul, where thou dost stand?"
"A shifting sand
Where vile things stir and live--pride, envy, strife,
Malice and anger, all that prey on love--
Lo, these within me doth the
Yet fain I stand
In the light."
"This the whole cheer, poor soul, light brings to Thee?
"Nay, One I see
In heaven, in earth, but One: none may rehearse,
Nor any comprehend save them who see,
The healing of the Vision: He shines on me:--
Wherefore I stand
In the Light!"
Education is a discipline.
Only those valiant souls who choose
To take the good, the ill refuse,
Nor pleasures seek, nor pains evade,
Are worthy to follow where He leads,
By waters cool, through flowery meads
Where innocent voices fill the glade.
Thou cri'st that "nature fixes fate,
No man becomes good or great,
Save as his nature makes him strong" :
To will is all God asks of thee;
Impulse, strength, scope, He granteth free;
But man must choose, or right or wrong!
Else men were puppets in a play
Moved hither, thither, every way,
Without or strength to strive, or choice;
Perchance for this, the Accuser's hour
To test the souls of men with power:--
For good or evil, is thy voice?
Education is a life.
So God hath made us, that for every man
Are many chances of being born anew
Into a life still higher than the first:
What if were one great chance for every soul
Of highest birth creature of dust may know?
What if were some amazing thought, compelling,
That no man could pass by were it once brought
Within the focus of his narrowed vision;
A thought for wise and foolish, vile and pure,
That sudden, certain, should transform a man,
Give him new birth, within an air unbreathed
In all his grovelling days! Why, here a lever,
With arm to lift the world to higher plane!
To make this weary, travel-stained, poor Earth
A place for angels to go to and fro,
A paradise of God!
Next in order of dearness to us comes the children's Motto.
In the Kingdom are the children;
You may read it in their eyes;
All the freedom of the Kingdom
In their careless humour lies.
What do they to take the Kingdom?
Only this leave they undone--
Suffering Christ the King within them,--
They in nought invade His throne:
On the children's brows no witness
That themselves do fill their thought;
In the children's hearts no strivings
That to them be honour brought.
Therefore finds the King an entrance;
Freely goes He out and in;
Sheds the gladness of His presence;
Doth for babes great victories win!
The Lord beheld the Seventy, simple men
To whom He had discoursed of mighty themes;
And, lifting up His eyes, to praise was fain
The righteous Father, Who th' unlearned deems
Worthy to know; the simple heart sincere,
The little child who few thing apprehends
But brings discriminating vision clear,--
To such as these the Father condescends.
The Lord, discerning, lifted thankful heart,
Loving the Seventy, that is was God's will
To shew His mysteries where is no art
To darken counsel with man's subtle skill.
So is it still; The Lord's mind who should know,
With a child's heart shall wait for Him to show.
To each man I say,--
A task is set for thee, none else can do;
A task, not of set labour with thy hands,
But of true thinking with the mind thou hast.
Working the Work, willing the Will!--Thou art
A Teacher of mysteries! 'tis of Thy might
We're able, O our Lord, to get by heart
These lessons of thy setting, in despite
Of all that heavy dulness 'tis Thy task
To lighten with Thy glorious countenance;
Till th'inert will drop from
us as a mask,
And, quickened, wake we, as man out of trance.
For what the secret then, of willing well?
To keep the single eye, to think on Thee--
Till seeing Christ, our lightened heart shall swell
To that vast measure, His Humility!--
Then of Thy doctrine we in truth shall know
When all our will is--in Thy way to go.
There is no space to quote at greater length, but the source of that
principle which brings such joy to every P.N.E.U. schoolroom, Education
is the Science of Relations, is to be found in Vol. V., p. 120, and
IV., p. 84.
When we come to P.N.E.U. method of which one of the outstanding
features is use of Narration, we find our authority for it in Vol. I.,
pp. 61 and 62; pp. 84 and 85; p. 808. Again the fallacy of explaining
every difficulty is exposed in Vol. III., p. 47 and Vol. III., p. 85.
Scale How students feel this work to be their special treasure, for all
the thought it contains was given first to them during the precious
hour on Sunday afternoons when they gathered round Miss Mason to hear
her speak. Those who know Scale How can picture the drawing room packed
with students eagerly listening to the wonderful woman who from her
couch, with gentle voice and quiet smile and loving eyes that read
every face, would seem to have the word that each one needed,
inconveniently so sometimes, for many of us who came in feeling
something of saints would go out feeling sinners, so had she bared us
to ourselves. Yet not despairing sinners, for the keynote of all her
teaching was the ever readiness of divine love and forgiveness.
How vast the firmament! We lift our gaze
And search the heavens for a boundary line;
Stars upon stars confound us; we divine
Numerous orbs within the glorious maze!
So, would we track th' illimitable rays
Of the Divine Perfections, baffled we;
Outgazing further than week eyes may see
Efforts to focus too much glory daze
Our giddy sense! With what relief we rest,
On one great star that dominates the sky!
A three-mooned planet, bright, diffusing light,
Divine Forgiveness glorifies our night--
For wilful souls, for those, neglected, lie,
For them who knew and loved, yet--left the Best!
E. A. Parish
THE DAY'S WORK.
"A sweet attractive kind of grace
A full assurance given by looks
Continual comfort in a face,
The lineaments of Gospel books."
Did ever any spirit pass who could be claimed as a personal friend by
so many people of all ages! The many letters that have come since Jan.
16th, all testify to a sense of personal loss. Letters from her
"Bairns," as Miss Mason always called them, were the first to come,
brought by the happy thought of Miss Parish in sending from Ambleside
notice of the "passing" to each of her "Bairns" before a press notice
could reach them. Then came letters from friends, grateful parents,
Heads of schools, Secondary and Elementary, expressing, so many of
them, a curious sense of nearness to the beloved spirit that has
"passed." A letter from an Elementary school begs for more personal
details, and so these few lines are written for those who never met
Miss Mason except in spirit.
Up to the end of last term Miss Mason was living the College life as
usual. She took her Sunday class, was present for the Criticism Lessons
on Thursday mornings and at the "Scale How Tuesday" Evenings. During
the Inspector's visit in October she was down at 9:30 a.m. each day for
three days and spent the day with the Inspector. She was present at the
students' farewell party and at the Senior's last talk in December and
drove out as usual on December 16th. Even on January 11th, she listened
to and decided about two articles offered for the Review and on the
12th she heard the most important letters and
approved, or not, of the
answers suggested. Weary days and nights of pain were never referred to
and she continued to enjoy reading aloud to the end and then she "fell
In spite of frail health and much suffering for thirty years, Miss
Mason led the life of a fully occupied woman. Only a week before she
passed she said--"It is so difficult to get into invalid ways." She
never thought of herself as an invalid and planned her life and work
without thought of any personal handicap but that of physical
inactivity. Her days passed with a regularity of employment, a fulness
of joy in life and work that left no room for thoughts of self, no word
of regret that she was unable to exercise the hospitality which she
would so dearly have loved to do or to meet the many friends and
acquaintances who would have been only too glad to come to see her. She
had a genius for hospitality and for good talk, and during the summer
holidays when she was less occupied, she often met distinguished men
and women of affairs and the talk was brilliant. But the physical
effort of talking was always a difficulty and many a time has she had
to decline the visit of a distinguished visitor lest the strain should
incapacitate her for work that never ceased its claims upon her.
Every day brought a heavy post, editorial duties, housekeeping details,
College business, the constant work of the Parents' Union School, and
it was only by the utmost regularity of hours of work and times of
leisure that work could be carried on.
But how to help anyone to realise the way in which Miss Mason answered
the claims upon her! The details may sound so little. The output was so
The lines at the head of this paper give some idea of the aspect of our
beloved Chief at all times, and especially when the day's work began.
It might have been a sleepless night, or a night of pain, but always
after her morning preparation for the day there was a radiance of
countenance, that grew as the years passed, that made one hesitate in
awe, a radiance that only 'gospel books' could bring. The day's work
began with the post at 9-30. Every letter, every
Charlotte Bronte, George Eliot, Thackeray, Meredith, Jane Austen, till
supper at seven. After supper came reading aloud, "The Times," and
books of travel, literary essays, memoirs. At 8-45 came Miss Mason's
carrying chair and, last of all, her evening reading and a Scott novel.
She always had "some Scott" the last thing, and as one novel was
finished another took its place and had done for 30 years.
How Miss Mason would enjoy any bit of humour or good story that came
her way, how she loved to hear about the children's joy in their work,
how she was always touched to tears by any bit of real understanding
shown by anyone of the principles she was labouring to make known, or
by any evidence of that wonderful insight a child will show when his
mind has got when it needs to feed upon--these things would take pages
to tell. Miss Mason had no personal "feelings," she could not be 'hurt'
by want of understanding; but, oh, how she was cheered and helped by
any recognition of what she was trying to do in the face of so many
vested interests! She did not care for possessions, she rarely
permitted gifts, but any tribute of understanding, any recognition of
the philosophy that was so dear to her was a gift to be treasured. She
never hesitated as to the value of this philosophy. It had come to her
much of it at 25, or even earlier, and she often said how strange it
was that she could only repeat what she had said so often. Her answers
dictated to letters were the same in thought as pages in "Home
Education." Tiresome letters she answered with gentle graciousness, and
she would say, "Remember, no one is made up of one fault, everyone is
much greater than al his faults;" and then she would add with a smile,
"I find it much easier to put up with people's faults than with their
Miss Mason rarely touched upon controversial subjects, she read very
little controversial matter, she steadily refused to enter the lists in
condemnation of theories with which she had no sympathy. She prayed
"Lead us not into temptation" in thought as in other things she would
not enter in and let her thoughts dwell in the many byways
thought when so much work was needed on the highways.
Miss Mason disliked any form of red tape or apparatus, and she dreaded
organization. "In proportion as a piece of work needs organization it
lacks life," she would often say. "Don't make schemes for arranging the
school work ahead. It must be fresh term by term or it will get stale."
"Don't waste time copying." Miss Mason would take a book out of the
school if it was not doing good work for the children.
She never worked out the hours nor let herself think of problems at
night. Hasty decisions were never made even when she was pressed to
make them. She took time to consider the many problems that inevitably
connected themselves with the vast work for which she alone was
responsible. She had a wonderful power of estimating the value of any
thing, from a psychological problem in a book, a scientific discovery,
a person's character, a builder's estimate, to a child's work, on paper
or in handicrafts. She always saw the essential details, the trend of a
line of thought, the fallacy in an argument, the weak place in an
estimate, the testing place in a person's character. She did not talk
of these things though she betrayed her knowledge of them when
necessary. She never discussed the students of one member of the staff
with another, or one person's work with another; she bore to the
farthest limit her own responsibilities and tenderly shielded those who
worked for her from any anxiety as to ways and means; and such times of
difficulty were not infrequent for she bore the financial
responsibility entirely alone and went on with faith and courage when
many a lesser spirit with a life so frail would have quailed. She would
never let herself be "anxious." She avoided expression of personal
opinion lest they should act like "suggestion" on those who loved her.
She distrusted personal influence as limiting and belittling the person
influenced and she steadily set her face against any form of personal
influence over any with whom she came in contact. She laid down
principles and waited for others to think along her lines of
thought and find the right solution. She would not deliver those she
loved from the growing pains of thinking for themselves, and sometimes
those who did not understand took her silence for consent when they
suggested things she did not wish. They little knew that she was only
waiting for them to think clearly for themselves. Life was too full,
she was too frail, it is true, to talk much and also she did not think
it wise to do so. She thought
and acted and she wished others to think
too. Her "masterly inactivity" was a thing to wonder at when she could
easily have set things, or thought, going in the way that she thought
was right. A word from her, beloved as she was, would have done it:
but, no, her work had to be done with the mind and heart of a person
who must not be weakened by personal influence if the work was to be
done by a mainspring and not a lever.
Her power of attention was equal to that which she laid claim to in the
children. She gave her whole attention to whatever demanded it,--a
book, a conversation, household details. Her perception of 'the way of
the will' and of 'the way of reason' made her watchful lest the
student or child should lose her way in wilfulness or in crooked
thinking. It is surely a rare thing that a philosopher should translate
his philosophy into practical life as
Miss Mason did. Many philosophers are content with the supreme joy of
intellectual effort, others are content with making experiments as
well, but Miss Mason had put each dictum of her philosophy to the of
daily life and its needs. It lay behind all her actions, for she ever
said that right thinking was the most important act in a man's life. If
he thought right he would act right. She guarded the philosophy which
was her Trust with a jealous care that made people sometimes wonder,
even criticize, but it was a Trust so entirely apart from herself and
from any personal considerations that she could speak of it, consider
it, uphold it, maintain it. It is this that makes disciples feel it
also is a sacred Trust that they too must needs guard for the sake of
MISS MASON OF HOUSE OF
It is an amazing thought when now it has pleased God to take from us
our Head, full of years and honour, that when first I came to the House
of Education and fell under her influence, she was not more than five
years older that I find myslef to-day. She seemed to us then ageless
and immortal, a completed being, because she had self-command and a
power of standing aside and leaving the young to be young, which is the
rarest of all gifts of any age.
Though of course we students did not realize it then, the training of
teachers for home schoolrooms was still something new and experimental,
and we were unconsciously taking part in a great movement which was to
raise the status of the teacher, because behind us there was a central
authority and control which could uphold our interests on the one hand,
and give sage advice on the other, when foolish youth had not yet
mastered "the art of living in others people's houses."
When I went as a student to Ambleside it was from experiences of many
different worlds. I had been dragged up by the worst types of
governesses at home, I had spent a few years in what was then
considered an excellent high school, and one year in a typical
old-fashioned boarding school where English did not matter and French
and Musie did. I had had glimpses into the great world of people who
mattered and who had every earthly advantage which might lead to
culture and knowledge of the world, and all through my childhood I had
had the constant companionship of an old godfather who knew every
building of note and every person of distinction, and I had had
glimpses into the merely frivolous narrow life of a social residential
town, and into the poverty and restrictions and sheer vacuity of a
small country commercial town. All this is detailed not from the
biographical point of view but to show the standards of judgement and
of living which I, as one type of student, brought with me to be
revolutionized by that great influence. The first thing which struck me
was Miss Mason's marvellous courtesy--she knew only the bare outlines
our previous lives, but she spoke to us all as 'persons,' and helped us
dignified by treating us with dignity. Such varied experiences had
given me the rather ugly cynicism of observant youth, and yet when in
Psychology lectures our opinions were asked for and freely expressed
and I rapped out some bitter half-truth, far from snubbing the
distorted vision Miss Mason would always enlarge our perceptions by
some word of wisdom or charity while not denying the half-truths which
were all we could see. Once, and once only in my student days, was she
confronted with one of those examples of youth's foolish rebellion
which were common-places of school life in those days--her method of
dealing with the situation gave me a marvelous insight into what she
meant by discipline--nothing was 'done to' the offenders--we were all
simply left to talk over the situation and find a solution; the
offenders having time to 'come to themselves' bitterly repented, and
found, I think greatly to their surprise, that public opinion had been
entirely against them.
The whole atmosphere of the house was so extraordinarily good--nothing
ignoble seemed natural within its doors, and moreover the actual
surroundings, the books, the pictures (reproductions of old masters)
the simple furniture and the wild
flowers for decoration everywhere were a revelation in themselves in
those days when the world either lived in a crowd of ancestral
treasures or in the unutterable hideousness of the Victorian Age when
prosperity had to be apparent.
No one, I am afraid, will ever enshrine Miss Mason's "Table Talk" in a
book, but it was marvelous training for young minds, her wit was so
quick and her brain so trained and well-stored that ours had to take
kangaroo leaps to keep up with her at all, and she had mastered the
difficult art of eating and talking--in
those days when heavy dinner-parties were still frequent, most people
either ate or talked and
neither made for true enjoyment of any meal. She would often at meals
repeat once some fragment of great poetry and ask us to say it to her
on the following day at luncheon, and in that way we learnt more than
one treasure such as Trench's Sonnet on Prayer. In those days too, we
received from her on Sunday afternoons the thoughts on the Gospels
afterwards given a permanent form in verse in The Saviour of the World. These too
were a revelation of the mental side of our faith--young people are
often dogmatic, often merely narrowly pious, more often one fears
conventional and indifferent, but that hour in the crowded drawing-room
was an hour of thought in which we were brought suddenly to the point
of asking ourselves ' What do
I think?' 'How do I
understand?' And very wise and helpful were the suggestions laid before
Life at the college with its many interests, in which she so
marvelously shared, included in those days, when the shadow of
ill-health was not lying so heavily upon Miss Mason, the constant joy
and stimulus of guests. Then we would see what the play of mind upon
mind really meant, then we would be made to realize that however
distinguished and clever these personages might be, they were our
guests as well as hers, and sudden calls would come upon us to whip up
some soufflé of an
entertainment for them on the spur of the moment!
It was that training in readiness and courage for which we could never
be grateful enough in after years--again and again we would be asked to
do something we had never dreamt of doing and be told to say "Oh, what
a joke" and do it! Thus we
learnt the humility which never thinks of self or fears to make a fool
of 'self' when the call comes in the path of duty.
But for all the lofty heights pointed out to us it was the little human
touches of understanding with our weaknesses which won our hearts--no
scolding when these had been some wild ebullition of noise and high
spirits at one of our revels, only the next morning "My dears, weren't
you a little wild last night?" No ignoring our natural love of pretty
clothes (in which she always set us a delightfully good example) but
"Don't try to have the hat in
Church, my dears, but remember the neatness and care of Him who left
the graves clothes 'folded together at the head' on Easter Morning."
And I remember one of her very personal anecdotes was a poignant little
story of how she felt when one of her mother's
white trousseau petticoats was made into a frock for her in childhood
and somehow she felt it was not 'new' and not 'right.' But it was the
outlook on our future life which she gave us both by precept and
example which was so marvelous--many of us came to our training as a
professional necessity, anxious to teach, to use our own brains and
good education, and to learn because we must, and because in those days
the professions were not open to women but I think none of us left
without the sense of a vocation, "I have a life to give." Teaching was
to be a mission carrying the breath of life to God's children, going
out 'two and two' with the mothers of our children to labour in God's
vineyard--not looking for results or rewards or in the praise of men
but praying for our children that they "might increase" even as we
"decreased." Many times since those long past years have I revisited
the old scenes, and always found the same wonderful welcome and
recollection of circumstances and people which made her interest so
real and so living. She always looked ahead and so never belonged
merely to any one 'present day,' for it is only the people whose
opinions can be dated who ever really grow old. We shall rejoice in
later days to think that she was to the last living the ordered life of
good habits which we so loved to remember and find still going on,
working always, but having the self-control to rest at regular times
(which few ardent workers have), reading enormously, and with
extraordinary relish and width of selection, enjoying the marvelous
country around her and loving her horse and her dog and daily outing
with them, which made it possible for her still to see the heron in the
pool or the Globe Flower on the bank. Only her 'bairns,' as she called
her students, can piece together as in a precious mosaic her life of
little personal kindnesses, of sage advice or admonition, of charity,
and clarity of judgment--some lives are better written in the lives of
those who come after them than in the pages of a biography--let us make
it so with hers.
"Let us now praise famous men
Men of little shewing
For their work continueth
Broad and deep continueth
Greater than their knowing."
A TRIBUTE FROM AN
It has always seemed to me that the two years spent as a student in
that beautiful spot among the mountains of Westmoreland, under the
influence of that wonderful personality, whose passing has left us all
to mourn, have been in my life, as in that of so great a number of
students, as a mount of transfiguration, charging our common everyday
life with a fullness of meaning and beauty unknown before. Perhaps the
secret of Miss Mason's great influence--apart as students, came into
daily contact with her was, firstly, her extraordinary power of seeing
and appealing to, the best in every individual. Somehow, in her
presence, meanness and pettiness fell away, and one believed in and
strove to reach the highest of which was capable. And not only
this--one learnt to believe in the goodness and joy of life. One felt
that, at the back of all Miss Mason's teaching, was a philosophy of
life based on an intense conviction of the personal relationship of
every individual soul with God--a relationship that was the basis of
all joy in living. One realized the power and joy of knowledge--the
knowledge that is enshrined in all great literature, art and music, the
knowledge of living creatures, of the goodness of sky and sea, of wind
and cloud and all the "green things upon the earth." Next to this power
of vision--of seeing the essential
goodness in everyone and everything--I would place her largeness of
heart--a heart that was ready to embrace and make the most of whatever
type came beneath her influence and care--a heart so full of
understanding of human nature that, however greatly one's mind was
impressed by her genius, one felt that no phase of human life--
no joy, no difficulty, no weariness, no struggle--would be outside the
pale of her sympathy. In that large heart she found room for hundreds
of her students--her "Bairns" as she called us--and knew them with all
their individual peculiarities, followed them as they went down from
the mountain and "forth into the tumult and the shout," and was ever
ready in after years to give counsel and sympathy in times of need or
But perhaps it is only since one has become "a joyful mother of
children" that one has fully realized what Miss Mason's life-work has
done for the lives of thousands of children, not only in this country,
but all over the world. It would be impossible, having been present at
that gathering, ever to forget the Children's Conference at Whitby in
May, 1920, with its extraordinary sense of uplifting power.
To see those eager children, from all parts of the country, hitherto
unknown to each other, bound together by the joy of common interests
and the enthusiasm of a common knowledge, was to realise what an
extraordinary power lies in those educational principles to which Miss
Mason gave all her life and brilliant powers of mind, and to make one
long to see them spread among those who, though less blessed hitherto
with opportunities than our own children, have the same thirst for
knowledge which is the common heritage of our human and divine nature.
In those elementary schools where Miss Mason's educational principles
and methods have been adopted the response of the children has been
remarkable. Along this avenue it seems that a solution might come of
many of those difficulties and troubles which beset the body politic,
and cause such unhappy divisions among us.
In Miss Mason's philosophy, every child is a personality endowed with
infinite possibilities, and to her vision--the true vision of the
seer--the trail of the "clouds of glory" is ever visible even when the
shades of the prison-house seem darkest.
The power of knowledge has been recognized through the ages, but to her
it was given to tell of its joy and unifying power. For her life and
work amongst us let us sing a
glad Te Deum, and pray for wisdom and patience to carry on that work to
the blessing of future generations.
MISS MASON'S LOVE OF
THE COUNTRY DRIVES.
Having served my late dear Mistress for 24 years, I should like to make
known her love of, and interest in, all that moved or grew along the
lanes or moors, for it was Miss Mason's delight to seek the quiet lanes
and bits of moor away from the noisy motors, and only quite recently,
using her own words, have they begun "to poach on our private drives."
From 1898 for a good many years Miss Mason would take the tea-basket on
her drive, when with the late Miss Armitt, or the Hon. Mrs. Franklin or
others. If the weather was hot, in the woods by the lake towards the
ferry; if cool Miss Mason enjoyed the hillside between Chapel Stile and
High Close, where unrivalled views could be obtained of river, lake and
We could take at least twenty different drives, or circles, very rarely
covering the same road on return except for a little distance from
home. Each drive had its own peculiar charm. In September, the autumn
tints were best on one. In October, another would be more brilliant.
Then November brought the bracken on the mountains to the warm russet
colour, Miss Mason'sdelight. A cold blast in December brought the
Redwing to their favorite haunts for shelter, and then we knew a storm
was brewing. In December, January and February, we usually saw the
different species of wild duck on Elterwater, Loughrigg Tarn, or Rydal
Water. The end of February and early March saw the Wild Goose going
back to the breeding ground on the Scottish coast. Barngates being a
favorite crossing place for them. It was on this drive in 1920 Miss
Mason saw a pair of Waxwings quite close at hand and on a former
occasion three Redpolls. Towards the latter end of March we saw the
Curlew by Barngates come to look up his nesting ground. April brought
Redstart and Wheat-
ear. Though small birds, Miss Mason's watchful eye seldom missed them
even in 1922.
Each drive seemed to yield something of its own. One snug corner
produced Hazel Blossom, another Coltsfoot flowers; some drives were
profuse in Wild Roses and Honeysuckle; another in Bog Bean and Bog
Myrtle' another in Grass of Parnassus; and even the small Milkwort did
not escape Miss Mason's keen eye.
Very often did we follow nature's ways in evading the storm. Sometimes,
when quite calm at "The House of Education," (sheltered from North and
East winds) on reaching the open we found a boisterous wind and it was
then we had to follow the cunning of the fox and hug the sheltered side
of Loughrigg to Skelwith Bridge, thence to Barngates, and with back to
wind could get our little circular drive without discomfort.
Miss Mason was fond of her horse, which was a great help in getting
close to birds as they don't fear animals so much as persons. And it
was always her first enquiry when staying at hotels during Easter
Holidays,--Had I and her favourite little mare Duchess, been made
comfortable and well fed? To her friends who asked why she did not have
a motor, her answer was,--"I can talk to a horse but not to a motor."
To illustrate her contention that it was so, I very well remember when
once by Shelwith Falls on a stormy day, Miss Mason wished to return,
not feeling well, and she had given me the word to turn again for home.
Through the rush of water I had not heard Miss Mason's words, but
Duchess had, and when I attempted to restrain her from turning, Miss
Mason said it was quite right, Duchess had heard and knew all about it.
Miss Mason's nerve during these later years was marvelous, for we
encountered all kinds of motorists, reckless and otherwise. We have
even had horse's feet on the motor bonnet. Still she kept calm where
many a younger person would have been panic-stricken and probably by
leaping out would have caused serious harm to herself.
Miss Mason was always punctual, never kept man and horse waiting and
never left her carriage without the kindly,
'Good afternoon' and 'Thank you, Barrow.' And (had our drive been
prolific in birds, &c.,) "We've had a splendid bag." And I am proud
of having had the houour and pleasure, for it was a pleasure, of
driving such a kind and noble lady whose like none can excel.
And her end was Peace.
T. H. Barrow (Coachman)
A PERSONAL TRIBUTE.
From a Rydal Neighbour.
By the death of Miss Charlotte Mason, Ambleside has lost a great though
unassuming personality. I do not speak of her works, which do, indeed
live after her, but of the character which produced them.
When I first had the privilege of knowing her--perhaps seven and twenty
years ago--I was astonished, having regard to the position she already
held, at the quietness of her manner, the gentleness of her speech, the
absence of self-assertion in any form. She seemed rather like one who
sought to know than one who was born to instruct. But presently,
beneath all the courtesy and kindness that invited self-expression in
others, one felt the strength of individual personality, of power, of
knowledge, of purpose and especially of patient persistence. To her the
way she meant to go was plain before her; there was no need to hurry or
I think she dwells (in one of her works) on the theory that a child is
a "person," an individual having a separate entity, not merely one of a
crowd; and this theory pervaded the whole of her life and helped her to
success. To her nobody was one of a crowd; and everybody was a person,
requiring separate understanding and inviting individual treatment.
"Big or little, "she seemed to say, "you and I are each one. Let us
treat each other as such."
Naturally, with this theory and practice, she became an expert in
understanding character, in picking out at a glance the capabilities of
those surrounding her, and
putting him or her to the most appropriate task. She knew what to
expect from each, made the opportunities, and reaped the results. She
chose her friends in the same way, with her quick and far-seeing glance
perceiving qualities and possibilities hidden from the casual eye. This
particular power must have been of enourmous use to her in the creation
of her great organization. It also was of service to everyone working
with or under her. She expected from them the best they could do, and
(so far as I know) she got it.
Seeing the best and expecting the best was not the least of her special
gifts. We hear much of suggestion nowadays. The quiet suggestion of
good made constantly by her own life and thought must have brought
incalculable benefit to those working with her. It broke down the
expectation of evil in those afflicted by difficult temperaments, and
let in the sunshine of hope and of joy in many dark places.
Her great work (including the books she wrote) was, of course, directly
educational. She introduced new ideals and methods of teaching, and
these methods and ideals have spread far and wide. They have probed
deep into the foundations of English institutions, and stretched over
the oceans to take root in other lands. The wonderful statistics are
I should like to add a word as to the generosity of her present
dealings, her readiness to take the heavier share of financial
transactions in which she was concerned with any other. Also her
faithful friendship, which did not allow her own physical disabilities
or the disabilities of a friend to make a barrier between them if there
was any way out; her ingenuity in contriving meetings, her persistent
kindness in keeping up private correspondence in spite of the almost
impossible claims on her pen and time; her sense of humour which made
hard things easy and dark things bright.
A great loss, indeed, to many people and places, but most of all to the
House which she founded and the community among which she dwelt. She
lived and worked at her fullest to the very end of a long life, and
hers was a happy going away.
A. M. Harris
I have been asked to try and recall any memories I may have of Miss
Mason and I have attempted once or twice to write something adequate
but have failed miserably. Time and events from the outside seem to
have made a long leap from the days when I first worked for the
But a picture of a certain Sunday in Advent, though it must be twenty
odd years ago, rises to my mind and is as fresh as if it had occurred
yesterday. It was my first visit to Ambleside as appointed, or
provisionally appointed Secretary to the London Office. I was horribly
frightened (I had only arrived the night before) the students knew so
much more than I did--I had no training--nothing but a hope that I
might possibly be the right person for the job. Miss Mason I was told
had talks with her students on Sunday afternoons. We assembled in the
drawing room, it looked so countrified to my London eyes, and the trunk
and branches of a cherry tree outside the window held my attention--as
well as the portrait of Matthew Arnold on the wall. Trees and Arnold
might help me I thought to keep my nervousness within bounds. I
remember Miss Mason and her gentle smile and voice as she explained my
presence to the others there. The actual words of her talk I have
forgotten, but I hope not the spirit. "That thoughts out of many hearts
may be revealed" was the stone upon which she built a complete" house
of education" for us that afternoon--explaining how thoughts could be
translated into action when revealed, and like young plants bear fruit
in due season in the lives of the young children who were to carry on
I have since looked up this text on which the little sermon was built
and find I had underlined the words following "There was one Anna a
prophetess." Surely something then had moved me to connect the two
ideas. Had I realized dimly at this first meeting, that a prophetess
was speaking, and that slowly and surely her prophecies would be
fulfilled? That she was then revealing to a little handful of her
followers something of that wealth of though which she was depending
upon us to translate into action?
I know I hoped sincerely that I might bear my part in the good cause.
Ms. Mason was gifted in many ways, but in none I think more than in her
power of inspiring others with ideas, and ideas fundamentally so sound,
that those who were able to work them out, felt that they must
originate in truth--so often ideas are inspiring for a time, but having
little actuality, little relation with facts--they do not live to bear
fruit. We can all say of Ms. Mason's work for children and true
education, that it dealt with those primary conceptions of the tense
value of every human soul that nothing of God's gifts given direct by
God Himself, or through the instrument of his creatures could be too
good for it. I think I had the impression that this was the thought in
her heart that Sunday that she was revealing to us, and that we on our
part were earnestly desiring that it might be the spirit in which the
work could be accomplished and the only way in which it could ever be
accomplished. This must have been so for I find marked with the same
date, "Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings." Whether I elaborated
the idea for myself, or whether Ms. Mason did for me, I am after this
long stretch of years unable to tell. The train of thought was
continued somehow to its conclusion. If we were able to reveal the
thoughts in our hearts to the children, they would so express
themselves that we could not fail to recognise the source from which
all inspiration and good thoughts come, that are only truly revealed in
"that perfected praise" which is the inherited gift of the children of
This little sermon, if I may call it so, has recurred to my mind over
and over again and I have written it out as best I may--as a very small
tribute to the memory of one for whom I had and have a very profound
"FOR THE CHILDREN'S
Her children shall rise up and bless her name.
Oh, glorious epitaph!--and meet indeed
For such a soul. These laurels ne'er shall fade,
Nor vanish as the fame of some short hour.
Hers was the living sympathy and love
Truly to see and feel her brethern's needs;
With vision clear behold the childlike soul
And know it greatest in the eyes of God,
Secure in this her faith, that from above
Was given her Trust, she guarded it with care;
And gave her life that thus might be supplied
Her children's many wants. Nay, all the world
Hath share in her great love: and we who work,-
Though small, or great our part,--may surely feel
That the Spirit by the Greatest Teacher given
To comfort those, who, mourning, and abashed
At thought of the great tasks were theirs to do,
Will be our Strength and Guide. Thus may we all
With childlike trust, and purity of aim,
Fulfil the trust bequeathed and work with her,
"Our Leader still."
D.J. (Ex-Student, H.O.E.)