The Parents' Review
A Monthly Magazine of Home-Training and Culture
"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."
The Training of Citizens.
by Miss L. H. Montagu
Miss L. H. Montagu then read the following paper on The Training of Citizens.
Miss Montagu said: Before commencing my paper I should like to offer you an apology for coming before you to-day, for I am not a member of this Union, and have no practical experience in the education of children. I hope, however, that my undeniable incompetency will not prevent you, as experienced thinkers, from giving the subject of my paper the consideration which its supreme difficulty and its supreme importance invite. A Conference like this could hardly terminate satisfactorily without acknowledging that the claims of citizenship are among the most cogent reasons for its existence.
The greatness of a State depends upon the soundness of the philosophical ideas upon which national life is based. In England to-day I would say that our greatness must depend mainly on our belief in the sacredness of family ties, and in our conception of the obligations we owe to the State, and the mutual dependence of these two ideas. To quote [Giuseppe/Joseph] Mazzini, in his  essay on the "Duties of Man":--"We have learned to sanctify the family by unity of love, and made of it the temple wherein we unite to bear sacrifice to our country. We feel to-day that the State requires the home to engender, cherish and develop the ties of love and mutual helpfulness by which society hangs together, and that our children are intrusted to us in order that we may train them for the good of the State, and initiate them, not merely to the joys and desire of life, but to life itself; to its duties and to its moral law of government." By neglecting, or even by undervaluing the importance of this duty, we are not only injuring our children individually, but, as far as in our power lies, we are retarding the progress of the State.
Perhaps I may be allowed to illustrate my statement by drawing your attention to the character of Hamlet as a type of bad citizenship. Here was a man who was utterly unable to recognize the principle of life, so well expressed by Carlyle, in his essay on "Characteristics":--"Doubt as we will, man is not here to ask questions but to do work, and only in free effort can any blessedness be imagained for us. Behind us, behind each one of us, lie six thousand years of human effort, human conquest; before us the boundless time with its, as yet, uncreated and unconquered continents and Eldorados which we, even we, have to conquer, to create; and from the bosom of eternity there shine forth for us, celestial guiding stars." Instead, Hamlet spent his time in purposeless struggling with the mysteries of life and death, with feeble self-analysis, with impotent striving and rebellion and lamentation. His morbid fancy evoked the spirit of his father, and forced upon him, as a filial obligation, the task of bringing retribution on the guilty by his own hand. To this object he devoted the remainder of his life, recognizing no duties which, as the representative of the royal house, he owed to the State, and ready to sacrifice its safety and peace in order to accomplish his revengeful purpose. We may, however, forgive the Prince of Denmark his shortcomings in consideration of the wonderful soliloquies with which he enriched the world, giving expression, as they do, to the passion of doubt and questioning which is inherited by every striving, searching soul in every age and in every clime.
But the duty of training good citizens assumes a practical and serious significance when we consider how inefficiently the work has been done in past generations. This fact is sufficiently proved by there being so many leisure people who are living completely self-centred lives, never considering that the State is a living organism, embracing all those outside as well as those inside their own circle. Many others who lay claim to culture theorize gaily about the conditions of different sections of the population, without for a moment realizing how inextricably interwoven are the lives of these sections with their own. Others, again, revel in the myth that in free countries every man and woman can live and work as best pleases them, and pride themselves on their ignorance concerning matters affecting the common weal of the nation. The thoughts of these people, who are not bad people, but who are people who focus their lives towards mediocrity, and live to be happy without wishing to influence other people's happiness, are the thoughts which contribute to the sum-total of the philosophy upon which the civilization of a country rests. John Morley, in his essay on "Compromise," says, "It is because we believe that opinion and nothing but opinion can effect great permanent changes, that we ought to be careful to keep this most potent force honest, wholesome, fearless and independent."
If, therefore, you are seriously desirous of promoting the welfare of your country, it is all-important that you should individually and as a body arrest, as far as you can, the multiplication of bad citizens, whose existence clogs the wheels of civilization.
I would appeal then, to parents to train their children as potential citizens. As soon as you adopt this point of view, the laws of perspective by which you regard your children's lives are affected, and you can better distinguish between fads and principles in educational theories. You have to ask yourselves:--"What does the State want of my child?" The answer comes to you in something of this sense:--"The State requires that my child should have a serious and worthy purpose in life, and that I should equip him in such a manner that he should have the power to fulfil that purpose adequately." You cannot be sure what work your children may find to do, but your primary duty is to give them the moral strength to do their work thoroughly and well, whatever that work may be. One of Shakespeare's characters says:--"Give me that man that is not passion's slave, and I will wear him in my heart's core, aye, in my heart of hearts." [Hamlet] This, I take it, is the demand of the State, and I would ask you to consider with me the best means of imparting strength through the media of physical and intellectual education.
I shall not have time to dwell on other very important branches, such as manual education, but would ask you to remember that the unifying thread in all your efforts should be the claim of the State for moral strength. Having once accepted this obligation, you will try to make your children as complete people as possible, developing as far as you can each and all of their natural powers, and the moral strength which is acquired through many channels will reveal itself in a variety of forms. I will, however, finally discuss in greater detail the influence of the moral atmosphere which the child draws spontaneously from the home environment, and which is all-important in the development of good citizenship.
Physical education.--The health of the State depends of the good physical development of its individual citizens. No parent has a right to neglect the health of the child for the sake of convenience, or in the cause of worldly ambition, a strong physique being the most important factor in goodness and in happiness. We have much reason for congratulation in the fact that in the last fifty years, two important truths have forced themselves on the English understanding. We have come to realize that physical weakness and womanly grace are not interchangeable terms, inasmuch as a girl's physical development is of as supreme importance as that of a boy. In the second place, we now understand that physical exercise in order to be useful and stimulating must be enjoyable, and the detested daily walk has been more or less given up in favour of a variety of games and delightful exercises. The quickening of the blood which accompanies the pleasurable excitement of these games has a stimulating influence on character. Moreover, it is a fact that in class-drilling, cricket, football and hockey, children learn better than through any other teaching the value of obedience, organization, self-reliance, and self-conquest, which are indispensable in the equipment of good citizens. It is thus that they learn to carry out the precept of Marcus Aurelius:--"Bring your will to your fate, and suit your mind to your circumstances and love those people heartily that it is your fortune to be engaged with. That which is not for the interest of the whole swarm is not for the interest of a single bee." A very wise and courageous woman of my acquaintance once determined to undertake as a career the organization of women in certain trades. She found the girls so averse to regarding their industrial condition from a broad point of view, that she decided to secure her ends by more indirect methods, and she devoted herself to teaching physical exercises to working-women. In these lessons she has been able to inculcate habits of obedience and self-restraint, so that, when the opportunity occurred, her pupils have shown themselves able to take part in movements organized for the general welfare.
Intellectual Education.--In the intellectual sphere of education, much advance has been made in modern times through the comprehension of the word, "Education." For a long time, an educated man was confounded with a learned man, and he who was crammed with knowledge won respect as a scholar. The old-fashioned pedagogue tried to make his pupil a monument of learning; the modern educator handles reverently the fertile child-nature, and discovers the many seeds it has received from God and from humanity, and seeks to develop each and all of these as far as their inherent capabilities will admit. A mediaeval scholar could write elegant Latin and Greek verse and was well acquainted with dialectics. A modern well-educated child is taught some science as well as some classics; the ancient respect for dialectics has almost passed away, and the man who argues for the sake of argument is regarded as a bore. Much attention is being paid nowadays to the cultivation of the imagination. It is the most charming phase in a child's intellect. It delights his teacher and he himself revels in using it. Modern educators appeal to their pupils' imaginations in order to make the children's lessons as attractive as possible, so that they may leave the schoolroom and enter the playground without experiencing any great access of pleasure.
History teaches us how, in the Elizabethan age, a certain unbalanced enthusiasm for correct speaking and writing led to an acute epidemic of affectation, known as Euphuism, which temporarily arrested the growth of stimulating thought. Therefore, although my fears may be groundless, I hope I may be excused for dwelling on some of the tendencies in the modern educational system which I have noted above as beneficial, but which, if their usefulness is exaggerated, may produce results detrimental to the best interests of the State. In teaching many subjects, there is a danger of making knowledge superficial. It is true that the all-round man who can talk agreeably on every conceivable subject is most likely to become a social success. But, unless his knowledge is sound, unless it has been acquired by genuine personal effort, it becomes a peril to the State, because it encourages a false standard of worth. Matthew Arnold says in his essay on "Culture and Anarchy":--"One has often wondered whether upon the whole earth there is anything so unintelligent, so unapt to perceive how the world is really going on, as an ordinary young Englishman of our upper class. Ideas he has none . . . . and when the whim takes him to sing the praises of wealth and material comfort, he sings them with a cynicism from which the conscience of the veriest Philistine of our industrial classes would recoil in affright." And again, "Culture is, or ought to be, the study and pursuit of perfection and that of perfection as pursued by culture, beauty, and intelligence; or, in other words, sweetness and light are the main characters. The State is the power most representing the right reason of the nation and therefore most worthy of ruling, of exercising authority over us all." If you accept the theory that strength is needed above all qualities by the State, you will admit that it is absolutely necessary for children at an early age to realize the existence of difficulties and the necessity of making efforts to overcome them. The main proportion of our duties may be considered irksome. It should be the educator's aim to impart that fortitude and self-forgetfulness, which will enable his pupil to perform all his duties with courage and cheerfulness. It is therefore unwise to discard subjects of supreme disciplinary importance, because their social or commercial value is not directly discernable. Our ancestors, who spent years of labour in trying to answer unanswerable questions, were less sordid and selfish in their ideals. The main object of early education is to give the child a strong and pliant brain, which he may in later life apply to working the material he prefers. Before the age of fifteen, it is of less importance what a child learns than that the discipline should be thorough. Without for a moment wishing to emulate the old pedagogues whom I describe above, I would ask you to reproduce in your new educational system some of the most salutary features of the old. After fifteen, when the stimulus for work comes from within, instead of from without, serious attention must be paid to affording the student every opportunity to acquire those branches of learning which interest him most, and the wisest economy of time must be observed in helping him to obtain the best preparation for the career for which he is intended.
The modern enthusiasm for cultivating the imagination may produce flabby brains incapable of great exertion. It may teach the mind to play in preference to working. Perhaps I may be allowed to illustrate my meaning by a few practical examples. I have known instructors teach their pupils to make with their hands the natural phenomenon which they are describing. It seems to me that the memory as well as the imagination are better trained if the child has to make a mental picture of the islands, capes, bays, etc., and to retain it until some subsequent lesson when he is asked to reveal it. Thus the child's mind works independently, instead of obeying the dictates of a more mature intellect. Then again, a child may thoroughly enjoy to hear his teacher describe exactly the mental, moral, and physical characteristics of an historical personality, until he becomes as familiar to him as his own playmate. But it is more conducive to a child's intellectual development, if he has to draw his own inferences as to a man's character, manners, and customs, after studying his actions in connection with the features of the age in which he lived.
Instead of joining the anti-classical movement of the present day, I would ask you to consider the merits of those teachers who make the study of Greek and Latin the means of exercising the mind in a most stimulating manner. Unlike the old Jesuits, who insisted on much learning by rote, they initiate the children as early as possible in the mystery of tense formation. Discarding grammars, they show the pupil which are the generating part of the verb, and guide him until he has laboriously completed tense after tense. The art of comparing and contrasting is used in the process and gives the child much intellectual enjoyment. Any premature feeling of exultation is checked when the pupil is persuaded that even though he can make the verb, he must, by grinding effort, assimilate the principles of formation and master the elementary parts.
These few illustrations may show you that I do not think it wise to deviate much from the Socratian methods of intellectual education. Socrates' primary aim was to make his disciples seek truth by their own efforts; he guided them by intelligent questioning rather than by imparting information, and if the youths were foolish or lazy, he allowed them to follow out their own line of argument until shamed by the absurdity of their conclusions. Indeed we would do well to imitate Socrates in trying to impress our children with the vastness of wisdom and the degradation of priggishness. They should understand that while life lasts, their education can never be complete, that the seeds of knowledge which their teachers have planted must be cultivated by their own efforts, for finished boys and girls passed out of the world when finishing governesses came into disrepute.
Although I may have seemed to disparage the cultivation of the imagination when it is undertaken consciously by the teacher in order to render his lessons attractive, I quite realize its force in promoting the best happiness to which man is heir. An imaginative person cannot lead a completely sordid life and cannot be completely dragged down by circumstances. Moreover, in his dealings with his fellow-men, he judges less and sympathizes more, if he is gifted with imagination. A conception of the beautiful, and a sympathy with originality, glorify every intellectual treasure. You can stimulate a child's imaginative faculty by many methods, especially, perhaps, by the power of example, which I will discuss later. You can introduce him to the joys of imaginative literature, and, moreover, you can offer him the best scope for his inventive talents by forcing him to depend on his own resources in order to obtain the greatest amount of fun from the passing hour. Even the most stolid will find amusement in "pretending games." Instead, therefore, of devoting every hour of your children's lives to the fulfilment of some definite purpose, instead of allowing them to count on their elders to supply all their amusement, it must be better to leave them to initiate some of their own games, and to encourage them by sympathetic interest to develop their capacity for enjoyment.
Besides the joys of unsuperintended play, it is quite conceivable and highly desirable that lessons should be a source of delight to pupils, even though the teacher's first object is not to render them attractive, and although he may insist on concentrated effort, and may rigidly forbid the scamping of difficulties. He must be sympathetic and encouraging, and must love his work and think no effort too great in its cause. He must be as ready with praise as with blame; he must approve of questions and delight in every triumph made independently by his pupils. In the second place, the child must be susceptible to the attractions of intellectual pleasures, to the enjoyment of feeling his faculties grow, and this mental condition depends chiefly on the impetus he derives from his home atmosphere.
As this factor in the child's training is, from every point of view, the most potent in the development of a good citizen, I will devote the remainder of my paper to its consideration. For, since good citizenship depends on early training rather than on early teaching--and there is a vast difference between these two conceptions--parents cannot delegate their responsibilities to others. You must remember that children are unconscious imitators and learn more readily from example how to adopt a right attitude of mind towards the problems of life, than from precept. It is therefore essential that you should place them in contact with people who are capable of rejecting the sordid elements of life, and distinguishing its essentials from its trivialities. Whether your teachers impart certain subjects well or not, see that they are thorough and earnest in the search after truth, and strong in resisting self-indulgence; see that they are distinguished by modesty and refinement, and then you may trust your children to them and have no fear. And since your children are so much in your company, it is important to realize the dangers of wrangling over trifles, of indulging in personalities in conversation, of appearing uninterested in the affairs of the world outside your own homes, of feigning knowledge which you do not possess, and of allowing selfish considerations to influence your judgment. The habit of thinking may be developed in children through living with people who prefer to find the real meaning of facts to accepting their apparent signification, and who have intellectual initiative. If they are constantly in the society of those to whom the best and most beautiful in life does not appeal, who are only interested in superficial learning, their imagination soon becomes stultified. It is certain, then, that you are responsible for providing the breezy, bracing home atmosphere, which will impart the strength required by the State of your children. In this connection it may not be out of place to quote Plutarch's stimulating description of the Elder Cato as an Educator:--"As soon as the dawn of understanding appeared, Cato took upon himself the office of schoolmaster to his son, though he had a slave named Chilo, who was a respectable grammarian and taught several other children. But he did not choose (he tells us) that his son should be reprimanded by a slave, or pulled by the ears if he happened to be slow at learning; or that he should be indebted to so mean a person for his education. He was, therefore, himself his preceptor in grammar, in law, and in the necessary exercises. For he taught him not only how to throw a dart, to fight hand to hand, and to ride; but to box, to endure heat and cold, and to swim in the roughest and most rapid parts of the river. He wrote histories for him (he further acquaints us) with his own hand in large characters; so that, without stirring out of his father's house, he might gain a knowledge of the illustrious actions of the Ancient Romans, and of the customs of his country. And he was as careful not to utter an indecent word before his son, as he would have been in the presence of the Vestal Virgins."
Besides co-operating with your teachers by creating an inspiring home life, you will be able to give your children in the daily round of home life opportunities for acquiring moral strength through the fulfilment of small duties, and of making them directly responsible for the success or failure of their undertaking. The preparation of the schoolroom for lessons, the putting away of toys without the help of the nurse, the watering of the plants, the arrangement of the stationary, the paying of special attention to some elderly or weak member of the household, are all elementary lessons in citizenship. We often hear girls say that they are willing to work under experienced people, but that they can bear no responsibilities. This weakness is an outcome of the exploded convention that, in public life, men may act under the inspiration of women, but that if they commit mistakes the women escape without blame. Your children must early realize that responsibilities give them a right to live, and that it is cowardly to shirk or try to escape them. It was in order to inculcate the principle of responsibility that Herbert Spencer evolved his educational theories. And, even if you have learned more of child-life since Herbert Spencer wrote his Education, and realize more clearly than he the inspiring forces of conduct, do not disparage his belief in the necessity of making children work out their own salvation. Try to watch your children make their successes and their failures from afar, like a wise and beneficent Providence. As far as possible, do not interfere in the natural law of action and consequence, and you will be preparing them for the day when they will go into the world and act as their conscience dictates, and be strong to take the consequence of that action upon themselves alone.
Besides endeavouring to impress upon your children the necessity of bearing the consequence of their own deeds, establish by an unwritten law in your households a perfect trust in their assertion of fact. If they know that their word will be implicitly believed, they will not feign knowledge which they do not possess. From a wholesome hatred of falsehood, a child comes to recognize the value of truth for its own sake, and to honour it with a life's devotion. So much of the world's misery is caused by indecision, and fostered by the public acquiescence in an acted or spoken lie. Take an ordinary example, the case of A. and B. who have shares in a scurrilous newspaper, which is demoralizing the lives of a certain section of the population; or of C. and D. who allow their agents to trade on the ignorance of their defenceless tenants, in order to let their property at fancy rents and maintain it in disgraceful repair. If these bad citizens had been as children impressed with a sense of personal responsibility, and the degradation of success acquired through falsehood, they could not now shelter themselves under the fiction that business enterprise excuses dishonesty. If you are desirous that your children should have a wholesome hatred of sham honours, I think you should regard with some misgiving the modern rage for making collections. I am not sure whether the uncurbed indulgence in this pursuit may not tend to feed an unworthy passion for possession, until it becomes the mania which Max Nordau in his Degeneration is justified in condemning. If, as in your Natural History Club, the collection of subjects the collector to effort and sacrifice, and although affording him immense pleasure, is never carried on at the expense of others, it can only become a factor for good in the educational system. But, in the April number of the Parents' Review, Mrs. Boole notes the prevalence of a most demoralizing practice among school children. I understand that they not unfrequently engage in a stamp traffic, buying and selling stamps among themselves, and by cultivating a talent for sharp bargaining, and causing an undesirable prominence to be given to children with much pocket-money, they encourage tendencies disastrous to the State.
In order that your children should give honour where honour is due, in order that they should be caring people, and care for worthy rather than unworthy objects, in order that they should not overrate their own value, be careful to introduce simplicity into your home life, and purity into your home ideals. You must therefore be careful not to let family talks degenerate into criticisms of your neighbours' and friends' vanities and weaknesses. Devotion to unworthy ideals ruins families and states. I cannot therefore help deprecating the grandeur of modern treats for children, the richness of the presents that are given to them, and the eagerness of parents and guardians to gratify their every want. If children are allowed to care about the showiness and market value of presents, their capacity for enjoyment is degraded; if their treats are always elaborate and expensive, they are invariably being prepared for future ennui, when the age of delusions is past. Maeterlinck says: "There are only too many who think that what they have cannot be happiness, and therefore it is the duty of such as are happy to prove to others that they only possess what each man possesses deep down in the depths of his heart. To be happy is only to have freed yourself from the unrest of happiness." [Maurice Maeterlinck, Wisdom and Destiny] And again: "We should be as happy as possible, and our happiness should last as long as possible, for those who can finally issue forth from self by the portal of happiness know frequently wider wisdom than those who pass through the gates of sadness. One might almost compare the man who has never been happy with a traveller whose journey had been taken by night. Moreover, there is in happiness a humility deeper, nobler, purer and wider than sorrow can ever procure."
It is, of course, desirable that your children should join you in your cult of happiness, but you have to make that cult worthy of your devotion by approaching your object as near as possible to Goethe's ideal of blessedness. It must be happiness that results from self-restraint and from self-sacrifice, and which demands the contribution of all the material, intellectual and moral possessions with which you are endowed to the pursuit of some object beyond and above them all.
It is indispensable to the welfare of the State that children should learn to bear difficulties and trials with cheerfulness and good temper. If you try to save them from every small discomfort, you are merely postponing lessons in endurance to a time when lessons are invariably accompanied by pain. Whether the trials are the result of their own actions, or whether they are the outcome of circumstances over which they have no control, they must learn to adjust themselves to their existence, and bear them with a courageous spirit. Emerson says in his essay on "Compensation":--"The good man has absolute good, which, like fire turns everything to its own nature, so that you cannot do him any harm. As the royal armies sent against Napoleon, when he approached cast down their colours and from enemies became friends, so disasters of all kinds, as sickness, offence, poverty, prove benefactors."
"Winds blow and waters roll
Dean Farrar, [Frederic William Farrar, 1831-1903, Dean of Canterbury] in speaking an In Memoriam sermon on General Garfield, reminds us how he learned, in the forest log-hut where he was born, the duty of making himself a man, and with this object well in his mind he made all the hardships of his early life the stepping-stones to higher things. After attempting several rough apprenticeships, including blacksalting and barge-work, he determined to become a scholar, and secured instruction in return for personal service. When war broke out between North and South America, he threw himself into the cause of liberty, and became a General. Having secured the esteem of his countrymen by his bravery, he was elected at the age of 50 President of the United States. The lesson of his life is expressed in his own words, addressed to an audience of youths:--"Occasion cannot make you spurs, young men. If you expect to wear spurs, you must win them; if you wish to use them, you must buckle them to your own heels before you go into the fight. Whatever you win in life you must conquer by your own efforts." To Garfield, Dean Farrar applies the words used by Sir Galahad of old:--
"My good blade carves the casques of men,
Perhaps the most healthy agent in producing a good mental balance, of which cheerfulness is merely the expression, is kindly chaff among members of a family. If boys and girls have from their earliest youth been laughed out of little tempers and vanities, if at home someone was always ready to see the humour in annoying situations, the memory of home will be always be associated with the necessity to bear the vicissitudes of life pluckily. It is for parents to prevent this chaff from becoming unkind in intention, attacking real infirmities, or provoking undeserved pain. If properly administered it becomes a useful weapon in combatting conceit and self-righteousness, and these two weaknesses indeed need to be overcome by the youth of this generation. They can be even more successfully counteracted by the early inculcation of habits of absolute obedience and of respect. The self-analytical child is a human aberration, and he is always conceited. Until years of discretion are reached, it is essential that a child should trust and obey implicitly those in charge of his life. Similarly, if later you want him to believe in the existence of greatness in human life, and to bow his head and do reverence when he is in the presence of those who, even if their methods are not immediately comprehensible, do unquestionably seek the good, the beautiful, and the true, you must from the beginning insist on his treating with respect those older than himself. It is for several reasons satisfactory that modern children are not shy, but it is immensely jarring to see them treat their elders as equals, or as people existing only for the sake of giving them amusement. Good manners are not superficial veneer; they are the outward revelation of a spirit of reverence, and can therefore be found in all classes of society. The old Wyckhamite motto, "Manners makyth man," acquires new and more inspiring truth by being reversed. Perhaps the most important teaching that home life can provide is that of mutual helpfulness and of mutual dependence. If you wish your children to become good citizens, you must by example and by precept establish peace in your households. See that every member contributes to this peace, and that all are ready to unite for a worthy purpose. If you have taught your children the power of Divine Love, and the imperative duty of imitating it with reverence and obedience, they will realize that the best form of praise is a happy and united home. Those who quarrel, whatever their pretext, must be forced to make peace for themselves, and no day of rest should be allowed to dawn in a troubled atmosphere of home life. If you encourage the elder children to look after the younger, and make them share each others' pleasures and troubles, you will be training them in habits useful to the State, and will be nourishing those principles of love upon which the existence of society depends. If one of your children is in disgrace, see that the others do not exult over his fall. There is, I think, nothing more revolting in child-life than the sanctimonious airs of a child, who, having had a good day himself, derives an additional glow from hearing of his brother's punishment.
Again, it is necessary that children should treat with respect and consideration the servants of the household, and feel that they are all united to do God's will. Children can be further taught the obligations they owe to their neighbours, by being brought into occasional contact with people of a lower social position, and learning that it is incumbent on gentle breeding to treat everybody with consideration and gentleness. A knowledge of other people's wants may in time be followed by a desire to satisfy them. Therefore, it is well for children gradually to learn that they have a share and a responsibility in the shame and misery of the world, as well as in its glories and joys. I once saw a drunken woman come into the midst of a happy children's party gathered in the country. She had come up attracted by the noise of laughter and frolic. The children were at first half-frightened; they looked at their elders and saw them watching with amused interest the grotesque movements of the unfortunate woman. At last one man came forward, with true chivalry, and gently took the woman's arm and led her away. Here was an opportunity for the parents to show their children that the woman was a child of God, and loved by Him even as they were. Similar accidents occur constantly, and without unnecessarily saddening the young by allowing them to ponder unduly over them, you can gradually teach your children that when they are grown up they will have to ask themselves whether directly or indirectly they help to perpetuate any form of human misery, and unless they can answer by an honest negative, their sin will be in proportion to the opportunity they have had for right living.
In a short paper it is impossible to analyse more thoroughly the important part played by home life in the training of citizens. If as parents you realize the responsibility of your mission and earnestly seek to fulfil it, you will assuredly not fail in your endeavours. Aristotle teaches that while the end of earlier forms of society is simply life, the end of a State is good life. The law and education of the State will make the citizens good and just men, enjoying a perfect and self-sufficing life, and developing the unimpeded activity of their moral and intellectual existence. Professor Worde Fowler shows us that the disease which caused the decay of the city-state of the Greeks and Romans was that called by the Greeks "Stasis," of which the symptoms are shown in the selfish conflict of interest. Aristotle suggests two cures for this disease; the first, the creation of a strong moderate or middle class in the state, and the second, "Education," with a view to the training of citizens. It is with the second specific that we have to deal to-day, for even in England we are threatened with a visitation of the fell disease. For on all sides we see unions of different sections of society for the benefit of each against the interest of all. Through education alone can we secure the cohesion of society and its progress towards the ideal of perfect justice. If your children are strong enough to share the difficulties of corporate life, you need not, I think, trouble greatly as to what direction their energy will take. Be sure that every child of yours realizes the necessity to work in order to justify existence, and the selfishness of living in a community without contributing to its happiness. Then wait and watch. I deprecate rather the modern rage of doing social work, whether one is fitted for it or not. Teach your children to do the work they can do well and to "look up" throughout the process. Whether, after going through a careful training which has disciplined their desire to help, they enter the arena of active work and grapple with the problems of modern life, or whether they devote themselves more indirectly to the public welfare, be sure that the understanding love which you have implanted in their hearts will and must, by a natural and immutable law, bear fruit in the service of the State. Do not let your children grow into "flabby saints"; do not let their lamps be unlit and their loins ungirt; do not let them waste their lives in the misery of indecision. Teach them Browning's verse:--
"What is our failure here but a triumph's evidence,
Show them that the love of God includes the love of man, and they cannot shut the world from them as they are part of it; that they violate the law of life unless they bear witness to the unity of the human family by helping every human creature suffering from any form of tyranny whatever, that they are stewards of every moral, mental, physical, or intellectual possession which they have inherited or acquired, and are responsible for their proper use. Then they will contribute, by their right thinking, to the progress of the philosophical ideas upon which, as I said at the outset of my paper, the greatness of the State depends.
Lady Campbell: I really have not words in which to express my deep appreciation--in which I am sure you will all join--of Miss Montagu's noble conceptions of citizenship in the deepest and widest sense of the word. I think that Matthew Arnold's scathing criticism of the young aristocrat--whom, I think, he calls "the barbarian"--is not so true or justifiable as it might have been in the time when he wrote. I think that the conscientious discharge of the duties of high position is more frequent now than it used ot be. (Hear, hear.) Men and women appreciate more fully the duties and responsibilities of citizenship than they used to do. There are the District Councils and Boards and other works in which so many take an active part nowadays. (Hear, hear.) Then there is another aspect of the subject referred to by Miss Montagu--that is, teaching children to appreciate the constitution of their country, and this, I think, is very valuable. (Hear, hear.) I think it is right that children should be taught to appreciate the fact that they are citizens, and that their patriotism should be aroused, without, however, any party rancour, or being made to think that all virtues are to be found on one side only. And it is for mothers, before they attempt to teach in this direction, to learn something about such matters themselves. I think it is terrible how ignorant women are in regard to politics in these days. It may not always be practicable for women to read the long leaders which their husbands read, but they should understand and take interest in the great events of their country. I think that women might read a little more in this direction, and I have a short list of books, and might mention one which I have found very useful--I mean Bagehot's English Constitution. This would be a good book, I think for mothers to read and understand, so that they might teach the unconscious mind, or rather, train the unconscious mind about which Mrs. Boole spoke. Then [John Stuart] Mill's On Liberty, and Considerations Representative Government, and Citizenship, published by Blackie; and Rangland's Elementary Politics. For our young children there is a book which I think would teach them something about the constitution of their country--it is Buchan's National Institutions. Then, I think, it would be very good to let the children see such places as Westminster Abbey and the Courts of Justice. All this, I think, would stimulate their interest in their own country and those about them. These thoughts seem to rise out of Miss Montagu's paper, which, let me repeat, I have found deeply stimulating, and which I think I shall never forget. (Applause.)
Mrs. Wager: I should like to ask Miss Montagu whether she does not think that children should be taught to respect their parents on account of the amount of labour and attention devoted to them; and should they also not be taught something in early life of the value of money?
Miss Montagu: Yes, I certainly agree that children should be taught the value of money. I think Canon Lyttelton insists upon that.
Lady Campbell: I should like to add that I fully agree with what Miss Montagu said about the entertainments provided by parents for their children. I have been glad to see that it is not natural for children, except, perhaps, in rare instances, to value gifts according to their real, intrinsic value. (Hear, hear.) A penny toy out of the street is often liked more than an expensive gift, which the child may play with, but soon throws aside. I think the simpler the children's entertainments are, the better. (Applause.)
Miss E. J. Troop: Might I mention a point which occurred to me in connection with Miss Montagu's paper.
I think Miss Montagu implied that the self-analytical child was almost always conceited, but does not self-analysis rather lead to self-distrust?
Mrs. Gray: I have always found that the child that was self-analytical of its own thoughts and emotions was not, as a rule, conceited.
Miss Montagu: Perhaps my remarks on this point were a little too general, but I think it is better that a child should feel that he or she should do the right things, instead of thinking too much about the things. (Hear, hear.)
Mrs. Boole: There is just one remark which I should like to make, and which, perhaps, seems quite obvious, although I think it is not obvious to everybody. It was not Hamlet that wrote Hamlet, and if you let your children grow into "Hamlety" moods, they will not necessarily become poets. (Laughter, and hear, hear.) I think it is important to make people understand that the person who does the work is to have the credit. Then as to the behaviour of the children. I think that they should be made, when they pay money over the counter, to say "Thank-you." (Laughter, and hear, hear.) When a child meets a beggar and gives him a penny, that is a question of pity, and the child should look upon it in that light; but when a child gives money to an organ-grinder, he or she should be made to understand that the money is not given as to a beggar, but for something which the child wanted, and that the money should not, in that case, be given in contemptuous pity. (Hear, hear.)
Lady Campbell: Before we disperse, I think we ought to express our pleasure at the success of this our third Conference. I am sure all this will give the greatest pleasure to Miss Mason, and especially the fact that so many parents appreciate this Union.
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A meeting was held the same day at 12 noon for Local Secretaries, Branch Representatives and Members, which was well attended.
Proofread by LNL, May 2020
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