THE EDUCATION OF CATHOLIC GIRLS
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PUBLIC SCHOOLS FOR GIRLS. A Series of Papers by Nineteen Headmistresses dealing with the History, Curricula, and Aims of Public Secondary Schools for Girls. Edited by SARA A. BURSTALL, Headmistress of the Manchester High School, and M. A. DOUGLAS, Headmistress of the Godolphin School, Salisbury. Crown 8vo, 4s. 6d. THE DAWN OF CHARACTER. A Study of Child Life. By EDITH E. READ MUMFORD, M.A., Cloth-workers' Scholar, Girton College, Cambridge, Lecturer on 'Child Training' at the Princess Christian Training College for Nurses, Manchester. Crown 8vo, 3s. 6d, NOTES OF LESSONS ON THE HERBARTIAN METHOD (based on Herbart's Plan). By M. FENNELL and Members of a Teaching Staff. With a Preface by M. FENNELL, Lecturer on Education. Crown 8vo, 3s. 6d. SCIENCE OF EDUCATION. By T. P. KEATING, B.A., L.C.P. With an Introduction by Rev. T. A. FINLAY, M.A., National University, Dublin. Crown 8vo, 2s. 6d. net. TALKS TO TEACHERS ON PSYCHOLOGY AND TO STUDENTS ON SOME OF LIFE'S IDEALS. By WILLIAM JAMES, formerly Professor of Philosophy at Harvard University. Crown 8vo, 4s. 6d. EDUCATION AND THE NEW UTILITARIANISM, and other Educational Addresses. By ALEXANDER DARROCH, M.A., Professor of Education in the University of Edinburgh. Crown 8vo, 3s. 6d. net. EDUCATION AND PSYCHOLOGY. By MICHAEL WEST, Indian Education Service. Crown 8vo, 5s. net.
Longmans, Green and Co., London, New York, Bombay, Calcutta, and Madras.
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THE EDUCATION OF CATHOLIC GIRLS
JANET ERSKINE STUART
With a Preface by Cardinal Bourne Archbishop of Westminster
Longmans, Green and Co. 39 Paternoster Row, London Fourth Avenue & 30th Street, New York Bombay, Calcutta, and Madras
Fourth Impression 1914
Nihil Obstat: F. THOS. BERGH, O.S.B.
Imprimatur: FRANOISOUS CARD. BOURNE ABCHIEPOS WESIMONAST,
die 1 Januarii, 1912.
We have had many treatises on education in recent years; many regulations have been issued by Government Departments; enormous sums of money are contributed annually from private and public sources for the improvement and development of education. Are the results in any degree proportioned to all these repeated and accumulated efforts? It would not be easy to find one, with practical experience of education, ready to give an unhesitatingly affirmative answer. And the explanation of the disappointing result obtained is very largely to be found in the neglect of the training of the will and character, which is the foundation of all true education. The programmes of Government, the grants made if certain conditions are fulfilled, the recognition accorded to a school if it conforms to a certain type, these things may have raised the standard of teaching, and forced attention to subjects of learning which were neglected; they have done little to promote education in the real sense of the term. Nay, more than this, the insistence on certain types of instruction which they have compelled has in too many cases paralysed the efforts of teachers who in their hearts were striving after a better way.
The effect on some of our Catholic schools of the newer methods has not been free from harm. Compelled by force of circumstances, parental or financial, to throw themselves into the current of modern educational effort, they have at the same time been obliged to abandon the quieter traditional ways which, while making less display, left a deeper impress on the character of their pupils. Others have had the courage to cling closely to hallowed methods built up on the wisdom and experience of the past, and have united with them all that was not contradictory in recent educational requirements. They may, thereby, have seemed to some waiting in sympathy with the present, and attaching too great value to the past. The test of time will probably show that they have given to both past and present an equal share in their consideration.
It will certainly be of singular advantage to those who are engaged in the education of Catholic girls to have before them a treatise written by one who has had a long and intimate experience of the work of which she writes. Loyal in every word to the soundest traditions of Catholic education, the writer recognizes to the full that the world into which Catholic girls pass nowadays on leaving school is not the world of a hundred, or of fifty, or of even thirty years ago. But this recognition brings out, more clearly than anything else could do, the great and unchanging fact that the formation of heart and will and character is, and must be always, the very root of the education of a child; and it also shows forth the new fact that at no time has that formation been more needed than at the present day.
The pages of this book are well worthy of careful pondering and consideration, and they will be of special value both to parents and to teachers, for it is in their hands and in their united, and not opposing action, that the educational fate of the children lies.
But I trust that the thoughts set forth upon these pages will not escape either the eyes or the thoughts of those who are the public custodians and arbiters of education in this country. The State is daily becoming more jealous in its control of educational effort in England. Would that its wisdom were equal to its jealousy. We might then be delivered from the repeated attempts to hamper definite religious teaching in secondary schools, by the refusal of public aid where the intention to impart it is publicly announced; and from the discouragement continually arising from regulations evidently inspired by those who have no personal experience of the work to be accomplished, and who decline to seek information from those to whom such work is their very life. It cannot, surely, be for the good of our country that the stored-up experience of educational effort of every type should be disregarded in favour of rigid rules and programmes; or that zeal and devotion in the work of education are to be regarded as valueless unless they be associated with so-called undenominational religion. The Catholic Church in this and in every country has centuries of educational tradition in her keeping. She has no more ardent wish than to place it all most generously at the service of the commonwealth, and to take her place in every movement that will be to the real advantage of the children upon whom the future of the world depends. And we have just ground for complaint when the conditions on which alone our co-operation will be allowed are of such a character as to make it evident that we are not intended to have any real place in the education of our country.
May this treatise so ably written be a source of guidance and encouragement to those who are giving their lives to the education of Catholic children, and at the same time do something to dispel the distrust and to overcome the hostility shown in high quarters towards every Catholic educational endeavour.
FRANCIS CARDINAL BOURNE, ARCHBISHOP OF WESTMINSTER.
PREFACE INTRODUCTION CHAPTER I. RELIGION II. CHARACTER. I. III. CHARACTER. II. IV. THE ELEMENTS OF CATHOLIC PHILOSOPHY V. THE REALITIES OF LIFE VI. LESSONS AND PLAY VII. MATHEMATICS, NATURAL SCIENCE, AND NATURE STUDY VIII. ENGLISH IX. MODERN LANGUAGES X. HISTORY XI. ART XII. MANNERS XIII. HIGHER EDUCATION OF WOMEN XIV. CONCLUSION APPENDIX I APPENDIX II INDEX
Pair though it be, to watch unclose The nestling glories of a rose, Depth on rich depth, soft fold on fold; Though fairer he it, to behold Stately and sceptral lilies break To beauty, and to sweetness wake: Yet fairer still, to see and sing, One fair thing is, one matchless thing: Youth, in its perfect blossoming. LIONEL JOHNSON.
A book was published in the United States in 1910 with the title, EDUCATION: HOW OLD THE NEW. A companion volume might be written with a similar title, EDUCATION: HOW NEW THE OLD, and it would only exhibit another aspect of the same truth.
This does not pretend to be that possible companion volume, but to present a point of view which owes something both to old and new, and to make an appeal for the education of Catholic girls to have its distinguishing features recognized and freely developed in view of ultimate rather than immediate results.
"Oh! say not, dream not, heavenly notes To childish ears are vain, That the young mind at random floats, And cannot reach the strain.
"Dim or unheard, the words may fall. And yet the Heaven-taught mind May learn the sacred air, and all The harmony unwind." KEBLE.
The principal educational controversies of the present day rage round the teaching of religion to children, but they are more concerned with the right to teach it than with what is taught, in fact none of the combatants except the Catholic body seem to have a clear notion of what they actually want to teach, when the right has been secured. It is not the controversy but the fruits of it that are here in question, the echoes of battle and rumours of wars serve to enhance the importance of the matter, the duty of making it all worth while, and using to the best advantage the opportunities which are secured at the price of so many conflicts.
The duty is twofold, to God and to His children. God, who entrusts to us their religious education, has a right to be set before them as truly, as nobly, as worthily as our capacity allows, as beautifully as human language can convey the mysteries of faith, with the quietness and confidence of those who know and are not afraid, and filial pride in the Christian inheritance which is ours. The child has a right to learn the best that it can know of God, since the happiness of its life, not only in eternity but even in time, is bound up in that knowledge. Most grievous wrong has been done, and is still done, to children by well-meaning but misguided efforts to "make them good" by dwelling on the vengeance taken by God upon the wicked, on the possibilities of wickedness in the youngest child. Their impressionable minds are quite ready to take alarm, they are so small, and every experience is so new; there are so many great forces at work which can be dimly guessed at, and to their vivid imaginations who can say what may happen next? If the first impressions of God conveyed to them are gloomy and terrible, a shadow may be cast over the mind so far-reaching that perhaps a whole lifetime may not carry them beyond it. They hear of a sleepless Bye that ever watches, to see them doing wrong, an Bye from which they cannot escape. There is the Judge of awful severity who admits no excuse, who pursues with relentless perseverance to the very end and whose resources for punishment are inexhaustible. What wonder if a daring and defiant spirit turns at last and stands at bay against the resistless Avenger, and if in later years the practical result is—"if we may not escape, let us try to forget," or the drifting of a whole life into indifference, languor of will, and pessimism that border on despair.
Parents could not bear to be so misrepresented to their children, and what condemnation would be sufficient for teachers who would turn the hearts of children against their father, poisoning the very springs of life. Yet this wrong is done to God. In general, children taught by their own parents do not suffer so much from these misrepresentations of God, as those who have been left with servants and ignorant teachers, themselves warped by a wrong early training. Fathers and mothers must have within themselves too much intuition of the Fatherhood of God not to give another tone to their teaching, and probably it is from fathers and mothers, as they are in themselves symbols of God's almighty power and unmeasured love, that the first ideas of Him can best reach the minds of little children.
But it is rare that circumstances admit the continuance of this best instruction. For one reason or another children pass on to other teachers and, except for what can be given directly by the clergy, must depend on them for further religious instruction. This further teaching, covering, say, eight years of school life, ten to eighteen, falls more or less into two periods, one in which the essentials of Christian life and doctrine have to be learned, the other in which more direct preparation may be made for the warfare of faith which must be encountered when the years of school life are over. It is a great stewardship to be entrusted with the training of God's royal family of children, during these years on which their after life almost entirely depends, and "it is required among stewards that a man may be found faithful." For other branches of teaching it is more easy to ascertain that the necessary qualifications are not wanting, but in this the qualifications lie so deeply hidden between God and the conscience that they must often be taken for granted, and the responsibility lies all the more directly with the teacher who has to live the life, as well as to know the truth, and love both truth and life in order to make them loved. These are qualifications that are never attained, because they must always be in process of attainment, only one who is constantly growing in grace and love and knowledge can give the true appreciation of what that grace and love and knowledge are in their bearing on human life: to be rather than to know is therefore a primary qualification. Inseparably bound up with it is the thinking right thoughts concerning what is to be taught.
1. To have right thoughts of God. It would seem to be too obvious to need statement, yet experience shows that this fundamental necessity is not always secure, far from it. It is not often put into words, but traces may be found only too easily of foundations of religion laid in thoughts of God that are unworthy of our faith. Whence can they have come? Doubtless in great measure from the subtle spirit of Jansenism which spread so widely in its day and is so hard to outlive—from remains of the still darker spirit of Calvinism which hangs about convert teachers of a rigid school—from vehement and fervid spiritual writers, addressing themselves to the needs of other times—perhaps most of all from the old lie which was from the beginning, the deep mistrust of God which is the greatest triumph of His enemy. God is set forth as if He were encompassed with human limitations—the fiery imagery of the Old Testament pressed into the service of modern and western minds, until He is made to seem pitiless, revengeful, exacting, lying in wait to catch His creatures in fault, and awaiting them at death with terrible surprises.
But this is not what the Church and the Gospels have to say about Him to the children of the kingdom. If we could put into words our highest ideals of all that is most lovely and lovable, beautiful, tender, gracious, liberal, strong, constant, patient, unwearying, add what we can, multiply it a million times, tire out our imagination beyond it, and then say that it is nothing to what He is, that it is the weakest expression of His goodness and beauty, we shall give a poor idea of God indeed, but at least, as far as it goes, it will be true, and it will lead to trustfulness and friendship, to a right attitude of mind, as child to father, and creature to Creator. We speak as we believe, there is an accent of sincerity that carries conviction if we speak of God as we believe, and if we believe truly, we shall speak of Him largely, trustfully, and happily, whether in the dogmas of our faith, or as we find His traces and glorious attributes in the world around us, as we consider the lilies of the field and the birds of the air, or as we track with reverent and unprecipitate following the line of His providential government in the history of the world.
The need of right thoughts of God is also deeply felt on the side of our relations to Him, and that especially in our democratic times when sovereignty is losing its meaning. There are free and easy ideas of God, as if man might criticize and question and call Him to account, and have his say on the doings of the Creator. It is not explanation or apology that answer these, but a right thought of God makes them impossible, and this right thought can only be given if we have it ourselves. The Fatherhood of God and the Sovereignty of God are foundations of belief which complete one another, and bear up all the superstructure of a child's understanding of Christian life.
2. Eight ideas of ourselves and of our destiny. It is a pity that evil instead of good is made a prominent feature of religious teaching. To be haunted by the thought of evil and the dread of losing our soul, as if it were a danger threatening us at every step, is not the most inspiring ideal of life; quiet, steady, unimaginative fear and watchfulness is harder to teach, but gives a stronger defence against sin than an ever present terror; while all that belongs to hope awakens a far more effective response to good. Some realization of our high destiny as heirs of heaven is the strongest hold that the average character can have to give steadiness in prosperity and courage in adversity. Chosen souls will rise higher than this, but if the average can reach so far as this they will do well.
3. Eight ideas of sin and evil. It is possible on the one hand to give such imperfect ideas of right and wrong that all is measured by the mere selfish standard of personal security. The frightened question about some childish wrong-doing—"is it a mortal sin?" often indicates that fear of punishment is the only aspect under which sin appears to the mind; while a satisfied tone in saying "it is only a venial sin" looks like a desire to see what liberties may be taken with God without involving too serious consequences to self. "It is wrong" ought to be enough, and the less children talk of mortal sin the better—to talk of it, to discuss with them whether this or that is a mortal sin, accustoms them to the idea. When they know well the conditions which make a sin grave without illustrations by example which are likely to obscure the subject rather than clear it up, when their ideas of right and duty and obligation are clear, when "I ought" has a real meaning for them, we shall have a stronger type of character than that which is formed on detailed considerations of different degrees of guilt.
On the other hand it is possible to confuse and torment children by stories of the exquisite delicacy of the consciences of the saints, as St. Aloysius, setting before them a standard that is beyond their comprehension or their degree of grace, and making them miserable because they cannot conform to it.
It is a great safeguard against sin to realize that duty must be done, at any cost, and that Christianity means self-denial and taking up the cross.
4. Eight thoughts of the four last things. True thoughts of death are not hard for children to grasp, to their unspoiled faith it is a simple and joyful thing to go to God. Later on the dreary pageantry and the averted face of the world from that which is indeed its doom obscure the Christian idea, and the mind slips back to pagan grief, as if there were no life to come.
Eight thoughts of judgment are not so hard to give if the teaching is sincere and simple, free from exaggerations and phantoms of dread, and on the other hand clear from an incredulous protest against God's holding man responsible for his acts.
But to give right thoughts of hell and heaven taxes the best resources of those who wish to lay foundations well, for they are to be foundations for life, and the two lessons belong together, corner-stones of the building, to stand in view as long as it shall stand and never to be forgotten.
The two lessons belong together as the final destiny of man, fixed by his own act, this or that. And they have to be taught with all the force and gravity and dignity which befits the subject, and in such a way that after years will find nothing to smile at and nothing to unlearn. They have to be taught as the mind of the present time can best apprehend them, not according to the portraiture of mediaeval pictures, but in a language perhaps not more true and adequate in itself but less boisterous and more comprehensible to our self-conscious and introspective moods. Father Faber's treatment of these last things, hell and heaven, would furnish matter for instruction not beyond the understanding of those in their last years at school, and of a kind which if understood must leave a mark upon the mind for life. [1 See Appendix I.]
5. Eight views of Jesus Christ and His mother. For Catholic children this relationship is not a thing far off, but the faith which teaches them of God Incarnate bids them also understand that He is their own "God who gives joy to their youth"—and that His mother is also theirs. There are many incomprehensible things in which children are taught to affirm their belief, and the acts of faith in which they recite these truths are far beyond their understanding. But they can and do understand if we take pains to teach them that they are loved by Our Lord each one alone, intimately and personally, and asked to love in return. "Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not," is not for them a distant echo of what was heard long ago in the Holy Land, it is no story, but a living reality of to day. They are themselves the children who are invited to come to Him, better off indeed than those first called, since they are not now rebuked or kept off by the Apostles but brought to the front and given the first places, invited by order of His Vicar from their earliest years to receive the Bread of Heaven, and giving delight to His representatives on earth by accepting the invitation.
It is the reality as contrasted with the story that is the prerogative of the Catholic child. Jesus and Mary are real, and are its own closest kin, all but visible, at moments intensely felt as present. They are there in joy and in trouble, when every one else fails in understanding or looks displeased there is this refuge, there is this love which always forgives, and sets things right, and to whom nothing is unimportant or without interest. Companionship in loneliness, comfort in trouble, relief in distress, endurance in pain are all to be found in them. With Jesus and Mary what is there in the whole world of which a Catholic child should be afraid. And this glorious strength of theirs made perfect in child-martyrs in many ages will make them again child-martyrs now if need be, or confessors of the holy faith as they are not seldom called upon, even now, to show themselves.
There is a strange indomitable courage in children which has its deep springs in these Divine things; the strength which they find in Holy Communion and in their love for Jesus and Mary is enough to overcome in them all weakness and fear.
6. Eight thoughts of the faith and practice of Christian life. And here it is necessary to guard against what is childish, visionary, and exuberant, against things that only feed the fancy or excite the imagination, against practices which are adapted to other races than ours, but with us are liable to become unreal and irreverent, against too vivid sense impressions and especially against attaching too much importance to them, against grotesque and puerile forms of piety, which drag down the beautiful devotions to the saints until they are treated as inhabitants of a superior kind of doll's house, rewarded and punished, scolded and praised, endowed with pet names, and treated so as to become objects of ridicule to those who do not realize that these extravagances may be in other countries natural forms of peasant piety when the grace of intimacy with the saints has run wild. In northern countries a greater sobriety of devotion is required if it is to have any permanent influence on life.
But again, on the other hand, the more restrained devotion must not lose its spontaneity; so long as it is the true expression of faith it can hardly be too simple, it can never be too intimate a part of common life. Noble friendships with the saints in glory are one of the most effectual means of learning heavenly-mindedness, and friendships formed in childhood will last through a lifetime. To find a character like one's own which has fought the same fight and been crowned, is an encouragement which obtains great victories, and to enter into the thoughts of the saints is to qualify oneself here below for intercourse with the citizens of heaven.
To be well grounded in the elements of faith, and to have been so taught that the practice of religion has become the atmosphere of a happy life, to have the habit of sanctifying daily duties, joys, and trials by the thought of God, and a firm resolve that nothing shall be allowed to draw the soul away from Him, such is, broadly speaking, the aim we may set before ourselves for the end of the years of childhood, after which must follow the more difficult years of the training of youth.
The time has gone by when the faith of childhood might be carried through life and be assailed by no questionings from without. A faith that is not armed and ready for conflict stands a poor chance of passing victoriously through its trials, it cannot hope to escape from being tried. "We have laboured successfully," wrote a leading Jewish Freemason in Rome addressing his Brotherhood, "in the great cities and among the young men; it remains for us to carry out the work in the country districts and amongst the women." Words could not be plainer to show what awaits the faith of children when they come out into the world; and even in countries where the aim is not so clearly set forth the current of opinion mostly sets against the faith, the current of the world invariably does so. For faith to hold on its course against all that tends to carry it away, it is needful that it should not be found unprepared. The minds of the young cannot expect to be carried along by a Catholic public opinion, there will be few to help them, and they must learn to stand by themselves, to answer for themselves, to be challenged and not afraid to speak out for their faith, to be able to give "first aid" to unsettled minds and not allow their own to be unsettled by what they hear. They must learn that, as Father Dalgairns points out, their position in the world is far more akin to that of Christians in the first centuries of the Church than to the life that was lived in the middle ages when the Church visibly ruled over public opinion. Now, as in the earliest ages, the faithful stand in small assemblies or as individuals amid cold or hostile surroundings, and individual faith and sanctity are the chief means of extending the kingdom of God on earth.
But this apostleship needs preparation and training. The early teaching requires to be seasoned and hardened to withstand the influences which tend to dissolve faith and piety; by this seasoning faith must be enlightened, and piety become serene and grave, "sedate," as St. Francis of Sales would say with beautiful commentary. In the last years of school or school-room life the mind has to be gradually inured to the harder life, to the duty of defending as well as adorning the faith, and to gain at least some idea of the enemies against which defence must be made. It is something even to know what is in the air and what may be expected that the first surprise may not disturb the balance of the mind. To know that in the Church there have been sorrows and scandals, without the promises of Christ having failed, and even that it had to be so, fulfilling His word, "it must needs be that scandals come" (St. Matthew XVIII. 7), that they are therefore rather a confirmation than a stumbling-block to our faith, this is a necessary safeguard. To have some unpretentious knowledge of what is said and thought concerning Holy Scripture, to know at least something about Modernism and other phases of current opinion is necessary, without making a study of their subtilties, for the most insecure attitude of mind for girls is to think they know, in these difficult questions, and the best safeguard both of their faith and good sense is intellectual modesty. Without making acquaintance in detail with the phenomena of spiritualism and kindred arts or sciences, it is needful to know in a plain and general way why they are forbidden by the Church, and also to know how those who have lost their balance and peace of mind in these pursuits would willingly draw back, but find it next to impossible to free themselves from the servitude in which they are entangled. It is hard for some minds to resist the restless temptation to feel, to see, to test and handle all that life can offer of strange and mysterious experiences, and next to the curb of duty comes the safeguard of greatly valuing freedom of mind.
Curiosity concerning evil or dangerous knowledge is more impetuous when a sudden emancipation of mind sweeps the old landmarks and restraints out of sight, and nothing has been foreseen which can serve as a guide. Then is the time when weak places in education show themselves, when the least insincerity in the presentment of truth brings its own punishment, and a faith not pillared and grounded in all honesty is in danger of failing. The best security is to have nothing to unlearn, to know that what one knows is a very small part of what can be known, but that as far as it goes it is true and genuine, and cannot be outgrown, that it will stand both the wear of time and the test of growing power of thought, and that those who have taught these beliefs will never have to retract or be ashamed of them, or own that they were passed off, though inadequate, upon the minds of children.
It is not unusual to meet girls who are troubled with "doubts" as to faith and difficulties which alarm both them and their friends. Sometimes when these "doubts" are put into words they turn out to be mere difficulties, and it has not been understood that "ten thousand difficulties do not make a doubt." Sometimes the difficulties are scarcely real, and come simply from catching up objections which they do not know how to answer, and think unanswerable. Sometimes a spirit of contradiction has been aroused, and a captious tendency, or a love of excitement and sensationalism, with a wish to see the other side. Sometimes imperfect teaching has led them to expect the realization of things as seen, which are only to be assented to as believed, so that there is a hopeless effort to imagine, to feel, and to feel sure, to lean in some way upon what the senses can verify, and the acquiescence, assent, and assurance of faith seems all insufficient to give security. Sometimes there is genuine ignorance of what is to be believed, and of what it is to believe. Sometimes it is merely a question of nerves, a want of tone in the mind, insufficient occupation and training which has thrown the mind back upon itself to its own confusion. Sometimes they come from want of understanding that there must be mysteries in faith, and a multitude of questions that do not admit of complete answers, that God would not be God if the measure of our minds could compass His, that the course of His Providence must transcend our experience and judgment, and that if the truths of faith forced the assent of our minds all the value of that assent would be taken away. If these causes and a few others were removed one may ask oneself how many "doubts" and difficulties would remain in the ordinary walks of Catholic life.
It seems to be according to the mind of the Church in our days to turn the minds of her children to the devotional study of Scripture, and if this is begun, as it may be, in the early years of education it gains an influence which is astonishing. The charm of the narrative in the very words of Scripture, and the jewels of prayer and devotion which may be gathered in the Sacred Books, are within the reach of children, and they prepare a treasure of knowledge and love which will grow in value during a lifetime. Arms are there, too, against many difficulties and temptations; and a better understanding of the Church's teaching and of the liturgy which is the best standard of devotion for the faithful.
The blight of Scriptural knowledge is to make it a "subject" for examinations, running in a parallel track with Algebra and Geography, earning its measure of marks and submitted to the tests of non-Catholic examining bodies, to whom it speaks in another tongue than ours. It must be a very robust devotion to the word of God that is not chilled by such treatment, and can keep an early Christian glow in its readings of the Gospels and Epistles whether they have proved a failure or a success in the examination. In general, Catholic candidates acquit themselves well in this subject, and perhaps it may give some edification to non-Catholic examiners when they see these results. But it is questionable whether the risk of drying up the affection of children for what must become to them a text-book is worth this measure of success. Let experience speak for those who know if it is not so; it would seem in the nature of things that so it must be. When it is given over to voluntary study (beyond the diocesan requirements which are a stimulus and not a blight) it catches, not like wild fire, but like blessed fire, even among young children, and is woven imperceptibly into the texture of life.
Lastly, what may be asked of Catholic children when they grow up and have to take upon themselves the responsibility of keeping their own faith alive, and the practice of their religion in an atmosphere which may often be one of cold faith and slack observance? Neither their spiritual guides, nor those who have educated them, nor their own parents, can take this responsibility out of their hands. St. Francis of Sales calls science the 8th Sacrament for a priest, urging the clergy to give themselves earnestly to study, and he says that great troubles have come upon us because the sacred ark of knowledge was found in other hands than those of the Levites. Leo XIII wrote in one of his great encyclicals that "Every minister of holy religion must bring to the struggle the full energy of his mind and all his power of endurance." What about the laity? We cannot leave all the battle to the clergy; they cannot defend and instruct and carry us into the kingdom of heaven in spite of ourselves; their labours call for response and correspondence. What about those who are now leaving childhood behind and will be in the front ranks of the coming generation? Their influence will make or unmake the religion of their homes, and what they will be for the whole of their life will depend very much upon how they take their first independent stand.
It is much that they should be well grounded in those elements of doctrine which they can learn in their school-days. It is much more if they carry out with them a living interest in the subject and care to watch the current of the Church's thought in the encyclicals that are addressed to the faithful, the pastorals of Bishops, the works of Catholic writers which, are more and more within the reach of all, in the great events of the Church's life, and in the talk of those who are able to speak from first-hand knowledge and experience. It is most of all fundamental that they should have an attitude of mind that is worthy of their faith; one that is not nervous or apologetic for the Church, not anxious about the Pope lest he should "interfere too much," nor frightened of what the world may say. They should have an unperturbed conviction that the Church will have the last word in any controversy, and that she has nothing to be alarmed at, though all the battalions of newest thought should be set in array against her; they should be lovingly proud of the Church, and keep their belief in her at all times joyous, assured, and unafraid.
Theology is not for them, neither required nor obtainable, though some have been found enterprising enough to undertake to read the Summa, and naive enough to suppose that they would be theologians at the end of it, and even at the outset ready to exchange ideas with Doctors of Divinity on efficacious grace, and to have "views" on the authorship of the Sacred Writings. Such aspirations either come to an untimely end by an awakening sense of proportion, or remain as monuments to the efforts of those "less wise," or in some unfortunate cases the mind loses its balance and is led into error.
"Thirsting to be more than mortal, I was even less than clay."
Let us, if we can, keep the bolder spirits on the level of what is congruous, where the wealth that is within their reach will not be exhausted in their lifetime, and where they may excel without offence and without inviting either condemnation or ridicule. The sense of fitness is a saving instinct in this as in 1 every other department of life. When it is present, first principles come home like intuitions to the mind, where it is absent they seem to take no hold at all, and the understanding that should supply for the right instinct makes slow and laborious way if it ever enters at all.
To know the relation in which one stands to any department of knowledge is, in that department, "the beginning of wisdom". The great Christian Basilicas furnish a parallel in the material order. They are the house of God and the home and possession of every member of the Church militant without distinction of age or rank or learning. But they are not the same to each. Every one brings his own understanding and faith and insight, and the great Church is to him what he has capacity to understand and to receive. The great majority of worshippers could not draw a fine of the plans or expound a law of the construction, or set a stone in its place, yet the whole of it is theirs and for them, and their reverent awe, even if they have no further understanding, adds a spiritual grace and a fuller dignity to the whole. The child, the beggar, the pilgrim, the penitent, the lowly servants and custodians of the temple, the clergy, the venerable choir, the highest authorities from whom come the order and regulation of the ceremonies, all have their parts, all stand in their special relations harmoniously sharing in different degrees in what is for all. Even those long since departed, architects and builders and donors, are not cut off from it, their works follow them, and their memory lives in the beauty which stands as a memorial to their great ideals. It is all theirs, it is all ours, it is all God's. And so of the great basilica of theology, built up and ever in course of building; it is for all—but for each according to his needs—-for their use, for their instruction, to surround and direct their worship, to be a security and defence to their souls, a great Church in which the spirit is raised heavenwards in proportion to the faith and submission with which it bows down in adoration before the throne of God.
"La vertu maitresse d'aujourd'hui est la spontaneite resolue, reglee par les principes interieurs et les disciplines volontairement acceptees."—Y. LE QUERDEC.
The value set on character, even if the appreciation goes no further than words, has increased very markedly within the last few years, and in reaction against an exclusively mental training we hear louder and louder the plea for the formation and training of character.
Primarily the word character signifies a distinctive mark, cut, engraved, or stamped upon a substance, and by analogy, this is likewise character in the sense in which it concerns education. A "man of character" is one in whom acquired qualities, orderly and consistent, stand out on the background of natural temperament, as the result of training and especially of self-discipline, and therefore stamped or engraved upon something receptive which was prepared for them. This something receptive is the natural temperament, a basis more or less apt to receive what training and habit may bring to bear upon it. The sum of acquired habits tells upon the temperament, and together with it produce or establish character, as the arms engraved upon the stone constitute the seal.
If habits are not acquired by training, and instead of them temperament alone has been allowed to have its way in the years of growth, the seal bears no arms engraven on it, and the result is want of character, or a weak character, without distinctive mark, showing itself in the various situations of life inconsistent, variable, unequal to strain, acting on the impulse, good or bad, of the moment; its fitful strength in moods of obstinacy or self-will showing that it lacks the higher qualities of rational discernment and self-control.
"Character is shown by susceptibility to motive," says a modern American, turning with true American instinct to the practical side in which he has made experiences, and it is evidently one of the readiest ways of approaching the study of any individual character, to make sure of the motives which awaken response. But the result of habit and temperament working together shows itself in every form of spontaneous activity as well as in response to external stimulus. Character may be studied in tastes and sympathies, in the manner of treating with one's fellow creatures, of confronting various "situations" in life, in the ideals aimed at, in the estimate of success or failure, in the relative importance attached to things, in the choice of friends and the ultimate fate of friendships, in what is expected and taken for granted, as in what is habitually ignored, in the instinctive attitude towards law and authority, towards custom and tradition, towards order and progress.
Character, then, may stand for the sum of the qualities which go to make one to be thus, and not otherwise; but the basis which underlies and constantly reasserts itself is temperament. It makes people angry to say this, if they are determined to be so completely masters of their way in life that nothing but reason, in the natural order, shall be their guide; but though heroism of soul has overcome the greatest drawbacks of an unfortunate physical organization, these cases are rare, and in general it must be taken into account to such an extent that the battle against difficulties of temperament is the battle of a lifetime. There are certain broad divisions which although they cannot pretend to rest upon scientific principles yet appeal constantly to experience, and often serve as practical guides to forecast the lines on which particular characters may be developed. There is a very striking division into assenting and dissenting temperaments, children of yes and children of no; a division which declares itself very early and is maintained all along the lines of early development, in mind and will and taste and manner, in every phase of activity. And though time and training and the schooling of life may modify its expression, yet below the surface it would seem only to accentuate itself, as the features of character become more marked with advancing years. Where it touches the religious disposition one would say that some were born with the minds of Catholics and, others of Nonconformists, representing respectively centripetal and centrifugal tendencies of mind; the first apt to see harmony and order, to realize the tenth of things that must be as they are, the second born to be in opposition and with great labour subduing themselves into conformity. They are precious aids in the service of the Church as controversialists when enlisted on the right side, for controversy is their element. But for positive doctrine, for keen appreciation, for persuasive action on the wills of others, they are at a disadvantage, at all events in England, where logic does not enter into the national religious system, and the mind is apt to resent conviction as if it were a kind of coercion. There are a great number of such born Nonconformists in England, and when either the grace of Catholic education or of conversion has been granted to them, it is interesting to watch the efforts to subdue and attune themselves to submission and to faith. Sometimes the Nonconformist temperament is the greatest of safeguards, where a Catholic child is obliged to stand alone amongst uncongenial surroundings, then it defends itself doggedly, splendidly, and comes out after years in a Protestant school quite untouched in its faith and much strengthened in militant Christianity. These are cheerful instances of its development, and its advantages; they would suggest that some external opposition or friction is necessary for such temperaments that their fighting instinct may be directed against the common enemy, and not tend to arouse controversies and discussions in its own ranks or within itself. In less happy cases the instinct of opposition is a cause of endless trouble, friction in family life, difficulty in working with others, "alarums, excursions" on all sides, and worse, the get attitude of distrust towards authority, which undermines the foundations of faith and prepares the mind to break away from control, to pass from instinctive opposition to antagonism, from antagonism to contempt, from contempt to rebellion and revolt. Arrogance of mind, irreverence, self-idolatry, blindness, follow in their course, and the whole nature loses its balance and becomes through pride a pitiful wreck.
The assenting mind has its own possibilities for good and evil, more human than those of Nonconformity, for "pride was not made for men" (Ecclus. x 22), less liable to great catastrophes, and in general better adapted for all that belongs to the service of God and man. It is a happy endowment, and the happiness of others is closely bound up with its own. Again, its faults being more human are more easily corrected, and fortunately for the possessor, punish themselves more often. This favours truthfulness in the mind and humility in the soul—the spirit of the Confiteor. Its dangers are those of too easy assent, of inordinate pursuit of particular good, of inconstancy and variability, of all the humanistic elements which lead back to paganism. The history of the Renaissance in Southern Europe testifies to this, as it illustrates in other countries the development of the spirit of Nonconformity and revolt. Calvinism and a whole group of Protestant schools of thought may stand as examples of the spirit of denial working itself out to its natural consequences; while the exaggerations of Italian humanism, frankly pagan, are fair illustrations of the spirit of assent carried beyond bounds. And those centuries when the tide of life ran high for good or evil, furnish instances in point abounding with interest and instruction, more easily accessible than what can be gathered from modern characters, in whom less clearly defined temperaments and more complex conditions of life have made it harder to distinguish the characteristic features of the mind. To mention only one or two—St. Francis of Sales and Blessed Thomas More were great assentors, so were Pico de Mirandola and the great Popes of the Renaissance, an example of a great Nonconformist is Savonarola.
The old division of temperaments into phlegmatic or lymphatic, sanguine, choleric, and nervous or melancholy, is a fairly good foundation for preliminary observation, especially as each of the four subdivides itself easily into two types—the hard and soft—reforms itself easily into some cross-divisions, and refuses to be blended into others. Thus a very fine type of character is seen when the characteristics of the sanguine and choleric are blended the qualities of one correcting the faults of the other, and a very poor one if a yielding lymphatic temperament has also a strain of melancholy to increase its tendency towards inaction. It is often easy to discern in a group of children the leading characteristics of these temperaments, the phlegmatic or lymphatic, hard or soft, not easily stirred, one stubborn and the other yielding, both somewhat immobile, generally straightforward and reliable, law abiding, accessible to reason, not exposed to great dangers nor likely to reach unusual heights. Next the sanguine, hard or soft, as hope or enjoyment have the upper hand in them; this is the richest group in attractive power. If hope is the stronger factor there is a fund of energy which, allied with the power of charm and persuasion, with trustfulness in good, and optimistic outlook on the world, wins its way and succeeds in its undertakings, making its appeal to the will rather than to the mind. On the softer side of this type are found the disappointing people who ought to do well, and always fail, for whom the joie de vivre carries everything before it, who are always good natured, always obliging, always sweet-tempered, who cannot say no, especially to themselves, whose energy is exhausted in a very short burst of effort, though ever ready to direct itself into some new channel for as brief a trial. The characters which remain "characters of great promise" to the end of their days, great promise doomed to be always unfulfilled. Of all characters, these are perhaps the most disappointing; they have so much in their favour, and the one thing wanting, steadiness of purpose, renders useless their most beautiful gifts. These two groups seem to be the most common among the Teutons and Celts of Northern Europe with fair colouring and tall build; perhaps the other two types are correspondingly more numerous among the Latin races. They are choleric, ambitious, or self-isolated, as the cast of their mind is eager or scornful and generally capable of dissimulation; the world is not large enough for their Bonapartes. But if bitterness and sadness predominate, they are carried on an ebbing tide towards pessimism and contemptuous weariness of life; their soft type, in so far as they have one, has the softness of powder, dry and crushed, rather than that of a living organism. In children, this type, fortunately rare, has not the charm or joy of childhood, but shows a restless straining after some self-centred excellence, and a coldness of affection which indicates the isolation towards which it is carried in later life. Lastly, there is the unquiet group of nervous or melancholic temperaments, their melancholy not weighed down by listless sadness as the inactive lymphatics, but more actively dissatisfied with things as they are—untiringly but unhopefully at work—hard on themselves, anxious-minded, assured that in spite of their efforts all will turn out for the worst, often scrupulous, capable of long-sustained efforts, often of heroic devotedness and superhuman endurance, for which their reward is not in this world, as the art of pleasing is singularly deficient in them. Here are found the people who are "so good, but so trying," ever in a fume and fuss, who, for sheer goodness, rouse in others the spirit of contradiction. These characters are at their best in adversity, trouble stimulates them to their best efforts, whereas in easy circumstances and surrounded with affection they are apt to drop into querulous and exacting habits. If they are endowed with more than ordinary energy it is in the direction of diplomacy, and not always frank. On the whole this is the character whose features are least clearly defined, over which a certain mystery hangs, and strange experiences are not unfrequent It is difficult to deal with its elusive showings and vanishings, and this melting away and reappearing seems in some to become a habit and even a matter of choice, with a determination not to be known.
Taking these groups as a rough classification for observation of character, it is possible to get a fair idea of the raw material of a class, though it may be thankfully added that in the Church no material is really raw, with the grace of Baptism in the soul and later on the Sacrament of Penance, to clear its obscurities and explain it to itself and by degrees to transform its tendencies and with grace and guidance to give it a steady impulse towards the better things. Confirmation and First Communion sometimes sensibly and even suddenly transfigure a character; but even apart from such choice instances the gradual work of the Sacraments brings Catholic children under a discipline in which the habit of self-examination, the constant necessity for effort, the truthful avowal of being in the wrong, the acceptance of penance as a due, the necessary submissions and self-renunciations of obedience to the Church, give a training of their own. So a practicing Catholic child is educated unconsciously by a thousand influences, each of which, supernatural in itself, tells beyond the supernatural sphere and raises the natural qualities, by self-knowledge, by truth, by the safeguard of religion against hardness and isolation and the blindness of pride, even if the minimum of educational facilities have been at work to take advantage of these openings for good. A Catholic child is a child, and keeps a childlike spirit for life, unless the early training is completely shipwrecked, and even then there are memories which are means of recovery, and the way home to the Father's house is known. It may be hoped that very many never leave it, and never lose the sense of being one of the great family, "of the household of faith." They enjoy the freedom of the house, the rights of children, the ministries of all the graces which belong to the household, the power of being at home in every place because the Church is there with its priesthood and its Sacraments, responsible for its children, and able to supply the wants of their souls. It is scarcely possible to find among Catholic children the inaccessible little bits of flint who are not brought up, but bring up their own souls outside the Church—proud in their isolation, most proud of never yielding inward obedience or owning themselves in the wrong, and of being sufficient for themselves. When the grace of Q-od reaches them and they are admitted into the Church, one of the most overwhelming experiences is that of becoming one of a family, for whom there is some one responsible, the Father of the family whose authority and love pass through their appointed channels, down to the least child.
There is no such thing as an orphan child within the Church, there are possibilities of training and development which belong to those who have to educate the young which must appeal particularly to Catholic teachers, for they know more than others the priceless value of the children with whom they have to do. Children, souls, freighted for their voyage through life, vessels so frail and bound for such a port are worthy of the devoted care of those who have necessarily a lifelong influence over them, and the means of using that influence for their lifelong good ought to be a matter of most earnest study. Knowledge must come before action, and first-hand knowledge, acquired by observation, is worth more than theoretic acquirements; the first may supply for the second, but not the second for the first. There are two types of educators of early childhood which no theory could produce, and indeed no theory could tell how they are produced, but they stand unrivalled—one is the English nurse and the other the Irish. The English nurse is a being apart, with a profound sense of fitness in all things, herself the slave of duty; and having certain ideals transmitted, who can tell how, by an unwritten traditional code, as to what ought to be, and a gift of authority by which she secures that these things shall be, reverence for God, reverence in prayer, reverence for parents, consideration of brothers for sisters, unselfishness, manners, etc., her views on all these things are like the laws of the Medes and Persians "which do not alter "—and they are also holy and wholesome. The Irish nurse rules by the heart, and by sympathy, by a power of self-devotion that can only be found where the love of God is the deepest love of the heart; she has no views, but—she knows. She does not need to observe—she sees' she has instincts, she never lays down a law, but she wins by tact and affection, lifting up the mind to God and subduing the will to obedience, while appearing to do nothing but love and wait. The stamp that she leaves on the earliest years of training is never entirely effaced; it remains as some instinct of faith, a habit of resignation to the will of God, and habitual recourse to prayer. Both these types of educators rule by their gift from God, and it is hard to believe that the most finished training in the art of nursery management can produce anything like them, for they govern by those things that lectures and handbooks cannot teach—faith, love, and common sense.
Those who take up the training of the next stage have usually to learn by their own experience, and study what is given to very few as a natural endowment—the art of so managing the wills of children that without provoking resistance, yet without yielding to every fancy, they may be led by degrees to self-control and to become a law to themselves. It must be recognized from the beginning that the work is slow; if it is forced on too fast either a breaking point comes and the child, too much teased into perfection, turns in reaction and becomes self-willed and rebellious; or if, unhappily, the forcing process succeeds, a little paragon is produced like Wordsworth's "model child":—
"Full early trained to worship seemliness, This model of a child is never known To mix in quarrels; that were far beneath Its dignity; with gifts he bubbles o'er As generous as a fountain; selfishness May not come near him, nor the little throng Of flitting pleasures tempt him from his path; The wandering beggars propagate his name. Dumb creatures find him tender as a nun, And natural or supernatural fear, Unless it leap upon him in a dream, Touches him not. To enhance the wonder, see How arch his notices, how nice his sense Of the ridiculous; not blind is he To the broad follies of the licensed world, Yet innocent himself withal, though shrewd, And can read lectures upon innocence; A miracle of scientific lore, Ships he can guide across the pathless sea, And tell you all their cunning; he can read The inside of the earth, and spell the stars; He knows the policies of foreign lands; Can string you names of districts, cities, towns, The whole world over, tight as beads of dew Upon a gossamer thread; he sifts, he weighs; All things are put to question; he must live Knowing that he grows wiser every day Or else not live at all, and seeing too Each little drop of wisdom as it falls Into the dimpling cistern of his heart: For this unnatural growth the trainer blame, Pity the tree,"— "The Prelude," Bk. V, lines 298-329.
On the other hand if those who have to bring up children, fear too much to cross their inclinations, and so seek always the line of least resistance, teaching lessons in play, and smoothing over every rough peace of the road, the result is a weak, slack will, a mind without power of concentration, and in later life very little resourcefulness in emergency or power of bearing up under difficulties or privations. We are at present more inclined to produce these soft characters than to develop paragons. But such movements go in waves and the wave-lengths are growing shorter; we seem now to be reaching the end of a period when, as it has been expressed, "the teacher learns the lessons and says them to the child." We are beginning to outgrow too fervid belief in methods, and pattern lessons, and coming back to value more highly the habit of effort, individual work, and even the saving discipline of drudgery. We are beginning, that is those who really care for children, and for character, and for life; it takes the State and its departments a long time to come up with the experience of those who actually know living children—a generation is not too much to allow for its coming to this knowledge, as we may see at present, when the drawbacks of the system of 1870 are becoming apparent at last in the eyes of the official world, having been evident for years to those whose sympathies were with the children and not with codes. America, open-minded America, is aware of all this, and is making generous educational experiments with the buoyant idealism of a young nation, an idealism that is sometimes outstripping its practical sense, quite able to face its disappointments if they come, as undoubtedly they will, and to begin again. In one point it is far ahead of us—in the understanding that a large measure of freedom is necessary for teachers. Whereas we are, let us hope, at the most acute stage of State interference in details.
But in spite of the systems the children live, and come up year after year, to give us fresh opportunities; and in spite of the systems something can be done with them if we take the advice of Archbishop Ullathorne—"trust in God and begin as you can."
Let us begin by learning to know them, and the knowledge of their characters is more easily gained if some cardinal points are marked, by which the unknown country may be mapped out. The selection of these cardinal points depends in part on the mind of the observer, which has more or less insight into the various manifestations of possibility and quality which may occur. It is well to observe without seeming to do so, for as shy wild creatures fly off before a too observant eye, but may be studied by a naturalist who does not appear to look at them, so the real child takes to flight if it is too narrowly watched, and leaves a self conscious little person to take its place, making off with its true self into the backwoods of some dreamland, and growing more and more reticent about its real thoughts as it gets accustomed to talk to an appreciative audience. With weighing and measuring, inspecting and reporting, exercising and rapid forcing, and comparing, applauding and tabulating results, it is difficult to see how children can escape self-consciousness and artificiality, and the enthusiasts for "child study" are in danger of making the specimen of the real child more and more rare and difficult to find, as destructive sportsmen in a new country exterminate the choice species of wild animals.
Too many questions put children on their guard or make them unreal; they cannot give an account of what they think and what they mean and how far they have understood, and the greater the anxiety shown to get at their real mind the less are they either able or willing to make it known; so it is the quieter and less active observers who see the most, and those who observe most are best aware how little can be known.
Yet there are some things which may serve as points of the compass, especially in the transitional years when the features both of face and character begin to accentuate themselves. One of these is the level of friendships. There are some who look by instinct for the friendship of those above them, and others habitually seek a lower level, where there is no call to self-restraint. Boys who hang about the stables, girls who like the conversation of servants; boys and girls who make friends in sets at school, among the less desirable, generally do so from a love of ease and dislike of that restraint and effort which every higher friendship calls for; they can be somebody at a very cheap cost where the standard of talk is not exacting, whereas to be with those who are striving for the best in any station makes demands which call for exertion, and the taste for this higher level, the willingness to respond to its claims, give good promise that those who have it will in their turn draw others to the things that are best.
The attitude of a child towards books is also indicative of the whole background of a mind; the very way in which a book is handled is often a sign in itself of whether a child is a citizen born, or an alien, in the world for which books stand. Taste in reading, both as to quality and quantity, is so obviously a guiding line that it need scarcely be mentioned.
Play is another line in which character shows itself, and reveals another background against which the scenes of life in the future will stand out, and in school life the keenest and best spirits will generally divide into these two groups, the readers and the players, with a few, rarely gifted, who seem to excel in both. From the readers will come those who are to influence the minds of others here, if they do not let themselves be carried out too far to keep in touch with real life. From the players will come those whose gift is readiness and decision in action, if they on their side do not remain mere players when life calls for something more.
There are other groups, the born artists with their responsive minds, the "home children" for whom everything centres in their own home-world, and who have in them the making of another one in the future; the critics, standing aloof, a little peevish and very self-conscious, hardly capable of deep friendship and fastidiously dissatisfied with people and things in general; the cheerful and helpful souls who have no interests of their own but can devote themselves to help anyone; the opposite class whose life is in their own moods and feelings. Many others might be added, each observer's experience can supply them, and will probably close the list with the same little group, the very few, that stand a little apart, but not aloof, children of privilege, with heaven in their eyes and a little air of mystery about them, meditative and quiet, friends of God, friends of all, loved and loving, and asking very little from the outer world, because they have more than enough within. They are classed as the dreamers, but they are really the seers. They do not ask much and they do not need much beyond a reverent guardianship, and to be let alone and allowed to grow; they will find their way for they are "taught of God."
It is impossible to do more than to throw out suggestions which any child-naturalist might multiply or improve upon. The next consideration for all concerned is what to do with the acquired knowledge, and how to "bring up" in the later stages of childhood and early youth.
What do we want to bring up? Not good nonentities, who are merely good because they are not bad. There are too many of them already, no trouble to anyone, only disappointing, so good that they ought to be so much better, if only they would. But who can make them will to be something more, to become, as Montalembert said, "a fact, instead of remaining but a shadow, an echo, or a ruin?" Those who have to educate them to something higher must themselves have an idea of what they want; they must believe in the possibility of every mind and character to be lifted up to something better than it has already attained; they must themselves be striving for some higher excellence, and must believe and care deeply for the things they teach. For no one can be educated by maxim and precept; it is the life lived, and the things loved and the ideals believed in, by which we tell, one upon another. If we care for energy we call it out; if we believe in possibilities of development we almost seem to create them. If we want integrity of character, steadiness, reliability, courage, thoroughness, all the harder qualities that serve as a backbone, we, at least, make others want them also, and strive for them by the power of example that is not set as deliberate good example, for that is as tame as a precept, but the example of the life that is lived, and the truths that are honestly believed in.
The gentler qualities which are to adorn the harder virtues may be more explicitly taught. It is always more easy to tone down than to brace up; there must fist be something to moderate, before moderation can be a virtue; there must be strength before gentleness can be taught, as there must be some hardness in material things to make them capable of polish. And these are qualities which are specially needed in our unsteady times, when rapid emancipation of unknown forces makes each one more personally responsible than in the past. It is an impatient age: we must learn patience; it is an age of sudden social changes: we have to make ready for adversity; it is an age of lawlessness: each one must stand upon his own guard and be his own defence; it is a selfish age, and never was unselfishness more urgently needed; love of home and love of country seem to be cooling, one as rapidly as the other: never was it more necessary to learn the spirit of self-sacrifice both for family life and the love and honour due to one's country which is also "piety" in its true sense.
All these things come with our Catholic faith and practice if it is rightly understood. Catholic family life, Catholic citizenship, Catholic patriotism are the truest, the only really true, because the only types of these virtues that are founded on truth. But they do not come of themselves. Many will let themselves be carried to heaven, as they hope, in the long-suffering arms of the Church without either defending or adorning her by their virtues, and we shall but add to their number if we do not kindle in the minds of children the ambition to do something more, to devote themselves to the great Cause, by self-sacrifice to be in some sort initiated into its spirit, and identified with it, and thus to make it worth while for others as well as for themselves that they have lived their life on earth. There is a price to be paid for this, and they must face it; a good life cannot be a soft life, and a great deal, even of innocent pleasure, has to be given up, voluntarily, to make life worth living, if it were only as a training in doing without.
Independence is a primary need for character, and independence can only be learnt by doing without pleasant things, even unnecessarily. Simplicity of life is an essential for greatness of life, and the very meaning of the simple life is the laying aside of many things which tend to grow by habit into necessities. The habit of work is another necessity in any life worth living, and this is only learnt by refraining again and again from what is pleasant for the sake of what is precious. Patience and thoroughness are requirements whose worth and value never come home to the average mind until they are seen in startling excellence, and it is apparent what a price must have been paid to acquire their adamant perfection, a lesson which might be the study of a lifetime. The value of time is another necessary lesson of the better life, a hard lesson, but one that makes an incalculable difference between the expert and the untried. We are apt to be always in a hurry now, for obvious reasons which hasten the movement of life, but not many really know how to use time to the full. Our tendency is to alternate periods of extreme activity with intervals of complete prostration for recovery. Perhaps our grandparents knew better in a slower age the use of time. The old Marquise de Gramont, aged 93, after receiving Extreme Unction, asked for her knitting, for the poor. "Mais Madame la Marquise a ete administree, elle va mourir!" said the maid, who thought the occupation of dying sufficient for a lady of her age. "Ma chere, ce n'est pas une raison pour perdre son temps," answered the indomitable Marquise. It is told of her also that when one of her children asked for some water in summer, between meals, she replied: "Mon enfant, vous ne serez jamais qu'un etre manque, une pygmee, si vous prenez ces habitudes-la, pensez, mon petit coeur, au fiel de Notre Seigneur Jesus Christ, et vous aurez le courage d'attendre le diner." She had learned for herself the strength of going without.
One more lesson must be mentioned, the hardest of all to be learnt—perfect sincerity. It is so hard not to pose, for all but the very truest and simplest natures—to pose as independent, being eaten up with human respect; to pose as indifferent though aching with the wish to be understood; to pose as flippant while longing to be in earnest; to hide an attraction to higher things under a little air of something like irreverence. It is strange that this kind of pose is considered as less insincere than the opposite class, which is rather out of fashion for this very reason, yet to be untrue to one's better self is surely an unworthier insincerity than to be ashamed of the worst. Perhaps the best evidence of this is the costliness of the effort to overcome it, and the more observation and reflection we spend on this point the more shall we be convinced that it is very hard to learn to be quite true, and that it entails more personal self-sacrifice than almost any other virtue.
In conclusion, the means for training character may be grouped under the following headings:—
1. Contact with those who have themselves attained to higher levels, either parent, or teacher, or friend. Perhaps at present the influence of a friend is greater than that of any power officially set over us, so jealous are we of control. So much the better chance for those who have the gift even in mature age of winning the friendship of children, and those who have just outgrown childhood. In these friendships the great power of influence is hopefulness, to believe in possibilities of good, and to expect the best.
2. Vigilance, not the nervous vigilance, unquiet and anxious, which rouses to mischief the sporting instinct of children and stings the rebellious to revolt, but the vigilance which, open and confident itself, gives confidence, nurtures fearlessness, and brings a steady pressure to be at one's best. Vigilance over children is no insult to their honour, it is rather the right of their royalty, for they are of the blood royal of Christianity, and deserve the guard of honour which for the sake of their royalty does not lose sight of them.
3. Criticism and correction. To be used with infinite care, but never to be neglected without grave injustice. It is not an easy thing to reprove in the right time, in the right tone, without exasperation, without impatience, without leaving a sting behind; to dare to give pain for the sake of greater good; to love the truth and have courage to tell it; to change reproof as time goes on to the frank criticism of friendship that is ambitious for its friend. To accept criticism is one of the greatest lessons to be learnt in life. To give it well is an art which requires more study and more self-denial than either the habit of being easily satisfied and requiring little, or the querulous habit of "scolding" which is admirably described by Bishop Hedley as "the resonance of the empty intelligence and of the hollow heart of the man who has nothing to give, nothing to propose, nothing to impart."
4. Discipline and obedience. If these are to be means of training they must be living and not dead powers, and they must lead up to gradual self-government, not to sudden emancipation. Obedience must be first of all to persons, prompt and unquestioning, then to laws, a "reasonable service," then to the wider law which each one must enforce from within—the law of love which is the law of liberty of the kingdom of God.
These are the means which in her own way, and through various channels of authority, the Church makes use of, and the Church is the great Mother who educates us all. She takes us into her confidence, as we make ourselves worthy of it, and shows us out of her treasures things new and old. She sets the better things always before us, prays for us, prays with us, teaches us to pray, and so "lifts up our minds to heavenly desires." She watches over us with un anxious, but untiring vigilance, setting her Bishops and pastors to keep watch over the flock, collectively and individually, "with that most perfect care" that St. Francis of Sales describes as "that which approaches the nearest to the care God has of us, which is a care full of tranquillity and quietness, and which, in its highest activity, has still no emotion, and being only one, yet condescends to make itself all to all things."
Criticism and correction, discipline and obedience—these things are administered by the Church our Mother, gently but without weakness, so careful is she in her warnings, so slow in her punishments, so unswervingly true to what is of principle, and asking so persuasively not for the sullen obedience of slaves, but for the free and loving submission of sons and daughters.
"The Parts and Signes of Goodnesse are many. If a Man be Gracious and Curteous to Strangers, it shewes he is a Citizen of the World, And that his Heart is no Island cut off from other Lands, but a Continent that joynes to them. If he be Compassionate towards the Afflictions of others, it shewes that his Heart is like the noble Tree, that is wounded to selfe when it gives Balme. If he easily Pardons and Remits Offences, it shewes that his minde is planted above Injuries, So that he cannot be shot. If he be Thankfull for small Benefits, it shewes that he weighes Men's Mindes, and not their Trash. But above all, if he have St. Paul's Perfection, that he would wish to be an Anathema from Christ, for the Salvation of his Brethren, it shewes much of a Divine Nature, and a kinde of Conformity with Christ himselfe."—BACON, "Of Goodnesse."
No one who has the good of children at heart, and the training of their characters, can leave the subject without some grave thoughts on the formation of their own character, which is first in order of importance, and in order of time must go before, and accompany their work to the very end.
"What is developed to perfection can make other things like unto itself." So saints develop sanctity in others, and truth and confidence beget truth and confidence, and the spirit of enterprise calls out the spirit of enterprise, and constancy trains to endurance and perseverance, and wise kindness makes others kind, and courage makes them courageous, and in its degree each good quality tends to reproduce itself in others. Children are very delicately sensitive to these influences, they respond unconsciously to what is expected of them, and instinctively they imitate the models set before them. They catch a tone, a gesture, a trick of manner with a quickness that is startling. The influence of mind and thought on mind and thought cannot be so quickly recognized, but tells with as much certainty, and enters more deeply into the character for life. The consideration of this is a great incentive to the acquirement of self-knowledge and self-discipline by those who have to do with children. The old codes of conventionality in education, which stood for a certain system in their time, are disappearing, and the worth of the individual becomes of greater importance. This is true of those who educate and of those whom they bring up. As the methods of modern warfare call for more individual resourcefulness, so do the methods of the spiritual warfare, now that we are not supported by big battalions, but each one is thrown back on conscience and personal responsibility. Girls as well as boys have to be trained to take care of themselves and be responsible for themselves, and if they are not so trained, no one can now be responsible for them or protect them in spite of themselves. Therefore, the first duty of those who are bringing up Catholic girls is to be themselves such as Catholic girls must be later on. This example is a discourse "in the vulgar tongue" which cannot be misunderstood, and example is not resented unless it seems self-conscious and presented of set purpose. The one thing necessary is to be that which we ought to be, and that is to say, in other words, that the fundamental virtue in teaching children is a great and resolute sincerity. Sincerity is a difficult virtue to practise and is too easily taken for granted. It has more enemies than appear at first sight. Inertness of mind, the desire to do things cheaply, dislike of mental effort, the tendency to be satisfied with appearances, the wish to shine, impatience for results, all foster intellectual insincerity; just as, in conduct, the wish to please, the spirit of accommodation and expediency, the fear of blame, the instinct of concealment, which is inborn in many girls, destroy frankness of character and make people untrue who would not willingly be untruthful. Yet even truthfulness is not such a matter of course as many would be willing to assume. To be inaccurate through thoughtless laziness in the use of words is extremely common, to exaggerate according to the mood of the moment, to say more than one means and cover one's retreat with "I didn't mean it," to pull facts into shape to suit particular ends, are demoralizing forms of untruthfulness, common, but often unrecognized. If a teacher could only excel in one high quality for training girls, probably the best in which she could excel would be a great sincerity, which would train them in frankness, and in the knowledge that to be entirely frank means to lay down a great price for that costly attainment, a perfectly honourable and fearless life. [1—"A woman, if it be once known that she is deficient in truth, has no resource. Have, by a misuse of language, injured or lost her only means of persuasion, nothing can preserve her from falling into contempt of nonentity. When she is no longer to be believed no on will take the trouble to listen to her...no one can depend on her, no on rests any hope on her, the words of which she makes use have no meaning." —Madame Necker de Saussure, "Progressive Education."]
It sometimes happens that the realization of this truth comes comparatively late in life to those who ought to have recognized it years before. Thinking along the surface of things, and in particular repeating catchwords and platitudes and trite maxims on the subject of sincerity, is apt to make us believe that we possess the quality we talk about, and as it is impossible to have anything to do with the education of children without treating of sincerity and truthfulness, it is comparatively easy to slip into the happy assumption that one is truthful, because one would not deliberately be otherwise. But it takes far more than this to acquire real sincerity of life in the complexity and artificiality of the conditions in which we live.
"And we have been on many thousand lines, And we have shown, on each, spirit and power; But hardly have we, for one little hour, Been on our own line, have we been ourselves.
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"Our hidden self, and what we say and do Is eloquent, is well—but 'tis not true!" MATTHEW ARNOLD, "The Buried Life."
Sincerity requires the recognition that to be honestly oneself is more impressive for good than to be a very superior person by imitation. It requires the renunciation of some claims to consideration and esteem, and the acceptance of limitations (a different thing from acquiescence in them, for it means the acceptance of a lifelong effort to be what we aspire to be, with a knowledge that we shall never fully attain it). It requires that we should bear the confusion of defeat without desisting from the struggle, that we should accept the progressive illumination of what is still unaccomplished, and keep the habitual lowliness of a beginner with the unconquerable hopefulness which comes of a fixed resolution to win what is worth winning. Let those who have tried say whether this is easy.
But in guiding children along this difficult way it is not wise to call direct attention to it, lest their inexperience and sensitiveness should turn to scrupulosity and their spontaneity be paralysed. It is both more acceptable and healthier to present it as a feat of courage, a habit of fearlessness to be acquired, of hardihood and strength of character. The more subtle forms of self-knowledge belong to a later period in life.
Another quality to be desired in those who have to do with children is what may—for want of a better word—be called vitality, not the fatiguing artificial animation which is sometimes assumed professionally by teachers, but the keenness which shows forth a settled conviction that life is worth living. The expression of this is not self asserting or controversial, for it is not like a garment put on, but a living grace of soul, coming from within, born of straight thinking and resolution, and so strongly confirmed by faith and hope that nothing can discourage it or make it let go. It is a bulwark against the faults which sink below the normal line of life, dullness, depression, timidity, procrastination, sloth and sadness, moodiness, unsociability—all these it tends to dispel, by its quiet and confident gift of encouragement. And though so contrary to the spirit of childhood, these faults are found in children—often in delicate children who have lost confidence in themselves from being habitually outdone by stronger brothers and sisters, or in slow minds which seem "stupid" to others and to themselves, or in natures too sensitive to risk themselves in the melee. To these, one who brings the gift of encouragement comes as a deliverer and often changes the course of their life, leading them to believe in themselves and their own good endowments, making them taste success which rouses them to better efforts, giving them the strong comfort of knowing that something is expected of them, and that if they will only try, in one way if not in another, they need not be behind the best. At some stage in life, and especially in the years of rapid growth, we all need encouragement, and often characters that seem to require only repression are merely singing out of tune from the effort to hold out against blank discouragement at their failures to "be good," or to divert their mind forcibly from their fits of depression. To be scolded accentuates their trouble and tends to harden them; to grow a shell of hardness seems for the moment their only defence; but if some one will meet their efforts half-way, believing in them with a tranquil conviction that they will live through these difficulties and find themselves in due time, they can be saved from much unhappiness of their own making, though not of their own fault, and their growth will not be arrested behind an unnatural shell of defence.