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who have not attempted it. These are merely hints thrown out, to show in what manner a person in earnest may do much to educate herself. It may seem a tedious and unnecessary process, and one which will occupy time which might be more profitably employed; but as we must prove and temper our metals, and prepare and test tools before they can be of any real service, so must those be prepared for the labours of education who mean to be something better than mere triflers in it. It would be well if every one so employed were obliged previously to learn Latin, or some other language-German, for example of a really good master, not because she may be called upon to teach it again, but that she may have acquired those principles of instruction which may be available to whatever else she has to teach. French, Italian, and Spanish, are easily learned by one who understands Latin, but none of these languages can be a substitute for it, as far as the principles of language are concerned. Whatever is done should be done thoroughly. Superficiality is the vice of the age in which we live.
Music is a delightful and important acquirement for a governess; it is now made so essential a part of education, that it is difficult for any one to obtain a good situation who is ignorant of it, but in this, as in everything else, she should not be satisfied with the mere power of execution, but should study the science of harmony and composition.
“I am only repeating the language of the best and wisest teachers of mankind, when I speak of music as able to call forth the deepest perceptions, to be the instrument of most wonderful blessings. In how many has it awakened the sense of an order and harmony in the heart of things, which outwardly were most turbulent and confused, and a spirit in themselves capable of communicating with other spirits; of a union intended for us, upon some other ground than mere formal and visible association, yet justifying, sustaining, explaining that! For these reasons, sages have spoken of music as the most important instrument in forming men, and in building up societies, which purpose it surely cannot fulfil if it ceases to be the study and delight of women; scarcely I think if they are taught to regard it chiefly as an accomplishment; if they connect it chiefly with the acquisition or exercise of mechanical dexterity, if they are not led to view it simply, and therefore more profoundly, to care less for its displays and results, and therefore to have their hearts and understandings more open to the reception of its power and its principles."*
The soul of music, like all other good things, is a gift—but one who has naturally “no music in herself” may by cultivation greatly improve her power, for but few are wholly destitute of it. As a social amusement, both vocal and instrumental, music cannot be too highly prized.
An instructor of others should acquire some * Professor Maurice's Introductory Lecture at Queen's College, pp. 12, 13.
knowledge of the sister art, and though she may not have time to draw or paint, yet the principles of so doing she may thoroughly learn, and be able not only to direct her pupils in preparing for masters, but also to form and cultivate their taste.
The knowledge of the principles of sound taste, both in the fine arts and in the choice of good writers, confers on the teacher immense influence over the minds of young people, which is felt to an extent scarcely credible, and it has proved to them in after life a great blessing. The society of such a governess is naturally courted by her pupils, from whose companionship she may derive real pleasure, and she possesses in herself sources of enjoyment of which nothing can deprive her.
What a woman is, not what she knows, is the test by which a governess should be chosen. Let those, then, who seek this office heartily labour to qualify themselves for it, and though they may have to encounter much trial in the outset, there are always situations open to teachers who are truly valuable, and christian mothers willing and thankful to welcome into their families those who show themselves worthy of the high trust they wish to repose in them.
“ It is found that a woman can seldom teach well, because she has so seldom been well taught. Besides that teaching is an art in itself, requiring like other arts, practice as well as theory. It is found that elemental knowledge is best imparted by women-kindly, patient, clear-headed women; but the moment we rise above the mere elements, we are conscious of a deficiency in all female teaching—a want of certainty in themselves, and further, that the power of teaching effectually a particular branch of knowledge is quite a different thing from the capability of inspiring the love and the taste for knowledge.”
THE above remarks are true ; elementary know
is best learnt from women. But it is of great importance that the first steps should be taken well, that the child should feel sure of its ground, and that its entrance on the wide field before it should be made pleasant. How few think what a wonderful work learning to read is—with what a solemn mystery it is invested—how strange that the acquaintance with a few signs, and these thrown together in endless combinations, should be a key by which to unlock the mental treasures of all past ages, as well as the stores of knowledge which are daily increasing around us.
looks in this light at the simple art of learning to read, it seems a most extraordinary attainment.
This work, which requires abundant patience, it is woman's appointed task to perform, as well as to impart in a clear and simple manner the first elements of the sciences. It is worth while to observe here, how very few persons read really well, and how much this art is neglected in education. Reading, spelling, writing, and working, the four essential accomplishments on which our ancestors laid so much stress, are too frequently passed over, or taken for granted, and considered as beneath the notice of a superior teacher. Yet how much of the comfort of others depend upon these things, and how much better would it be to devote a large share of the time to them which is generally spent on trifling occupations. A wise governess will not only study the dispositions and characters of her pupils, but also their tastes, and will adapt her instructions accordingly.
With young children, a close and constant application to books is to be avoided. What little they do should be well and thoroughly done; but they should learn chiefly from conversation, or from having books read to them. A very fair knowledge of political as well as natural history may be thus imparted, and also the elements of science. Habits of observation and comparison should be cultivated, and principles of right and wrong clearly and early impressed. Truthfulness should be carefully cultivated, and deviations from it in