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lingeringly theold mahogany as it went; you to note that word — afforded me, and from morning until late afternoon there can be no doubt, the better part abode in the rooms with a kind of mel- of
education. low gentleness hardly to be described. How far have we gone, 'progressed' There was something well-mannered, as we say, in a short span of years! I unobtrusive, in its coming and going, am still a young woman, yet guests are as though it were conscious of being a not indeed what they once were. There guest there; a kind of gracious enjoy- were poverty and riches in those days, ment it seemed to take in the place, no- too, but the ‘high cost of living,' that ticeable in its gentle behaviors among phrase forever turning up nowadays, the dark colors and the old books, and was a bad penny not yet coined, and in its manner of moving about delicate- guest-discouraging 'flats' were anomaly from object to object, and pausing lies that my old home town rejected. at last, as it always did, before the tall Guests came and stayed then as they pier-glass, as though it pleased it to re- do not now. Visiting was still in those flect on the three long rooms, doubled days one of the accomplishments of to twice their length, before it slipped life; a gracious habit not yet broken up away again past the western windows by ubiquitous hotels, ten, fifteen, twenand departed across the hills.
ty stories high; not yet rendered superI have mentioned carefully the per- fluous by trains every hour on the hour, petual coming and going of the sun- or old-fashioned by scudding automolight because it seems to me symbol- biles which, like Aladdin Abushamut's ical of that coming and going of guests magic sofa, snatch up whole parties of which perpetually lighted theold house, people and in the twinkling of an eye lent it its chief charm, and gave me my set them down in new lands, with hardmost memorable schooling. The edu- ly time for greeting or farewell. cative value of life has no uncertain- Life may be more provident, comty. These men and women who came pact, convenient nowadays. I am not and went as guests were my
first mem- prepared to dispute it. But of one orable lessons of life, and, as I take thing I am certain: the modern child in it, they were lessons marvelously well this almost guestless age has no such adapted to the understanding and chance to acquire a broad education needs of a little child.
out of school hours as had I whose I would not seem to undervalue the childhood flourished when guests were silent influence and worth of that mate- the rule and the tinkling of the doorbell rial loveliness which was often found was more likely than not to be a sumin the old houses of that day, and was mons to a fine adventure in visitors. evident in my own home; but I be- Ah, there was an education! An edulieve this alone could have done little cation indeed! Its A-B-C was that to educate me. Such loveliness was but every child of the house should be dea means to an end. I would be loath to lighted to be turned out of his or her give great credit for my education to bed, to sleep four in a four-poster or on the furniture, old and interesting as it a mattress on the floor, so that one more was. The real credit is due first to the guest might be given welcome. Its customs of that time, which made hos- simple mathematics were concerned pitality one of the first virtues, and, mainly with the addition of guests, second, to the guests who coming there the eager subtraction of one's own comfurnished the house with its best op- forts, the multiplications of welcomes, portunities, and incidentally — I beg and the long divisions of all delights and pleasures, which by some kind of of education) is material by means of calculus miraculously increased the which the child's senses are trained. It meaning and richness of life. Its geog- consists of many parts. To name only raphy, if any, was no geography at all
a few, there are one hundred and beyond the fact that the guest-room twenty-eight color tablets; thirty-six
; was the sunniest and largest and best geometrical insets; three series of thir- . room in the house, and that exports ty-six cards; the ‘dimension material ' from all the other rooms flowed into it consists of nine cylinders, each differing and rendered it the most desirable and from the rest in height and diameter, the ‘most important city.' As to his- ten quadrilateral prisms, ten four-sided tory, it consisted of people at all times striped rods, and so on. This and much and of all ages, and the traditions of more is the equipment daily used in men and women of many types. It con- the 'Houses of Childhood.' cerned itself, not with the succession The home of my childhood was bare, of kings and durations of dynasties so bare of such things. Neither cubes nor much as with a succession of visitors cylinders were there that I remember, and the probable length of their stay. nor thermatic tests, nor color tablets,
I cannot say what enlightenment or nor quadrilateral prisms; and yet — learning or benefit the guests them- What was there of especial value? selves derived from these visits; though There was first of all the household. if measured by the frequent length of 'The household, to quote Emerson their sojourn, these must have been further, 'is a school of power. There very considerable; but I do know that within the door learn the tragi-comwe, the children of that household, edy of human life. Here is the sincere gained high benefits immensely educa- thing, the wondrous composition for tive; I know that we assimilated much which day and night go round. In that knowledge, and attained to much learn- routine are the sacred relations, the ing of a very high order, intellectual and passions that bind and sever. Here is spiritual; and what is best of all, I poverty and all the wisdom its hated neknow that in that old home, antedat cessities can teach; here labor drudges, ing and long anticipating Madame here affections glow, here the secrets of Montessori and her Houses of Child- character are told, the guards of man, hood,' we learned with neither desk, the guards of woman, the compensablackboard, nor semblance of school- tions which, like angels of justice, pay ing, and never for a moment so much every debt; the opium of custom, as dreamed that we were being taught.
whereof all drink and many go mad. Here is Economy, and Glee, and Hospitality, and Ceremony, and Frank
ness, and Calamity, and Death, and This is not the place to enter on a Hope.' discussion of the Montessori method. Didactic material enough, if one Briefly Madame Montessori's chief ten- chooses to call it that. But, besides all ets may be stated thus: Liberty for the this, there were guests; guests who
, child; a careful education of the child's came and lingered, guests of an almost senses, resulting in an extraordinary incredible variety. By recalling a few sense-control to which the child attains of them I can best explain somewhat without consciousness of learning. of their influence on my life.
The didactic material' (frankly so The first one I remember very clearcalled by the author of this new system ly was a beautiful young lady,– beau
tiful to me — who spent I believe about lighting to Autter in a twinkling trill, six months with us. I might have been with jewel-flash, like whirring huma trifle over five years old. I remember ming-birds; now resting humble, two her with great exactness. Certain meek white doves, in the long and waitsparkling characteristics that she wore ed-for preliminary pause. Then, you as noticeably as the several heavy rings could break forth at last into what on her white hand, shine still with sur- burst of passion and fire of song! prising clearness in my memory.
I can close my eyes still and see her. She was slender. She affected over- I have not a good memory, but the skirts. She wore elbow-sleeves, and words come to me almost unerring trains, though she could hardly have across the past (and I have to remind been over eighteen or nineteen. Her you that I was a little over five years hair was plastered on her fashionably old): high forehead in what were then known
The stars shine o'er his pathway! as 'water waves.'
(Long pause, with the white hands quivering on On a collar of box-plaited lace she
the pressed keys!)
The trees bend back their leaves, often wore a jet necklace, set in gold, a
(languid softness) kind of jewelry much in fashion at that
To guide him to the meadow time, I believe. Also I remember that
Among the golden sheaves; she had a pair of lemon-colored kid
(trills and erpectancy!) gloves; and on dress occasions she wore
Where stand I, loving, longing, heavy gold bracelets.
And list’ning while I wait But these were all as trifles to the To the nightingale's sweet singing, fact that she sang. That was her crown
Sweet singing to its mate. ing glory. My mother sang sweetly,
Singing! — Singing! (the last soft like an
echo) too, the beautiful songs of 'her day':
Swe-e-eet singing to-oo its mate! 'Flow Gently, Sweet Afton,' 'Lightly the Troubadour,' 'Ye Banks and (More trills and arpeggios to send shivers of deBraes,' 'The Gypsy's Warning,' 'Roll light over you — then in a new measure,) on, Silver Moon,' 'Believe Me If All
Come, for my arms are empty, Those Endearing Young Charms'
Come for the day is long, and many more. When she sang them Turn the darkness into glory; she played on the old Steck piano or
The sorrow into song! softly plucked the strings of the old Martin guitar, — simple and trill-less
(More pauses of which you were glad — then a
beginning again of all delight.) accompaniments.
But you, Miss Lou Brooks! You, oh, I hear his footfall's music; you!-compounded of every creature's
I feel his presence near, best, - could sing the old and simple
All my soul responsive answers
And tells me he is here! songs, if you chose, and very graciously,
Oh, stars, shine out your brightest! for any one who asked for them; but
(this with eyes cast to where the stars should have better still, if left to your own prefer- been) ence, you could take your seat how
Oh, nightingale, sing sweet; languidly at the piano, how gracefully
To guide him to me waiting
And speed his flying feet; play a prelude in which the white jew
To guide him to me waiting, eled hands followed each other up and
And speed his flying feet! down the keyboard, over and under in what moods and fancies, in what rip- This was what they did in a world pling runs and rapid arpeggios; now outside the walls of my childish experi
ence! — they sang like that! — of such browned hands, if they touched her, things! I did not know what it meant until I could see colored jewels of rings save in some incomplete half-lunar. on them too, as there might be and as way; but its effect drew me, and, like I hoped there would be some day. the seasons and tides of the moon, I thought then that I was fond of her. changed the face of the earth for me. Certainly her word was law to me. I
Further, it should be noted that I know that I used to run my little legs heard this song not only on one occa- tired to wait upon her. Her smiles and sion, not detached, isolated, as at a favors were precious to me as only the concert. Here was nothing paid for favors of the beautiful and the gifted cold bloodedly at a box-office, here was can be to a little child. The tap of her something all woven in with the daily fan on my cheek or my hand satisfied chance of life. I heard the song many a me altogether with life. time. I might come upon
it unexpect- But I was too near her then to judge ed when I woke from my nap. I might of her fairly. I know now the truth of be drawn from my toys by it to the the matter. I have never seen her more desirable pleasure of standing since. The glamour of her presence no big-eyed by the piano while such glory longer colors and impedes the white as this rolled round about me; or eat truth. She was not the most beautiful my bowl of bread and milk in the early young lady in the world, as I so generevening to the accompaniment of it; or ously took her to be. She was not the try to keep the Sandman on my pillow only person in the world who could from throwing the last handful of sand play dazzling accompaniments, and until the final note of was sung.
sing to melt one's soul, and make one a Miss Brooks was, I believe, the daugh- stranger to one's self. She was not the ter of an army officer. She had lived only one in the universe who knew the in various parts of the world; common dim and lovely secret chambers of a on her lips were tales of a life wholly little child's nature. She was after all, different from that which I knew. only, indeed, by courtesy Miss Lou
To my eyes, water waves and all, she Brooks. For she was less and more was incredibly beautiful. Moreover, than all this: she was a guest; a passing - and here you see the fine discrimi- influence; an ineffaceable impression; a nating points which children make, — glorious experience; a far adventure in she was engaged; already selected; cho- new lands; a glimpse into other worlds sen; set apart! I cannot tell you what unknown; a new planet swum into my glamour that lent her in my eyes. Child ken. She was a magic mirror held up psychology is not a thing that always
one in which I could for the can be reduced to measurement of re- first time clearly see myself as I might flexes and the like. I responded to all be; she was a glass of fashion, a mould
a this by some unmeasured law of the of form. In her I saw moving evidences soul. This knowledge and appreciation of a world more wonderful than any of of her, or of her type, if you prefer, my fancy; she was a passing guest in was as distinct and yet intangible a the house, yes, but a permanency in thing as the light of the prism. The sun the scheme of things - a very piece of fell on her and was changed to color. I life itself; and the knowledge of her, an could not touch or define her charm, acquirement in learning and an acquisibut it was there; and the color and tion in education. The educative value wonder of it seemed to fall across me of life has no uncertainty. too as I sat near her, and upon my sun
Let Montessori children in Houses of
Childhood feel of wooden circles and stance, who came all the way from Gerquadrangles and be taught with care many, where my brother in his Wanthe words 'round,' 'square'; let them derjahr had met him. His visit was touch sandpaper and know thereby short but the glory of it enduring. I “this is rough,' or linen and apprehend was not yet seven. I remember how he “this is smooth.' I, a child of the same rose out of respect for me when I enage, needed nothing of such informa- tered the room; how he clicked his tion. I knew smooth and rough more heels together and stood formal and nearly by the mere chance touch of my attendant; how he drew out my chair play-roughened hand on her fine satiny for me at the table, and saw me seated one; I, of a like age, wholly lacking in with all the respect due an empress. cubes and cylinders, and color slabs, To be allowed to come and sit in my was learning nevertheless to discrimi- brief piqué dress at table with him nate between short and long, heavy and his shoulder-straps was an essay and light, were it but by dread of her in form and a treatise on self-respect. departure, or the length of her train. As brilliant a star but of a steely
Put beside Miss Lou Brooks and all blue radiance was the physician-scienthat she taught me and revealed to me, tist, Doctor Highway. He would be any didactic material you may choose classified readily now as a Christian and I wonder if it compares with her. gentleman of highest honor, brilliant Place beside her most of the lessons gifts, and scientific attainments. But learned from books. The rule of three the name scientist was not in those is useful, but I would not exchange her days worn so easily. Huxley and Darfor it. I might do without my multi- win were old but yet alive, as were plication tables, and indeed do get many who still believed them to be along without them fairly well, never emissaries of the devil. having learned the seven, eight, and Doctor Highway loved truth, he hatnine tables properly. But these I take ed falsehood, and this with so much ferto be but subordinate things, - pawns, vor and so little compromise that he or at the very best but bishops and was pointed out by some as an atheist. knights of the game, limited to move He was perpetually inviting argument, in certain lines without deviation, but he, or she, had courage who acceptand not to be compared with a queen
ed the invitation. Once, when he expa-. who can move here or there at will, tiated on the marvels of mechanical taking, disconcerting, winning, and set- music-boxes, an older sister of mine, ting the whole of life into new relations. in her early teens, ventured boldly into
the open with the tentative remark that
wonderful as such music might be, III
might it not nevertheless lack soul? I have named Miss Lou Brooks first I can see him still. He jerked sharply because she made the first strong im
in his chair. He flung his penetrating pression on me; but she was only one of glance at her and at her only. He said, many not less memorable. She was in- with a sharpness that had all the effect deed but one star in a certain notable of anger, “What do you mean by soul!!' constellation of guests, which shone in You have seen a too bold rabbit scutone quarter of my heavens.
tle into a hole at the near sound of a Belonging to the same constellation, gun. My sister to outward appearances though of a different magnitude, was was still there; but to outward appearthe young German army officer, for in- ances only. She was indeed gone, van