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Title: Education in The Home, The Kindergarten, and The Primary School

Author: Elizabeth P. Peabody

Release Date: March 25, 2011 [EBook #35677]

Language: English

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Kindergarten Teachers.




"Come, let us live with our children."—Frœbel.




Among those who in the last twenty years have helped to spread a knowledge of the educational principles of Froebel beyond the limits of his native country, Miss Elizabeth Peabody's name deserves to be specially remembered. It is mainly owing to her enthusiastic efforts that the value of the Kindergarten was early recognised in the United States, and that its first American promoters were encouraged to maintain, amid many difficulties, a standard of real efficiency for the teachers of Froebel's system. Miss Peabody had long occupied herself, theoretically and practically, with educational subjects. Not satisfied by merely intellectual methods of instruction, and impatient of the superficiality which was too often approved, she made it her great aim to train character, and, by a simultaneous development of children's mental capacities and of their moral nature, to prepare them for the responsible duties of life. It was not surprising that when Miss Peabody, holding such views of education, came in contact with the ideas and the work of Froebel, she at once experienced the delight always attached to the discovery that the problems exercising our own minds have been successfully solved by some one who has started from principles such as ours, and who has cultivated the same ideal. She found that Froebel had carried into practice that very kind of training of which she had realized the immense importance, and that he had placed in a clear light truths which she had already more dimly perceived. Eager to inform herself about the new system, Miss Peabody travelled, in 1868, to Europe, on purpose to visit in Germany the Kindergartens established by Froebel, who was no longer living, and by his best pupils. On her return to America, she[vi] devoted herself for many years to the introduction and improvement of Kindergartens and of training institutions, and to enlightening, by her writings and addresses, mothers and educators respecting the value and simplicity of Froebel's methods. Miss Peabody has the satisfaction of witnessing a good measure of success from her generous exertions, in the increasing number of advocates of the Kindergarten in America, in its adoption as a first department of many State primary schools, and in the numerous private and charity Kindergartens founded from North to South, and from New York to San Francisco. Advanced now in years, this warm-hearted lady is engaged in other lines of philanthropic work, but she retains, and still manifests, her earnest interest in the educational progress which she has laboured so actively to secure.

Ever since Miss Peabody's zeal was kindled for Froebel's ideal as to young children's education, her help and criticism have been sought by the trainers of Kindergarten students in America, and by all who, with serious purpose, have thus worked for the movement. Hence she has often delivered lectures at the opening of the session at Normal Colleges, and on other occasions when she saw an opportunity of exercising influence in favour of rational principles of education. This book, which appeared only lately at Boston, consists of a few of such lectures. It is now, with Miss Peabody's consent, published in England, where many parents and teachers will be glad to profit by the author's wise and loving study of little children, and her sympathetic insight into Froebel's methods for their development. During the last few years various thoughtful writers on education have drawn attention here to the subject of infant management, and it is remarkable how widely the principles of Froebel and Pestalozzi are now recognised and accepted. But books are still greatly needed which, especially addressed to those who have charge of children, urge in a convincing[vii] manner how essential it is that the first few years should be rightly guided, and indicate certain defined educational aims. I think that Miss Peabody's lectures are likely to prove very useful in this direction. Though her readers will perhaps contest some of her psychological deductions, they cannot fail to be impressed and benefited by the high tone of her reasoning, by her evidently tender and reverent love of children, and by her excellent suggestions in regard to their harmonious development.

Amongst its other merits, this book tends to correct the still too prevalent notion, that the Kindergarten is a peculiar—an almost magical—institution, which provides a sure remedy for children's imperfections, apart from their home conditions. Doubtless, in the case of poor neglected little ones, the contrast between their treatment at the Kindergarten and their ordinary experience, is necessarily striking and decided, because the parents are careless and ignorant. But Froebel's view of the Kindergarten was, that it should be a supplementary help to the loving and judicious mother, who, owing to her many household and other duties, might be unable to give, through the whole day, to her younger children the regular attention which their awakening faculties need. It was to be a portion of the home pattern and web of training, not a patch of a new texture. He saw that a child requires to have about it, as Miss Peabody says, "love and thought in practical operation," and this not now and then, but always. And as the mother may have at times to transfer her children to the charge of others, he organised the Kindergarten—a higher nursery, under refined and motherly influences, for those that have passed out of babyhood. There, on the same principles as at home, they may be gently tended for two or three hours of the day, and developed in body, mind, and character. Froebel's object also was to provide companionship for these children, adapted to their age and attainments, which could only be done by[viii] including some from outside the family circle. But again, he desired to give the opportunity to inexperienced mothers of observing the patient and resourceful guidance carried out by even young teachers, who had been trained to study children, and had learnt how to occupy them suitably. Here we see another link with the home. Now Miss Peabody entered so much into Froebel's ideas that she helps to remove the Kindergarten out of its supposed exceptional sphere, and to show that the teachers represent temporarily the mother, doing that which the mother also aims, or ought to aim, at doing, for the children's good.

These Lectures are also useful in presenting a high ideal of Kindergarten teaching. Miss Peabody sees that the work of educating requires special qualifications in those who undertake it, and that such as are not fitted for it, had better take up a different career. At the same time placing, as always, character above intellect, she considers that most women, whose religious and moral nature is well cultivated, and who take pains to develop their mental powers, may hope for success in devoting themselves to the training of young children. Her writings are calculated to inspire the teacher with hearty zest for her labour, and yet with an abiding feeling that even years of practice leave her far behind her ever advancing standard. Miss Peabody encourages no exaggerated estimate of Froebel's thoughts and methods. She freely recognises that he gained many truths from fellow-students of children's nature and faculties; but she claims for him the originality which belongs to those who with unselfish aims bestow close attention on a subject of deep human interest. To teachers, therefore, as well as to all who love children, she says—and with this quotation I will close my few introductory remarks—"You will not be wise if you do not look out of Froebel's window."





Whoever proposes to become a kindergartner according to the idea of Frœbel, must at once dismiss from her mind the notion that it requires less ability and culture to educate children of three, than those of ten or fifteen years of age. It demands more; for, is it not plain that to superintend and guide accurately the formation of the human understanding itself, requires a finer ability and a profounder insight than to listen to recitations from books ever so learned and scientific? To form the human understanding is a work of time, demanding a knowledge of the laws of thought, will, and feeling, in their interaction upon the threshold of consciousness, which can be acquired only by the study of children themselves in their every act of life—a study to be pursued in the spirit that reveals what Jesus Christ meant, when he said: "He that receiveth a little child in my name, receiveth me, and Him that sent me;" "Woe unto him who offends one of these little ones, for their spirits behold the face of my Father who is in heaven."

Not till children who have been themselves educated according to Frœbel's principles, grow up, will there be found any adult persons who can keep kindergartens without devoting themselves to a special study of child-nature in the spirit of devout humility. For we are all suffering the ignorance and injury inevitable from having begun our own lives in the confusions of accidental and disorderly impressions, without having had the clue of reason put into our hands by that human providence of education, which, to be true, must[2] reflect point by point the Divine Providence, that according to the revelations of history is educating the whole race, and which may find hints for its procedure in observing the spontaneous play of children fresh from the hands of the Creator.

The education of children by a genial training of their spontaneous playful activities to the production of order and beauty within the humble sphere of childish fancy and affection, was a fresh idea with Frœbel; but, like every universal idea, it was not absolutely new in the world. Plato says, in his great book on Laws:—

"Play has the mightiest influence on the maintenance and non-maintenance of laws; and if children's plays are conducted according to laws and rules, and they always pursue their amusements in conformity with order, while finding pleasure therein, it need not be feared that when they are grown up they will break laws whose objects are more serious."

And again, in his Republic, he says:—

"From their earliest years, the plays of children ought to be subject to strict laws. For if their plays, and those who mingle with them, are arbitrary and lawless, how can they become virtuous men, law-abiding and obedient? On the contrary, when children are early trained to submit to laws in their plays, love for these laws enters into their souls with the music accompanying them, and helps their development."

You will observe Plato's association of music with the laws that are to regulate play. Music, with the Greeks, had indeed a broader meaning than attaches to the word with us, who confine it to that subtle expression of the sense of law and harmony which is made in the element of sound, and addressed to the imagination through the ear. All knowledge and art inspired by the sacred Nine, they named music. Singing was no more music than dancing, drawing,[3] the harmonizing of colors, plastic art, poetry, and science, which is nothing less than thinking according to the rhythmic laws of nature. To learn to commune with the Muses, daughters of Memory and Jove, who were led by the god Apollo, symbolizing the moral harmony of the universe, and expressing the mind of the Father of gods and men, by oracle, was learning music or how to live divinely; a process which may commence before children leave the nursery, if their plays are regulated according to artistic principles.

It is common to speak of the Greeks, as if they were of exceptional organization. I think their organization was only exceptional, because it was more carefully treated in infancy than ours is apt to be. I do not believe that in Greece, or anywhere in the world, there were ever more beautiful little children than there are in America; and the beauty would not be so transient as it unquestionably is with us, if truly cultivated persons took our children in hand from babyhood for the care of their bodies and minds, instead of leaving this work to the most ignorant class of the community, such as the general run of the servants who have the education of them during their earliest infancy. Even many parents who take care of their own children do not make it an object to study physiology or psychology, and seem to think that there is nothing in little children which requires special study, except indeed at the very first, when the child is put into the mother's arms more helpless than the lowest form of animal life (for the very insect is endowed by nature, as the child is not, with enough absolute knowledge—we call it instinct—to fulfil its small circle of relations without help of its parents). It seems mysterious, at first sight, that the child, whose duty and whose destiny it is to have dominion over nature, should be endowed least of all creatures with any absolute knowledge of it. But the mystery is solved when we consider that the happiness which is distinctively human, is only to be found in the discovery[4] and enjoyment of ever-widening relations to our kind, with the fulfilment of the duties belonging to them. It is the absolute helplessness of the human infant which challenges the maternal instinct to rush to his rescue, lest he should die at once. And to continue to study his manifestations of pleasure and discontent with obedient respectfulness, is the perfection of the maternal nursing. But when the child has got on so far as to know the simplest uses of its own body, and especially after it has learned enough words to express its simplest wants and sensations, even parents seem to think it can get on by itself, so that children from about two to five years of age are left to self-education, as it were; this virtual abandonment being crossed by a capricious and arbitrary handling of them—mind and body—on the part of those around them, which is even worse than the neglect; for when are children more unable, than between three and five years old, to guide their own thoughts and action? How would a garden of flowers fare, to be planted, and then left to grow with so little scientific care taken by the gardener, as is bestowed upon children between one and five years old?

Frœbel, in the very word kindergarten, proclaimed that gospel for children which holds within it the promise of the coming of the kingdom, in which God's will is to be done on earth as it is in heaven—a consummation which we daily pray for with our lips, but do not do the first thing to bring about, by educating our children in the way of order, which is no less earth's than "heaven's first law," and makes earth heaven so far as it is fulfilled.

A kindergarten means a guarded company of children, who are to be treated as a gardener treats his plants; that is, in the first place, studied to see what they are, and what conditions they require for the fullest and most beautiful growth; in the second place, put into or supplied with these conditions, with as little handling of their individuality as[5] possible, but with an unceasing genial and provident care to remove all obstructions, and favor all the circumstances of growth. It is because they are living organisms that they are to be cultivated—not drilled (which is a process only appropriate to insensate stone).

I think there is perhaps no better way of making apparent what this kindergartning is, which makes such an importunate demand on your consideration, than to tell you how the idea germinated and grew in the mind of Frœbel himself; for thus we shall see that it would be unreasonable to expect that it could be improvised by every teacher; but that here, as elsewhere in human life, God has sent into the world a gifted person to guide his fellows, according to the law enunciated by St. John in the 38th verse of the 4th chapter of his Gospel.

We have the materials of this history on Frœbel's own authority, in an autobiographical letter that he wrote to the Duke of Meiningen, whose interest in him was excited by an incident so characteristic of Frœbel, that I will relate it. Having heard of a cruel and stupid opposition made to the ardent educator by the unthinking officials of a region where he was making a martyr of himself, the duke made inquiries, which resulted in his offering him the situation of head-tutor to his only son. But Frœbel astonished him with a refusal of the place, sending the duke word that it would be impossible to educate, in a perfect manner, a child so isolated by conventional rank and circumstances that he must inevitably conceive himself to be intrinsically superior to other children. The duke was so much struck that a poor man, struggling with every difficulty, should refuse one of the highest posts in a royal household, with all its emoluments, from a purely conscientious scruple of this kind, that his curiosity was piqued. He sent for Frœbel, and they had a conversation upon the principles and spirit of a truly human education, by which Frœbel convinced him that a noble moral development[6] was indispensable to a truly intellectual one, so that the duke was actually persuaded to send his son as an equal with other boys to a neighboring school. One day, some little time after, the boy came home roaring, on account of a beating he had received from one of his playmates. The duke, in a transport of rage, asked the name of the offender, and said that he should be immediately expelled from the school. Then was Frœbel's advice justified. The young prince dried his tears, refused to tell the boy's name, and declared that "the beating was all fair!" It is quite consistent with these facts, that the duke should ask Frœbel how his idea grew in his mind. Frœbel's answer is still extant. I have not been able to get the original text, but I can give you the substance of it, as it was given to me.

Friedrich Frœbel was the son of a laborious pastor of seven villages in Thuringia. He lost his mother before his remembrance, and fell into the care of hard-worked domestic servants, with no light upon his infant life except what came from the love and sympathy of two older brothers, who cherished him when they were at home from boarding-school. The parsonage was in the shadow of the church, and into it no ray of sunshine ever came; and the child was kept drearily in the house. He tells of seeing workmen building a part of the church that had become dilapidated, and how he longed to imitate them; and traces to this desire of employing the time that hung so heavily on his hands, his discovery of the building instinct, so universal in childhood, and which he thought should always have simple materials afforded it with which to express itself. At last his father married again, and at first the stepmother petted the young child of her husband, and awakened in him a hope of a satisfying love, which he reciprocated with all the energies of his long-starved heart. But when the merely instinctive woman had a child of her own, a certain jealousy arose in her, and she repulsed poor little Friedrich, and "no longer"—as[7] he pathetically remarks—"called him thou," (du) which is an endearing expression in German, but he (er), which has a rough association. It is plain that the child was endowed with an immense sensibility to, or more than ordinary presentiment of the Divine Order of Nature, and with the extreme tendency to reflection always involved in this gift. As he was so poorly developed physically, he became in his joyless early life perhaps morbidly nervous. Disappointed in his timid efforts to please, all the sweet bells of his nature were jangled, and he was miserable—he knew not why. He says he always found himself doing the wrong thing—the too much, or the too little—and was complained of to his father, who treated him as a naughty boy. But sometimes the pastor took him out of his stepmother's way, to accompany himself in his parochial visits, in which Frœbel says he seemed continually to be settling family quarrels. This made on the child's mind an impression of things that was rather ludicrously expressed, when he one day asked of his oldest brother, who happened to come home from boarding-school, why it was that God had not made people all men, or all women, so that there should not be so much quarrelling in the world. In order to divert him from such premature consideration of social questions, the posed elder brother undertook to teach him botany according to the sexual system, revealing to him the law of contrasts conciliated with each other for the production of harmony and beauty. The child was delighted with what he was shown; but still his exceptionally moral genius importunately asked, why may not human differences be thus harmonized, to produce happiness and goodness? The presentiment of the great truth which was felt in his heart, though not yet caught by his mind, was signalized by another anecdote that he tells of himself. There was a rumor among the peasants of North Germany (it was about the year 1792) that the world was coming to an end; but Frœbel declares[8] that he could not make himself feel alarmed. He says he was sure it could not be true, because the will of God had not yet been brought about in human life. This extraordinary reflection of a child of ten years old was preceded, probably, by a happy change that came over him in consequence of the visit of his maternal uncle to his father's house; who, seeing that the child was not happy, invited him to go home with him to live with his grandmother. His uncle's house was bright and sunny, and he was received by his grandmother with joy and tenderness. Immediately the freedom of the fields was given him, provided only that he should come home punctually to the meals. He soon became so healthy and happy, that his uncle put him into a day school in the neighborhood, to the child's great delight. The school was opened, the first day he went into it, with a little sermon of the master's upon the text: "Seek first the kingdom of heaven and its righteousness, and all other things shall be added unto you." It must have been a wise and good discourse, for it left a life-long impression upon the mind of the little Frœbel. There was a law then, for human beings as well as for plants; human beings might consciously realize in happiness and virtue, the harmony and beauty unconsciously manifested by the vegetable world. For God was the Ever-present Friend and Lawgiver! He tells the duke how happy he felt himself in his new circumstances and opportunities, and blessed with this inspiring faith. After school, he went out to play with his schoolmates; but, alas! poor starveling of nature as he was, he found he could not play with his athletic companions, and had to sit on one side and look on; and then and there he distinctly came to a conclusion, which is a first principle of the kindergarten, that every child should have free exercise of his limbs in play, in order to get entire command of all the physical strength and agility they are capable of.

After a few years of this happy home and school life,[9] which he continually reflected upon in contrast with what he had suffered for so many years, the good grandmother died, and he was sent back to his stepmother. The question now came up, whether he should study for the university, where his brothers had gone; but the stepmother, in the interest of her younger child, opposed his father's spending the money, and he went to a farmer to learn practical agriculture. But he was physically so incompetent to the labor of a farm life, that it did not pay; and being sent home by the farmer, he was finally apprenticed to a forester, where he found genial occupation in wood-lore, and in studying geometry for the purpose of surveying. Here he became a thorough and ardent mathematician. But his friend the forester died, or was removed, which brought this occupation to a premature close. At that moment, however, a maternal relation died, and left him a little money, so that he went to the University of Jena, where he devoted himself principally to the physical sciences; and by and by we find him curator of the Mineralogical Museum of Berlin. Here he made a great impression on the mind of a young lady who frequented the museum, by the "sermons" that he found "in stones," for he read them out to her, showing that in inorganic nature, so called, could be traced not only laws of decay, that threw into stronger light those laws of life that he had learned to see in vegetation, but those of crystallization. Everywhere he read God's revelation of the processes of life and death, which also make human development and happiness, or its deterioration and misery.

The trumpet call of patriotism, to rescue Germany from French despotism, made by the good Queen Louise of Prussia, called him from these peaceful studies to partake in the great national act of delivering his country; and he obeyed it by volunteering his service. Though his regiment was never called into battle, he always rejoiced in the effects upon himself of learning the military drill, as well as in the life-long[10] friendships he made in camp. After the war was over, a legacy received at the death of his uncle Hoffman gave him the means to enter an architect's office, to which he had a great attraction. He was boarding at Frankfort-on-the-Main, where Middendorf and other of his late military friends were boarding, who had just engaged themselves as teachers in the city, waiting to perfect this arrangement. It was a moment when there was a great uprising of education in Germany, and that system was beginning to germinate, which has turned out to make Prussia the effective power in Europe that she has lately proved herself to be; and whose first principle is, that the primary is the most important stage of education. In connection with this general movement, there was about to be established a new school in Frankfort; and Grüner, its principal, who was one of the boarders, talked over with Frœbel and the others the new plan. Whatever Frœbel said was so striking and vital, that Grüner at last exclaimed: "Plainly this is your vocation! Give up the architecture, and come in with us, and help to build men." Strange to say, though Frœbel had all his life been meditating upon the secret of human education, this was the first time it occurred to him to make it his own business. The more he thought of Grüner's suggestion, the more he liked it; and the issue was, that he took one of the younger classes in the new school. Immediately afterwards he wrote to his brother that at last he had found his element—he "felt like a bird in air, a fish in water." But the teachers were hampered in their action by the proprietors of the school; and after a season Grüner said to Frœbel, "You should lead; not be led. I release you from your engagement. Set up independently, and carry out your own ideas unhindered."

When his purpose of leaving was known, one of the parents who patronized the school, gave him his two sons to educate, just as he should think best; and because he now[11] heard of Pestalozzi, he took them to Yverdun, where he remained as pupil with them, for a season. But he was not quite satisfied with Pestalozzi's methods. He saw there was a process to be attended to, anterior to the observation of objects; namely, to employ and discipline the activity of children yet too young to attend except to what they are themselves doing. Education was to begin, as he saw, in doing, and thence proceed to knowing. In returning from Yverdun, his elder brother, and his younger brother's widow, offered him their children to add to the two young Frankforters; and the widow offered, besides, a small house that she owned in Keilhau, if he would fit it up. He and Middendorf and another friend united together and accepted this offer; and, with their own hands repaired the house, living in the outbuildings meanwhile and subsisting on rations most carefully economized. They then, for one thing, went to work on the land, which they taught the children to cultivate, and deduced their lessons out of the objects into which they were putting their life and labor. To these six children three cultivated men devoted themselves; and Frœbel also wrote to the lady that used to study with him in the Mineralogical Museum of Berlin, and she took her fortune, and left her rank, to help the poor schoolmaster in his life work, as the most devoted of wives.

Working on the land was not all that they did. They began with it, because the children of the city had been rather starved of the gratification of that instinct to work in the earth, which very soon appears in all children—though, as Frœbel says, it will die out by being left uncultivated. He found that his pupils had been already injured by their artificial city life, and in many ways they had things to unlearn. It was not a perfectly easy thing to determine how much liberty to give to individual tendencies that had been exaggerated by the reactions of disorder, or of an artificial order. Frœbel thought the educator should give full play[12] to all that is universal in human nature without pampering human idiosyncrasy, to do which was the vicious point of Rousseau's system that Frœbel has happily avoided. It was natural that he should first bring before his pupils the processes of vegetable growth, because it was in observing them that he had himself first found the laws of God. But he was older than any child in the kindergarten when he learned that lesson. Observation of anything outward is not the first thing in human development, but exertion of powers from within, which provokes the reaction of the outward and makes it known.

I cannot follow out, in this introductory lecture, all his studies of the nature of man in these children, and all his experiments of cultivation. But I hope to do so in those which follow. The school founded in Keilhau exists to this day; but Frœbel ever found himself going back till at last he came to the infant in the mother's arms. Then he went into the huts of the peasantry to observe the mother's instinctive ways, reason upon them, purify them of her individual caprices and selfishness, and eliminate everything inconsistent with the divine idea and method of procedure, indicated by the instinct to the intelligence. He did not confine himself to Keilhau, where Middendorf steadily lived, though always keeping in relation with it; but went at times to other places, and once, for a year or two, left all, to go to the University of Göttingen to study philology. There he made himself acquainted with Greek, Latin, and Sanskrit, studying out those laws of mind exemplified in the formation and decay of languages. For it was the secret of a perfect development that he sought, and how to keep his pupils at the height they "were competent to gain." After half a century of the study of childhood in the living subject, and elaboration of the means of discipline, he settled in his old age into the conviction, that the most important period of human education was before the child was seven years old.[13] And his last years were spent in preparing teachers for kindergartens at Rudolstadt and at Hamburg—which he did by teaching before them as well as by lecturing to them. Now it is what he discovered and elaborated, and has left, not in logical formulas, though he has certainly stated principles in words and embodied them in songs, but in processes of work and play, that is to be taught in our training schools. It took a Newton to discover gravitation and other principles of nature, but men without genius can comprehend and apply these principles, which they could not, like him, discover. So it took a Frœbel's genius to discover the first principles of education, and his sensibility to apply them without mistake; but intelligent and heartful young women can learn them and apply them, if—and only if—they will study devoutly and faithfully what he has taught; and in doing so they will find themselves—not becoming artificial, but more profoundly natural than ever; for the true educational process is but the mother's instinct and method, clearly understood in all its bearings, and acted out. To be a kindergartner is the perfect development of womanliness—a working with God at the very fountain of artistic and intellectual power and moral character. It is therefore the highest finish that can be given to a woman's education, to be educated for a kindergartner; and it is from the most advanced classes of high and normal schools, public and private, that the pupils of our training schools should come, and from the most refined circles of private life—remembering that these are not identical with wealthy and fashionable ones, for in the latter we often find the vulgar and coarse. The refinement of feeling and thought which is always attended with gentle and courteous manners is a religious quality, that not seldom glorifies humble homes whose inmates escape the sometimes hardening effect of poverty by "seeing Him who is invisible," while those "the imagination of whose hearts are evil continually," and even the merely[14] frivolous, betray that they have "faculties that they have never used" though they dwell in palaces.

Ever since the normal teaching of kindergartners was begun in America, in 1868, letters have been received from teachers, already at work in the old routine of primary instruction, asking for knowledge of the plays and occupations invented by Frœbel; in order that, by means of them, they may give such prestige to their infant schools as the name of kindergarten may. But this superficial, inappreciative use of Frœbel's processes, is as fatal to his reform as was judaizing to the primitive Christian Church. Frœbel's method is a radical change of direction. It changes the educator's point of view. Instead of looking down upon the child, the kindergartner must clear her mind of all foregone arbitrary conclusions, and humbly look up to the innocent soul, which in its turn sees nothing but the face of the Father in heaven—(for thus Christ explains children's being "of the kingdom of heaven"). This is difficult for her to do, because—not seldom—a shadow has fallen on the original innocence of the children confided to her care, from those human beings in relation to them, who have not done for them what every human being needs by reason of the essential dependence of individuals upon their race.

The child is doubtless an embryo angel; but no less certainly a possible devil. If the immortal will, impassioned by the heart, which never rests permanently satisfied till the mind recognizes God, be puzzled, it may be turned in a wrong direction by what it meets, and then the manifestation will be ugly and more or less hateful. Evil is the inevitable effect of an ignorant, disorderly action of the will; of its not adopting the laws of order, by which God creates the universe, and of which the universe is the unconscious exponent. But knowledge of the laws of order must come to guide the will, from outside the child's conscious individuality,[15] through the human providence of education, in which the heavenly Father veils His infinite power, in order that the child may be free to make the choice of good, that shall lift him from the state, of merely instinctive being, into that union of Love and Thought, which characterizes a spirit creative, i.e., causing effects.

Perhaps you will say that if human influence must embody Divine Providence, in order to educate, then children never will be educated. Well! Except in one instance I admit that children never have been educated up to the ideal standard. But the one instance of the perfectly Divine Son of the perfectly holy Mother; and the partial successes of such fitful good education as history and tradition report, forbid us to despair of making human education a worthy image of Divine Providence. To despair of this is want of the proper action of human free will,—Faith.

The first qualification of the true kindergartner, then, is Faith, which can be based only on the abiding conviction that God is with us "to will and to do," if we will only have the courage to take for granted that if we are willing, He will make of us divine guides to others. That He is calling them to be so, whoever feels a strong love of children, sympathy with their life, and sensibility to their beauty, may have a reasonable assurance; and that such as shall faithfully qualify themselves for the work will not fail of the divine help. But observe my proviso. Their love must not be a passing emotion, grounded on the children's superficial beauty. It must be a love that involves patience, that can stand the manifestation of ugly temper, and perverse will, and never lose sight of the embryo angel that wears for the moment the devilish mask. In children, evil is actual, but always superficial and temporary, if the educator does not become party to it by losing her own temper and idea. Also she must have resources by means of a cultivated understanding and imagination, to command the child's imagination and heart.[16]

It may be said that everybody cannot have, at will, imagination and culture. This is true; but such persons should not undertake to keep a kindergarten. Let them do something else; keep shop, cultivate vegetables, work the sewing machine; even keep those schools for older children, in which books are the main teachers. There are multitudes of things to be done; the greatest variety of functions to be performed in human life. But of all things to do, the cultivation of human beings at that period of life when they are utterly at the mercy of those who teach them, is the most sacred. Why rush into that, impelled by any motive below the highest?

On the other hand, I do not wish to produce any artificial sentimentality on this subject. It is my belief that the average woman is sufficiently gifted by nature to make a good kindergartner, if she will give her nature fair play, by cultivating religious and moral sentiment; and will take pains to develop her intellect by the study of nature's laws in at least one department of science—that of vegetable physiology for instance, the materials of which are everywhere. One who could not be educated to become a kindergartner, should never dare to become a mother; for she would not know even how to choose the assistance necessary to her for the work that ought to be done for every child by somebody. While I would discourage, and if possible effectually frighten every one from professing kindergartning who is morally disqualified by sordid aims, or by making it a means to another end than itself, I welcome the young and ardent to this beautiful womanly work, which, to do well, requires of them to do the very best thing for their own intellect and heart, and which, more certainly than anything else, will give them the secret of Power and Beauty.

It was my privilege, a year or two since, to pass a week in one of the schools of the feeble-minded; and I there saw six women, some of them quite young girls, devoted to the[17] terrible work of waking up Will and Perception in those poor prisoners of mal-organization, so many of them frightful to look upon. They were doing their work under the strongest sense of humanity and religion. It would have been impossible to do it at all, as they were doing it, had they had no other inspiration than the pay they were receiving. The main reward was in their having some success in waking up the mind. In their countenances something angelic was dawning; and this was not my fancy merely, for I heard the same remark made again and again, by persons who went there as I did. I do not think one of these women wished to leave the good work; and if acting on a mind-cherishing principle was so interesting, and productive of such reactive effects, in such sad circumstances, how much more may be expected from working upon children fairly gifted! The charm of the sadder work was, that, like kindergartning, it stimulated to profound study of the laws of mental nature, in order to work reverently among them, instead of arbitrarily, in defiance or irreverence of them. To do this made these women feel that they were working with God; and this made them practical saints. But why cannot we believe that God is present, and acting with us, and wooing us to act with Himself, in the joyous paradise of life, as well as in chambers of disease, and among the wretched? Is He not the God of the living and joyful, as well as of the dying and sad? Why is the church-yard only a grave-yard? Why should it not always be a kindergarten?

One of the pleasantest observations that I made of the kindergartens of Germany—and I went to the very best ones, those kept by the kindergartners whom Frœbel had trained—was the happy absorption of the teachers in the children; their sympathy with them; the utter companionship between them. I never saw a punishment; I never heard a Don't (or its German equivalent); but when anything went wrong, there was always a pause, and sometimes[18] questions were asked; and all seemed to wait till the inward guide had been brought out into consciousness (whether the thing in hand was social action or artistic work). Perhaps it might be harder work to govern American children. Their vivacious temperament, their lively energies, need "conscious law" as a curb, rather than as a spur. But all the more is it necessary for the American kindergartner to vivify the invisible guide; she should present order to the mind, by her genial questioning and conversation over the work in hand, rather than exert an arbitrary power which might stimulate the reaction of obstinacy or the subterfuges of cunning. To govern is not the whole thing. The question is how we govern; whether we so govern as to make a cringing slave, a cunning hypocrite, or an intelligent, law-abiding, self-respecting, willing servant of God. I have seen a magnetic teacher produce a marvellous obedience, and apparent order, by his imposing presence and keen satire. He imagined that he governed by moral power; but as soon as he was out of the schoolroom, the children were the victims of their own impulses, to which seemed given a stronger spring by the enforced repression. There is no order which is more than skin deep, unless it be the free, glad obedience of the child to a law, which he perceives to be creative because it enables him to do something real. Nothing short of the union of love and thought can produce spiritual power, i.e., creativeness. It is only spiritual power that inaugurates order—the Eternal Beauty may be inaugurated in childhood and among childish toys.

There is reason, on their own account, why we want our pupils, in this art of kindergartning, to be in their disposition and circumstances above merely pecuniary motive for entering on the work; and that is, because it will be long before the work will pay much in money. I need not adduce any other proof of this than our experience in Boston; where, for four years, the rarely gifted, thoroughly educated, religiously[19] devoted Alma Kriege poured out her young energies on classes of less than a score of children; bringing her a pittance so small that she had to fill up the rest of her hours, which ought to have been given to recreation and culture, with other work, in order to pay for rent and necessary bread. Our rich and cultivated people will not forego a little more upholstery than is necessary, or a style of dress that makes the laundry bill—to say nothing of the mantua-maker's and milliner's—larger than the school bill, in order to give the required remuneration to the kindergartner for spending herself on their children in exhausting study and labor. But the truth is, people do not really believe that anything better can be done for children than to kill the time between the mother's arms and the season when they are to be taught to read; and so this precious interval, when the habits of thought and affection are forming, is given up to be filled by chance, risking life-long difficulties for the child.

Now, what is to reform this state of things? Nothing but the self-sacrificing work of kindergartners, who, for the sake of enlightening these benighted parents, will do their work faithfully, steadily refusing to undertake the care of those whom their parents will not trust to Frœbel's system. The refusal will not seldom force the truth on the parents—who, when they know it, will be glad to know it. I do not say to any particular person, it is your duty to wear yourself out and half starve, for the sake of keeping a kindergarten. It is only you who are sufficiently free from other obligations, to give yourselves the privilege and luxury of working with God, on the paradisaical ground of childhood, who should enter this field. If you can make it your object to study how to avoid offending those who are beholding the face of the Father in heaven, by not hindering, but bringing them to Christ, which means helping them to grow as He did, in grace as in stature, and in favor with God and man, till like Him they become redeemers of their brethren from bondage,[20] and can help to make earth the kingdom of heaven; then you may hope, in your day and generation, to initiate kindergartning, and make the way smooth for those that follow. When the true thing is initiated, it will pay even in money; for parents will see that it is invaluable.

It is twenty-two years since Frœbel died. He had made a band of kindergartners, and set them at work. They all began with small pecuniary reward. It was at first a starving business. In Europe it is more difficult than it is here, to induce women of culture and position to undertake any work which is paid for with money. Frœbel's genius had overcome this prejudice in a few instances. The ladies of one wealthy family in Hamburg became his pupils, one of whom introduced it into England, though under some great disadvantages. The Baroness Marenholtz-Bülow is the most important person inspired by Frœbel; and the circumstances of her introduction to him are even picturesque. Being in feeble health, she went into an obscure village for rest and retirement; and one day asked the woman with whom she boarded, if anything interesting was going on among the villagers. The woman replied that there was "one queer thing, a natural fool who played about among the children, who followed him, and were very much taken up with him." The Baroness hardly heeded this singular assertion; but some time after, being abroad for exercise, she saw a white-haired man under a tree, with a group of children around him; and, thinking this might be the "natural fool," she drew near, and was soon arrested by what she heard, and joined the little throng herself. Subsequent interviews with Frœbel—for it was he—made a new era in her life, and she corresponded with him closely till his death. She has since been his chief apostle. After years of earnest work, with tongue and pen, she succeeded in getting rid of the injunction against his schools, made by the Prussian Government, which was jealous of what claimed to be an improvement on[21] their world-renowned Reform. Since this injunction was taken off, she has worked, by means of a normal school which she helped to found in Berlin, in which she lectured gratuitously many years, fighting earnestly against just such deteriorations of the system as have already begun to appear in this country. Some of the pseudo-kindergartens use the plays and occupations there, as here, in the most superficial way. When children work by patterns, or are shown—instead of being told in words—how to do things, they merely imitate, with as little accompaniment of intellectual action as a monkey; and neither the mind nor the character will be developed, but rather dissipated and weakened. Others, especially in this country, use the plays in the intervals between lessons or reading,—which, being taught before the mind has been regularly developed by success in doing things, and before the meaning of words has been learned in an adequate manner, are confused with a chaos of unrelated particulars, that it will take years of self-education, by and by, to grow out of; and, in short, only a few vigorous natures fortunately situated ever surmount the difficulty.

But the work of the Baroness has not been in vain; and she writes in a late letter that a government decree has just been made in Austria, ordering that all the children between four and six years of age should be sent to kindergartens; and that every normal school must give kindergarten training, and every teacher, whether of that or the following stages of education, must be made acquainted with Frœbel's principles and practices. This great step is the final result of the agitation of the subject for the last few years in Europe, which began in the first Philosophers' Congress at Prague, in 1867. The dying out of the teachers instructed by Frœbel himself was manifestly producing a deteriorating effect in the quality of kindergartners; and his most intelligent and devoted disciples proposed to the Congress an effort for the revival of his science and art in its pristine purity and power.[22]

It is most desirable that such falsification and deterioration do not get ahead in America. But there is impending danger of it, and it can only be prevented by establishing and keeping up adequate training-schools, and so informing public opinion, that it shall not be tolerated in the community to call by the sacred name of kindergarten anything short of it. There will necessarily be infant schools of an inferior quality for a long time, because it will take time to make common an adequate education in the art of kindergartning; but let such be called play-schools. Pretenders in this profession should be frowned upon by all good people, as pretenders in the clerical profession are. They do more harm than bad clergymen can, because the subjects of their teaching are more helpless and undefended, and can do nothing for themselves.

The experience I have had in my apostolate in this cause, has brought me to the conclusion that in America the best way to proceed is, to induce the public authorities to have kindergartning taught in the State and city normal schools, and to open public kindergartens as fast as there are adequate teachers for them.

Everything depends on the quality of the first kindergartners we train—their spiritual, moral and intellectual quality—which must be such as to operate in two ways: first, to do for the children the right thing; secondly, to educate the community to require it done as a general thing. Many characteristics of America give great encouragement. We are not dragged back, as they are in Europe, by old customs, whose roots are intertwined with the heart-strings of inherited sentiment. Our patriotic hearts fasten themselves on the great future that our fathers died to inaugurate. We must justify their ideal of universal equality, by an equal education, an equal opportunity for development of all our people. "The spirit that makes all things new," as the heart of childhood craves, and its hand is eager to enact, is[23] "every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God," to make alive the human heart. Therefore we leave behind us—more and more—those conventions of the Old World that have made even the great work of educating rank as inferior to that which wields the sword of war. Some people groan at seeing how the growing facilities of getting money, which our institutions give to every man and woman of energy, is effacing the old distinctions of rank. But if our Culture may be made universal, by employing part of this money in making public education adequate, what ground will be left for distinction of rank? What pretext for exclusion will there be, when there are none rude and uncultivated to be excluded? That any distinction of ranks came among the children of God is incidental to free agency. Children know nothing of them—till we profane their golden age of innocence by revealing them. (Appendix, Note A.)[25]



It is my object to inspire, if I can, an enthusiasm for educating children strictly on Frœbel's method, and no other; and I wish to justify myself by giving reasons for this; for I know that, at first sight, Americans start back from putting faith in any leader; immediately exclaiming, that they must be free to follow the light of their own minds.

This sounds large and liberal, certainly; and no one sees the danger of yielding to any individual authority more than I do; but it is certain that nothing may make us so narrow, as a bigoted adherence to the rule of following the light of our own mind condignly. The light of our own individual mind may be darkness; it must, in any case, be that of a farthing candle, compared with Eternal Reason, "the light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world." The question is, do we distinguish between that greater light and our own idiosyncrasy, with a becoming and discriminating humility? I once heard a lady, whose name was Gurley, say to a witty gentleman, that she believed "in the total depravity of human nature from the experience of her own heart." Ah! but that is not quite fair, he replied, "for how do you know what is human nature and what is Gurleyism?" Here is tersely suggested the danger of the individualistic philosophy, which has developed itself into a new kind of bigotry in these later days, not less denunciatory in its animus than any other; and which shuts up its votaries in a dungeon from the light of Universal experience. I acknowledge the legitimacy of the philosophy of[26] individualism, as a protest against the glittering generality which theological philosophy had become, at the time when it arose; and as affirmation that God makes every man separately an eye, and if he would see into the Infinite Over-soul, he must look with it out of his own window. But this is only the way to begin to search for truth. If he is not self-intoxicated, every man soon learns that his window does not command the whole horizon, that God not only has given a window to him, but to every other man; that we are all free to look out of each others' windows, some being higher up in the tower of the common humanity than our own, commanding wider views; in fine that it is with all the sons of man that "wisdom dwells," and they must inter-communicate with mutual reverence if they would know her well. Frœbel had not been so wise, had he not, with reverent humility, sought what God says immediately to mothers and babes. You will not be wise if you do not look out of Frœbel's window.

The story I told you, in my last lecture, of the growth of Frœbel's mind from his boyhood, suggested the fact that the common motherly instinct, purified of individual passion and caprice, and, understanding itself as the presence of the Living God overshadowing her, is the social atmosphere necessary to be breathed by every child who is to grow in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.

Frœbel learned this primal fact or truth, first negatively, as it were, by lacking it in his own childish experience; and he verified it positively afterwards, by studying the method of unsophisticated mothers, at that earliest period of their children's lives, when, in order to keep them alive merely, the nurse must take the rule of her nursing from the needs which her heart divines, aided by the nursling's own expression of want and content—its tears and smiles.

Let us then determine first, as he did, the nursery art, which is preliminary to that of the Kindergarten.

By the primal miracle (i.e., wonder working) of nature, the[27] mother finds in her arms a fellow-being, who has an immeasurable susceptibility of suffering, and an immeasurable desire of enjoyment, and an equally immeasurable force intent on compassing this desire, already in activity, but with no knowledge at all of the material conditions in which he is placed, to which he is subject, and by which he is limited in the exercise of this immense nature.

As I have said before, every form of animal existence but the human, is endowed with some absolute knowledge, enabling it to fulfil its limited sphere of relationship as unerringly as the magnetized needle turns to the pole, and, even with more or less of enjoyment; yet with no forethought. But the knowledge that is to guide the blind will of the human being, even to escape death in the first hour of its bodily life, exists substantially outside of its own individuality in the mother, or whoever supplies the mother's place.

And throughout the existence of the human being, the forethought that is to enable him to appreciate his ever multiplying relations with his own kind, and which grows wider and sweeter as he fulfils the duties they involve, is essentially outside of himself as a mere individual; being found first in those who are in relation with him in the family, afterwards in social, national, cosmopolitan relationship; till at last he realizes himself to be in sonship with God, in whom all humanity, nations, families, individuals, "live and move and have their being." There is no absolute isolation or independency possible for a spiritual being. This is a truth involved in the very meaning of the word spirit, and revealed to every family on earth, by the ever recurring fact of the child born into the arms of a love that emparadises both parties, on which he lives more or less a pensioner throughout his whole existence, so far as he lives humanly, finding fullness of life at last in the clear vision and conscious communion of an Infinite Father, who has been revealing Himself all along, in the love of parent and child,[28] brother and sister, husband and wife, friend, fellow-citizen and fellow-man. Christ said, that little children see the Father face to face, but surely not with the eyes of the body or of the understanding! They see him with the heart. And is it not true, that we never quite forget the child's vision in turning our eyes on lower things? for what but remembrance of our Heavenly Father's face is hope, "that springs eternal in the human breast?" What but this remembrance are the ideals of beauty, that haunt the savage and the sage? the sense of law that gives us our moral dignity, and in the saddest case, what but this are the pangs of remorse, in which, as Emerson has sung in his wonderful sphinx song, "lurks the joy that is sweetest?"

Frœbel has authority with me, because, in this great faith, making himself a little child, he received little children in the name (that is, as germinating forms) of the Divine humanity, with a simple sincerity, such as few seem to have done since Jesus claimed little children as the pure elements of the kingdom he came to establish on earth; and exhorted that, as they were such, they should be brought to him as the motherly instinct prompted, and declared that they were not to be forbidden (that is, hindered as all false education hinders.)

As an American then, and more—as a human being, I acknowledge no authority except the union of love and thought in practical operation. But whenever I see this union in any one, to a greater degree than I have it in myself, I bow before that person, and feel (which is the subtlest kind of knowing) that I am larger wiser, freer, more effective for good, by following and obeying him as a master for the time being.

Therefore, after the study I have made of Frœbel, and of the method with little children that he was fifty years discovering and elaborating into practical processes, whose rationale and creative influence I perceive; I feel, as it were,[29] Divinely authorized to present him to you as an authority which you can reverently trust; and so be delivered from the uncertainties of your own narrow and crude notions, inexperienced and ignorant as you undoubtedly are, however talented.

It is quite necessary for me to say, and for you to accept this now, or our short time together will be wasted. There is a time for criticism undoubtedly, and nothing is true that can not make itself good against "honest doubt." But as Sterne has said, "of all the cants that are canted in this canting world, though the cant of hypocrisy may be the worst, the cant of criticism is the most provoking. I would go fifty miles on foot to kiss the hand of that man, whose generous heart will give up the reins into his author's hands, for the time being, and let him lead him where he will." I am quoting from memory, and may forget the exact words; but the idea is, that the mood of self-surrendering reverence is the mood for profitable study, for it is to "become a little child," which Christ told his disciples was the condition of any one's becoming the greatest in the kingdom of Divine Truth.

Let us begin, then, with reverently considering the new born child, as Frœbel did; for that is to be "the light of all our seeing."

A child is a living soul, from the very first; not a mere animal force, but a person, open to God on one side by his heart, which appreciates love, and on the other side to be opened to nature, by the reaction upon his sensibility of those beauteous forms of things that are the analysis of God's creative wisdom; and which, therefore, gives him a growing understanding, whereby his mere active force shall be elevated into a rational, productive will. For heart and will are, at first, blind to outward things and therefore inefficient, until the understanding shall be developed according to the order of nature.[30]

But during this process of its development, adult wisdom must supply the place of the child's wisdom, which is not, as yet, grown; that is—an educator must point out the way, genially, not peremptorily; for in following the educator's indications, the child must still act in a measure from himself. As he is irrefragably free, he will not always obey; he will try other paths—perhaps the contrary one—by way of testing whether he has life in himself. But unless he shall go a right way, he will accomplish nothing satisfactory and reproductive; and it is Frœbel's idea to give him something to do, within the possible sphere of his affection and fancy, which shall be an opportunity of his making an experience of success, that shall stimulate him to desire, and thereby make him receptive of the guidance of creative law, which is the only true object for the obedience of a spiritual being.

To the new born child, his own body is the whole universe; and the first impression he gets of it seems to come from his need of nutriment. But it is the mother, not the child, that responds to this want, by presenting food to the organ of taste, and producing a pleasurable impression which arouses the soul to intend itself into the organ, which is developed to receive impression more and more perfectly, by the child's seeking for a repetition of the pleasure. For a time, whatever uneasiness a child feels, he attempts to remove by the exercise of this organ, through which he has gained his first pleasant impression of objective nature. Therefore is it, that his lips and tongue become his first means of examining the outward world into which he has been projected by his Creator.

The ear seems to be the next organ of which the child becomes conscious, or through which he receives impressions of personal pleasure and pain; and here it is noticeable, that rhythmical sound seems, from the very first, to give most pleasure; and is wonderfully effective to soothe the nerves,[31] and remove uneasiness. All mothers and nurses sing to babies, as well as rock them, (which is rhythmical motion,) and this pleasant impression on the ear diverts the child from intending himself exclusively into the organ of tasting. He now stretches himself into his ears, whose powers are developed by gently exercising their function of hearing.

The child seems to taste and hear, before he begins to see anything more definite than the difference between light and darkness. By and by a salient point of light, it may be the light of a candle, catches and fixes his eye, and gives a distinct visual impression, which is evidently pleasurable, for the child's eye follows the light, showing that the soul intends itself into the organ of sight. Soon after, gay colors fix its gaze and evidently give pleasure. The eye for color is developed gradually, like the ear for music, by exercise, which being pleasurable becomes spontaneous.

The whole body is the organ of touch; but as the hands are made convenient for grasping, to which the infant has an instinctive tendency, and the tips of the fingers are especially handy for touching, they become, by the intension of the mind into them, the special organ for examining things by touch, and getting impressions of qualities obvious to no other sense. When, as it sometimes happens, by malformation or maltreatment of them, the eyes fail to perform their functions, it is wonderful how much more the soul intends itself into the special organs of touch, developing them to such a degree, that a cultivated blind person seems almost to see with the tips of the fingers. This fact proves what I have been trying to impress on your minds, that the soul which spontaneously desires and wills enjoyment, takes possession and becomes conscious of its organs of sensuous perception, partly by an original impulse, given to it by the Creator, and partly, (which I want you especially to observe,) by the genial, sympathetic, intelligent, careful co-working of the mother and nurse; who, by what we call[32] nursery play, gives a needed help to the child to accomplish this feat in a healthy and pleasurable manner. And we shall be better convinced of the virtue of this nursery play, if we consider the case of the neglected children of the very poor, so pathetically described by Charles Lamb. See essays on Popular Fallacies, No. 12.

Madame Marenholtz-Bülow has happily remarked, in her preface to Jacob's Manual, Le jardin des Enfans, that "to develop and train the senses is not to pamper them." The organs of tasting and smelling do not require so much exercise by the duplicate action of the mother, as those of seeing and hearing. The former have for their end to build up the body; the latter to lead the child's mind out of the body, to that part of nature which connects him with other persons. The functions of both are equally worthy; but those of the latter belong to the child as a social and intellectual being. It is the mother's office to temper the exercises of each sense, so that they may limit and balance each other. And in order to limit those which are building up the body, so that they shall not absorb the child, the action of the others must be helped out. "Our bodies feel—where'er they be—against or with our will;" but to see and hear all that children can, requires exertion of will and this is coaxed out by the sympathetic action of others. Yet the functions of tasting or smelling are not to be banned. The Creator has made them delightful; and if others do their proper part, their exercise will never become harmful. To enjoy tasting and smelling is no less innocent than to enjoy seeing and hearing. There is no function of mind or body but may be performed Divinely. Milton shows insight into this truth by making Raphael sit and eat at table with man in Paradise; and he says some wonderful things upon the point, which will bear much study. And have we not in sacred tradition a symbol, still more venerable, of the truth, that the fire of spirit burns without consuming, and[33] may transform the body without leaving visible residue? There are in Brown's philosophy (which does not penetrate into all the mysteries of the rational soul and immortal spirit) some very instructive chapters on the social and moral relations of the grosser senses, (as taste, smell and touch are sometimes called.) It is the part of rational education to understand all these things thoroughly, and adjust the spontaneous activities by subordinating them to the end of a harmonious and beneficent social life. The Lord's Supper may be made to illustrate this general human duty.

There is doubtless marked difference in the original energy of life, in different children. Young—but not too young, happy, healthy, loving parents, have the most vigorous, lively and harmoniously organized children; but in all cases, the impulse of life must be met and cherished by the tender, attractive, inspiring force of motherly love; which with caressing tone and invoking smile, peers into the infant's eyes, and importunately calls forth the new person, who, as her instinctive motherly faith and love assure her, is there; and whom she yearns to make conscious of himself in self-enjoyment. The time comes when the little body has become so far subject to the new soul, that an answering smile of recognition signalizes the arrival upon the shores of mortal being of "that light which never was on sea or land," another immortal intelligence! It is only the smile of the intelligent human face, that can call forth this smile of the child in the first instance; but let this glad mutual recognition of souls take place once, and both parties will seek to repeat the delight, again and again. Few persons, indeed, get so chilled by the sufferings and disappointments, and so hardened by the crimes of human life, but on the sight of a little child, they are impelled to invoke this answering smile by making themselves, for the moment, little children again; seeking and finding that communion with our kind which is the Alpha and Omega of life.[34]

Do not say that I am wandering, fancifully, from the serious work which we are upon: I am only beginning at the beginning. We can only understand the child, and what we are to do for it in the Kindergarten, by understanding the first stage of its being—the pre-intellectual one in the nursery. The body is the first garden in which God plants the human soul, "to dress and to keep it." The loving mother is the first gardener of the human flower. Good nursing is the first word of Frœbel's gospel of child-culture.

The process of taking possession of the organs, that I have just described, is never performed perfectly unless children are nursed genially. If bitter and disagreeable things are presented to the organ of the taste, they are rejected with the whole force of a will, which is too blind in its ignorance to find the thing it wants, but vindicates its irrefragable freedom of choice by uttering cries of fright, pain and anger, as it shrinks back, instead of throwing itself forward into nature. If the cruel thing is repeated, the nerves are paralyzed, or at least rendered morbid, especially when rude untender handling outrages the sense of touch. When rough and discordant sounds assail the ear, or too sharply salient a light, the eye, these organs will be injured, and may be rendered useless for life. The neglected and maltreated child is dull of sense, and lifeless, or morbidly impulsive, possibly savagely cruel and cunning, in sheer self-defence. The pure element and first condition of perfect growth, is the joy that responds to the electric touch of love.

Underlying and outmeasuring all this delicate development of the organs of the five senses, is the whole body's instinct of motion, which is the primal action of will. The perfectly healthy body of a little child, when it is awake, is always in motion—more or less intentionally. When asleep, there is the circulation of the blood, and pulsation of the solids of the body, corresponding to the act of breathing,[35] which is involuntary; and any interruption of these produces disease—their suspension, death. But the motion which makes the limbs agile, and the whole body elastic, and gradually to become an obedient servant, is voluntary, intentional, and can be helped by that sympathetic action of others, which we call playing with the child. Frœbel's rich suggestions on this play are contained in his mother's cossetting songs; and I am glad to tell you that two English ladies, a poet and a musician, have translated and set to music this unique book; and that just now it has been published by Wilkie, Wood & Co., in London. It suggests all kinds of little gymnastics of the hands, fingers, feet, toes and legs, for these are the child's first play things; and also the first symbols of intelligent communication, giving the core and significance to all languages.[1]

I think that a baby never begins to play, in the first instance, but responds to the mother and nurse's play, and learns thereby its various members and their powers and uses; and when at last it jumps, runs, walks by itself, which it cannot begin to do without the help of others, it is prepared to say I, with a clear sense of individuality.

In analyzing the process of a child's learning to walk, we see most clearly the characteristic difference between the human person and the animals below man in the scale of relation. The little chicken runs about of itself, as soon as it is out of the shell; but the human child, even after all its limbs are grown, and though he has been moving himself on all fours by means of the floor, and supporting himself by means of the furniture to which he clings, does not walk. He will only stand alone, unsupported, when he sees that there are guarding arms round about him, all ready to catch him if he should fall. He seems to know instinctively, that all the force of the earth's gravitation is against him. He does not know that he may balance it by his personal power. His body weighs upon his soul like a mountain,[36] precisely because he is intelligent of it as an object, loves it as a means of pleasure, and dreads its power of giving pain to him. The little darling stands, perhaps between the knees of his father, whose arms are round about him; the mother opens her loving arms to receive him, and calls him to her embrace; the way is short between, and three steps will be sufficient, but where is the courageous faith to say to this mountain of a body, "be removed to another place?" It is not in himself; he cannot produce it any more than he can take himself up by his own ears. It is in the mother; for it is she, not he, who has the knowledge of the yet unexerted power which is flowing into the child from the Creator. Only by the electric touch of her faith in him does his faith in himself flash out in answer to her look and voice of cheer, and he rushes to her arms. It is the doing of the deed which gives to himself the knowledge of the power that is in him. He repeats it again and again, seeming to wish to be more and more certain of his being the cause of so great effect. Thus cause and effect are discriminated, and "to him that hath" a sense of individuality, "shall be given," forevermore, a growing power over the body, to which no measure can be stated. Even on the vulgar plane of the professional tumbler, a man's power over his body seems, sometimes, to be absolute and miraculous. But the annals of heroism and martyrdom are full of facts that go to prove to all who consider them profoundly, that the immaterial soul is sovereign, when, by recognizing all its relations, it subjects the individual to the universal, and becomes thereby entirely spiritual, (which is man reciprocating with God; becoming more and more conscious forever.[2])


From what has been said of the soul's taking possession of the body and its several organs, by exercising the functions of tasting, hearing, seeing, smelling, touching, grasping, moving the limbs, and at last taking up the whole body into itself in the act of walking, we see that it is all done, even the last, by virtue of the social nature.

Frœbel took his clue from this fact, a primal one, and never let it go, and it is of the greatest importance that it be understood clearly, that conscious individuality, which gives the sense of free personality, the starting point, as it were, of intelligent will, is perfectly consistent with and even dependent on the simultaneous development of the social principle in all its purity and power.

We see a sad negative proof of this, in asylums for infants abandoned by their mothers, or given up by them through stress of poverty. There is one of these in New York city, into which are received poor little things in the first weeks of their existence. Every thing is done for their bodily comfort which the general human kindness can devise.[38] They have clean warm cradles and clothes, good milk, in short everything but that caressing motherly play, which goes from the personal heart to the personal heart. That is one thing general charity cannot supply; it is the personal gift of God to the mother for her child, and none but she can be the sufficient medium of it, and therefore, undoubtedly it is, that almost all new-born children in foundling hospitals die; or, if they survive, are found to be feeble-minded or idiotic. They seem to sink into their animal natures, and belie the legend man written on their brows, showing none of that beautiful fearlessness and courageous affectionateness that characterise the heartily welcomed, healthy, well-cared-for human infant. On the contrary, they show a dreary apathy, morbid fearfulness, or a belligerent self-defence, anticipative of other forms of the cruel neglect which has been their dreary experience.

Taking a hint from observations of this kind, together with the bitter experiences of his own childhood, Frœbel supplied to the mother or nurse some playthings for the baby, which might continue to improve the various organs of its body, by making the exercise of their functions a social delight.

What is called the first gift, he proposes should be used in the nursery first. It consists of six soft balls, not too large to be grasped by a little hand, and the use of which in the nursery, is suggested by a little first book for mothers, that has been translated from Jacob's Le jardin des Enfans.[3] I think it is important for the Kindergartner to know what Frœbel thought could be done for the development of the infant in the nursery, since if it has not been done there, she must contrive to remedy the evil in the Kindergarten. You will bear with me, therefore, if I go quite into the minutiæ[39] of this matter. It will open your eyes to observe delicately, as Frœbel did.

He proposed that the red ball should be first presented. He had observed that a bright light concentrated, as in a candle, first excited the organ of sight and stimulated its action. Hence he inferred that a bright color would do the same, a neutral tint would not be seen at all probably. The red ball is not quite so salient and exciting as the light of a candle, but on that account it can be gazed at longer, without producing a painful re-action. The child will have a pleasure in grasping it, and will probably carry it to his lips; but as it is woolen, it will not be especially agreeable to the delicate organ of taste. It will all the more be looked at therefore, and give the impression of red. Frœbel proposes that it shall be called the red ball, in order that the impression of the word red on the ear, shall blend in memory with the impression of the color on the eye. As long as the child seems amused with the red ball, he would not have another color introduced, because he thought it took time for the eye to get a clear and strong impression of one color, and this should be done before it was tried with a contrasted impression. But by and by the blue ball, as the greatest contrast, may be given and named; and all the little plays suggested in the mother's book be repeated with the blue ball; and then the yellow ball should be given with its name; and then the three be given together, and the baby be asked to choose the blue, or red, or yellow one. By attaching a string to them, and whirling them, or letting the infant do so, it is surprising how long the child will amuse itself with these balls, and what pleasure colors alone give, especially when combined with motion.

The secondary colors may afterwards be added to the treasury for the eye, with the same carefulness to secure completeness and distinctness of impression; and to associate the color with the word that names it; for language, the[40] special organ of social communion, should be addressed to the child from the first, though its complete attainment and use is the crown of all education.

Smiles and sounds, proceeding out of the mouth, are the first languages, and begin to fix the little child's eyes and attention upon the mouth of the mother, from which issue the tones that are sweetest to hear, and especially when in musical cadence. But the child understands the words addressed to him long before he himself begins to articulate; for language is no function of the individual, but only of the consciously social being, yearning to find himself in another.

There is a reciprocal communication between infants and adults that precedes the difficult act of articulation. This we call the natural language, and it is common to all nations, being mutually intelligible, as is proved by deaf mutes from remote countries who understand each other at once. But this natural language has a very narrow scope. It serves to communicate instinctive wants of body and heart, but does not serve the fine purposes of intellectual communication, nor minister any considerable intellectual development. These signs are very general, while every word in its origin has represented a particular object in nature. In analyzing any language, we find that the names given to the body and its members, and to the actions and facts of life, without which no human society can exist, are the nucleus or central words that characterize it, and from which the whole national rhetoric is derived. Hence there is a value for the mind in associating the words and action of even such a little play as "here we go up, up, up, and here we go down, down, down, and here we go backwards and forwards, and here we go round, round, round," with other rhymes and plays of an analogous character that are found wherever there are mothers and children.

We have observed that the moment of first accomplishing the feat of running alone, seemed to be that of the child's[41] beginning to realize himself to be a person, but that even, in this act, he was dependent upon his mother; that his bodily independence was the gift of her faith in that within him, which is essentially superior to the body and can command it as instrumentality. To make it instrumentality is, more and more, a delight to the child, in which his mother sympathises; and by this sympathy aids him. All his plays involve exercise of the power of commanding his body. As soon as a child can move it from place to place, his desire to exercise power on nature outside of himself increases, and he is prompted to measure strength with other children. If children were mere individuals they would merely quarrel, as Hobbes says; but being social beings also, they tend to unite forces and aid one another to compass desired ends. By so doing, they rise to a greater sense of life, and brotherly love is evolved. But in the development of the social life, the more developed and cultivated elder must come in, to keep both parties steady to some object outside of themselves, which it takes their union to reach. Children can be taught to play together, by engaging their powers of imitation, and addressing their fancy. Every mother knows, that in the first opening of children's social life, their bodily energies are stimulated to such a degree, that it is quite as much as she or one nurse can do, to tend two or three children together; and by the time they are three years old, the family nursery becomes too narrow a sphere for them. It is then that they are to be received into a Kindergarten, whose very numbers will check the energy of activity a little, by presenting a greater variety of objects to be contemplated; and because social action must be orderly and rhythmical, in order to be agreeable. This, a properly prepared Kindergartner knows, and by her sympathetic influence and power over the childish imagination, she will bring gradually all the laws of the child's being to the conscious[42] understanding, beginning with this rhythmical one at the center.

The movement plays which Frœbel invented, express, in dramatic form, some simple fact of nature or some childish fancy, for which he gives, as accompaniment, a descriptive song set to a simple melody. The children learn both to recite and to sing the words of the song, and then the movements of the play. To them the whole reason for the play seems to be the delight it gives, the exhilaration of body, the amusement of mind. But the Kindergartner knows that it serves higher ends, and that it is at least always a lesson in order, enabling them to begin to enact upon earth "Heaven's first law."

Do not say I am making too solemn a matter of these movement plays, to the Kindergartner. Unless she remembers that this very serious aim underlies every play which she conducts, she will not do justice to the children. Law or order is one and the same thing with beauty; and play is hindrance if it is not beautiful. When she insists upon the children governing themselves, so far as to keep their proper places in relation to each other; to forbear exerting undue force, and to seek to give the necessary aid to others by exerting sufficient force, the beautiful result justifies her will to the minds of the children, and commands their ready obedience. She must call forth by addressing the sense of personal responsibility in each child; and this, if done tenderly and with faith, it is by no means difficult to do. The reward to the children is instant in the success of the play, and therefore not thought of as reward of merit. It is a form of obedience that really elevates the little one higher in the scale of being as an individual, without danger of the re-action of pride and self-conceit; for self is swallowed up in social joy.

When I was in Germany, I went, as I believe I told you, to those Kindergartens, which were taught by Frœbel's own[43] pupils, and I found that in these the movement plays were the most prominent feature of the practice. More than one was played in the course of the three or four hours, and especially when the session was as much as four hours. It was done in a very exact though not constrained manner, and much stress seemed to be laid upon every part. The singing was not done by three or four, but all the children were encouraged to sing. Often the little timider ones were called on to repeat the rhyme alone, without singing it, and then to sing it alone with the teacher. Thus the stronger and abler were exercised (as they must be so much in real life) in waiting, sympathetically, for the weaker. A great deal of care was also exercised in regard to the form and character of the play itself. Those of Frœbel's own suggestion and invention were the preferred ones. They consisted in imitating, in rather a free and fanciful manner, the actions of the gentler animals, hares and rabbits, fishes, bees and birds. There were plays in which children impersonated animals, evidently for the purpose of awakening their sympathies and eliciting their kindness towards them. Many of the labors of human beings, common mechanics, such as cooperage, the work of the farmer, that of the miller, trundling the wheelbarrow, sawing wood, &c., were put into form by simple rhymes. The children sometimes personated machinery, sometimes great natural movements. In one instance I saw the solar system performed by a company of children that had been in the Kindergarten four years, but none of them were over seven years old. Mere movement is in itself so delightful and salutary for children that a very little action of the imitative or fanciful power is necessary, just to take the rudeness out of bodily exercise without destroying its exhilaration.

My Kindergarten Guide, the revised edition of which is published by E. Steiger, of New York, contains some of the principal plays, set to Frœbel's own music. I would[44] gladly have printed all that Madame Ronge published in her Guide, which is out of print, but for the expense.

But it is by no means merely a moral discipline that is aimed at in the Kindergarten, as you will see when the bearings upon their habits of thought, of all that the children do, are pointed out to you, in the various occupations, which are sedentary sports, though the moral discipline is the paramount idea, and never must be lost sight of one moment by the Kindergartner. We mean by moral discipline, exercising the children to act to the end of making others happy, rather than of merely enjoying themselves. If the individual enjoyment is not a social enjoyment, it is disorderly and vitiating. But the individual is lifted into the higher order for which he is created, by merely enjoying, whenever his enjoyment is social. I am of course speaking of that season of life under seven years of age, when the mind is yet undeveloped to the comprehension of humanity as a whole; when the good, the true and the beautiful are nothing as abstractions, and can only be realized to their experience and brought within the sphere of their senses, by being embodied in persons whom they love, reverence or trust. The words good, beautiful, kind, true, get their meaning for children by their intercourse with such persons. Specific knowledge of God cannot be opened up in them by any words, unless these words have first got their meaning by being associated with human beings who bear traces that they can appreciate of His ineffable perfections. To liken God's love to the mother's love, brings home a conception of it to children, for hers they realize every day.

The connecting link between the nursery and Kindergarten is the First Gift of Frœbel's series, being used in both. The nursery use will have taught the names of the six colors, red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple, and made it a favorite play thing. It is all the better if the child has[45] had no other playthings prepared for him. He has doubtless used the chairs, footstools, and whatever else he could lay his hands on, to embody his childish fancies; and it is to be hoped he has been allowed to play out of doors with the earth, and has made mud pies to his heart's content—not tormented with any sense of the—at his age—artificial duty of keeping his clothes clean. That duty is to be reserved for the Kindergarten age, and will come duly, by proper development of the mental powers.

In the Kindergarten, the ball-plays are to become more skillful, and the teacher must see that the child learns to throw the ball so that it may bound back into his own hands; so that it may bound into the hands of another who is in such position as to catch its reflex motion. The children must learn to toss it up and catch it again themselves. When standing in two rows they can throw it back and forwards to each other. When standing in a circle, the balls may be made to circulate with rapidity, passing from hand to hand, the children singing the accompanying song.

"Who'll buy my eggs?" is a good play to exercise them in counting. And all these movement plays with the ball are admirable for exercising the body, giving it agility, grace of movement, precision of eye and touch. These things will accrue all the more surely if it is kept play, and no constraining sense of duty is called on. As most of these plays are not solitary, they become the occasion for children's learning to adjust themselves to each other, and the teacher must watch that hilarity do not become violence or rudeness to each other, but furtherance of one another's fun; and occasionally, in enforcing this harmony, a child must be removed from the play, and made to stand in a corner alone, or even outside the room, till the desire of rejoining his companions shall quicken him to be sufficiently considerate of them to make pleasant play possible. All children in playing together learn justice and social graces, more or[46] less, because they find that without fair play their sport is spoilt; but this play must be supervised by the Kindergartner, in order that there may not be injustice, selfishness and quarreling. A Kindergartner, who is not a martinet, and who is herself a good play-fellow, will magnetize the children, and inspire such general good will that unpleasantness will be foreclosed in a great measure; but a company of children are generally of such variety of temperament and different degrees of bodily strength, have so often come from such inadequate nursery life, that the regulating Kindergartner has a good deal to do to prevent discords and secure their kindness to each other, and the reasonable little self-sacrifices of common courtesy. But she will find a word is often enough; the question, Is that right? Would you like to have any one else do so? It is sometimes necessary to bring all the play to a full stop, in order to bring the common conscience to pronounce upon the fairness of what some one is doing. I would suggest that the question be asked not of the class, but of the individual culprit, whether what is being done wrong, is right or wrong? The child, with the eyes of the class upon him, will generally be eager to confess and reform, because the moral sense is quite as strong as self-love, and especially when re-inforced by the presence of others. It is not worth while to make too much of little faults, and the first indication of turning to the right must be accepted; the child is grateful for being believed in and trusted, and the wrong doing is a superficial thing; the moral sentiment is the substantial being of the child.

Of all the materials used in Kindergarten, the colored balls are most purely playthings; and there are none of the plays so liable to be riotous as the ball plays. There is the greatest difficulty in keeping children from being too noisy, and it is not wise to make too much of a point of it. The ball seems a thing of life. It is very difficult for them to get good command of it. It excites them to run after it; and[47] shouts and laughter are irrepressible. But there are reasonable limits. The Kindergartner, in conversation before hand, should make them see that they may get too noisy, and tire each other, and she will easily induce them to agree to stop short when she shall ring the bell, and be willing to stand still while she counts twenty-five, or watches the second hand of her watch go around a quarter, a half, or a whole minute, as may be agreed upon. This can be made a part of the play, and to pause and be perfectly still in this way, will give them some conception of the length of a minute, and teach self-command, as well as make a pleasant variety.

The ball plays should always be accompanied and alternated, in the Kindergarten, with conversations upon the ball, naming the colors, telling which are primary, which secondary, and illustrating the difference by giving them pieces of glass of pure carmine, blue and yellow, and letting them put two upon each other, and hold them towards the window, and so realize the combinations of the secondary colors. Ask them, afterwards, to tell what colors make orange, or purple, or green; and what color connects the orange and green; or the purple and orange, or the green and purple.

One of the other exercises, on the day of using the First Gift may be sewing with the colored threads on the cards; and the colors may be arranged so as to illustrate the connections, &c., just learned. The use of the First Gift need only be once a week. It will then be a fresh pleasure every time during the whole of the Kindergarten course, even if it should last three years. After the children have become perfectly familiar with the primary and secondary colors, their combinations and connections, the lessons on colors may be varied, by telling them that tints of the primary colors and of the secondary colors, are made by adding white to them; and shades of them, (which will, of course,[48] be darker,) by adding black to them. This may be illustrated by flowers, as may various combinations of colors. A very little child, whom it was hard to train even to the hilarious and gay plays, and whose attention could not easily be fixed, surprised a teacher one day by his aptitude in detecting what color had been mixed with red to make a very glorious pink in a phlox. This child liked to sew, but was very impatient of putting his needle into any special holes. It proved to be the pleasure of handling the colored yarns, and he was always eager to change them and form new combinations. It may not be irrelevant to say here, in regard to ball playing, from which I have digressed to colors, that the ball is the last plaything of men as well as the first with children.

The object teaching upon the ball is strictly inexhaustible. Children learn practically, by means of it, the laws of motion. Beware of any strictly scientific teaching of these laws in terms. You may make children familiar with the phenomena of the laws of incidence and reflection, by simply telling them that if they strike the ball straight against the wall opposite, it will bound straight back to them, and then ask them whether it returns to them when they strike it in a slanting direction. By and by this knowledge can be used to give meaning to a scientific expression. It is a first principle that the object, motion, or action, should precede the word that names them. This is Frœbel's uniform method, and the reason is, that when the scientific study does come, it shall be substantial mental life, and not mere superficial talk. It is the laws of things that are the laws of thought; and thought must precede all attempt at logic, or logic will be deceptive, not reasonable. Most erroneous speculation has its roots in mistakes about words, which it is fatal to divorce from what they express of nature, or to use without taking in their full meaning.

In the easy mood of mind that attends the lively play of[49] childhood, impressions are made clearly; and it should be the care of the educator to have all the child's notions associated with significant words, as can only be done by his becoming their companion in the play, and talking about it, as children always incline to do. It is half the pleasure of their play, to represent it in words, as they are playing. In the nursery, the mothers play with the child, and all her dealings with it, are expressed in words that are important lessons in language; and together with language, we give a lesson in manners, by first trotting a child gently, and then jouncingly, to the words, "This is the way the gentle folks go, this is the way the gentle folks go; and this is the way the country folks go, this is the way the country folks go—bouncing and jouncing and jumping so." To describe what they are doing in little rhymes when playing ball, makes it a mental as well as physical play of faculty, and Frœbel published a hundred little rhymes, and the music for as many ball plays.

It is not an unimportant lesson for children to learn, that the same things seem different in different circumstances. The fact that white light is composed of different colored rays can be illustrated by giving the children prisms to hold up in the sunshine; and by calling their attention to the splendid colors of the sky at sunset and sunrise, when the clouds act as prisms, and to the rainbow. Children of the Kindergarten age, will be so much engaged with the beautiful phenomenon, they will not be likely to ask questions as to how the light is separated by the prism and clouds; they will rest in the fact. But if, by chance, analytic reflection has supervened, and they do, then a large ball on which all the six colors are arranged in lines meridian-wise, to which a string is attached at one pole, or both poles, can be given them, and they be told to whirl it very swiftly. This will present the phenomenon of the merging of the colors to the eye by motion, so that the ball looks whitish[50] from which you can proceed to speak of light as being composed of multitudinous little balls, of the colors of the rainbow, in motion, and so looking white.

If some uncommon little investigator should persist to ask why things seem to be other than they are, he must be plainly told, that the reason is in something about his eyes, which he cannot understand now, but will learn by and by, when he goes to school and learns optics.

Children are only to be entertained in the Kindergarten, with the facts of nature that develop the organs of perception, but a skillful teacher who reads Tyndall's charming books and the photographic journals, may bring into the later years of the Kindergarten period many pretty phenomena of light and colors, which shall increase the stock of facts, on which the scientific mind, when it shall be developed, may work, or which the future painter may make use of in his art.

When Allston painted his great picture of Uriel, whose background was the sun, he thought out carefully the means of producing the dazzling effect, and drew lines of all the rainbow colors in their order, side by side, after having put on his canvass a ground of the three primary colors mixed. When the picture was first exhibited at Somerset House, the effect was dazzling, and it was bought at once by Lord Egremont, in a transport of delight; and for twice the sum the artist put upon it, that is, six hundred guineas. I do not know whether time may not have dimmed its brilliancy, since paint is of the earth, earthy; but to paint the sun at high noon, and have it a success, even for a short time, is a great feat; and art, in this instance, took counsel of science deliberately, according to the artist's confession. But perfect sensuous impressions of color and its combinations, were the basis of both the science and the art.

This lecture is getting too long, and I will close by saying, that the First Gift has, for its most important office, to develop[51] the organ of sight, which grows by seeing. Colors arouse intentional seeing by the delightful impression they make. I believe that color-blindness, (which our army examinations have proved to be as common as want of ear for music,) may be cured by intentional exercise of the organ of sight in a systematic way; just as ear for music may be developed in those who are not born with it. Lowell Mason proved, by years of experiment in the public schools, that the musical ear may be formed, in all cases, by beginning gently with little children, giving graduated exercises, so agreeable to them as to arouse their will to try to hear, in order to reproduce.

That you may receive a sufficiently strong impression of the fact, that the organs of perception actually grow by exercise with intention, I will relate to you a fact that came under my own observation.

A young friend of mine became a pupil of Mr. Agassiz, who gave him, among his first exercises, two fish scales to look at through a very powerful microscope, asking him to find out and tell all their differences. At first they appeared exactly alike, but on peering through the microscope, all the time that he dared to use his eyes, for a month, he found them full of differences; and he afterwards said, that "it was the best month's work he ever did, to form the scientific eye which could detect differences ever after, at a glance," and proved to him an invaluable talent, and gave him exceptional authority with scientists.[53]



Since the kindergartner is to receive the child from the nursery, and half of the work in the kindergarten is what ought to have been done in the nursery, I will give another lecture upon what Frœbel thought the nursery ought to do for religious nurture; since, if it has not been done in the nursery, it must be done in the kindergarten.

We have seen that the soul takes possession of the organs of sense gradually, by tasting, hearing, seeing, smelling, and touching that which is agreeable; and that the continuous exercise of the organs develops them up to a certain though indefinite limit to finer susceptibility of impression. We have seen that by exercising the limbs, the soul takes possession of them in particular and in general. Thus the nursery plays, improvised instinctively by all mothers, Frœbel has enlarged, describing in his Mother's Book various duplicate movements of the limbs, especially of the hands, that, with the accompanying songs, have for their end, besides physical health, to make the mind discriminate various parts of the body and know their several forms and functions. This is the beginning of human education.

"Patty-cake" teaches a child that he has hands and fingers; "This little pig goes to market, this one stays at home," that he has toes. It is the child's own body that first furnishes the objects of his attention to be associated with words. From the beginning it is the instinct of the maternal nurse to talk to the child, which attracts him to observe the organs of speech; and this prompts the sympathetic[54] use of his own organs. Speech is a function distinctively human, which, beginning in the nursery, is carried on carefully in the kindergarten, creating the sphere of the intellectual life; for words support the operation of thinking.

From all that I said of the modus operandi of the child's taking possession of his body in the nursery period, you see that childish action is involved in the mother's action. It is her wisdom, such as it may be, which must be the guide of the child's will, as it is brought gradually out of the blindness of ignorance; and it is she, not the child, who is responsible for the perfection of this part of the child's life.

And is not this, on the whole, the common sense of mankind? Does any sane person hold a baby, up to three years old, and often, indeed, much later, responsible for the state of its temper, or for the rightfulness of its action?

Nevertheless, the child is a moral person all this time, and it is of the last importance to his subsequent moral life whether or not his temper has been kept sweet, and his action according to law, or discordant. Discordant action must have a bad reactionary effect upon the temper, and interrupt or retard the growth of the several organs of sense and of motion. Hence the mother or nurse must not neglect to use her power wisely as well as gently to prevent these evils, by duplicate movements that are rhythmic, and calculated to bring about some end that the child's mind may easily grasp.

It is instinctive with every one, as soon as he begins to play with a child, whether it be reasonable or not, to talk to it about its being good or bad, although a little child cannot be good or bad, but only orderly or disorderly; and there is no little danger to his moral and spiritual future in anticipating by our words the workings of his conscience before it has the conditions for its development. One of these conditions is such a sense of individuality as enables the child to say "I," with which it presently combines such perception of[55] relationship to others as will say, "I ought,"—a phrase that occurs in all languages, and means something very different from "I will." It is of the greatest importance to keep this distinction in mind, for an imposed or artificial conscience almost certainly forecloses the natural or inspired conscience,—a truth largely illustrated by the history both of families and of nations, from which we learn that periods of corruption and wild license invariably follow periods of extreme restraint and asceticism. And all conscientious action and moral judgment in children also presupposes thinking, which is a process that does not begin until after much repetition of impressions, being a reflective act, which associates impressions with specific things and actions (as the etymology of the word suggests). Mere reception of impressions is passive; but to compare impressions of difference or similarity (which individualizes things) is active. Therefore thinking and putting thoughts into words includes comparison and inference, and really produces the human understanding, which we do not bring into the world with us, as we do our heart and will. Before there is a possibility of conscience or any moral judgment properly so called, the child's affections (or feeling of relation with other persons) must be cultivated by the mother's genial care, directing mental activity towards fellow-beings, instead of leaving the heart to turn back and stagnate upon self. The more impressible a child is, the more important is the mother's or kindergartner's providential care of his affections during this irresponsible, pre-intellectual period of his life.

I think the most frightfully selfish beings I have ever known were endowed with great natural sensibility, which was left to concentrate upon self, because the claims made by the sensibility of others were not early enough presented to the imagination of their hearts. By the growth of personal affections, the individual intensifies the feeling of individuality, which first comes to him by his having taken such[56] possession of his body as enabled him to run alone; and this growth, whether intentionally directed towards that combination of his soul and body, which he begins to call himself or "I," or directed toward others, to whom he clings at first as part of himself (their embrace of him being necessary to his comfort), is cherished by the duplicate action of the mother. She moulds his heart in her heart, as she has moulded his bodily activity by her care and cheering sympathy, when helping out the power of his limbs in walking and manipulation. She half creates the child's generous and devout affections, if she is herself faithful to their proper objects, starting him on the way of a brotherly humanity and a filial adoration of the common Father, long before the understanding has completely discerned the objects of these human and divine affections, which must be blended in order to continue vital and pure. But the moral and religious is the most delicate region of the child's life, the holy of holies, into which "fools incontinently rush, though angels fear to tread." She can only be the mother of the soul as well as of the body of her child, on condition of being herself rich in love of others and in piety to God.

Frœbel suggests this in the introductory poems of Die Mutter Spiele und Kose Lieder. The first five of these are the mother's communings with herself upon the emotions that arise in her heart, as she nurses her baby in her arms, and realizes that to her and her husband has been sent a living witness of the "very present God," who is the author of their being, and has united them by a love that makes that being a blessing to themselves, which they are bound to extend beyond themselves. The rhymed introduction of the several little child-songs that follow are suggestions to her of the meaning of her instincts, and of the bearing on the development of the child's heart and mind of the little gymnastics described. And just as she could not be the educator of her child into his individual body if she were a paralytic[57] herself, so, if she be not affectionate and generous herself, she cannot educate him into the social body of which he is a living member; nor unless she loves God herself, can she inspire him to recognize the Parental Spirit of whom we are (as heathen poet and Christian apostle alike aver) the veritable children. "We are the offspring of God," said St. Paul, quoting from the Greek poet Aratus in the Sermon on Mars' Hill, which is a model of all reformatory instruction, whether religious or secular. I think all true instruction, proceeding from the known to the unknown, is both secular and religious, on the principle that to those who have the seed, can be given the increase.

In the first of these mother-songs of Frœbel, the mother finds that the baby she holds in her arms, though another than herself, is in a certain sense one with herself; thus is unveiled (revealed) to her the Divine Fountain of Being, the Person of Persons, from whom she and her little one have severally come; and her feelings of wonder and gratitude awaken the sense of responsibility to make her child grow conscious as she is of the common Father,—and thankful as she is for life in such close relation with herself,—who is the first form in which God reveals Himself to the child; for when he first looks away from his body so far as to perceive that his mother is another than himself, she fills the whole sphere of his perception!

Rousseau affirms that every child, if left to its own natural growth, would think its mother was its creator. And William Godwin in his Enquirer (or some volume of his writings) has quite an eloquent paper, setting forth that the natural religion of a child is to worship its earthly parents. I have made some observations and had a personal experience which makes me doubt this, though I do not doubt that the characteristics of parents nearly always determine the character of the child's religion. But the question of who is his own creator does not naturally come up to a child, even[58] when he begins to ask who made the things about him. His own consciousness is of "being increate," and when brought to know that his body grows old and must die, the fear that this causes is because he imaginatively associates his undying self, which is a "presence not to be put by" with the perishing body. What the soul, by virtue of its inherent immortality, fears and hates, is loneliness, absolute isolation! And when we think of the body, which we identify with ourselves from the moment that we have taken it up and walked by its instrumentality, as put away alone in the ground, the undying person that the soul is, shudders, and can only be comforted by learning to conceive itself wholly detached from the decay, and housed within the bosom of Him who is the Alpha and Omega of our life; of Him whom we have learnt to know with the spirit and understanding also, by the process of living in human relations. For we know ourselves as individuals first by means of the body, and we know ourselves as a component part of the social whole of humanity by means of genial intercourse with our kindred, it being revealed to us that we are substantially social, as well as distinctly individual, by our instinctive horror of separation from them. Later in life only, there are pleasures of solitude for those few who by imaginative act make nature populous with personifications, and consequently the refracting atmosphere of the Divine Personality. The baby that finds itself alone cries for and is comforted by the embrace which restores the sense of union with its mother. Seldom is a baby in such a wretched state of feeling that a tender embrace and kiss will not completely comfort it.

What a proof it is that God is Love, that the very embrace that symbolizes to the baby's heart the sense of human companionship, gives its mind that impression of objective nature which is the first momentum of the human understanding! The gentle pressure of one sensitive body upon another produces counter-pressure, a resistance that is positively[59] pleasurable, whereby the impenetrability of matter becomes a delightful instead of a frightful revelation to the mind of the Immutable Reality of the loving Creator, as the complement of our own changeful individuality! It is the first syllable of that word (or speech of God) made intelligible by the various qualities and forms of matter, the Truth which He is forever addressing to man. How gracious it is, that He should so inextricably mingle the first impression of matter with that perception of the otherness of person that makes Love possible! Thus love and the sense of individuality are correlative creations and twin births. Later, the sense of individuality becomes a positive self-love (which in its healthy degree is innocent), and the perception of otherness of person, with whom it is delightful to be in free union, becomes the basis of the self-forgetting generosity of mankind. These opposite principles are at first mere and perhaps equal sources of satisfaction, having no moral character whatever. Afterwards, they become respectively hard selfishness or a weak and base servility, or they may rise into a majestic self-respect, and that sublimest love which is to make the human race, as a whole, the image of God, not only king over material nature, but one with the perfect Son of Man, also Son of God, who, with a humility and dignity equally venerable, is able to say, "I and my Father are One!"

But you will say that I am getting quite beyond the nursery.

In the earlier years, the growth of the religious life is merely germinal. And as it is involved within the mothers at the beginning, it must be cherished sympathetically by her removing all occasion for self-care and self-defence, and thus prevent the sense of individuality from degenerating through fear into inordinate self-will and self-love. The child should be treated with unvarying tenderness and consideration, without having his senses pampered into morbid[60] excess by over-indulgence, but above all things, never wounding nor frightening his heart, nor repressing the simple and healthy expression of his feelings and thoughts. For enforced repression tends to produce ugly temper, baseness, or subtlety, according to the child's temperament, which is also in imperfect social harmony, if not absolutely quarrelsome. It must be her work, therefore, not only to complete the child's organic education, but to take him, as it were, into her own affectionate spirit by using the methods which Frœbel has suggested to the mother for the discipline of her infants. (I use this word discipline in its true sense of teaching; not in the sense of punishment. That the word discipline should ever have come to mean punishment is a severe commentary on the ideas and modes of education that have hitherto prevailed in Christendom.)

The kindergartner, as well as the mother, must be thoroughly grounded in the faith that God has done His part in the original endowment of children; and that He is truly present with her, helping her to remedy the effects of the mother's shortcomings. She will certainly succeed in her work if she studies His laws with an earnest purpose to carry them out, first in the government of herself, and then in leading the children to self-government. Wordsworth in his Ode to Duty, sings:—

"There are who ask not if Thine eye
Be on them, who, in love and truth,
Where no misgiving is, rely
Upon the genial sense of youth.
Glad hearts! without reproach or blot,
Who do Thy work, and know it not!
And blest are they who in the main
This happy faith still entertain,
Live in the spirit of this creed,
Yet find another strength according to their need.
May joy be theirs while life shall last,
And Thou, if they should totter, teach them to stand fast."


Little children certainly, of all persons, are oftenest found in this condition when

"Love is an unerring light,
And joy its own security."

And that "other strength," which must come by reflection on and study of the unfolding nature of the child in the felt presence of the Inspirer of Duty, will certainly be needed by the kindergartner who will receive children not always from the hands of natural and faithful mothers, but of uncultured servant-maids. (It is but justice to the latter to say that there are occasionally found among the Irish nurses those who could teach many mothers. The Irish nature is not altogether bad material for the production of good motherly nurses; but it must not be left wild; it needs a great deal of discipline; and I hope the time may come when schools for the education of children's nurses, such as Frœbel established in Hamburg, which still exist, may be founded in all our cities.) Though I think the education of mothers is still more important and the first thing to aim at, as it would render nursery maids comparatively unnecessary. It is so short a period of a mother's life when she has young children, and the book of nature which these few years open to her is so rich, that, for her own being's sake as well as for the children's, it seems to me a terrible loss for her to delegate her maternal cares to others during the nursery period. On the other hand, when the age for the kindergarten comes, the mother needs to be relieved of the increasing care; and children, in their turn, need other influences than can be had in a family, especially in families where parents have work to do outside of their homes. It is, indeed, "a consummation devoutly to be wished," that the time may come when labor may be so organized that no mothers may be obliged to leave their children's souls uncared for in order to get the wherewithal to sustain their bodies[62].

The deepest reason why a child should be taken care of in its earliest infancy by its mother rather than by a person comparatively uninterested in its personality, is this, that only a mother can respect a child's personality sufficiently. All others regard the child for its manifested qualities; but with the mother, it is the child itself that she loves, quite irrespective of any qualities that he manifests. Phenomenally, a little child is a complex of self-assertion and generosity (or a desire for union with its kind); a desire or a feeling of finiteness in strange contrast with that instinct to "have dominion" which gives vitality to self-assertion. We call this primal desire for union his heart, and this primal self-assertion his will. The will expresses itself in efforts to change its environments, putting what is at rest in motion, knocking down, tearing up, because it does not yet know how to put in order, or to change things artistically. The child acts without external motive,—doing things merely because it can. Even after a child is old enough to think and talk, and has done some act for which you see no reason or motive, when you ask him why he did it, he not unfrequently will say, "because." I remember when I was a child of six or seven, that I would give this answer with a perfect sense of satisfaction that it was an answer; and when it would sometimes be said, "because is no reason," or "because is an old woman's reason," I recollect my feeling of surprise. I seemed to myself to have given the most substantial reason. The word meant to me a great deal. And I now think I was truly philosophical in this, for I affirmed the primal truth, that a self-determining person in spontaneous action, if only of some instinct, is a first cause[4]—an absolute cause—to the extent of consciousness. It was an intuition.

Now to retain the sense of this causal personality is at the[63] root of all stability of character, all nobleness of manifestation. But self-assertion in an ignorant child is more apt than otherwise to be disorderly, discordant, and perhaps destructive; it therefore provokes resistance in the unthinking, but challenges the thoughtful to give guidance. It is of life-and-death importance to the child whether this force shall meet mere hard resistance, which shall utterly crush it or increase it by reaction, or whether it shall meet with a genial sympathetic guidance to which it will voluntarily and gladly surrender itself. A mother loves this little ignorant force of self-will and wants it to have free course. She cannot help desiring to have her child have its own way. She does not want it to be opposed by others. She will, as far as possible, further or humor it, as we say. And when she finds it necessary to control it, she will try to do it by awakening the child's affectionateness, and so captivating its fancy as to make it feel it is doing as it likes, though it be something different from what it was impelled to do at first; in short, she inspires him to will the better thing, and so educates the blind instinct of self-assertion into a harmonizing and beneficent power, and preserves the child's dignity and nobleness instead of crushing its personality. We hear of "breaking the child's will." A child's will should never be broken, but opened up into harmony with God's will through a lower harmony with the will of its loving and loved mother or kindergartner. But a mother will be more sure than any one else to bring about this result, because she acts from an impulse of the heart deeper than all thought, while the kindergartner by thought must cultivate in herself the impulse.

There are those who deprecate motherly indulgence as if it were the greatest evil. Doubtless it will become a great evil if it be not properly subordinated to the wisdom which appreciates the divinity of order, or if it is alternated with capricious severities; in short, if the indulgence proceeds[64] from indolence or self-love instead of love of the child. The indulgence that really comes from the last is a recognition (unconscious, it may be) of the divine possibilities of the child,—a spark of the divine creativeness! Of the two evils, extreme indulgence is not so deadly a mistake as extreme severity. Indulged children return from afar. The prodigal of the Gospel story may have been over-indulged, perhaps, in being allowed to take his portion of goods, and go off by himself, out of the reach of his father's counsel and authority, and left to his own uneducated self-will. But the sinner, when he came to himself (observe that expression), recognized the self-forgetting, fatherly love in that very indulgence; and it was the immeasurableness of that love that revived his self-respect and hope, and saved him; for the hope was not disappointed. Love giveth, "upbraiding not."

The one fatal thing is to wound the child's heart. It is better to give up the point of controlling its will to righteousness for the moment, than to do that; and a parent is the least likely of all persons to wound his child's heart.

When nothing can be done without wounding, the parent who trusts his own heart will leave the rebel to the consequences which God holds in his gracious hands for the final salvation of every one of his children.

Besides, to choose to give up one's own will is the only complete and salutary giving up, enabling the soul to mount up spiritually like the eagle and renew its strength. There are families in which the act of disobedience is absolutely unknown, in earlier or in later life; where there is no necessity for uttered commands, because expressed wishes are enough. The most perfect, if not the only real, obedience I have ever seen, has been that of strong men to an unexacting, tender mother.

This is a subject on which I feel very strongly, for it seems to me that the greatest social disorders that exist in[65] the nations among which the "order that reigns in Warsaw"[5] is foremost, is the consequence of unreasoning obedience to wills not infinitely wise and good. The worth and duty of obedience is precisely in ratio with the validity of the command; and a command is valid only so far as it is inspired by a disinterested and proper respect for the being who is commanded. Children should only obey their parents, in the Lord; and parents should never "provoke their children to wrath."

I may be told that the important element of self-assertion (which gives strength to character) may be weakened by being always disarmed, and killed by the mother's sympathy; and that to provoke it into conscious strength, direct antagonism is necessary. But the best antagonism is that quiet, inevitable one, that comes from the inexorableness of material nature which the child must needs feel, the more disorderly he is, but which he sees is insensate and impersonal; whose antagonism, therefore, does not grieve his heart, and disappoint his hope as human oppression does, making him sad or bitter, but stimulates his mind to conquer and subdue it, or develops a dignified patience. The appointed domain for kingly man is not the brotherhood, but material nature; and gradually he is to learn that nature's inexorable laws are the expression of a Supreme Personality as benignant as it is august, who takes up His human child into Himself, not without his concurring will; for mankind mounts on the nature which he gradually subdues into a stepping-stone, by knowledge, and the use of it. The mother must remember that though the first, she is not the only instrumentality by which the Divine Providence works. The time comes when she is compelled to deliver her cherished darling up to other influences; when the child bursts out of the nursery, not only self-asserting and[66] affectionate, but putting forth energies, and seeking satisfaction of sensibilities that cannot be met within that narrow precinct.

The kindergarten must, then, succeed by complementing the nursery; and the child begin to take his place in the company of his equals, to learn his place in their companionship, and still later to learn wider social relations and their involved duties. No nursery, therefore, not even a perfect one, can supersede the necessity of a kindergarten, where children shall come into cognizance of the moral laws which are to restrain and guide their self-assertion, and quicken and enlarge their social affections, leading them to self-denials for the sake of opportunities for themselves of useful and creative art, beneficence, and heroism.

The time for transition from the nursery to the kindergarten is definitely indicated by two facts. Firstly, Divine Providence has so arranged general family events that every mother must give up having the child live, as it were, entirely within her life, because she has other children to nurse, or other social duties to do. And, secondly, every child's growth in bodily strength and conscious individuality makes him too strong a force of will for so narrow a scope of relation as is afforded by one family. While hitherto, to be outside of the single family influence was an evil, it would now be an evil to confine the child entirely to it, narrowing his heart and mind, and deforming his character. He needs to be brought into relation with equals who have other personal characteristics, other relations with nature and the human race than his own family. The instinct of the growing child, at this period, to get out of doors to play with other children, is unmistakable. To check it vexes or depresses him. In getting possession, first of his body, and then of his personal and social consciousness, he has become an object to himself, and feels himself a power among other powers affecting each other. But he is still more or less consciously a prisoner (if[67] not a slave) of nature, by reason of his ignorance of the laws of the universe,—that body outside of his own body,—which he is destined, in alliance with others, to take possession of, by action upon and within it, giving him knowledge of it, and enabling him to make it into instrumentality for the expression and embodiment of great ideas and a noble will.

All government worthy of the name begins in self-government, a free subordination of the individual in order to form the social whole. Subordination is something higher than subjection. We subject mere animals; intelligent moral agents must be subordinated. It is still the mother's part rather to inspire; the kindergartner's part is to subordinate, not to check childish, spontaneous talk, though, of course, it must be regulated so far as not to let the children interrupt each other impolitely, and to keep it to some main subject. Some kindergartners begin the session by asking each in turn what is interesting to him. Mrs. Kraus-Boelte generally receives each one as he or she comes in. They go to her for the morning kiss, and have something to say, in which she expresses due sympathy, and later recurs to and connects with what others say, and thus produces general conversation. Mrs. Van Kirk is very happy in her introductory conversations.

In playing with the gifts, the teacher dictates certain movements and arrangements, for the purpose of the children's getting into the habit of listening and quickly catching the directions given; and the children should be encouraged to follow her words in what they do, rather than to imitate each other. In their spontaneous work they often make a new symmetrical form, which is really beautiful; and then it is well to call on the child to direct his companions how to make it; for children delight in the dignity of directing, and learn to be very precise in the use of all the words expressing relation of all kinds,—prepositions, adjectives, and adverbs,—precisely[68] as well as nouns and verbs. Language does not merely transfer the outward inward, but soon begins to transfer the inward outward. Love, and other sentiments of the soul, good and bad, are named, as well as sensible objects. Even the instinctive search after proximate causes leads children to infer the substantiality of wind and the other invisible forms of matter; and the spiritual senses inherent in the "Me," which is the most essential of all substances, verifies the ideal world to children, as truly as the bodily senses verify the material world, and even more so; for children live in God before they exist out of God. The Italian philosopher Gioberti says that the soul is a spiritual activity; that is, it sees God as the first act of its life. God says, "Be thou" and the soul—before it is put into the sleep of nature (the deep sleep that came upon Adam)—looks back and says, "Thou art." We have the memory of this primeval vision, and act in our sense of holiness (wholeness?), right, justice, pure love from the uncalculating delight of loving, the ideals of beauty, and the sense of accountability to God and man, which forever haunt us, sometimes giving us pain, as remorse, whose sting is in the comparison of our outward manifested self with our inward sense of "being increate" (as Milton expresses it). It is this supernatural pre-intellectual soul which distinguishes man from the animal creation, and is symbolized by his form, which looks upward to the symbol of infinity made by the sky, with which the human being instinctively communes, and towards which the child wants to fly,—and delights in and loves the birds, beyond all other forms of animal life, because they can fly. Gioberti goes on, in his psychology, to say that when the soul, which has recognized its Divine Source as the first act of its life, is put to sleep in nature, it is gradually waked up by the individual forms of nature, which are so many syllables of the Divine Word that are echoed in human words, which describe matter and its evolutions; then the understanding begins, and[69] (which is the point I want you to observe especially at this moment) the words of even a very young child soon bring to its understanding spiritual realities. And it is the office of education to see that the relations of things,—the laws of order among things,—the adjustment of external cause and effect, be accurately worded; and especially that the spiritual consciousness gets a happy symbolization; that is, that the best words are used to do justice to the Ideas of God and the sentiments of the heart of man.

A materialistic educator (or no less a mere dogmatist in religion, who does not see that the logical formulas and abstract terms of scientific theology cannot possibly wake up the primeval vision) may do an all but infinite mischief to the character and heart, by the words he uses in talking to children; and the theologian a greater mischief than the materialist, because the forms and evolutions of matter are, as I have said, syllables of the Word that was in the beginning with God and, in a certain sense, God, while the abstractions of the human mind are the refuse of finite spirit, infinitely superficial, mere limitations of thought which become stumbling-blocks to the mind when not used as stepping-stones to new outlooks, or rather, inlooks. Never should children be talked to in the language of theological science, but wholly in imaginative symbolization, and the symbols should be chosen with great care, and we should be on our guard against rousing the faculty of abstraction which is a sleeping danger in the nature, whose premature development is injurious in strict proportion to ignorance and sensitiveness. The symbols of the spiritual should be human because human consciousness involves substance outside the physical, and, therefore, did the Word which had not been comprehended in its creation of "everything which it had made," though "without it nothing was made," take flesh and dwell among us, in order that we might apprehend the glory of God and perfection of man with our whole[70] nature. That it would do so, was the insight of the Hebrew genius, whenever by worthy soul-action the law-giver, king, and whoever entered into "the liberty of prophesying" was raised to the height of his nature. Now a child is "on its being's height," "mighty prophet," "seer blest,"

"On whom those truths do rest
That we are toiling all our lives to find,"
and therefore a child can supply a substantial meaning to any name for God adequate to awaken the living echo of the soul that
"Cometh from afar
Trailing clouds of glory from God,"
whose voice sent it forth, as Gioberti says, "to suffer and to be for a season on earth."

I hope you follow me in my thought, for I think I am looking into the child, which is the thing that ought to be done if one undertakes to teach it. That the child really knows God before God is even named to him is not a speculative theory with me but a fact of my experience. It is one of my earliest remembrances, that I was sitting in the lap of a young lady, whose name and countenance I have forgotten, who was caressing me, and calling me sweet, beautiful, darling, etc., when all at once she seized me into a closer embrace and exclaimed, rather than asked, Who made you?

I remember my pleased surprise at the question, that I feel very sure had never been addressed to my consciousness before. At once a Face arose to my imagination,—only a Face and head,—close to me, and looking upon me with the most benignant smile, in which the kindness rather predominated over the intelligence; but it looked at me as if meaning, "Yes, I made you, as you know very well." I was so thoroughly satisfied, that I replied to the question decisively, "A man."[71]

The lady said to another who sat near us, "Only think! this great girl does not know who made her!"

I remember I was no less sure of my knowledge, notwithstanding she said this. Though it was the first time I had thought God and given the name "man" to the thought, it seemed not new to me. I had felt God before.

I was a rather large girl, more than four years old, as I know from the fact that we were living in a certain house, to which we went on my fourth birthday. My next recollection is of going into a room of this house, where my mother was sitting, working at an embroidery frame that hung against the wall. I went up to her and said, "Mamma, Eliza asked me who made me, and I told her a man, and she said he didn't!" I stated this reply as a grievance and outrage.

Since I came to the age of reflection, I have always regretted the conversation that followed. It was not judicious, and seems to me a little out of character for my mother, who was of strong religious sentiment and quick imagination, and all other conversation on religious subjects that I remember of hers was very good. She was rather thrown off her guard by my unexpected theology and lost her presence of mind. I was her oldest child, and she had waited to see some enquiry raised before speaking on the subject. I had seemed more stupid than I was, for I belong by nature rather to the reflective than perceptive class, and so had very little language. At this distance of time I cannot, of course, remember the details of the conversation, but I came out of it with another image of God in my mind, conveying not half so much of the truth as did that kind Face, close up to mine, and seeming to be so wholly occupied with His creature. The new image was of an old man, sitting away up on the clouds, dressed in a black silk gown and cocked hat, the costume of our old Puritan minister. He was looking down upon the earth, and spying round[72] among the children to see who was doing wrong, in order to punish offenders by touching them with a long rod he held in his hand, thus exposing them to everybody's censure. Of course my mother said no such thing to me, but what she did say, by subtle associations with the words she used, gave me this image, which I need not say rather checked than promoted my spiritual advancement.

This experience has been of value to me as a teacher since, for it has effectually saved me from being didactic and dogmatic in my religious teaching of children. The Socratic method is the true way of bringing into the definite conscious thought God's revelation of Himself to the soul. That image of authority and power to punish did not, I think, help, but rather puzzled my moral sense of which I was already conscious. For I remember that I used to muse very much in my childhood upon the mental phenomenon of feeling myself to be two persons. I was clearly conscious of an inward conversation on all occasions of a question of right and wrong, when a higher and lower law distinctly uttered themselves. The lower self often prevailed by the argument that the thing to be done was transient, I would do it only this once, and never again; and often I thus sinned against the very present God, which I think I might not have done so presumptuously, had I associated the thought of this strange other me with that kind face of Love Divine. When later in life I did learn that the remonstrating voice was unquestionably God, because He is the Love that I saw in my childish vision, the war between self-love and conscience ceased. But this was not till a great body of death had been accumulated, which I have never shuffled off except in moments of hope.

But to take up the thread of my discourse again. I would very earnestly say that the Socratic or conversational method is the only way of bringing into a child's definite consciousness God's revelation of Himself to souls. But[73] this requires a mutual understanding of words, and if we are careful, we may produce this in the kindergarten.

Frœbel intimates that a general impression of there being an invisible Friend and Protector may be given by the baby's seeing the mother in the attitude of devotion, and he would have recognition of God called forth by her naming the unseen Father at moments when the child's heart is overflowing with joy and love, or seeking to know where some beautiful thing comes from. The child feels already at such times the presence of the Infinite Cause, the Infinite Source of joy and goodness, and the name of Heavenly Father given to this presence will not be an empty vocable. Using with the name of Father the word "our," with which the Lord's Prayer begins, suggests that He is the Father of all alike, and all human beings will thus be united together with Him in the child's imagination.[6]

This idea of one personal but comprehensive Being, the centre of the social organization, is a quickening of the immortal personality, which has a date in time no less certainly than the quickening of the body, and is our sense of identity.[7]




In my last lecture I spoke of the ideal nursery; for only there, hitherto, has the divine method of education ever been completely carried out, the unquestionable teacher there being the child, "trailing clouds of glory from God who is our home"; its sweet content and inspiring smile indicating when its nurse is treating it aright; while all that is wrong, whether proceeding from mere ignorance or selfish wilfulness on the part of the adult, is indicated by its cries of fright and anger, which it behooves her to heed.

How is it that, with the spectacle forever before our eyes of the mother and infant, mutually emparadised in child's play (that mutually educating communion of trust and love, by which the child is put into gradual possession of his body, and joyous consciousness of his individuality),—how is it, I say, that we find education has lost its ideal, and as soon as the child leaves the nursery for the schoolroom, an antagonism has begun, "with its blessedness at strife," and which leaves us all such scarred and bewildered creatures as we find ourselves to be, as soon as we come to reflect?

But I must remember that what we have to speak of especially is the kindergarten, which follows hard upon the nursery.

When the child's growing activities begin to require a larger social sphere than the nursery,—i.e., at about three years old,—it was Frœbel's plan to gather the children of several families into what he called a "Child Garden," and to extend the nursery law of cherishing (which is the dealing with[76] living organisms that children are), by exercising them for several hours of every day in rehearsing in plays, in the first place, all the sweet charities of life. This employs their physical forces, and makes them experimentally know that human happiness and goodness are social and generous.

For the so-called "movement plays" are social exercises, gently calling out moral sentiments, as well as intellectual powers. They can only be beautiful and enjoyable when they give mutual pleasure; and this involves that mutual reference and kind consideration of each other which leave no room for selfish feeling or action. Moral education is the alpha and omega of a kindergarten, but it cannot be given by precept. To do the will of God,—i.e., to obey the moral law,—"doing to others as we would have others do to us," even in play, is the only way for children to know vitally the doctrine of moral life.

Frœbel has suggested a variety of these movement plays, all of them conceived with the greatest care as to their intellectual as well as moral effect. They always have a fanciful aim, within the scope of the child's knowledge and affection, and to play them begins to develop the understanding also.

A gentle intellectual exercise, involved in learning by rote, reciting, and singing the songs that direct the plays, takes the rudeness out and puts intelligence into that exhilaration of the animal spirits which healthy children crave, and prevents it from exhausting the body or disordering the mind; the joyous association of the children with each other aiding this effect. In the sedentary plays, which are called "occupations," and in which the child is genially drawn into producing symmetrical effects to the eye, by making things (albeit only little toys) which begin their artistic life, Frœbel has had equal regard to the moral as to the intellectual influences. When the child has gone beyond the age in which he is satisfied with making transient forms and gathering the materials back into boxes, and desires to make something that will last,[77] a legitimate sense of property arises. He feels that what he has made is his own, for the thought and work which he knows that he has put into it are his own. Frœbel, therefore, would have him, before he begins to make anything, pause and appropriate it intentionally to some object of his love, reverence, or pity. This will check the otherwise rampant propensity to hoard, and prevent the passions of avarice, vanity, and jealousy from making their appearance. In our common school life, the pride of showing off their powers, and excelling others, is regularly cultivated in children by competition, as a stimulus to industry. But this is as unnecessary as it is deleterious. For disinterested desire to confer pleasure, and express gratitude and love of others, is found by experience to be a surer stimulus to industry than the baser passions, and has the additional value of cultivating positive sweetness and active benevolence. It is desirable, and really produces the greatest practical humility, for children to regard themselves as embryo powers of beneficence, learning to do the Heavenly Father's business from the beginning, like the child Jesus. Then may they grow "in favor with God and men," as they grow "in stature," and all their knowledge will prove a divine wisdom unto the salvation of others and themselves. To go into a truly ordered and well governed child-garden, and see all the little children busy making things for the Christmas tree, or for birthday and new year's gifts, for all the friends they know or fancy, we shall see sufficient proofs that love is the truest quickener of industry, and love-inspired industry the true sweetener of the disposition and temper.

Moreover, such industry is the special desideratum to temper the spirit of the present age, which is so keen and energetic that it hurries our young men into pursuits in their amusements which take on the character of gambling; and hence gambling in business, gambling in politics, where even human beings, instead of being regarded as brothers to be[78] kept, are used as dice, to be recklessly thrown in our game. The only preventive or cure for this passion for gambling is industry, and the only industry that is attractive is artistic; and why should not all industry become artistic, now that the great cosmic forces are suborned, by our advancing civilization, as the legitimate slaves of men, to do all the hard work for men? I have already set forth this view of the subject in the Plea for Frœbel's Kindergarten as the Primary Art-School, which I appended to Cardinal Wiseman's lecture on the relation of the arts of design with the arts of production (which I published in 1869, under the title of The Artist and the Artisan Identified,—the Proper Object of American Education).

Before I leave these general remarks for more specific explanation of Frœbel's method of intellectual development, I would make one more observation. It is in the social and moral character of the kindergarten that Frœbel has shown himself so much superior to Rousseau, whose method was to cultivate individualities exclusively, the teacher pretending to know no more than the child, but taking his idiosyncrasy for his only guide in discovery and invention. In the first place, Rousseau's method has been found an impracticable one, for it requires a separate teacher for every child; and in the only instance, perhaps, in which it was ever carried out with perfect fidelity, that of Maria Edgeworth's eldest brother (we have in her memoirs of her father all the facts), the ultimate effect was to make a monstrosity. He was utterly strange, so odd and unsocial, nobody but his father, who educated him, could have any practicable relation with him. He might be said to be conscientiously unsocial, and therefore immoral; and, though not ungifted, he was an utter failure in human life. We see similar effects produced measurably, in all cases where the main object is to cultivate the individual rather than the universal characteristics of humanity. Frœbel was tender, and gave freedom to individualities,[79] but he took great care not to pamper them. They are the results of the free-will, irrefragable, and will take care of themselves sufficiently, if not cruelly snubbed, but tenderly respected.

What is to be intentionally cultivated in earliest infancy, are the general affections and faculties, which relate us to our kind, insuring common sense and common conscience with a reasonable self-respect. Therefore, what is done in the kindergarten is necessary for all children, their idiosyncrasies being left free to play on the surface and give variety and piquancy to life, freedom and dignity to the individual.

All minds seem to be divided into two classes. In one class, the primal tendency is to observe single objects; and these are the so-called smart children, interesting the spectator by their vivacity and precocity. In the other class, children seem to be dull in sense, unobserving, but dreamy, as if they had an over-mastering presentiment of that connection of things which binds them into wholes. It has been remarked that this latter class turns out the great men,—the poets, the philosophers, the inventors, high artists, great statesmen, and law-givers,—while the precocious children disappoint expectation; probably because they have accumulated such a chaos of single impressions of disconnected things, that it quite overwhelms the classifying and generalizing powers of the intellect. Frœbel's method equally meets the respective wants of both these classes of minds, supplying by specific culture the other side of their practical endowment. By its discipline of production, it gives the lively and restless ones the wand of the Fairy-Order, in discovering to them the connections of things, and the conditions as well as laws of organization; while for those of the dreamy, poetic, philosophic temperament, it sharpens the senses to individual things, supplying the definite and sensuous impressions, and suggesting the corresponding words that enable them to give an account of their own[80] thinking, and illustrate to others the struggling ideal; which, like conscience and the love of order and rhythm, is perhaps the yet persistent vision of that Heavenly Father's face, which Jesus Christ has told us we are created beholding.

Jesus evidently is quoting a familiar proverb, when he says "for their angels behold the face of my Father who is in heaven." Does it not refer to the Persian mythology current in Judea after the captivity? However neglected and eclipsed, that primeval vision can never be quite lost. It persists in the love of order and beauty; in the desire to be loved infinitely; in hope "that springs eternal in the human breast"; in the ideals of imagination, that haunt both the savage and the sage, and, at worst, in remorse, in which, as Emerson says, "there is a certain sweetness," whether it be gentle as in what the Quakers call "the reproof of truth," or felt as the reproachful strivings within us of our neglected infinite nature.

This brings me to speak of Frœbel's superiority to Pestalozzi. The kindergarten is not mainly object-teaching, though of course a constant object-teaching is involved; all the materials of their work and all the surroundings of the children become objects of examination in their individualities of form, size, number, etc., and in their possible connections with each other and with the child. If Frœbel proposes to give the fruits of the tree of life, before he gives those of the tree of knowledge, it is only that the latter may prove, not a curse, but a blessing. The world's history and the present state of civilization in the foremost nations of the world shows us that knowledge may be a power without being a good (a snakish subtlety not Divine Wisdom). It begins to be realized in Europe as well as in America, that Frœbel's idea of education, in making character the first thing, and knowledge the hand-maiden of goodness, is the desideratum of the age, and promise of the millennium.

I should like to read you some letters of eminent men in[81] France, addressed to Frœbel's most earnest disciple and apostle, the Baroness Marenholtz-Bülow, which I have translated from the appendix of her Work in Relation to Education (see Appendix, Note B).

In an address to the school committee of Boston in 1868 I gave the call addressed in 1867 by the Philosophers' Congress in Prague to the convention of teachers in Berlin, and the call of the latter to the second convention of this congress at Frankfort-on-the-Main in 1869. The burden of all these papers is the paramount necessity of religious and moral education, begun in earliest infancy, in order that the modern intellectual activity may not land us in licentious vices and heartless atheism, our nearest dangers. They all accept Frœbel's method of education by work and experience (beginning with the work and experience of the child of three years old) as the first condition of the regeneration of the human race.

It is the office of the kindergartner to awaken the intellect, which the child does not bring into the world, like its heart and will, full-grown. The infant suffers and enjoys as keenly, and wills as energetically, at first as ever in its life, but apparently begins and lives for some time, unconscious of a world without as a not me. It is purely subjective, i.e., feeling its material environment to be a part of itself. As Emerson says:—

"The babe, by its mother,
Lies bathed in joy;
Glide its hours uncounted;
The sun is its toy!
Shines the peace of all being,
Without cloud, in its eyes;
And the sum of the world
In soft miniature lies!"

Only by intentional help of those around the child can it grow into individual consciousness of its relations with[82] nature in that order which produces the sound intellect. For the intellect is a growth in time, that carries on the nursery exercises of the limbs and affections by the movement plays, and adds those sedentary plays with the series of gifts, which are symbols of all nature in miniature, that objective revelation of God to which the receptive mind answers by thoughts. Thinking is that reaction of the individual mind upon nature which, when it is put into words, produces progressively an image of God, which is the human mind.

The kindergartner's conversation with the children upon their playthings is therefore her most important and delicate work, and one which she cannot do instinctively, but only if she scientifically understands the child on the one hand, and nature in some department on the other. It is impossible in this lecture, perhaps, to demonstrate my meaning. By following out Frœbel's own method of playing with the gifts, as suggested in Mrs. Kraus-Boelte's guide or in The Florence Handbook, the whole process of the formation of the human understanding by the order of objective nature will become patent, and enable the kindergartner to avoid any great mistakes in her guidance of the children's minds, which guidance should always be tentative, and respectful, to say the least, of their freedom to will. Then we shall have not mechanical work, but orderly, creative work from the children, whose spontaneity is not to be choked; but when it seems to be going in a wrong direction, interrogatively guided. Like Ariel, she must do her spiriting gently, lest she violate the legitimate individuality, and we have Caliban instead of the germ of Prospero.

I here pause to display two kinds of work actually done by children under seven years of age at Frau Marquadt's kindergarten in Dresden. They enable me to show that those sedentary plays, with which Frœbel would have children amused, must needs develop and educate the perceptive[83] faculty and understanding in a substantial manner; for these things were done without patterns, and therefore from thought,—the thought being sometimes suggested by the dictation of the child-gardener, requiring of the child only one single act of reflection. But much of this work was invented by the children themselves, their wildest fancies being controlled to produce symmetry, by following the one rhythmical law of always making an opposite to everything they do. After showing and explaining the modus operandi of the work exhibited, I went on to say:—

I believe nobody disputes, after they see what kindergarten is, that it is the gospel of salvation for children. The exercises put them into complete possession, not only of their limbs, especially the characteristic limb of man, the hand, just when they are the most flexible, and therefore most easily trained; and of their organs of sense (by which they gradually make the universe their instrumentality), but also of accurate speech, enabling them to express their impressions of individual things, as well as of what they do with things and in the order of its doing. Thus they are prepared for entering upon more abstract subjects, by means of books and schools of instruction. A child well "gardened" and exercised in the intelligent use of his mother tongue enters upon the process of learning to read, for instance, with all the more advantage from being accustomed to hear and use language with precision and fluency; and is ready to learn to cipher all the more quickly, because of the concrete arithmetic and geometry he has mastered experimentally with the playthings and in the occupations, all his habits of delicate observation and nice calculation formed by the embroidery and other fanciful work giving the basis for intelligent classifications. Even the few years of experience of some genuine kindergartens in this country has already proved this. I can give an instance in detail of the almost miraculous rapidity with which a class of seven-year-old[84] children learned to read in the primer called After Kindergarten—What? (Note C, in Appendix.) All the time given to "child-gardening" is therefore more than saved at the next stage, when instruction begins. Other advantages accruing are incalculable, for the children themselves have become intelligent and conscientious co-operators with their elders, instead of passive receivers or antagonists. When Miss Youmans' First Lessons in Botany (a book made to teach botany in nature on Prof. Henslow's method) was introduced into the New York primary schools, with great expectations of a brilliant success, it was found that the children did not take hold as expected of this science of observation. "I see now," said Miss Youmans to me, "the indispensableness of kindergartens to develop the faculties; more than half the children are intellectually demoralized by neglect or injudicious teaching before they are seven years old." Everything, however, depends upon the single-minded self-devotion and affectionate character of the kindergartner, and it is obvious that her education must be as special as that of a teacher of instrumental and vocal music; for as little as music can be taught by the ear, or drawing by the eye, without studying the underlying principles of harmony and symmetry, can kindergartning be taught empirically. Its foundation is in both a scientific and sympathetic study and understanding of the child's perceptive powers and the material world. Not merely what is to be taught, as is the case with a university professor, but the free-willing and deep-feeling beings that are to be taught must be studied generally and individually above all things else. Hence, there must be special schools for teaching child-gardening, or a special department made in the already existing normal schools.

The burden of thinking out the steps of procedure in the schoolroom is too great a one to be laid on the teacher who has to exercise the general care. It must all be at the[85] tongue's tip and fingers' ends beforehand. It took Frœbel a lifetime, with all his genius and wisdom, to discover all the steps of this order of exercises, in correspondence with the true evolution of the faculties; but "one man dies, and other men enter into the fruits of his labors." Besides, it is as cruel to study the philosophy of education at the expense of the living children's minds, as it would be to study anatomy and medicine at the expense of their living bodies. All kindergartners should observe and practise for awhile under the direction and criticism of those who are already experts and adepts; and the latter should be careful that their assistants try no rash experiments, but at first reverently observe successful work. It is the highest interest of all teachers to learn this method, because it develops themselves. It not only makes the best mothers, but the most perfectly accomplished women. It is entering into the secret of creation and redemption, which is the flower and fruit of human culture.[8]

When people ask me if kindergartning is not a method especially adapted to German children, I reply that it seems to me to encounter as great obstacles in that nationality as in any other. It is not a national method, but the human method; and I would remark in this place that it strikes me as especially desirable for Irish children. The natural predominance in them of fancy needs the check of accurate perception, associated with accurate expression; accurate perception, first, of the individuality of objects, their form, size, color, direction, their mutual resemblances and contrasts, and the no less accurate perception of their relations to each other and to the child. These things can only be made objects of perception by children's being accustomed to make things, which employ the activities that otherwise will play[86] at random and divert their attention from the matter in hand. In my observations of Irish servants, I am struck with their never seeming to see what is before their eyes, or to hear what is said to them, on account of the predominance of their creative faculties. Accurate perception of the things children play with, and successful manipulation of them to produce effects, would also help them to moral integrity; for order moralizes just in proportion as disorder demoralizes. Successful action cures idle dissipation, while unsuccessful efforts discourage and paralyze industry. Frœbel wishes the child to be started at something he can certainly accomplish, though perhaps not without direction in words. When the child sees an effect produced by himself, he will repeat it until he can produce the effect without direction, and, if asked, will be delighted to show another child how he has done it. It is a necessary step to put his action into words, and raises it from mere mechanical into intellectual work; from Chinese imitation into European and American invention. By and by, when he has learned a little steadiness of attention by doing successfully what pleases his fancy, he will make some motion of his own, and proceed according to the law of symmetry (whose virtue he has learned) to discover and make new forms of beauty and use; but he should still be carefully overlooked, and saved, by timely suggestions, from making mistakes. These suggestions he will crave and not resist, if they are not peremptory, but are put in the form of a question, which seems to respect his power to choose, which is his personality, the image of God within him. In proceeding in this way, both teacher and child are led more and more to realize that there is a mysterious third Being present, who is neither the teacher nor the child, but in whom they meet, through whom they communicate, and who gives the law they both must respect; that there is, in short, One "in whom they live and move and have their being"; that is the God who "worketh in them to will and to[87] do"; that He enables them to create beauty, not at random, but with a certain freedom which is not lawlessness. He is the Creator of the Beauty they do not make, and of the Good they love, and gives the Laws which they obey, and in obeying become powers of good and inventors of beauty; for the laws of order are truly God's thought revealed to their thought. To be active powers of good and beauty is to be religious, and also to be free from superstition; to love God instead of being afraid of Him; to make their lives a reasonable service, and thus become free from priestcraft and spiritual tyranny. Inefficiency, still more than ignorance, is the mother of fetich worship, and reduces man to slavery; and to be surrounded by natural and artistic beauty does not cultivate the mind, unless it is already an active power. Reverie is not thinking. But the mind can only become active by the electric touch of a sympathetic mind which is already in motion. It is the destiny of men to become one in that same sense that the Divine Father and Son are one. God has made human communion a moral necessity, and does nothing for man, except by the instrumentality of man. "By man came death, by man also cometh the resurrection from the dead." In short, education, that "mysterious communion of wisdom and innocence," is presupposed in reasonable religion. I once heard an eloquent man, who was speaking of education, say, "The Archangel is born upon earth; we may know him by the many difficulties that he has found and surmounted, and his consequent power to educate; for education is the highest function of humanity in earth and heaven, cementing the links of the chain of love which binds us all to one another and to God." We are always either educating or hindering the development of our fellow-creatures; we are always being uplifted or being dragged down by our fellow-creatures. Education is always mutual. The child teaches his parents (as Gœthe has said) what his parents omitted to teach him. Every child is a new thought of God, whose[88] individuality is significant and interesting to others, though it is his own limitation; and to appreciate a child's individuality is the advantage the teacher gets in exchange for the general laws which he leads the child to appreciate. It is this variety of individuals that makes the work of education fascinating, and takes from it all wearisome monotony. Those persons who feel that education is wearisome work have not learned the secret of it. I have never seen a good kindergartner who was not as fond of the work as a painter of his painting, a sculptor of his modelling. Teachers who are not conscious of learning from their pupils, may be pretty sure they teach them very little.

It is because kindergartning is this true education, which is mutual delight to the adult and the child, that I have faith it will prevail, and its prevalence is my hope for humanity. By the infinite mercy of God, no human being is hopeless of redemption into God's perfect image at last; but humanity will not be redeemed as a whole,—will not become the image of God, or live the life of God,—until little children are suffered to go unto Christ while they are yet of the kingdom of heaven, and are blessed from the first and continually, by those who shall take them in their arms to bless them. Those are only perfect kindergartners who are "hidden in Christ," receiving every child in his name, and humbly learning of them the secrets of greatness in the kingdom of heaven, which is to be established on earth. Kindergartning is not a craft, it is a religion; not an avocation, but a vocation from on High.[89]



Teaching, which in the common sense of the word is the suggestion of thoughts by words, is not the kindergartner's special work, but the a priori process of drawing out into the individual consciousness of a child those latent powers whose free activity gives him conscious relations, first, with his kind; secondly, with material nature, including his own body; and, thirdly, with God. He is unconsciously in this threefold relation already, but to become conscious of these relations severally, in his own growth builds up the human understanding, which is not born with him like his sensibility and force of will. The human understanding, a creation in time of the free will, creates language as the element of a life not shared with animals; an intellectual life using the symbolism of nature as a means of intercommunication, and which is correspondent and bearing a relation to its creator, man, similar to the relation of the material universe to God, being in both instances an image, as in a mirror, of what is necessary and immutable in the self-consciousness, though without entity itself. Hence, as the material universe expresses the wisdom of God, human languages express the imperfect wisdom of man. Language is the element in which the intellectual nature makes a sphere wherein to live and move and have its being. What breath is to the material body, making man alive in nature, language is to the social body, making it alive in history.

A word is both spiritual and material, being an articulate form of the voice which, as Gœthe has happily said, is the[90] nearest spiritual of our bodily powers, taking significance from the articulating organs, which are symbolical, like everything else in material nature, which, as I said before, is but an image, as reflected in a mirror, without absolute entity, but bearing witness of an entity progressively apprehended by the finite spirits of men, who are the children of the Infinite Spirit inheriting creative power forevermore.

The inarticulate sound of the voice is the scream of pain or the shout of joy, mutually intelligible to all human hearts; and this aerial basis of language continues to be more or less intelligible to all souls, when modulated as in poetry into melody and rhythm by emotion and character. The first human language was, perhaps, music of the deepest character, of which phase there is historic trace in the spoken Chinese, which has been perishing for ages on the lips of a nation whose origin is lost in the depths of antiquity. This spoken language is monosyllabic, and even the initial consonant often only a semivowel, while the whole word takes its significance from the tone of the vowel; thus lu in a low tone would have one meaning, lu in the tone of a musical third another meaning, and so on as the tone ascends through the octave. The inception of such a language implies an original equipoise of a brain not yet despoiled of its first vigor through moral delinquency which is incident to the freedom to will of a finite spirit, and consequently the Chinese language was inevitably lost. It would be interesting to enquire if those rare individuals among the Chinese who are expert in the spoken Chinese, are not of finest musical temperament.

Not till after thinking had begun could articulation by the organs of speech begin. Thinking is the free individual act which associates the mind's activity and the sensibility of the heart with material things, and must precede the use of words.

A time comes to every intelligent child when it wonders[91] how words should express thoughts. Victorious analysis has never yet penetrated the whole mystery of language to the complete satisfaction of men, though I think philologists and metaphysicians are on the way to it, and have reached some fundamental facts. For instance, that insignificant sounds and articulations could not make significant words, and that vocal sounds (vowels) get their meaning from feeling, while articulations get theirs from the symbolism of the organs of speech.

The organs of speech are, first, the throat,—as the guttural organ is called in English because through it we take our food and send forth our voice,—is out of sight, covered up, hidden, the central point where the voice starts; secondly, the lips, which are obvious, movable, parallel; thirdly, our teeth, against which the voice strikes, are hard, stiff, and dead in comparison with the flexible lips, and the tongue which connects all together, the voice rolling over it and hardly articulated. Hence the hard c and g, and the rough aspirate h are factors in all words signifying the beginning of self-originating motion (observe go and kick, or cause to go), the causal, the central, covered, hidden; while the labials, p, b, f, v, are factors in all words expressing obviously moving phenomena; and the dentals, d, t, s, z, found in words expressive of stiff, hard, dead phenomena (the word death is all but identical with the word teeth); separation and number being expressed by s and z, which are made by throwing the vocal breath out between the separated teeth. The liquids r and l, r being also a factor of words expressing indefinite beginning, (as original, auroral, arise, etc.) are made by the voice moving over the tongue more or less energetically, to express movements whose difference of energy is exemplified in the words fry and fly, grow and glow, M closes the lips without preventing the continuous sound of the voice from being heard; and n, negating limitation by throwing the breath (or voice) out at the nose, symbolize respectively the positive and negative aspects of Infinity.[92]

Of course I am giving only a hint in order to define what I mean when I say significant words are not made out of insignificant sounds, and that articulated sounds get their meaning from the symbolism of the organs of speech.

The historical origin of language is lost in the depths of antiquity, when the human race was yet in that equipoise of mind, heart, and self-activity, which in the process of evolution is only progressively recovered by the free agent, it being the office of education to restore it.

The infant (that is, the non-speaking child) in vision of the Eternal, only gradually becomes aware of the succession of time. For, as Mr. Emerson sings in his Sphinx song,—

"The babe by its mother
Lies bathed in joy,
Glide its hours uncounted."
And Wordsworth says of "the little child,—"
"On whom those truths do rest,
That we are toiling all our lives to find;"

"By the vision splendid
The youth is still attended;"
"Shades of the prison-house begin to close
Upon the growing boy,
Yet he beholds the light and whence it flows;
He sees it in his joy:
At length the man perceives it die away,
And fade into the light of common day."

But this fall from the Ideal is not what Calvinistic theology declares it to be, reprobation either intellectual or spiritual!

"Oh, joy that in our embers
Is something that doth live,
That nature yet remembers
What was so fugitive."


True education shall lead out the imprisoned spirit, growingly conscious of individuality, by means of the symbolism of the prison-house itself which is that correlation of necessary forces we call the material universe.

The material universe, as I have already said, is the symbolization of everything in God except his creativeness which is the spiritual essence that he shares with Humanity, his only-begotten Son. It is the body of God, and human language is the body of individualized Humanity, whose imperfections correspond with its various partial developments and short-comings. And it is ever growing towards perfection in the form of poetry, bearing witness to the creativeness (or genius) of man forevermore. As breath is to the material body, keeping men alive in nature, so language is to the social body, keeping individuals alive in history and literature; and as the material universe is symbolical of God's wisdom, so the echoes of the universe tossed from the lips of men are symbolic images of the wisdom of man. Language, in short, being of both natures, spiritual and material, makes an elemental sphere for the intellectual life, beyond the material; in short, makes a metaphysical world, in which the finite and infinite spirits commune with other finite spirits and with the Infinite One; for by words every minutest shade of individual consciousness may be communicated from one finite mind to another, making not only an immortal communion of men possible, but a communion of God and Humanity also that shall have no end. Heaven and earth pass away, but the Word of the Lord endureth forever.

But I must not be tempted into philosophizing farther upon language at present, precisely because it takes us into the deepest mysteries of speculative thought, and our business with it now is practical, and concerns the nursery and kindergarten processes of culture.

Looking at it superficially, speech is an imitative art, and so far as our experience goes, is always taught by elders to[94] the young generation empirically. This teaching of the mother-tongue in the nursery is an immensely important thing, because it carries on the development of the understanding towards the fulness of Reason (which is seeing particular things in their proportionate relation to the whole).

In the whole course of a child's education, nothing is done which so much involves the totality of his activity as his learning to talk. For to talk presupposes observation, discrimination, memory, fancy, understanding. The first three (observation, discrimination, and memory) are nearly passive reactions from sensuous impressions. But fancy and understanding are creative acts of the human spirit, almost defying analysis. In fancy, the mind acts quite reckless and even defiant of nature's laws and order. In understanding, it observes and uses them subjectively. That children delight in using words to name things in the order of nature, and to express qualities and relations in connection, making an echo-picture within of what they see without, is not so wonderful as the exaltation of delight produced by a story which is, as it were, triumphant over nature's laws, and reckless of its order; and the shocks of laughter with which they catch at a grotesque and impossible combination of images made in their fancy by means of words. The predominance of fanciful talk to children which seems to be instinctive with all peoples, everywhere, is an indication that fancy is as legitimate an activity as understanding, to say the least. It seems to me to be an evidence of our being begotten directly by the creative spirit, sons of a divine Father, who is the complex of Infinite Love, Infinite Wisdom, and Infinite Power, of which our human feeling, power of thinking, and executive ability are the shadow, or rather a living image.

Both fancy and understanding are developed in time by words. We all know how children are waked up and delighted[95] by Mother Goose absurdities, and still more by fairy stories that seem to set at naught the facts and override the laws of nature. It is a stubborn fact, of which materialistic positivists afford us no explanation, and which I commend to the consideration of Mr. Mansell, and whoever else talks of the limitations of religious thought. And I think it will be found that children who are talked to by Mother Goose and fairy-story tellers learn to talk more quickly than others, and have more vivacity of mind generally, with a power of entering into the minds of others commensurate with their sensibility, and justifying the human sympathies which are often a burden to the unimaginative, who are nevertheless kind. A great deal of the misunderstanding of others which causes unnecessary pain and social bitterness, checking generous furtherance of one another's good purposes, arises from want of saliency of imagination, preventing us from being able to put ourselves in another's place. And of course it is not without the highest reason that the Father of our Spirits has given fancy the advantage of the first start in our mental process. That fancy precedes understanding in our psychological history cannot be denied by any nice observer. I have known some parents who would not use Mother Goose or fairy stories with their children, but substituted therefor amusing experiments in physics,—the metamorphosis of insects and the classification of plants according to their differences. Their children became scientific when they grew up, were fine mathematicians, and were interested in mechanical inventions and natural history; but took comparatively little interest in political and moral problems, though not at all wanting in the social and patriotic affections, which also characterized their parents, who were themselves brought up on the imaginative system not well modified by studies of nature's phenomena, which was probably the reason of their strong reaction from the imaginative method.

But I have known as intimately some other parents who[96] made predominant, perhaps extreme use of Mother Goose and fairy literature. Their children much earlier and more completely got command of all the resources of language, had a tendency to art, especially literary art, in their own activity, and were earlier interested in human history, and all varieties of human experience reflected in the literature of nations; but perhaps were slower in attaining practical ability for life's labors. Each direction of education has its advantages and disadvantages in the religious relation, and I think it is the better way to mingle them, especially at the early period of the kindergarten, where the objective point is to cultivate the understanding, which needs that we should appreciate the facts and order of external nature as the exponent of God's wisdom. This will chasten and give substantiality to the creative action of the human fancy, which is never to be snubbed, but gently entreated to be reasonable, or we shall have Caliban instead of Ariel or Prospero, as I have said before.

I cannot find out whether Frœbel has anywhere expressed himself distinctly on this point. There are certainly no grotesque images and no fairy stories in the mother's prattle with her children over pictures, and in the out-door walks which are suggested in the Mütterspiele und Köse-Lieder; but children are led to recognize the poetical symbolism of nature, and its invisible and impalpable substances and forces; the invisible forces of air, heat, and light are used to lead them out from the world of matter towards the more substantial spiritual world where the soul meets and communes with God, the omnipresent Spirit to be apprehended only by the spirit within us, whose organs are ideas.[9]

In the kindergarten, as in the nursery, children learn language by using it empirically. To utilize their love of talking as they play is what is first to be done by the kindergartner.[97] The things seen and done give a clear definition and precise significance to the words used, which become the stepping-stones of the mind, by which it mounts up from the sensuous ground of the understanding into the heaven of invention and imaginative art, plastic and heroic; and thence to communion with God. But before children are put to reading, before proceeding from things through thoughts, and from spiritual experiences through ideas to their vocal signs, and from vocal signs to their written or printed representations, it is wise to consider the signs themselves. I do not mean to go deeply into etymologies or anything that is abstract. It is not doing so, for instance, to ask children what is the difference between the words see and look. (Can you see without looking? Can you look without seeing?) It gives precision to the understanding to discriminate what are often called synonymes, but which seldom mean precisely the same thing, unless, in our potpourri of a language they are mere translations, as for instance morsel and bit, respective derivatives from the Latin morsum and the English bitten. The little English-speaking child should not be troubled with the derivation of morsel, but is pleased to be called to notice that of bit. We must be guided here by Frœbel's rule of proceeding from the known to the unknown, and not endeavor to plunge children into the unknown without a clue.

That children understand and use figurative language readily, shows that without going out of their childish world we can define symbolic expression to some degree, and this is a means of regulating fancy. But I must take another opportunity to speak of the method of doing this.[10] I can now only affirm that unless children could signify by words not merely their impressions of material things and their correlations, but their feelings and thoughts, it would be impossible for the religious education to be begun in the[98] nursery, or to be carried on in the kindergarten, as Frœbel proposes it shall be.

It is only by naming to the child his own intuition of creative being or cause, or rather by leading the child to name it, that the understanding is started upon the religious thinking which is necessary to keep pure from superstition his religious feeling, while his blind sense of God is changing from an undefined intuition of the heart into a definite thought of the mind, which change Frœbel would have take place very early. But this is the most delicate region of consciousness to enter, and we must take great care that we do not profane instead of consecrating the process by what we do and say. Words that are adequate and living names for the spiritual intuition of a very present God, generate spiritual thoughts in natural relation with them. And this reminds me of a circumstance in the mental history of Laura Bridgeman, illustrative of what I mean.

This poor child was deprived, when two years old, of her sight and hearing, and partially of taste and smell, by the scarlet fever, which left her but one avenue of knowledge of material things,—the sense of touch. But through that the practical benevolence of Dr. Howe won a way to her imprisoned spirit, and opened communication of thought with her by means of words; and she even learned to read in the raised type for the blind. The whole story is immensely interesting and important to any teacher. She had been taught enough of the properties of matter to be able to work on and with things, and moral science could be taught her through her own and others' activity; but how was she to be taught about God and spiritual things? Dr. Howe reserved to himself to speak to her of God, forbidding all others to do so, and watched for his opportunity.

My sister Sophia went over to the asylum to model Laura's bust, and one day asked her teacher (who was with her always) to translate into spoken words the conversation that[99] she saw was passing between them by means of the hand language. Very soon occurred the following:—

Laura. I want to go to walk.

Teacher. You cannot go to-day, because it rains.

Laura. Who makes it rain?

Instead of making a direct reply, the teacher went on to explain how moisture exhaled from the earth by the action of the sun, and was collected in masses which were called clouds, and when the clouds were so full as to be heavier than the air, it fell to the earth in drops of rain.

Laura said, reverently, "God is very full."

The teacher was startled, and said, "Who told you about God?"

Laura. No one told me. The Doctor is going to tell me about him when I know more words. But I think about God all times.

The teacher said to my sister, "This is very important," and went to tell the Doctor, who was a good deal moved, but found himself at somewhat of a loss. That evening he came to a little gathering at our house to talk about it. He said that nearly a year before, if not longer, Laura had come upon the word God in her reading, and immediately stopped and asked the meaning of the word. According to his directions, she was then sent to him, and he was so anxious not to do any harm, especially not to frighten her with the idea of Infinite Power (which is the main element of our conception of God, even eighteen hundred years after Christ's manifestation of Infinite Love), that he was embarrassed, and said to her that she did not yet know other words enough to explain the word God, but when she had learned more words, he would tell her, and meanwhile he wished she would not ask any one else. But now he was pondering what was the best way to proceed. I suggested that perhaps Laura could teach him more than he could teach her about God, and asked what was the sentence in which she had found the word. But this he had[100] never known. It was then suggested that probably the word had explained itself, for no sentence could possibly contain the word, not even in an exclamation, that would not suggest to such a perfectly clear thinking mind as Laura had always shown, the fact of supreme love or wisdom. The company present proved this by trying to make sentences. I do not know what he finally concluded to do or say to Laura. I think certainly that the true way would have been to have drawn her out, and according to what she said or seemed to need, to have shaped whatever teaching he had to give, taking great care not to negate any of her positive assertions; for we could not doubt that God was manifesting himself to the imagination of her heart, if not yet in the forms of the human understanding.

If I had known how to use the hand language, I would have solicited the privilege of going to learn what this hermit soul could have told me before it was darkened by our traditional theology, which did not originate in children,—

"On whom those truths do rest
That we are toiling all our lives to find,"

but in the minds of old sinners who had lost the original purity of soul that "sees God." "I think about God all times!" How interesting it would be to know exactly what she thought! That it was nothing terrific or painful was evident from her habitual mood, which was even joyous. So careful had the Doctor been to educate every bodily and mental activity, that she had none of that discouragement, inelasticity, and indolence of mind, which comes of want of success in childish effort. A genial, educating assistance was always around her, but careful not to weaken her by doing anything for her that she could learn to do for herself. Obstacles, therefore, only stimulated her efforts, and so delightful was her sense of overcoming them, that, for instance, she would laugh exultingly when sewing if her thread became[101] knotted, or if in anything she was doing there was some little difficulty to be surmounted. Her faith in herself seemed never to have been broken; but she rested on the fulcrum of Infinite God, in whom she "lives and moves and has her being."

The only thing we ought to do in the religious nurture of childhood is to preserve this faith which comes from the child's seeing God even more clearly and certainly than it can see outward things. See to it that you use language so as more clearly to define and not to blot out the divine vision, as old Dr. Barnard's cocked hat and black silk gown and seat in the clouds eclipsed the sweet face with which my Creator seemed to own me as his child, as I told you in my last lecture.

Another mistake that was made in my religious education was during a visit that I made to a great-aunt when I was five years old, and was taught to say the Lord's prayer by the servant who put me to bed. I got the idea that some unknown evil might happen to me in my sleep if I did not do this, and was also told that God would be displeased with me if I thought about anything else when I was saying it. But I was involuntarily conscious of having my mind full of images, while the words of the prayer were empty vocables. In order to prevent the intruding thoughts, I would try to rush through the words quickly, going back to the beginning over and over again. But this artificial duty was not associated with the instruction of my mother, who was in general very happy in what she said to me about God, dwelling on his goodness, referring to it everything delightful, making Sunday a day of quiet but constant enjoyment, letting us paint, and cut paper, with other little amusements, devoting herself to making us happy, while the rest of the week she was busy; for she kept a large school, and Sunday was, as she often said, her only and blessed day of rest. Long after, at a time of religious controversy and so-called revival,[102] I was immensely aided by hearing my mother say to a young aunt of mine who affirmed that St. Paul, in saying that we must pray without ceasing was fanatically unreasonable: "Yes, if praying meant saying over prayers; but spiritual prayers mean a devotional attitude of mind towards God which we can have whatever we are doing."

This sentence seemed to pour light into a shady place.

"Don't you say prayers, mama?" I said to her when aunt was gone.

"Not when I am alone," she said; "for God sees my thoughts and feelings, and knows that I love him, and always want his help."

My mother had nothing of the martinet about her. She took it for granted that upon the whole we wanted to do what was right. She was not apt to give the worst, but the best interpretation to doubtful phenomena. She believed that to treat a child with generous confidence invoked generosity and truthfulness, and what was better than all the rest, she did not talk down to her children, but rather drew them up to her own mental and moral level; and interlarded stories from Spenser's Faerie Queen and the Scriptures with stories of the kind and noble deeds of real people around us. (See Appendix.)

Her religion was moral inspiration to herself and consolation for all calamity, and always very naturally expressed. She more than corrected her first mistake and inadequate talk with me about my Creator, by telling me the story of the Pilgrim Fathers, when I was yet so very young that my fancy clothed her words with grotesque images, but on the whole did better justice to the spirit of the emigration and the ultimate results it has worked out for the world than the exact facts that transpired in history. What I gained from my self-created mythology was that my ancestors knew themselves to be God's children, whom neither tyrannizing king nor priest had any right to prevent from going to him[103] in prayer first hand, and that in order to do his will as their consciences understood it, they left home and country and all the comforts of civilization, and trusted themselves in a frail vessel to be driven over a stormy ocean by the winds, at imminent peril from the waves below, which would have swallowed them up, had not God, who loved them, approved what they were doing, guided the ship (by a power stronger than the wind, for it was his love) through the narrow opening of Plymouth Harbor to the rock where I still seem to see them streaming along, a procession of fair women in white robes as sisters (for so I had interpreted the word ancestors, who strangely enough were all named Ann). I still seem to see these holy women kneel down in the snow under the trees of the forest, and thank God for their safety from the perils of the sea; and then go to work in the sense of his very present help, and gather sticks to make a fire, and build shelters from the weather with the branches of the trees. Among these rude buildings my mother took pains to tell me that they built a schoolhouse where all the children were to be taught to read the Bible.

There is nothing for which I thank my mother and my God more than for this grand impression of all-inspiring love to God, and of all-conquering duty to posterity, thus made on my childish imagination, and its association with the idea of personal freedom and independent action. It never could have been made except by one who herself had faith in God, and believed that he had made all men free to come to him, and also that the mother was his first appointed mouthpiece. The fanciful images which were the effect of the shortcomings of my ignorance did not hide the vital truths which I was as open to accept then as now; namely, that God is my Father, the Father of all souls, from whom no one has a right to shut off another.

That first schoolhouse, which I fancied that I saw the "Ann Sisters" building, taught me as no mere words ever[104] could have done, that it was the most acceptable service to God to educate all his children to know him and his works. That first idea of human duty I have never outgrown, but still believe universal education is the true culture of the American people, the reasonable service they owe to him who called them out of the Old World to be a nation of individuals. There was nothing fatal, therefore, in that first false notion of God (which I received for a time), though it was for a time more of an evil to me than it would have been to a child less subjective, or of more lively perception of things without. Liveliness of perception brings so many things before the mind, and so stimulates its volatility, that it undoubtedly prevents the stereotyping of many a single impression and fancy that does injustice to spiritual truths; and false impressions, unless strongly associated with terror or some other morbid sensibility, do not take hold of a child so strongly as the images that are consistent with the eternal laws of mental evolution, such, for instance, as that human face divine with which I had instantaneously clothed my intuition of God, and which, notwithstanding its temporary eclipse, has haunted me all my life.

It is very encouraging to the educator to know that the innocent soul of childhood has so much more affinity with truth than with falsehood, because the best and most careful educator cannot sequestrate children entirely from false impressions. But what finds no echo in the spirit passes off, unless the mind is shocked into passivity by fear or pain. When the soul is active, it has a certain superiority to passive impressions, and makes use of them as materials for imaginative production. It is, therefore, desirable to keep children employed in gentle activity which has successful results, and happy in the midst of attractive natural surroundings, by which God is working with us in the same purpose of educating the child, allowing us to be his partners, as it were, in this work, because it educates us. It is not uncommon to[105] hear persons say that they would like to begin life all over again with the knowledge they have gained from their life-experience. This we can all do if we will in imagination really live with our children, as Frœbel says, whose motto explains what Christ meant when he bids us to be converted and become little children.[107]



Part First.

I said in my last lecture that had I possessed the power to talk in Laura Bridgeman's hand, I should have begged Dr. Howe to let me have some conversation with her after she said that she "thought about God all times"; not that I felt that I could teach her, but that I might learn what God had taught her concerning Himself. It was a wonderful chance for a most important psychological observation of the innocent mind of childhood, and would have afforded, doubtless, a luminous illustration of the truth that the human soul is also a divine personality justifying the method initiated by Frœbel of conversing with the children in the Socratic manner.

But already in my lifetime I had had an opportunity for psychological observation, made under circumstances perhaps still more favorable for getting evidence of the importance of a very early recognition of the Heavenly Father's name in the formation in a healthy manner of the human understanding and the development of the reason, verifying the declaration which Frœbel has made the corner-stone of his system; namely, that though a child is the extreme opposite of God, contrasting as effect to cause, as absolute want to infinite supply, all these terms are connected—conciliated—into unity, by Love and Thought, which must recognize each other, and whose loss of equal companionship is a

"Grief, past all balsam and relief,"
as Mr. Emerson has sung.


I have somewhere, very careful memoranda, made at the time, which I have unfortunately mislaid, but I will present from present recollection as well as I can the whole psychological observation, though I am aware that I shall leave out many little things said and done which were perhaps not unimportant links in the chain.

Before I begin, I will observe that I tell it to the class to show the difference between talking to and conversing with children, and to illustrate several truths.

First, There is an innate Idea, not as a thought but as a feeling, given to every child, of an all-embracing Love (named by Jesus, Father), one in substance with the deepest consciousness of self;

Second, That this Idea becomes a child's personal and individual perception only when he has a realizable name for it;

Third, That such a name is not an empty vocable, a mere movement of air, but a sign, to which the intuition of his heart gives vital meaning;

Fourth, That an adequate name for God is the axis of the intellect, and the revolution of thought around it gives perfect globular form and solidity to the mind, balancing the centripetal force of individual self-assertion with the centripetal force of a Divine Love, comprehending all Being. Before God was named to and by this child of whom I am about to speak, you will see that he was a dreary little chaos "without form and void." After he had learned to utter intelligently the name of a Heavenly Father he was what I am going to tell you.

But first I must tell you how I had this opportunity and privilege of being the first person to name God to this child when he was four and a half years old. He was the son of a most conscientious mother whose early orphan life had been saddened with religious terrors. Her earliest recollection, as she told me, having been the death-bed, and immediately[109] after, the burial of her mother, whom she saw, when she was too young to comprehend death, shut up in a coffin and put into the ground; and she remembered how her agonizing cries at what seemed the frightful cruelty, were peremptorily hushed, with the declaration of the person taking care of her, that God who made the heavens and the earth willed it to be so and would punish her if she did not acquiesce. Little did the thoughtless and heartless person who thus dealt with the distressed little heart think, how disastrously she was emasculating the word God of good by associating it with such an image of ruthless power divorced from tenderness, as she unheedingly did. It was not till long years after that her imagination was cleared of the frightful falsehood; and when she came to have a child of her own, her governing thought was to keep him ignorant of the fact of death, and the name of God, until he should be old enough to understand them, as she said. She was a person of deep feeling, upright and benevolent, but her imagination, probably by reason of this life-long depression, was of feeble wing, and she was taciturn. In consequence, her child, though most tenderly cared for as to his body, was starved in mind and spirit. His face continued to be an infant's countenance, and he was strangely without that childish joyousness called animal spirits, and grew more and more peevish as he grew older; for he was sequestered to the society of his silent mother, who would not even be read to in his presence, lest, as she said, some chance word which he could not understand should excite some fear.

Suddenly a hemorrhage of the lungs brought this mother to death's door. She had been, for a few years before her marriage, my pupil in my own house, and she used to say she owed to me all the happy views she had of God and Heaven, as well as of human life and death, and I was sent for in this extremity as a mother to a child.[110]

Since her marriage she had lived in a city distant from me, and I had seen her but little. Her child was so very timid I had made no acquaintance with him in transient interviews, and of me he had no impression but of one little story that I had told him six months before when I met him at the house of her husband's parents. This story I had half invented to explain a picture in the "Story without an end," that I was showing to him. (See Appendix.)

When I came to the mother's bedside, she told me it was best for her to die, because she was utterly baffled in all her efforts to bring up her child. She went on to describe her timid methods; she said she feared he was non compos, for he made no progress. Among many phenomena, she mentioned that when she gave him playthings, he immediately broke them to pieces, and when she tried to prevent this, by endeavoring to make him understand their uses and construction, he would look drearily into her face and say, rather than ask, "What for?" He seemed deficient in will, without impulse, for, though flowers seemed rather to please him, if she took him into the garden and told him he might gather them, he would stand still, and helplessly cry; and she had to command him to do everything, even to play, before he would attempt it. He acted like an automaton. Moreover, he had no sensibility, and expressed no affection.

Just at this point of her dismal story her chamber door was opened by the nurse, with this great boy in her arms. He had his mother's beautiful large brow and deep eyes, but with no speculation in them, and his whole figure was lifeless and so languid that the arms that had been about the nurse's neck, slowly lost their curve when she put him down on his feet. But his look rested on me, who, with an inviting smile and gesture, held out my hand. Immediately the large eyes filled with intelligent light, and with a cry of joy he sprang towards me, climbed up into my lap, clasped his arms round my neck, nestled upon my bosom, and looking up with a[111] joyful expression of confidence said, "Story—little boy—drop of water!" It was, as I have said, about half a year before, that I had lured him to me as he held off in timidity, by offering to show him the picture where the child, in the "Story without an end" is represented beside the brook, looking at a drop of water hanging from a leaf, "telling the little boy a story," as I said, to which he had answered "Story!" and I had gone on and invented a free paraphrase of the story given in the book, adapted to his infantile capacity, and when I had finished, he said, "Story again!" and I repeated it again and again, so imperative was his "story again!" and now he again said "Story," with a confiding pressure, as he leaned on me then, gazing at the picture on the book in my lap, giving me the conviction that he understood me. It was really, as I found subsequently, the only rational words that had ever been addressed to the child's imagination.

"This does not look like want of sensibility, or mens non compos," I said to the mother. "I never saw anything like it before," she said, all tears. The ensuing silence was immediately broken by the child's imperative repetition of the word "story!" I was too much affected by the mother's emotion to remember or invent any story, but it was an early, warm spring day and the windows were open. The house stood on a bluff of the Merrimac, within sight of the Rapids; and the sound of the rushing waters came in upon our silence. I said, cheerfully, "Do you hear the water running?" to which he responded with a joyful "yes! what does it run for?" "Oh, because it is glad," I replied, and again he responded with a joyful and satisfied "yes," and after a moment asked, "Where is it running to?" "Oh, into the ocean, where all the rest of the waters are!" and again an emphatic "yes" expressed his satisfaction. Perhaps he remembered that in the story I had told him of a drop of water it had ended with the drop falling off the leaf, and[112] running away with its brothers and sisters, and falling into the ocean, out of which the sun had originally taken it. At any rate, he not only repeated his yes with the emphasis of satisfaction, but seemed to be thoughtful. I said, "Do you ever look out of the window and see the sun shine on the water, and all the little sparkles of light in the water?" "Yes," said he, joyfully, "what makes the sun shine on the water?" "Oh," said I, "it is because the sun loves the water." "Yes," said he, and began to embrace me in the most energetic manner.

It was too much for the poor mother, who absolutely wept aloud, whether with joy or sorrow she could not tell, as she afterwards said.

The sound of her weeping attracted his attention, and he sat up in my lap and turned his large eyes upon her as she lay in bed, and then upon me, with a look of concern and appeal. "See," said I, "poor mother. She is sick and sorry. She wants me to tell her a story, and won't you get down and go into the nursery and let me tell dear mother a story to make her feel better? Then I will come to you and tell you one."

With a cheerful "yes" he immediately got down and went into the nursery, but stopped at the door to say:—

"When you have told mother a story, won't you come right in and tell me one?"

I said to the mother, "You see, my dear friend, that the child has mind enough, heart enough, and a moral nature. He can understand and feel sympathy; feels the symbolism of nature; and can obey a self-denying motive. No fatal harm has been done after all by your delay, but he needs now to know he has a Heavenly Father, fully to manifest all the powers of a human being. You must allow me to give him that name for the Love he feels within and without."

"Not quite yet," said she, "not until you come to stay, because he would ask me questions that I should not know[113] how to answer. Children ask such terrible questions. I am afraid as soon as you name the Invisible God, he will be frightened. Don't you know M. D. was afraid to stay in a room alone because of the omnipresence of God, which seemed to be an unimaginable horror to her?"

"I do not wonder," I replied. "Omnipresence of God! What was there in a child's experience to interpret this Latin abstraction? I think it would have been quite another thing, considering who her earthly father was, had she been told that our Heavenly Father was all about her though she could not see Him with her eyes, but could feel Him giving her love and joy. I cannot but wonder that anybody around her should have talked to her in such abstractions."

"I am so unready in expression," she persisted, "and can so poorly express my thoughts and feelings, I am sure I should only do mischief if I should try to answer his questions, and I am sure he will go on asking them, for his mind seemed to wake up at once as soon as you began to talk to him. How different was that 'yes' from the dreary 'what for?' with which he always received the very best explanations that I could make of the things he played with. That 'what for?' was not an enquiry of intelligence, but an expression of utter want of perception, with no interest to hear a reply. It is best for him that I should die; then I shall ask his father to give him to you to bring up. Nobody ought to have children but people of genius!"

"No, no," said I; "it does not require genius to talk with children, but only simplicity of heart trusted in. I interested him and gained a response, not because of genius, for I have none, but because I believe in him, and in myself, whose happiness is in loving, and that God has created us to love and commune with one another and Him. You have said yourself that he seemed to love flowers, though he was afraid to gather them, and that he loved to hear the street musicians. Beauty and music touch his sensibility. By[114] saying that the waters run because they are glad, and the sun shines on and makes things beautiful because he loves them, I put his own conscious life into the music of waters and the light of the sun. He recognized the meaning of gladness and love because he himself felt glad and loving, which made a pre-existent possibility of recognizing the love and joy of the Creator that shine in those natural objects, because they are God's own words of love addressed to His own image, who is capable of love and joy and knowledge of Him. If we talk to children in instinctive faith, they understand us. You have not done so because of your early misfortune that saddened your heart and took away your instinctive courage. Faith is the proper act of the heart (courage, you know, is a synonym of heartiness); the heart goes before the understanding in the process of life. Without heart one can do no justice to children in talking with them; with it, we awaken their minds and nurture their souls, and all our mistakes will be of small account beside the positive advantage of setting their minds in joyful motion 'amidst this mighty sum of things forever speaking.'"

"When you come to stay," was her rejoinder, "you can say to him what you please, for then you will be here to take care of his mind and answer his questions."

This was all I could gain at that moment, and I left her, to go to the child, who had several times opened the door and looked at me wistfully, with a silent appeal which was all the more proof of his quickened intelligence that he did not tease. His own desire to have a story had interpreted to him his mother's need.

I have very little power of inventing a story, and to his demand for one I responded by taking from the bookshelves Miss Edgeworth's first story of Frank, and began to read to him of Frank's making a noise on the table and the conversation between him and his mother that ensued. But this did not suit my little one's mood, which was a little exalted[115] by his delight at seeing me, and having had his imagination touched by the beautiful language of nature that I had made intelligible to him. He pulled the book away, and asked me to tell him a story "out of your own self," as he said.

Thus urged, I began: "Once there was a little worm about as long as the nail of my thumb, and no larger round than a big darning-needle. This little worm lived in a little house that he had made for himself in the ground, just big enough to hold him, when he rolled himself up like a little ball with his head sticking out. There were no windows nor doors in his house, but one on top, which was his door to go in at, and his window to look out of. When he had made this house he was tired and crawled into it and curled himself up and went to sleep, and slept all night. In the morning the sun rose and spread his beams all over the world, and one of the bright sunbeams shone into the window of the little worm's house and touched his eyes and waked him, and he popped up his head and looked out and saw it was very pleasant in the garden, and he thought he would go out. He squirmed himself up out of his hole, and because he had no feet he crept along the garden path. The warm beams of the sun put their arms all round his cold, little body and made it warm as could be, and the sunbeam went into his little mites of eyes, and filled him all full of light, and the songs of the birds went into his little mites of ears and filled him all up with music, and the sweet smell of hundreds of flowers went up that little mite of a nose and filled him up with their perfumes. And so that little worm went creeping along as glad as he could be that he was alive.

"Now in the house that stood in that garden lived a little boy about four years old; and when the morning came, the sunbeams had gone into the window of his nursery and waked him, and he was washed and dressed and had his breakfast of bread and milk, and then his mama took him to the door that led down the steps of the piazza into the[116] garden, and told him he might go down the path and have a good run to make himself warm. So down he ran. But now if that little boy should put his strong foot on that dear little worm, it would break him all to pieces—"

"Oh, he shall not, he must not!" cried the child in a spasm of distress. "Aunt Lizzie, don't let him break the dear little worm to pieces!"

"No indeed," said I, "that little boy would not not do such a cruel thing for the world! He saw the little worm creeping along, so glad to be alive, and he ran on the other side of the path; and the little worm nibbled a little blade of grass, and drank a little dew for his breakfast, and then he felt tired, and went creeping back, full of good food, to the little hole that was his home, and curled himself up like a little ball and went to sleep."

"Now tell me that story all over again!" said the child.

I did so more than once at his entreaty, and always when I came to the possible catastrophe of crushing the worm, the same terror seemed to seize him, and he would cry out:—

"Oh, he must not, he shall not!" and I always tranquillized him again, and gratified his sense of justice by my assurance of the little boy's consideration of the little worm's right to his life and happiness.

Of course, I told his mother of the effect of this story, and the evidence it gave of the child's sound moral nature and innate sense of justice. And I begged her to let me lose no time in referring to the presence of the Heavenly Father, that the intuition of his heart might become the possession of his mind. I said I did not believe that he would ask any question. He would suppose that I alone knew, for, as I observed to her, he had never for the whole six months referred to the little boy with the drop of water, and yet had vividly remembered the whole story, as his greeting me had shown, and I had the proof of it, for I had just told it to him again at his request. I told her if I proved to be mistaken,[117] and he should ask her any question she could not answer to her own satisfaction, she could say she would write to me and ask me, and I felt sure he would wait. But I told her I believed what I was thinking of saying to him would keep his thoughts busy while I was gone (for I was going only for a week to prepare for a stay with her for an indefinite time). At last I gained her consent, and the child was put into my bed, that I might have the conversation the first thing in the morning.

When I awoke, I found him awake, close by me, and his great eyes seemed to devour me.

"How long you did sleep!" said he; "I have been seeing you sleep."

Said I, "What do you see with?"

"My eyes," he replied, and to the questions, What do you hear, smell, taste, touch with? he made the appropriate answers.

"But what do you love with?" I asked.

He jumped up upon his knees and crossed his arms on his breast, paused a moment wonderingly, and then exclaimed, "With my arms!" and throwing his arms round my neck, hugged me. I was taken a little aback, but in a moment said:—

"Have you a great deal of love?"

"Oh, a great deal, a great deal!" he exclaimed.

"Where is it? where do you keep it?" said I.

He started up again on his knees, again crossed his arms upon his breast, and said, "Where do I?"

Placing my hand on his heart, I said, "Is it not in there?"

His whole expression was affirmative, he looked delighted, but did not speak.

"Are you good?" said I.

"Sometimes," he said.

"What are you when you are not good?"

"I cry."[118]

He had evidently been told it was naughty to cry.

I said, "Why are you not good all the time?"

"Why ain't I?" said he, after a moment's pause.

"Oh," said I, "I think you have not goodness enough to be good with all the time."

He looked assent, delighted and earnest. I answered his unuttered feeling with the question,—

"Should you like to have goodness enough to be good with all the time?"

"How can I?"

"Oh," said I, "you have a good friend who has a whole sky full of goodness. He gave you all the goodness and love you have in there (I touched his breast), and will give you more and more if you want him to, always and always, enough to be good with all the time."

He looked perfectly blest, did not speak, but laid himself down close by me, took my arm and put it over him, and said, as he nestled up to me,—

"Talk to me some more."

I went on: "Your good friend gives you all your joy to be glad with, and all your love and goodness. They always go together. And now listen to me: the next time you are going to cry (I used his own practical expression instead of saying the next time you are naughty), stop and think. I have a good friend who has a whole sky full of goodness and he will give me goodness enough to be good with all the time, and I guess you will not cry." He responded only with huggings and kissings and exclamations of "I love you a whole sky full," and as I did not want to overdo or say anything to mar the impression I had made, I took advantage of a noise I heard, to change the subject, and said:—

"What is that noise?"

He jumped out of bed, went to the window, and said:—

"It is the carpenters making a house," and after a pause, asked, "Who made all the other houses?"[119]

"Carpenters," said I; "don't you see they make houses out of boards?"

"Who made the boards?"

"The boards are made out of trees. People cut down the trees, and then they saw them up into great logs, and then they split up the logs and smooth them out into pieces we call boards."

"Who made the trees?" said he.

I understood very well where the tyrannizing unity of his personality was leading his understanding, but did not wish, just then, to risk giving outward form or connection to his thought of the Divine Cause, so I said:—

"The trees grow out of the ground; don't you see old trees and young trees and little baby trees growing out of the ground?"

For this information he did not give me that hearty "yes" with which he had received my communication of spiritual facts, but came back to bed again. I persisted, however, in talking playful nonsense for half an hour, until his nurse came to take him up to dress him. As soon as she appeared at the door, he started up on his knees again, crossed his arms over his breast, and in a loud, joyful voice cried out:—

"Mrs. Doyle! I have a good friend up in the sky who has a whole sky full of goodness, and he will give me as much goodness as I want to be good with all the time," emphasizing the last three words.

The nurse, a good-hearted Roman Catholic, who, like all the servants, had been forbidden to talk to the child about God or any kindred subject, looked at me startled, yet gratified, and said:—

"What will his mother say?"

I replied, "His mother will be very glad; she only wanted to wait till she thought he could understand. But I have told him enough for the present; don't talk to him about it; but if he says anything to you, come and tell me."[120]

"Yes," said she, "and I thank God you have come to teach the poor child something."

I then said to her aside, "His mother is very anxious lest he be frightened; for she was frightened about God and death when she was a little child, and has suffered from it all her life long. She has been a double orphan ever since she can remember."

I said this to her for several reasons: one was my extreme desire to see what the one simple truth would do for the child, and this was the reason I gave good friend for God's name. Of course, the mother craved to know exactly what had passed on this important occasion, and was immensely relieved and gratified at what I told her, and wanted it all to be written down; and thus it happened that I made memoranda of this and subsequent conversations, and even of those held in her presence, for they continued to be no less interesting than they began.

Observe these points in the child's speech to the nurse: he interpolated the words up in the sky. I had given no place to the good friend, though I had said he had a whole sky full of goodness and love; and the sky being the glorious symbol of unboundedness, elevation, purity, and power to the human imagination, in all nations and times, as is proved by the earliest idolaters who worshipped the heavens, and the host of stars, and verifying the more spiritual conceptions of the Hebrew Psalmist, and of Job, who did not confound (nor did this child) the sign with the Living God who created it to signify His Being. Another thing: Observe it was not even as the giver of love and joy, but as the giver of goodness that the Person of Persons had seized the imagination of the child so powerfully. It was wonderful to see that very day, the effect upon his understanding of this conversation. The night before, when I told him the story of the little worm, I found his vocabulary so small that I could give my imagination a very narrow scope. But in[121] the course of the day (in which, for the first time in his life) he talked incessantly, asking innumerable questions about his good friend, he seemed to have no difficulty in talking. I am very sorry I have not my written memoranda, because I should like to tell you everything in order; but I remember he wanted to know how his good friend "looked." I replied by asking him, "How does love look?" He laughed, and said, "Love does not look, but feels." "Well," said I, "so your good friend does not look, but feels. Don't you feel him now, putting love and goodness into you?" He laughed assent, and said, "Where is he?"

"Wherever love and goodness are," said I; "in you, in me, and in mother, in everybody who loves." I was encouraged to believe he would comprehend this language, unimaginable and inconceivable as such truth is to the mere understanding, for I had in my remembrance a conversation I once overheard between two children, one five and the other not three years old, at which I had not ceased to wonder since I heard it. I was sitting drawing with their mother in a recess of a room that hid us from the children's sight, when our attention was diverted by hearing the younger one say:—

"Can God see me now, when I am all wrapped up in this shawl?"

The elder one replied very earnestly, "O yes! God can see everybody, everywhere."

"But I don't see how He can see me when I am all wrapped up in this shawl. It is dark," persisted the little three-year-old. There was a pause, when Eliza, in a very anxious voice, said:—

"Amelia, can you see mama in your eye?" (She meant imagination.)

Amelia replied after a moment, "Yes, I can see mama in my eye, just how she looks."[122]

"Well," said Eliza, "I suppose that is the way God sees everything, because He knows everything."

I cannot conceive a more perfect proof that the soul of a child is a "sparkle of God," and its mind the intuition of the eternal reason—its image, than was given by this original illustration of the truth of truths made by a child of five years old. The mother made an exclamation of wonder, and said:—

"I am sure I never could have given so profound an answer as that," and I continue to think it the most wonderful thing I ever heard of so young a child's saying, and had I not heard it myself, I doubt if I could have believed it was said. But it has given me courage to think that children might have very early a definite conception of the invisible God without materializing it.

The omnipresence and invisibility of God were mysteries that attracted my little pupil's mind and taxed it, but did not distress nor perplex it. Of the reality of God's being, the intimacy of his own relations with Him, he never seemed to have a doubt; his delight in the thought of Him was boundless. At the end of the first day he said a thing which struck his parents with astonishment. The evening of the day on which I arrived, his father had made tea for me in the parlor, and as the child did not want to leave me a moment, he was set up at the table in his high-chair opposite me, to eat his bread and milk with us. While the father talked of one thing and another, the child's eye and mine occasionally met, and he would immediately make some gesture of lovingness and an inarticulate sound, ee ee ee! At last his father checked him with the words "Don't make those silly noises, Foster!" I interposed, and playfully said:—

"Now please don't come between me and Foster. I understand his silly noises and just what he means to say to me. How can you expect he will talk any sense when you have never given him any help to think?" The father laughed at[123] my "transcendentalism," as he called it. But the second night, when we were all again in the same relative position, the demeanor of the child was wholly changed; he sat silently eating as if wrapped in thought. By and by he said in a very decided tone, "Some things live, and some things only keep."

With a look of astonishment his father exclaimed, "What an extraordinary generalization!" "The consequence," said I, "of being talked to as if he were a rational being one day!"

The next day I went to Boston for a day or two, to make arrangements for returning to stay an indefinite time, which was such a disappointment to the poor little thing that he screamed in the most passionate manner, so that his mother could no longer doubt his sensibility or will. He was so angry with the stage-coachman who took me away, that his father had great difficulty in persuading him that he was not a bad man, but, on the contrary, a kind one, whom Aunt Lizzie had asked to come to take her to the railroad. At last he somewhat reluctantly agreed that he might be a good man.

"But I shall never like him," he said, and left his father, to go and caress his mother, who was weeping, as he divined, with the same regret as his own, and he was apparently comforted by her saying, that she, too, was sorry Aunt Lizzie had to go away for a little while, but she had promised to come back in a day or two and stay all summer.

It turned out as I had surmised, that he had asked no questions while I was gone, and had said very little except to wonder that I stayed so long, though I was gone only two days.

When I came back I had immediate evidence that he had been thinking while I was gone, and to some purpose. You remember that on that first morning of our conversation, he had asked me who made the trees, and I had said, "The trees grow out of the ground," which did not seem to give him the[124] satisfaction that my reference of his emotions, sensibilities, and thoughts, to an invisible personality had given him. Now, as soon as the embraces of welcome and expressions of joy had subsided a little, he burst into the subject which had so possessed his mind, and with a sort of triumphant air, as if he was sure of a satisfactory response, he asked:—

"What did our good friend want the trees to grow out cf the ground for?"

I said, "Do you think the trees are pretty? Do you like to look at them?"

"Yes, I think they are beautiful."

"Well," said I, "I guess that was one reason; you know he loves us all, and so he likes to please us. Do you like to please those you love?"

"Yes!" and a passionate embrace and kiss was the expressive reply.

I then went on to call his attention to the fruits that grow on some of the trees, and which serve us with delicious food, and the uses of wood to build houses with, etc. This conversation naturally introduced other kindred subjects of inquiry as to why our good friend had arranged things so and so. The tyrannizing instinct of his own mind, of which he had become conscious through the exercise of it, that my naming of the Spirit Father had so happily started, had made objective to him the Unity of all life, and he was sure that the good friend was at the bottom of everything outward as well as inward, even trifles; for I one day heard him say, as he was lying on the floor at play, "Heavenly Father, I wish you would not let my leg feel so cold." This was later on, in the winter time, however.

I cannot sufficiently regret that I have lost my original memoranda. They were transcribed from notes that his mother made, who was watching every word said, with the most intense interest. She always had pencil and paper at her side, because the danger of hemorrhage caused her to[125] avoid speaking. She wrote down with care the very words, as if they were, as indeed they were, a divine Revelation. Whatever he accepted or expressed with joy, she felt was true, knowing as well as she did the past emptiness of his understanding, and the dreariness of his feeling as an individual. But I can perhaps remember enough to show you the method I took, which was truly the very method of conversation that Frœbel proposes we should have with children, prompted by the Wisdom of love, which so profoundly respects its object that it gives it opportunity to be itself by not obtruding. The reason that we do not get the lesson that childhood can give us is that we thrust our finite minds between the child and the Divine, instead of limiting ourselves to putting the child into the point of view to see for itself what of course though essentially one, is perhaps of different aspect to each. I made it a point to be very quiet, and to exhibit no surprise at his questions or mistakes, but to lead him by my questions to the answers, and the corrections of mistakes which must needs arise from one-sidedness. The entire respect with which I listened to what he said gave him complete possession of and confidence in his own mind. One laugh at any incongruity he uttered (as Dr. Seguin would tell you) would have shut him up perhaps forever. How often children's thinking is thus nipped in the bud!

The circumstances in this instance were favorable to real conversation. In addition to my love of psychological observation in general, and my love and interest in this child in particular, was that which I felt in the mother, whose own childhood had been so shadowed by her human environment that it had not taught her what only childhood can teach with its uneclipsed vision of the Father's face, of which Christ speaks and warns the adult not to offend (or, as the revised version translates it, cause to stumble). On her account, as well as on my own and the child's, I was careful not to put my thoughts into his head, but merely lead him to the standpoint[126] from which he could see the truth for himself. It is because these conditions made for once an opportunity for a genuine conversation between intuitive childhood and such maturity of experience as I had attained, realizing Frœbel's ideal of the conversation of the kindergarten, that I am desirous to give it to you as a hint of how you should proceed—though, of course, you would probably never have so exceptional an opportunity; because the children that come to you will generally have minds already misty with half-defined ideas of God, received from the vague, half-defined minds of the imperfectly educated adults, conveyed to the children either in that careless or dogmatic manner in which they are usually talked to, not with.

Another advantage I had with this child was, that besides the arrested development arising from his mother's timid plan with him, he inherited from both parents, and perhaps from remoter ancestry, an individuality of mind that was not at all imaginative; which did not, however, exclude him from spiritual truth, for that is not the work of imagination, but is discerned by the spiritual sense, being as objective as what is discerned by the five senses (a transcendental objective, not a material one). The respectful interest with which I treated him gave him a happy confidence in his own thought, which was my opportunity for observing the natural order of mental development. In short, the conversation we had was a genuine one as between equals, unless, indeed, he was the superior in giving to me the divine laws of the spiritual order. He often surprised me by his next question, and was so disarmed of all fear by my consideration and tenderness, that he revealed that which is always the individual's secret, and I gained as much as he did by the conversations, and certainly I gained certainty in what was previously only conjecture on my part. I was sometimes obliged to say I did not know, and remember his asking me with surprise, "Don't you know everything?" "Oh, no!" said I. "Only our good friend[127] knows everything and gives us our thoughts all the time. Doesn't he give new thoughts to you every day?"

"Yes, he gives me a great many new thoughts all the time," he replied with animation. On another occasion, when I had become perfectly exhausted in answering his questions, I said to him:—

"I am very tired, but I will answer that question, provided you will not ask me another before dinner."

As he walked away he said, "Oh, I wish I had asked another question instead of that!"

"Well," said I, "what? Perhaps I will answer that one."

Turning back, he said eagerly, "Will our good friend answer all my questions when I go into the sky?"

I said, "Yes, every one; for he knows everything, and can never be tired."

The expression of complete satisfaction with which he went away from me was most expressive.

You will observe his expression of "when I go into the sky," and consider it together with the words that he interpolated saying, "I have a good friend up in the sky," in repeating to Mrs. Doyle that first morning when I had told him that his good friend who gave him thoughts, and joy, and goodness, and love, had a sky full of goodness. The sky is the natural symbol of the unbounded and infinite and the essentially spiritual, and the conception of God into which I had led him, and which I named his good friend, pervaded all space.

The subsequent questions of how God looked, and upon His whereabouts, and the conversation on this, by identifying Him with the Love that he felt within himself, had revealed to him Immortality before he had defined mortality.

The God he felt within him in his conscious Love and without him in all manifestations of beauty and power, gave him assurance that he would be sometime wherever God was. I have lost the connection and place in the narrative of[128] another conversation I had with him on the omnipresence of God. He often had said his thoughts were in his head, and his feelings were in his bosom. One day he was sitting in my lap close to a table, with his feet bare, and I put my hand under the table and pinched his toe. He said:—

"What are you pinching my toe for?"

I said, "How do you know I pinched your toe? you cannot see what I am doing under the table."

"I think you pinched my toe, because I felt it."

"I thought all your thoughts were in your head, and all your feelings in your bosom, not in your toes."

"My feelings are all over my body," said he; "and when you pinched my toe, the feeling ran right into my head and turned into a thought."

"So you see," said I, "that you live all over your body and in any part of it, just as your Heavenly Father lives all over the world and in everything at once."

"Yes," said he, "I did not know how that was before."

The date of this conversation was some weeks, perhaps months, from the beginning of our intercourse, as I know from the use of the word Heavenly Father, which came after a time to take the place of good friend, and it was preceded by some other conversations. He was always overflowing with expressions of love to me. When I gave him anything, he would embrace me, and I would ask, "Which do you love best, me or the thing given?" (an apple perhaps, or whatever it might be). He would always say, "You, you." Once he said, "I love you more than all the apples in the world." Once when he was kissing my hand, I said, "Which do you love best, me or my hand?"

"I love both," he said.

I persisted, and said, "Supposing my hand was cut off, would you love me as well?"

"I should love you a great deal more," said he, energetically; "for it would hurt you so to have your poor hand cut off. Would it not hurt you dreadfully?"[129]

"I suppose it would, but by and by it would get well and what I want to know is, whether you would love me as well without my hand as with it?"

He still declared he should love me more. I then said, "So you see my hand is not me. It is only one of the things the Heavenly Father gave me to make things with, and He gave me my feet to walk with, and eyes to see with; but my eyes and ears and tongue are not me; and if I should lose them all, still I would be all of myself, and you could love me?"

"Yes," said he; "but I don't want you to lose any of those things, for I love them all together."

My object in these conversations was to see if he would separate in thought the finite material body from the conscious soul or himself, as I preferred to say, for to speak of one's self as a soul makes what is essentially subjective as objective as we desire to make the body, the use of which is to reveal to others the feelings and thoughts of the individual that otherwise the finite apprehension could not seize. I was endeavoring to prepare him to minister to his mother, when I could persuade her to let him know the fact of death, by appreciating and defining that crisis of life as a step onward into the deep consciousness of immortality, which I believed would lift her out of the abyss into which her own consciousness seemed to fall at the utterance of the word, in spite of all the intellectual views of immortality which she had for many years cultivated, but which somehow did not meet her exigency, when she felt herself on the brink of the separation of body and mind. No intellectual process can give what the faith of childhood has in its own immortality of which those who had the care of her infancy had robbed her.

It was delightful to see how she enjoyed the child who had long been a burden to her. She wanted him in her presence all the time with his playthings, and to hear all our conversation,[130] and that I should tell her what we said in the little time that he could not be with her. She declared that she never had known what the enjoyment of life was till she had it in her sympathy with him. All the pleasures of intellect, and also of personal affections of the happiest kind, were pale beside the joy of this child—in his communion with God, who was in all his thoughts, and had taken him from his dreariness and growing peevishness, into that joy of childhood which Ruskin speaks of as so entirely out of proportion to the occasions of its expression, and which still had no painful excitement in it, but was simply a spontaneous outflow, not only quickening his thoughts but informing his affections with generosity and gratitude. The self that lost all sense of boundary, in its joy in the unbounded, spread out to embrace all about it. He said one thing to me which will, I think, explain to you what I mean. Of course, I was the first person on whom the flood of his heart poured itself out, though he did not stop with me, but also expressed his love to all with whom he came into near or remote relation. When saying to me how much he loved me, what a skyful of love he had for me, I said, "Yes, darling, I know you love me as much as you can," he replied scornfully, "I love you a great deal more than I can!" Was not that a wonderful expression of the immortal essence of his love,—of Love Divine?

Without its being suggested to him to thank others for kindnesses, he did so without a single exception. He would be taken to drive in the carriage with his mother, and standing at the window, would shout with delight at the things he saw on the way, and when he got home would often run back to the gate to say, "Thank you, horsey!" and all his habits of timidity were forgotten when the street musicians came by, and he was allowed to take out pennies to them. Callers at the house, from whom he used to shrink when they would have spoken to him, were in wonder at his hospitable welcome and fearless but intelligent interpositions in the[131] conversation, which they thought indicated precocity instead of backwardness. The length, breadth, and depth of all the words Christ let fall in the last part of his life, of which I had had some insight before, became doubly intelligible to me. I saw into the beauty and meaning of mankind's being created in successive generations, and I was thus prepared to enter into and appreciate Frœbel's ideas and methods, with which I did not become acquainted till a quarter of a century later.

I want you to observe that in what I did there was simply the spontaneous wisdom of love—love, not fondness, not desire of reciprocation, but self-forgetting and reverent of its object. Only this gives the creative method, or is the essence of creativeness, whether human or divine.

You remember, in the memoir of Frœbel with which I began this course of lectures, it was said that he posed his elder brother with his questionings of God's wisdom in the arrangement of the social sphere. Unable to answer him, the instinct of his love led him to divert the child's attention into a department of nature where apparent discords were seen to be harmonized for the production of beauty and use, that the poor little perplexed and bewildered child might enjoy himself legitimately. He gave him the clue to the labyrinth and the strength to conquer the Minotaur. He had no idea of educating, but only of comforting. Thus, unconscious of any theory of education, he solved the problem practically, first for the child Frœbel himself, later for mankind to whom the man Frœbel has revealed it with such ample illustrations as to make an era in human history that, as we hope, shall retrieve the past. Childhood understood, leading in the promised millennium of peace on earth and good will among men, will make mankind forget the Babel confusion of its first experimenting, and enter into the mutual understanding of the Pentecostal miracle.[133]



Part Second.

In our little F.'s case, as it became perfectly plain to his mother that he conceived clearly of God's embracing unbounded space as well as time in His Infinite Essence, she became desirous of knowing how he would receive the fact of death, so painfully and prematurely forced upon her own soul,—whether his mind would leap the gulf in which hers seemed to sink at the utterance of the word.

But the difficulty for him seemed to be to conceive of death at all. I tried to approach the subject in such a manner that he should have the initiative, as it were, in any conversation upon it. There was a poor old man who occasionally passed the house in the clothes of a pauper, supporting his steps with a stick. One day when he did so, F. asked me, "What makes men old?" and before I had time to answer, added, "Mary [the name of a former servant] used to say many days, when I asked her. Do many days make men old?"

"Yes," said I, "just as many days make your clothes and shoes old. That old man has walked on his poor old legs so long that they are quite worn out, and he has looked so long with his eyes that they are dim, and listened so long with his ears that they have grown dull, and his back has grown weak, and his whole body is so worn out that it will not do what his thoughts tell it to do, as your little fresh legs and eyes and ears and as your whole body does."[134]

He received this intimation quietly, but raised no question as to the ultimate result; and as often as the old man walked by, he would ask the same question and receive the same answer.

At last I took down from the book-closet Mrs. Trimmer's story of the robins and read it to him, and he became very much interested in the little nest and its inhabitants. After a while, the children in the story had birds of their own in a cage, which they took care of assiduously, but at length on one occasion went away and left them for many days uncared for, so that they died; I read right on through the page on which it was told that on going to the cage when they came home, they found the birds lying on their backs with their beaks wide open, stark dead! I paused in my reading, and he repeated, "stark dead! what do those words mean? What was the matter with the birds?" I laid the book down, and said, "You know that some things live, and some things only keep." "Yes," said he. I continued, "You know that living beings feel pain or pleasure, one or the other, all the time, and that things that only keep do not feel at all."

"Yes," said he.

"Well, things that live and feel—living beings—always eat and drink; they continue to live by eating and drinking, and God tells them to eat by making it pleasant for them to taste things. Now these little birds lived by eating and drinking, and if they had been free, they would have found food and drink somewhere in the world; but those children had shut them up in a cage; and when they were so thoughtless as to go away and forget the birds that they had undertaken to take care of, the little birds grew hungry, and you know it is not pleasant to feel even a little hungry, but they grew hungrier and hungrier till their poor little bodies were as full of pain as they could be. Now our Heavenly Father could not possibly have them suffer so much pain, and so He[135] told them to come to Him, and their life went right out of their bodies, and then their bodies were just like everything else that only keeps; they could feel no more pain."

"What a dear, dear, dear Heavenly Father it is!" said the child; "what nice ways He has about everything!"

"Yes," said I, "He has the ways of love."

He asked no questions at this time, nor made any generalization. I took up the book, and read on about the children's burying the bodies of the birds, etc.

Thus the death of the body was first presented to his imagination as only a relief from pain of the life that inhabited it. He was immensely interested, and the subject became the most common topic of conversation.

There were some books in the house which had pictures of hunts, and one was of a stag-hunt, the stag at bay, the dogs seizing him, the huntsmen firing. These books had been carefully kept from him. I now took them down, and showed them to him, interested him in the timid stag running for its life, and its ingenious devices to elude the dogs by swimming across streams, and at last when the dogs had seized it, or the huntsman fired the cruel shot which tore the breast or side of the poor beast, the final release, God's call of the life to Himself! At which the child would utter exclamations of delight: that final escape was the best of all.

This story was so interesting, it absorbed his attention, and he did not generalize. But it took its place among the good deeds of God's love, that when life became too painful in the body it was taken away to enjoy itself with God.

His mother, in whose presence were all the conversations, was intensely interested; but still as he did not think of human death, she hardly felt that he had conceived the idea.

I told him about the metamorphoses of insects, and their depositing their life in eggs as soon as they were born. When the old man came by, as he did nearly every day, we[136] commented on the wearing out of his body, but he did not think of death as a relief for him.

At last one day it happened that stretching out of the window for some purpose, he nearly lost his balance, and it was only by my timely seizing him that he escaped falling out. I said, "F., what if you had fallen out on those rocks and been broken all to pieces!" He shrieked with horror, "I don't want to! I don't want to!" "But what if you had!" said I, calmly. "You came very near it. What should you have done?" "What could I?" he screamed. "What could I do, all broken to pieces!" "Why, don't you think," said I, smiling, "that your Heavenly Father would have taken you right into His own bosom?"

A heavenly smile spread over his face and a look of perfect satisfaction and acquiescence, and he said after a moment's pause, "I forgot my Heavenly Father. Oh, what a dear, dear, dear Heavenly Father He is!" Then, after another moment, he said in a distressed voice, "But must I be broken all to pieces when I go to the Heavenly Father?"

"Oh, dear, no!" said I; "but when we are broken all to pieces, or starved, or are very sick, He takes us; but generally people grow to be old like the old man, and all their bodies get worn out, and they get very tired and kind of go to sleep, and the Heavenly Father takes them, so they do not wake up again in their old bodies, which are buried as the children buried the bodies of the robins."

He expressed himself very happy, and asked a great many questions, and it seemed as if he had already known of the fact of death. At all events, he now accepted it as the common destiny, without any painful feeling, and it seemed to give new realization to his mother's feeling that her own was indeed nothing but a morbid feeling, and that normal nature did not shrink from death. The subsequent questions were innumerable. I read to him Krummacher's parable of the caterpillar and butterfly in the garden of Thirza, after[137] the death of Abel, as it was paraphrased by Mr. Alcott when he read it in his school, in which I was assisting him at the very time that I was called away to the child's mother. And it was the study I had made of childhood in his school which had enabled me to pursue with so much confidence the method I took with the child, though it was in my own childhood I conceived the plan; and I remember speaking of it to Dr. Channing in 1824, and how much interested he was in the idea, though he told me that in his own case he was indebted to the symbolism of nature, especially the ocean seen from the beach at Newport, for clearing his mind of the effects of the teaching and preaching which he had heard. These grand objects, and later the beauty of some manifestations he had seen of love giving courage and power to the weak, kindled his ideal, and gave form and substance to his consciousness of God.

For a time there was nothing but delight expressed in the fact of death, the relief from all suffering, the enlargement of life and joy and new knowledge of God and His ways. At last a little incident showed him the shadow which attends death in this world.

We often went to call on the family of the physician who attended his mother. One day when we went, the Doctor, who was very fond of F., took him into his lap while I was playing with the baby in his mother's arms. They always called it "baby." I said to Mrs. D., "Has not baby any name?" The mother replied, "His name is Edward." F. looked up at the Doctor with a bright, joyous expression, and said, "Where is your other Edward?" The Doctor's face changed instantaneously; he clasped the child close to him, and said, "Oh, he has gone to his Heavenly Father," with a burst of grief. F. stretched himself back, looked into the agitated face, and said with a look of the greatest concern, "Are you sorry that he has gone to the Heavenly Father?" "Oh, very, very sorry," said the poor father.[138] "Should not you be sorry if he should take away your dear mother?" and putting the child down, he immediately left the room. Mrs. D. said, "The Doctor has never got over the death of that child, and we never name him in his presence."

I immediately left the house, and we walked some distance in silence, and as I found F. did not incline to speak, I said, "F., did the Doctor look glad when you spoke to him about his other Edward?" He pressed himself close up to me, and said eagerly, "No, no! he looked very sorry. What made him sorry? Did he not like to have his other Edward with the Heavenly Father?" "Oh, yes! he liked that, but then he wanted to have him in his own arms. You see he cannot see him now, and he wants to kiss him." "Yes," said F., "he hugged me!" I continued: "You see, the Doctor is very strong and well, and I suppose he will live in his body a good many years, and he has Mrs. D. and Julia and the rest, but he wants that other Edward, too, every day of his life." F. replied sympathizingly, "He was large, and white, and bright, and when I go into the sky, I shall look all over to see where he is." I said, after a little while, "Shall you say anything more to the Doctor about his other Edward?" "No, indeed!" said he. "I never shall say another word about him. Do you think I want to make the poor Doctor sorry?" I told his mother, when I got home, of the whole affair, and we agreed that it was well he should see the sad side of death for the survivors.

It was soon a question with F. how we were to live without the body, and he asked me. I told him I did not know exactly how it was to be, but I supposed God would let new eyes, ears, and whatever limbs we should need, grow out of us, made of the finest stuff like air, which we could not see because it was so delicate, or even feel, as we did the air when it moved, but which souls could use just as they pleased. He said, "I have seen some pictures of souls that[139] had gone out of their bodies, and I did not know before what they were." Surprised, I asked him how they looked. He said, "They were nothing but heads with wings."

The delightful thing was to see the effect of all this earnest prattle upon the mother; and one day, after I had returned from a visit to a friend in the town, she told me she had had a conversation with F. on her own approaching death that was very satisfactory.

She said she had his bread and milk put on a little table opposite her easy-chair, and when he was happily engaged, she said, "F., I think our Heavenly Father will soon take me to Himself." He looked up with an expression of great feeling, and said tenderly: "Do you? Then you will get rid of that poor, sick body, and your cough;" and he added presently, "Perhaps he will give you wings!" She said nothing could be likened to the impression of peace and sweetness which these simple words made upon her. Soon after, he said, "But what will be done with your poor old body?" (She said he spoke as if it was of not much importance.) She replied, "Your father and Aunt Lizzy will take it to Cambridge in a carriage, and put it into the ground; and the grass will grow over the place, and sometimes you can come to the place; and I guess I shall look out of heaven and see you." But in a few minutes he began to cry, and said, "I want to go with you into the sky." She said, "Oh, you have a nice little body, which gives you a great deal of pleasure, and you must stay here with poor, dear father! What would he do when he has no wife any longer, without his little boy to make him happy, and take care of him when he grows old?" After a little more of such remonstrance he said, "Well, I will stay with him!" It was curious that in talking with me he never referred to this subject of his mother's approaching death, which evidently had touched him tenderly, and I did not introduce the subject.

It was also a curious circumstance, that after this matter[140] of death was, as it were, settled satisfactorily, and the mind of his mother freed from all trouble on the point, the love of this life, to which she had hitherto been more than indifferent, sprang up in her with great energy, and she proposed to break up the house, and go to Florida for cure! Her husband and I could not share the hope, but we could not but sympathize in the new joy in life, that she seemed to have received from her now happy child, with whom she had learnt to live in the spirit. Things were so arranged that she made her husband's father's house, about thirty miles distant, the first goal of her journey. She reached with great fatigue this first stage, and stopped to rest, and never mentioned Florida afterwards. She breathed on another year, during which time I only saw her in weekly visits, having returned to Mr. Alcott's school in Boston. Her disease was not very painful, but so lingering that every trace of her former beauty was lost in the ghastly emaciation.

There were in the house two little cousins, younger than F., taken care of exclusively by a very sweet mother, and this gave him the most desirable social intercourse and play that took the place of our discourses at the right moment, and called into action very sweet traits of character. My weekly visit of a day or two was a great affair to the children. I told them stories, innumerable variations of The Story without an End, and of Pilgrim's Progress, modified to their infant minds. I always repeated the stories in precisely the same words (which is a great point in telling stories to children, and impresses them on the memory), and they became very familiar with the ends of my paragraphs, and would take them from my lips, and repeat them as a chorus. Thus when I had got Pilgrim laid away in the upper chamber of the House Beautiful, whose white draperies I minutely described, they would all interrupt me, and sing out, "And the name of that chamber was Peace." So of the last words of other paragraphs that I purposely made epigrammatic.[141]

The substantial character of the child's piety and sense of immortality, which I have described as bubbling up at the name Heavenly Father, spoken at the right time, and in the right way, was exhibited unmistakably in his after life, and began to express itself at once in his association with his little cousins, which proved a very timely thing for him, bringing out his moral character by means of what he constantly did to make them happy, and keep them good, but he never said anything to them about the Heavenly Father. That subject seemed reserved for me.

It was amusing to see how fatherly he was to the little one, and he continued this fatherly manner all his after life to all the children with whom he came in contact, and even during his childhood it was singularly unmixed with any tyranny or managing spirit. He would play as they wanted to with them. He seemed to be drawn to children because he could so easily understand their innocence, and make them happy by his companionship, and because he enjoyed them.

All his subsequent life he exhibited an exquisite sensibility to beauty, which he continued to accept as the Creator's smile of consent; the very good pronounced on everything which He had made. In the last part of his mother's life, she became so frightfully emaciated, that it was evidently painful for him to look at her; but he said nothing about it; and it was sweet to see the delicacy with which he tried to conceal this pain from her, when he was admitted into the room to see her, which, at length, came to be only in the middle of the day, when she was seated in an easy-chair, with a broad white footstool at her feet. He would come into the room, looking on the floor, and seat himself on the footstool, with his back partly turned to her, and, drawing down her hands, cover them with kisses: he refused, as it were, to recognize her, under that ghastly mask, which, however, did not shut off from his remembrance, her former loveliness; for, as soon as she was really dead, and he began[142] to think of her in heaven, she became his standard of beauty. During the little more than a year that he continued under my care, "not so beautiful as my mother," or "as beautiful as my mother" were words very frequently in his mouth. As she approached her death, she was so careful lest he should have any of the shock which her own mother's death gave to her, that she readily consented that he should go for the last few days with the other children to stay with a kind neighbor. He was therefore not present at her death; neither was I. It was an event greatly longed for by herself, at last, and its approach, which she knew before any one else discerned any special change, seemed to gladden her. Her last breath was peaceful; her last words, "Give my love to F."

I told him of the event the morning after the funeral, from which I returned with his father, in the dusk of the evening, calling for the child to go home and sleep with me, which he always was delighted to do. He was put to bed in the room where his mother had died, and I went in with him, to explain her absence, if he should notice it. But he was tired, and so occupied with my presence, he did not,—not even when he woke in the morning. At last, I said to him, "Do you see what room we are in?" He rose up and looked around, and said, "Why, it is my mother's chamber! Where is my mother?" I paused a moment to see if he would divine the truth, and then said, "The dear Heavenly Father has taken her at last!" He fell back on the pillow, with a single exclamation of not painful wonder, and a countenance sublime with the mingled expression of awe, love, and joyful satisfaction. The fact of her absent body seemed to be a more palpable proof of the truth of her deathless soul, than even her form and word, which had represented it to his senses. He was "silent, as we grow when feeling most," as if he realized that he was in the presence of the "substance of things hoped for, the evidence of[143] things unseen." You may be sure I respected this sacred silence, which seemed to me to last several minutes, but possibly it was only one. At last he said gently, "Was the window open?" I replied, "I don't know; I only know our Heavenly Father, who is everywhere, you know, took her to himself. He does not mind about windows, you know." "No, indeed! I know that very well," he said, with a little laugh (as if he wondered at his momentary lapse of thought). Soon he asked, "Did He give her a new body right away?" "I do not know anything more about that than you do," I replied; "I only know He will do better things for her than we can think of." "Do you think," said he, "that she looks beautiful as she used to?" but, before I could reply, he suddenly added, "I want to go to my mother. I want to see her now," and began to cry.

I kissed him, and began gently to recall the conversation that she had had with him the day she told him she expected soon to leave him; and, after a while, he said spontaneously, as he had done when he talked with her he "would stay with his father to comfort him for the loss of her." His father told me afterwards, that when he saw him, he went over the same ground again, beginning with saying that he wanted to go to her; but when his father represented to him how solitary he should be with no wife or son to show their love to him, F. closed the conversation with the words, "Well, I will stay with you till I grow up" (as if it was quite within his option to do so or not).

Very soon after this I took him away with me to Salem, where he remained in our family for a year or more, I think. My father's family were living at the corner of an old burial ground, two sides of the house being bordered by it. The day we arrived we went directly to my sister Sophia's room, which looked out upon this burial ground. He was immediately attracted to the window by the trees, and exclaimed joyfully, "Oh, Aunt Lizzy, what a beautiful green garden[144] this is! What are those things?" (referring to the tomb stones.) I replied: "That green garden is where people lay away, underground, the poor old worn-out dead bodies of their friends, who are with our Father in Heaven, and those things are called tombstones; they are put there with the names carved on them of the persons whose bodies are buried in those spots." He at once seemed greatly interested and pleased, and became still more so after he had seen some burials; his emotions of joy at the thought of the enfranchised spirits entering on their heavenly life, being tempered with tender sympathy for the bereaved friends in their mourning-robes, whom he sometimes saw weeping at the earthly parting. He was always very anxious to know how the buried ones had died, from what particular sickness or danger they had escaped; and one day when my sister Mary came back from a walk, he joyfully told her that he had found out another way in which souls went to heaven. She, of course, asked him, "What way?" and he said, "Why, sometimes ships that go to sea are driven by the wind against some rocks and broken to pieces, and all the men's bodies are drowned, and they go to heaven through the water." Another time, he ran to her in great excitement, and said: "Oh, Aunt Mary! I saw a little baby's body buried in the green garden; some carriages came, and there was a hole dug already, and people got out of the carriages, and one man had a little box in his arms in which the baby's body was; and they put some ropes around it, and let it down; and then they filled up the hole with the dirt, and I saw the little baby fly up, fly up, fly up!" and he accompanied the words with a circular gesture of his arm. Whether the subjective conception was so vivid, that it reproduced itself to his imagination in an objective form, as the Sistine Madonna is said to have done to Raphael; or it was what is called "a spiritual manifestation"; it was evidently a reality to him, and no comment was made, except that my sister said, "I never saw a soul fly up."[145]

I should say here that this child was not imaginative, and we never saw in him the smallest untruthfulness in speech or act, nor tendency to exaggeration. In this he resembled both his parents. Afterwards, he became something of a scientist, and studied medicine for his profession. He was a good classical scholar in college, and before his early death, had completed in manuscript the history of one of the mechanical arts. I think he was not of a visionary temperament. (See Appendix E.)

His life with us in Salem was perfectly delightful. He had no faults, though a certain pertinacity (which was an expression of inherited firmness of character) sometimes required a little disciplinary conversation, nothing more. I never knew of his being subjected to any punishment, or requiring any, in all his childhood. He had not the usual impetuosity of children; perhaps the effect of his early depression of spirits.

My sister Mary had a day-school in the house, made up of children between six and twelve years of age; he was allowed to have his playthings in the school-room, and loved to listen to her oral instruction of the children in natural history and science, especially in the stories that she told or read to them about human beings, in whom he was always more interested than in animals. I taught him how to read by the word method in The Story without an End, a slower and more laborious way both for him and me than the mixed method detailed in my Kindergarten Guide, of which I have lately published a primer under the title of After Kindergarten, what?

But had I then known of Frœbel's method of employing childish play, organized by the adult with single aim to intellectual development, I should not have taught him to read so early, but something more profitable; I then shared what Professor Agassiz called "the American insanity of teaching children to read before they have learned the things signified[146] by words," which he, like Frœbel, believed would produce habits of mind positively injurious, dropping a veil between the observer and nature, preventing all freshness of thought, and destroying the mind's elasticity and originality. But I had not (at that time) presumed to question the time-honored tradition, that the beginning of education was learning to read.

When, later, my studies with a great philologist gave me a little light upon the subject, and showed me that English had the misfortune to be written by an inadequate alphabet, whose result was to confuse the phonography entirely, by obscuring the original principle of having but one letter for one sound, and a letter for every different sound, I realized the positive disadvantage of children's being forced through a process which baffles all their natural instincts of classification; and it was then I invented a method of separating English words into classes, the phonographic ones to be first made familiar, and the exceptions classified. Yet I could not be insensible to the unnaturalness of beginning with spending so much of the time of very young children upon this work of the imperfect mind of man, as languages are, rather than on the works of Infinite Wisdom. I was therefore well prepared to accept Frœbel's method of first sharpening the senses by examination of things that charm children, and of developing the understanding by first making things according to the laws which constitute the mind, and then naming them in all perceptible relations. First let us form a mind which can apprehend nature as the standard of truth, before we undertake to inform it with what embodies the confusions and errors of men; as, for instance, in a considerable degree the written English language does. For language stands in the same relation to man as nature does in relation to God. The eternal word of Truth makes things before it is made flesh. The confusion of tongues was the inevitable consequence of the fall of man out of that communion with God in which children are born, and our written language is an image[147] of this confusion, especially the English, whose so-called orthography is the most anomalous of all languages; and the acquisition, therefore, ought to be postponed, at least until the understanding is fairly developed by some recognition of so much of the Word of God as is alive in the things we see and can handle. The time comes when the children can understand that exceptions prove the rule, and then those irregularities and anomalies of English writing may be made even entertaining lessons to children; because if its laws and rules are apprehended first, there is something amusing to them in contradictions of law that so many words seem to be. It is the pleasure in the grotesque; children enjoy the funny, as they call it, but it is a different enjoyment from that of the beautiful, and the latter is the highest element for human activity. A predominance of the funny even demoralizes intellectually as well as morally, but it has its own subordinate place in healthy child life.

My little friend had a slate and pencil, and immediately inclined to draw from real objects, but we did not know how to give him any other help than to guess at what were the things he was trying to represent. If we could not guess, I remember he would blush, and go away, saying he would "fix it a little." I had the instinct that he could only be effectually encouraged by success, and I would endeavor to divine what he meant, by looking to see what were the surrounding objects when I saw him drawing, and would point out to him with congratulation any part in which he had at all succeeded, letting the rest go. But without adequate and legitimate guidance he necessarily became discouraged with his failures. What children do not succeed in, becomes distasteful to them, and they turn their attention from what has disappointed them, and thus their natural tastes die, or are starved out. As they have no knowledge of materials, nor judgment in using them, they undertake the impossible, and being baffled, lose courage to undertake the possible. So[148] young artists accumulate difficulties by their unwise choice of subjects, not realizing the limitations of their own powers. It is the part of the educated kindergartner to supply this want of judgment and analysis until the pupil catches the secret of gradualism and the law of opposites. Frœbel's plan of giving the squared slate and paper to ensure straightness of line in children's drawing is like the leading strings by which the mother helps the child to develop his limbs for walking, which cannot be done without his own personal effort. So Frœbel's plan of having the kindergartner suggest a symmetrical drawing of lines in opposites, vivifies the sense of symmetry into a thought, whence springs a plan of making still another symmetry. For by suggesting opposites, and then the connecting of them, the child delightedly sees orderly forms that grow under his hands, and feels that he is acting from his own individual personality (which he is, though the thought was suggested by the words of another). What he does gives him confidence in his own mind, whose fanciful movement suggests other symmetries; for though fancy is a spontaneous play of the free will among impressions passively received, it is amenable to the laws whose exponents are presented to it by nature's works and human suggestion.

F. liked to watch my sister Sophia at her drawing and painting, but its very perfection discouraged efforts on his own part. It is bad not to do really at once what we conceive of ideally. It was only in the moral and religious sphere that we really lived with him, and he was properly educated by us. We always answered all his questions about what we were doing, and how, and why (I wish now I had asked him more questions).

My sister Sophia had a rare talent for talking with children, whose purity and innocence she comprehended by a sympathetic intuition, and to whose imagination her Christian faith gave ample scope, for it was hampered by no[149] human creeds. We had a circle of acquaintances who were only too much inclined to pet him, and who, knowing something of the history of his mind, liked to talk with him. His mother had been very much beloved by this circle, and I used to tell him that for her sake, they cared for and attended to him, which interested him immensely, and perhaps prevented his considering himself as a person of too much importance comparatively. He would talk of going to see his "mother's friends." If new persons spoke to him kindly, he would ask me immediately if they knew and loved his mother; at all events, the element of personal egotism did not appear, and the affection he at first poured out on me, now freely flowed out in every direction. I remember his saying to me, one day, with an accent of great self-gratulation, "I think I have a great many friends," and in a moment after added, "my mother was so beautiful!" (as if that were the reason of it). A young husband and wife became inmates of our house, and brought a beautiful infant. This was a perennial fountain of delight to F. The singular beauty of the little one was a constant subject of observation. One day he was looking at her, as she lay on her mother's lap, and presently he burst out, "Oh, Ellen, your little bright eyes are shining themselves into a sun!" He was equally delighted with the musical sound of her crowing. His ear for sounds was fastidiously delicate. One day my mother was in the garden, looking at some wild flowers which had been brought to her for transplanting. As she looked at them she said to F., "Run into the house, and get my—" He interrupted her eagerly with, "Don't say that ugly word! I know what you mean," and he ran into the house, and brought back Bigelow's Plants around Boston (Bigelow was the ugly word). But let me hasten from these details, to redeem my promise of telling you how prayer became a thought of his mind, and his spontaneous practice.[150]

It was very early a question of great interest to his mother, and also to me, whether prayer would become spontaneous with him; that is, whether he would think of speaking to God in human words. His intense realization of God's presence seemed to be a cause of his not doing so, and I feared to put God at a distance by suggesting what, in ordinary cases, is a means of bringing Him near. If prayer be defined as a communion of the finite and Infinite, as personal as that of children with earthly parents, his whole conscious life was a prayer; for truly God was in all his thoughts from the day he first accepted Him so joyfully as the Substance and Giver of goodness and love, which involved to the natural logic of his innocent mind the corollary that He was the Giver of everything outward, as well as inward, which gave him any happiness. I did not dare to meddle with the natural evolution of thought in so happy an instance, but watched to learn the true method of life of the little child, as Christ suggested to his disciples to do. One day when his grandmother, who was at the house on a visit, dropped her needle, she called to F., "Come, and look with your little sharp eyes for my needle." He did so, with his usual alacrity in service, and soon found it. Then he ran to me, and said, "When I go into the sky, I shall thank my good Friend for giving me such sharp eyes." I said, "What do you wait so long for?" He gave me a glance of recognition, as it were, and laughed (as if he had been convicted of saying something silly); but he said no more then. From that moment, however, he often came to me to say, "When I go into the sky, I shall thank my Heavenly Father for giving me" this or that; and I would always answer him as before, "Why do you wait?" which would always bring out the same complete expression of satisfaction on his face, showing that he loved to renew the occasion for my uniform reply, "Why do you wait till then?"[151]

On one of these occasions he turned from me, and said very tenderly, "I thank you, God." One day, after he went to Salem, he had been suffering from a bad earache, and my sister had relieved it by putting a little tuft of cotton dipped in arnica into his ear. Then she asked him to go to the window and look out into "the green garden," and she took up a pencil to draw. Very soon he began, "God, I thank you for making this green garden to put away the dead bodies in. God, I thank you for making these beautiful trees grow out of the ground. God, I thank you for making all the pretty wild flowers grow." He paused between each complete sentence, and my sister, having a pencil in her hand, wrote down his words till she had covered a sheet of letter paper with his thanksgivings; for he went on naming everything he could think of; and it was quite wonderful to hear the minuteness of his grateful appreciation of life.

One sentence was: "I thank you, God, for making medicine to put into my ear when it aches." He also thanked God for his father, and his father's letters to him, for his mother in heaven, for many friends whom he loved, naming them. I hope that sometime I shall find my sister's paper, which I have mislaid with the other memoranda of this interesting psychological observation. The pauses between the thanksgivings became longer and longer, and at last, after one for which he seemed to have searched his inmost mind, in despair of finding anything else, he closed with, "My dear God, I love you very much."

You will observe that in all this spontaneous act of devotion, there was no petition. In the fulness of his happy life, and, as I think, in the faith that God was giving him everything needful, and more, he never thought of asking for anything.

Temptation to wrong-doing had not yet revealed the need that the progressing spirit always feels of more goodness and love, which I had taken care to represent that God gave[152] whenever the soul acknowledged to itself its need and aspired for more of this, its vital substance. For it is my opinion that prayer should always be for spiritual good only, in order that our religion should be pure from self-seeking, and generously self-forgetting in its aspirations for perfection.

A little while after this incident, my sister was reading to him, and came to a sentence in which were the words "morning and evening prayer." He immediately stopped her and asked her, "What does that mean, that word prayer?" She said, "Many grown up people, when they wake in the morning, and find that God has taken care of them in the night when they could not take care of themselves, and given them a new day after their good sleep, feel very thankful, and love to tell God so, just as you did the other day when you thanked God for so many things; and besides, remembering that there are a good many things they ought to do, and that He gives the love and goodness, they like to ask Him beforehand to give them what they shall need to be good with when the time comes to want it; and at night, after they have got through the day, they like to thank Him for all the joys of the day, and they ask Him to take care of them through the night that is coming, when they shall be asleep and cannot take care of themselves; and this loving talk with God is called the morning and evening prayer." I think she added that when she was little she used to say, when she was going to bed:—

"Now I lay me down to sleep;
I pray the Lord my soul to keep;
If I should die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take;"
and that was her evening prayer. "I think it is a very good way," said he, "and I mean to do so this very night when I go to bed." And it was true that when he went to bed, he remembered and made a similar thanksgiving to his former one in kind, and closed with this little verse. And again in[153] the morning he began the first thing to thank God for the new day, etc. Nor did he forget afterwards, night and morning, to give thanks and utter prayers spontaneously, and seemed to enjoy it.

One morning he waked me with his loud singing, and as soon as I opened my eyes, said to me, "Aunt Lizzy, I am singing my morning prayer." I said, "There was a wonderful little shepherd boy once, whose name was David, who loved God as you do, and who always sang his prayers." Immediately he wanted to know all about him, and I told him the story of David in his childhood and up to the time he was sent for to sing to King Saul; and I ended with saying that I would read to him some of David's psalms (as these sung prayers were called); and this I did, and the eloquence of the sweet singer of Israel seemed to vivify his idea of the Heavenly Father, and of His connection with the soul within us all and the world without. Especially I tried on him the effect of the Psalm beginning, "The heavens are telling of the glory of God," whose rhythm had charmed my own childhood, even before I fully comprehended it; and he liked to hear it, too. Before this, I had read considerably from the Bible to him, for he had one day said that he wondered how the world began to be in the first place, and I had said: "Yes, everybody wonders about that. But there is a book (pointing to the Bible) where one of the first men told about how it seemed to him, and I will read it to you." So I opened the book and began the first chapter of Genesis, without introductory comment. When I came to the words "And there was light," he sprang up and shouted, "Directly when He said 'Let there be light,' there was light directly!"

I wished Longinus could have heard the confirmation of his great criticism. Immediately he ran into my father's study, which was across the entry, and burst out, "Dr. Peabody, when it was all dark and there was nothing made, God said, 'Let there be light, and there was light' directly![154] directly!" This was not enough; he ran to find my mother and sister, and again repeated the simply sublime words.

Then he came back to me to hear the rest, and I finished the chapter which he wanted me to read to him again and again, day after day. I read afterwards the parable of Jotham, which he liked to hear very much. I cannot help thinking how much more I might have made of that very parable for his moral culture had I then known of Frœbel's gospel of work. I can hardly bear to think how stupid I was; the effect of not having had the kindergarten education myself.

But he was too soon taken away from my observation, not without my acquiescence, however; for it was to go to his father, who, I thought, needed his companionship. And as it was at a distance that he lived, and, as afterwards my own life was full of vicissitude for many years, I lost the run of him entirely. There was a mutual misunderstanding between his father and me, for several years, from his thinking I wanted to be free from the care of him, and I thinking he did not desire my personal influence on him, and we were both mistaken, as we found out afterwards. When he went to Harvard College, he came to see me, and the interview was very interesting. He had a sweet, though it had become a dim, remembrance of a happy time with us, succeeded, as he told me, by a lack-love experience of years of a dark, gloomy time at a boarding-school, to which he was sent when he was eight years old, because, as he said, his grandmother thought he ought not to be living with his solitary father at a hotel. But the boarding-school proved more than a heart solitude, as the boys were rough and cruel to him in their unguided play. While he was with me, on the occasion of this call, it happened that my sister Sophia's children came into the room where we were. They had a very vivid idea of him from their mother, she having often spoken of him to them, and telling them of his joy in learning he had a Heavenly Father, when he had never thought or been told[155] of it. When I said to them, "This is F.," one of them said, "Is this F.? I thought he was a little boy," looking at him wonderingly, surprised to see a grown-up man. I told him they were well acquainted with his childhood. It touched him very much, and the conversation that ensued touching on several things I have told, brought back the old time more distinctively, and he said he should often come to recall it by my help, and to learn more of his mother, whose beautiful face haunted his dreams. But just afterwards I left Boston for some years, and did not see him again until after his return from Vienna, where he went after leaving college, and remained till he had completed his medical studies. I promised then to show him his mother's letters to me, written in her girlhood, and to tell him how much the early experience of his own childhood had ministered to her a heavenly consolation. But again inexorable circumstances interfered. He became a practising physician in Worcester, and I went to Concord to live, and we procrastinated a promised visit until at last Death mocked our slow affections. I saw him last wrapped in the flag of his country, for when the war broke out in 1861, nothing would do but he must go to it; and he went as one of the surgeons of the 15th Regiment, which was terribly cut up. For a year and a half he did an incredible amount of work, for he would always have his hospital on the field of battle, and the 15th was in a great many battles, and left but few survivors, most of whom are maimed or halt. He took care of those wounded ones who could not be taken from the battle-field, wrote letters for them, and never took a furlough, as every other officer and surgeon did. In the last letter that he wrote to his father, he said that this year and a half was in one sense the happiest time of his life; for it was the only time when he seemed to be of any use. He was killed at last, walking up through the main street of Fredericksburg, Virginia, in the van of the regiment, as was his wont, and[156] his death was instantaneous. His patriotism and his bravery were the fruits of his piety. Every year his father and I met to decorate his grave until his father's death in 1883-4. He is buried at Mt. Auburn by his mother's side, whose body was removed from the tomb in the old burial ground of Cambridge. I have a photograph of him taken at the same age as his mother when she died,—thirty-one years. It was the year before he went to the war, a drooping head, pensive as if marked for early death. But when I saw him dead, his brow was lifted, his whole countenance had become grand and heroic, and it was plain that he had found his ideal vocation. His funeral was celebrated in the city of Worcester with military honors, the wounded soldiers of his regiment following the hearse in carriages, and the sidewalks of the city thronged with the multitude of spectators. A discourse upon the text, "No man can do more than lay down his life for his friends," was pronounced over him at the church, and the beautiful hymn sung, "Nearer my God to Thee," which seemed to me the most appropriate conceivable, though he had never been far from Him, after he knew a name for Him.

After the funeral his father's relatives and friends gathered together, and we talked of him. I told my recollections of his childhood, and all of them expressed the feeling that the life he had led was in perfect harmony with such an early acquaintance made with the Heavenly Father.[157]



Frœbel speaks of the child as a trinity, meaning a unity in threefold relation (with God, with man, and with nature), and says that education, to be perfect, or even healthy, must help him to be conscious of all these relations at once, in order to ensure the equipoise of heart and intellect with his spiritual power (or freedom to will), in which inheres his just self-respect and natural religion.

Nature (that is, the material universe, as I have said before) is God's expression of mathematical and all correlative laws, the apprehension of which builds up the intellect of the individual who, through his sense perceptions, on which he reflects and generalizes, gains knowledge of his surroundings, beginning with that part of nature which is within his own skin.

It was the grand intuition of Oken which has been splendidly illustrated by Dr. J. Garth Wilkinson in his Human Body in its Connections with Man, that the human body is the metropolis of material nature, in which may be found in vital order all the elements of the material universe which are, outside of the human body, in a more or less chaotic state. This development of the individual intellect needs more or less aid from the human environment, simultaneously with that nurture of the heart which means man's conscious relation to man. But though morality, which is the performance of man's duty to man, is not religion, which is man's consciousness of relation to God, it leads to it inversely, because it shows the heart its need of a Father of us[158] all, in order to be happy. All three processes, the intellectual, the moral, and the religious, must go on together, to make a perfect education, for in proportion as integral education is wanting in those about the child, his intellect will be starved, confused, or darkened with error; and immorality and irreligion will more or less transpire in the individual.

Frœbel perfectly realized the deficiency of this integral education to be the cause of all the evil that is the present experience of mankind, in spite of Church and State and the optimism which in form of hope "springs eternal in the human breast" (for the pessimist is the exception, not the rule among men, the great mass of whom are pursuing some ideal aim, even though it be a low one, their moral sentiment having been perverted and their religion having become a superstitious idolatry either of material forms or of logical formulas).

The system of education which Frœbel discovered, or invented, in consequence of realizing this, is what we are endeavoring to learn and apply, that we may bring out of the moral chaos around us the lost equipoise of the threefold nature in our children, by ourselves plunging into infant life in imagination and realizing its innocent heart and unfallen spiritual state, watching it in its own attempts to understand and use its material surroundings and its human environment, to the end of guiding it by our own experience and matured knowledge, from the errors and misfortunes it inevitably falls into if left to its own ignorant experimenting unrevised.

The playthings and means of occupation Frœbel invented are to develop the intellect, and are a perfect miniature of nature, and to use them in playing with the child is an art and a science that the kindergartner must add to her moral affections and religion, which are also her indispensable qualifications.

I wish to say this very emphatically, all the more because[159] this part of your education (the art and science that develop the intellect) is not my part of your training course, but the moral and religious nurture; and therefore I must leave the exhaustive analysis of the gifts in their relation to the unfolding intellect as well as of the "schools of work" (as the series of embroideries, foldings, drawings, weavings, pea-work, etc., are called, and which require your study the whole year) to your accomplished trainers to do justice to.

But before I turn to my specific department, I would say that this intellectual part of the training, which it was the special genius of Frœbel to discover, is of equal importance; for it is the duty of man to worship God with the mind, as well as with the heart and might, though that is a part of the great commandment, which seems to have been systematically overlooked by many of the churches, if not virtually denied.

To worship God with the mind means to develop the intellect; as to worship Him with the heart keeps pure the moral sentiments and quickens moral action; and to worship Him with the might lifts the will, quickened by the heart and enlightened by the mind into oneness with the Holy Spirit, more and more forever. And here let me recall to you what I said of Frœbel's authority in my second lecture, and beware of deviating from the path he has pointed out (he was nearly fifty years in inventing his technique); and be very careful about adding to his Gifts or Schools of Work, though I would not have you mechanical followers. There will be legitimate outgrowths of his method. He himself, in one of his Pedagogies, published after his death by Wichard Lange, has suggested a "school of drawing" upon the curve, which Miss Marwedel has developed, leading the child naturally through vegetable formation; and Mr. Edward A. Spring, the sculptor, has also suggested and partly carried some children through animal forms, from the worm to the "human face divine"; and we hope both these "schools"[160] may be published and used. In the musical line, also, in which Frœbel was personally rather deficient, Mr. Daniel Bachellor, now of Philadelphia, has suggested a series of exercises by means of the correspondence of tones and colors, that makes the children as creative in the discovery of melodies, as they are of the harmonies of color in their weaving and painting.

There is unquestionably danger that the kindergartner may degenerate into mechanical imitation and rote-work in this part of her guidance of the children, nevertheless in some of the charity kindergartens I have seen there was danger of doing injustice to the technique.

On this last day of communion with you on the Frœbel education, I would like to speak with some comprehensiveness and particularity on the subject of religious nurture. Mark me, I say religious nurture, not religious teaching. The religion that integrates human education is not to be taught. It is the primeval consciousness of filial relation to God, who alone can reveal Himself; for human language has no adequate expression of God, founded as it is on the material universe, which is the finite opposite of Creative Being. Every individual child is a momentum of God's creativeness which the human Providence of education must take as its datum. Only childhood symbolizes God as "the sum of all being," realizing itself in joy incommensurable. Ruskin has happily said the joy of childhood is out of all proportion to the occasions that call forth its expression, and in order to make God the central conscious truth of the child's intellect, we must give the name father or mother to God, which is intelligible to the heart, and which will identify its filial aspiration with the parental bounty, as another, yet the same.

But what I want you to observe is, that language being[161] limited in meaning by its origin in material nature, you should talk about God as little as possible, after having given Him the name that will excite the child's worshipful aspiration, and limit yourselves carefully to regulating moral manifestations, leading children to act kindly, generously, truthfully, in your own assured faith that God is present to inspire the truth, generosity, and loving will that is practically prayed for with good resolution. (Good resolutions are the special prayers of faith, as children should be taught expressly.)

Kindergartners cannot carry out this course quite irrespective of the theory of human nature declared in their creeds. But the heart is generally larger than the creed, as was once strikingly evidenced to me by Louisa Frankenberg, a dear, devout old German kindergartner, who had learned the art of kindergartning from Frœbel himself, in the very beginning of his own experimenting; but she was such a bigot to the Lutheran Church that she could not theoretically admit as a Christian any one who did not swear by its dogma of total depravity. Yet I remember hearing her exclaim, "Oh, Frœbel's method is so beautiful! because the affectionate plays and innocent occupations take the children entirely away from the depravity of their hearts." She said this with a gush of love and faith that showed how much the unbounded human heart is beyond being totally eclipsed by shadows cast by the limited human intellect. It is neither feeling or thinking, but righteous doing, that gives us victory.[11]

The child in the first era of his life has no individual consciousness of separation from God, and for a certain time it is obvious to all observers that this august unconsciousness even prevents the immediate development of an intellectual conception of him. The child in its infancy (infant, you remember, means not speaking) does not see nature as object,[162] but feels it also to be himself, and hence he has no language, for language is the expression of his intellect. Hence the infant's sublime unconsciousness of danger and absolute fearlessness, and its impulse to spring upward out of its mother's arms, the laws of gravity notwithstanding! It stands, as Wordsworth has sung,—

"Glorious in the might of heaven-born freedom on its being's height,"
and only gradually do
"Shades of the prison-house begin to close around the growing boy."
For, as the same poet has it in that ode which is as much inspired as anything in the sacred oracles of the Hebrew or the Christian:—
"Earth fills her lap with pleasures of her own;
Yearnings she hath in her own natural kind,
And even with something of a mother's mind,
And no unworthy aim,
The homely nurse doth all she can
To make her foster-child, her innate man,
Forget the glories he hath known
And that Imperial Palace whence he came.

*             *             *             *             *

Hence, in a season of calm weather,
Though inland far we be,
Our souls have sight of that immortal sea
Which brought us hither;
Can in a moment travel thither,
And see the children sport upon the shore,
And hear the mighty waters rolling evermore."
The "not unworthy aim" of the "humble nurse" is to give the child the sense of "having life in himself" as an individual free agent, so that he may come into intellectual consciousness of the laws of God by going counter to them, which reveals to him that he is separating from God in his activity. This separation is sin, which is a short word for[163] separation, and the first step in the development of individuality, and therefore pardonable, because it is finite.

Now the true religious nurture is to keep the child in the mood of ineffable joy in which he was created, while he is evolving his sense of individuality and free agency by experimenting freely, but more or less painfully, so that he shall not lose sight of the central Sun, to which everything he is slowly learning through his senses and his reflection is related; and this must be begun by giving a name to the central Sun that shall express the character of his inmost consciousness of joy and love, which is his vision of God, and needs to be recognized as God in the understanding.

In the Old Testament we see that it is the name of the Lord which is set forth as the only means of escaping that idolatry which is destructive of progressive spiritual religion. The name of the Lord, or Ruler, with the Hebrews was Jehovah, a word made up of the three tenses of the substantive verb to be, "was, is, and shall be," and which Philo, the Alexandrian Jewish philosopher, translates The Eternal. It was understood by the worshippers to be the ineffable Creative Reality, so that when they came to the word in their sacred ritual they did not speak it, but reverently bowed their heads in a moment's silence, or paraphrased it, The Lord God.

But Jesus, the bright, consummate flower of the Hebrew race, used the name Father (my and our Father), which you may observe was original with him. That word expressed the whole of his theology. He made no disquisitions on God's being, but simply recognized the vital relation of mankind to its Creator by this word, which any child who has come to see that he and his mother are two can understand and will love.

Frœbel has proved by his nursery method that the child shall get this idea and name of God from his mother; and at all events when children come to the kindergarten they[164] will generally already have heard some name for God, adequate or inadequate. Now all you have to do—but that is a great deal, indeed the greatest thing—is not to cloud the child's intuitive knowledge of God by your inadequate words as was done in the case of M. D., who was afraid of the omnipresence of God, as I mentioned in my narrative of F. H., and in the case of his unfortunate mother at her mother's funeral. In the case of little F. the mistake was not to have given any name before his sense perceptions had made "a prison house for the growing boy." But you have seen how the shades were dispelled by my taking it for granted with him that a Heavenly Father existed, which he joyfully accepted at once, for I knew that

"In the embers was something that did live,
And Nature yet remembers
What was so fugitive."

The naming of God in the kindergarten should be in music, which is the natural language of spirituality (or aspiration), lifting the soul above the cold level of the intellect that cognizes the correlations of the natural universe. Frœbel finds support of his faith in the efficacy of song, that puts devout expression into the works of nature, in the historical fact that the civilizing literature of all nations begins in religious hymns. The different characteristics and the different destinies of nations are seen in germ in the national songs, which are in large degree and sometimes exclusively addressed to the Powers above. The Li-king of the Chinese, the Rig Veda of the old Aryans, the Puranas of the Hindus, the Garthas of the Iranians, the recently discovered early poetry of the Egyptians, and even the magical formulas of the Babylonians, all express with more or less exaltation of spirit the primeval intuition of Supreme Being, and use the particulars of material nature[165] as words of God pointing to that unity of all life that is the music of the spheres. Is it not heard in the voice of the healthy infant, which is the most exquisite music on earth, and later seen in the pictures made by the imagination before language that is coined by the human understanding has introduced prosaic, that is, analytic definitions, and drawn the human individual away from feeding its heart on the fruits of the Tree of Life (which are music and poetry) to the fruits of the tree of knowledge, which are evil as well as good. The kindergarten exercises should begin and end with spiritual songs and hymns; indeed, they should come in any time at the call of the children, who, it will be found, will oftener call for hymns of praise than for any other songs.

The hymns of the kindergarten repertory should be entirely free from all that is didactic and denominationally doctrinal. Their object is not to teach any science, whether intellectual, moral, or theological; but to express childish joy in existence, or quicken the original childish faith, which in all ages and nations has expressed itself in music and the dance. Nor should the singing of hymns in kindergarten be ever perfunctory or a thing of course. A good kindergartner begins the day with bringing all the children into company for preliminary conversation, and asking each in turn what is in his mind; or the class as a whole may be asked some general question, perhaps about the weather, which always has something beneficial that can be brought to the attention; then they could be asked, "Could you have made this weather? Who made it? and would you not like to thank the Heavenly Father for it?" Something similar to this should precede all the hymns to rouse their sense of free activity, and prevent routine, and then they will sing with the heart and understanding also. I remember going one day into a kindergarten with Mr. Alcott when such a preliminary conversation was[166] going on, which was followed by this song of the weather, the children making the illustrative gesticulations with their arms. They began with the weather of the day, and continued with several varieties, for it is not often the whole song is sung at one time. The intense delight of the children when themselves personifying the weather, poured itself out in the chorus, which they had first learned to sing with a will,—

"Wonderful, Lord, are all thy works,
Wheresoever falling.
All, their various voices raise;
Speaking forth their Maker's praise
Wheresoever falling."
(See Appendix, Note F.)

Mr. Alcott, with his eyes full of tears, turned to me, and said, "This must have an immense influence upon character." In religious conversation children have the advantage of us in their as yet uneclipsed original vision of God, and we have an advantage of them in knowledge of outside things and the adaptation of means to ends. By this knowledge of ours we can generally guide them to accomplish their purposes when they are such as will really give them pleasure and do no harm to any one else. They get our knowledge by confidingly doing as we direct, and a confidence in the method which brings about the results they have instinctively foreseen. We save their minds from getting lost or bewildered in the chaos of particulars by winning their attention to the orderly connections of things, and leading them to realize how they connect little things in order to make larger things, and how opposites are connected in the world around about them. To recognize their own little plans and open their eyes to God's methods and plans; and because they cause new effects, they realize that all effects have causes, and in the last analysis realize one personal cause. They must believe in themselves as a preliminary[167] to believing in God. Let them with things create order; and you will have influence with them in proportion to their feeling that you respect their free will, and divine in a genial way what they want; and this you can do if you inform yourself of what is universal in human desire, keeping your eyes open to what modifications their individuality suggests; and it is your cognizance of these individualities which makes your part of the enjoyment. If there are no two leaves alike, much more are there no two human individuals precisely alike, and human intercourse is made refreshing by these various individualities playing over the surface of the universal race-consciousness. If you respect the individuality of a child, and let it have fair play, you gain its confidence. Nothing is so delightful as to feel oneself understood. It is much more delightful than to be admired. But to give a child's individuality fair play in a company of children, you must open children's eyes to one another's individualities, and you will find that if you suggest their respecting each other's rights in the plays, there is something within them that will justify you. The consciousness of individuality is the correlated opposite to the conscience of universality. Justice is an intuition. The opposite poles of a human being are self-assertion or personal consciousness on the one side, and generosity or race consciousness on the other.

We have seen that the maternal instinct, which the kindergartner is to make her own by cultivating it, cherishes the indispensable innocent self-assertion (which is only changed into selfishness by lack of that social cherishing which keeps generosity wide awake to balance self-assertion). We must sympathize with the play instincts of the child, so that it may get knowledge of its body in its parts and its powers of locomotion, manipulation and speech, giving self-respect to the consciousness of power, while the simultaneous knowledge of limitation is prevented from becoming fear by[168] experience of the motherly providence, which is the first comprehensible form of that love which in due time calls forth ideal worship of the Infinite God, if God has been adequately named in natural sympathetic conversation with an earnest self-persuasion but without sanctimonious affectation. Unless you have unaffected spontaneity of faith yourselves, you should not dare to talk about God to the child.

The religious nurture which Frœbel proposes therefore consists simply in so living with children as to preserve their primeval joy by tenderly and reverently respecting it, as that human instinct prompts which is in the highest power in the mother. Sympathetic tenderness is the first of all means for moral culture. The child's faith in God must be cherished into self-reliance. There is a self-distrust that is really a distrust of God, and no harm we can do a child is so great as to lead it to doubt its own spontaneity. The common religious teacher—even a conscientious mother—sometimes does this, and so far from nurturing the child's conscious union with God, starts a morbid self-consciousness, the opposite of religious peace. In order not to make this mistake, let the mother and kindergartner read and ponder Frœbel's Mother Love and Cossetting Songs.[12]

If you ask me what aid the moral culture derives from the religious nurture, I reply, the name Heavenly Father, given to the inmost consciousness, keeps the heart happy and the will self-respecting, by preventing those indefinite fears, incident to a sense of helplessness, which engenders selfishness. Hope and Faith are correlatives, and conscious or necessary means of goodness (which is enacted thereby), not[169] agonies of will in the absence of this support. In the majority of cases moral discouragement is the secret of children's naughtiness; and, as Dr. Channing used to say, "there is nothing fatal to child or man but discouragement," which often exists close beside manifestations of pride and self-will.

When I kept school, in my earlier life, I became the confidante of many cases of wrong-doing and conscious wrong feeling. Sometimes the confidentialness was altogether spontaneous on the part of the children, and in other cases I took the initiative, drawing out the confidence, by intervening on occasion to console and help, especially when I saw that the sensibility had been wounded, or there was moral puzzle. And my experience and observation in this line justified the faith in which I began to keep school; viz., that children are all but perfectly good, in all cases, and are never so grateful for anything else, when they find themselves naughty, as for spiritual and moral help, given as God gives, "upbraiding not."

When they are not grateful for moral help, it is the fault or mistake of the grown-up counsellor. Even in the worst cases I always took it for granted that nevertheless they loved goodness better than the naughty self which for the hour had got the victory over the better self. Spiritual being, whether finite or infinite, is only to be discerned by aspiring faith. Yet I do not think it right or wise to suggest to little children that their wrong-doings, which are more weaknesses than presumptions, are sins against God. Children can comprehend their relations to each other, and the violation of each other's rights to happiness, and can be easily led to sympathize with the pain or inconvenience of those they make suffer, which touches their sense of justice and generosity; they can appreciate wrong and its consequences to their equals and to themselves in the present life. But God is too great to be injured by them; and to bring God to their imagination as personally angry with them, overwhelms thought, and[170] annihilates all sense of responsibility, with all self-respect. Children can comprehend perfectly that wrong-doing, in particular cases, is an injury to themselves, as well as a harm to their neighbor; also that they forfeit, for the time being, their privilege of being, as it were, in partnership with God in making others happy, as well as being companions with Him in making things grow; and an occasional hint of this, when they are very happy and successful, is well. But to suggest that they are forfeiting this privilege of divine companionship and partnership, is quite painful enough, be this forfeiture ever so partial. Old sinners are to be disciplined, perhaps, by that love of God which speaks in the thunder, the earthquake, and fire, breaking through the crust of selfish habit to awaken attention to the still, small voice of conscience, in which alone the Lord is in person. But the naughty child, at his worst, needs only to think of God as sorry for him, and "waiting to be gracious," like the father of the prodigal son.

I can illustrate this by anecdotes of a child to whose moral life I was obliged to call in the aid of the religious sentiment, and even of the specific Christian revelation of pardon for all past wrong repented. It was the case of a very sensitive child of nine years of age, whose mother was gifted with the finest imagination and moral instincts, but was married to a cold, Dombey-like husband, whom she unfortunately thought superior to herself, whom she idealized, and endeavored to make her children satisfactory to his worldly ideal. The result in their characters was more or less disastrous to each, ending with the suicide of one. This child's conscience of the duty of satisfying both parents I soon found to be abnormal; and her sense of her father's contempt for her intellect, and her mother's painstaking that she should satisfy him, so worked on her sensibility that it suspended her reasoning powers; and no matter what it was she failed in, whether in missing an answer to a question in arithmetic, or[171] in failure of good temper when tormented, she fell into despair. I endeavored to show her that a mistake in any school exercise was no crime, but only made an occasion for her learning more thoroughly the thing in hand, and to show her that, unless she had fortitude to bear failures, and courage and hope to overcome them, I could not help her out of them; and I never rebuked any naughty manifestation of a moral character of any one in her presence, but she would burst into tears, and tell me how much naughtier she was. One Monday morning I asked my children, as I was wont to do, if there was anything interesting that they had heard at church or Sunday-school the day before, when, almost with a shriek, she cried out, "Oh, don't ask me that." I said gently, "Come with me into my chamber," which she did, crying all the while. "Mr. Greenwood preached about the prayers, and he said we should not look about the church, or think of anything else, while the service was being read; and I always do, and I can't help it, because I am so bad." I took her into my arms, and said, "It is a sure proof that you are not bad, that you are so distressed at the thought of doing wrong. Bad people do not care, and so they grow worse and worse; but your conscience seems to forget the Heavenly Father, who did not give it to you to discourage you, but to help you to see what way you must not go, and to remind you that He is close by to help your good resolution, which is the prayer of your will."

"But I read in a hymn that God sets down everything we do wrong in a book; and at the judgment day He will read it all out to the assembled universe. I told a lie once."

"Did you?" said I, tenderly. "Tell me all about how you came to." "I cannot," said she, "because then I should have to tell something bad about somebody else, which I must not." "How long ago was it?" "It was when we were living at ——." I saw by this that it was several years before.[172]

She had a little brother, of whom she was very fond. I took hold of a locket that she wore about her neck, that contained the hair of the lady for whom she was named, and the memory of whose great virtues had been impressed on her imagination, and said:—

"What if Edward should take this locket and break it, and take out the hair and throw it in the fire?" With a great deal of energy she said:—

"He never would do such a naughty thing."

"He might do it without being naughty; he would not know that you never could get any more of Miss ——'s hair; and he would do it from innocent curiosity—and what if he should do it, what would you do?"

"Why, I should tell him he was a very naughty boy, meddling with other people's things, and that he had done something that he could never make up, for there was no more of that hair."

"Well," said I, "and I suppose you would say that, very likely crying, and if he seeing that he had given you such pain, should begin to cry, and should cry all the rest of the day, and cry himself to sleep, and when he waked in the morning should begin to cry again, and should cry all day for weeks—what would you do?"

"Why, I should tell him I was sorry to lose my locket, but I could bear it, and he must forget about it, for he did not know what a mischief he was doing, and I should take him out to walk, and amuse him, and do everything to make him forget it."

"Why should you do all this?"

"Because I love him," she said.

"Do you believe you love him better than God loves you?"

With a look of surprise, she said, "Does God love us the same way we love?"

"There is but one kind of love," I said, "and I really think He would like to have you forget that lie you told so[173] long ago, without thinking how wrong it was, because you were thinking of something else, just as Edward was only thinking he wanted to see what was under the glass of the locket."

She looked at me wistfully.

"Did you ever read about Jesus Christ in the New Testament?" said I.

"Yes, and I hate to."


"Because you know everybody says we must be like Him, and He never did anything wrong, and I cannot be like Him, for I do wrong of all kinds—beside that lie, and you know how cross I am."

"O," said I, "I do not wonder you feel discouraged if you think that you must be as good as Jesus Christ right away, to begin with; but Jesus Christ came into the world to say a word that is the most important word in the New Testament, and if He had not said it, He would have done us more harm than good with His perfect example, discouraging us entirely."

"What was that word?" she asked, with the most eager interest.

"Pardon," said I, "for all past wrong-doing that you are sorry for."

"Oh, Miss Peabody, I never thought of the meaning of that word before."

"Yes, darling," said I, "and that is the reason of all your trouble. Now think of it always; and thank God that He sent Jesus to say it. That lie of yours God has pardoned long ago, just as you would have pardoned little Edward. We all do wrong things when we are children, and learn by doing them not to do them again. Now from to-day begin all your life over again. When you miss in your lessons, instead of crying, just let it go, and ask me to help you try again. So in making other mistakes, and when you feel[174] cross, which comes in your case because you are so easily discouraged,—for that makes you have dyspepsia,—just forget it as soon as possible and go and do something pleasant, and think that God loves you, and only lets you do wrong to show you that you need to be getting wisdom all the time, and you will grow stronger continually, and the older you grow, the better you will understand."

I never knew a moral crisis in any child's life so marked as this was. She had a very hard path in life to walk and suffered much, but she never again lost the hope by which we live, and at length, full of years, joined "the Choir Invisible," from which commanding standpoint she doubtless sees the end from the beginning, and how God's redeeming Providence completes His creation of a free agent. What I insist upon is, that a child should never be left to doubt, but should always be helped to feel sure that God is loving him better than he loves himself; is sorry far more than angry with him when he has done wrong, and therefore it is that He will not let him succeed in doing wrong, but has so arranged things that the wrong always gets checked; that God is especially good precisely because He "makes the ways of the transgressor hard." Never let the Infinite Power appear to the naughty child's imagination as punishing, but only as encouraging, inspiring, helping! It is recorded as characteristic of the highest manifestation of God and Educator of man, who appeared to His most spiritual disciple as the "Eternal Word made flesh," that He did not "quench the smoking flax or bruise the broken reed," but distilled upon humanity—especially in its flowering stage—the gentle dews of blessing,—taking little children in His arms to bless them.

You may ask, But what if a child proves in some instances incorrigible to the method of love? What shall we do then? I think it will be sufficient to ask any Christian, What did Jesus do when the Jews proved insensible and incorrigible[175] to his long-suffering, brotherly love, making it the occasion of their own capital crime? Did he abandon the method of love when they nailed him to the cross, or even doubt it? Let us dwell on this a little. Was it not the special trial of Jesus Christ's human life, the last temptation through which he was constrained by his apparent failure of accomplishing the work of redeeming Israel, by leading them of their own selves to judge and do what is right to cry out, My God! my God! why hast thou forsaken me? For instead of their coming to him to get the waters of life he offered, they had made it the very act of their religion to murder him as a blasphemer. I ask, Did he, even then, exchange his method of forbearing love for cursing? Did he not, even then, hold fast to the principle of brotherliness by commending his spirit (which was his work) into the hands of the Father, with the words: "Forgive them, for they know not what they do"; showing that he felt that this ignorance was infinitely more pitiable than his own apparently forgotten bodily agonies? And, in this great humane act of forbearance, and divine act of faith did he not reveal in its fulness the loving character of God, whom he had always called Father, and with whom he proved himself one by this very token, which converted the Jewish thief and the Roman centurion on the spot; and which, step by step, is slowly but surely (by inspiring his disciples with the same spirit and method of dealing with their fellow-beings) converting the world? The moment of despair of an immediate spiritual good we are trying to do, is often the moment of our doing a higher and greater good.

As Jesus resigned his own finite will, as the son of David, which was fixed on bringing the Jewish nation to fulfil its national mission of "blessing all the families of the earth," which he understood to be the motive inspiration of Abraham's emigration from Babylonian civilization into the wilderness; and as he accepted the will of his Father, which[176] seemed to be that the privilege to do this patriotic duty was not granted to him as he had grown up thinking, the will was lifted, and he found himself doing more—becoming the Saviour, not of the nation of the Jews merely, but of all men, and so sat down on the right hand of God. For he proved himself to the heart of all humanity, God's Son, loving, not for the sake of men's reciprocation and appreciation of himself, but for the sake of the salvation of humanity. Therefore Christ's method is the one for every man and woman on all planes of activity, however humble. I have heard more than one mother say, that when they had tried every method they knew of to influence their child to give up some wrong object on which the irrefragable free will was bent, and all tender and violent measures had failed, the irrepressible tears of their despairing love had most unexpectedly melted the hardness of self-will at once, and effected the cure. Love, when it is understood, is irresistible. Our sacred oracles teach us that the origin of evil is in a doubt of God's love. In Eden it was a suspicion that He had some selfish ends in forbidding even one thing in a world of free gifts.

The conquest of evil, on the other hand, they represent, was in Jesus Christ's trusting God's love, in a lost world, amidst the physical agonies of his cross, and the moral anguish of a disappointment of the grandest aim that ever one born of woman had set to himself for his life-work. In faithfully trying to do the lesser good just at hand, he developed the power to save all men from their sins; not merely his own people.

To the training class of kindergartners I would say, your special work is rather to prevent, than to conquer sin, in the objects of your care; therefore you should, in your own imagination, associate yourself with God creating, first leading children to realize that all He has made is very good and must be kept so, which is giving the religious nurture.

That great word of Frœbel, man is a creative being, has[177] said in the world of education, whether religious, moral, or intellectual, "Let there be light," and is never to be forgotten in its uttermost meaning.

In this truth you will find an infinite resource of hope and successful energy. You may think that you apprehend and accept the scope of this pregnant word, because you do not reject it as a proposition; but partial knowledge is often deluding, and not doubting is far from efficient conviction, which a comprehensive and penetrating understanding of a principle gives. Let me illustrate this illusion of thinking we comprehend when we do not, by some of Frœbel's gifts.

Think of the four last gifts of Frœbel in their wholeness of form, as cubes. When these cubes are uncovered and you recognize them as eight, or twenty-seven, or thirty-six wooden, solid, six-sided, eight-cornered, twelve-edged units, and see the relations of their properties in nature, it may seem to you as if you exhaustively knew the cube; but you do not if you have omitted to notice one property inherent in it, more important because pregnant with more consequences than any other property,—I mean its divisibility by means of which its possible transformations are innumerable, every transformation presenting the symmetry of the original in a new variety of beauty, so that if you will give to a child one of these divisible cubes and suggest to him the clue of the law of connecting contrasts, which is the law of all production, he will never tire (except physically) of making the new combinations, and seeking through each and all, that sense of a whole which was the first impression. It is by reason of its divisibility, that the cube can be transformed infinitely. Now you may conceive the nature of man as a whole, and observe a great many of his attributes, and yet not see the greatest,—his creativeness, whose consequences are infinite.

Educational science has, in fact, generally omitted to do this in the past, and treated a child according to the attributes[178] it recognized; but, because before Frœbel's day man had not been recognized by the reflective mind as a creative being, it had not been realized that he can be transformed, or transform himself as well as his surroundings, infinitely, ever producing something new, and hence that there may be, in the lapse of ages, as much variety in human production as there is in God's workings in the Universe.

It is, in short, because education has not hitherto conceived of man as creative, that there has been so much dead uniformity and lifeless repetition on the plane of humanity; and that a general characteristic of educational systems hitherto has been a mechanical running of the human being into certain fixed moulds, not only irrespective of individual tendencies, but antagonistic to the universal creative impulse, which is the profoundest characteristic of man, and which, not being understood, has, in a great measure, proved only a source of disorder, and given a bad name with people of genius to educational art (although it is the highest of all the high arts), its material, if you will forgive the verbal ambiguity, being living spirit.

Richard Wagner has said that "were it not for education, all men would be geniuses, for they are endowed at birth with the passionate pursuit of the new, needing only liberty and opportunity for self-direction."

Liberty and opportunity! There could not be a better description of Frœbel's principle and method of education.

To give liberty and opportunity to the creative principle of the child is just the work you have to do; but observe, this is not to leave him to the caprices of an uneducated will. There is neither liberty nor opportunity in that!

"Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty," moral as well as political; and before the child is old enough to appreciate this, and be vigilant for himself, the educator must do so for him, genially, but firmly intervening to secure to his mind that pause before action on the moral, the artistic, and intellectual[179] plane, that the Friends recognize to be necessary before acting on the spiritual plane.

The ways of caprice are multitudinous,—the way of life is one for each individual, and is pointed out to the pausing attentive mind by the Father, who speaks to us, within, forever; but whose voice can only be heard when listened to by intention; even on the intellectual plane, we do not let the will go storming on, without the guidance of law, which is the voice of the very present Creator heard in the silence of reflection on perceived facts and truths.

There is a right and a wrong way of doing everything,—always. The right way will always produce a thing of use or of beauty, whose reaction on the mind of the producer cultivates his mind, or grows the human understanding; but this right way is only to be discovered in that pause between impulse and action which is the characteristic discrimination of man from all other animals, and must be secured for the child by the care of his educators—even when he is only playing, or the play will tire instead of exhilarate.

Hence it is not enough, though it is indispensable, to guide children's activity while it is still irreflective to spontaneously make forms of beauty and use with its playthings and materials of occupation; but after they have made something, you are to make them stop and look back (not every time, but often), and go over in thought, and put into words, what they have done, and lead them to observe all the properties and relations of the thing that are obvious to the childish sense; and when you have thus secured an impression of the means by which order is attained, you have given an experimental knowledge of there being a spiritual order; that is, a world of individual laws and a law-giver independent of human will and meant to lift it into the divine. Those of you who are Friends will agree with me that human beings can manifest no spiritual beauty or moral power, except so far as they listen to the Shepherd of souls[180] in the holy pause of the hours of worship, a voice always suggesting loving activity. And cannot you see, that no artistic production, no intellectual work, is possible without listening, in the pause of reflection for the word of the law of beauty or use, that the Creator of the intellect gives? and which makes art and science the worship of God with the mind?

The most important, the crowning work of the kindergartner, is to secure to the child this moment of reflection in the midst of his play and work on all planes of life; and you do so by sympathetically playing with him and gently guiding his unthinking, impulsive activity, and asking him what he has done and is going to do, and not letting him do anything till he seeks to do the symmetrical or, at least, the useful thing. It is not every movement that will produce the satisfactory result. It is thus that the child learns that there is a greater mind than his own, or even than his teacher's mind, present with him guiding the intellect, for artistic principles flow into the mind from an Eternal source, no less than do moral and spiritual principles. In short, the true method of the intellect is the perpetual gift of a very present God, as much as the true method of the heart and soul.

Man, then, in the last analysis, is a creative being; and the Frœbel education has for its final object, to give him the dominion over everything in the earth; put all the cosmic forces into his hands,—as well as to bring him into the communion of love with his fellows; thus lifting his whole nature to the height of sitting down with our Elder brother on the throne, with the Universal Father.

You should keep this great idea before you, and it will enable you to use the technique that you have been learning, with a certain freedom as well as fidelity, guiding these playful exercises in such an order as you may find agreeable and salutary for them; and to check caprice, you must insist that, in these appointed times, they do the appointed things,[181] or do nothing, for they will generally conclude to do the thing in hand, rather than do nothing while all their companions are doing their work; and when they are doing nothing, they will have time for reflection, and to hear the inward voice of law, with the opportunity voluntarily to accept it. Thus does God give to all his children "to have life in themselves," and to bring out their whole likeness to Himself, which proves that they are not his bond slaves,—like the lower animals,—but sons. If there are not in the universe two leaves that are alike, still less are there two souls that are alike. But leaves and souls, after all, are alike in more than they are different. You can provide action for all the instincts that children have in common, and create a common consciousness to a certain extent, which is the common sense; but what is peculiar to each, and makes the independent individual, is his own secret, and you can only help that to flower and fruitage by giving him the conditions of free, independent action, opening the inward eye and sharpening the inward ear for communication with Him who alone can adequately guide the will to the satisfaction of all the sensibilities of the heart, and the powers of intellect, and all the creative energies: but the religious and moral principles I shall endeavor to define are general, not peculiar to, but inclusive of, the kindergarten plan of education. To have these principles clear and disengaged from the accidental associations of the various denominations of the church, all of which (and also with many of those outside of any visible church) unite in that faith in God, and that disinterested love of humanity, which was historically enacted on earth by Jesus Christ, and into which every child born on the earth should be brought before he is old enough to appreciate those intellectual distinctions which make different creeds; because then the kindergartner will be able to meet children on the high plane of life where their angels (does not that mean their spiritual instincts or ideals?) behold the face of the Father,[182] and only then will the kindergartner practically enter into Frœbel's method of living with the children, and communing with their innocence.

I see a great deal of this practical application in the kindergartens kept by the well-trained kindergartners; and especially when they are mothers, who unquestionably make the best kindergartners (other things being equal), because it is easier for mothers to divine the consciousness of their children. In the opening hour of the kindergarten, when the kindergartner interchanges the songs and hymns which the children choose, or at least agree to, with real free conversation, in which each child has a chance to tell what is uppermost in his little mind, the very most important work of the kindergartner is done. It has been my privilege to listen to much of this in the kindergartens kept severally by the mothers, who make the children feel that they are interested in whatever they say, however apparently trivial is the subject, and who answer genially, connecting it with something else, and so organizing the reflective powers of the children, that everything they think is seen to be a part of the process of moral, religious, and even intellectual growth.

The possibility of doing this will prove to any one who has any heart and imagination that it is no mere poetic phrase, but a profound spiritual truth, that "Heaven lies about us in our infancy," that children do "come from God who is their home, trailing clouds of glory," and for a time

"are still attended
By the vision splendid,"
although too often
"The man beholds it die away,
And fade into the light of common day."

Of course all the opening conversation need not be on the moral and religious planes, but some of it should lead into[183] explanations of nature and of the common life of this work-day world, improving dexterity and common sense; but one can hardly talk with children about anything, in a genuine way, that does not bring out of them some religious or moral expression. I think it is in connection with these conversations to which the children furnish by their spontaneous confidences the vital points, round which the thoughts of the whole little company shall revolve, that the teacher can connect her own story-telling.

For such genuine conversation the necessary prerequisite on the part of the teacher is a real faith in children's being the breath of God in their Essence.

Then she will not have any will-work of her own, but listen to hear what the child is attending to, be it nothing but a bit of string, which, of course, must have a certain length that can be measured, and with which other things may be measured, and which is made of material that has passed perhaps through the hands of many manufacturers, and which in its elements at least was a growth of nature, all whose works bear witness to the being of God; for God's throne may be reached from the ground of childish play as certainly and readily as from many a pulpit and cathedral, if not more so.

A child whose affection for his companions and for the personages of a story told by the kindergartner, and who sees the connection of some little playful or other experience that he tells as his story for the morning, is engaged in a service of God, more vitally bearing on his growth in grace than any mere repetition of prayers. A play bringing out little kindnesses, sweet courtesies, gentle self-adjustments to his companions, the asking and giving of forgiveness for little discourtesies or grave wrong-doings, brings the child nearer God than any spoken words of worship can, the joy attending such innocent sweetness being the proof of the vital union of his soul with a very present God.

So the work of the good Samaritan, though he was doubtless[184] thinking only of the individual he was comforting, and not at all of God, was recognized by Christ as a real act of worship; for it was the fulfilment of the second commandment like unto the first.

The time will come, I confidently believe, when all religionists of whatever denomination will recognize that the favorite doctrines and formalities which distinguish them from each other are a mere superficial crust of that true spiritual life which is to be lived when the grown-up shall all become as little children, who feel that,

"In their work and in their play,
God is with them all the day."

In speaking of the ceremonies of the Temple worship, which Moses made symbolical of all the virtues of life, moral and religious, but which in Paul's day had fallen into such a mere ritual that this great Apostle said that the Holy Ghost was not bodily exercise, but a hopeful, faithful charity of thought, feeling, and deed; and this is what children can be guided into from the beginning, provided the kindergartner knows how to converse and play with them instead of talking to them and coercing them ever so kindly into acting out her will. The play of childhood is the most genuine and intense life that is lived, body, heart, and will conspiring entirely; and it is by respecting the child's will and heart that you really help instead of hindering this unification of his threefold nature, which corresponds to the Trinity of the Supreme Being and prevents that from becoming a bewildering tritheism in his conception.

A child cannot be just unless he is loving, nor attain the freedom of moral dignity unless he asserts himself; and there is no way to nurture this self-respect except to express respect to him, by being as courteous to him as you are to any adult, always asking him to explain himself and his own[185] motives, when he seems to be in the wrong, before you condemn him.

I think I have gained some of the deepest insights I have ever had into Divine Truth, by discovering what was the motive thought of some child, who did what seemed inexplicable, till he told me, or I had divined, his secret reason.

It is not mothers alone who can charm out of children their secret, as those know who have seen some maiden kindergartners talk with their pupils in the opening exercises; but those who are not mothers will always do well to observe carefully those who are. On the other hand, mothers have to guard themselves against exaggerating their own children's natures comparatively. I have known some of the best mothers in the world do that, so as to be practically of bad influence over children not their own.

Mothers who would be and can be the best kindergartners should therefore none the less study Frœbel's science carefully and humbly.

All children are alike in having the threefold nature. I wish I had time to tell of a hundred kindergarten experiences that have come under my observation, in which the respectful, genial kindergartner has assisted in some moral development, whose occasion was very trivial to the superficial observer.

Herein lies the importance of prefacing the school with the kindergarten, that in it all the virtues and Christian graces can be unconsciously practised on the plane of play, which is the moral gymnasium of mankind.

This is the meaning of Solomon's wise saying, "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." But the nature, which is the image of the Divine Nature, cannot be mechanically, but must be morally and spiritually, trained; that is, addressed and treated as free agency.

The salutation of the Brahmin to his youthful son, no less[186] than to his equal in age, is "to the divinity which is in you I do homage." This is one of the gleams of light from the lost Paradise in which man was created, and to which we hope the kindergarten is to more than restore the race, when it shall have become the universally applied principle of culture for human beings. (See Appendix, Note F.)[189]



We speak of the necessity of studying childhood; we call children living books of nature, and say that we cannot succeed in educating them (which is putting them into a harmonious activity of all their powers), without knowledge, such as a musical performer has of his instrument, of these "harps of a thousand strings."

This fundamental knowledge of children is not chiefly a discrimination of their individualities; though observation of these will be made by a consummate kindergartner; it is a knowledge of what is universal in children, essential to the constitution of human beings.

Frœbel never wrote out, in systematic form, the psychology which underlies and gives the rational ground to all the details of his method. But there are pregnant sentences in all his writings, and in his sayings handed down by tradition, which give such insights, that it can be divined with some completeness.

We propose to give such glimpses as occur to us from time to time—not always in our own words, but as often as we can in Frœbel's, and also in the words of other thinkers, whose guesses at this kind of truth light up their writings on many subjects.

We must, in the first place, attend to one important fact; there is, in the experience of childhood, somewhat pre-existent to all impressions made by the universe, and consequently to all operations of the understanding—perceiving, comparing,[190] judging—for these are intentional acts of the pre-existent soul breathed into his body and bidden to "have dominion."—Genesis 1.

What is this pre-existent soul, this mysterious depth of personality?

Washington Allston, in his posthumous lectures on Art, has finely said: "Man does not live by science; he feels, acts, and judges right in a thousand things, without the consciousness of any rule by which he so feels, acts, and judges. Happily for him, he has a surer guide than human science in that unknown power within him, without which he had been without any knowledge." Again, he speaks of "those intuitive powers, which are above and beyond both the understanding and the senses; which, nevertheless, are so far from precluding knowledge, as, on the contrary, to require—as their effective condition—the widest intimacy with things external, without which their very existence must remain unknown."

He does not, however, merely assert this pre-existence of the soul to the understanding, but speaks of the evidence of it that we all can appreciate. "Suppose," he says, "we analyze a certain combination of sounds and colors, so as to ascertain the exact relative qualities of the one, and the collocation of the other, and then compare them, what possible resemblance can the understanding perceive between these sounds and colors? And yet a something within us responds to both—a similar emotion. And so it is with a thousand things, nay, with myriads of objects, that have no other affinity but with that mysterious harmony, which began with our being, which slept with our infancy, and which their presence only seems to have awakened. If we cannot go back to our own childhood, we may see its illustration in those about us who are now in that unsophisticated state. Look at them in the fields, among the birds and flowers; their happy faces speak the harmony within them; the divine[191] instrument which these objects have touched, gives them a joy, which perhaps only childhood, in its first fresh consciousness, can know, yet what do children understand of the theory of colors, or musical quantities?"

That this mysterious power, this feeling soul, is the human characteristic, is suggested in another paragraph of these lectures. "What, for instance, can we suppose to be the effect of the purple haze of a summer sunset on the cows or sheep, or even on the more delicate inhabitants of the air? From what we know of their habits, we cannot suppose more than the mere physical enjoyment of its genial temperature? But how is it with the man, whom we shall suppose an object in the same scene, stretched on the same bank with the ruminating cattle, and basking in the same light that flickers from the skimming birds? Does he feel nothing more than the genial warmth?"—Vol. I. p. 84.

This feeling of beauty, this power which appreciates harmony, this creative unity, in fine, this æsthetic soul, distinct from and above the understanding (which certain philosophers seem to think is all of man, over and above his body), is not all of the soul,—but the moral and even merely social sentiment has the same pre-existence. Allston bears witness to this also. He says: "With respect to Truth and Goodness, whose pre-existent ideas, being living constituents of an immortal spirit, need but the slightest breath of some outward condition of the true and good—a simple problem or a kind act—to awaken them, as it were, from their unconscious sleep.... We may venture to assert that no philosopher, however ingenious, could communicate to a child the abstract idea of Right, had the child nothing beyond or above the understanding. He might, indeed, be taught, like inferior animals,—a dog, for instance,—that if he took certain forbidden things, he would be punished, and thus do right through fear. Still he would desire the forbidden thing belonging to another, nor could he conceive why he should not[192] appropriate to himself—and thus allay his appetite—what was another's, could he do so undetected; nor attain to any higher notion of Right than that of the strongest. But the child has something higher than the mere power of apprehending consequences (external?). The simplest exposition, whether of right or wrong, is instantly responded to by something within him, which, thus awakened, becomes to him a living voice, and the good and the true must thenceforth answer its call. We do not say that these ideas of Beauty, Truth, and Goodness will, strictly speaking, always act. Though indestructible, they may be banished for a time by the perverted Will, and mockeries of the brain, like the fume-born phantoms from the witches' cauldron in Macbeth, may take their places and assume their functions. We have examples of this in every age, and perhaps in none more startling than the present. But we mean only that they cannot be (absolutely?) forgotten; nay, they are but too often recalled with unwelcome distinctness....

"From the dim present, then, we would appeal to that fresher time, ere the young spirit had shrunk from the overbearing pride of the (vitiated?) understanding, and confidently ask, if the emotions we then felt from the Beautiful, the True, and the Good, did not seem, in some way, to refer to a common origin? And we would also ask, if it was frequent that the influence from one was singly felt? if it did not rather bring with it, however remotely, a sense of something—though widely differing,—yet still akin to it? when we have basked in the beauty of a summer sunset, was there nothing in the sky, that spoke to the soul of Truth and Goodness? And when the opening intellect first received the truth of the great law of gravitation, and felt itself mounting through the profound of space, to travel with the planets in their unerring rounds,—did never then the kindred ideas of Goodness and Beauty chime in, as it were, with the fabled music (not fabled to the soul), which led you on as one entranced?[193] And again, when, in the passive quiet of your moral nature, so predisposed, in youth, to all things genial, you have looked around on this marvellous, ever-teeming earth, ever teeming alike for mind and body, and have felt upon you the flow, as from ten thousand streams of innocent enjoyment, did you not then almost hear them shout in confluence, and almost see them gushing upwards, as if they would prove their unity in one harmonious fountain?"

It is of the last consequence that the kindergartner should take into her mind that this æsthetic soul exists in children as a primary fact; for, unless she believes in it, she will not respect it, and take advantage of it in what she does for them. It is to be respected and brought out into the understanding of children, by means of the beautiful things which she leads them to do and make, and with which she surrounds them; for, as Allston says, this consciousness "requires as its effective condition, the widest intimacy with things external." When children are continually in squalid surroundings, these seem at length to strike in and paralyze the spontaneous action of the æsthetic being, who is pre-existent to consciousness of the power which compares and judges and makes up a theory of colors. And, as has been shown, this feeling of beauty, this power of appreciating harmony and unity, this æsthetic nature, distinct from and above the understanding, which some people idly think to be all of man beside his body, is not all of the soul, for the moral sentiment has the same pre-existence.

We have brought together these paragraphs taken from Allston's lectures on Art, for the consideration of practical kindergartners, all the more confidently, because they were not written as theory of education, but were parts of a practical inquiry after the standard of judgment for pictorial and plastic artists and the spectator of their works. He sought to deliver them from the benumbing effect of inadequate science,—for science must always be inadequate, as Newton[194] so forcibly expressed, when he defined it "gathering a few pebbles on the shores of the infinite ocean of truth." The object of the lecturer was what the kindergartner's first object should be,—to awaken the self-respect of the eternal soul within us all, making the life of our individuality—our personality—which, in its mysterious depth and independent pre-existence to the finite understanding, is the image of the Divine Personality, whose spoken word is the material universe, but clothed in flesh becomes man. It is no part of the kindergartner's duty to give—she can only awaken—the feelings of harmony, beauty, unity, and conscience. She is to present the right order of proceeding, in all that the child shall do, thereby assisting him to form his own understanding so that his bodily organization may be properly developed; to let in upon his soul nature in its beauteous forms and order, and his fellow-creatures, in their legitimate claims upon him. Then he shall come forth from the sleep of unconscious infancy, into a progressive consciousness of all his relations, with the blessings and duties that belong to them. This forming of the understanding, this marrying of finite thought to infinite love, is Frœbel's Education; and cannot be accomplished, unless the kindergartner clearly sees what God has done for the child absolutely, and what for an ineffable purpose,—most gracious to the human race,—He has left to be done by human providence, whether of the mother or kindergartner, or some other fellow-creature.

It makes a heaven-wide difference whether the soul of a child is regarded as a piece of blank paper to be written upon, or as a living power, to be quickened by sympathy, to be educated by truth.[195]


We have spoken of the evidences of the æsthetic being found in the mysterious depths of human personality, pre-existent to the individual understanding (which is a growth in time); and that, without there were this æsthetic being, underlying all individual consciousness, there would be no standard of human virtue or art.

This æsthetic person has also (previous to the development of the understanding, which makes the synthesis of himself and nature) an impulsive force, instinct with the desire to change his conditions. Man does not appear in the world merely as sensibility to enjoyment and suffering; but as veritable force, as well, whose action must produce an effect either orderly or disorderly.

The material universe is composed of forces, limiting in a measure personal force. All material forces are uniform and necessary and correlative in their action, which is impressed upon them from without themselves. Man alone is self-active, and may clash with the other forces to his own pain, and he will often do so, until by knowledge of them he can harmonize with them, and make them his own instrumentality to satisfy his æsthetic nature. We call this self-activity of man, which is in such vital union with his sensibility, the human will, and it makes the personal life of every one to learn this self-activity of his, in its differences from and relations to all other forces, as he can only do perfectly by keeping in intellectual and sympathetic social relation with other æsthetic persons. In every individual case, he finds himself in these relations with fellow-beings who have more or less of the knowledge he has not; and some of them have all the responsibility of his actions until he has begun to know himself in discrimination from the material universe and its fixed relations and laws, which serve as a fulcrum for his own effective action among them. The one central[196] unity whose æsthetic being and will are inclusive of himself and fellow-beings as subject, on the one hand, and of the material universe as object, on the other, is God.

The absoluteness of man as a force, is no less certain because he is finite and not omnipotent. God is the omnipotent maker of the material universe, but man is not absolutely made; he is a cause, that is, created to make, if we may credit the ancient prophet, whose hymn of creation is the most wonderful expression of human genius, unless it be surpassed by the proem of St. John's Gospel, which is a correspondent poem, with God for its theme instead of man and nature.

It was not till the embryo man had become, in one instance at least, the fully developed man, that this hymn of the Creator was possible. God's word (revelation of himself) was in the world, embodied in the things made from the beginning; but until it was embodied in a man, free to will, it was truth in the form of law only (regulative), not yet in the completer form of love (creative). In short, before St. John could sing that divine song, he must have seen God in a man, full of grace and truth, dwelling among men as a fellow-man, and overflowing with a power at once sympathetic and causal.

God created man, male and female (that is, giving and receiving equally), to be keepers of each other, and to educate each other. They may tempt and fail each other by presumption as Eve, and want of self-respect as Adam, are represented to have done, at the beginning; or may save and redeem one another, as the cherished son of Mary historically did in a measure, and is doing forevermore, by inspiring all who know him, to educate and redeem each other.

In coming into relation with infant man, to educate him, it is indispensable to appreciate his freedom of willing, which is a primeval fact, as much as his susceptibility of suffering and enjoyment. The educator ought to embody God in a[197] measure, and treat the will of the child that is to be educated, on the same grand system of respecting individual freedom, as must needs flow from Infinite love. Let him clothe law in love, and instead of rousing fear of opposition, awaken the hope of becoming a beauty-creating and man-blessing power.

This is the rationale of Frœbel's method of government. He assumes that the child is—not to be made by education a sensibility, but—an infinite sensibility already, and to be vivified into individual consciousness thereof, by the knowledge of nature to which you are to give him the clue;—not to be made by your government of him, a power of creating effects, but already an immeasurable power of creating effects (that is, causal)—which you are to make him feel responsible for, by helping him to get experimental knowledge of the laws that obtain in God's creation.

For it is knowledge of laws that is the first thing attainable—not knowledge of objects. A child's senses are the avenues of the knowledge of objects; his self-activity is the avenue of the knowledge of laws. He must have experimental knowledge of laws before he can begin to have knowledge of objects, because his impulsive activity is the means of developing his organs of sense, by which he becomes capable of receiving impressions from objects of nature; and his own effective action produces the objects outside of his organs which first command his interested attention, and rouse his powers of analysis, or by which his powers of analysis are roused through your educating intervention.

It is the maternal nursing of body and mind which educates the free force within to produce transient effects, and finally objects, agreeable to the sensibility. Even before the will is educated to causality, it exerts itself, because exertion is agreeable to human sensibility; but when left uneducated, the will brings about effects that prove disagreeable[198] ultimately, if not immediately, to the æsthetic being, paralyzing it more or less, if the organization be feeble; and perverting it when it is strong; in either case, whether crushing or exasperating it, producing selfishness, the germ of all evil.

Thus evil begins in the social sphere, in the disorderly action or in the neglect of those who have in charge the æsthetic free force of the child, compelling it to revolve on its own axis in a vain endeavor to obtain the satisfaction of its æsthetic nature, which it ought to obtain through the generous cherishing action of others' love, carrying it round the central sun in human companionship. The soul instinctively expects love, and to do so, and to act out love intentionally, is its salvation, its eternal life. There is no signature of immortality so sure as the immeasurable craving for love on the one hand, and the immeasurable impulse to love on the other hand, which characterizes man; for the satisfaction of the craving is no greater joy than the satisfaction of loving.

It is because death seems the cessation of relation with our kind, that it is the king of terrors. When the disease or decay of the body curtails relations and makes us solitary, or incapable of enjoying relations, death is not dreaded, but craved as relief. To whomever it seems the beginning of wider relations, it is hailed as the revealing angel of God. Isolation is the horror of horrors. It was one of the primal intuitions that "it is not good for man to be alone." The nurse should remember this, and not leave the baby to feel lonely. Every mother and real nurse knows that when the baby begins to be uneasy and gives a cry of dissatisfaction,—to come near with a smile, to make one's presence felt by a caressing tone, or to take the infant in their arms, will comfort it, bringing back the joyful sense of life—a word which signifies active relation;—and, in its highest sense, spiritual relation. Life, love, and liberty are identical words[199] in their radical elements. There is no love without liberty, nor fulness of life without love.

The liberty of man, or his freedom to will, though it gives him the power to dash himself against antagonizing law, is the proof of infinite love to man in the Creator,—a love which must needs outmeasure all the evil he can do himself or others; for evil provokes others' love for our victims, and is self-limited, by reason of the pain it brings, sooner or later, on him who does it, and the desire for infinite love which it defines and stimulates.

Man and nature are the contrasts which God connects and harmonizes. He presents nature to the mind as immutable law, but before the understanding is formed to apprehend law, He emparadises the child in the love of the mother. In short, the human race embodies love to the soul, before the universe (which embodies law) is yet apprehended. The heart that apprehends love, is older than the mind which apprehends law; and it is because it is so, that man feels free. When man becomes mere law to man, instead of love, he feels he is enslaved.

These are the most practical truths for the kindergartner. If these propositions are truths (and their evidence is the explanation they give of the mysteries of sin and redemption, both of which are unquestionable facts of human history, according to the testimony of all nations), then let her see to it, that in her relation with the children of her charge, she never so presents the law, as to obscure the love, which it is the primal duty of men to embody and manifest to each other.

But, on the other hand, do not keep back the law; for the law, too, is one expression of the Creator's being. What is law? It is the order of the beauteous forms of things, which, when appreciated as God's order, becomes a stepping stone to his throne. For God proposes to share his throne with us, if we may trust another primeval intuition of the[200] human mind, viz., that God commands man, male and female, that is, men in equal social relation, to "have dominion" over all creation, below man.

The human being not only craves liberty and love instinctively, but law also; he "feels the weight of chance desires," and "longs for a repose that ever is the same." This is the rationale of Frœbel's method in the occupations; he suggests the child's action, sometimes by interrogation merely, instead of directing it peremptorily. He asks the child, when he has done one thing, what is the opposite? which itself suggests the combination of opposites, that immediately produces a symmetrical effect. The child enjoys the symmetry all the more, if he feels as if he personally produced it. This is the secret of his love of repetition. He wants to see if by the same means he can again produce the same effect. He does the thing again and again, till he feels that he does it all of himself. He does not want you to help him even with your words (and you never should help him except with words). If a child acts from a suggestion, he feels free,—but if he produces the same effect, or a similar effect, without your suggestion, he has a still more self-respecting sense of power; and his will becomes more consciously free the more he chooses to put on the harness of order.

The kindergartner will sometimes have a child put under her care whose will has been exasperated by arbitrary and capricious treatment, or who has been made to act against his inclination till he has reacted, out of pure contrariness, as we say. This contrariness proves that he has been outraged; perhaps in some instances the effect has been produced by not feeding his mind with knowledge of law. The very violence of the evil may show that he is an exceptionally fine child, with an enormous sense of power that he does not know what to do with because the proper educational influence has failed him. In other cases obstinacy[201] may be a reaction against the vicious will of another, who, instead of offering him the bread of law, has presented to him the stone of his own stumbling. It is indispensable to give the child law, as well as love; but when you are doubtful whether you can genially suggest the law,—at all events express the love; and never substitute for the law your own will. The law which produces a good or beautiful effect, is God's will; your will is not creative of the child's will like God's; its best effect is to stimulate the antagonism of the child's, when the latter is feeble, which it sometimes is by reason of physical mal-organization, or by having been crushed by overbearing management, or vitiated by selfish caprice.

I may be told that if Frœbel's education is wholly of a genial, coaxing character, it fails of being an image of the Divine Providence, which is an alternation of attractions and antagonisms, speaking now in the music of nature, and now in thunders and lightnings, not only cherishing the heart with love, but stimulating the will with law; and be warned not to enervate the character, by producing an æsthetic luxury of sentiment, by which the personal being shall stagnate in the worst kind of selfishness—the passive kind. This objection might be pertinent, if the kindergarten were to be protracted beyond the era to which Frœbel limits it. Certainly the time comes, when the finite will should be antagonized, if need be, by the law of universal humanity. The purest, most loving, most disinterested will known to human history, recognized that there might be a wiser will, not to be doubted as still more loving; and said, "Not my will, but Thine be done,"—"Into Thy hands I commend my spirit" (my free causal power). But let the kindergartner remember she is not infinitely wise and good, and beware of enacting the sovereign judge. There is no doubt that an exclusively cherishing tenderness should be the law of the nursery, with no antagonism whatever, because at[202] that age it is a wise self-assertion which we wish to develop. We therefore act for the infant, having secured his acting with us by our genial encouragement. But this is no argument for continuing to act for him, when he can act with consciousness of an individual life. We must not prolong babyhood into the kindergarten; or, at least, we must begin to engraft personal consciousness upon it, by playing little antagonisms merely. And so, it is no argument against the play of kindergarten that it does mature men. Let the children play with complete earnestness, but, as Plato says, "according to laws," and they will all the more likely seek laws when they come into wider relations.

The development of the consciousness of man is serial. In the nursery we coax the child to exercise the various muscles by playfully duplicating their action; we make him make believe walk, impressing his senses, as it were, with the whole operation as an object. The child first experiences the pleasure of movement, then desires to move for the sake of renewing this pleasure; then enjoys your helping him to do what he has not yet the bodily strength and skill to accomplish; and finally wills to take up his body and make his first independent step. This is the first crisis in the history of his individuality, and every mother knows it is the cheer of her magnetizing faith that enables him to pass through it. He then repeats the action intentionally, simply because he can; enjoying the exertion he makes all the more if, by your care, he has not begun to walk too soon and experienced the pain of numerous falls, from want of guardian arms and supporting hands. Such pains disturb and haunt his fancy, and dishearten him. Courage and serene joy give strength and enterprise to activity.

The nursery and kindergarten education are the preliminary processes which foreshadow all the processes of the Divine Providence. Therefore, even in the nursery we play antagonizing processes. We heighten the child's enjoyment[203] by making him conscious of isolation a moment, to restore, as it were, with a shout, the delightful sense of relation; for the baby likes to have a handkerchief thrown over his head unexpectedly, and suddenly withdrawn again and again. So we sometimes pretend to let him fall, and just when he is about to cry with alarm, catch him again and kiss him.

Frœbel in his nursery plays has several of this nature; and as children grow older they play antagonisms spontaneously, which are beneficial just so far as they elicit the consciousness of individual power; but are harmful if, proceeding too far, they show its limitations painfully, and make the child feel himself a victim.

In the kindergarten season various sensibilities are manifest that have not shown themselves in the nursery, and which are premonitions of the destined dominion over material nature, which at first so much dominates the child, and would destroy his body if you did not intervene with your loving care. These are to be mothered in the kindergartner's heart till they become conscious desires, informing and directing his will, which is encouraged and strengthened—if it is never superseded by your will—until he shall begin to realize his personal responsibility. Then, as he took his body into his own keeping when he began to run alone, so now he will take his character into his own hands to educate, and he will do it all the more certainly and energetically, if he feels you to be an all-helping, all-cherishing, all-inspiring friend, which you must needs be if you are open to feel and wise to know God's love to you, in making you His vicegerent to give glimpses, at least, of the immeasurable love of God, in giving the inexorable laws of nature, for the fulcrum of the power that He pours into His children in the form of will; and which obeys Him just in proportion as it keeps its freedom to alter and alter and alter, till there is no longer any evil to be conscious of, and men shall have got the dominion over nature, which consists in using it for all[204] generous purposes, in a universal mutual understanding with one another. To be in the progressive attainment of this high destiny, is the growing happiness of man; a happiness which must ever have in it that element of victory, which distinguishes the eternal life of Christ from the nirwana of Buddha.


We have been asked by one of the students of Frœbel's art and science, what books we should recommend to help her to a fuller knowledge of the subjects on which we gave a few hints in our first and second paper of Glimpses.

In reply, we would first say, that it is a needed preparation for any study of books on intellectual and moral philosophy, to look back on our own moral history and mental experience, and ask ourselves what was the process of our moral growth, and the circumstances of the formation of our opinions; that is, what action of our relatives, guardians, and companions, had the best—and what the worst—practical effects upon our characters; what aided and what hindered us? Every fault in our characters has its history, having generally originated in the action of others upon us; sometimes their intentional action, which may have been merely mistaken, or may have been wilfully selfish and malignant; and sometimes an influence unconsciously exerted. On the other hand, much of our life that has blest ourselves and others, can be referred to spontaneous manifestations of others, having no special reference to ourselves; generous sentiments uttered in felicitous words, generous acts recorded in history, or done in the privacy of domestic life; great truths bodied forth in imaginative poetry, over which our young hearts mused till the fire burned.[205]

This empirical knowledge of the great nature which we share, is a living nucleus that will give vital meaning to any true words with which scientific treatises on the mind are written; and a power to judge whether the writer is talking about facts of life, or mere abstractions, out of which have died all spiritual substance, leaving only "a heap of empty boxes." In no department of study are we more liable to take words for things than in this. Abstraction is the source of all the false philosophy and theology which has distracted the world. Generalizations are of no aid—but a delusion and a snare—unless the mental and moral phenomena, from which they are derived, have been the writer's experiences, personal or sympathetic. Such experiences are as substantial as material things, to say the least; and even they do not do justice to the whole truth, which is—if we may so express it—the vital experience of God. Hence is the Living Word to which human abstractions can never do justice; being, indeed, but the refuse of thought, "a weight to be laid aside" and forgotten, like a work done, as we stretch forward to the prize of truth, which is our "high calling."

In Book II. chapter vii. of Campbell's Philosophy of Rhetoric, there is a section headed, "Why is it that nonsense so often escapes being detected, both by the writer and reader?" It explains with great perspicuity the uses and abuses of our faculty of abstraction, which is not a spiritual, but merely an intellectual faculty. I would commend this essay (and indeed, for several reasons, the whole book) to a student of intellectual philosophy. A great deal may be learned upon this subject, also, from an Essay on Language, printed a second time with some other papers, by Phillips & Sampson, Boston, in 1857, and probably still to be found in old bookstores, if it be not reprinted by its author, R. L. Hazard.

On the subject of my second paper of Glimpses the same author has written two books, one published by D.[206] Appleton, in New York, in 1864, The Freedom of the Mind in Willing; or, Every Being that wills, a Creative First Cause; and in 1869, Lee & Shepard, Boston, published, as supplement, Two Letters on Causation and Freedom in Willing, addressed to John Stuart Mill, with an Appendix on the Existence of Matter, and our Notions of Infinite Space.[13]


If the spontaneous will of man, and its heart with its latent love, hope, and sense of beauty and justice, are without date,

"An eye among the blind,
That deaf and silent reads the eternal deep,
Haunted forever by the eternal mind,"
yet there is no doubt that the human understanding, as well as the body, begins in time, and gradually identifies the individual for communication with other individuals of its kind. The beginning of the human understanding is in the impressions of an environing universe, against which the sensibility reacts, and by this activity develops the organs of sense, which are the connection of those two great contrasts,[207] the soul and the outward universe. For perceptions of sense are the instrumentality by which the will vivifies the heart, so disposing the particulars of the surrounding universe as to give the definite form of thoughts to consciousness. The human being has no absolute knowledge like the lower animals, who are passive instrumentality of God to certain finite ends below the plane of spirituality. Created for the infinite ends of intelligence, and free communion with one another and God, men need to become conscious of the whole process of their own being, and do so by a gradual conversation with God, who is forever saying, by the universe, which is his speech, I am. And here education begins its offices, by helping man to reply Thou art, which he does by his legitimate art. But no one man can utter the thou art of humanity adequately. It takes all humanity forever and ever to do so; and it does not do so but just so far as the men who compose it are in mutual understanding and communion with each other. Therefore each child must be taken by the hand by those already conscious, and led to realize his own consciousness by learning that of his fellows.

In the action and reaction of the individual with his special environment, he comes to distinguish himself from that which gives him pleasure and pain, and he will be attracted to the former, and repelled from the latter; and thus come to discriminate outward things from each other. The observation and discrimination of the particulars of nature is thinking. Sensuous impressions are the raw material of thoughts, but discrimination and classification of things according to their similarities, is the operation of thought.

Education has an office in both the accumulation of sensuous impressions and the operation of thinking. The mother and nurse of each child must so order the objects about him, that his organs shall be properly impressed, and not overtaxed, because only so can they grow to be a good instrumentality for receiving even more delicate impressions.[208] A tender sympathy for the unconscious little one, who is gradually coming to identify himself, and love,—such as only a mother can have in the greatest perfection,—are the special qualifications of the educator at this stage. Such a knowledge of nature's laws and order, as may enable the educator to lead the child's activity according to law and order, can alone help the child to reproduce, on his finite plane, an image of God's creative action. The educator who should succeed the nurse is the kindergartner, who, without lacking the sympathetic affection of the nurse, must add a knowledge of nature both material and spiritual, so that she may bring these opposites into their right connection with each other.

She will therefore lead the child to produce something that shall serve as a ground for the operation of thinking. Instead of letting the blind will spend its energy in wild and aimless motion, she will present a desirable aim to attain, which will produce an effect that shall satisfy the heart, and produce an object that shall engage the attention, and stimulate to a reproduction of it, until it is thoroughly known, not only in its natural properties, but in the law of its being, which was the child's own method of producing the thing.

The genesis of the understanding, then, is, first, sensuous impression, which, reproducing itself intentionally, becomes, secondly, perception; and, thirdly, an adapting of means to ends, and thereby rising into judgment and knowledge. To get understanding precedes getting knowledge, which is the special work of the understanding when it is developed.

There is another faculty of the individual, besides understanding, and which is to be discriminated from it—fancy. Vivid and clear sensuous impressions are the foundation of fancy, as well as of understanding. But the will, acting among these impressions in a wild and sovereign way, is fancy; while the will arranging impressions according to the order of nature, is understanding. Frœbel has provided for[209] the development of the understanding the occupations, as he calls the regular production of forms, transient and permanent. Nothing can be produced which satisfies the æsthetic sense, except by following the laws of creation. To analyze these productions will give experimental understanding of those laws. In superintending the occupations, the kindergartner must, therefore, see that the child does things in the right order, and gives an account of what he does in the right words; for words, the first works of human art, have a great deal to do with the development of the understanding, lifting man into a sphere above that of the mere animal. After a thing is made, or an effect produced and named, it must be made a subject for analysis; and it can easily be made so, because children's attention is easily conciliated to what they themselves have done or produced. Putting their own action into a thing, makes it interesting to them; and they can make an exhaustive analysis of it, because, in addition to its appearances, they know the law of its being, which was their own method, and the cause of its being, which was their own motive. From analyzing their own works, children can, in due time, be led to analyze works of nature. And here the kindergartner has great room for the exercise of judgment, in the selection of suitable objects.

Frœbel advised that objects for lessons should be taken from the vegetable creation; and that children should be interested in planting seeds and watching growth, becoming acquainted with its general conditions, observing which are within the scope of their own powers to provide, and which are beyond human power; thus leading the understanding through nature, outward and inward, to God.

If we see that the work done is artistic, and that the objects of nature analyzed are beautiful, this culture of the understanding may refine and elevate the taste, and beautify the fancy.

For the fancy is to be carefully cherished by the kindergartner.[210] It is not amenable to direct influence perhaps, but not beyond an indirect influence. The soundness of the understanding is conducive to a beautiful play of fancy, which is a peculiarly human faculty; for we have not a particle of evidence that any animal below man has this kind of thinking, which delights in transcending the facts of nature in its creations, and sometimes sets the laws of nature at defiance. But we must defer to another paper the many things we have to say in regard to the imagination and its culture.


We have given a few hints by way of answering the questions on psychology, which must come up, to be considered by a kindergartner who is intent on understanding the "harp of a thousand strings," from which it is her duty to bring out the music.

We have found that the human being comes into the world with an æsthetic nature, which is to be vivified by the presentation of the beauties of nature and art, in such a way as to insure reaction of the will in creations of fancy; for only so can sensibility to beauty be prevented from degenerating into sensuality. If the fancy remains wholly subjective, it loses its childish health and leads astray. It should have objective embodiment in song, dance, and artistic manipulation of some sort. Now, artistic manipulation of any kind necessitates the examination of natural elements and the discovery of the laws of production, which are, of course, identical with the organic laws of nature that bear witness to an intelligent Creator.

To excite the human understanding to appreciate names, and classify things for use and giving pleasure, it is necessary to present things to children gradually, first singly, and[211] then in simple rhythmical combinations, so that they may have time to find themselves personally, and not be overwhelmed with a multitude of impressions. A real lover of children will quickly find out that they like to take time "playing with things," as they call it; and that there is a special pleasure in discovering differences in things; that a new distinct perception of any relation of things delights the child, as the discovery of a principle delights the adult mind. The fanciful plays of the kindergarten, whether sedentary or moving, cultivate the imagination, the understanding, and the physical powers in harmony, and more than this, they cultivate the heart and conscience, because the moving plays have for their indispensable condition numbers of their equals, and everything they make is intended for others. The presentation of persons, as having the same needs and desires of enjoyment as themselves, proves sufficient to call into consciousness the heart and conscience, just as immediately and inevitably as the presentation of nature and art calls into activity the understanding and imagination.

Because nature and human kind are so vast that, as a whole they daunt the young mind, even to the point of checking its growth, it is necessary that some one, who has had time to analyze it in some degree, should call attention to points; and it is the consummate art of education to know what points to touch, so that the mind shall make out the octave; for, unless it does so, it will not act to purpose. As exercise of the limbs is necessary to physical development, and the act of perceiving, understanding, and fancying, with actual manipulation of nature, is necessary to intellectual development; so is kindness and justice acted out, to the development of the social and moral nature or conscience.

But there is something else in man than relations to external nature and fellow-man. This self-determining being, who moves, perceives, understands, fancies, loves, and feels moral responsibility to the race in which he finds himself a[212] living member, is only consciously happy when he is magnanimous, which he can only be, if he feels himself a free power in the bosom of infinite love; in short, a son of the Father of all men! "We are the offspring of God" is the inspiration alike of heathen poet and Christian apostle.

As the psychological condition of the human love which is man's social happiness, is that sense of individual want and imperfection which stimulates the will to seek the mother and brother; so the psychological condition of the piety which makes man's beatitude, is the sense of social imperfection, in respect both to moral purity and happiness, stimulating the will to seek a Father of all spirits. The more we love, the more we feel the need of God. But is God nothing but "an infinite sigh at the bottom of the heart," as Feuerbach, the holiest of infidels, sadly says? or, as in thinking, we discover the entity we name I; so in loving, do we not discover God, or rather does not God reveal Himself to us, as Essential Substance? Wordsworth declares that

"Serene will be our days and bright,
And happy will our nature be,
When love is an unerring light,
And joy its own security;
And blest are they, who in the main,
This faith even now do entertain,
Live in the spirit of this creed,
Yet find another strength according to their need."

"That other strength" is to be found, as he had already sung in that same great song, in Duty—"daughter of the voice of God,"

"Victory and Law
When empty terrors overawe;
From vain temptations doth set free,
And calms the weary strife of frail humanity!"

Conscience, then, is the soul's witness, first of the relation of the individual to the human race; and ultimately, of the[213] relation of the human race to God; and it must be inspired with knowledge of the sonship of the human race to the Universal Father, or human life is bottomless despair. But with that knowledge which God must give (since man cannot reach it with his own understanding) he shall be able, even on the cross, to love the most ignorant brother infinitely; and infinitely to trust that the Father of all will justify his spirit in acting accordingly.[214]


Note A, to Lecture I.

In 1872 the first training school for kindergartners was founded in England by the Manchester Kindergarten Assoc.

To the prospectus is subjoined the following statement:—

The aim of the kindergarten system of training, intended for young children up to the age of seven, when school-teaching proper should begin, is to prepare for all subsequent education. A short examination of the system will show that it is in idea far superior to any other method of early training, while experience proves that its pupils acquit themselves well even under plans most dissimilar. The theory of the kindergarten is that every exertion of the faculties, whether of body or mind, will be healthful and pleasurable, so long as such exertion takes place without compulsion, without appeal to selfish motives, with no more than necessary restraint. The experience of parents and teachers may be appealed to as proving that children enjoy their employments most, and learn best, when associated in numbers.

The kindergarten, therefore, gathers children together in numbers, which vary with class and other circumstances, and proceeds to exercise, on a plan most carefully reasoned out, all limbs and muscles of the body by marching, gymnastics, and regulated games; to practise all the senses, and tastes that depend directly upon the senses, by drawing, singing, modelling in clay, and many most beautiful "occupations," which in addition arouse invention—one of the highest human faculties. The intellectual powers, being in a rudimentary condition, are less directly called into action;[215] but the faculties of number and form, along with skill of hand, are so developed that the learning of "the three R's" becomes incredibly easy. Above all, good feeling is exercised and evil feeling checked, by happy social life, in which the tender plants of the kindergarten see that each one's happiness depends upon all, and that of all on each.

Sedulous attention is paid to the effect of each employment upon children of different temperaments. Sanitary conditions are most carefully observed, and unflagging interest is secured by frequent changes of occupation.

Wherever the kindergarten has been fairly tried, its results have been lively enjoyment by the little pupils of their "school" hours, and readiness to receive not as drudgery, but with delight, all opportunities of acquiring knowledge. This readiness, it is believed, would less often change into a hatred of lessons, if the subsequent school-teaching did not too commonly despise those indications of natural taste and fitness which Frœbel, in his system, has carefully interpreted and obeyed. The kindergartens for the poor, already established at Queen Street, Salford, and in the Workpeople's Hall, Pendleton,—where visitors are at all times most heartily welcomed,—will convince any one that this system is able to give a truly humanizing and religious training to children of the least favored class, gathered in large numbers even out of very neglected homes. By inspecting these schools also, intelligent persons will form an idea of the ingenuity and beauty of the processes by which this natural and simple training is effected. Thus too will be understood, that the kindergarten system, which in relation to its pupils is the simplest and easiest possible because it travels along, not athwart, their natural tastes, is, as respects its professors, very far removed indeed from every-day facility and rule of thumb. It demands in those who aspire to teach, a sincere love of children and an earnest devotion to duties which bring much pleasure when well performed,[216] and it demands besides that they be willing to give up sufficient time and labor to become thoroughly instructed in the principles, and sufficiently practised in the use, of a machinery which, while beautifully simple in idea, is complicated in detail. A great and increasing demand for teachers thoroughly trained in this system exists, as well for families as for kindergarten schools proper, and for infant schools commonly so called. To supply this demand is the purpose of the training school.

Note B, to Page 81.

Letter from Michelet to the Baroness Marenholtz von Bülow.

March 27, 1859.

By a stroke of genius Frœbel has found what the wise men of all times have sought in vain,—the solution of the problem of human education. And again: Your first explanation made it clear to me that Frœbel has laid the necessary basis for a new education for the present and future. Frœbel looks at human beings in a new light, and finds the means to develop them according to natural laws, as heretofore has never been done. I am your most faithful advocate, and speak constantly with friends and acquaintances about this great work that you have undertaken. Several journalists and writers will mention it in their papers. Dispose of all my power to aid you. The ambassador of Hayti, Monsieur Ardoin, minister of instruction, is ready to return to Port au Prince, and wishes to make your acquaintance. He will come to see you to-morrow. For the inhabitants of that island, in process of reorganization, Frœbel's method may do a great deal. I have asked several persons to aid in this work. Niffner and Dolfus are writing, at present, a great work on education, and will be happy to give a place to your cause. I send you a letter for Isodore Cohen; you must see him. You, personally, can do more[217] than all speeches, recommendations, and writings together. I shall come to you shortly to hear more about Frœbel. I would like to have a comparison drawn between him and Pestalozzi. Your written communications interest me highly. Let me have some German works about Frœbel. I read German and know how to guess at incomprehensible things. I would like to know about the continuation of his method for more advanced years, especially for girls, and await impatiently the appearance of your manual. The more I investigate the heads of children of different ages, the more important Frœbel's method appears to me, as it begins in early childhood, when the most important changes in the brain take place. All my sympathies are with your work.

Letter from the Abbe Miraud, author of voluminous works, one of them being "La Democratic et la Catholicisme."

July, 1858.

We have to fulfil a great mission in common. I shall be most happy to procure for Frœbel's theory, which I accept fully, a hearing. To appreciate this theory in all its grandeur, richness, and utility, the shade of pantheism it seems to contain is no hindrance to me; it seems inseparable from the German mind. I accept the obligation to work for the ideas of Frœbel according to my ability, of course within the limits of orthodox Catholicism, to which I am devoted from faith and reason. You must certainly go with me to Rome, that we may work together there. If you resolve to do so, I will meet you at Orleans. You would find in Rome a good opportunity for propaganda. My friends there would aid us, but without your presence nothing can be done. Italy needs a regeneration by education. Let us work where the most rapid diffusion is certain.[218]

Mons. A. Guyard, a Parisian author writes:

June 14, 1857.

The more I hear you about Frœbel's method, the more my interest increases, and the deeper my conviction becomes that by this means a basis is laid for a new education for the salvation of humanity. Accept my warmest and most sincere wishes for the propagation of Frœbel's method. He is great, perhaps the greatest philosopher of our time, and has found in you what all philosophers need, that is, a woman who understands him, who clothes him with flesh and blood, and makes him alive. I think, I believe, indeed, that an idea in order to bear fruit, must have a father and a mother. Hitherto, all ideas have had only fathers. As Frœbel's ideas are so likely to find mothers, they will have an immense success. When the ideas of the future have become alive in devoted women, the face of the world will be changed.

Lamarche of Paris, philanthropist and writer on social and religious subjects, after listening to the lectures upon Frœbel given by Madam Marenholtz in Paris, wrote on:

Paris, March 4, 1856.

Your last lecture has unmistakably shown that Frœbel's method, in a religious point of view, surpasses everything that has hitherto been done in education. And this is the main point from which a method of education is to be judged for its aim is to awaken love to God and man—the foundation upon which Christianity rests. Education has hitherto done little to awaken this love of man in the young soul, from which all piety flows. This is the reason we find so much skepticism and indifference in human society, and which is the source of most of the existing misery, and of the want of order and lawfulness. These sad results are the condemnations of those methods of education that suppress the human faculties, or force them into wrong channels,[219] or arbitrarily superimpose something instead of aiding free development. It is the sad mistake of our moralists who, without faith in a Heavenly Father, do not understand human nature, and replace revealed religion with human tenets.... Frœbel has found the missing truth, in first awakening the child's senses and capacities by the simplest means, and making him feel in nature the loving Creator, before he taxes his intellect with religious dogmas, which are beyond the intellect of childhood, and only confuse it. To lead it through the love of God, the Heavenly Father of us all, to the love of the neighbor, by acting and doing, is the natural and simple way which Frœbel has pointed out, and we shall owe it to him, if before our children are four or five years old, before they can read books, they learn the great law of humanity, Love to God and the neighbor.

Again: Frœbel's discovery, or invention, furnishes the means to follow the natural order of all development for human beings, by which alone they will come to the knowledge of, and at last to union with, their Heavenly Father. This is the way which Christianity prescribed eighteen hundred years ago, but into which education has not understood how to lead us, because it has put statutes instead of actual experience, and has not let the study of nature, as the work of God, precede statutes. Frœbel leads education again into the path intended by God, which, in the course of universal development, will lead to the happiness of the individual, as well as of the whole of society. In the human being itself are the rich mines, the development of which our false modes of education have hitherto made impossible. May mothers have faith in God, the Heavenly Father of their children, and that he has given them the capacity for good, which will crush the head of the serpent, and bring the kingdom of God upon earth.[220]

Note C, to Page 84.

In the second part of my Guide to Kindergarten and Moral Training of Infancy, published by E. Steiger, 25 Park Place, New York, is an account of how I actually first began to teach to read on this method, that may be of practical aid to one teaching After Kindergarten—what? The first kindergartner who tried the method, in the course of the first half-hour led her children to write on their slates (in imitation of what she wrote on the blackboard, letter by letter, giving the power, not the name, of each as she wrote) words enough to involve the whole alphabet; namely, cars, go, bells, sing, dizzy, old, hen, fixes, vest, jelly, jars, puss, kitty. The words were in a column, and after they were written, the children recognized each word, pronouncing it right when she pointed to it on the blackboard. But she was surprised the next day to find they remembered every one, and they had so clear an idea of the correspondence of the letters and sounds, that, long before they had finished writing at her dictation the words of the first vocabulary, they read at sight any word of it, no matter how many syllables it had. In fact, at the end of the first week she wrote and asked me for the groups of exceptions, and, beginning with the smallest group, which is most exceptional, in a few weeks they could all read.

But I would not advise this rapid acquisition of the whole language in so short a time. It is better to pause on the meaning of the words,—not asking them to define them by other words, but asking them to make sentences in which they put the word, which will show whether or not they understand its meaning. A great deal more than mere pronunciation may be taught children while learning to read.[221]

Note D, to Page 102.

History of Printing, an unfinished manuscript of which he found in the Antiquarian Library of Worcester.

Note E, to Page 110.

The story, as I paraphrased it, was this. The drop of water speaks, "Once I lived with hundreds, and hundreds, and hundreds of brothers and sisters, in the great ocean. There we all took hold of hands, and played with each other; and the winds played with us, and took us up on their backs, making us into little waves and great waves. But sometimes, when the winds were not there, we would spread ourselves out smooth like a looking-glass, and look up into the sky; and the moon and the stars would look down upon us, and the ocean would look just like the sky.

"And we wanted to go up into the sky; and so, when the sun sent down his sunbeams, and the moon sent down her moonbeams, and the stars sent down their starbeams, some of us would jump up on their backs, and ride up into the sky. But soon they would be tired of us, and shake us off; and down we fell, and then we would catch hold of hands, and make ourselves into clouds; and when the clouds got to be so heavy that the air could not hold them up, we would let go of hands, and fall down in drops of rain. But sometimes the clouds would stay up, and sail round; and one day the cloud that I was in, bumped up against a mountain, and we all fell out, down into the little holes of the mountain, and I soon found I was alone in the dark; but I saw a light a little ways off, and so I ran along and came to the light, which was outside the mountain. And as I stood there, I saw a great many of my sisters and brothers standing at just such holes as I was looking out of; and when we saw each other, we burst out laughing, and ran to each other, and took hold of hands, and made a little brook that ran[222] down the sides of the mountain into a meadow full of flowers; and we ran about the meadow, watering the roots of all the flowers to make them grow, for we wanted to do as much good as we could; and then we thought we would run on, and see if we could not find our old home in the ocean, where we left hundreds of brothers and sisters; but as I got rather tired, I thought I would stop and rest awhile on this flower-leaf. But now I am rested. So good by; I will jump off, and run home as fast as I can with the rest."

This story I had to tell over and over again at the time, which I did in the same words; and now, when I again repeated it in the same words, he liked to hear it over and over again, looking at the picture in the book while I told it.

Note F, to Page 167.

I here insert the version of the Lord's Prayer and the Song of the Weather, which have been found so effective in the religious nurture, and which, if used in the simple, unsanctimonious manner I have so earnestly suggested, will preclude the necessity of talking to the children in prose. These songs explain themselves to the child's heart and imagination.

Our Father, who in Heaven art,
Thy name we dearly love;
We'd do thy will with all our heart,
As done in heaven above.
Give us this day our daily bread,
Forgive the wrong we do,
And we'll not mind when treated ill,
That we may be like you.
Help us avoid temptation's snare;
Deliver us from evil ways;
For thine's the kingdom and the power,
All glory and all praise.


This is the way the snow comes down,
Softly, softly falling.
God, he giveth his snow like wool,
Fair, and white, and beautiful.
This is the way the snow comes down,
Softly, softly falling.


Wonderful, Lord, are all thy works,
Wheresoever falling;
All their various voices raise,
Speaking forth their Maker's praise.
Wonderful, Lord, are all thy works,
Wheresoever falling.

This is the way the rain comes down,
Swiftly, swiftly falling;
So he sendeth his welcome rain.
On the field, and hill, and plain,
This is the way the rain comes down,
Swiftly, swiftly falling.

(Repeat the chorus.)

This is the way the frost comes down,
Widely, widely falling;
So it spreadeth all through the night,
Shining, cold, and pure, and bright,
This is the way the frost comes down,
Widely, widely falling.


This is the way the hail comes down,
Loudly, loudly falling;
So it flieth beneath the cloud,
Swift, and strong, and wild, and loud,
This is the way the hail comes down,
Loudly, loudly falling.


This is the way the cloud comes down,
Darkly, darkly falling;
So it covers the shining blue,
Till no ray can glisten through,
This is the way the cloud comes down,
Darkly, darkly falling.


This is the way sunshine comes down,
Sweetly, sweetly falling;
So it chaseth the cloud away,
So it waketh the lovely day,
This is the way sunshine comes down,
Sweetly, sweetly falling.


This is the way rainbow comes round,
Brightly, brightly falling;
So it smileth across the sky,
Making fair the heavens on high,
This is the way rainbow comes down,
Brightly, brightly falling.


Wonderful, Lord, are all thy works,
Wheresoever falling;
All their various voices raise,
Speaking forth their Maker's praise.
Wonderful, Lord, are all thy works,
Wheresoever falling.

(The appropriate gesture is spreading the arms, and, when it is the rain or the hail, the children enjoy making the patter on the table,—gently for the rain, and louder for the hail.)

Butler & Tanner, The Selwood Printing Works, Frome, and London.


Manchester Kindergarten Association
Beg to Announce that the
Meet in the Afternoon at
Thorney Abbey, Alexandra Park, Manchester,
For Theoretical instruction in the following subjects:—

DrawingJ. CLEGG, Esq.
Theory and Application of the Kindergarten SystemMISS SNELL.
Physiology and Laws of HealthMISS CLEGHORN.
Science of EducationW. H. HERFORD, Esq., B.A.
Natural History and PhysiographyF. J. WEBB, Esq.
Elements of GeometryMISS SNELL.

Practical Instruction is afforded at the Model Kindergarten in the Forenoon.

The Whole Course (per Term of Ten Weeks)5 Guineas.
Separate Classes (per term of Ten Hours)   Guineas.

Students are expected to take the whole Course of Two Years; when withdrawal before the end of the course is necessary a Term's notice is required.


Satisfactory References Required.


Froebel Society,


Oscar Browning, Esq., M.A.
Rev. Canon Daniel, M.A.
J. G. Fitch, Esq., H.M. Inspector of Training Colleges.
Prof. G. Carey Foster, B.A.
Dr. J. H. Gladstone, F.R.S.
Lady Goldsmid.
Mrs. W. Grey.
Fräulein Heerwart.
Prof. Meiklejohn, M.A.
Rev. R. H. Quick, M.A.
A. Sonnenschein, Esq.

Miss M. E. Bailey.
Miss Baker.
Miss Belcher.
Rev. A. Bourne.
Hon. Mrs. Buxton.
E. Cooke, Esq.
Miss S. Crombie.
Mrs. Fielden.
Miss Franks.
Mrs. Green.
Mrs. Law.
Miss E. Lord.
Miss Lyschinska.
Miss E. A. Manning.
Mme. Michaelis.
H. K. Moore, Esq., B.Mus., B.A.
J. S. Phillpotts, Esq.
Miss Kate Phillips.
Mrs. Romanes.
Rev. T. W. Sharpe, H.M.I.S.
Miss Sim.
F. Storr, Esq., B.A.
Miss Kate Thornbury.
Miss Ward.

Hon. Treasurer:
A. R. Price, Esq.

Hon. Secretary:
C. G. Montefiore, Esq.

Miss Bayley.


The Froebel Society
Was formed in 1874 for the purpose of promoting co-operation among those engaged in Kindergarten work, of spreading the knowledge and practice of the system, and of maintaining a high standard of efficiency among Kindergarten Teachers.

Will be held in London in the month of July, for the Higher and (this year only) for the Elementary Certificate. In December next there will be an Examination for the Elementary Certificate only.

Under certain conditions the Council are prepared to hold the Examinations at local centres.

A Registry for Kindergarten Teachers
Has been opened at the Office of the Society. A small fee is charged to those who apply.

Arrangements have been made by the Council for the INSPECTION AND REGISTRATION OF KINDERGARTENS upon certain conditions.

The Calendar of the Froebel Society, price 1/-,
Contains the Syllabus for the Examinations, and the Examination Papers of 1886.

Further information can be obtained from the Secretary, at the Office of the Society,

17, Buckingham Street, Strand.

The Office is open daily from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., except on Thursdays.


[1] An American translation has been published by Lee & Shepard, Boston.

[2] Since this lecture was written and delivered in Boston, I have received from Europe a French version of the Baroness Crombrugghe's translation of Frœbel's Education of Man, and find that the first chapters analyze the first and second stages of development so much, in the way that I have done, that it gives me, on the one hand, confidence in myself as a true interpreter of Frœbel, and on the other, new confidence in Frœbel as a scientific observer and recorder of what I have been accused of founding on a merely sentimental knowledge. But scientific knowledge, or that gained by the exercise of the understanding, and sentimental knowledge, or what is gained by the intuitions of the heart, must necessarily correspond if the understanding is sound and the heart has been kept diligently to the issues of life. Mr. Emerson calls the intellect sensibility, and there is a fine meaning in this. Is there not analogous instruction in calling the heart apprehension? What are love, justice, beauty, &c., but apprehensions of the primal relations established by God? Can the understanding have sensibility to them, unless apprehension of them exists from the beginning?

In the June, July and August numbers of the Kindergarten Messenger, for 1874, will be found translations of the first chapters of Frœbel's book, above mentioned. I began in February to print the translation of the introduction, which will be finished in the May number, and then will follow the first chapter, entitled "The Nursling," and in the following numbers the subsequent chapters, on the child's development during the Kindergarten era. This work of Frœbel's was published at an earlier period of his career than 1840, when he began to devote himself almost entirely to the first stage of education, which, as he grew older, he felt to be the most important, because it enfolds the germs of all later developments.

[3] It is sold for ten cents by Hammett, publisher, in Brattle street, Boston.

[4] See Hazard's Man a Creative First Cause. A book published since this lecture was first given.

[5] "Order reigns in Warsaw" was the form of words in which the subjugation of the Poles to Russians in 1849 was announced in France.

[6] See Frederic Denison Maurice's book on the Lord's Prayer, published by Hurd & Houghton.

[7] See Appendix, note A.

[8] For details of manipulating the gifts and occupations, see The Florence Handbook, published by Milton Bradley; or Mrs. Kraus-Bœlte's Manual in Eight Parts, which is being published by Steiger.

[9] Idea is a word I always use in the sense of insight, as Plato uses it, rather than in the sense of notion, as Locke uses it.

[10] See note A in Appendix, and the Record of a School.

[11] See George Macdonald's Vicar's Daughter.

[12] This unique book was the text-book Frœbel used in his training-school. Its profound meaning, and how it points to the divine philosophy of the instinctive play, that is the first phenomenon of human life with mother and child, some of you have heard Miss Blow and Miss Fisher luminously explain in a course of lectures much longer than mine, and which I hope they may be persuaded to publish in book form.

[13] In the first of these last two books, Mr. Hazard has made an examination of Edwards on the Will, and the only satisfactory reply to his argument for Necessity ever made. Very early in life, the task of answering Edwards was given him, by the late William E. Channing, D.D., who read his first edition of Language, and was so much struck with the metaphysical genius displayed in it, that he sought out the anonymous author on purpose to make this suggestion. He found him a clerk in his father's great manufactory, to whose business he afterwards succeeded, and he was engaged in it until he was an old man. All his books are a proof that business may be as good a disciplinarian of the higher intellect as scholastic education, to say the least.

Transcriber's Notes

In the introduction and last two pages which use an ornamental font in the original, Frœbel is presented without the oe-ligature. This was retained.

Book uses both "Mütterspiele und Köse-Lieder" and "Die Mutter Spiele und Kose Lieder" for Frœbel's work: "Mutter- und Kose-Lieder." Also referenced as "Mother Love and Cossetting Songs."

Mrs. Kraus-Boelte is spelled without an oe-ligature except in a single footnote where a ligature was used.

Obvious punctuation errors repaired.

Page 223-224, the word "Chorus" sometimes appeared in parentheses and sometimes did not. This was retained.

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Kindergarten, and The Primary School, by Elizabeth P. Peabody


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