Page images
PDF
EPUB

It should therefore at least be the beginning, and the love of childhood should be awakened in the mind (and in a wider sense, this is the love of humanity), so that a new, free generation of men can grow up by right care.

EVOLUTION From «The Mottoes and Commentaries of Mother-Play) Copyright 1895, by

D. Appleton & Co. W HAT shall we learn from our yearning look into the heart V of the flower and the eye of the child? This truth:

Whatever develops, be it into flower or tree or man, is from the beginning implicitly that which it has the power to become. The possibility of perfect manhood is what you read in your child's eye, just as the perfect flower is prophesied in the bud, or the giant oak in the tiny acorn. A presentiment that the ideal or generic human being slumbers, dreams, stirs in your unconscious infant- this it is, O mother, which transfigures you as you gaze upon him. Strive to define to yourself what is that generic ideal which is wrapped up in your child. Surely, as your child — or in other words, as child of man — he is destined to live in the past and future as well as in the present. His earthly being implies a past heaven; his birth makes a present heaven; in his soul he holds a future heaven. This threefold heaven, which you also bear within you, shines out on you through your child's eyes.

The beast lives only in the present. Of past and future he knows naught. But to man belong not only the present, but also the future and the past. His thought pierces the heaven of the future, and hope is born. He learns that all human life is one life; that all human joys and sorrows are his joys and sorrows, and through participation enters the present heaven — the heaven of love. He turns his mind towards the past, and out of retrospection wrests a vigorous faith. What soul could fail to conquer an invincible trust in the pure, the good, the holy, the ideally human, the truly Divine, if it would look with single eye into its own past, into the past of history? Could there be a man in whose soul such a contemplation of the past would fail to blossom into devout insight, into self-conscious and self-comprehending faith ? Must not such a retrospect unveil the truth ? Must not

the beauty of the unveiled truth allure him to Divine doing, Divine living? All that is high and holy in human life meets in that faith which is born of the unveiling of a heaven that has always been; in that hope born of a vision of the heaven that shall be; in that love which creates a heaven in the eternal Now. These three heavens shine out upon you through your child's eye. The presentiment that he carries these three heavens within him transfigures your countenance as you gaze upon him. Cherish this premonition, for thereby you will help him to make his life a musical chord wherein are blended the three notes of faith, hope, and love. These celestial virtues will link his life with the Divine life through which all life is one — with the God who is the supernal fountain of life, light, and love. . . .

Higher and more important than the cultivation of man's outer ear, is the culture of that inner sense of harmony whereby the soul learns to perceive sweet accord in soundless things, and to discern within itself harmonies and discords. The importance of wakening the inner ear to this music of the soul can scarcely be exaggerated. Learning to hear it within, the child will strive to give it outer form and expression; and even if in such effort he is only partially successful, he will gain thereby the power to appreciate the more successful effort of others. Thus enriching his own life by the life of others, he solves the problem of development. How else were it possible within the quickly fleeting hours of mortal life to develop our being in all directions, to fathom its depths, scale its heights, measure its boundaries ? What we are, what we would be, we must learn to recognize in the mirror of all other lives. By the effort of each, and the recognition of all, the Divine man is revealed in humanity. ...

Against the bright light which shines on the smooth white wall is thrust a dark object, and straightway appears the form which so delights the child. This is the outward fact; what is the truth which through this fact is dimly hinted to the prophetic mind? Is it not the creative and transforming power of light, that power which brings form and color out of chaos, and makes the beauty which gladdens our hearts? Is it not more than this,

-a foreshadowing, perhaps, of the spiritual fact that our darkest experiences may project themselves in forms that will delight and bless, if in our hearts shines the light of God? The sternest crags, the most forbidding chasms, are beautiful in the mellow sunshine; while the fairest landscape loses all charm, and indeed ceases to be, when the light which created it is withdrawn. Is it not thus also with our lives? Yesterday, touched by the light of enthusiastic emotion, all our relationships seemed beautiful and blessed; to-day, when the glow of enthusiasm has faded, they oppress and repulse us. Only the conviction that it is the darkness within us which makes the darkness without, can restore the lost peace of our souls. Be it therefore, O mother, your sacred duty to make your darling early feel the working both of the outer and inner light. Let him see in one the symbol of the other, and tracing light and color to their source in the sun, may he learn to trace the beauty and meaning of his life to their source in God.

Translation of Susan E. Blow.

THE LAWS OF THE MIND
From «The Letters of Froebel)

I AM firmly convinced that all the phenomena of the child-world,

those which delight us as well as those which grieve us,

depend upon fixed laws as definite as those of the cosmos, the planetary system, and the operations of nature; and it is therefore possible to discover them and examine them. When once we know and have assimilated these laws, we shall be able powerfully to counteract any retrograde and faulty tendencies in the children, and to encourage, at the same time, all that is good and virtuous.

FOR THE CHILDREN
From «The Letters of Froebel)

I wish you could have been here this evening, and seen the many

beautiful and varied forms and lovely patterns which freely

and spontaneously developed themselves from some systematic variations of a simple ground form, in stick-playing. No one would believe, without seeing it, how the child soul, the child life, develops when treated as a whole, and in the sense of forming a part of the great connected life of the world, by some skilled kindergarten teacher — nay, even by one who is only simple-hearted, thoughtful, and attentive; nor how it blooms into

delicious harmonies like a beautifully tinted flower. Oh, if I could only shout aloud with ten thousand lung-power the truth that I now tell you in silence! Then would I make the ears of a hundred thousand men ring with it! What keenness of sensation, what a soul, what a mind, what force of will and active energy, what dexterity and skill of muscular movement and of perception, and what calm and patience, will not all these things call out in the children!

How is it that parents are so blind and deaf, when they profess to be so eager to work for the welfare, the health, and peace of their children? No! I cannot understand it; and yet a whole generation has passed since this system first delivered its message, first called for educational amendment, first pointed out where the need for it lay, and showed how it could be satisfied.

If I were not afraid of being taken for an idiot or an escaped lunatic, I would run barefoot from one end of Germany to the other and cry aloud to all men:- “Set to work at once for your children's sake on some universally developing plan, aiming at unity of life purpose, and through that at joy and peace.” But what good would it do? A Curtman and a Ramsauer, in their stupidity or maliciousness, make it their duty to stigmatize my work as sinful, when I am but quietly corresponding with just my own friends and sympathizers; for they say I am destroying all pleasure in life for the parents: “Who could be so silly as I, - amongst sane men who acknowledge that parents have a right to enjoy life,- I who perpetually call to these parents in tones of imperative demand, 'Come, let us live for our children!) » (Kommt, laszt uns unseren Kindern leben!)

MOTIVES
From “The Education of Man.) By permission of Josephine Jarvis,

the translator, and A. Lovell & Co., publishers

nly in the measure that we are thoroughly penetrated by

the pure, spiritual, inward, human relations, and are faith

ful to them even in the smallest detail in life, do we attain to the complete knowledge and perception of the Divine-human relation; only in that measure do we anticipate them so deeply, vividly, and truly, that every yearning of our whole being is thereby satisfied, - at least receives its whole meaning, and is changed from a constantly unfulfilled yearning to an immediately rewarded effort. . . .

How we degrade and lower the human nature which we should raise, how we weaken those whom we should strengthen, when we hold up to them an inducement to act virtuously, even though we place this inducement in another world! If we employ an outward incentive, though it be the most spiritual, to call forth better life, and leave undeveloped the inner, spontaneous, and independent power of representing pure humanity which rests in each man, we degrade our human nature.

But how wholly different every thing is, if man, especially in boyhood, is made to observe the reflex action of his conduct, not on his outward more or less agreeable position, but on his inner, spontaneous or fettered, clear or clouded, satisfied or dissatisfied condition of spirit and mind! The experiences which proceed from this observation will necessarily more and more awaken the inner sense of man: and then true sense, the greatest treasure of boy and man, comes into his life.

APHORISMS

SEE in every child the possibility of a perfect man. | The child-soul is an ever-bubbling fountain in the world of

humanity.

The plays of childhood are the heart-leaves of the whole future life.

Childish unconsciousness is rest in God.

From each object of nature and of life, there goes a path toward God.

Perfect human joy is also worship, for it is ordered by God.

The first groundwork of religious life is love — love to God and man— in the bosom of the family.

Childhood is the most important stage of the total development of man and of humanity.

Women must make of their educational calling a priestly office.

Isolation and exclusion destroy life; union and participation create life.

Without religious preparation in childhood, no true religion and no union with God is possible for men.

X—378

« PreviousContinue »