These primitive services which are at the foundation of all home life are in themselves the same in all places and times. There is in them something almost sacred; they are sane, wholesome, stable, amid the weary perpetual change of artificial additions which add much to the cares but little to the joys of life. There is a long distance between the labours of Benedictine monks and the domestic work possible for school girls, but the principles fundamental to both are the same—happiness in willing work, honour to manual labour, service of God in humble offices. The work of lay-sisters in some religious houses, where they understand the happiness of their lot, links the two extremes together across the centuries. The jubilant onset of their company in some laborious work is like an anthem rising to God, bearing witness to the happiness of labour where it is part of His service. They are the envy of the choir religious, and in the precincts of such religious houses children unconsciously learn the dignity of manual labour, and feel themselves honoured by having any share in it. Such labour can be had for love, but not for money.
One word must be added before leaving the subject of the realities of life. Worn time to time a rather emphatic school lifts up its voice in the name of plain speaking and asks for something beyond reality—for realism, for anticipated instruction on the duties and especially on the dangers of grown-up life. It will be sufficient to suggest three points for consideration in this matter: (1) That these demands are not made by fathers and mothers, but appear to come from those whose interest in children is indirect and not immediately or personally responsible. This may be supposed from the fact that they find fault with what is omitted, but do not give their personal experience of how the want may be supplied. (2) Those priests who have made a special study of children do not seem to favour the view, or to urge that any change should be made in the direction of plain speaking. (3) The answer given by a great educational authority, Miss Dorothea Beale, the late Principal of Cheltenham College, may appeal to those who are struck by the theory if they do not advocate it in practice. When this difficulty was laid before her she was not in favour of departing from the usual course, or insisting on the knowledge of grown-up life before its time, and she pointed out that in case of accidents or surgical operations it was not the doctors nor the nurses actively engaged who turned faint and sick, but those who had nothing to do, and in the same way she thought that such instruction, cut off from the duties and needs of the present, was not likely to be of any real benefit, but rather to be harmful. Considering how wide was her experience of educational work this opinion carries great weight.
LESSONS AND PLAY.
“What think we of thy soul?