When school-room education is finished what we may look for is that girls should be ready and inclined to take up some further study of history, by private reading or following lectures with intelligence, and that they should be able to express themselves clearly in writing, either in the form of notes, papers, or essays, so as to give an account of their work and their opinions to those who may direct these later studies. We may hope that what they have learned of European history will enable them to travel with understanding and appreciation, that places with a history will mean something to them, and that the great impression of a living past may set a deep mark upon them with its discipline of proportion that makes them personally so small and yet so great, small in proportion to all that has been, great in their inheritance from the whole past and in expectation of all that is yet to be.
“Give honour unto Luke Evangelist:
For he it was (the aged legends say)
Who first taught Art to fold her hands and pray.
Scarcely at once she dared to rend the mist
Of devious symbols: but soon having wist
How sky-breadth and field-silence and this day
Are symbols also in some deeper way,
She looked through these to God, and was God’s priest.
“And if, past noon, her toil began to irk,
And she sought talismans, and turned in vain
To soulless self-reflections of man’s skill,
Yet now, in this the twilight, she might still
Kneel in the latter grass to pray again,
Ere the night cometh and she may not work.”
DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI.
When we consider how much of the direction of life depends upon the quality of our taste, upon right discernment in what we like and dislike, it is evident that few things can be more important in education than to direct this directing force, and both to learn and teach the taste for what is best as far as possible in all things. For in the matter of taste nothing is unimportant. Taste influences us in every department of life, as our tastes are, so are we. The whole quality of our inner and outer life takes its tone from the things in which we find pleasure, from our standard of taste. If we are severe in our requirements, hard to please, and at least honest with ourselves, it will mean that a spur of continual dissatisfaction pricks us, in all we do, into habitual striving for an excellence which remains beyond our reach. But on the other hand we shall have to guard against that peevish fastidiousness which narrows itself down until it can see nothing but defects and faults, and loses the power of humbly and genuinely admiring. This passive dissatisfaction which attempts nothing of its own, and only finds fault with what is done by others, grows very fast if it is allowed to take hold, and produces a mental habit of merely destructive criticism or perpetual scolding. Safe in attempting nothing itself, unassailable and self-righteous as a Pharisee, this spirit can only pull down but not build up again. In children it is often the outcome of a little jealousy and want of personal courage; they can be helped to overcome it, but if it is allowed to grow up, dissatisfaction allied to pusillanimity are very difficult to correct.