The Parents' Review
A Monthly Magazine of Home-Training and Culture
"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."
by A Mother of England's Children
(Note--this was most likely written on the ocassion of Prince Albert Victor, known in the family as Eddy, elder son of the Prince of Wales, and eventual heir to the throne, who had died on 14 January 1892 of influenza and pneumonia days after his 28th birthday and weeks before his wedding. Prince Eddy's sudden and unexpected death shocked the whole country.)
Universal as has been the sorrow felt by the British people in consequence of the blow which has fallen on our Royal Family, that sorrow takes a special character in the case of us parents.
We feel that a son has died; we know (some of us by experience-all, surely, through imaginative sympathy) the anguish that ahs come to the father and mother who have seen their firstborn in the spring-hopefulness of life laid in his coffin, and this particular sympathy should help us in a special degree to do what I think we have an instinctive desire to do at such a time-namely, to enlist our children's hearts in a reasonable and loyal attachment to their Sovereign and her family as representatives of the nation.
Whatever our political opinions may be, an event like that which has just occurred proves the simple fact that Great Britain is a land of loyal hearts that beat responsive to the joys and sorrows of the Royal Family, who are (as has been well said lately) the "microcosm of the nation," for our family feelings, as a nation, are strong, and by the strength and purity of their own family feelings and relations are our Queen and her children most closely united to those of the people over whom they are placed.
How can we make the national sorrow which results from this strong bond of domestic sympathy a thing into which our children may enter enough to learn from it a lasting lesson of loyalty and patriotism?
We teach them from books the history of their land, but do we teach them that it is they who are making a part of that history-the part which is contained in the present?
Can we not help them to realize their own place in history, and their responsibility for it and for the future course it shall take? And may not sympathy with an event of historical sorrow and national significance, such as the untimely death of our young Prince, offer a special occasion for doing this?
I think it can do so, and perhaps may be allowed to bring before the sympathetic readers of the Parents' Review my own manner of trying to bring home to "the little ones" of our circle the pathos of, and lessons which seem suggested by, this mournful event.
An evening or two after the Prince's death (they had, of course, frequently heard it mentioned) I drew them round me--little Douglas, Nelly (just ten), and the two smaller ones, including "Baby," and told, as simply as I could, the beautiful story of the founding of Bolten Abbey. Nelly had already learnt Wordsworth's touching poem, "The Force of Prayer." I tried to paint a vivid "word-picture" of the widowed mother sitting at her embroidery, while the gallant "Boy of Egremont" sported with his dogs on the fresh-strewn floor-how fondly and proudly her eyes fell on him when they lifted from her work; then of his start for the day's hunting with his greyhound, "ranging high and low"; of the passing on of the hours of the day till sunset threw long shadows across the grass, and the Lady Alice began to wonder why her son returned not-wonder shading into anxiety and acknowledged dread; then of the slow, sad approach of the forester, and his ominous face as the words came forth like a passing bell, 'What is good for a bootless bone?' and the first anguish-loaded reply--'Endless sorrow.'
I showed them, as they looked up with little wondering faces--awe-stricken at the uncomprehended grief--that this was the first answer; let them understand a little that it was often the first answer of a sad heart; then drew their thoughts to the next words, so pregnant with blessing to others, and therefore with ultimate healing of even such grief: "Many a poor man shall be my heir"--words which appear in the old account of the story.
I showed how in those olden times to found an abbey, where the "poor man" was aided and ministered to by the monastic orders, was the recognized manner of "doing good in their generation"--useful in those days, while other ways are better suited to present ones.
Our children have lately been led to join a Band of Child-workers for the Waifs and Strays Society, and have added to their daily prayers the words "Please bless the Waifs and Strays, and show us what we may do for them."
I pointed to this as among the modern ways of making the "poor man" our heir. Then I linked the tale I had told them to the pathetic event of the Prince's death--to the deep sorrow of the Royal parents, and I asked them to pray that out of all this grief might come a great national blessing, and that from what must now seem to the bereaved father and mother an "endless sorrow," might grow that healing tree of life-increased sympathy with and power to bless the "poor man."
I said, "Will you ask God to comfort them, and show them how to do this?" and the earnest little faces tight hug of response showed how true and warm was the sympathy of the little hearts. My youngest--our "baby"--said to me at her prayer-time, "I hope God will comfort the Queen, and that the boy will come again." Although she blended the fact of the young Prince's death with that of "The Boy of Egremont," I did not think that that made less real this little prayerful aspiration for him whom we surely trust will "come again" in blissful immortality.
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