Slike stranica

for this purpose, the results are somewhat irregular and uncertain. Regularly appointed committees from the various organizations before which this question is discussed would insure a plan and unwasted effort. These committees could at times meet as a whole; and the many sources of enlightenment open to so many individuals would naturally at last center in a definite, intelligent conception of the true proportion of art in education and the right material to be employed.

The matter of general sanitation can also be greatly facilitated by intelligent discussion on the part of the parties most interested. The practical value of organization in respect to the mutual relation of parent and teacher needs no illustration. Under existing conditions it is not possible for the ordinary parent to assert his wishes in regard to the education of his child, however subordinate they may be, much less to attempt carrying any of his own plans for that child to a successful conclusion, without exciting in school authorities the sense of interference, and, in a word, meeting with insurmountable opposi tion. But organization brings respect. The committee of a representative body which naturally acts with dignity and power commands the consideration and attention of the authorities, so that what the individual fails to accomplish the organization does, not only in a larger sphere, but without friction. And in this way:

By the appointment in each society of an advisory committee composed of one representative member from each standing committee, and the President ex officio. With this committee all criticisms, complaints, and suggestions are lodged, and, after thorough sifting, submitted to the Principal of the school and to the Chairman of the local committee for action. The advisory committee is thus the safety-valve of the plan It has been found to be very successful in coping with the hasty criticisms and ill-conceived suggestions that are sure to arise, and, by reference to it, the old objection of danger to the discipline of the school from the ill-advised interference of parents is easily met.

It is also objected that this development of knowledge in the parent means additional work for the teacher. Decidedly it does in one direction. Principals, heads of departments, and teachers will find that, when thought is once awakened, the ipse dixit answer will not suffice. But by the new and

progressive teachers, and by the best of the older ones (who have been and are now our leaders), this additional work will be counted an additional help if the results be satisfactory. For, after all, the measure of an effort is not the time and labor put into it, but the result attained.

Another objection to the practical value of these societies is that there can be no real co-operation between parents and teach-rs on account of the disparity in the content of their knowledge and experience. As one mother expressed herself, "The mother feels restricted by the presence of the teachers, because they know so much more.' The mothers will soon learn that it is not a matter of mere knowledge, but of mutual understanding of different experiences. Two-thirds of the burdens we are called upon to bear in our every-day life come through misunderstanding, and this truth is not inapplicable to education. The teacher who looks into the home conditions of the boy or girl under his discipline finds the solution of many a difficulty; and the mother, wearied and confused by the drudgery of daily life, may see the child in his relations more clearly through the calmer judgment of a wise and conscientious teacher.

But beyond this lies a more important result. The parent, by being brought into the school atmosphere and life, is made to give something of himself toward the education of his child. His contribution of thought (prepared or impromptu) upon a topic within his knowledge, and from which others receive help, becomes a power for self-development. No one comes into the abundance of life until he gives himself. Moreover, there is no one so poor nor so ignorant that his experience in living is not a gift worth giving to others. This is not a theory. The little talk of the poor Italian mother, who gets at the heart of life when she tells in broken English her experience in trying to make her child presentable for the school, is full of suggestion and help for all who listen.

This recalls another criticism of parents' rocieties in connection with the public school, that "it is possible only for cultured and intelligent people to get any good out of such an organization." It is only necessary to answer to this, that power, intelligence, and even culture are emphatically not the exclusive possession of a class. Furthermore, this contribution of thought from the parent is of yet vaster significance in its bearing on the

future of the child. To thinking people the` tremendous problem of the age is the relation of the individual to the State. We call ourselves a free people, without stopping to consider that we are the willing slaves of governmental control and of interminable legislation which reaches out in every direction until the State almost thinks for us. The pernicious effect of fostering in the individual a childish dependence upon the State is a matter of history. It is a serious question if free schools and free books are not in a large degre responsible for this condition of mind, which will surely pave the way for manifold political ills. The future citizen must in some way be made to realize that he owes the State for whatever he receives from the State, and that he must pay for it. This payment need not necessarily be money; it may be time, thought, work. Toward accomplishing this end there can be no more powerful influence in connection with free schools than the education in the parent of a sense of obligation for his child's education. He should learn that there is more required of him than to put the child into the hands of a teacher and leave him; that he must observe, study, discuss, and give of his own best thought.

The preliminary steps of organization are these: Let a few earnest teachers and parents meet and appoint a committee on organization, which shall outline a constitution and by-laws. Let this committee obtain the consent of the Principal of the school and of the Chairman of the local committee to hold a meeting some afternoon or evening in the school building. Notices of this meeting should be sent out to the parents and teachers connected with the school. It is well to have some one present who can clearly state the object of the meeting. Elect a temporary chairman and secretary and proceed to adopt a constitution and by-laws, inviting very free discussion of each article.

The fol owing is a form of constitution which has been adopted by most of the Brooklyn societies:


The advancement of the mutual interest of home and school.

ARTICLE III. Officers. President, Vice-President, Secretary, and Treas


ARTICLE IV. Duties of Officers. Such as usually belong to these offices.

[blocks in formation]

By-laws can be adopted to suit the particular needs of each society.

Each member should join one of the standing committees. The monthly meetings should be held under the auspices of the different standing committees in turn. At these meetings some one of the members should be prepared with a paper or talk, and the other members prepared to discuss the subject. In this way all are brought into active participation, and the general interest enhanced. It is also advisable to secure occasionally prominent educators to give lectures which may be followed by discussion. The meetings should be judiciously allowed to manage themselves.

The progress made during the past year is most encouraging. It is not intended that this movement shall crystallize at once into large proportions. In the very nature of things it must be a growth, not a creation. Neither is it expected that it will at first meet with general approval. The practicability of the scheme, and its real value as an adjunct to an educational system, must be demonstrated to the conservative mind.

The Borough of Brooklyn contains one hundred and eighteen public schools. The effect upon the community of an equal number of associate centers of educational activity, such as we have described, each one loyal to its own school, yet working intelligently with a thought of the common good, cannot be overestimated. Under such conditions it would not take long to lift the educational thought of the entire community to a higher plane, with more intelligent school boards, teachers of greater breadth and power, and parents wiser and more helpful. At least the partial accomplishment of this may be looked for in the near future, as the school and the home draw closer together and understand each other better, and as the child, no longer distracted, confused, or indifferent, develops more evenly through forces which move in unison.

Bismarck the Man'

The passion of this century for reading great men as human documents has found, perhaps, least satisfaction in the character of Bismarck. In following the great political movements of the Founder of Germanic Unity, he seems a force rather than a man. The features of his personality are obscured by the surcharged political atmosphere from which issue his thunderbolts. Gossip about him seems as much out of the question as gossip of Jupiter in the twilight of the world when schemes against the Titans were forming. Yet something approaching gossip light ens the recently published extensive memoirs of the Chancellor by his friend and official servant, Dr. Moritz Busch. This newspaper correspondent and political journalist occupied a confidential position under Bismarck for a period of twenty-five years, beginning shortly before the Franco-Prussian war. ing this war he was one of that non-official staff known as "Bismarck's people," who accompanied Bismarck in his close following of the campaign. It was his good fortune to be often about the Chief's person, to dine with him frequently, to be present at interviews between him and notable people. Of this period Dr. Busch kept a diary, afterwards incorporated with full memoirs of later events, and submitted as a whole to the approval of the Chancellor. He was evidently the man to make the most of his intimacy for biographical purposes. Mingled


with his sincere admiration and love of Bismarck is a kind of hero-worship more common, perhaps, in the last century than in this. He writes in a perpetual trance of homage. In contemplating the huge bulk of his hero he allows himself to shrink to Lilliputian dimensions. His delight is obvious when the Chancellor addresses him by the diminutive "Buschlein." He accepts an occasional snub as his due. Yet this dissolved condition of mind produces favorable results in his memoirs. Like Boswell, he feels that no word of the Chief is too insignificant to be recorded. In his preface he says: "A good

1 Bismarck: Some Secret Pages of His History. Being a Diary kept by Dr. Moritz Busch, during Twenty-five Years Official and Private Intercourse with the Great Chancellor. With Portraits. In Two Volumes. The Macmillan Company, New York. $10.

deal of what I report and describe will appear to many persons trivial and external. My view of the matter, however, is this: the trifles with which the prætor does not trouble himself often illustrate the character of a man or his temper for the time being more clearly than fine speeches or great exploits." The theory, strengthened by Bismarck's assurance that "Once I am dead, you can tell everything you like, absolutely everything you know," has resulted in a portrait of the Chancellor more suggested than finished, perhaps, yet impressive in certain lifelike details. The political revelations of the book, however startling or interesting, are, in the main, subservient to the chit-chat that makes up this portrait, a chance word giving a clue to some quality of nature. Bismarck's total lack of the æsthetic sense, for instance, might be inferred from his expressed dislike of Apollo in a careless talk on Greek mythology. "Not Apollo, but straightforward Vulcan, would have been his man, or, better still, Neptune." The utilitarian ideal was uppermost in this great mind, in which the mere strength of the Teutonic character seems to find final expression. The shadowy regions of enchantment, not unknown to Luther, his forerunner in strength, were undreamed of by him. He carried on his work in the noonday glare of an oppressive common sense. "The conversation then turned on the dead languages," writes Dr. Busch of a certain occasion. "The Chancellor said, When I was in the first class at the high school, I was able to write and speak Latin very well. I should now find it extremely difficult; and I have quite forgotten Greek. I cannot understand why people take so much trouble with these languages. It must be merely because learned men do not wish to lessen the value of what

they have themselves so laboriously acquired.' I ventured to remind him of the mental dis

cipline thus provided. The Chief replied, 'Yes; but if you think Greek is a disciplina mentis, the Russian language is far better in that respect. It might be introduced instead of Greek, and it has immediate practical

value in addition.'"

Of the Hellenic inheritance of beauty accessible through the Greek tongue Bismarck seems to have had no conception. The

reader is tempted to imagine him booted and spurred in the streets of Athens, wondering what was the use of it all.


In this connection his opinion of Goethe is interesting: "Well,' said the Chief, I could also make you a present of three-fourths of Goethe-the remainder, certainly. should like to live for a long spell on a desert island with seven or eight volumes out of the forty.'" And again: "At lunch the Chief asked me: What is your opinion, Busch, of Goethe's tragedies, and of his dramas altogether?" I replied that he was less of a dramatist than a lyric poet, but that Faust,' setting aside the second part, was, after all, a most wonderful production. 'Yes, certainly,' he said, and "Goetz" too; but Egmont, the man in "Stella," Tasso, and the leading characters in the others, are all Weislingens, weak, soft, sentimental creatures-not men as in Shakespeare-always repetitions of himself, for he, too, had something feminine in him, and could only realize and portray the feelings of women.'

But if Bismarck's sympathies and his comprehension of beauty had been less limited, he would not have been Bismarck. Enough of him remains to meet great human demands. The utilitarian bias of his mind put him in sympathy with the majority. His greatness may have been overwhelming, but it was easy of comprehension. As far as judgment is possible from records of the man, there was nothing elusive either in his political creed or in his religion. Bismarck's religion can be thus coupled with his political career, since it was an extraordinary force in his life. He was as religious as Luther, in the sense that he grappled his faith to himself with iron bands of conscience and fidelity. Furthermore, it would be assumed, without the evidence of Busch and others, that an imagination like Bismarck's, dominated by ideals of force and order, must believe in an all-powerful God.

"I cannot conceive," he says to Furstenstein, "how men can live together in an orderly manner, how one can do his duty and allow others to do theirs, without faith in a revealed religion, in God who wills what is right, in a higher Judge and a future life.... Why should I labor and toil unceasingly in this world, and expose myself to worry and vexation, if I did not feel that I must do my duty towards God? If I did not believe in

a divine Providence which has ordained this German nation to do something good and

great, I would at once give up my trade as a statesman, or I should never have gone into the business. Orders and titles have no attraction for me. . . . If I were not a firm believer in Christianity, if I had not the wonderful basis of religion, you would never have had such a Chancellor of the Confederation."

These remarkable statements are perhaps explained partially in another: "Public opinion is only too much disposed to treat political relations and events from the standpoint of private morals; the kindlier affections have as little place in the calculations of politics as they have in those of trade."

There is something primeval in Bismarck's conception of his religious duty. In his career he well-nigh embodied the necessity, the seeming cruelty, of far-reaching physical processes. The forces of his religion seem linked with the blind forces of nature crashing through darkness to some overwhelming consummation. Yet there are softer touches. In the little town of Donchery, Busch goes into Bismarck's room after the Chief has hurried from it to meet Napoleon III. at Sedan; finds there, as if just thrown down, "Daily Watchwords and Texts of the Moravian Brethren for 1870" and "Daily Spiritual Refreshment for Believing Christians." There is a certain childlikeness in this fierce spirit, recalling the fair-haired Saxon chieftains baptized in the name of the Warrior Christ.

In his daily life Bismarck's humanity was apparent. Little incidents of the FrancoPrussian campaign, recorded by Busch, leave the impression that his human comradeship could always be depended upon. He would not take a second cutlet at the King's camptable lest there should not be enough to go round. When Bismarck's appetite is remembered, this self-denial assumes heroic proportions. At another time he said to Busch, "I asked the sentry at the door how he was off for food, and I found that the man had had nothing to eat for twenty-four hours. I went to the kitchen and brought him a good chunk of bread."

His comprehension of the needs of the flesh never forgot brandy and good cigars. Near the battle-field of Beaumont "we overtook some common soldiers, Bavarians, who had broken down on the march, and were dragging themselves slowly along in the burning sun. 6 Hullo, countryman!' called out the Minister to one of them, will you have some brandy?' 'Why, certainly;' and

so would a second and a third, to judge from their looks. All these and a few more, after they had had a pull at the Minister's flask and at mine, received a decent cigar in addition." At Versailles the wounded soldiers in Marie Antoinette's room suffered from the cold, because the pictures might be injured by heating the apartment. Bismarck's fierce comment, that one German soldier was worth all the trashy pictures in the place, is significant at once of his kindness and his blindness to the beautiful. His paternal feeling towards his soldiers and towards those about him had nothing of the expediency, of the dramatic necessity, of the first Napoleon, but was the outcome of his manliness, of that comprehension of simple wants and needs which forms an essential part of the German character. This humanity made him occasionally impatient of royalty and its formalities. Aristocrat though he was, he could not abide too many Serene Highnesses about him. When they did not irritate him, they aroused in him a kind of grim humor, as if Odin, between his two wolves, should chuckle to himself. Busch records that on one occasion at Versailles "the Chancellor, who had been dining with the King, joined us in the evening and complained to Delbrück of the way in which he had been beset at the King's quarters by the Princes, who prevented him from discussing something of importance with Kutusoff. I really could not talk to him properly. The Serene Highnesses fluttered about me like crows round a screechowl, and tore me away from him. Each of them seemed to delight in being able to buttonhole me longer than the others. . . . At last they heard that the leg or the back of an old coronation chair had been discovered in one of the other rooms, and they all trooped off to inspect the wonder, while I took this opportunity to bolt.'"

This appreciation of the comedy in which he played so serious a part is further illustrated by the famous cigar story, twice related by Busch; the incidents occurring when Bismarck formed one of the Military Commission at Frankfort. "At first only Buol smoked. Then one day I pulled a cigar out of my case and asked him to give me a light. With a look of surprise at my audacity, he gave it to me, to the profound astonishment of the other Powers. The incident was reported to the various courts and also to Berlin. Then followed an inquiry from the late

King, who did not smoke himself and probably did not appreciate the thing. Thereupon the two Great Powers alone smoked for perhaps six months. Then suddenly Bavaria also appeared with a cigar, and after a time Saxony followed suit. Finally Wurttemberg also felt it necessary not to remain behind; but this was obviously compulsory sacrifice to dignity, for he puffed his yellow weed with an air of surly determination, and afterwards laid it down half-smoked. It was only Hesse-Darmstadt that abstained altogether, probably not feeling equal to such competition."

He had many such moments of detachment from the players and the scene, and sometimes he felt that delicate melancholy that accompanies humorous appreciation.

"He has also softer moments," writes the keen Busch, "moments of apparent or real dissatisfaction with his achievements and his fate-a vein of melancholy, or perhaps we should say pensive sentiment, that finds expression in Weltschmerz." "There is no doubt," he records Bismarck as saying, “that I have caused unhappiness to great numbers. for me three great wars would not have taken place, eighty thousand men would not have been killed, and would not now be mourned by parents, brothers, sisters, and widows."


And sweethearts,' I added, somewhat prosaically and inconsiderately. 'And sweethearts,' he repeated. I have settled that with God, however. But I have had little if any pleasure from all that I have done, while, on the other hand, I have had a great deal of worry, anxiety, and trouble.” ”

This aspect of his disposition is, however, rarely visible. He does not often lose himself in the mists of sentiment. What tenderness he possessed found satisfaction in his devotion to his wife, what idealism in his love for lonely country scenes, for nature undisturbed by men. Yet his passion for nature was less the poet's than the yearning of a strong, healthy man for the freedom of earth and air. His affection for his wife embodied, perhaps, the poetical instincts of his rugged character. Of this Johanna, Busch draws a portrait in a significant line or two. She consoled her husband with fierce Scriptural verses from warlike portions of the Old Testament, when he was absent on the Franco-Prussian campaign. To her Paris was "a modern Babel." It was well that she, too, was powerful and unrelenting. A spring flower of a woman might have been

« PrethodnaNastavi »