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Jan 21 1901


The Evening News, Toronto, Ontario January 21, 1901 NATIONAL CURIOSITY

Curiosity has been for many years one of the marked characteristics of the New England States. The life of the New England village has been almost like community life--the village grocery has supplied the place of the village news-street, and to apply that the lack of the latter has been little felt. It seems also that Americans as a class have a good deal of what one might call national curiosity--particularly about the President, who is in a sense the personal representative of every American citizen. It has been said that they like to know in detail how the president earns his $50,000. The Saturday Evening Post, in a recent editorial on this subject of national curiosity, publishes a good thing under the head of "Wanted--A Transparent White House"--"What is needed is a new White House immediately opposite the railroad station, with a broad avenue extending through the building. The offices and living rooms lining this parade should be constructed with glass partitions and all doors should be open at all times. Thus the tourist could pass rapidly through the building, see all the sights, observe the President earning his salary--and catch the next train. It reminds one somewhat forcibly of the "old" proverb about guest houses and might be a good thing if carried out in the construction of all our houses, as the seekers after sensations would be convinced that there are not quite so many family skeletons as she had expected--or in any case it would have the salutary effect of enforcing silence upon her by the exposure of her own. If only the words "Mind your own business" had been spoken by one having authority, so that they might be preached from and quoted in season and out. Was it an advance in civilization when the "ducking stool" for busy bodies was abolished?


Here is a new-old, but thoroughly reliable test for a friendship. It is very comprehensive. There are people we always desire in our hours of ease and pleasantness; others whom we devoutly long for in times of stress and pain. The truest test of love is wanting the same person in both seasons. Isn't that a truism for one to digest? And when one endeavours to reduce one's friendship (to say nothing about love) by that scale, there are not very many names left in the memory. Perhaps only one such friend is granted to one in a lifetime; to more expansive natures there may be three or four, and to some there has been one and will never be another. In a word, perfect congeniality is rare, and many natures require it for their perfect happiness. For to others a congenial love is a necessity, and perforce, some must be content; the first because the second has gleamed out upon them like a beautiful meteor, and then vanished into the realms of space forever. Alas! That one must so often be content with "second best." It almost convinces one of the truth of Mario Corelli's "Twin Soul" theory, does it not?


The City of Chicago has what is called a Public School Art Society, and a very useful affair it appears to be. The organisation is made up of women interested in children and also in art, who pay an annual subscription of one dollar toward beautifying the school rooms of the city, particularly of the schools in the poorer districts of their city. The work of the P.S.A Society is to beautify in every possible way without any tendency toward extravagance these rooms where the children spend so much of their little lives. The coloring of the walls and windows shades are attended to, and to supplement these two fundamentally important items, attractive and tasteful replicas of good pictures and casts with a hard smooth finish are disposed suitably around the walls in positions not to interfere with the regular school work.

Now, by the making attractive of the school room, the bright colored lithograph, the gay calendar, are not understood as necessary, or at all desirable, adjuncts, but reproductions of Coreggia's, Rembrandt's, and Murello's work, which are essentially beautiful and stimulate the imagination as well as rest and satisfy the eye. When one considers the subject thoughtfully the immense benefit which must result from the work of such a society as this cannot be estimated.

From their earliest years children learn more by using their eyes than in any other way. The first thing we buy for a child almost is a picture book, and there are very few children who do not delight in picture books. We feel that a child while he is looking at pictures is not only being amused but that he is being taught something at the same time, and if in early childhood, picture books are used as training to the eye and powers of observation, why should not good pictures, examples of the finest art the world has yet known, be a necessary and desirable part of the culture of the boy and girl between the ages of say, six and sixteen.

Taste is but after all an expression and indication of environment. Why are our wealthy and cultured classes of so fine and discriminating taste, in opposition to the cruder delights of the lower grades of society? Is it not largely because they have been surrounded from infancy with the best in art, in literature, in music? All their lasting impressions have been formed from not necessarily a study of art and literature and music, but simply because they have always been surrounded with beautiful things, beautiful thoughts and beautiful sounds. God made the world a lovely and entrancing place from a natural point of view, but circumstances have unfortunately made it a very unlovely place to a good many people. When the State undertakes the education of children of the masses, why shall not the cultured help to raise the standard of these childish minds by opening to them the truth that:
"A thing of beauty is a joy for ever,
Its loveliness increases: it will never
Pass into nothingness: but still will keep
A bower quiet for us; and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams and health and quiet breathing."

Keats preached literally a gospel of beauty in his Endymion, and Schiller goes even further when he says:
"What as beauty here is won
We shall as truth in some hereafter know."

And surely beauty is closely connected with morality, for what is morality but a perfect symmetry, and immorality but distorted outlines and unnatural deformity of the mind. Who knows what good may come if loveliness and symmetry and the best of art and nature are allowed to sink deep into a child's mind, just as conscientiously as the principles of arithmetic, grammar and geography, not merely by teaching a history of art, but by allowing the art itself to become part of the child's daily existence. The pictured idealized face of a beautiful woman, the quiet loveliness of a woodland dell, the solemnly grand interior of some old world cathedral may come between many a growing mind and evil, obscene thoughts and deeds. These things can lasting and incalculable benefit to Toronto, nay, to the Dominion itself, as our boys and girls must be citizens of the world at large if they are to fulfill any ideal of womanhood and citizenship.


It appears that we women have been outliving in our rush after emancipation our last prerogative of grace. Feminine humanity is setting herself bravely to the task of recovering this lost jewel. The bow, in all its phases has become part of physical culture and delsarte. Bow constructors are the people in demand at the present moment. It appears also that a bow to an acquaintance is so longer to be any kind of an expression of our individuality but must be a cultivated thing performed as correctly--well as the physical director of bows can inculcate--and there is a wrong way of bowing which must be eschewed as religiously as eating pie with one's knife.

The perspective must always be observed with due regard; the bow from the carriage must be markedly different from the street bow; one must come into a room so, and leave it so. When one perceives an acquaintance or friend coming toward one, a lightning calculation as to just exactly how much friendship or kindly feeling exists for them, so that the bow will be a really truthful indication of regard. There is even a scornful salute for one's "dearest enemy." In fact the bow is to become very definite and representative of new world civilization. Are we indeed to "evolute" backward, and return again to the apes from which we are said to have been evolved? The Gods forefend!


The ladies of the Girls' Home Board of Management are notified that no meeting of the board will be held tomorrow as diphtheria has broken out in the home, and therefore, no one can be admitted for the present. Mr. and Mrs. W. H. Beatty and Mrs. Herbert Cawthra spent a few days in Montreal last week.

Miss Watson of Hamilton is staying in town with Miss Law.

Mrs. Laidlaw, of Queen's Park, has gone to Germany to join her daughter, Miss Marian Laidlaw.

Miss McKinnon of Boston is staying in town with Mrs. George Burnham, of Grosvenor Street.

* * *

I loved with all my human soul
A human creature here below
And tho' Thou had'st Thy sea to roll
Forever twixt us two.

And tho' her form I may not see
Through all my long and lonely life
And though she never now may be
My helpmate and my wife,

Yet in my dreams her dear eyes shine,
Yet in my heart her face I bear
And yet each holiest thought of mine
I seem with her to share.

And this is why, by night and day,
Still with so many an unseen tear,
These lonely lips have learned to pray
That God would spare me here.

One human hand my hand to take
One human heart my own to raise;
One loving human voice to break
The offence of my days.

Saviour if this wild prayer he wrong,
And what I seek I may not find,
O make more hard and stern and strong
The [?] work of my mind!

Owen Meredith

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Copyright 2002 Whitehern Historic House and Garden
The development of this website was directed by Mary Anderson, Ph.D. and Janelle Baldwin, M.A.
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