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the true family life by bringing home their unrelaxing business manners and trying to regulate the family as they regulate the details of a great business house the reading world has imbibed a sympathy for the rights of the home. Free childhood and the culture of individuality has become a watchword.

Above all, Dickens has introduced a reform as to the habit of terrorizing children. Corporal punishment has diminished to one fourth of its former amount, and Charles Dickens is the prophet to whom the reform owes its potency. In fact, the habit of finding in the good tendencies of the child the levers with which to move him to the repression of his bad impulses has placed in the hands of the professional teacher the means of governing the child without appeal to force except in the rarest cases.

The tendency to caricature an evil has its dangers, of course, and Dickens, like all the other educational reformers, has often condemned as entirely unworthy of toleration what has really in it some good reason for its existence. It was the abuse that needed correction. Reform instead of revolution should have been recommended, but the reformer often gets so heated in his contest with superficial evil that he attacks what is fundamentally good. He cuts down the tree when it needed only the removal of a twig infested with caterpillars. This defect of the reformer renders necessary a new reformer, and thus arises a pendulum swing of educational method from one extreme to another.

Dickens shares with all reformers some of their weaknesses, but he does not share his most excellent qualities with many of them. He stands apart and alone as one of the most potent influences of social reform in the nineteenth century, and therefore deserves to be read and studied by all who have to do with schools and by all parents everywhere in our day and generation.


WASHINGTON, D. C., October 12, 1900.


This book has two purposes: to prove that Dickens was the great apostle of the new education” to the English-speaking world, and to bring into connected form, under appropriate headings, the educational principles of one of the world's greatest educators, and one of its two most sympathetic friends of childhood.

Dickens was the most profound exponent of the kindergarten and the most comprehensive student of childhood that England has yet produced. He was one of the first great advocates of a national system of schools, and his revelations of the ignorance and the intellectual and spiritual destitution of the children of the poor led to the deep interest which ultimately brought about the establishment of free schools in England.

He was essentially a child trainer rather than a teacher. In the twenty-eight schools described in his writings, and in the training of his army of little children in institutions and homes, he reveals nearly every form of bad training resulting from ignorance, selfishness, indifference, unwise zeal, unphilosophic philosophy, and un-Christian theology. No other writer has attacked so many phases of wrong training, unjust treatment, and ill usage of childhood.

He is the most distinctive champion of the rights of childhood. He struck the bravest blows against corporal punishment, and against all forms of coercive tyranny toward the child in homes, institutions, and schools, even condemning the dogmatic will control of such a placid, Christian woman as Mrs. Crisparkle. He demanded a free, real, joyous childhood, rich in all a child's best experiences and interests, so that “childhood may ripen in childhood.” He pleaded for the development of the individuality of each child. He taught the wisdom of giving a child proper food, and he showed the vital importance of real sympathy with the child, not mere consideration for him. He was the English father of true reverence for the child.

But Dickens studied the methods of cultivating the minds of children, as well as their character development. He exposed the evils of cramming more vigorously than any other writer. He taught the essential character of the imagination in intellectual and spiritual development. He showed the need of correlation of studies, and of apperceptive centres of feeling and thought in order to comprehend, and assimilate, and transform into definite power the knowledge and thought that is brought to our minds.

It is said by some, who see but the surface of the work of Dickens, that his work is done. Much of the good work for which he lived has been done, but much more remains to be done. Men are but beginning the work of child study and of rational education. The twentieth century will understand Dickens better than the nineteenth has understood him. His profound philosophy is only partially comprehended yet, even by the leaders in educational work. Teachers and all students of childhood will find in his true feeling and rich thought revelation and inspiration.

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