Disciplining mothers? Ellenor Fenn.


Some extracts to distract from the absent abstracts…



“In my mind’s eye,” I see a blooming young woman, surrounded by charming little people, of various ages, suiting her questions, in turn, to the progress of each. – In imagination I hear her ask of the elder ones some such questions as these.

M. What do we do with a drum?

C. We beat it.

M. Beat then is something which we do; so it is – what?

C. Is it a verb, mamma?

M. Look in page 114 and inform yourself.

“Oh yes!” (cries the happy child) “it is the first word among the verbs.”

(A Spelling Book.. by Mrs Teachwell: x-xi)





            A noun, you say, is the name of a person, place, or thing. Let us think of some nouns before we open this box – I will tell you some.

            Susan, Ann, Mary, Mamma, Brother, Cousin, London, Bury, Garden, Book, Apple, Doll.

            Now do you think of some; all things are nouns: -- you are surrounded with nouns.


            Box is a noun; and my frock is a noun, and your apron.


            Very well! –John, what is your drum?


            I do not know, mamma—


            It is a noun; you see it, do you not? – Mary, what is basket?


            A noun mamma; it is a thing… (Art of Teaching in Sport: 40-42).






            FIRST GIRL.

LET us lay words. Where is the box?

            SECOND GIRL.

How do you play?

            FIRST GIRL.

            I will shew you. Here I give you c,e,u,h,q, and n; -- now place them so as to make a word.

            SECOND GIRL.

            It is quench!

            FIRST GIRL.

            You are quick; -- now let us pick out some words for Charles. What shall we choose?

            SECOND GIRL.

            Let us lay thrust; thresh; branch; ground; school; thirst; quince; quail; or death.

            FIRST GIRL.

            I will lay plague; and neigh; and nought; and naught; and weight; and glare; and freight; and heart; and grieve; and hearth; and bathe; and thread; and vaunt; and boast; and vault; and tongue; and grieve; and beard; and feast; and friend; and fraught; and pease; and bread; and grape; and breath, or the verb to breathe; and thought; and grace; and mouse; and slave; and chide; and stake; and brought.

            SECOND GIRL.

            I shall like the play; and it will teach Charles to spell well.

            FIRST GIRL.

            That is its use; we have sports of all kinds to make us quick; we have some to teach us to count; else I could not have been taught to do sums at three years old.

            SECOND GIRL.

            Were you?

            FIRST GIRL.

            Yes; I was through the four rules by the time when most boys learn that two and two make four.

            SECOND GIRL.

            I wish you would teach me some of your sports; then I could teach Charles.

            FIRST GIRL.

            Print words on a card; on the back write the part of speech; let it be a sport for him to try if he can find what each is? – let him have the words, and place them so as to make sense; thus; I give you these words,

            you done do be would be as:

Place them in their right order, and make

            “do as you would be done by.”

            Or give him two or three lines; here and there scratch out a word; let him tell what those words must be to make sense.

            SECOND GIRL.

            The cards on which you have a, b, c, and so on, might have a, b, c, made with a pen at their backs, to teach written hand.

            FIRST GIRL.

            I have a set of those; I could read my mamma’s hand when I was four years old.

            SECOND GIRL.

            I will buy some prints or cuts, and paste at the back of cards, for our young ones; so they will soon learn to distinguish nouns. On one side shall be DOG; I will ask what part of speech is that? Charles will say; “Is it not a noun?” – He will turn the card, and find a cut.

            FIRST GIRL.

            Let us prepare some words of all kinds; -- we can lay sentences for little ones to read. For Lydia we will place them thus;

            Our new dog

            An old cat

My mamma says, that three words are as much as a child should read in a breath at first.

            SECOND GIRL.

            Where there is a house full of young folk, it might be a good sport to teach and learn in those ways.

            FIRST GIRL.

            It is; we play withour words thus. Mamma gives to one some words; he is to place them so as to make sense: one is to parse them; one to tell more than the parts of speech, as the tense, mode, and so on, of the verbs. – George andI have false English to correct; verse to turn to prose; we write out a passage which we like; we write letters upon give subjects; we read a story, and then write it in our own words.

            SECOND GIRL.

            Do you repeat much?

            FIRST GIRL.

            To strengthen our memories, we learn to repeat passages in prose –we do not repeat verse nor even read it aloud.

            SECOND GIRL.

            That is a great loss.

            FIRST GIRL.

            Not so; -- my mamma reads aloud to us; this teaches us to read with propriety; and she often stops to enquire whether we understand any expression which is not perfectly plain.

N.B. Schemes to assist parents in teaching their chidren, by way of sport, are in the possession of John Marshall and Co. who intend executing them with all possible dispatch. –Due notice will be given of their competion.


Later edition:




The Schemes for playing in the above useful Manner being now completed, are sold by John Marshall by the Title of

            A Set of Toys, for enabling Ladies to instil the Rudiments of Spelling, Reading, Grammar, and Arithmetic, under the Idea of Amusement.

            The scheme is contained in one large Box, includin three small Boxes, or Trays; each Tray being divided into ten or twelve Compartments.

            The Spelling Tray, contains various Alphabets, enlivened with little Pictures on their Back; Spelling Tables; Reading Tables, &c. &c.

            The Grammar Tray, contains a compendious Set of Grammar Lessons on Cards: the parts of Speech tied up in little Packets, &c.

            The Figure Tray, contains several arithmetical Tables, Sums, Packets of Figures, great Variety of little Pictures of Birds, Beasts, Children’s Sports, &c. &c.

            The PRICES are                                                     £            s            d

            Spelling, Grammar, and Figure Boxes, in one   1            1            0

            Grammar and Figure Boxes                                       0            16            0

            Spelling Box only                                                           0            10            6


            The Boxes are strongly and neatly made of the Tunbridge Manufacture; but are not intended to be in the Possession of the young People; yet, as Parts of the contents may (by Application to the Publisher only) be had separately at the very moderate Prices subjoined to the list of Contents, given with each Box.