April 3, 1837
Frances Rolleston is writing from Watnall where she established several infant schools:
"Snow, snow, snow! Again the weather-wise primroses and violets that would not unclose their eyes, are covered with the warm wintry mantle which preserves them from the nipping frost; but I grieve for the young lambs, and for the poor infants who cannot get to school, and the poor mothers who have to bear all the artillery of crying and teazing, which their own 'old system,' of saying 'No' as long as their patience will last, and then yielding and saying 'Yes,' has taught the children to use."
Violets, lambs and children--three of the small things dear to FR--or Miss R., as the children call her. Violets protected by the snow reveal her interest and awareness of the natural surroundings. Young lambs suffering in the cold show her tender heart for animals. And her love for the children makes her aware of their disappointment in missing school. She also understands how miserable their mothers are in such a situation because they have not been taught how to get their children to obey.
Yet, FR herself is unable to keep order in the classroom.
"In the school-rooms I cannot keep order, and few teachers can keep it when I am present, so excited are the children by the instinctive feeling of the super-abundance of love I bear them, and I suppose also of the deficiency to the talent of preserving order and arrangement. The teachers I employ have the more need to study well that discipline of obedience, through which alone the best instruction can gain the infant attention."
Yet, somehow the little ones listen intently when she leads them outdoors and speaks of the natural wonders around them. Like the little violets suffering in the cold, they spring up to the warmth of her sunshine.
[The accompanying photo is of Johnny-jump-ups; not violets, but similar.]