Here are some thoughts I had while reading Chapter 18 of Volume 2.
This part really reminded me of one important reason why we go outside, and why we make the effort to go to beautiful places:
"We have in these few lines a volume of reasons why we should fill for children the storehouse of memory with many open-air images, capable of giving them reflected sensations of extreme delight. Our constant care must be to secure that they do look, and listen, touch, and smell; and the way to this is by sympathetic action on our part: what we look at they will look at; the odours we perceive, they, too, will get."
CM spends quite awhile talking about Wordsworth’s poem "Tintern Abbey" and what that has to say to us about how important memories of beautiful places can be, and how those memories can evoke later feelings that have a positive effect on us even if we don’t realize it. (You know, when *I* read "Tintern Abbey" in college, I just thought it was boring. CM shames me with her understanding and appreciation of poetry.)
Another part that really struck me was her warning about preventing children from getting wrapped up in themselves:
"So long as the feelings remain objective, they are, like the bloom to the peach, the last perfection of a beautiful character; but when they become subjective, when every feeling concerns itself with the ego, we have, as in the case of sensations, morbid conditions set up; the person begins by being ‘over sensitive,’ hysteria supervenes, perhaps melancholia, an utterly spoilt life."
She talks about this again in the last section of the chapter. I was recently reading a blog post about the new Winnie-the-Pooh with a girl instead of Christopher Robin, and the author, who has a young daughter, was observing that all the characters she watches on T.V. are just like her; they’re all excruciatingly relevant. In another place, perhaps in Volume 5? or was it earlier in Volume 2?, CM warns us to put off as long as possible the time when children read books that are *about* other children, because that begins to create in them a self-consciousness that is not entirely healthy. In fact, CM refers to it as a kind of Fall, a loss of innocence.
CM reminds us that our feelings come from within us and so reflect our character, and that by changing the feelings we change the person:
"But our feelings, as our thoughts, depend upon what we are; we feel in all things as ’tis our nature to,’ and the point to be noticed is that our feelings are educable, and that in educating the feelings we modify the character."
But we have to use tact as our primary tool to change the feelings, and oh, how hard that is for me, so woefully deficient in tact. We in fact need to use *no words* but only subtlety of look and expression. And again I am reminded that I am so lacking in certain graces that ladies used to learn at an early age.
"The instrument to be employed in this culture is always the same––the blessed sixth sense of Tact. It is possible to call up the feeling one desires by a look, a gesture; to dissipate it entirely by the rudeness of a spoken word. Our silence, our sympathy, our perception, give place and play to fit feelings, and, equally, discourage and cause to slink away ashamed the feeling which should not have place.
Beware of Words––But let us beware of words; let us use our eyes and our imagination in dealing with the young; let us see what they are feeling and help them by the flow of our responsive feeling. But words, even words of praise and tenderness, touch this delicate bloom of nature as with a hot finger, and behold! it is gone."
This chapter is actually quite helpful, although it may seem at first glance to be too philosophical to be of practical use. I need to think on it more.