Stead on Children & Life at Grainey Hill

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W.T. Stead on Children & Life at Grainey Hill (1893)

(Quoted in Estelle W. Stead, My Father: Personal & Spiritual Reminiscences (1913) pp. 101-103

Grainey Hill was an ideal place for children. I had three acres and a cow, and besides the cow a perfect menagerie of goats, rabbits, poultry, dogs and cats, not to speak of the pony, which was almost regarded as a member of the family. To be brought up under the green trees in the midst of flowers and shrubs, free from the smoke and murmur of the town, in a life of perfect freedom from conventional restraint, in the midst of all the humanising influences of the constant responsible care of birds and beasts; to begin and close the day with praise and prayer, and to be constantly trusted to help mother in the house and father in the garden and field—what environment could be more idyllic? It was as the Garden of Eden plus the children, of whom there were none in Paradise. Without our children it would not have been Paradise…

The modern method of bringing up children, when the parents relegate all their duties to nurses and governesses and pack them off to boarding-schools, may be a necessity in some cases. But no more abominable trampling under foot of that divinely appointed means of grace, which children are to parents, can be conceived. You get no good of your children on such a system, and your offspring are almost orphaned from their birth. Not so, thank God, was parentage understood in our North-country home. The children were always with us. We shared their life to the full; they shared ours so far as they could understand. And in such circumstances children develop fast. Especially is this the case when, as at Grainey Hill, the mother lived almost alone among her children, and depended upon them for all the solace of companionship and of sympathy which in a less secluded life might have been supplied from more varied sources…Our children were our only recreation, nor could mortal man desire anything more delightful than in study and in play to watch the unfolding of the innocent mind of the child.