Helen Beatrix Potter was educated at home by a series of nurses and governesses, and even from a very young age, Beatrix had good observation skills and grew into a fine naturalist. She was raised in London but her family left the city twice a year to stay in the country in Scotland or in the Lake District of northern England, and it was here that Beatrix developed a love for nature and the small wild animals. She produced great quantities of drawings where she recorded the minutest details of the animals and plants which she observed. She kept a family of snails, all of them distinct and named, and was saddened by their accidental deaths. “I am very much put out….they have such a surprising difference of character!” Her parents, who were quite strict, allowed her to keep the assortment of animals she brought back home to London: newts, snails, frogs, a ring-snake, lizards, a tortoise, a hedgehog, rabbits, and mice. These creatures served as her models. The hedgehog did not care for posing.
So long as she can go to sleep on my knee she is delighted, but if she is propped up on end for half an hour, she first begins to yawn pathetically and then she does bite!
Beatrix needed these models as, it is said, she could not draw or paint anything from imagination. Over a six year period when she was young, Beatrix made an intensive study of fungi, creating over 250 paintings of her samples. She had a great appetite for detailed information about everything in nature, no matter how minute.
It is all the same, drawing, painting, modelling….the irresistible desire to copy any beautiful object which strikes the eye. Why cannot one be content to look at it? I cannot rest, I must draw…
From age 12-17, Beatrix had drawing lessons with a Miss Cameron, with which she was reasonable happy. She learned “free-hand, model, geometry, perspective and a little watercolor flower painting.” She took twelve lessons from a Mrs. A…., which Beatrix hated. “I do wish these drawing lessons were over so that I could have some peace and sleep of nights!…” Beatrix worried that she would catch Mrs. A’s style but thought that her own “self-will which got me into so many scrapes will guard me here…” At age eighteen she wrote, “It [painting] cannot be taught, nothing after perspective, anatomy and the mixing of paints with medium…” “Thank goodness, my education was neglected…. The reason I am glad I did not go to school — it would have rubbed off some of the originality (if I had not died of shyness…).”
from The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies
Over her lifetime, Beatrix wrote in excess of 1400 letters. At age 25 she began writing “picture-letters” to the children of friends, and these letters were the beginnings of her published books. Her first book The Tale of Peter Rabbit, was published when she was 36.
She started a daily journal at age thirteen and continued it until she was almost thirty years old. This journal was written in her own privately-invented miniaturized code and apparently even her closest friends knew nothing about it. We know of only one instance where it was mentioned and that was a brief mention of it in a letter to her cousin Caroline, written only five weeks before Beatrix died. Many years later, Leslie Lindner, a collector of Potter’s works, worked for twelve years to finally unlock and decipher the writing.
Beatrix relates what she believed inspired her to write children’s books:
1. Her ancestry of plain matter-of-fact folks.
2. Her having spent long stretches of time in the Scotland countryside with a Scottish nurse who told her stories.
3. Having a “precocious and tenacious memory.” She plainly remembered her life as a very small child — “not only facts, like learning to walk, but places and sentiments — the way things impressed a very young child…”
She “disliked writing to order; I write to please myself.” She would only illustrate her own text and would not consider working “to order.” Beatrix is one of the few artists who could also write stories. Very few could do both well. Beatrix painted in watercolours.
Beatrix memorized long passages from the Bible and from Shakespeare in order to keep her English style disciplined.
…My usual way of writing is to scribble, and cut out, and write it again and again. The shorter and plainer the better. And I read the Bible (unrevised version and Old Testament) if I feel my style wants chastening. There are many dialect words of the Bible and Shakespeare — and also the forcible direct language — still in use in the rural parts of Lancashire.
July 15, 1883
Toby, one of the lizards we brought from Ilfracombe, departed from this life in the staggers. I think he must have been very old, he was so stiff and had lost so many toes. I think the cause of death was incapacity to derive any benefit from his food. I never saw anything with so little stomach as he had after he died.
July 17, 1883
Last Latin lesson before holidays. Have finished Dr. Arnold, am doing Virgil, like it so much…..
July 19, 1883
….Judy the female lizard laid an egg which unfortunately died in a few hours. It was alive and wriggling with large eyes, tail curled twice, veins and bladder or fluid like a chicken, showing through the transparent brown shell about a quarter inch long, nearly as large as Judy’s head. The same day Bertram bought for I/6, at Princes, a pair of hideous little beasties — Sally and Mander. Spot not very well.
September 20, 1883
…Yesterday, 19th. we bought a little ring-snake fourteen inches long, it was so pretty. It hissed like fun and tied itself into knots in the road when it found it could not escape, but did not attempt to bite as the blind worms do. It smelled strongly when in the open road, but not unpleasantly. Blind worms smell like very salt shrimps gone bad….
September 21, 1883
A day of misfortunes. Sally and four black newts escaped overnight. Caught one black newt in school room and another in larder, but nothing seen of poor Sally, who is probably sporting outside somewhere….
December 15, 1883
…we went to the Dore Gallery, which I had never seen before. What a contrast! I consider Dore one of the greatest of artists in black-and-white, but I never had any idea of his pictures before, except that they were big, which some of them certainly are.
Books by Beatrix Potter
The Tale of Peter Rabbit (1902)
The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin (1903)
The Tailor of Gloucester (1903)
The Tale of Benjamin Bunny (1904)
The Tale of Two Bad Mice (1904)
The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle (1905)
The Tale of the Pie and the Patty-Pan (1905)
The Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher (1906)
The Story of A Fierce Bad Rabbit (1906)
The Story of Miss Moppet (1906)
The Tale of Tom Kitten (1907)
The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck (1908)
The Tale of Samuel Whiskers or, The Roly-Poly Pudding (1908)
The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies (1909)
from The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies
The Tale of Ginger and Pickles (1909)
The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse (1910)
Peter Rabbit’s Painting Book (1911)
The Tale of Timmy Tiptoes (1911)
The Tale of Mr. Tod (1912)
The Tale of Pigling Bland (1913)
Tom Kitten’s Painting Book (1917)
Appley Dapply’s Nursery Rhymes (1917)
The Tale of Johnny Town-Mouse (1918)
Cecily Parsley’s Nursery Rhymes (1922)
Jemima Puddle-Duck’s Painting Book (1925)
Peter Rabbit’s Almanac for 1929 (1928)
The Fairy Caravan (1929)
The Tale of Little Pig Robinson (1930)
Sister Anne (1932)
The Tale of the Faithful Dove (1955)
from The Tale of Pigling Bland
Beatrix Potter’s entire life was filled with observing, collecting, and recording nature — I imagine during those years which she studied fungi, making her 250 sketches, that perhaps math or Latin was neglected. She probably spent whole days immersed in her nature studies, getting back to academics again once a particular surge of creativity had passed.
Similar to Richard Doyle twenty years earlier, Beatrix Potter’s published works were a refinement of her illustrated letters which she sent to young friends, and her journal writing certainly must have been a further extension of the creative process.
Something to Help
The Student’s Guide to Keeping an Art Journal – Learn Drawing, Practice Penmanship, and Study Nature – all in one course. Journaling is an integral part of learning about the fine arts, and in this text, Barry Stebbing introduces the students to some of the Great Masters who were also “Great Journal Keepers.” He discusses what to write about, what to draw, having a theme, and much more as the students are invited into the world of art journaling. This newly revised text has 40 art lessons. Recommended ages 10 thru adult.
This document includes a careful comparison of the entire text for each of three English confessions – the Westminster (Presbyterian, 1646/47/48), the Savoy (Independent, 1658), and the Second London (Baptist, 1677/89) – along with all of their American amendments through 1903. While other comparisons place confessions side-by-side in parallel columns, this comparison interweaves all of the confessions into one confession, yet (by color coding) clearly distinguishes which parts belong to which confessions. (Each confession could be read separately in its entirety by following the color coding.)
Also included is a complete apparatus of the different systems of proof texts associated with each confession.
Each article for each chapter is preceded by a one-line summary title. A glossary of obscure words or meanings follows each article.
In the table of contents, each article is preceded by an index of significant additions and deletions for each confession, and the one-line summary title accompanies each article.
All words lifted from the First London Confession and inserted into the Second London Confession are marked in the text and referenced after the article.
A brief history is given for each of the confessions.
A Few Observations Made Possible by this Method of Comparison
1. The Savoy revisions were more extensive than the Second London revisions
The Savoy made many major additions and deletions from Westminster. Second London incorporated most of the revisions of Savoy, but in many places, Second London deleted the text of both Westminster and Savoy. Most of what is new in Second London is actually inserted word-for-word from the 1646 edition of First London. Very little of Second London is actually new material.
2. Second London occasionally preferred Westminster’s wording over Savoy’s
A popular Baptist exposition of the Second London Confession states: “The Westminster Confession of 1647 was used as the basic framework of the Second London Confession.” Later it moderates this by stating, “… it was the Savoy which was the direct and immediate document on which Collins was working.” So far so good. But then it says, “After thorough study of these documents I am aware of no instance in which the language of the Westminster is preferred over that of the Savoy.” Westminster and Her Sisters clearly demonstrates that the Second London Confession follows the Savoy Declaration over the Westminster Confession in the preponderance of instances. However, there are 25 places where the Second London follows the Westminster over the Savoy:
Westminster & Second London || Savoy
5.6 occasion || occasions
6.1 God was pleased, according to His wise and holy counsel, to permit, having purposed to order it, to His own glory. || —
6.2 their || —
8.2 in || of
10.3 through the Spirit || —
10.4 truly || —
13.1 who || that
16.1 any || —
16.5 His || the
17.2 flowing || —
18.2 testimony || immediate witness
18.2 of || —
18.2 witnessing with our spirits that we are the children of God || —
18.4 and || —
18.4 never || neither
19.3 Besides || Beside
21.5 an || a
22.2 and || or
23.2 occasions || occasion
26.2 by profession || —
26.3 their communion one with another as saints … take away, or infringe the title or propriety || —
29.1 unto || to
29.2 by Himself || —
29.4 all || —
33.3 day of || —
Considered individually, many of these are incidental matters of style and are insignificant. Only a few could be considered important in themselves. But considered together, they demonstrate that the Second London was not merely a revision of Savoy, but that Savoy was regularly compared with Westminster – apparently word by word – and sometimes Westminster was considered better. This also suggests that those parts of Westminster which Savoy dropped or changed, Second London may have reconsidered before it largely though not entirely agreed with Savoy.
3. Second London extensively revised Westminster’s scripture proofs
Westminster originally had no proof texts. Parliament ordered the Westminster Assembly to add proof texts. Savoy also originally had no proof texts. (It was the American revision of Savoy which added proof texts – and it mostly copied Westminster’s proof texts.) So the only proof texts available to the Second London to review were the proof texts added to Westminster. Second London dropped well over a thousand proof texts from Westminster and added about two hundred different proof texts of its own.
4. Later Presbyterians revision of scripture proofs
In 1903, some Presbyterian denominations began adopting two new chapters to Westminster (Chapter 34: Of the Holy Spirit; Chapter 35: Of the Love of God and Missions). There are three versions of Scripture proofs for each article. The first revised version of proofs has very few texts in common with the original list of proofs and it disposes of the arrangement of proofs by clauses. The second revised version of proofs simply compiles the first two lists with very little editing.
He will feed His flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in His arms, holding them close to His heart. He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young. Isaiah 40:11
Who is He of whom such gracious words are spoken? He is The Good Shepherd. Why does He carry the lambs in His arms, holding them close to His heart? Because He has a tender heart, and any weakness in them at once melts His heart. The sighs, the ignorance, the feebleness of the little ones of His flock, draw forth His compassion. It is His office, as a faithful High Priest, to consider the weak. Besides, He purchased them with blood — they are His property. He must and will care for those who cost Him so dear. I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. John 10:11
Then He is responsible for each lamb, bound by covenant engagements not to lose one. Moreover, they are all a part of His glory and reward.
But how may we understand the expression, He will carry them?
Sometimes He carries them by not permitting them to endure much trial. Providence deals tenderly with them.
Often they are carried by being filled with an unusual degree of love, so that they bear up and stand fast. Though their knowledge may not be deep, they have great sweetness in what they do know.
Frequently He carries them by giving them a very simple faith, which takes the promises just as they stand, and believingly runs with every trouble straight to Jesus. The simplicity of their faith gives them an unusual degree of confidence, which carries them above the world.
He will carry the lambs in His arms, holding them close to His heart.
Here is boundless affection: would He hold them close to His heart, if He did not love them much?
Here is tender nearness: so near are they, that they could not possibly be nearer.
Here is hallowed familiarity: there are precious love-passages between Christ and His weak ones.
Here is perfect safety: in His bosom who can hurt them? They must hurt the Shepherd first. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish — ever. No one will snatch them out of My hand. John 10:28
Here is perfect rest and sweetest comfort.
Surely we are not sufficiently sensible of the infinite tenderness of Jesus.
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I wish The Mystery Of History had been written fifteen or twenty years earlier so that my own family could have used it. It would have been perfect for our large, young family and would have relieved me of the job of putting together my own history curriculum, and it is so much more thorough than anything we ever studied in our years of homeschooling.
I’m not going to describe how the texts are arranged or how they are supposed to be used — others have done that much better than I could. But I do want to list here my observations and respond to some comments which have been directed at the curriculum.
The cover of MOH Volume I tells us exactly what we’ll find inside the book. Within the title — The Mystery of History — the “T” is a cross dividing the word “History” into two sections, making the title seem to say “The Mystery of His Story” — meaning Christ’s story. Isn’t that what history is really all about? Under the title and in the center of the cover, taking up the largest portion of space is a picture of a stairway — an ancient, stone stairway — going up. Going up from a tomb and into the sunlight. Whose tomb would that be? Perhaps it is the tomb of Jesus, the Author of this “Story” we are about to begin. Jesus came up out of the tomb so that this “Story” would have a happy ending some day. But even more significant on this cover are two small pictures at the lower right corner, pictures which seem to be bowing to the larger stairway picture. One is a picture of Egyptian art and the other is of the Greek Parthenon. All history bows in submission to the Author of history.
I have listed here the comments which have been directed at MOH along with my responses.
****Doesn’t balance religious with secular; too heavy on religious.****
Some texts make a pretense of trying to balance the religious with secular, though the secular always seems to end up on the heavier side of the balance. “Secular” literally means “of the age, worldly.” We use the term to refer to indifference toward or exclusion from religion. All of time — past, present, and future — revolves around the Potter and how He deals with His vessels. All of history is religious. So if we want our history compartmentalized into separate secular and religious boxes, or if we like our religion thinly spread, then we really do not want history as it actually is, but only as secularists want it.
Here is one of my favorite quotes:
“… I concluded that one of the only reasons why we are here on earth is to know God and to make Him known. We are designed for relationship…. And I wanted this incredible story to be far more than the short-term accumulation of scattered dates and events. I wanted the living story of God and man to be one of our “long-term” core subjects……I believe history is the story of God revealing Himself to mankind and that He did it most perfectly through the person of Jesus Christ.” (from Volume II)
The author treats pagan gods and non-Christian topics respectfully and honestly, though always compared and contrasted with the truth. For example, separate lessons are dedicated to Buddha and Confucius. After discussing each — who they were and what they taught — we are shown how they differed from Christ — who He was and what He taught.
****Lessons too short; only 2-3 pages which includes the activity suggestions.****
Here are the statistics:
MOH I — 108 lessons of 600 words each
MOH II — 84 lessons of 700-1000 words each
Besides the lessons, the activities in both volumes vary in length, but there are about 2-3 paragraphs per activity with at least three activities per lesson, often more than three. Volume II has more activities per lesson than Volume I.
The shorter lessons allow flexibility for homeschoolers. When longer lessons fit the schedule, students can do two or three lessons at a time. On days when time seems scarce, the single lesson may be just the adjustment needed. Either way, each lesson is a thorough treatment of its subject.
****Lessons fluffy with little information; shallow.****
If this is true, then the Bluedorn family, including our grown children, must have fluffy, shallow minds, because even now, as adults, we have enjoyed reading through several of the lessons in both volumes. The lessons in both volumes are as thorough as you would find in any history curriculum on the market today. In my opinion, this curriculum would best fit children from ages 5 through 14, but could be adapted for older students.
I would consider The Mystery of History to be a narrative history, similar to the Helene Guerber histories, which were first published in the 19th century and recently republished by Nothing New Press. Next to historical fiction and biographies, narrative histories are the method of my choice for studying history. The first narrative history I ever read to my children was A Child’s History of England by Charles Dickens, and the history we learned from that book still sticks in our minds even though that was 20 years ago.
But not only is MOH a narrative history, it is also a history curriculum. The author adds all kinds of hands-on activities and projects, photos, timeline and mapping assignments, memory work, supplemental resources, and exercises and tests.
****Language and writing style dumbed down; modern and gushy — neat, cool, gosh.****
Yes, the author does, on occasion in Volume I, use “hip” words such as “neat” or “cool.” And I guess if I must have any complaint with MOH, this would be the only one. The author avoids those types of words in Volume II.
But as far as the overall language and writing style is concerned, there is variety and complexity in the vocabulary, and the sentence structure is pleasing and flows easily — the reader doesn’t have to struggle to understand. It is an enjoyable text to read aloud and doesn’t fall into that mind-tiring simple baby-language of some narrative histories.
****Activities silly and lame.****
There are a large number and a wide variety of activities which I found to be fascinating. One of the reasons writing this review has taken me so long is that every time I sit down to write, I am drawn into the text and the activities, planning which ones I would like to do someday with my grandchildren. No one family could possibly do all the activities, and there are plenty to choose from.
****Resource list disappointing; items impossible to find at any U.S. library or bookstores; too many videos and toys recommended.****
Volume I lists 8 pages of resources; Volume II lists 19 pages of resources. Recommended resources listed in Volume I includes 64 videos, 117 books, 17 toys, and numerous passages from the Bible. I calculated our family had in our own library at least one quarter of the books. But I wanted to find out what other people thought about the resource list, so I asked this question of a group of mothers who use MOH. Here are some of the responses:
“We don’t use the videos … but of the recommended books for the younger grades in the first 27 lessons of Volume I, about 75% of them were available through our library system.” S.
“I just looked up all the resources for the first 20 lessons of Volume I. I found at my library at least one resource for each lesson, often more than one. The rest I found on Amazon. The only one I had problems with is Lesson 11 — World Wise Series on Egypt.” Heather
“We have used the resource list and have not had much trouble locating the books and videos at our library when we want to explore further.” Christina D.
“…what my local library hasn’t had available, I’ve been able to find through interlibrary loan.” Debbie
“…25 of the recommended books in Volume I are found at our local county library. I have not tried interlibrary loans, but I’m sure many more could be found that way.” Cheri
Here’s a quote from Volume II of MOH concerning the resource list: “Please bear in mind that these are merely suggested books, movies, and other resources that could enhance your study of the Early Church and the Middle Ages through spice and variety — but they are not necessary to complete this course.” The MOH texts are really a stand alone curriculum — no outside books are necessary, but the resource lists were compiled for those who choose to add to the texts.
The author never claimed to create a comprehensive resource list. Through contact with the author, I learned that her resource list was created from her own collection and research — it is not a compilation of other lists of supplemental reading compiled by others. I so much appreciate this. Publishers complain that plagiarism of lists is widespread in homeschool circles.
****Table of contents incomplete.****
The Table of Contents for both volumes are about as complete as anyone could ask — nine pages of TOC in Volume I and eight pages in Volume II.
****Leaves out a lot of world history. Concentrates only on people, rather than on people and events.****
MOH approaches the study of history from a chronological standpoint, looking at events happening around the world near the same time. This approach gives us a sense of how God has been at work in every corner of the globe throughout all of history — He was not just working with the Israelites in their little part of the world. Indeed, MOH shows how the events happening in all corners of the world impacted the lives of the Israelites.
All of history is shown to be a continuum, not just a series of isolated events and famous people. For example, Volume I, Lesson 66 points out the connection between the history of Cyrus the Great with the prophesy in Isaiah 44. This lesson also clears up the confusion between Darius the Mede and Cyrus. Lessons on the Biblical prophets are inserted in their proper places, showing the who, what, and where of their importance.
With 108 lessons in Volume I (472 pages) and 84 lessons in Volume II (704 pages), MOH is about as complete a treatment of Ancient and Mediaeval history as any homeschooling family would desire at this level. In Volume I the standard ancient history topics are covered along with chapters on China, India, and American Indians. Volume II covers all points of the globe — north, south, east, and west.
And, yes, since history consists of people doing things — inventing, conquering, writing, speaking, ruling — the lessons of MOH deal with people AND the events surrounding them. In Volume I, approximately 60% of the lesson titles are of specific people, while 40% are of specific events.
****Author takes too long to get the volumes finished.****
It takes time to do a good job in researching, writing, testing on an audience, rewriting, formatting, printing, and publishing — particularly with a history curriculum. All good things come to those who wait. I’d much rather wait and allow the author to write a thorough, well researched world history than read something thrown together in a hurry just to please an editor.
We know Mrs. Hobar has a young family which requires her primary attention. We don’t want the writing of this curriculum to interfere with raising her family. The quality of her work makes us willing to wait.
If you are a Christian family looking for a thorough history curriculum you can confidently use with your children up through age 14, and is downright fun, you’ll want to look at The Mystery of History.
Our family has been involved in homeschooling for over thirty years. I have seen lots of curriculum come and go, but it seems like the very best is produced by homeschooling families themselves. They see a need and proceed to fill it. Linda Hobar has done this with her creation of The Mystery of History.
Some Help for You
During the 2015 Build Your Bundle Sale on May 25-June 1 there will be several curriculum items you might want to look at. Grab your sale coupon code now. Click here for a coupon code!
“Can one man’s faith and vision inspire a group of farmers, shepherds, and merchants to defeat the mightiest military force on the planet? William Wallace, by his undaunted courage and strength of character, forever changed the history of Scotland. His stand against oppression -— despite overwhelming odds -— inspired the heroic leader who would eventually gain Scotland’s freedom, King Robert the Bruce. The source of Wallace’s fire was his faith in God. He loved the Psalms and meditated on them daily. At his execution, Wallace had his psalter placed before him so he could read the Psalms as King Edward’s men tortured him. This is the untold account of Wallace and “The Bruce” -— a story that continues to stir our hearts even today. A story that teaches us that true freedom is worth fighting for.” –Heirloom Audio Productions
Two important books for today’s Mothers, both by the same author — Rachel Macy Stafford. Thirty years ago these books would only have been slightly relevant. Today, in my opinion, they are essential reading for every Mother (and Father).
Hands Free Mama: A Guide to Putting Down the Phone, Burning the To-Do List, and Letting Go of Perfection to Grasp What Really Matters! by Rachel Macy Stafford
Hands Free Life: Nine Habits for Overcoming Distraction, Living Better, and Loving More by Rachel Macy Stafford (available September 8, 2015)
During the Build Your Bundle Sale, you can find more resources like these — Bundles for Moms.
During this pre-sale, you have the opportunity to 1) enter to win a giveaway;
2) and obtain a coupon code to use during the sale.
What are in the bundles?
The actual items included in each bundle will be released on May 25.
There are several individual bundles, priced starting at $10. The sale will consist of the following bundles, plus, of course, the Build Your Own Options. These bundles are full of products from popular contributors.
1st-3rd grade (2 bundles!)
4th-6th grade (2 bundles!)
Just for Boys
Just for Girls
Just for Moms (2 bundles!)
Special Needs Bundle
Non-Faith Based/Secular Bundle
Here is the list of some of the 86 publishers participating in the 2015 Build Your Bundle sale.