The Daisy Chain or Aspirations HTML version

Chapter II.2
Knowledge is second, not the first;
A higher Hand must make her mild,
If all be not in vain, and guide
Her footsteps, moving side by side,
With wisdom; like the younger child,
For she is earthly of the mind,
But knowledge heavenly of the soul.--In Memoriam.
Etheldred had not answered her sister, but she did not feel at all secure that
she should have anything to be thankful for, even if the school were built.
The invasion of Cocksmoor was not only interference with her own field of
action, but it was dangerous to the improvement of her scholars. Since the
departure of Mr. Wilmot, matters at Stoneborough National School had not
improved, though the Misses Anderson talked a great deal about progress,
science, and lectures.
The Ladies' Committee were constantly at war with the mistresses, and that
one was a veteran who endured them, or whom they could endure beyond
her first half-year. No mistress had stayed a year within the memory of any
girl now at school. Perpetual change prevented any real education, and, as
each lady held different opinions and proscribed all books not agreeing
thereto, everything "dogmatical" was excluded; and, as Ethel said, the
children learned nothing but facts about lions and steam-engines, while their
doctrine varied with that of the visitor for the week. If the ten generals could
only have given up to Miltiades, but, alas! there was no Miltiades. Mr.
Ramsden's health was failing, and his neglect told upon the parish in the
dreadful evils reigning unchecked, and engulfing many a child whom more
influential teaching might have saved. Mental arithmetic, and the rivers of
Africa, had little power to strengthen the soul against temptation.
The scanty attendance at the National School attested the indifference with
which it was regarded, and the borderers voluntarily patronised Cherry
Elwood, and thus had, perhaps, first aroused the emulation that led Mrs.
Ledwich on a visit of inspection, to what she chose to consider as an offshoot
of the National School.
The next day she called upon the Misses May. It was well that Ethel was not
at home. Margaret received the lady's horrors at the sight of the mere
crowded cottage kitchen, the stupid untrained mistress, without an idea of
method, and that impertinent woman, her mother! Miss Flora and Miss Ethel
must have had a great deal to undergo, and she would lose no time in
convening the Ladies' Committee, and appointing a successor to "that
Elwood," as soon as a fit room could be erected for her use. If Margaret had