" I like nothing better than teaching my own children," she once said, " although diocesan work now prevents my giving as much time to it as I would like. Holidays, of course, are precious opportunities for being with the children."
It was, no doubt, the example which Mrs. Creighton thus set in her home life which led to the Mothers' Union being taken up with such enthusiasm that in a very short time it had hundreds of members throughout the country. And it was her homeliness which made her so popular among the people of Worcester and Peterborough, and endeared her to the hearts of the wives of the clergy of her husband's see. Her knowledge of home life and children was such that she was able to give harassed clergymen's wives the most helpful advice, and practical assistance was promptly offered in urgent cases.
At the Palace, Peterborough, and at Fulham Palace, Mrs. Creighton, in spite of her multitudinous duties, supervised every detail of her housekeeping herself, although she had, of course, a large staff of competent servants. And while talking of her life at Fulham Palace, one might mention that there was nothing which delighted Mrs. Creighton and her husband more than to entertain parties of children in the palace grounds.
As her children grew into manhood and womanhood, Mrs. Creighton was able to devote more time and attention to the philanthropic and religious societies which interested her. A clever speaker, she frequently addressed the delegates of the Church Congresses, and took a leading part in the Pan-anglican Congress, addressing several meetings. It might be mentioned that Mrs. Creighton also takes a great interest in missionary work, particularly in connection with the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel.
Next to the Mothers' Union, however, Mrs. Creighton takes a deeper interest in rescue work than in any other form of Christian labour. No one recognises the importance of this work more than Mrs. Creighton, and no one has worked more assiduously in the cause. Altogether there are some 300 Magdalen Institutions scattered throughout the country, and many zealous workers. But the cry is for more. As Mrs. Creighton has pointed out, rescue work ought to be part of the parochial work in our 17,000 parishes, and helped directly or indirectly by every house-mother, mistress of young servants, head of a business, district visitor, and Sunday-school teacher. Time after time Mrs. Creighton has urged the necessity of greater activity in this particular form of work, and has, by her addresses, writings, and encouragement of rescue workers, done much towards mitigating one of the greatest of our social evils.
Mention of Mrs. Creighton's work at the Congresses reminds one of the mild sensation she created at the Norwich Church Congress some years ago. Mrs. Creighton holds the view that under no circumstance should a woman lecture her husband ; and, to illustrate the value of this rule, she quoted the example set by birds, pointing out that the hen bird is always the quieter and more retiring of the two feathered partners. Concerning the immense influence often exerted by women over men, she truly says that the woman who respects herself will, as a rule, be respected by the men about her. After all, though not every woman in the world is the mother of a son, every man living or dead has been the son of a woman, and owes his first training, if not to his mother, then to her who supplied the place of a mother to him.
" Some young men and women," she says, " seek single-blessedness because to them it seems to permit liberty ; but it does not give the true liberty, only the counterfeit ; this freedom means only slavery to self"
At the same time, she strongly approves of the greater freedom allowed to girls nowadays. To quote her own words :
"The attitude which women take towards marriage, and men viewed as possible husbands, must powerfully affect social morals. Hideous results follow from the pursuit of men by women merely in order to gain a husband. But are we in consequence to rush to the other extreme, never speak of marriage to young people, and do nothing to give them opportunities for marriage ? Surely what we want is that young people of both sexes should be able to innocently and freely mix together, to be companions for a space so that they may be able to judge whether they are suited to be companions for life.
"The question, therefore, for young women is, how are they going to use their liberty ? The greater physical weakness of women must always demand tender consideration from men. But if they are weaker in some ways, men are weaker in others, and more prone to fall a prey to temptation. Here women should be their true protectors, not their tempters.
A Worthy Ideal of Marriage
Women lose it in the first place when they desire to gain the attention of men at any price. The more a woman is independent and self-respecting, the less will she exert herself to attract unworthy men. We need not fear that her independence will make her averse to marriage. People forget how difficult it is to change human nature. The desire to love, the strong maternal instinct, can never be destroyed. But we need a worthier ideal of marriage and of home life, and this cannot be realised so long as people drift into marriage simply because there is nothing else to be done.
"There are still girls who will do anything to attract men, mothers who are willing to ignore an unsatisfactory past in order to secure husbands for their daughters. We shall not be right on these points unless girls are allowed to have a sphere of their own, some other object in their life than doing the flowers and writing notes for their mothers until they can find a husband. Marriage is a sphere, not an occupation. Our daughters must enter upon married life not because there is nothing else for them to do, but because they feel that life offers to them the ■ fullest opportunities for usefulness as well as for happiness."
From these remarks it will be gathered how much Mrs. Creighton has the welfare of the daughters of Great Britain at heart, and although since her husband's death she has lived a semi-retired life at Hampton Court Palace, King Edward granting her a suite of apartments there formerly occupied by Lady Georgina Grey, she has by no means lost her interest in movements promoted for their benefit, or relaxed her efforts to make every home in this country
... a spot of earth supremely blest, A dearer, sweeter spot than all the rest.