This letter seemed to me so touching that I sent it to a friend of mine much interested in the subject. She returned it with the following remarks, which express in strong terms very much what I feel myself: 'I quite agree - one of the most interesting letters you've had. But it is harrowing to me the way this poor mother won't let herself benefit by your advice, although she seems to approve of it. You ask for my comments. I should say she gives the receipt of what her line of conduct should be in the sentence "When I can shake off this incubus of duty she and I are so happy together. I suppose there is some similarity in our minds and tastes that makes her very responsive to me." Just fancy a mother having that opportunity and not using it! There's hardly a parent in fifty could boast as much. Personal contact and sympathy with an older person means hot-house growth to the mental capabilities of a child. The one fear is lest it should overforce them. What do the geography, history, arithmetic, and all the details of early education matter? The child's general intelligence and power of acquiring knowledge from her own observation, which is the only true educator, will develop much more fully and rapidly in the mother's company than with a governess, especially if the mother lays herself out to share all her knowledge so far as possible with her child. As she grows up, the child will be the first to discover where she is at a disadvantage compared to others. If she is indifferent about this, I should say no one else need mind for her, and she will be none the worse. But if she minds, and she probably will, she can then acquire the belated knowledge in half the time and with half the money spent on teachers that would be required if spread out over a childhood more or less reluctant to learn. Do try and stop the lady from taking in "educational literature," for I'm sure it's not only useless but harmful to fret one's conscience unless it leads to conviction, and fortunately this mother seems not convinced by the "professing educationalists." . . . If the child is already fifteen or sixteen, the only modification I should make to what I have said would be to recommend putting most forcibly before the girl herself that if she has to, or wishes to, "take some part in the real work of the world" she must utilise her best faculties to the full and try to diminish her deficiencies.'

The burning question of what girls should or should not read called forth a good deal of comment and opposition The following was one of the best of the letters on this subject: 'I think that, allowing for hereditary instincts and inherited character, or want of it, there can be no hard-and-fast rule as to allowing girl children to read without restriction. So much allowance must be made for the enormous difference in children, who are, quite unconsciously to themselves, swayed by temperament or feelings the real nature of which they are ignorant and innocent of. This question opens up a very wide field, and perhaps in your book you could only afford space for generalisation on such a subject. I also feel that children, like older people and plants and any living thing, are subject to the eternal and terrible order of change; have phases during which their whole nature may become either lethargic and indifferent, or on the other hand be dominated by sexual feeling, receptive or otherwise. One girl at the budding period feels and sees nothing harmful to her mind and morals; while another, hitherto pure and simple-minded, may have her imagination stimulated and her morbid curiosity partially gratified by access to all and any kind of reading, and this may have the effect of soiling a mind in the first and most delicate stage of development. Children, too, are extraordinarily unexpected in their phases, and often turn out so much better or worse than one thought without any apparent reason.' As regards the reading, in spite of all that has been said, I cannot alter my view that on the whole it is better to leave a great deal of liberty from childhood upwards, allowing the child to form her own taste, it being better to manage the reading of the young by advice than by restrictions.