Reprinted from Godey’s Lady’s Book, “Placing a Daughter at School,” by Motte Hall, from The Student is a humorous look at the expectations of fond parents when it comes to educating their children—expectations all too familiar to today’s educators …
“Placing a Daughter at School,” by Motte Hall (from Godey’s Lady’s Book; reprinted in The Student, November 1853; p. 14)

[“I have brought my daughter to be taught every thing.”]

“Dear madam, I’ve called for the purpose

Of placing my daughter at school;

She’s only thirteen, I assure you,

And remarkably easy to rule.

I’d have her learn painting and music,

Gymnastics and dancing, pray do,

Philosophy, grammar, and logic;

You’ll teach her to read, of course, too?

“I wish her to learn every study;

Mathematics are down in my plan,

But of figures she scarce has an inkling,

Pray instruct in those, if you can.

I’d have her taught Spanish and Latin,

Including the language of France;

Never mind her very bad English,

Teach her that when you find a good chance.

“On the harp she must be a proficient,

And play the guitar pretty soon,

And sing the last opera music

E’en though she can’t turn a right tune

You must see that her manners are finished,

That she moves with a Hebe-like grace;

For though she is lame and one-sided,

That’s nothing to do with the case.

“Now to you I resign this young jewel,

And my words I would have you obey;

In six months you return her, dear madam,

Shining bright as an unclouded day.

She’s no aptness, I grant you, for learning,

And her memory oft seems to halt;

But, remember, if she’s not accomplished,

It will certainly all be your fault.”

Godey’s Lady’s Book.

Copyright 1999-2024, Pat Pflieger
To “Nineteenth-Century American Children & What They Read
Some of the children | Some of their books | Some of their magazines
To “Voices from 19th-Century America
Some works for adults, 1800-1872
To Titles at this site | Authors at this site | Subjects at this site | Works by date | Map of the site

Talk to me.