Open main menu

Page:Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.djvu/2109

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
1899
THE NURSERY GOVERNESS

aristocracy to take situations as nursery governesses, but there are now many well-educated, lady-like girls to be found a little lower in the social scale who have qualified themselves by special training to earn their living in this manner.

Treatment of Nursery Governess.—To the mistress of a household she should be, as we have said, a mother's help, and treated accordingly. In many cases she has to perform the duties that might fall to the eldest daughter, or the mistress herself; and anything which they themselves would shrink from should not be pressed upon her. She should not have to feel ashamed of her position in the household, or suffer the lack of kindness or companionship, while her pay should be adequate. Kindly encouragement, it need hardly be mentioned, should always be given to the nursery governess who honestly and faithfully fulfils her duties; while, should she be an orphan with no near relatives to whom to turn for advice, she should be able to find, in the mistress of the household, a friend from whom she can seek help and sympathy.

The qualifications most necessary for a nursery governess are a love for children and a good temper. With these she can soon win the hearts of the little ones under her care, and keep them happy while in her company. It must be bad for both governess and children when these qualifications are lacking, or even one of them; and it would be far better to seek another post more congenial than one into which she cannot put heart, as well as hands and brain. But, independent of these two qualities, a good nursery governess must also have a good system of training children, a thorough knowledge of all she undertakes to teach, and be a good manager. That she should be clean, neat, and refined in manner and speech goes without saying. Good early teaching and example in such matters as speaking correctly, eating in a proper manner, politeness, and so on, is of the utmost importance, for children are ready copyists, quick to pick up and use words or ways of those around them, especially those it is most desirable they should avoid; and they are also quick to notice the injustice of being children for a fault that they see passed in their elders without comment. For this reason it is unwise to select for nursery governess a girl who has had the disadvantage of an inferior moral and social training.

A knowledge of needlework is also essential. It is not always stipulated that the nursery governess makes the clothing for the children, but it is always understood that she repairs it and keeps it in order, and to do this she must work neatly, and, if the children be old enough, give them some instruction in the rudiments of needlework. To be able to renovate and renew little garments, to trim hats or bonnets, and to suggest or design pretty and inexpensive little costumes, should be a pleasure to one who takes an interest in the children for whom she works; while if she is able to undertake to entirely clothe them, her value to her employer will be considerably greater, and her salary should, in consequence, be higher.