Table of contents:
- West is coming
- Ugly and middle-aged? Good
- A beggar from Russia? Go to governess
- And who is it? Lady or "give-and-bring"?
- Illiterate teachers
- Half a century of support and a sad end
Not every woman could be a good governess. The requirements for them were high, they had to become practically a family member for the child, lead him into adulthood, and in some cases stay close to his death. Who raised children in noble families, how they hired home teachers, what did the governesses do and how they lived - read the material.
West is comingThe time when the first tutors appeared in Russia can be considered the era of Peter I. It was in the family of the tsar that the Frenchwoman Delonois served, whose duties included teaching his beloved daughters and accompanying them everywhere, from ordinary walks to pompous balls. The tsar's associates, as well as foreigners living in Russia, did not lag behind.
At this time, cardinal changes were taking place in everything: in the way of thinking and life, in the state system. The West attracted Russia more and more. It is not surprising that in raising children, the nobles decided to adhere precisely to Western manners.
The turning point was 1737, when Empress Anna issued a decree on the education of noble children. Germans and Italians became very popular persons; it was a matter of honor to have a foreign tutor in their home. Initially, special preference was given to German governors and governesses, who, due to their national characteristics, were very picky and practical. This could not but rejoice the parents, but the children had a hard time.
When the 18th century drew to the middle, the scales swung towards France. Like a full-flowing river that broke through a dam, the French and French women rushed to Russia. Children and parents liked them: foreigners had a delicate taste, had exquisite manners, sincerely loved children, were cheerful, sociable.
And when the 19th century came, the fashion changed again, and the nobles began to look for governesses from England. The collective image of the English Lady, imperturbable and elegant, excited the minds. The novels of English writers, in which the governesses were the ideal of decency, did their job.
And what about domestic teachers? The 19th century opened the doors to noble families for graduates of Russian higher educational institutions, schools and boarding schools. A whole area of teacher training has emerged. For example, the Institute for Noble Maidens, which trained graduates to work as home teachers. They were taught the most important subjects at that time: languages, geography, history, music, drawing and dancing.
Ugly and middle-aged? GoodMost often, women became home teachers. They found a common language with children better, were more sensitive, subtle and easy to communicate. However, there was a small "but". Both French women and Russian boarders often attracted the owner of the house not only with their business qualities, but with their youth and beauty.
And the wives were absolutely not happy with this alignment. In order to save the husband from temptation, the wives insisted on taking into the house a governess in years, preferably not too pretty. Then one could hope that the teacher's functions would be limited to her professional duties. If the applicant was young and beautiful, preference in most cases was given to another, ugly, sometimes even ugly. Yes, it was difficult for the pretty governess to find a job. It is clear that youth and beauty pass quickly. In the meantime, the cheeks are like roses, and the waist is wasp, I had to agree to a penny salary and endure the harassment of the enchanted owner (or someone from the household). Many girls tried to specially dress nondescriptly, comb their hair in an ugly way, some even put on glasses they did not need.
It was easier for men, nevertheless, and here they tried to take elderly already married ones. Sometimes they hired a married couple. If the tutor was already young and handsome, then the jealous owner of the house could easily kick him out or simply not hire him. The most demanded were elderly tutors with good manners and always with letters of recommendation.
A beggar from Russia? Go to governessThere were many educated, but very poor girls in Russia. How could you earn a living? If we put aside the immoral methods, there was only one left - to go to the governess. Very often one could meet a governess who was the daughter of a professor or an impoverished aristocrat, clergyman, clerk. Or she was just an orphan. The girls received money for their work either put aside for life, or sent them to their poor relatives. Some governesses were lucky: having accumulated a dowry, they successfully married. But there were few such stories, often the girl lived in the house until a ripe old age. The work of a governess brought a good profit, but the pay completely depended on how rich the family in which the girl worked, what education the governess had.
And who is it? Lady or "give-and-bring"?In Germany and England (suffice it to recall Jane Eyre), the governess was considered a privileged servant. In the Russian Empire, she could safely be attributed to the number of household members.
This did not clarify the situation. A kind of fork arose: there was an educated free man in the house, not a servant. But how could you call her equal? She worked, and a lady of noble birth should not work. There were conflicts between servants and governesses: the teacher is paid well, she behaves defiantly, in the opinion of the same cook or maid.
At the same time, the guests who came to the house did not communicate with the governess on equal terms, but they did not show their irritation either. What was left for the poor girl to do? Just try to become invisible, behave as modestly as possible. They were forbidden to dress up, buy beautiful dresses, and wear jewelry. It was impossible to allow anyone to mistake the worker for the mistress of the house. At the same time, the governess was obliged to always look clean and tidy, wear decent shoes, clothes, and have a dress for the day.
The concept of a home teacher included not only teaching any sciences. The governess was with the children all the time, read to them, walked, accompanied them to visit, the store, watched so that they did not get hurt during the game. Sometimes the governess lived with her student all her life.
Illiterate teachersWhen a fashion for tutors from France arose in Russia, the nobles literally persecuted any visiting Frenchman who could be accepted as a tutor. The requirements were extremely low: there are some European manners and the ability to speak French - okay!
Tailors and cooks, milliners and seamstresses flocked to Russia, who, not finding more suitable work, happily found themselves as home tutors. And what? Hearty and not dusty, but there are practically no requirements. The same was true for both German and English teachers. It happened that a teacher was hired for a child to make him a real nobleman, and an Englishman turned out to be a soap-maker or a shoemaker. And manners were not at all discussed. Moreover, many of the tutors had a very dubious past.
This could not continue. In 1755, Elizabeth I issued a decree stating that only a foreigner who passed a special exam at the University of Moscow or at the Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg could work as a tutor.
Fines were also introduced, and not small ones. If the owner, wishing to save money, hired a governess without a certificate, he could be fined as much as 250 rubles. They caught again - the tutor or governess without a certificate was sent to their home country, and the owner was tried!
Half a century of support and a sad end
The government was concerned about the problems of governesses. In 1853, a decree was issued on the accrual of small pensions to them, in 1870 the Moscow Society of Educators and Teachers appeared, in which it was possible to receive the necessary advice and material assistance. It was a kind of shelter for those who, due to illness or old age, were no longer able to fulfill their duties or could not find a job. This state of affairs continued until the October Revolution of 1917. A new country has emerged, morals have changed, priorities have changed. The profession of a governess quickly disappeared and again became in demand only in recent decades.
Today it is very interesting to know and how the greats of this world and the children of commoners were punished in childhood.