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A Yankee Spelling-book.

We have received from the publishers, Messrs. Toon & Co., of Atlanta, Georgia, a spelling-book, which we regret to be compelled to denounce as unworthy of public favor. It is, as the author, Mr. Fleming, admits, a revised edition of Webster's Spelling-Book — in other words, it is a Yankee school-book. It is the duty of the Southern press to unite in putting it down.

Mr Fleming tells us in his preface that “no better spelling-book than Dr. Webster's has ever been presented to the American people,” ample proof of which he finds in the Yankee test of the unparalleled extent of its circulation. He goes on to add that “his (Webster's) dictionary may be found in almost every family, occupying, as it deservedly does, a preeminence over all others,” This statement discloses an amount of ignorance on the part of the author which should deter him from rehashing any more Yankee schoolbooks for Southern use. Webster is not the standard of the best Southern scholars; but Johnson, Walker, and Richardson. Webster's orthography is the detestation of every cultivated Southern gentleman, and this orthography, Mr. Fleming tells us, he has invariably retained. Centre he spells “center,” theatre, “theater,” and, doubtless, ton, “tun.” The retention of these execrable Yankee innovations is enough of itself to damn the book and drive it out of circulation.

Mr. Fleming says further, that “in very few instances Webster's pronunciation has been rejected. The flat or Italian sound of a, as heard in the word father, should not be heard in the words grass, mass, glass, bass, etc. The fiat sound of the letter a in these instances is a New-England provincialism.” Here, again, Mr. Fleming displays gross ignorance. To this day, the flat, or, as we should say, the third sound of a in grass, mass, glass, etc., is used by the educated and wellbred classes in England, and by those on this continent who have preserved the English language in its greatest purity — the tide-water Virginians. [65]

We dislike extremely to speak harshly of literary labor of any kind. But Mr. Fleming has labored very little in reproducing this bit of Yankee clap-trap, and he is poisoning the very fountain-head of Southern literature. His book should be suppressed at once, for it is to all intents and purposes a Yankee spellingbook, slightly and easily altered by the introduction of Bible readings on the subject of slavery. We do not dwell upon numerous typographical errors, because they can be corrected in subsequent editions, if any should be called for, which we trust will not be the case.

We must get rid of Yankee orthography and pronunciation at all hazards. If we begin by spelling-“centre” “center,” we shall end by pronouncing “dew” “doo,” and “cow” “keow.” In truth, it would be well for us to have an entirely new language, unknown and unpronounceable in Yankee land. We must have new coins, new weights, new measures, as unlike Yankee coins, weights, etc., as possible. We must be a distinct people in every thing, or else we will never be independent. At all events, we must not be duped with a Yankee spellingbook, such as Mr. Fleming and Messrs. Toon and Co. are attempting to palm upon us.--Richmond Whig.

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