We learn that the teachers of Richmond
propose to the teachers of Virginia
generally to meet them in Convention on the 29th of December next, in the latter city, to deliberate on matters of importance connected with education.
It seems to be understood that the great object of the meeting is to get rid, as far as possible, of every vestige and shadow of the Yankee
We bid any Convention assembling for such a purpose as that God speed with all our hearts.
It is impossible to estimate the injury that has been done to the cause of learning in the South
by the introduction of Yankee teachers, Yankee school-books, and Yankee systems of teaching, from the days of the old Revolution to those of the present.
If the proposed Convention will sweep them all away with the very besom of destruction they will have done golden service to the cause of education.
More than forty years ago Thomas Jefferson
complained of the "Yankee Latin" that had been introduced into our schools, to the almost total abrogation of the genuine Roman tongue in which Cicero
spoke, and Horace and Virgil wrote.
If the damage had stopped with the dead languages perhaps it might have been tolerated.
But no man who knows anything of Yankee literature is ignorant of the havoc it has played with the English
In fact, much the larger portion of it exists in what is not the English
language, but a Yankee dialect full of all the idiomatic expressions, slang phrases, and provincial barbarisms that render it the most detestable jargon that ever issued from the mouth of man. With a presumption which nobody but a Yankee could possibly have been guilty, Morse
, their Coryphœus in the congenial task of corrupting the English
language, and rendering it unfit for any other purpose than to be sung through Yankee noses, undertook to fix it as it issued red hot from Yankee lips, and to give it the form and the spelling impressed upon it by Yankee vulgarity.
We are thankful that the pride and the common sense of all the world, outside of Yankeedom, revolted from the beastly outrage, and that nowhere else have the spelling and the Yankeeisms of that delectable publication been adopted in books intended for the use of grown up persons.
But Yankee school-books abound in them to such an extent that, if a parent desire his child to spell better than a Yankee chambermaid, he must keep these books out of his hands.
We hope this Convention will succeed in banishing every one of them from every school-house in Virginia
The question of supplying children with a proper set of books for their years is one which presents serious difficulties.
It requires a man or woman of genius — and of very high genius, too — to write such a book.
As far as we can recollect, just at this time, but two writers--Mr. Day
, the author of Sandford
, and Miss Edgworth
— have succeeded.
But each of their works is relished just as much by grown persons as by little boys and girls.
We do not fear to be accused of childishness when we declare that there are few books in the English
language which we prefer to the Parent
's Assistant, and that Sandford
is one of the most delightful books we ever read.
The inference is that children are sure to like, in literature, what grown persons generally like.
If the plainness and perspicuity of the language, the smoothness of the style, and the character of the incidents, render it attractive to the child, it will certainly be attractive also to the man or woman.
From this it is plain that baby books, or books full of baby talk, are no more adapted to the child than they are to any grown person above the degree of an idiot.
An entertaining book, whether it relate the acts of children or of men, will be read eagerly by children who have naturally a taste for reading.
We have heard many persons say that the first book they ever read with any pleasure was Pope
's Translation of the Iliad, and we have ourselves known many children of a very tender age to be charmed with it. Instead of giving the child something exactly on a level with his age, it is better to give him something a little above it. It excites curiosity and leads to exertion.
Sir Walter Scott
, who was of this opinion, said it was like placing something for a child on a shelf, which he could not reach without standing on tip-toe.