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I now opened what some called an Academy, * and others an Old Field School ; and, however it may be thought that content was never felt within the walls of a seminary, I, for my part, experienced an exemption from care, and was not such a fool as to measure the happiness of my condition by what others thought of it.
It was pleasurable to behold my pupils enter the school over which I presided; for they were not composed only of truant boys, but sonie of the fairest damsels in the country. Two sisters generally rode on one horse to the school-door, and I was not so great a pedagogue as to refuse them my assistance to dismount from their steeds. A running-fcotinan of the negro tribe, who followed with their food in a basket, took care of the beast ; and after being saluted by the young ladies with the curtesies of the morning, I proceeded to instruct them, with gentle exhortations to diligence of study.
It had one
* It is worth the while to describe the Academy I occupied on Mr. Ball's plantation. It had one room and a half. It stood on blocks about two feet and a half above the ground, where there was free access to the hogs, the dogs, and the poultry. It had no ceiling ; nor was the roof lathed or plastered; but covered with shingles. Hence, when it rained, like the nephew of old Elwes, I moved my bed (for I slept in my Academy) to the most comfortable corner. window, but no glass, nor shutter. In the night to remedy this, the mulatto wench who waited on me, contrived very ingeniously to place a square board against the window with one hand, and fix the rail of a broken down fence against it with the other. In the morning, when I returned from breakfasting in the • great big-house," (my scholars being collected, I gave the rail a forcible kick with my foot, and down tumbled the board with an awful roar.
6s Is not my window,” said I to Virginia, "of curious construction?" "Indeed, indeed, Sir," replied my fair disciple, “ I think it “is a mighty noisy one."
Common books were only designed for common minds. The unconnected Lessons of Scot, the tasteless Selections of Bing ham, the florid Harangues of Noah Webster, and the somniferous Compilation of Alexander, were either thrown aside, or suffered to gather dust on the shelf; while the charming Essays of Goldsmith, and his not less delectable Novel, together with the impressive Work of De Foe, and the mild productions of Addison, conspired to enchant the fancy, and kindle a love of reading. The thoughts of these writers became engrafted on the minds, and the combinations of their diction, on the language of the pupils.
Of the boys I cannot speak in very encomiastic terms; but they were perhaps like all other school-boys, that is, more disposed to play truant than enlighten their minds. The most important knowledge to an American, after that of himself, is the Geography of his country. I, therefore, put into the hands of my boys a proper book, and initiated them by an attentive reading of the Discoveries of the Genoese; I was even so minute as to impress on their minds the man who first descried land on board the ship of Columbus. That man was Roderic Triuna, and on my exercising the memory of a boy by asking him the name, he very gravely made answer Roderic Random.
Among my male students was a New Jersey gentleman of thirty, whose object was to be initiated in the language of Cicero and Virgil. He had before studied the Latin grammar at an Academy School (I use his own words) in his native State ; but the Academy School being burnt down, his grammar, alas! was lost in the conflagration, and he had neglected the pursuit of literature since the destruction of his book. When I asked him if he did not think it was some Goth who had set fire to his Academy School, he made answer,
So, it is like enough." Mr. Dye did not study Latin to refine his taste, direct his judgment, or enlarge his imagination : bụt merely that he might be enabled to teach it when he opened school, which was his serious design. He had been bred a carpenter, but he panted for the honours of literature. Oprat epbippia bos ; piger optat arare caballus.
HOR. Such was the affectation or simplicity of this man, that he expressed his fears the English stůdents would interrupt his acquirement of Latin. Not knowing whether to storm or laugh, I advised him to retire with his books into Maddison's Cave.
The Blue Ridge Mountains were in sight from the plantation of Mr. Ball, and the rays of the descending sun gilded their summits. But no situation could be more dreary. It had neither the wildness of nature, nor the uniformity of art; and in any month of the year would inspire an Englishman with thoughts of suicide.
I never saw slavery wear so contented an aspect as on Poboke plantation. The work of the slaves was light, and punishment never inflicted. A negro, who had run away, being, brought back by a person who recognized him, he was asked by Mr. Ball the reason of his elopement. Because, said the fellow, I was born to travel. This man I presume was a predestinarian.
On the Sabbath the negroes were at liberty to visit their ' neighbours. Woman, of whatever colour, delights in finery; and the girls never failed to put on their garments of gladness, their bracelets, and chains, rings and ear-rings, and deck themselves bravely to allure the eyes of the white men.
Nor are they often unsuccessful; for as as the arrow of a strong archer cannot be turned aside, so the glance of a lively negro girl cannot be resisted.
The verse of Virgil will apply to the people of Virginia :
Alla ligustra cadunt, vaccinia nigra leguntur.
Several families from New Jersey were settled
in the neighbourhood. The characters of men are best illustrated by comparison, and it may not be useless to compare the Jersey man with the native Virginian.
The New Jersey Man put his hand to the plough; the Virginian only inspects the work of his farm. The New Jersey Man lives with the strictest æconomy, and very seldom visits or receives visits. The Virginian exceeds his income, loves to go abroad, and welcomes his guests with the smiles of hospitality. The New Jersey Man turns every horse out to labour, and walks whither he has to go on business; the Virginian thinking it degrading to be seen on foot, has always his riding nag saddled and fastened to the fence. The New Jersey Man is distinguished by his provincial dialect, and seldom enlarges his mind, or transfers his attention to others; the Virginian is remarkable for his colloquial liappiness, loses no opportunity of knowledge, and delights to shew his wit at the expence of his neighbour. Neither a dancing-master, a pedlar, or a maker of air balloons, was ever encouraged by a New Jersey Man; but on a Virginian they never fail to levy contributions. The treasury of the pedlar is in vain laid open to the eyes of the New Jersey Man; neither the brilliant water of the diamond, the crimson flame of the ruby, nor the lustre of the topaz, has charms to allure him; but the Virginian, enamoured of ornament, cannot gaze on them