Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 31.djvu/371

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North Carolina and Virginia. 363

" Did the South during the last century and a half have no orators, poets nor writers whose work might be of service in the literary de- velopment of the child ? Were the Southerners so enervated by the luxury of slavery as to produce nothing worthy of a place among the selections from the best writers and speakers of the language ?

"The average child using the Stepping Stones to Literature, would be forced so to conclude. For, mark you, this series of read- ers consists of seven grades; the majority of children in our schools never reach the last of the seven, and in this one only is there a word from a Southern lip or pen. The selections were made or ap- proved by a Boston lady naturally from the literature with which she was most familiar. The New England school of authors fully repre- sented, and biographical notes make sure that the child shall know the section to which they belong and the loving reverence in which they are held; but the information of this kind about the Southern authors is marked in its meagerness. Its extent is as follows: Pat- rick Henry 'lived in Virginia during the Revolutionary War.' Mrs. Preston ' was born in Philadelphia, and lived in Lexington, Vir- ginia/ 'General Gordon was a Confederate Officer,' and 'Sidney Lanier was a Southern poet.' For the man who does not want his child to know more than this of the home and nativity of South- ern authors, these books are good enough. But if there is such a man in our land, his only plea for such a wish would have to be his own unbounded ignorance.

" The South has produced orators whose impetuous eloquence has made men rush with a glad cheer into the very jaws of death; states- men, whose wise counsel has restrained the fierce heat of a hot- blooded people; preachers, whose words have convinced the sinner, cheered the saint and comforted the bereaved; writers, whose senti- ments have placed the wreath of undying glory on the tomb of heroes and inspired a people of desolated homes to rehabilitate their land made sacred by the graves of such heroes; poets, whose grace- ful fancy has gilded the mountain tops with the lights of other days and caused those in the gloom of despair to look up and resolve to lead lives worthy of such hallowed associations.

" Must the children of the South grow up in ignorance of these authors ? Such is the unconscious intent of our Board of Public Education as evinced by their adoption of these Readers for the schools.

"The seventy-eighth Psalm contains a long category of God's dealings with his chosen people. It was appointed to be sung in