All of Which Goes to Prove

MY friend, a prominent educator, conspicuously identified with institutions for the education of negroes, both at the North and the South, has made himself unpopular of late by his advocacy of white teachers for negroes under all circumstances, if possible, holding that certain marked characteristics of the race, — mental defects, mainly, which impede progress, are sure to be perpetuated by the negro teacher, no matter what his acquirements, — defects that might be lessened, and possibly eradicated by the white disciplinarian. Of far more interest to me than his theories, and his exhaustive support of the same, are his notebooks, particularly that one containing a collection of answers given by negro students when wrestling with examinations. Now I am sure that the Club will pardon my omitting classification, etc., if I but give them a few of those answers, adding only, that the owner of this notebook declares that they could only have been given by negroes, and that each one reveals to him the locality where the student was raised, and the school where the examination was held. “ What was the religion of the Ancient Britons ? A strange and terrible one : that of the Dudes. Where is the earth’s climate the hottest ? Next the Creator. What can you tell of Ben Jonson ? He survived Shakespeare in some respects. What causes perspiration ? The culinary glands. What is the spinal column? Bones running all over the body and very dangerous. What is the function of the gastric juice? To digest the stomach. For what is John Milton famous ? Keeping bad angels out of heaven. Name some of the early Christian Fathers. Jerome, Oxigen, and Ambrosia. What is the form of water drops ? Generally spherical, for reasons known only to the gracious Providence who makes them.”

To his notebook of genuine negro dialect he could add the following, taken by shorthand, from the babblement of our black cook, when she came in from church one evening ; we having given it to test his skill in locating negroes by their speech, particularly if they had had some educational advantages, as our Jinny was careful to have known of herself. “ That precha’s no ’count. Heze a pisturpol from the osturpol. He cawn’t preach to me no moah. His prayin’ was cheerin’ ’nuff, but he preached pow’ful low. The tex’ ? Oh yes ; ’t was ’bout the bower and the weeper. The bower shall be destroyed with fiah — dem ’s the words — and the weeper shall come forth, and there shall be wah! wah! wah! ovah all the earth.” We were charged to note that some words were correctly pronounced ; those gave him his clue. Of course, the sermon she had heard was about the sower and the reaper, and her report was largely imaginary, or, what was more likely, her interpretation was a misconception of the meaning of words. Where did Jinny hail from ? “ From the Southwest,” was the prompt answer, “ and she has been taught in a mission school by negroes.” He was right, — puzzling as it was to understand how he knew. In compliance with his request that we send him additional specimens of Jinny’s dialect, we were able to make but few contributions, owing to her setting forth again not long after on her wanderings to see the world. When reproved for idleness one day, she had retorted that she was no idolater. Flannels never flinched when she washed them, and she had been shocked upon learning that a woman of her acquaintance had become an interloper (had run away to get married). From Boston came the last we may ever hear from Jinny, — and very hard it was to decipher her queer hieroglyphics, — she was “ gladdest of all that she could reed and rite and figer in her hed.”