Imagini ale paginilor


or by the Governor, or by the Board of Normal Regents, or by any other proper authority that the legislature may designate.

3. But the weakest point of the county superintendency is the inspection of schools. The most efficient superintendent in an average county can only visit cach school twice a year. According to their reports to the State Superintendent, the most did not near do that last year. For an efficient inspection of the schools, conducted as they are mostly by young teachers, two visits each term are none too much. This is just twice as much as can be done in most counties, and four or five times as much as can be done in such counties as Grant with its 244 schools and departments, Sauk with its 178, or Walworth with its 166.. Such counties as these ought to be divided into two superintendent districts, as counties no larger are. In most of the counties the superintendent can visit schools hurriedly once or twice a year, and that is all; but such visits as he can give, although too brief and too few, are yet indispensable to him, in learning the condition of schools and the ability of teachers to teach.

I think the general feeling of all who have thought on this subject is, that any change in our present system should be toward a greater rather than a less amount of supervision of the schools.

This must be done by either limiting the superintendent's districts or by creating some additional form of supervision. The project of limiting superintendent districts to assembly districts or to 100 schools or so, has been brought before educational bodies in this state several times, and has never met with much favor.

Can there, then, be some additional form of supervision created? I think there can be and ought to be. If the Town System of school government were adopted by the state, as all the best educators of the state desire, the secretary of the Town Board of Education would of course supervise the schools of the town and be paid for it, and could also report to the County Superintendent. But if the Town System is not adopted, a supervision of schools could easily be secured by making it the duty of the Town Clerks to visit the schools in their towns, say, once a month, or twice a term, and report to the County Superintendent, and be paid for this as for their other services. The Town Clerks should do it, because they are already school officers, because they are generally intelligent men and men with a good business faculty, and because they are generally continued in office from year to year. They should report to the County Superintendent so as to secure a more punctual and thorough discharge of their duty, and so as to keep the County Superintendent informed upon the condition of the schvols. And they should be paid for their time, because there is no other way of compelling them to do it. Or, the County Superintendent might be empowered to appoint one or mors Assistant Superintendents, pay them and have them report to himself. If Hon. J. T. Kingston's proposal were to be adopted, that superintendents should have larger districts, it would be necessary to have assistant superintendents.

I think that we ought to have the following changes: If we retain the County superintendency, the election should be in the spring, and the salary should be increased; in the larger counties the superintendent should be allowed an assistant; the State Superintendent should assume or be given greater authority over the County Superintendents; the Town Clerk should visit schools and report to the County Superintendent. Or, if it is possible, let superintendents be appointed for larger districts whose business should be to examine teachers and hold local Institutes, and who should be aided in the work of supervising schools by assistants of their own selection.




To a poor country-schoolmaster who spends all his days in a more or itoss dingy school-room, and who returns home evening after evening to find the company there tired, dull, or too much occupied with their individual cares or duties to be sociable; to find the only paper or magazine (for which the schoolmaster pays) in the hands of one who never relinquishes his prey until the last word on the last page, or outside cover is read; and to find the lamp appropriated by half a dozen per. sons intent on finishing some job—to such a worn and weary man, I say, what greater blessing can be bestowed on him than a good neighbor? Thrice blessed be the man who invented hospitality! To me it always seemed the greatest of social virtues and a pure fountain of brotherly love, for it shows genuine appreciation of the beautiful words, “For what

ye do unto the least of them, ye do unto me.” Farmer Perkins was my good neighbor. What I would have done without him in the snow-bound winters of '70 and '71, I dare not imagine. I was his welcome guest many a long winter's evening, and while the storm raged without we would sit in front of a roaring hickory fire, and talk or read, or sing old-fashioned folk-songs and our ever in. spiring national airs, until midnight came, and I regretfully left my place at the fireside and went home, glowing with that peculiar and warm feeling of satisfaction that pervades our physical and mental system after a well-spent hour of recreation.


I have been the guest of many a household and often enjoyed myself well, but nowhere have I found better cheer or better conversation than at farmer Perkin's. There was an indescribable air of comfort about the whole house, which neither fine furniture nor the luxury of art can impart to a dwelling, and which is solely the result of an indefinable, yet perceptible harmony, of a fitness of every thing in it, and especially of its inmates. I think it is the latter, principally, that create a home.

Mrs. Perkins was one of the old-fashioned and nearly extinct species of housewives who marry their husbands “for better or worse,' who actually believe it a duty to be a “help-meets" to them, and who not only have found their “sphere," but are contented in it. She combined common sense with rare good nature, and was such a woman as one might wish his own mother to be. One of her great (perhaps her greatest) merits was, that she brought up her children after her own pattern. Thus her oldest daughter, Polly, promised to be her mother's counterpart some future day, much to the satisfaction of young Miller, Polly's suitor.

But the most interesting member of the household was Lambert Perkins, a man nearly sixty years of age; in person he was tall and gaunt, resembling Abraham Lincoln in form and features, and like his great countryman, he could boast of but little learning, being a self-taught

The resemblance to Lincoln was still greater from a mental point of view; he, too, combined a remarkable memory with great perceptive powers, a deep and genuine pathos with a keen relish for innocent humor. He had a real thirst for knowledge, a modest, yet eager longing to be the equal of greater spirits and a desire to share with them the realms of thought. His mind, like that of Burns, was constantly revolving some interesting problem, engaging in lofty speculations even while guiding the plow, or while doing his prosaic chores about the barn or field. He had not the sublime gift of clothing his thoughts in the language of the poet, but they were full of subtle poetry that charmed his hearer, yet eluded his analysis, like the odor of distant flowers. But for all this he was not sentimental; he was too manly for that, and his poetic fancies never impaired his love of honest labor, as is so often the case with those who aspire to soar to the dizzy heights of Parnassus, yet lack the wings that are to carry them aloft.

This peculiar blending of the poetic and the practical, the pathetic and the näive, farmer Perkins shared with many who have sprung from our fresh western soil.

I was not the only guest of this genial family; Polly's lover came as regularly as I did, though for a different purpose. He generally sat


between Polly and her mother, dividing his attentions between them, or whittling extra fine kindling for the morrow.

Once in a while a neighbor would drop in, but not often enough to influence the spirit of our circle-probably because the spirit imbibed here never changed its singular form to the plural; our3 was a rather bibulous community and one that generally partook its“ spirit” in the distilled forın. But homemade cider and small-beer were the strongest drinks ever offered to farmer Perkins's guests, and that kept his hearth free from undesirable callers. On the other hand, none knew better than Mrs. Perkins how to prepare “ the cup that cheers but not inebriates," and her crisp buttered toast partook of the excellence of her own dear self.

One evening I was surprised to finding neighbor Calker, generally called the “ Boss," at Perkins's. He was one of the leading men in the town, a large, fattish man, with a florid face and swaggering gait shrewd, and not overwise in his political and administrative dealings. He always held some office or other, and although everbody called him a rascal, he never lacked public favor, since it is a part of our creed to admire smartness without regard to the form in which it appears.

“Rather surprised to see me here, eh ?” was Calker's greeting as I entered; and giving my hand a squeeze and puffing the fumes of strong liquor recentiy imbibed into my face as he spoke, he continued, "well, you know I cime on a rather delicate errard ; we are going to build a meeting house, ha, ha! and I am sent to inquire whether we couldn't hire Parson Perkins to do the preaching, you know; he's strong on the moralizing subject and would save us the building of a parsonage. By the hy, couldn't you lead the choir, Mr. Pen, and play the organ (hand organ, of course)? We'd be much obliged to you. Salary no object, to you, you know, ha, ha!” And the “boss" laughed uproariously at his joke.

“ If you are a sample of my future congregation, boss, I had better let preaching alone,” said Perkins, dryly. “I know that you never saw the inside of a church these thirty years, but you make it up in a perfect knowledge of all the saloons and taverns of the town.”

“ That's so, by gum! And I don't think it hurts me either. How you can stay at home moping about the house instead of coming to the tavern once in a while, is just a mystery to me, Perkins. I should think the women folk would get tired of having you at home all the time; now,


Mrs. Perkins? I dare say you sometimes wish he were off for a day or evening," and Calker winked at the worthy matron in his knowing manner.

“Really, I never had such a wish," the lady replied. “I never find my husband in the way, and when evening comes I like to have him with us.

Polly and I should feel very lonesome without him.”

[ocr errors]

Charming, I declare! Here is a man who cares for nobody but himself and family, and a woman who never gets tired of his com


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

“ That is not at all surprising, at least as far as I am concerned,” continued our hostess, ignoring the half-concealed sneer of the veteran tippler. “We women-folk have few chances of improvement, and we must rely in this respect on the help of our husbands and brothers. Now, if they go the tavern, we not only lose their society, but also their conversation, and with it our chances for getting information on all those topics that men discuss, and of which women ought not to be entirely ignorant. Lambert stays at home, reads the papers to us, and draws pleasant and suitable company into our circle, all of which we should lose if he went to other places for amusement and entertainment. And I think his gain would in no instance balance our loss."

Why, Mrs. Perkins, you are a regular woman's rights supporter ! I expect to see you sign the female suffrage bill,' and become a candidate for the office of town-clerk or the like; or at least you'll agitate in behalf of that pending temperance bill, for I believe you are in favor of the abolition of our saloons, are you not?”

“I certainly am, neighbor Calker, ani so is my husband.”
“And you, Mr. Miller?"
“I? total abstinence, of course!"
“ And our pedagogue?”
“ Ditto, ditto, boss."

“ Ha, ha, a regular quorum!” laughed boss Calker. “A “respectable minority,' you know, and one who will never cause one drop of liquor less to be distilled or consumed! But what on earth has set you against drinking? Moderate drinking, you know, that's no sin, and no man is obliged to drink more than he can stand. I'm sure, liquor is not to blame if one man out of a hundred becomes a drunkard, no more than we blame our food because it makes some people gluttons."

“ Well, Caiker,” said farmer Perkins, “ I never knew a good cause that was not slandered, nor a bad cause that did not find its defenders. But both the weakness and strength of such a defense lies in the false logic employed in the system of sophisms that supports it, and in the ignorance of the masses that allow themselves tɔ be blindfolded in order to subserve selfish ends. The greed of man offers a tempting poison, ungoverned appeiite yields to the temptation, and paid menials of the press, the senate and the rostrum, invent sophistic excuses for the one, and new inducements for the other."

“False logic is used on both sides, I think, for I never read a temperance tract or article, without finding about nine-tenths of it to consist of un

[ocr errors]
« ÎnapoiContinuă »