Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Joscelyn: A Tale of the Revolution >> Chapter III: Stephen Joscelyn >> Page 28

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Novel (Romance) | The Reprint Company | 1975, 1976
Transcription 28JOSCELYN
Books, in recent times, are provided rather for the benefit of the
teacher than the pupil. But we must not digress.
The "Old Field School," on Beach Island, with its few books,
had its fair proportion of pupils, girls and boys, in very equal
numbers. Their ages ranged between eight and sixteen. Some of
the males, indeed, seeking, at a late period, to supply their early
deficiencies of education, were to be found of eighteen or nineteen,
and in a few cases even of twenty-one or more years, painfully
struggling through their arithmetic and grammar. These were
mostly the children of poor people, or persons of very moderate
means. Occasionally, however, a farmer or planter of sufficient
wealth, would send his son to the "Old Field School," preferring
contiguity to the supposed advantages of more expensive institutions,
and, perhaps, as was the case here, preferring the one particular
teacher for his son. Stephen Joscelyn had a reputation with many,
not unlike that which we have heard delivered from the mouth
of Alexander Cameron.
His school-house, which was of well-squared logs, of good size
and shapely to the eye, occupied a corner of an old field, long
thrown out of culture, and now thinly sprinkled with a secondary
growth of scrubby and water oaks, field pines, persimmon, and the
frequent China tree. The building itself was completely surrounded
by these latter beautiful shade trees, growing in clumps, and afford-
ing, in summer, a finely sheltered play-ground for the children.
Of these, a goodly number attended the school of Stephen Joscelyn,
and they generally throve under his rule. He was a favorite among
them; gentle and patient, adapting his lesson to the capacity of the
pupil, and seeking, in every possible way, to discover, in the case
of every individual, in what that capacity lay.
But we need not dwell upon his processes. It is enough to report
that he was held to be generally successful. He had won the
confidence of the parents, in winning the affections of the children,
and, by his calm, grave, sedate, gentle and unobtrusive manners,
he secured a welcome in all the households within his province.
His fine talents, prompt judiciary thoughts, and graceful and forci-
ble expression, compelled additional acknowledgment from the best
classes, by which, in process of time, he was lifted gradually into
a sort of local authority, which was amply shown by the frequent