Best American Humorous Short Stories HTML version
may have--a strong arm he must have: so he proves the more important claim first. We
must therefore make all due allowance for Master Horner, who could not be expected to
overtop his position so far as to discern at once the philosophy of teaching.
He was sadly brow-beaten during his first term of service by a great broad-shouldered
lout of some eighteen years or so, who thought he needed a little more "schooling," but at
the same time felt quite competent to direct the manner and measure of his attempts.
"You'd ought to begin with large-hand, Joshuay," said Master Horner to this youth.
"What should I want coarse-hand for?" said the disciple, with great contempt; "coarse-
hand won't never do me no good. I want a fine-hand copy."
The master looked at the infant giant, and did as he wished, but we say not with what
At another time, Master Horner, having had a hint from some one more knowing than
himself, proposed to his elder scholars to write after dictation, expatiating at the same
time quite floridly (the ideas having been supplied by the knowing friend), upon the
advantages likely to arise from this practice, and saying, among other things,
"It will help you, when you write letters, to spell the words good."
"Pooh!" said Joshua, "spellin' ain't nothin'; let them that finds the mistakes correct 'em.
I'm for every one's havin' a way of their own."
"How dared you be so saucy to the master?" asked one of the little boys, after school.
"Because I could lick him, easy," said the hopeful Joshua, who knew very well why the
master did not undertake him on the spot.
Can we wonder that Master Horner determined to make his empire good as far as it went?
A new examination was required on the entrance into a second term, and, with whatever
secret trepidation, the master was obliged to submit. Our law prescribes examinations,
but forgets to provide for the competency of the examiners; so that few better farces offer
than the course of question and answer on these occasions. We know not precisely what
were Master Horner's trials; but we have heard of a sharp dispute between the inspectors
whether a-n-g-e-l spelt angle or angel. Angle had it, and the school maintained that
pronunciation ever after. Master Horner passed, and he was requested to draw up the
certificate for the inspectors to sign, as one had left his spectacles at home, and the other
had a bad cold, so that it was not convenient for either to write more than his name.
Master Homer's exhibition of learning on this occasion did not reach us, but we know
that it must have been considerable, since he stood the ordeal.
"What is orthography?" said an inspector once, in our presence.