19th Century: 1862
African American Literature 1619-1926
Charlotte Forten Grimke (1838-1914)
Monday, November 10, 1862 We taught- or rather commenced teaching the children "John Brown," which they entered into eagerly. I felt to the full significance of that song being sung here in South Carolina by little negro children, by those whom he -the glorious man-died to save. Miss Towne told them about him.
A poor mulatto man is in one of our people's houses, a man from the North, who assisted Mr. Phillips ( a nephew of Wendell P.) when he was here, in teaching school; he seems to be quite an intelligent man. He is suffering from fever. I shall be glad to take as good care of him as I can. It is so sad to be ill, helplless and poor, and so far away from home..
Thursday, November 13. Was there ever a lovelier road than that through which part of my way to school lies? Oh, I wish you were here to go with me, cher ami. It is lined with woods on both sides. On the one tall stately pines, on the other the noble live oaks with their graceful moss drapery. And the road is carpeted with those brown odorous pine leaves that I love so well. It is perfectly lovely. I forgot that I was almost ill to-day, while sauntering along, listening to the birds, and breathing the soft delicious air. Of the last part of the wallk, through sun and sand, the less said the better.
Talked to the hildren a little while to-day about the noble Toussaint [L'Ouverture]. They listened very attentively. It is well that they sh'ld know what one of their own color c'ld do for his race. I long to inspire them with courage and ambition (of a noble sort,) and high purpose.
It is noticeable how very few mulattoes there are here. Indeed in our school, with one or two exceptions, the children are all black. A little mulatto child strayed into the school house yesterday- a pretty little thig, with large beautiful black eyes and lovely long lashes. But so dirty! I longed to seize and thoroughly cleanse her. The mother is a good-looking woman, but quite black. "Thereby," I doubt not, "hangs a tale."
This eve, Harry, one of the men on the place, came in for a lesson. He is most eager to learn, and is really a scholar to be proud of. He learns rapidly. I gave him his first lesso in writing to-night, and his progress was wondergul. He held the pen almost perfectly right the first time. He will very soon learn to write, I think. I mmust inquire if there are not more of the grown people who w'ld llike to take lessons at night. Whenever I am well enough it will be a real happiness to me to teach them.