Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Thy lover heeds nought of thy sighs;
He lies a corpse on the braes of Yarrow."

WILLIAM HAMILTON.

The School-Mistress.

Ar me! full sorely is my heart forlorn,
To think how modest Worth neglected lies,
While partial Fame doth with her blast adorn
Such deeds alone, as pride and pomp disguise;
Deeds of ill sort, and mischievous emprise:
Lend me thy clarion; goddess ! let me try
To sound the praise of Merit, ere it dies,

Such as I oft have chaunced to espy,
Lost in the dreary shades of dullObscurity.

In every village mark'd with little spire,
Embower'd in trees, and hardly known to Fame,
There dwells in lowly shed, and mean attire,
A matron old, whom we School-mistress name,
Who boasts unruly brats with birch to tame;
They grieven sore, in piteous durance pent,
Aw'd by the power of this relentless dame

And oft-times, on vagaries idly bent,
For unkempt hair, or task unconn'd, are sorely shent.

a

And all in sight doth rise a birchen tree
Which Learning near her little dome did stowe
Whilom a twig of small regard to see,
Though now so wide its waving branches flow
And work the simple vassals mickle woe;
For not a wind might curl the leaves that blew,
But their limbs shudder'd, and their pulse beat low;

And as they look'd they found their horror grew,
And shap'd it into rods, and tingled at the view.

So have I seen (who has not, may conceive)
A lifeless phantom near a garden plac'd;

So doth it wanton birds of peace bereave,
Of sport, of song, of pleasure, of repast;
They start, they stare, they wheel, they look aghast;
Sad servitude ! such comfortless annoy
May no bold Briton's riper age e'er taste!

Ne superstition clog his dance of joy,
No vision empty, vain, his native bliss destroy.

Near to this dome is found a patch so green,
On which the tribe their gambols do display,
And at the door imprisoning-board is seen,
Lest weakly wights of smaller size should stray;
Eager, perdie, to bask in sunny day!
The noises intermix'd, which thence resound,
Do Learning's little tenement betray;

Where sits the dame, disguis'd in look profound,
And

eyes her fairy throng, and turns her wheel around.

Her cap, far whiter than the driven snow,
Emblem right meet of decency does yield:
Her apron dy'd in grain, as blue, I trow,
As is the hare-bell that adorns the field :
And in her hand, for sceptre, she does wield
Tway birchen sprays; with anxious fear entwin'd,
With dark distrust, and sad repentance fill’d:

And stedfast hate, and sharp affliction join'd,
And fury uncontroll’d, and chastisement unkind.

Few but have kenn'd, in semblance meet portray'd,
The childish faces of old Eol's train;
Libs, Notus, Auster: these in frowns array'd,
How then would fare or Earth, or Sky, or Main,
Were the stern god to give his slaves the rein?
And were not she rebellious breasts to quell,
And were not she her statutes to maintain,

The cot no more, I ween, were deem'd the cell, Where comely peace of mind, and decent order dwell.

A russet stole was o'er her shoulders thrown;
A russet kirtle fenc'd the nipping air ;
'T was simple russet, but it was her own;
'T was her own country bred the flock so fair!
'T was her own labor did the fleece

prepare; And, sooth to say, her pupils, rang'd around, Through pious awe, did term it passing rare;

For they in gaping wonderment abound, And think, no doubt, she been the greatest wight on ground.

Albeit ne flattery did corrupt her truth,
Ne
pompous

title did debauch her ear;
Goody, good-woman, gossip, n'aunt, forsooth,
Or dame, the sole additions she did hear;
Yet these she challeng'd, these she held right dear:
Ne would esteem him act as mought behove,
Who should not honor'd eld with these revere:

For never title yet so mean could prove,
But there was eke a mind which did that title love.

One ancient hen she took delight to feed,
The plodding pattern of the busy dame;
Which, ever and anon, impell’d by need,
Into her school, begirt with chickens, came!
Such favor did her past deportment claim:
And, if Neglect had lavish'd on the ground
Fragment of bread, she would collect the same,

For well she knew, and quaintly could expound
What sin it were to waste the smallest crumb she found

Herbs too she knew, and well of each could speak
That in her garden sipp'd the silvery dew;
Where no vain flower disclos'd a gaudy streak;
But herbs for use, and physic, not a few,
Of gray renown, within those borders grew:
The tufted basil, pun-provoking thyme,
Fresh baum, and marigold of cheerful hue;

The lowly gill, that never dares to climb;
And more I fain would sing, disdaining here to rhyme.

Yet euphrasy may not be left unsung,
That gives dim eyes to wander leagues around;
And pungent radish, biting infant's tongue;
And plantain ribb'd, that heals the reaper's wound,
And marjoram sweet, in shepherd's posie found;
And lavender, whose spikes of azure bloom
Shall be, erewhile, in arid bundles bound,

To lurk amidst the labors of her loom,
And crown her kerchiefs clean, with mickle rare perfume.

And here trim rosemarine, that whilom crown'd
The daintiest garden of the proudest peer;
Ere, driven from its envied site, it found
A sacred shelter for its branches here;
Where edg'd with gold its glittering skirts appear.
Oh wassal days! Oh customs meet and well!
Ere this was banish'd from his lofty sphere:

Simplicity then sought this humble cell,
Nor ever would she more with thane and lordling dwell.

Here oft the dame, on Sabbath's decent eve,
Hymned such psalms as Sternhold forth did mete.
If winter 't were, she to her hearth did cleave,
But in her garden found a summer-seat;
Sweet melody! to hear her then repete
How Israel's sons, beneath a foreign king,
While taunting foemen did a song entreat,

All, for the nonce, untuning every string,
Uphung their useless lyres-small heart had they to sing.

For she was just, and friend to virtuous lore,
And pass'd much time in truly virtuous deed;
And in those elfins' ears would oft deplore
The times when Truth by Popish rage did bleed,

And tortious death was true Devotion's meed;
And simple Faith in iron chains did mourn,
That nould on wooden image place her creed;

And lawny saints in smouldering flames did burn:
Ah! dearest Lord, forefend, thilk days should e'er return

In elbow-chair, like that of Scottish stem
By the sharp tooth of cankering eld defac'd,
In which, when he receives his diadem,
Our soverign prince and liefest liege is plac'd,
The matron sate; and some with rank she grac'd
(The source of children's and of courtiers' pride!)
Redress'd affronts, for vile affronts there pass'd;

And warn'd them not the fretful to deride,
But love each other dear, whatever them betide.

Right well she knew each temper to descry;
To thwart the proud, and the submiss to raise;
Some with vile copper-prize exalt on high,
And some entice with pittance small of praise,
And other some with baleful sprig she 'frays:
E'en absent, she the reins of power doth hold,
While with quaint arts the giddy crowd she sways:

Forewarn’d, if little bird their pranks behold,
'T will whisper in her ear, and all the scene unfold.

Lo now with state she utters the command!
Eftsoons the urchins to their tasks repair;
Their books of stature small they take in hand,
Which with pellucid horn secured are,
To save from finger wet the letters fair:
The work so gay that on their back is seen,
St. George's high achievements does declare;

On which thilk wight that has y-gazing been,
Kens the forthcoming rod, unpleasing sight, I ween!

Ah luckless he, and born beneath the beam
Of evil star, it irks me whilst I write:

« AnteriorContinuar »