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THE SCHOOL-MISTRESS.

In Imitation of Spencer.

A

This poem is one of those happinesses in which a

poet excels himself, as there is nothing in all Shenstone which any way approaches it in merit; and, though I dislike the imitations of our old English poets in general, yet, on this minute subject, the antiquity of the style produces a very ludicrous folemnity.

H me! full sorely is my heart forlorn,

To think how modeft worth neglected lies;
While partial Fame doth with her blasts adorn
Such deeds alone as pride and pomp disguise ;
Deeds of ill fort, and mischievous emprize :
Lend me thy clarion, goddess ! let me try
To found the praise of merit, ere it dies !

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

In ev'ry 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 fore, in piteous durance pent,
Aw'd by the pow'r of this relentless dame ;

And oft-times on vagaries idly bent,
For unkempt hair, or takk unconn'd, are forely thent,

And all in sight doth rise a birchen tree,
Which Learning near her little dome did ftowe;
Whilom a twig of small regard to fee,
Tho' 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 Map'd it into rods, and tingled at the view.

So have I seen (who has not, may conceive)
A lifeless phantom rear a garden plac'd;
So doth it wanton birds of peace bereave,
Of sport, of song, of pleasure, of repast ;
'They start, they ftare, they wheel, they look aghaft;
Sad fervitude! such comfortless annoy
May no bold Briton's riper age e'er taste!

Ne superftition clog his dance of joy,
Ne 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 impris'ning board is seen,
Left weakly wights of smaller fize should stray ;
Eager, perdie, to balk of funny day!
The noises intermix'd, which hence resound,
Do learning's little tenement betray:

Where fits the dame, disguis'd in look profound, And eyes her fairy throng, and turns her wheclaround.

Her

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

And stedfast hate, and sharp affliction join'd,
And fury uncontrould, and chattisement unkind.

Few but have kend, in femblance meet pourtray'd,
The childith faces of old Eol's train;
Libs, Notus, Aufter: these in frowns array'd,
How then would fare or earth, or 'sky, or main,
Were the stern god to give his faves 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.

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A rufset stole was o'er her shoulders thrown ;
A russet kirtle fenc'd the nipping air ;
?Twas simple russet, but it was her own;
'Twas her own country bred the flock fo fair ;
'Twas her own labour did the fleece prepare ;
And, footh to say, her pupils, rang'd around,
Thro' pious awe, did term it pafling rare;

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

Albeit ne flatt'ry 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 wou'd esteem him act as mought behove,
Who should not honour'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 favour did her paft deportment claim;
And, if neglect had lavish'd on the ground
Fragment of bread, she would collect the same;

For well the knew, and quaintly cou'd 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 fipp'd the filv'ry dew;
Where no vain flow'r disclos'd a gaudy streak;
But herbs for use, and physic, not a few,
Of grey renown, within those borders grew:
The tufted basil, pun-provoking thyme,
Fresh baum, and mary-gold of chearful hue;

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

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Yet

Yet euphrafy 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 marj'ram sweet, in fhepherd's pofie found;
And lavender, whose spikes, of azure bloom,
Shall be, ere-while, in arid bundles bound,

To lurk amidst the labours of her loom,
And crown her kerchiefs clean, with mickle rare

[perfume, And here trim rosmarine, that whilom crown'd The daintieft garden of the proudeft peer; Ere, driven from its envied fite, it found A sacred shelter for its branches here; Where, edg'd with gold, its glitt'ring skirts appear,

waffel days! O customs meet and well! Ere this was banil'd from its lofty spere :

Simplicity then fought this humble cell,
Nor ever would ihe more with Thane and lordling

[dwell.
Here oft the dame, on fabbath's decent eve,
Hymned such psalms as Sternhold forth did mete ;
If winter 'twere, the to her hearth did cleave ;
But in her garden found a summer seat:
Sweet melody! to hear her then repeat
How Ifrael's sons, beneath a foreign king,
While taunting foe-men did a song intreat,

All, for the nonce, untuning ev'ry string,
Up hung their useless lyres-small heart had they to

fing
Vol. I.
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