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The district school-master was sitting behind his great book-laden desk, Close watching the motions of scholars, pathetic and gay and gro.


As whisper the half leafless branches, when Autumn's brisk breezes have come,

His little scrub-thicket of pupils sent upward a half-smothered hum,

Like the frequent sharp bang of a wagon, when treading the forest path o'er,

Resounded the feet of his pupils, whenever their heels struck the floor.

There was little Tom Timms on the front seat, whose face was with

standing a drouth;

And jolly Jack Gibbs just behind him, with a rainy new moon for a mouth.

There were both of the Smith boys, as studious as if they wore names that could bloom;

And Jim Jones, a heaven-built mechanic, the slyest young knave in the room.

With a countenance grave as a horse's and his honest eyes fixed on a pin,

Queer beint on a deeply laid project to tunnel Joe Hawkins' skin.

There were anxious young novices, drilling their spelling-books into the brain,

Loud puffing each half-whispered letter, like an engine just starting its train.

There was one fiercely muscular fellow, who scowled at the sums on his slate,

And leered at the innocent figures a look of unspeakable hate,

And set his white teeth close together, and gave his thin lips a short twist,

As to say, "I could whip you, confound you! could such things be done with the fist!"

There were two knowing girls in the corner, each one with some beauty possessed,

In a whisper discussing the problem which one the young master likes best.

A class in the front with their readers, were telling, with difficult pains, How perished brave Marco Bozzaris while bleeding at all of his veins;

And a boy on the floor to be punished, a statue of idleness stood, Making faces at all of the others, and enjoying the scene all he could.


Around were the walls gray and dingy, which every old schoolsanctum hath,

With many a break on their surface, where grinned a wood grating of lath.

A patch of thick plaster just over the school-master's rickety chair, Seemed threat'ningly o'er him suspended, like Damocles' sword, by a


The square stove puffed and crackled, and broke out in red-flaming sores,

Till the great iron quadruped trembled like a dog fierce to rush out. o'-doors.

White snow flakes looked in at the windows; the gale pressed its lips to the cracks;

And the children's hot faces were steaming, the while they were freezing their backs.


Now Marco Bozzaris had fallen, and all of his sufferings were o'er, And the class to their seats were retreating, when footsteps were heard at the door;

And five of the good district fathers marched into the room in a row, And stood themselves up by the hot fire, and shook off their white cloaks of snow;

And the spokesman, a grave squire of sixty, with countenance sol

emnly sad,

Spoke thus, while the children all listened, with all of the ears that they had:

"We've come here, school-master, intendin' to cast an inquirin' eye 'round,

Concernin' complaints that's been entered, an' fault that has lately been found;

"To pace off the width of your dɔin's, an' vitness what you've been about,

An' see if it's payin' to keep you, or whether we'd best turn ye out.

"The first thing I'm bid for to mention is, when the class gets up to read, You give 'em too tight of a reinin' an' touch 'em up more than they need;

"You're nicer than wise in the matter of holdin' the book in one han’. An' you turn a stray g in their doin's, an' tack an odd d on their an'.

"There ain't no great good comes of speakin' the words so polite, as I see,

Providin' you know what the facs is, an' tell 'em off jest as they be.

"An' then there's that readin' in concert, is censured from first unto last;

It kicks up a heap of a racket, when folks is a travelin' past.

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Whatever is done as to re idin', providin' things go to my say,

Sha'n't hang on no new-fangled hinges, but swing in the old-fashioned way."

And the other four good district fathers gave quick the consent that

was due,

And nodded obliquely, and muttered, "Them 'ere is my sentiments tew."

"Then as to your spellin'; I've heern tell by them as has looked into


That you turn the out of your labor, an' make the word shorter

than 't is;

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"An' clip the & off your musick, which makes my son Ephraim per


Ar when he spells out as he ought'r, you pass the word on to the

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'They say there's some new-grafted books here that don't take them letters along;

But if it is so, just depend on't, them new-grafted books is made


"You might jest as well say that Jackson didn't know all there was about war,

As to say that old spellin'-book Webster didn't know what them letters was for."

And the other four good district fathers gave quick the consent that was due,

And scratched their heads slyly and softly, and said, "Them's my sentiments tew."

"Then, also, your 'rithmetic doin's, as they are reported to me,

Is that you have left Tare and Tret out, an' also the old Rule of Three;

"An' likewise brought in a new study, some high-stepping scholars to please,

"With saw-bucks an crosses and pot-hooks, an' w's, x, y's and z's.

"We ain't got no time for such foolin'; there ain't no great good to be


By tip-toein' childr'n up higher than ever their fathers was teached."

And the other four good district fathers gave quick the consent that was due,

And cocked one eye up to the ceiling, and said, "Them's my sentiments tew."

“Another thing I must here mention, comes into the question to-day, Concerning some things in the grammar you're teaching our girls for

to say,

"My gals is as steady as clockwork, an' never give cause for much


But they come home from school t'other evenin' a talkin' such stuff as this here.

"I love,' an' 'Thou lovest,' an' 'He loves,' an' You love, an' 'they-'

An' they answered my questions, 'It's grammar'—'t was all I could get 'em to say.

Now if, 'stead of doin' your duty, you're carryin' matters on so

As to make the gais say that they love you, it's just all that I want to know."


Now Jim, the young heaven-built mechanic, in the dusk of the even. ing before,

Had well-nigh unjointed the stove-pipe, to make it come down on the floor;

And the squire bringing smartly his foot down, as a clincher to what he had said,

A joint of the pipe fell upon him, and larruped him square on the head.

The soot flew in clouds all about him, and blotted with black all the


And the squire and the other four fathers were peppered with black in the face.

The school, ever sharp for amusement, laid down all their cumbersome books,

And, spite of the teacher's endeavors, laughed loud at their visitors' looks.

And the squire, as he stalked to the doorway, swore oaths of a violet hue;

And the four district fathers, who followed, seemed to say,


my sentiments tew."


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