Imatges de pàgina
PDF
EPUB

THE SCHOOL AND THE TEACHER IN LITERATURE.

THOMAS HOOD

1798-1845.

Thomas Hood, the son of a bookseller, was born in London, in 1798. He entered the counting-house of a Russian merchant as clerk,—which he left on account of his health, for the business of engraving, but in 1821, became sub-editor of the London Magazine, and afterward was an author, by profession, till his death in 1845. His “ Whims and Oddities,” “Comic Almanac," &c., have established his reputation for wit and comic power, and his "Song of a Shirt," "Eugene Aram's Dream,” &c., indicate the possession of more serious and higher capacities.

His “ Irish Schoolmaster," "The Schoolmaster Abroad," "The Schoolmaster's Motto," abound in whimsical allusions to the peculiarities of Irish and English schools and the teachers of our day--greatly exaggerated, we would fain believe.

THE IRISH SCHOOLMASTER.
. ALACK! 'tis melancholy theme to think
How Learning doth in rugged states abide,
And, like her bashful owl, obscurely blink,
In pensive glooms and corners, scarcely spied ;
Not, as in Founders' Halls and domes of pride,
Served with grave homage, like a tragic queen,
But with one lonely priest compell’d to hide,

In midst of foggy moors and mosses green,
In that clay cabin hight the College of Kilreen!

This College looketh South and West alsoe,
Because it hath a cast in windows twain;
Crazy and crack'd they be, and wind doth blow
Thorough transparent holes in every pane,
Which Dan, with many paines, makes whole again,
With nether garments, which bis thrift doth teach
To stand for glass, like pronouns, and when rain

Stormeth, he puts, “once more unto the breach,”
Outside and in, tho broke, yet so he mendeth each."

And in the midst a little door there is,
Whereon a hoard that doth congratulate
With painted letters, red as blood I wis,
Thus written,
“CHILDREN TAKEN IN TO BATE:”
And oft, indeed, the inward of that gate,
Most ventriloque, doth utter tender squeak,

And moans of infants that bemoan their fate,

In' midst of sounds of Latin, French, and Greek, Which, all i 'the Irish tongue, he teacheth them to speak.

For some are meant to right illegal wrongs,
And some for Doctors of Divinitie,
Whom he doth teach lo murder the dead tongues,
And soe win academical degree;
But some are bred for service of the sea,
Howbeit, their store of learning is but small,
For mickle waste he counteth it would be

To stock a head with bookish wares at all,
Only to be knock'd off by ruthless cannon ball.

Six babes he sways,-some little and some big,
Divided into classes six ;--alsoe,
He keeps a parlour boarder of a pig,
That in the College fareth to and fro,
And pickcth up the urchins' crumbs below,
And eke the learned rudiments they scan,
And thus his A, B, C, doth wisely know,-

Hereafter to be shown in caravan,
And raise the wonderment of many a learned man.

Alsoe, he schools for some tame familiar fowls,
Whereof, above his head, some two or three
Sit darkly squatting, like Minerva's owls,
But on the branches of no living tree,
And overlook the learned family;
While, sometimes, Partlet, from her gloomy perch,
Drops feather on the nose of Dominie,

Meanwhile with serious eye, he makes research
In leaves of that sour tree of knowledge—now a birch.

No chair hé hath, the awful Pedagogue,
Such as would magisterial hams imbed,
But sitteth lowly on a beechen log,
Secure in high authority and dread;
Large, as a dome for Learning, seems his head,
And, like Apollo's, all beset with rays,
Because his locks are so unkempt and red,

And stand abroad in many several ways;
No laurel crown he wears, howbeit his cap is baize.

And, underneath, a pair of shaggy brows
O'erhang as many eyes of gizzard hue,
That inward giblet of a fowl, which shows
A mongrel tint, that is ne brown ne blue;
His nose, it is a coral to the view;
Well nourish'd with Pierian Potheen,

-
For much he loves his native mountain dew;

But to depict the dye would lack, I ween, A bottle-red, in terms, as well as boitle-green.

As for his coat, 'lis such a jerkin short
As Spenser had, ere he composed his Tales;
But underneath he had no vest, nor aught.

So that the wind his airy breast assails;
Below, he wears the nether garb of males,
Of crimson plush, but non-plushed at the knee;-
Thence further down the native red prevails,

Of his own naked fleecy hosierie :-
Two sandals, without soles, complete his cap-a-pee.

Nathless, for dignity, he now doth lap
His function in a magisterial gown,
That shows more countries in it than a map,-
Blue tinct, and red and green, and russet brown,
Besides some blots, standing for country-town;
And eke some rents, for streams and rivers wide;
But, sometimes, bashful when he looks adown,

He turns the garment of the other side,
Hopeful that so the holes may never be espied !

And soe he sits, amidst the little pack,
That look for shady or for sunny noon,
Within his visage, like an almanack,-
His quiet smile fortelling gracious hoon:
But when his mouth droops down, like rainy moon,
With horrid chill each little heart unwarms,
Knowing, that infant show'rs will follow soon,
And with forebodings of near wrath and storms
They sit, like timid hares, all trembling on their forms.

Ah! luckless wight, who can not then repeat

Corduroy Colloquy,"-or“Ki, Koe, Kod,”-
Full soon his tears shall make his turfy seat
More sodden, tho' already made of sod,
For Dan shall whip him with the word of God,
Severe by rule, and not by nature mild,
He never spoils the child and spares the rod,

But spoils the rod and never spares the child,
And soe with holy rule deems he is reconcil'd.

But, surely, the just sky will never wink
At men who take delight in childish throe,
And stripe the nether-urchin like a pink
Or tender hyacinth, inscribed with woe;
Such bloody Pedagogues, when they shall know,
By useless birches, that forlorn recess,
Which is no holiday, in Pit below,

Will hell not seem design'd for their distress,-
A melancholy place that is all bottomlesse?

Yet would the Muse not chide the wholesome use
Of needsul discipline, in due degree.
Devoid of sway, what wrongs will time produce,
Whene'er the twig untrained grows up a tree,
This shall a Carder; that a Whiteboy be,
Ferocious leaders of atrocious bands,
And Learning's help be used for infamie,

By lawless clerks, that, with their bloody hands,
In murder'd English write Rock's murderous commands

But ah! what shrilly cry doth now alarm
The sooty fowls that dozed upon the beam,
All sudden fluttering from the brandish'd arm,
And cackling chorus with the human scream,
Meanwhile, the scourge plies that unkindly seam
In Phelim's brogues, which bares his naked skin,
Like traitor gap in warlike fort, I deem,

That falsely let the fierce besieger in,
Nor seeks the Pedagogue by other course to win.

No parent dear he hath to heed his cries ;-
Alas! his parent dear is far aloof,
And deep in Seven-Dial cellar lies,
Killed by kind cudgel-play, or gin of proof,
Or climbeth, catwise, on some London roof,
Singing, perchance, a lay of Erin's Isle,
Or, whilst he labors, weaves a fancy-woof,

Dreaming he sees his home,-his Phelim smile ;-
Ah me! that luckless imp, who weepeth all the while !

Ah! who can paint that hard and heavy time,
When first the scholar lists in Learning's train,
And mounts her rugged steep, enforc'd to climb,
Like sooty imp, by sharp posterior pain,
From bloody twig, and eke that Indian cane,
Wherein, alas! no sugar'd juices dwell,
For this, the while one stripling's sluices drain,

Another weepeth over childblains fell,
Always upon the heel, yet never to be well!

Anon a third, for this delicious root,
Late ravish'd from his tooth by elder chit,
So soon is human violence afoot,
So hardly is the harmless bitter bit!
Meanwhile, the tyrant, with untimely wit
And mouthing face, derides the small one's moan,
Who, all lamenting for his loss, doth sit,

Alack,-mischance comes seldomtimes alone,
But aye the worried dog must rue more curs than one.

For lo! the Pedagogue, with sudden drub,
Smites his scald-head, that is already sore, -
Superfluous wound,-such is Misfortune's rub!
Who straight makes answer with redoubled roar,
And sheds salt tears twice faster than before,
That still, with backward fist, he strives to dry;
Washing, with brackish moisture, o'er and o'er,

His muddy cheek, that grows more foul thereby,
Till all his rainy face looks grim as rainy sky.

So Dan, by dint of noise, obtains a peace,
And with his natural untender knack,
By new distress, bids former grievance cease,
Like tears dried up with rugged huckaback,
That sets the mournful visage all awrack;
Yet soon the childish countenance will shine

Even as thorough storms the soonest slack,

For grief and beef in adverse ways incline, This keeps, and that decays, when duly soaked in brine.

Now all is hushed, and, with a look profound,
The Dominie lays ope the learned page;
(So be it called) although he doth expound
Without a book, both Greek and Latin sage;
Now telleth he of Rome's rude infant age,
How Romulus was bred in savage wood;
By wet-nurse wolf, devoid of wolfish rage;

And laid foundation-stone of walls of mud,
But watered it, alas! with warm fraternal blood.

Anon, he turns to that Homeric war,
How Troy was sieged like Londonderry town;
And stout Achilles, at his jaunting-car,
Dragged mighty Hector with a bloody crown:
And eke the bard, that sung of their renown.
In garb of Greece, most beggar-like and torn,
He paints, with colly, wand'ring up and down.

Because, at once, in seven cities born;
And so, of parish rights, was, all his days, forlorn,

Anon, through old Mythology he goes,
Of gods defunct, and all their pedigrees,
But shuns their scandalous amours, and shows
How Plato wise, and clear-ey'd Socrates,
Confess'd not to those heathen hes and shes;
But thro' the clouds of the Olympic cope
Beheld St. Peter, with his holy keys,

And own'd their love was naught, and bow'd to Pope Whilst all their purblind race in Pagan mist did groupe

From such quaint themes he turns, at last aside,
To new philosophies, that still are green,
And shows what railroads have been track'd, to guide
The wheels of great political machine ;
If English corn should grow abroad, I ween,
And gold be made of gold, or paper sheet;
How many pigs be born, to each spalpeen ;

And, ah! how man shall thrive beyond his meat,With twenty souls alive, to one square sod of peat!

Here, he makes end ; and all the fry of youth,
That stood around with serious look intense,
Close up again their gaping eyes and mouth,
Which they had opened to his eloquence,
As if their hearing were a three-fold sense.
But now the current of his words is done,
And whether any fruits shall spring from thence,

In future time, with any mother's son !
It is a thing, God wot ! that can be told by none.

Now by the creeping shadows of the noon,
The hour is come to lay aside their lore;
The cheersul pedagogue perceives it soon,

« AnteriorContinua »