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Her neatly border'd cap, as lily fair,
Beneath her chin was pinn'd with decent care ;
And pendent ruffles, of the whitest lawn,
of ancient make, her elbows did adorn.
Faint with old age, and dim were grown her eyes,
A pair of spetacles their want supplies;
These does she guard secure in leathern case.
From thoughtless wights, in some unweeted place.
Here first I enter'd, though with toil and pain,
The low vestibule of learning's fane;
Enter'd with pain, yet soon I found the way,
Though sometimes toilsome, many a sweet display.
Much did I grieve, on that ill-fated morn,
While I was first to school reluctant borne:
Severe I thought the dame, though oft she try'd
To soothe my swelling spirits when I sigh'd;
And oft, when harshly she reproved, I wept,
To my lone corner broken-hearted crept, [kept.
And thought of tender home, where anger never
But soon inured to alphabetic toils,
Alert I met the dame with jocund smiles;
First at the form, my task for ever true,
A little favourite rapidly I grew:
And oft she stroked my head with fond delight,
Held me a pattern to the dunce's sight;
And as she gave my diligence its praise,
Talk'd of the honours of my future day
Oh ! had the venerable matron thought
Of all the ills by talent often brought;
Could she have seen me when revolving years
Had brought me deeper in the vale of tears,
Then had she wept, and wish'd my wayward fate
Had been a lowlier, an unletter'd state;
Wish'd that, remote from worldly woes and strife,
Unknown, unheard, I might have pass'd through
Where, in the busy scene, by peace unbless’d,
Shall the poor wanderer find a place of rest?
A lonely mariner on the stormy main,
Without a hope, the calms of peace to gain ;
Long toss’d by tempest o’er the world's wide shore,
When shall his spirit rest to toil no more?
Not till the light foam of the sea shall lave
The sandy surface of his unwept grave.
Childhood, to thee I turn, from life's alarms,
Serenest season of perpetual calms,-
Turn with delight, and bid the passions cease,
And joy to think with thee I tasted peace.
Sweet reign of innocence when no crime defiles,
But each new object brings attendant smiles;
When future evils never haunt the sight,
But all is pregnant with unmix'd delight;
To thee I turn, from riot and from noise,
Turn to partake of more congenial joys.
'Neath yonder elm, that stands upon the moor, When the clock spoke the hour of labour o'er, What clamorous throngs, what happy groups were
seen, In various postures scatt'ring o'er the green!
Some shoot the marble, others join the chase
Of self-made stag, or run the emulous race;
While others, seated on the dappled grass,
With doleful tales the light-winged minutes pass.
Well I remember how, with gesture starch’d,
A band of soldiers, oft with pride we march'd ;
For banners, to a tall ash we did bind
Our handkerchiefs, flapping to the whistling wind;
And for our warlike arms we sought the mead,
And guns and spears we made of brittle reed;
Then, in uncouth array, our feats to crown,
We storm'd some ruin'd pig-sty for a town.
Pleased with our gay disports, the dame was wont
To set her wheel before the cottage front,
And o'er her spectacles would often peer,
To view our gambols, and our boyish geer.
Still as she look'd, her wheel kept turning round,
With its beloved monotony of sound.
When tired with play, we'd set us by her side
(For out of school she never knew to chide)-
And wonder at her skill—well known to fame-
For who could match in spinning with the dame?
Her sheets, her linen, which she showed with pride
To strangers, still her thriftiness testified ;
Though we poor wights did wonder much in troth,
How 'twas her spinning manufactured cloth.
Oft would we leave, though well-beloved, our play,
To chat at home the vacant hour away.
Many's the time I've scamper'd down the glade,
To ask the promised ditty from the maid,
Which well she loved, as well she knew to sing,
While we around her form’d a little ring;
She told of innocence foredoom'd to bleed,
Of wicked guardians bent on bloody deed,
Or little children murder'd as they slept;
While at each pause we wrung our hands and wept.
Sad was such tale, and wonder much did we,
Such hearts of stone there in the world could be.
Poor simple wights, ah ! little did we ween
The ills that wait on man in life's sad scene!
Ah, little thought that we ourselves should know,
This world's a world of weeping and of wo!
Beloved moment! then 'twas first I caught
The first foundation of romantic thought;
Then first I shed bold Fancy's thrilling tear,
Then first that poesy charm’d mine infant ear.
Soon stored with much of legendary lore,
The sports of Childhood charm’d my soul no more.
Far from the scene of gayety and noise,
Far, far from turbulent and empty joys,
I hied me to the thick o'er-arching shade,
And there, on mossy carpet, listless laid,
While at my feet the rippling runnel ran,
The days of wild romance antique I'd scan;
Soar on the wings of fancy through the air,
To realms of light, and pierce the radiance there.
THERE are, who think that childhood does not
Alas! they know not this unhappy truth,
That every age, and rank, is born to ruth.
From the first dawn of reason in the mind,
Man is foredoom'd the thorns of grief to find;
At every step has farther cause to know,
The draught of pleasure still is dash'd with wo.
Yet in the youthful breast for ever caught
With some new object for romantic thought,
The impression of the moment quickly flies,
And with the morrow every sorrow dies.
How different manhood !—then does Thought's
Sink every pang still deeper in the soul;
Then keen Affliction's sad unceasing smart
Becomes a painful resident in the heart;
And Care, whom not the gayest can out-brave,
Pursues its feeble victim to the grave. [hence,
Then, as each long-known friend is summond
We feel a void no joy can recompense,
And as we weep o'er every new-made tomb,
Wish that ourselves the next may meet our doom.
Yes, Childhood, thee no rankling woes pursue,
No forms of future ill salute thy view,