s Brownies rambled 'round one night,
A country schoolhouse came in sight;
And there they paused awhile to speak
About the place, where through the week
The scholars came, with smile or whine,
Each morning at the stroke of nine.
"This is," said one, "the place, indeed,
Where children come to write and read.
'Tis here, through rules and rods to suit,
The young idea learns to shoot;
And here the idler with a grin
In nearest neighbor pokes the pin,
Or sighs to break his scribbled slate
And spring at once to man's estate.
How oft from shades of yonder grove
I've viewed at eve the shouting drove
As from the door they crowding broke,
Like oxen from beneath the yoke."
Another said: "The teacher's chair,
The ruler, pen, and birch are there;
The blackboard hangs against the wall;
The slate's at hand, the books and all.
We might go in to read and write
And master sums like scholars bright."
The more they talked the stronger grew
The wish to prove how much they knew.
From page to page through books to pass
And spell the words that tried the class;
So through their skill they soon obtained
Access to all the room contained.
"I'll play," cried one, "the teacher's part;
I know some lessons quite by heart,
And every section of the land
To me is plain as open hand."
"With all respect, my friend to you,"
Another said, "that would not do.
You're hardly fitted, sir, to rule;
Your place should be the dunce's stool.
You're not with great endowments blessed;
Besides, your temper's not the best,
And those who train the budding mind
Should own a disposition kind.
The rod looks better on the tree
Than resting by the master's knee;
I'll be the Teacher if you please;
I know the rivers, lakes, and seas,
And, like a banker's clerk, can throw
The figures nimbly in a row.
I have the patience, love, and grace,
So requisite in such a case."
Now some bent o'er a slate or book,
And some at blackboards station took.
They clustered 'round the globe with zeal,
And kept it turning like a wheel.
Said one, "I've often heard it said,
The world is rounder than your head,
And here, indeed, we find it true.
With both the poles at once in view,
With latitudes and each degree
All measured out on land and sea."
Another said, "I thought I knew
the world from Maine to Timbucktoo,
Or could, without a guide, have found
My way from Cork to Puget Sound;
But here so many things I find
That never dawned upon my mind,
On sundry points, I blush to say,
I've been a thousand miles astray."
"'Tis like an egg," another cried,
"A little longer than it's wide,
With islands scattered through the seas
Where savages may live at ease;
And buried up in Polar snows
You find the hardy Eskimos;
While here and there some scorching spots
Are set apart for Hottentots.
And see the rivers small and great,
That drain a province or a state;
The name and shape of every nation;
Their faith, extent, and population;
And whether governed by a King,
A President, or council ring."
While some with such expressions bold
Surveyed the globe as 'round it rolled,
Still others turned to ink and pen,
And, spreading like a brooding hen,
They scrawled a page to show the band
Their special "style," or "business hand."
The teacher had enough to do,
To act his part to nature true:
He lectured well the infant squad,
He rapped the desk and shook the rod,
And stood the dunce upon the stool,
A laughing-stock to all the school-
But frequent changes please the crowd,
So lengthy reign was not allowed;
And when one master had his hour,
Another took the rod of power;
And thus they changed to suit the case,
Till many filled the honored place.
So taken up was every mind
With fun and study well combined,
They noticed not the hours depart,
Until the sun commenced to dart
A sheaf of lances, long and bright,
Above the distant mountain height;
Then from the schoolroom, in a heap
They jumped and tumbled, twenty deep,
In eager haste to disappear
In deepest shades of forests near.
When next the children gathered there,
With wondering faces fresh and fair,
It took an hour of morning prime,
According to the teacher's time,
To get the books in place once more,
And order to the room restore.
So great had been the haste to hide,
The windows were left open wide;
And scholars knew, without a doubt,
That Brownies had been thereabout.