Lines

on leaving the Bedford Str. School House

Forth from the seed by its first founders sown,
With rolling years, our good old School has grown;
And, for the brighter future that now nears,
Its fifth and noblest home the City rears.
We hasten thither, with high hopes elate,
And leave the older schoolhouse to its fate.
No more shall those familiar sights and sounds,
There oft repeated, cheer its lonely bounds;
No classic name shall henceforth greet its ear,
No Greek or Latin on the board appear;
No sudden thunder the old stairs shall shake,
And with a palsied tremor make them quake;
Month after month will pass, and yet no more
Shall be heard tales so often told before
Of Spartacus, Bozzaris, and the rest,
Or Toussaint l'Ouverture, of all the best.
The hum of voices during the recess;
The romping that the teacher would repress;
The merry groups that round the windows gather
Of all the day's events to talk together;
The cheated silence, when the opening door
Lets in one of the boys — and nothing more;
All these will disappear, and in their place,
Business this classic site will soon disgrace.

Yes, now we leave thee, — leave thee all alone
To ponder glories which thy youth has known;
But, when deserted or profaned, think not
That by thy old friends now thou art forgot,
For long and fondly will our memory trace
Thy old gray walls, and each familiar face
We saw within; and each year that goes by
In softer colors and more pleasing dye
Shall picture on the canvas of the mind
Those scenes of boyhood we now leave behind.
End now thy days, recalling, to the last,
The useful life whose usefulness is past.
Mayst thou have pleasant dreams! — I cannot say
What other memories through thy mind may stray,
But, if 'tis true a mother loves him best
Whom last she bore and nourished at her breast,
Perhaps thou, too, will look with most delight
Upon those things which last have met thy sight, —
Upon those we have seen, and upon us,
Thy youngest children; and, if it be thus,
Then these and such as these will be the themes
That weirdly shall people all thy dreams.
As an old woman sits beside the hearth,
While from without the tempest's mighty wrath,
Howling and whistling, shakes the crazy wall;
She sees the tongues of flame now rise, now fall,
And now leap forth again, with lurid light;
She shudders, half from fear, half from delight;
Thinks of her sons, — some on the stormy deep,
Some in their graves already laid to sleep,
Others still struggling in the world's great fight, —
All of them gone, and none with her that night.

And now the Muse, meaning no disrespect,
Will one by one the teachers all inspect.
First, let the lordly Moses be her theme,
Of kindly heart, though, frowning, fierce he seem;
Though not so mighty as would suit his mood,
What power he gets he makes use of for good.
Next, Farmer Cudjo, far behind the age,
Musician, linguist, moralist, and sage;
Who talks of everything but what he ought,
And knows so much that he can teach us nought;
Bound to display the treasures of his mind,
'T is hard a moment for the French to find;
So set on showing off his store of knowledge,
That there's a doubt if we get into College.
And next, O contrast happy and complete,
He whose great name I need not here repeat,
For nothing that my verse of him might say
Would to that name a worthy tribute pay.
After him, Chadwick, who when he gets mad,
Shouts that our Latin is most " shocking bad, "
And then proceeds, in the most reckless manner,
To violate the rules of English grammar,
And now curtails study and Bible reading,
Neither our rights nor pious wishes heeding.
The name of Stuffy I cannot pass by,
Good, jovial soul, who never can be dry,
But often cross; and whose uncertain mood
I think must be dependent on his food;
One day he's arbitrary, cutting, set,
The next the jolliest man you ever met.
And last and least is Pierce, just now let out
From College, with fresh knowledge armed throughout,
Who, when he's asked the lesson to explain,
Says with a smile that it's all very plain.

And not the teachers only shall I name:
Some pupils too a passing mention claim.
Up in the Hall is the small rounded stage
On which declaimers of a tender age
Have always spoken pieces learned by heart
From the great masters of forensic art.
Around this spot full many shades are seen
That in the flesh appeared upon the scene:
There Cameron stands, who as the Maniac cried,
" I am not mad, " as Polish Boy then died;
And Underwood we there can also see
Speaking again the Burial of Dundee,
Or Minnehaha's Death, or Clarence' Dream;
And Sprague, engaged on a less tragic theme;
And Hayes the elder, who could not afford
To unbend himself when he had on a sword;
And Jack is there, whose clear, sonorous voice,
With magic power, made those walls rejoice,
And bid them ring again at every pause
With kindred echoes — their unasked applause;
And there is Fenn, he who in Phillips' guise,
Spoke negroes' praise, and carried off the prize;
And that pet Darling, whom I needs must spare,
For he has always had more than his share;
And many more, whom here I shall not name,
But let them seek some other road to fame.
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