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There dwells, in lowly shed and mean attire,
A matron old, whom we schoolmistress name,
Who boasts unruly brats with birch to tame;
They grieven sore, in piteous durance pent,
Awed by the pow'r of this relentless dame,
And ofttimes, on vagaries idly bent,

For unkempt hair or task unconned are sorely shent.

And all in sight doth rise a birchen tree,

Which Learning near her little dome did stowe;
Whilom a twig of small regard to see,
Though now so wide its waving branches flow,
And work the simple vassals mickle woe-
For not a wind might curl the leaves that blew
But their limbs shuddered and their pulse beat low,
And as they looked they found their horror grew,
And shaped it into rods, and tingled at the view.

One ancient hen she took delight to feed,
The plodding pattern of the busy dame;
Which, ever and anon, impelled by need,
Into her school, begirt with chickens, came-
Such favour did her past deportment claim,—
And if neglect had lavished on the ground
Fragment of bread, she would collect the same,
For well she knew, and quaintly could expound,
What sin it were to waste the smallest crumb she found.

In elbow chair, like that of Scottish stem
By the sharp tooth of cank'ring eld defaced,
In which, when he receives his diadem,
Our sov'reign prince and liefest liege is placed,
The matron sate; and some with rank she graced
(The source of children's and of courtier's pride!),
Redressed affronts-for vile affronts there passed,-
And warned them not the fretful to deride,
But love each other dear whatever them betide.

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Right well she knew each temper to descry:
To thwart the proud, and the submiss to raise;
Some with vile copper prize exalt on high,
And some entice with pittance small of praise;
And other some with baleful sprig she 'frays.
Ev'n absent, she the reins of pow'r doth hold,
While with quaint arts the giddy crowd she sways,
Forewarned, if little bird their pranks behold,
'T will whisper in her ear and all the scene unfold.

Lo, now with state she utters the command!
Eftsoons the urchins to their tasks repair:
Their books of stature small they take in hand,
Which with pellucid horn securèd are,
To save from finger wet the letters fair;
The work so gay, that on their back is seen,
St. George's high atchievements does declare,
On which thilk wight that has y-gazing been
Kens the forth-coming rod-unpleasing sight, I ween!

Ah, luckless he, and born beneath the beam
Of evil star! it irks me whilst I write;
As erst the bard by Mulla's silver stream,
Oft, as he told of deadly dolorous plight,
Sighed as he sung, and did in tears indite:
For, brandishing the rod, she doth begin
To loose the brogues, the stripling's late delight,
And down they drop; appears his dainty skin,
Fair as the furry coat of whitest ermilin.

O ruthful scene! when from a nook obscure
His little sister doth his peril see,
All playful as she sate she grows demure;
She finds full soon her wonted spirits flee;
She meditates a pray'r to set him free:
Nor gentle pardon could this dame deny
(If gentle pardon could with dames agree)
To her sad grief that swells in either eye,
And wrings her so that all for pity she could die.

No longer can she now her shrieks command;
And hardly she forbears, through aweful fear,

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To rushen forth and with presumptuous hand To stay harsh justice in its mid career. On thee she calls, on thee, her parent dear! (Ah, too remote to ward the shameful blow!) he sees no kin domestic visage near, And soon a flood of tears begins to flow, And gives a loose at last to unavailing woe.

But ah, what pen his piteous plight may trace, Or what device his loud laments explainThe form uncouth of his disguised face, The pallid hue that dyes his looks amain, The plenteous show'r that does his cheek distain,When he, in abject wise, implores the dame, Ne hopeth aught of sweet reprieve to gain, Or when from high she levels well her aim, And through the thatch his cries each falling stroke pro

claim?

The other tribe, aghast, with sore dismay

Attend, and conn their tasks with mickle care;
By turns, astonied, ev'ry twig survey,

And from their fellow's hateful wounds beware,
Knowing, I wist, how each the same may share;
Till fear has taught them a performance meet,
And to the well-known chest the dame repair,
Whence oft with sugared cates she doth 'em greet,
And ginger-bread y-rare-now, certes, doubly sweet!
1736.

1737.

WILLIAM COLLINS

FROM

ORIENTAL ECLOGUES

ECLOGUE II

HASSAN, OR THE CAMEL-DRIVER
Scene, the desert. Time, mid-day.

In silent horror o'er the boundless waste
The driver Hassan with his camels passed:
One cruse of water on his back he bore,

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And his light scrip contained a scanty store;
A fan of painted feathers in his hand,
To guard his shaded face from scorching sand.
The sultry sun had gained the middle sky,
And not a tree and not an herb was nigh;
The beasts with pain their dusty way pursue,
Shrill roared the winds, and dreary was the view!
With desp’rate sorrow wild, th' affrighted man
Thrice sighed, thrice strook his breast, and thus began:
"Sad was the hour, and luckless was the day,
When first from Schiraz' walls I bent my way!

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"Curst be the gold and silver which persuade
Weak men to follow far-fatiguing trade!
The lily peace outshines the silver store,
And life is dearer than the golden ore.
Yet money tempts us o'er the desert brown,
To ev'ry distant mart and wealthy town;
Full oft we tempt the land, and oft the sea;
And are we only yet repaid by thee?
Ah, why was ruin so attractive made,
Or why fond man so easily betrayed?
Why heed we not, whilst mad we haste along,
The gentle voice of Peace or Pleasure's song?

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"Ah, little thought I of the blasting wind, The thirst or pinching hunger, that I find! Bethink thee, Hassan, where shall Thirst assuage, When fails this cruse, his unrelenting rage? Soon shall this scrip its precious load resign; Then what but tears and hunger shall be thine? Ye mute companions of my toils, that bear In all my griefs a more than equal share! Here, where no springs in murmurs break away, Or moss-crowned fountains mitigate the day, In vain ye hope the green delights to know Which plains more blest or verdant vales bestow; Here rocks alone and tasteless sands are found, And faint and sickly winds forever howl around. Sad was the hour, and luckless was the day, When first from Schiraz' walls I bent my way! 30

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Or wherefore think the flow'ry mountain's side,
The fountain's murmurs, and the valley's pride,
Why think we these less pleasing to behold
Than dreary deserts if they lead to gold?

Sad was the hour, and luckless was the day,
When first from Schiraz' walls I bent my way!

"O cease, my fears!—all frantic as I go,
When thought creates unnumbered scenes of woe,
What if the lion in his rage I meet!-
Oft in the dust I view his printed feet:

And (fearful!) oft, when Day's declining light
Yields her pale empire to the mourner Night,
By hunger roused, he scours the groaning plain,
Gaunt wolves and sullen tigers in his train;
Before them Death with shrieks directs their way,
Fills the wild yell, and leads them to their prey.

Sad was the hour, and luckless was the day,
When first from Schiraz' walls I bent my way!

"At that dead hour the silent asp shall creep,
If aught of rest I find, upon my sleep;
Or some swoln serpent twist his scales around,
And wake to anguish with a burning wound.
Thrice happy they, the wise contented poor,
From lust of wealth and dread of death secure!
They tempt no deserts, and no griefs they find;
Peace rules the day, where reason rules the mind.

Sad was the hour, and luckless was the day,
When first from Schiraz' walls I bent my way!

"O hapless youth! for she thy love hath won, The tender Zara, will be most undone!

Big swelled my heart, and owned the pow'rful maid,
When fast she dropped her tears, as thus she said:
'Farewell the youth whom sighs could not detain,
Whom Zara's breaking heart implored in vain!
Yet, as thou go'st, may ev'ry blast arise
Weak and unfelt as these rejected sighs!
Safe o'er the wild, no perils mayst thou see,
No griefs endure, nor weep, false youth, like me.'

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