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THE SCHOOL MASTER.
HENRY W. LONGFELLOW.
Great men stand like solitary towers in the city of God, and secret passages running deep beneath external nature give their thoughts intercourse with higher intelligences, which strengthens and consoles them, and of which the laborers on the surface do not even dream!
Some such thought as this was floating vaguely through the brain of Mr. Churchill as he closed his school-house door behind him; and if in any degree he applied it to himself, it may perhaps be pardoned in a dreamy, poetic man like him; for we judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done. And, moreover, his wife considered him equal to great things. To the people in the village, he was the schoolmaster, and nothing more. They beheld in his form and countenance no outward sign of the divinity within. They saw him daily moiling and delving in the common path, like a beetle, and little thought that underneath that hard and cold exterior lay folded delicate golden wings, wherewith, when the heat of day was over, he soared and revelled in the pleasant evening air.
To-day he was soaring and reveling before the sun had set; for it was Saturday. With a feeling of infinite relief he left behind him the empty school-house, into which the hot sun of a September afternoon was pouring. All the bright young faces were gone; all the impatient little hearts were gone; all the fresh voices, shrill, but musical with the melody of childhood, were gone; and the lately busy realm was given up to silence, and the dusty sunshine, and the old gray flies that buzzed and bumped their heads against the window panes. The sound of the outer door, creaking on its hebdomadal hinges, was like a sentinel's challenge, to which the key growled responsive in the lock; and the master, casting a furtive glance at the last caricature of himself in red chalk on the wooden fence close by, entered with a light step the solemn avenue of pines that led to the margin of the river.
At first his step was quick and nervous; and he swung his cane as if aiming blows at some invisible enemy. Though a meek man, there were moments when he remembered with bitterness the unjust reproaches of fathers and their insulting words; and then he fought imaginary battles with people out of sight, and struck them to the ground, and trampled upon them; for he was not exempt from the weakness of human nature, nor the customary vexations of a schoolmaster's life.
Unruly sons and unreasonable fathers did sometimes embitter his else sweet days and nights. But as he walked, his step grew slower, and his heart calmer. The coolness and shadows of the great trees comforted and satisfied him, and he heard the voice of the wind as it were the voice of spirits calling around him in the air; so that when he emerged from the black woodlands into the meadows by the river's side, all his cares were forgotten.
THOMAS BUCHANAN REED.
Up from the South at break of day,
And wilder still those billows of war
Thundered along the horizon's bar,
But there is a road from Winchester town,
Still sprung from these swift hoofs, thundering South,
Under his spurning feet the road
The first that the General saw were the groups
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Only this, and nothing more."
Ah, distinctly I remember, it was in the bleak December,
Nameless here forevermore.
And the silker, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain, Thrill'd me--fill'd me with fantastic terrors never felt before; So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating, 66°T is some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber-door,-Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber-door;
That it is, and nothing more."
Presently my soul grew stronger: hesitating then no longer, “Sir," said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore; But the fact is, I was napping, and so gently you came rappivg,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber-door,
Darkness there, and nothing more.
Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing,
Merely this, and nothing more.
Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Surely,” said I, "surely that is something at my window-lattice;
'Tis the wind, and nothing more.”
Open then I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
Perch'd, and sat, and nothing more.
Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
Quoth the raven, “Nevermore!'
Much I marvl'd this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
With such name as 6 Nevermore !!!
But the raven sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only