The Village School master was a man who could easily be identified as an "old stone face", or a man with a strong gaze and expression that inspired the respect and seriousness in students.
A man severe he was, and stern to view,
He imparted discipline and apparently was in charge of placing truant students out of the streets, and he was quite good at it. The students respected him.
Well had the boding tremblers learn'd to trace
The days disasters in his morning face;
Despite of the stern look and serious authoritative nature, he was very wise, had always a joke to tell, and he actually did have a lighter side that made him more human to others.
At all his jokes, for many a joke had he:
Yet he was kind; or if severe in aught,
The love he bore to learning was in fault.
The village all declar'd how much he knew;
'Twas certain he could write, and cipher too
He apparently will argue a point until turning blue in the face, whether or not he had the right argument. He was also strong in making his point across.
For e'en though vanquish'd he could argue still
While words of learned length and thund'ring sound
Amazed the gazing rustics rang'd around;
However, we know that the passage was an elegy to the man, who was already forgotten in time, and this poem was a way to bring his uniqueness back to life again.