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- The Parish Register - 13/13 -

When first he came, we found he couldn't last: A whoreson cough (and at the fall of leaf) Upset him quite;--but what's the gain of grief? "Then came the Author-Rector: his delight Was all in books; to read them or to write: Women and men he strove alike to shun, And hurried homeward when his tasks were done; Courteous enough, but careless what he said, For points of learning he reserved his head; And when addressing either poor or rich, He knew no better than his cassock which: He, like an osier, was of pliant kind, Erect by nature, but to bend inclined; Not like a creeper falling to the ground, Or meanly catching on the neighbours round: Careless was he of surplice, hood, and band, - And kindly took them as they came to hand, Nor, like the doctor, wore a world of hat, As if he sought for dignity in that: He talk'd, he gave, but not with cautious rules; Nor turn'd from gipsies, vagabonds, or fools; It was his nature, but they thought it whim, And so our beaux and beauties turn'd from him. Of questions, much he wrote, profound and dark, - How spake the serpent, and where stopp'd the ark; From what far land the queen of Sheba came; Who Salem's Priest, and what his father's name; He made the Song of Songs its mysteries yield, And Revelations to the world reveal'd. He sleeps i' the aisle,--but not a stone records His name or fame, his actions or his words: And truth, your reverence, when I look around, And mark the tombs in our sepulchral ground (Though dare I not of one man's hope to doubt), I'd join the party who repose without. "Next came a Youth from Cambridge, and in truth He was a sober and a comely youth; He blush'd in meekness as a modest man, And gain'd attention ere his task began; When preaching, seldom ventured on reproof, But touch'd his neighbours tenderly enough. Him, in his youth, a clamorous sect assail'd, Advised and censured, flatter'd,--and prevail'd.- Then did he much his sober hearers vex, Confound the simple, and the sad perplex; To a new style his reverence rashly took; Loud grew his voice, to threat'ning swell'd his look; Above, below, on either side, he gazed, Amazing all, and most himself amazed: No more he read his preachments pure and plain, But launch'd outright, and rose and sank again: At times he smiled in scorn, at times he wept, And such sad coil with words of vengeance kept, That our blest sleepers started as they slept. 'Conviction comes like light'ning,' he would cry; 'In vain you seek it, and in vain you fly; 'Tis like the rushing of the mighty wind, Unseen its progress, but its power you find; It strikes the child ere yet its reason wakes; His reason fled, the ancient sire it shakes; The proud, learn'd man, and him who loves to know How and from whence those gusts of grace will blow, It shuns,--but sinners in their way impedes, And sots and harlots visits in their deeds: Of faith and penance it supplies the place; Assures the vilest that they live by grace, And, without running, makes them win the race.' "Such was the doctrine our young prophet taught; And here conviction, there confusion wrought; When his thin cheek assumed a deadly hue, And all the rose to one small spot withdrew, They call'd it hectic; 'twas a fiery flush, More fix'd and deeper than the maiden blush; His paler lips the pearly teeth disclosed, And lab'ring lungs the length'ning speech opposed. No more his span-girth shanks and quiv'ring thighs Upheld a body of the smaller size; But down he sank upon his dying bed, And gloomy crotchets fill'd his wandering head. 'Spite of my faith, all-saving faith,' he cried, 'I fear of worldly works the wicked pride; Poor as I am, degraded, abject, blind, The good I've wrought still rankles in my mind; My alms-deeds all, and every deed I've done; My moral-rags defile me every one; It should not be:- what say'st thou! tell me, Ralph.' Quoth I, 'Your reverence, I believe, you're safe; Your faith's your prop, nor have you pass'd such time In life's good-works as swell them to a crime. If I of pardon for my sins were sure, About my goodness I would rest secure.' "Such was his end; and mine approaches fast; I've seen my best of preachers,--and my last," - He bow'd, and archly smiled at what he said, Civil but sly:- "And is old Dibble dead?" Yes; he is gone: and WE are going all; Like flowers we wither, and like leaves we fall; - Here, with an infant, joyful sponsors come, Then bear the new-made Christian to its home: A few short years and we behold him stand To ask a blessing, with his bride in hand: A few, still seeming shorter, and we hear His widow weeping at her husband's bier:- Thus, as the months succeed, shall infants take Their names; thus parents shall the child forsake; Thus brides again and bridegrooms blithe shall kneel, By love or law compell'd their vows to seal, Ere I again, or one like me, explore These simple Annals of the VILLAGE POOR.



{1} Note: Indentation and Punctuation as original.

{2} Allusions of this kind are to be found in the Fairy Queen. See the end of the First Book, and other places.

The Parish Register - 13/13

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