Ode To Sir Andrew Agnew, Bart by Thomas Hood

“At certain seasons he makes a prodigious clattering
with his bill.”–SELBY.

“The bill is rather long, flat, and tinged with

O Andrew Fairservice,–but I beg pardon,
You never labor’d in Di Vernon’s garden,
On curly kale and cabbages intent,–
Andrew Churchservice was the thing I meant,–
You are a Christian–I would be the same,
Although we differ, and I’ll tell you why,
Not meaning to make game,
I do not like my Church so very High!

When people talk, as talk they will,
About your bill,
They say, among their other jibes and small jeers,
That, if you had your way,
You’d make the seventh day
As overbearing as the Dey of Algiers.
Talk of converting Blacks–
By your attacks,
You make a thing so horrible of one day,
Each nigger, they will bet a something tidy,
Would rather be a heathenish Man Friday,
Than your Man Sunday!

So poor men speak,
Who, once a week,
P’rhaps, after weaving artificial flowers,
Can snatch a glance of Nature’s kinder bowers,
And revel in a bloom
That is not of the loom,
Making the earth, the streams, the skies, the trees,
A Chapel of Ease.
Whereas, as you would plan it,
Wall’d in with hard Scotch granite,
People all day should look to their behaviors;–
But though there be, as Shakspeare owns,
“Sermons in stones,”
Zounds! Would you have us work at them like paviors?

Spontaneous is pure devotion’s fire;
And in a green wood many a soul has built
A new Church, with a fir-tree for its spire,
Where Sin has prayed for peace, and wept for guilt,
Better than if an architect the plan drew;
We know of old how medicines were back’d,
But true Religion needs not to be quack’d
By an Un-merry Andrew!

See also  Sonnet 108

Suppose a poor town-weary sallow elf
At Primrose-hill would renovate himself,
Or drink (and no great harm)
Milk genuine at Chalk Farm,–
The innocent intention who would balk,
And drive him back into St. Bennet Fink?
For my part, for my life, I cannot think
A walk on Sunday is “the Devil’s Walk.”

But there’s a sect of Deists, and their creed
Is D—-ing other people to be d—-d,–
Yeas, all that are not of their saintly level,
They make a pious point
To send, with an “aroint,”
Down to that great Fillhellenist, the Devil.
To such, a ramble by the River Lea
Is really treading on the “Banks of D—-.”

Go down to Margate, wisest of law-makers,
And say unto the sea, as Canute did,
(Of course the sea will do as it is bid,)
“This is the Sabbath–but there be no Breakers!”
Seek London’s Bishop, on some Sunday morn,
And try him with your tenets to inoculate,–
Abuse his fine souchong, and say in scorn,
“This is not Churchman’s Chocolate!”

Or, seek Dissenters at their mid-day meal,
And read them from your Sabbath Bill some passages,
And while they eat their mutton, beef, and veal,
Shout out with holy zeal,–
“These are not Chappet’s sassages!”
Suppose your Act should act up to your will,
Yet how will it appear to Mrs. Grundy,
To hear you saying of this pious bill,
“It works well–on a Sunday!”

To knock down apple-stalls is now too late,
Except to starve some poor old harmless madam;–
You might have done some good, and chang’d our fate,
Could you have upset that, which ruined Adam!
‘Tis useless to prescribe salt-cod and eggs,
Or lay post-horses under legal fetters,
While Tattersall’s on Sunday stirs its Legs,
Folks look for good examples from their Betters!

Consider,–Acts of Parliament may bind
A man to go where Irvings are discoursing–
But as for forcing “proper frames of mind,”
Minds are not framed, like melons, for such forcing!

Remember, as a Scottish legislator,
The Scotch Kirk always has a Moderator;
Meaning one need not ever be sojourning
In a long Sermon Lane without a turning.
Such grave old maids as Portia and Zenobia
May like discourses with a skein of threads,
And love a lecture for its many heads,
But as for me, I have the Hydra-phobia.

See also  Democracy by John Greenleaf Whittier

Religion one should never overdo:
Right know I am no minister you be,
For you would say your service, sir, to me,
Till I should say, “My service, sir, to you.”
Six days made all that is, you know, and then
Came that of rest–by holy ordination,
As if to hint unto the sons of men,
After creation should come re-creation.
Read right this text, and do not further search
To make a Sunday Workhouse of the Church.

[Footnote: Ode to Sir Andrew Agnew, Bart: A Scotch baronet, and the once well-known promoter of Sabbatarian legislation. Sir Andrew identified himself in the House of Commons with the efforts of an English Association, the “Lord’s Day Society,” and introduced a Bill to prohibit all open labour on Sunday, excepting “works of necessity and mercy,”–a measure bound, under any scheme of working, to inflict the direst hardship and injustice. After three defeats, the Bill was actually carried in 1837, but was afterwards allowed to drop.]

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