The Parish Clerk (1907) eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 362 pages of information about The Parish Clerk (1907).

“Thou mayest conceive, O reader, with what concern I perceived the eyes of the congregation fixed upon me, when I first took my place at the feet of the Priest.  When I raised the Psalm, how did my voice quiver with fear!  And when I arrayed the shoulders of the minister with the surplice, how did my joints tremble under me!  I said within myself, ’Remember, Paul, thou standest before men of high worship, the wise Mr. Justice Freeman, the grave Mr. Justice Tonson, the good Lady Jones.’  Notwithstanding it was my good hap to acquit myself to the good liking of the whole congregation, but the Lord forbid I should glory therein.”

He then proceeded to remove “the manifold corruptions and abuses.”

1.  “I was especially severe in whipping forth dogs from the Temple, all except the lap-dog of the good widow Howard, a sober dog which yelped not, nor was there offence in his mouth.

2.  “I did even proceed to moroseness, though sore against my heart, unto poor babes, in tearing from them the half-eaten apple, which they privily munched at church.  But verily it pitied me, for I remembered the days of my youth.

3.  “With the sweat of my own hands I did make plain and smooth the dog’s ears throughout our Great Bible.

4.  “I swept the pews, not before swept in the third year.  I darned the surplice and laid it in lavender.”

The good clerk also made shoes, shaved and clipped hair, and practised chirurgery also in the worming of dogs.

“Now was the long expected time arrived when the Psalms of King David should be hymned unto the same tunes to which he played them upon his harp, so I was informed by my singing-master, a man right cunning in Psalmody.  Now was our over-abundant quaver and trilling done away, and in lieu thereof was instituted the sol-fa in such guise as is sung in his Majesty’s Chapel.  We had London singing-masters sent into every parish like unto excisemen.”

P.P. was accused by his enemies of humming through his nostrils as a sackbut, yet he would not forgo the harmony, it having been agreed by the worthy clerks of London still to preserve the same.  He tutored the young men and maidens to tune their voices as it were a psaltery, and the church on Sunday was filled with new Hallelujahs.

But the fame of the great is fleeting.  Poor Paul Philips passed away, and was forgotten.  When his biographer went to see him, his place knew him no more.  No one could tell of his virtues, his career, his excellences.  Nothing remained but his epitaph: 

     “O reader, if that thou canst read,
       Look down upon this stone;
     Do all we can, Death is a man
       That never spareth none.”



Project Gutenberg
The Parish Clerk (1907) from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.