Or as we hear it in the Book of Common Prayer:
Good luck have thou with thine honour... because of the word of truth, of meekness, and righteousness; and thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things....
All thy garments smell of myrrh, aloes,
and cassia: out of
the ivory palaces, whereby they have made thee glad.
Anon they turn to the Bride:
Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear; forget also thine own people, and thy father’s house.... The King’s daughter is all glorious within: her clothing is of wrought gold.
She shall be brought unto the king in raiment of needlework: the virgins that be her fellows shall bear her company. And the daughter of Tyre shall be there with a gift. Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children, whom thou mayest make princes in all the earth.
For whom (wonders the young reader, spell-bound by this), for what happy bride and bridegroom was this glorious chant raised? Now suppose that, just here, he has a scholar ready to tell him what is likeliest true—that the bridegroom was Ahab—that the bride, the daughter of Sidon, was no other than Jezebel, and became what Jezebel now is—with what an awe of surmise would two other passages of the history toll on his ear?
And one washed the chariot in the pool
of Samaria; and
the dogs licked up his blood....
And when he (Jehu) was come in, he did
eat and drink, and
said, Go, see now this cursed woman, and bury her: for she is
a king’s daughter.
And they went to bury her: but they
found no more of her
than the skull, and the feet, and the palms of her hands.
Wherefore they came again, and told him. And he said, This is the word of the Lord, which he spake by his servant Elijah the Tishbite, saying, In the portion of Jezreel shall dogs eat the flesh of Jezebel ... so that (men) shall not say, This is Jezebel.
In another lecture, Gentlemen, I propose to take up the argument and attempt to bring it to this point. ’How can we, having this incomparable work, necessary for study by all who would write English, bring it within the ambit of the English Tripos and yet avoid offending the experts?’
ON READING THE BIBLE (II)
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 24, 1918
We left off last term, Gentlemen, upon a note of protest. We wondered why it should be that our English Version of the Bible lies under the ban of school-masters, Boards of Studies, and all who devise courses of reading and examinations in English Literature: that among our `prescribed books’ we find Chaucer’s “Prologue,” we find “Hamlet,” we find “Paradise Lost,” we find Pope’s “Essay on Man,” again and again, but “The Book of Job” never; “The Vicar of Wakefield” and Gray’s “Elegy” often, but “Ruth” or “Isaiah,” “Ecclesiasticus” or “Wisdom” never.