I read the last sentence with a thrill. My late visitor might even now be presiding at some finny council; and as I should have occasion to cross the sea some day, an untimely shipwreck might place me in closer relations with him. I determined, therefore, to print the manuscript which remained in my hands. May it appease his Mightiness, the King of the Fishes!
THE CIRCUIT PREACHER.
His thin wife’s cheek
grows pinched and pale with anxiousness intense;
He sees the brethren’s prayerful eyes o’er all the conference;
He hears the Bishop slowly call the long “Appointment” rolls,
Where in His vineyard God would place these gatherers of souls.
Apart, austere, the knot of
grim Presiding Elders sit;
He wonders if some city “Charge” may not for him have writ?
Certes! could they his sermon hear on Paul and Luke awreck,
Then had his talent ne’er been hid on Annomessix Neck!
Poor rugged heart, be still
a pause, and you, worn wife, be meek!
Two years of banishment they read far down the Chesapeake!
Though Brother Bates, less eloquent, by Wilmington is wooed,
The Lord that counts the sparrows fall shall feed His little brood.
“Cheer up! my girl,
here Brother Riggs our circuit knows ’twill please.
He raised three hundred dollars there, besides the marriage fees.
What! tears from us who preached the word these thirty years or so?
Two years on barren Chincoteague, and two in Tuckahoe?
“The schools are good,
the brethren say, and our Church holds the wheel;
The Presbyterians lost their house; the Baptists lost their zeal.
The parsonage is clean and dry; the town has friendly folk,—
Not half so dull as Murderkill, nor proud like Pocomoke.
“Oh! Thy just will,
our Lord, be done, though these eight seasons more,
We see our ague-crippled boys pine on the Eastern Shore,
While we, Thy stewards, journey out our dedicated years
Midst foresters of Nanticoke, or heathen of Tangiers!
“Yea! some must serve
on God’s frontiers, and I shall fail, perforce,
To sow upon some better ground my most select discourse;
At Sassafras, or Smyrna, preach my argument on ‘Drink,’
My series on the Pentateuch, at Appoquinimink.
“Gray am I, brethren,
in the work, though tough to bear my part;
It is these drooping little ones that sometimes wring my heart,
And cheat me with the vain conceit the cleverness is mine
To fill the churches of the Elk, and pass the Brandywine.
“These hairs were brown,
when, full of hope, ent’ring these holy lists,
Proud of my Order as a knight—the shouting Methodists—
I made the pine woods ring with hymns, with prayer the night-winds shook,
And preached from Assawaman Light far north as Bombay Hook.