Home  »  The World’s Wit and Humor  »  The Vicar

The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

Winthrop Mackworth Praed (1802–1839)

The Vicar

HIS talk was like a stream which runs

With rapid change from rocks to roses;

It slipped from politics to puns;

It passed from Mohammed to Moses;

Beginning with the laws which keep

The planets in their radiant courses,

And ending with some precept deep

For dressing eels or shoeing horses.

He was a shrewd and sound divine,

Of loud dissent the mortal terror;

And when, by dint of page and line,

He ’stablished truth, or started error,

The Baptist found him far too deep;

The Deist sighed with saving sorrow;

And the lean Levite went to sleep,

And dreamed of tasting pork to-morrow.

His sermons never said or showed

That earth is foul, that Heaven is gracious,

Without refreshment on the road

From Jerome, or from Athanasius;

And sure a righteous zeal inspired

The hand and head that penned and planned them,

For all who understood, admired,

And some who did not understand them.

He wrote, too, in a quiet way,

Small treatises and smaller verses;

And sage remarks on chalk and clay,

And hints to noble lords and nurses;

True histories of last year’s ghost,

Lines to a ringlet or a turban;

And trifles for the Morning Post,

And nothing for Sylvanus Urban.

He did not think all mischief fair,

Although he had a knack of joking;

He did not make himself a bear,

Although he had a taste for smoking.

And when religious sects ran mad,

He held, in spite of all his learning,

That if a man’s belief is bad,

It will not be improved by burning.