Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Poem.

Enjoy this? Share it!

Song Of The Departing Spirit Of Tithe
by [?]


“The parting Genius is with sighing sent.”
MILTON.

It is o’er, it is o’er, my reign is o’er;
I hear a Voice, from shore to shore,
From Dunfanaghy to Baltimore,
And it saith, in sad, parsonic tone,
“Great Tithe and Small are dead and gone!”

Even now I behold your vanishing wings,
Ye Tenths of all conceivable things,
Which Adam first, as Doctors deem,
Saw, in a sort of night-mare dream,[1]
After the feast of fruit abhorred–
First indigestion on record!–
Ye decimate ducks, ye chosen chicks,
Ye pigs which, tho’ ye be Catholics,
Or of Calvin’s most select depraved,
In the Church must have your bacon saved;–
Ye fields, where Labor counts his sheaves,
And, whatsoever himself believes,
Must bow to the Establisht Church belief,
That the tenth is always a Protestant sheaf;–
Ye calves of which the man of Heaven
Takes Irish tithe, one calf in seven;[2]
Ye tenths of rape, hemp, barley, flax,
Eggs, timber, milk, fish and bees’ wax;
All things in short since earth’s creation,
Doomed, by the Church’s dispensation,
To suffer eternal decimation–
Leaving the whole lay-world, since then,
Reduced to nine parts out of ten;
Or–as we calculate thefts and arsons–
Just ten per cent. the worse for Parsons!

Alas! and is all this wise device
For the saving of souls thus gone in a trice?–
The whole put down, in the simplest way,
By the souls resolving not to pay!
And even the Papist, thankless race
Who have had so much the easiest case–
To pay for our sermons doomed, ’tis true,
But not condemned to hear them, too–
(Our holy business being, ’tis known,
With the ears of their barley, not their own,)
Even they object to let us pillage
By right divine their tenth of tillage,
And, horror of horrors, even decline
To find us in sacramental wine![3]

It is o’er, it is o’er, my reign is o’er,
Ah! never shall rosy Rector more,
Like the shepherds of Israel, idly eat,
And make of his flock “a prey and meat.”[4]
No more shall be his the pastoral sport
Of suing his flock in the Bishop’s Court,
Thro’ various steps, Citation, Libel–
Scriptures all, but not the Bible;
Working the Law’s whole apparatus,
To get at a few predoomed potatoes,
And summoning all the powers of wig,
To settle the fraction of a pig!–
Till, parson and all committed deep
In the case of “Shepherds versus Sheep,”
The Law usurps the Gospel’s place,
And on Sundays meeting face to face,
While Plaintiff fills the preacher’s station,
Defendants form the congregation.

So lives he, Mammon’s priest, not Heaven’s,
For tenths thus all at sixes and sevens,
Seeking what parsons love no less
Than tragic poets–a good distress.
Instead of studying St. Augustin,
Gregory Nyss., or old St. Justin
(Books fit only to hoard dust in),
His reverence stints his evening readings
To learned Reports of Tithe Proceedings,
Sipping the while that port so ruddy,
Which forms his only ancient study;–
Port so old, you’d swear its tartar
Was of the age of Justin Martyr,
And, had he sipt of such, no doubt
His martyrdom would have been–to gout.

Is all then lost?–alas, too true–
Ye Tenths beloved, adieu, adieu!
My reign is o’er, my reign is o’er–
Like old Thumb’s ghost, “I can no more.”

NOTES:
[1] A reverend prebendary of Hereford, in an Essay on the Revenues of the Church of England, has assigned the origin of Tithes to “some unrecorded revelation made to Adam.”

[2] “The tenth calf is due to the parson of common right; and if there are seven he shall have one.”–REES’S Cyclopaedia, art. “Tithes.”

[3] Among the specimens laid before Parliament of the sort of Church rates levied upon Catholics in Ireland, was a charge of two pipes of port for sacramental wine.

[4] Ezekiel, xxxiv., 10.–“Neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them.”