1844 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Samuel Bishop

Robert Chambers, in Cyclopaedia of English Literature (1844; 1850) 2:115.



SAMUEL BISHOP (1731-1795) was an English clergyman, Master of Merchant Tailors' School, London, and author of some miscellaneous essays and poems. The best of his poetry was devoted to the praise of his wife; and few can read such lines as the following without believing that Bishop was an amiable and happy man:—

TO MRS. BISHOP, ON THE ANNIVERSARY OF HER WEDDING-DAY, WHICH WAS ALSO HER BIRTH-DAY, WITH A RING.
"Thee, Mary, with this ring I wed"—
So, fourteen years ago, I said.
Behold another ring! — "For what!"
"Taxed thee o'er again!" Why not?
With that first ring I married youth,
Grace, beauty, innocence, and truth;
Taste long admired, sense long revered,
And all my Molly then appeared.
If she, by merit since disclosed,
Prove twice the woman I supposed,
I plead that double merit now,
To justify a double vow.
Here, then, to-day (with faith as sure,
With ardour as intense, as pure,
As when, amidst the rites divine,
I took thy troth, and plighted mine),
To thee, sweet girl, my second ring
A token and a pledge I bring:
With this I wed, till death us part,
Thy riper virtues to my heart;
Those virtues which, before untried,
The wife has added to the bride;
Those virtues, whose progressive claim,
Endearing wedlock's very name,
My soul enjoys, my song approves,
For conscience' sake as well as love's.

And why? — They show me every hour
Honour's high thought, Affection's power,
Discretion's deed, sound Judgment's sentence,
And teach me all things — but repentance.