A good 'prentice - bad 'prentice dialogue by William Dodd, editor of the Christian's Magazine. Though the third in the sequence, this was the first of the Moral Pastorals to be published — the remainder appered in 1767 in Dodd's Poems. The slighting reference to Methodism was later dropped in revision.
The loutish Lobbin tempts Perigot to abandoned his master's sheep and play nine-pins at the tavern. To which Perigot replies: "My duty, Lobbin, now I better know, | Than to forsake my charge, and idling go | At every call, without my master's leave, | Wasting the moments I can ne'er retrieve." When Lobbin ridicules Perigot for wanting to be a pastor, the good shepherd modestly replies that he attends but two sermons of a Sunday. Ten years after this moral pastoral was published its clerical author was executed at Tyburn for wandering from the straight and narrow way.
Headnote: "Gentlemen, During a short recess this summer from more laborious employ, I amused myself with composing some pastorals on a plan, which appears to be new, and which tends to make this pleasing species of poetry instructive as well as amusing. Each of my pastorals, which are six in the whole, treat of some social duty: I have sent you that which stands the third, as a specimen of the rest, and if it shall be approved, I may perhaps be prevailed upon to publish the rest. I am, yours, &c. William Dodd, West-Ham, January, 1763" p. 89.
C. H. Timperley: "The Christian's Magazine, edited by William Dodd, whose dissipated life and disgraceful death are sufficiently known to the public. He was also the conductor and chief author of the Visitor, which was inserted in the Public Ledger during the years 1760 and 1761. Dodd was assisted in the composition of these papers by several of his friends, among whom were Mr. Thompson and Mr. Duncombe. The Visitor, as it appears in volumes, consists of eighty-five numbers, of which very few rise above mediocrity, either in style or matter" Encyclopaedia of Literary and Typographical Anecdote (1842) 2:705.
Ah Perigot, my lad, — why stand you here?
Thus leaning on your crook, and full of care.
Come doff your doublet, — your best cloaths put on;
Make haste, or we shall find the sport begun.
See, Lobbin, what a numerous flock I keep;
And see, how much the flies torment the sheep:
They gad about so much, that Tray and I
Have work enough all day to keep them nigh:
And almost every minute, as you view,
Look there — a plague on that old black-fac'd ewe,
She always leads them wrong: — Hark — fetch 'em, Tray:
I cannot keep them from the wheat away.
Would God, that harvest were only come,
I then might sit at ease, and see them roam!
Poo, shepherd, never mind, they do no harm;
Or corn or grass, 'tis all your master's farm:
What matters which they eat; come leave them lad;
And let's together to Duke William's head:
Besides the hat at nine-pins, all who choose
May run in sacks, boy, for a pair of shoes,
New, neat's-skin, and well-nail'd, — but, better still,
Our Surry Dick has challeng'd Kentish Will
To try a bout at single-stick, they say:
Come, Perigot, — what lad wou'd be away?
That, lad, am I; — for tho', as you can tell,
But few at nine-pins Perigot excel:
Tho' well I lov'd our village sports to share
The first, in merriment, at wake, or fair;
My duty, Lobbin, now I better know,
Than to forsake my charge, and idling go
At every call, without my master's leave,
Wasting the moments, I can ne'er retrieve;
And bringing home at night — the spend-thrift's part,
A muddled head, and discontented heart.
Rare maxims truly! and where got you these?
Preach to your sheep, my boy, and talk to trees!
Our shepherd lads will only laugh to hear!
A master's interests to our sports prefer!—
That will not, Lobbin, ever: for I trow
They to our sports such preference will not show.
Then, be they pleas'd or not, I'l have my day;
For if one will not do, another may.
"Rare maxims" too, may Perigot return;
They merit well each honest shepherd's scorn!
Remember, lad, a saying of your own,
"No moss is gather'd by the rolling stone:"
So once you told me with a piteous face,
When wand'ring up and down, from place to place,
Your purse was empty, and your cloaths were nought,
And your vain heart was humble, as it ought.
Now, since at Argol's board you live so well,
Your naughty heart again begins to swell,
But, swain, be careful, or too sure you'll find,
You sow the billows, and will reap the wind!
Something I reap — for on my back I bear
Cloaths full as good, as thou didst ever wear:
My hat's as fine, my stockings are not worse,
And here, here's money, Grey-beard, in this purse!
So cease your saws: to day's delight's I'll share;
The doubtful morrow for itself may care!
Ah, silly swain, — and to the future blind,
Sure some black Demon hath possess'd thy mind!
For grant — which, Lobbin, strangely I mistrust,
Your gains are honest — and your wages just;
Yet what you boast is all that you possess;
And how you long to make that little less!
But Lobbin think, from service if dismist,
Where will you live, and how will you subsist?
Will the old landlord at yon same Duke's Head,
Who courts your money now, then give you bread?
No, no be sure, he'll turn you from his door,
When once he finds you pennyless and poor.
Or, if by sickness to your bed confin'd,
What secret anguish will oppress your mind,
To view no gentle master by your bed,
Nor gentle mistress with her soothing aid:
Anxious their good domestic to restore,
Thus paying every service o'er and o'er:
Oh pleasing state! — how different thine, to moan
Sick, faint, and poor, neglected and alone!
No distant ills, impossible and vain,
Disturb my peace, or give a moment's pain:
We shall catch larks, my lad, when fall the skies;
So save your breath, nor be so wondrous wise:
For, think not, friend, to teach me what to do;
I can both read and write as well as you.
So much the worse; — the pow'r without the will
But makes your guilt and folly greater still:
For read you ne'er so well, you never look,
—I know it, Lobbin, — in that holy book,
Which brings such blessed tidings to our ears,
So warms our hopes, and dissipates our fears!
Where we are taught, that, provident o'er all,
Rules the dread Sov'reign of the subject ball,
A general Father; whose impartial care
Alike the master and the servant share:
Their lots, tho' different here, the same their fate
In the high mansions of a future state:
If good fidelity they learn to show
In all the duties of their place below.
—Chear'd by this thought, — no labours seem severe
Thro' the long watchings of the toilsome year:
Led by this hope, I live, with constant eye
To him, my mighty master in the sky:
And humbly still endeavour to approve
By faithfulness on earth, my heav'nly love.
—Thus pass I, like a pilgrim, on my way,
Hoping for better things some future day:
Like those blest shepherds, who in tents abode,
Strangers on earth, but denizens with God;
Who now rejoice, their faith's high end attain'd,
With him, who not the shepherd's name disdain'd,
Him, who his chosen flock not only fed,
But for that flock — oh gracious shepherd — bled!
Why Perigot, my lad, thy flock forsake,
And, like the cobler Dick, to preaching take;
Get a joint stool, like his: thou'lt drive a trade,
Nor him alone, but thou wilt much exceed,
The bawling parson, who the other day,
So long on our wind-mill did sing, and preach, and pray!
There thou hast learnt this gravity, I trow;
And rather after him would'st groaning go,—
Than share the pastimes at the house below.
Spare your vain jibes; for, shepherd, be it known,
I gad not after preachers up and down:
Nor time have I, nor need, — content to hear,
Two sermons every Sabbath thro' the year:
And our good pastor — but why tell it thee,
Who'd rather sleep, than at a sermon be?
—Well, well, laugh on: but they who win shou'd jest;
And sure I am, that Perigot is blest
Far beyond Lobbin in his present state.—
In future hopes the difference how great!
—My master's love, by confidence is shown,
And all his interests thus become my own:
One of his houshold, his delights I share;
And feel his pleasures, as I feel his care.
Dear are his children; dearer still they prove,
As I experience their unartful love:
And dearer yet they grow, when pleas'd I find
Their gentle mother to my wants so kind.
Connected thus, I act a social part,
And live a life quite suited to my heart!
No solitary elf, — and here I trust
At length to mingle with my native dust;
Rejoic'd if, like Petruchio, who of late
In his good master's house resign'd to fate,
I too, — thrice happy, — should my master have,
With all his family attend my grave;
Smiting their breasts, and saying, with a tear,
"A good and faithful servant resteth here."
This be my praise: and for this praise I'll live:
Your pastimes, Lobbin, no such joys can give.
Why, Perigot, 'tis truth: — you touch my heart:
Shepherd, indeed, you've chose the better part.
I'll think to-morrow well of what you say,—
But can't give up the pleasures of to-day.
—Some other time I'll come, and hear you preach—:
But, my brave lad, you may for ever teach,
Before in W—T—D'S bands you Lobbin list:—
I hate no creature like a methodist!
Thus, with loud laugh, the dolt departing cry'd;
While the good shepherd shook his head, and sigh'd!