Sunday, April 09, 2006

The Clerical Hogreeve

Janice at Cow Hampshire yesterday defined "hog reeve" for her readers. This was a job with curious qualifications, traditionally reserved for those men who had taken wives in the year previous. In this poem, copied in the Middlesex Gazette of Sept. 16, 1819, one officeholder makes the misogynist townsmen the butt of their own joke.


It happened in a certain place,
Not overstock'd with grace,
A steady cheerful parson preach'd and pray'd,
And had his salary paid,
For forty years; but with no great effect,
Except that vice was somewhat check'd,
And virtue aided some, and piety,
For the well being of society.
But still the flock, in matters of opinion,
Knew not a Calvinist, from an Armenian,
Each jogg'd along, and labor'd on his farm,
And thus did much more good than harm.

The forty years expir'd—so did his wife,
Whom he had wedded in the bloom of life,
And so the loss of her,
Made him, of course, a widower.
Feeling that 'twas "not good to be alone,"
He chose another "bone,"
Ere long to grace the ministerial pew,
And round the parsonage to tew.

Now 'tis the custom of the town,
If parson, doctor, 'squire or clown,
Gets married, at March meeting he will hear,
That he's appointed hogreeve, for the year.
So far'd it with our priest, so witty,
Who soon was waited on by the committee,
Who told him, that the voice
Of all the town had made the above said choice.

The parson smil'd and said "I am no novice;
Full forty years I've been in the same office,
In this appointment, all that's new
Is four legg'd hogs to drive instead of two."

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