Mary Robinson ( )


The Confessor, a Sanctified Tale


When SUPERSTITION ruld the land
And Priestcraft shackled Reason,
At GODSTOW dwelt a goodly band,
Grey monks they were, and but to say
They were not always givn to pray,
Would have been construed Treason.
Yet some did scoff, and some believd
That sinners were themselves deceivd;
And taking Monks for more than men
They provd themselves, nine out of ten,
Mere dupes of these Old Fathers hoary;
But read--and mark the story.

Near, in a little Farm, there livd
A buxom Dame of twenty three;
And by the neighbours twas believd
A very Saint was She!
Yet, evry week, for some transgression,
She went to sigh devout confession.
For evry trifle seemd to make
Her self-reproving Conscience ache;
And Conscience, wakend, tis well known,
Will never let the Soul alone.

At GODSTOW, mid the holy band,
Old FATHER PETER held command.
And lusty was the pious man,
As any of his crafty clan:
And rosy was his cheek, and sly
The wandrings of his keen grey eye;
Yet all the Farmers wives confest
The wondrous powr this Monk possessd;
Powr to rub out the score of sin,
Which SATAN chalkd upon his Tally;
To give fresh licence to begin,--
And for new scenes of frolic, rally.
For abstinence was not his way--
He lovd to live --as well as pray ;
To prove his gratitude to Heavn
By taking freely all its favors,--
And keeping his account still even,
Still markd his best endeavours:
That is to say, He took pure Ore
For benedictions,--and was known,
While Reason opd her golden store,--
Not to unlock his own.--
And often to his cell went he
With the gay Dame of twenty-three:
His Cell was sacred, and the fair
Well knew, that none could enter there,
Who, (such was PETERS sage decree,)
To Paradise neer bought a key.

It happend that this Farmers wife
(Call MISTRESS TWYFORD--alias BRIDGET,)
Led her poor spouse a weary life--
Keeping him, in an endless fidget!
Yet evry week she sought the cell
Where Holy FATHER PETER stayd,
And there did evry secret tell,--
And there, at Sun-rise, knelt and prayd.
For near, there livd a civil friend,
Than FARMER TWYFORD somewhat stouter,
And he would oft his counsel lend,
And pass the wintry hours away
In harmless play;
But MISTRESS BRIDGET was so chaste,
So much with pious manners gracd,
That none could doubt her!

One night, or rather morn, tis said
The wily neighbour chose to roam,
And (FARMER TWYFORD far from home),
He thought he might supply his place;
And, void of evry spark of grace,
Upon HIS pillow, rest his head.
The night was cold, and FATHER PETER,
Sent his young neighbour to entreat her,
That she would make confession free--
To Him,--his saintly deputy.
Now, so it happend, to annoy
The merry pair, a little boy
The only Son of lovely Bridget,
And, like his daddy , givn to fidget,
Enquird who this same neighbour was
That took the place his father left--
A most unworthy, shameless theft,--
A sacrilege on marriage laws!

The dame was somewhat disconcerted--
For, all that she could say or do,--
The boy his question would renew,
Nor from his purpose be diverted.
At length, the matter to decide,
Tis FATHER PETER she replied.
Hes come to pray. The child gave oer,
When a loud thumping at the door
Proclaimd the Husband coming! Lo!
Where could the wily neighbour go?
Where hide his recreant, guilty head--
But underneath the Farmers bed?--

NOW MASTER TWYFORD kissd his child;
And straight the cunning urchin smild :
Hush father ! hush ! tis break of day--
And FATHER PETERS come to pray!
You must not speak, the infant cries--
For underneath the bed he lies.
Now MISTRESS TWYFORD shriekd, and fainted,
And the sly neighbour found, too late,
The FARMER, than his wife less sainted,
For with his cudgel he repaid--
The kindness of his faithless mate,
And fiercely on his blows he laid,
Till her young lover, vanquishd, swore
Hed play THE CONFESSOR no more !

Tho fraud is ever sure to find
Its scorpion in the guilty mind:
Yet, PIOUS FRAUD, the DEVILS treasure,
Is always paid, in TENFOLD MEASURE.



Mary Robinson's other poems:
  1. Sonnet 13. Bring, Brick to Deck My Brow
  2. Ode to Valour
  3. Sonnet 9. Ye, Who in Alleys Green
  4. Sonnet 35. What Means the Mist
  5. To Cesario


 . Poem to print (Print)

: 906



To English version


@Mail.ru

. eng-poetry.ru@yandex.ru