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Dean Swift And The Preacher Who Stole His Sermon

Irish Humour Home

The eccentric Dean Swift, in the course of one of those journies to
Holyhead, which, it is well known, he several times performed on foot,
was travelling through Church Stretton, Shropshire, when he put up at
the sign of the Crown, and finding the host to be a communicative
good-humored man, inquired if there was any agreeable person in town,
with whom he might partake of a dinner (as he had desired him to provide
one), and that such a person should have nothing to pay. The landlord
immediately replied, that the curate, Mr. Jones, was a very agreeable,
companionable man, and would not, he supposed, have any objection to
spend a few hours with a gentleman of his appearance. The Dean directed
him to wait on Mr. Jones, with his compliments, and say that a traveller
would be glad to be favored with his company at the Crown, if it was
agreeable. When Mr. Jones and the Dean had dined, and the glass began
to circulate, the former made an apology for an occasional absence,
saying that at three o'clock he was to read prayers and preach at the
church. Upon this intimation, the Dean replied, that he also should
attend prayers. Service being ended, and the two gentlemen having
resumed their station at the Crown, the Dean began to compliment Mr.
Jones on his delivery of a very appropriate sermon; and remarked, that
it must have cost him (Mr. Jones) some time and attention to compose
such a one.

Mr. Jones observed, that his duty was rather laborious, as he served
another parish church at a distance; which, with the Sunday and weekly
service at Church Stretton, straitened him much with respect to the time
necessary for the composition of sermons; so that when the subjects
pressed, he could only devote a few days and nights to that purpose.

Well, says the Dean, it is well for you to have such a talent; for my
part, the very sermon you preached this afternoon, cost me some months
in the composing. On this observation, Mr. Jones began to look very
gloomy, and to recognize his companion. However, rejoined the Dean,
don't you be alarmed; you have so good a talent at delivery, that I
hereby declare, you have done more honor to my sermon this day, than I
could do myself; and by way of compromising the matter, you must
accept of this half-guinea for the justice you have done in the delivery
of it.

Next: Swift's Queer Testimonial To His Servant

Previous: Swift Arbuthnot And Parnell

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