Roger Cox





What perhaps contributed more than any thing to Swift's enjoyment, was

the constant fund of amusement he found in the facetious humor and

oddity of the parish clerk, Roger Cox. Roger was originally a hatter in

the town of Cavan, trot, being of a lively jovial temper, and fonder of

setting the fire-side of a village alehouse in a roar, over a tankard of

ale or a bowl of whiskey, with his flashes of merriment and jibes of

humor, than pursuing the dull routine of business to which fate had

fixed him, wisely forsook it for the honorable function of a parish

clerk, which he considered as an office appertaining in some wise to

ecclesiastical dignity; since by wearing a band, no small part of the

ornament of the Protestant clergy, he thought he might not unworthily be

deemed, as it were, a shred of the linen vestment of Aaron. Nor was

Roger one of those worthy parish clerks who could be accused of merely

humming the psalms through the nostrils as a sack-butt, but much oftener

instructed and amused his fellow-parishioners with the amorous ditties

of the Waiting Maid's Lamentation, or one of those national songs

which awake the remembrance of glorious deeds, and make each man burn

with the enthusiasm of the conquering hero. With this jocund companion

Swift relieved the tediousness of his lonesome retirement; nor did the

easy freedom which he indulged with Roger ever lead his humble friend

beyond the bounds of decorum and respect.



Roger's dress was not the least extraordinary feature of his appearance.

He constantly wore a full-trimmed scarlet waistcoat of most uncommon

dimensions, a light grey coat, which altogether gave him an air of

singularity and whim as remarkable as his character.



To repeat all the anecdotes and witticisms which are recorded of the

prolific genius of Roger in the simple annals of Laracor, would fill a

little volume. He died at the good old age of ninety.



Soon after Swift's arrival at Laracor, he gave public notice that he

would read prayers every Wednesday and Friday. On the first of those

days after he had summoned his congregation, he ascended the desk, and

after sitting some time with no other auditor than his clerk Roger, he

rose up and with a composure and gravity that, upon this occasion, were

irresistibly ridiculous, began--Dearly beloved Roger, the Scripture

moveth you and me in sundry places, and so proceeded to the end of the

service. The story is not quite complete. But the fact is, that when he

went into the church he found Roger alone, and exclaimed with evident

surprise, What, Roger! none here but you? Yes, sir, replied

Roger drily (turning over the book to find the lessons, for the day),

sure you are here too.





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