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Roger Cox

Irish Humour Home

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.

Next: Roger And The Poultry

Previous: Dialogue Between Swift And His Landlord

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