Thursday, 10 May 2012

The Parish Clerk - 1907

The Parish Clerk (1907)
Peter Hampson Ditchfield
Courtesy : Project Gutenburg
The queries we have had to answer have been exceedingly numerous. Looking at the enclosure containing the console of the organ, a visitor wished to know whether the organist sat inside there. Another asked whether it was the vestry. One who saw great possibilities in such an organ inquired,  "Can he play this organ in any other place beside the key-board?" The pulpit being of so unique a character has had a full share of attention, and no lack of admirers. Gazing at it with eyes filled with wonderment, a woman said to her daughter, "Maria, you're not to touch not even the pews." Everything within sight of such a structure she held sacred. Astonished at its internal capacity, another asked, "Do all the clergy sit in it?" Not realising its true character and intent, a lady wished to know, "By whom was this monument erected?" As we had long since ascertained how impossible it was to please everybody, we were not surprised to find dissatisfied critics presenting themselves. One of this class said, "It looks like a tomb, and smells like a coffin." We append a few more questions we have had to answer:

"Was this church built by St. Nicholas?"
"Does this church stand in four parishes?"
"How many miles is it round the walls of this church?"
"How many does this hold? We were told it holds 12,000."
A clergyman asked, "Where are the bells? Are they in the tower?"
"Haven't you a Bible 3000 years old?"
"Haven't you a Bible that turns over its own leaves?"
"Who had the missing leaves of this (Cranmer's) Bible?"
"Is this the Bible that was chained in Brentwood Church?"
A lady pointing to the font asked, "Is that the Communion Table?"
An elderly lady at the brass lectern inquired, "Is this the clerk's seat?"
A man standing looking over the Communion rails wished to know, "What part of the church do you call this?"
"Was one of the giants buried in the churchyard?"
"Where is the gravestone where a man, his wife, and twenty-five children were buried? I saw it when I was here some years ago, and forget on which side of the church it is."
A young man gazing at the top of the lofty flagstaff just inside the churchyard gates, asked, "Was that erected to the memory of a shipwrecked crew?"

With such extraordinary exhibitions of blatant ignorance can a worthy clerk regale himself, but they must be very trying at times.

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