The Stool of Repentance

There once was a shop-keeper lov'd a fair maid;
But the fruits of their fondness their secret betray'd,
Kirk-session got notice, you may guess their sentence,
Poor culprits must sit on the stool of repentance.

The evening before he made his first appearance,
With an English rider being settling a clearance,
Of the Church of England was a staunch veteran,
Yet desirous he might hear a Scots presbyterian..

Says the shop-keeper, Sir, I'll indulge you to-morrow,
I've a seat of my own, no occasion to borrow.
Come breakfast with me, then to kirk we will walk,
After sermon we'll dine, and have some private talk.

O'er a social glass, thus the plan was concerted.
Next day, after breakfast, to kirk both departed.
'T'was public politeness, but private deceit,
Made him prefer the rider to th' head of the seat.

The rider observed the whole congregation
Sat from them in a state of wide separation.
That's true, said the shop-keeper, for that good reason,
I did purchase this seat for the summer season.

Church worship commenced, and being near ended,
In a whisper he unto the rider pretended
That nature press'd hard for an evacuation,
That done, I'll directly return to my station.

But before the dismissing of the congregation,
The rider was rebuked for fornication.
Being conscious of guilt, the reproof he receiv'd,
And, like a true penitent, gravely behav'd.

Yet nettl'd at getting rebuke so severe,
Father Parson, said he, where this did ye hear?
For I but last Thursday did come to this town;
That I did kiss a wench I do candidly own.

But how you should know that exciteth my wonder.
Here the congregation laugh'd out loud like thunder,
And dismiss'd without blessing, in a merry mood;
By this time the shop-keeper at the door stood.

Said the rider, your parson is very uncivil,
He's surely a witch, or perhaps he's a devil,
In England we kiss, and no parson we fear;
But no more Scottish parsons I ever will hear.

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Copyright © 2001, Jack Campin