Project Canterbury

Songs and Ballads for the People

By the Rev. John Mason Neale

London: James Burns, 1843.

XII. Why are you a Dissenter?

Come, listen to me, neighbours!
And I'll tell you of the way
Dissenters set about it
When they make a grand display:
And when my story's finish'd,
I'll be vastly well content,
If you will but be persuaded
To fly from all dissent.

A man is disappointed
Of a pew he wants, or so;
"If this must be the way," says he,
"To church I'll never go:
The Parson tried to spite me,
And so I'm fully bent
That I will spite the Parson
By setting up dissent."

He looks about for converts;
And so with much ado,
And perhaps a little money,
He picks up one or two:
They were always noted grumblers,
And to church they never went;
For that's the sort of people
That are readiest for dissent.

There are two or three who join them,
And readily come in,
Because the Parson told them
They were living on in sin:
They take the thing in dudgeon,
And so are well content--
For teachers dare not blame them,
Who live by their dissent.

They get a famous preacher,
Who comes in haste from Town,
Lest what he calls the int'rest
Of Dissenters should go down:
They pay him for his sermon,
But the money's only lent;
For it brings them a collection
In aid of their dissent.

He praises all they're doing;
But thinks it a disgrace
They've so poor a room for preaching,--
They should build a better place.
An Ebenezer Chapel
Would be just the thing he meant;
So very grand, and useful
In helping on dissent.

With driving and with scraping,
And with screwing from the poor,
(They spare their own dear pockets),
They get a little store;
But before the meeting's finished,
The money's gone and spent;
And they find that it's expensive
To set on foot dissent.

But they raise a mighty clamour,
And they try to blind men's eyes
With tales about the Parsons,
And half a score such lies:
To be sure it looks like sinning,
But they say it's all well meant;
And without a little falsehood,
Who could hope to teach dissent?

And when it's done, what follows?
Why morning, noon, and night,
There's quarrelling and brawling,
Who's wrong and who is right:
Sedition and rebellion
Find a very easy vent;
And farewell to peace and order
In the place that has dissent!

Project Canterbury