Wednesday 2 June 2021

Nativity of Thomas Hardy (1840)

Revd Shirley: And now we come to the subject of ambition. As we consider the Philosopher's words: "Vanity, vanity, all is vanity." And consider the appalling sight of a man unprepared to remain in the rank of his own parents - to work with his hands, sit in his chimney corner and drink elder wine. And instead to aspire to architecture and literature - subjects suited for those of a much higher class. More educated. With an Oxford MA. Someone who is more able to think of higher things and conjure the words that delight from a classical education. For be sure that learning is best trusted to the learned, and not to one conceived under a hedge.

All: Shirley, you can't be serious.

Revd Shirley: I am serious. And it's Reverend Shirley.

Thomas Hardy: Now listen, your Reverence. I have power over you through my pen. I've already written you into Greenwood Tree as the poor sap who fancies the schoolmistress. And I can make you a frolicker with mikmaids, a drunken fool or a bigoted Evangelical just as easily.

Revd Shirley: You monster! An Evangelical? Not that!

Thomas Hardy: Your future is in my hands. Since the day I started to write, I have all power over you. Who will remember your deeds as vicar of this quiet little place by the embowered Frome? But my words will live forever. Choose yours carefully.

Revd Shirley: Moving on. Hymn 442.

Thomas Hardy: And so the President of the Immortals is me. All your reputations are in my hand. Yokels, drunk, lusty squires and randy heiresses. I control you all! All! Do you hear me?

He laughs an evil laugh, and walks out into the conveniently timed thunderstorm. The harmonium starts up "Lead Kindly Light".

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