Monday 13 June 2011

Poem from the Grave

The Last Will & Testament of Joseph Ewbank, Parish Clerk of St. Cuthberts, Barton, Yorkshire:

First, I bequeath – let me sure make it,
My soul to God, I hope He’ll take it,
My body to the Earth I give,
Whenever I shall cease to live
In hopes when the last trump shall sound,
It will again rise from the ground.
My courtly grins and pleasant smiles,
With all my stratagems and wiles,
I do bequeath them all right fairly
To my good friend, poor Robin Marley.
My quaint remarks and ready wit
I leave them all to Stewart Kit;
I’d almost said my falsehoods too,
But hold! I think he has enow.
My art in smuggling I do give
To Hansome, whom I wish to live;
‘Tis true he acts against the law
But few there are without a flaw,
For well I know what ills would come
If ‘Twas not for this Gin and Rum.
To Mr.Stelling likewise I note,
I do bequeath my Sealskin coat,
Which he has oft admired much,
And truly few have got one such.
My patience, too an ample store,
He’s need on’t, were it ten times more.
My calumny and empty clack,
To old Dame Hall and Vinny Slack;
They’ve plenty, that you need not doubt,
Indeed, few women are without.
My Broom my Pickaxe, and my Spade
With which I many graves have made,
I’ll leave to him, whoe’er he be,
The Parish Clerk that follows me.
To Willey Gye, whose vast pretension
To Psalmody’s past comprehension,
My Hymns and prick’d tunes very rare,
I hope they suit him to a hair.
And there’s poor Stabler to whose gripe,
I do bequeath my old pitch pipe,
Hoping ‘twill add unto his store,
For I shall never give him more.
Friend Dargue, too, whom I much respect,
I amongst the rest must not neglect
To leave him something, what a pox!
I’ll leave him my old Tobacco box.
My praying, singing, and such fun,
I’ll leave to Josey Robinson;
And all my religion too, I’ll give thee,
So fare thee well, and God be with thee.
My Parish Records, and Boundary Laws
Where Manor’s Lords can find no flaws,
To Mr.Allen I freely give
And when my latest breath is spent,
Poor Nan may sit at her old rent.
To Mr.Kendall (who, as a friend)
With me did many an evening spend,
My receipt for making spirit thinner,
Which may procure him oft a dinner;
To grandson Jame’s my lines and hooks,
And all my old worm-eaten books,
Which I have got, the Lord knows where!
And now there’s few alive that care,
To Parker Bill, that looks so big,
My woollen jacket and grey wig,
My old slouch hat, and when he’s drest
He’ll look like Hudibras at best.
To Stewart John, upon my sword,
On hunter Jack he then may ride,
And wear a spur on either side.
My honesty (I’d a great store,
No mortal ever yet had more)
I leave Jack Baylis, and then I think,
He’ll laugh and tip them all a wink.
My sins I give unto old N--k,
He’s tempted me to many a trick.
And last of all to Nan, my wife
(She’s been my plague through all my life),
And lest at last she should look gruff
I’ll leave her all my house-hold stuff.
And when I’m dead pray bury me,
Where I have buried many,
But none need shed a tear for me
- I never mourned for any.

The will is signed, sealed and delivered in the presence of these witnesses:
George Teasdale, Josey Emmerson
and Susy Barker.

(My thanks to Edythe Nattrass for the above)

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