The Respectable Burgher on "The Higher Criticism" by Thomas Hardy
Since Reverend Doctors now declare That clerks and people must prepare To doubt if Adam ever were; To hold the flood a local scare; To argue, though the stolid stare, That everything had happened ere The prophets to its happening sware; That David was no giant-slayer, Nor one to call a God-obeyer In certain details we could spare, But rather was a debonair Shrewd bandit, skilled as banjo-player: That Solomon sang the fleshly Fair, And gave the Church no thought whate'er; That Esther with her royal wear, And Mordecai, the son of Jair, And Joshua's triumphs, Job's despair, And Balaam's ass's bitter blare; Nebuchadnezzar's furnace-flare, And Daniel and the den affair, And other stories rich and rare, Were writ to make old doctrine wear Something of a romantic air: That the Nain widow's only heir, And Lazarus with cadaverous glare (As done in oils by Piombo's care) Did not return from Sheol's lair: That Jael set a fiendish snare, That Pontius Pilate acted square, That never a sword cut Malchus' ear And (but for shame I must forbear) That -- -- did not reappear! . . . - Since thus they hint, nor turn a hair, All churchgoing will I forswear, And sit on Sundays in my chair, And read that moderate man Voltaire.