I have acquired a copy of R. Wilmott’s English Sacred Poetry of The Seventeenth, Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries (1861) for the Dalziel brothers engravings. Which I am moderately pleased with. The book itself is fantastic looking. Comically heavy-bound and smoky-dark object. Zoë (age 7) got to see the thing before I did and her reaction shows she understands me well: ‘Daddy is going to love this. It even has water damage.’
And now I would like to report that the book contains the single worst argument against atheism yet devised. I present “The Atheist and the Acorn”, by Anne, the Duchess of Winchelsea. Complete with an engraving of the young PZ Myers by H.S. Marks:
Methinks this world is oddly made,
And every thing’s amiss,
A dull presuming atheist said,
As stretch’d he lay beneath a shade,
And instanced it in this:
Behold, quoth he, that mighty thing,
A pumpkin, large and round,
Is held but by a little string,
Which upwards cannot make it spring,
Or bear it from the ground.
While on this oak, an acorn small,
So disproportion’d, grows;
That, who with sense surveys this all,
This universal casual ball,
Its ill contrivance knows.
My better judgment would have hung
The pumpkin on the tree,
And left the acorn, lightly strung,
‘Mongst things which on the surface sprung,
And small and feeble be.
No more the caviller could say,
Nor further faults descry;
For as he upwards gazing lay,
An acorn, loosen’d from its stay,
Fell down upon his eye.
The wounded part with tears ran o’er,
As punish’d for the sin:
Fool! had that bough a pumpkin bore,
Thy whimseys would have work’d no more,
Nor skull have kept them in.