1811 Poem, Francis Boyle 'The Preacher turned Doctor'

Author: Francis Boyle

Date: 1811

Source: Poem: ‘The Preacher turned Doctor’, from Miscellaneous Poems by Francis Boyle (Belfast: Printed by D & S Lyons, Corn-market, 1811).

Comments: Francis Boyle, also known as Frank Boal, was from Gransha, near Gilnahirk in County Down. Unlike Thomson and Orr, he was conservative in religion and politics (a Covenanter and Loyalist) during the 1798 rebellion, but his command of Ulster-Scots in his verse is on a par with the best of those poets in his day. He only published one book of poems in 1811, along with a few (such as ‘The Carnmoney Witches’) in local newspapers before moving from Comber Parish to the Ards.

Doc. ref. no.: USLS/TB/Poetry/1800-1899/019


See, up he’s got the word o’ Guid,

An’ meek an’ mim has view’d it,

While Common Sense has ta’en the road,

An’ aff, an’ up the Cowgate,

Fast, fast that day.


One science only will one genius fit,

So vast is art, so narrow human wit.


Twa or three neebors met thegither,

To talk a while wi’ ane anither:

The subject o’ their conversation,

Wha preach’d at Grenshaw ordination?

A man spak’ out “I dinna ken him.”

Anither said, “His name is Den-m;

He in a lafty strain does speak,

Sometimes in Latin - sometimes, Greek;

And aye a sentence now and then,

That we poor sinners dinna ken.”

Ane says, “That shews the able scholar.”

“Forsooth I wadna gie a dollar

To hear sic preachin’ seven years,

It pleasees men o’ itchin’ ears: —

I like the truth in laigher strains,

Sic as the sacred page contains.” —

’Twas then my sympathising Muse,

For a’ his foibles made excuse.

As Accoucheur, sae aft he thumbs,

And deals sae much in drugs and gums,

That preachin’s nought but a by-trade,

He canna get his lectures made,

Or sermons half as guid as Pogue’s —

They’ll do the folk at Everogue’s;

For they were never ill to please,

Sae he may eat his bread an’ cheese,

An’ whiskey drink for mornin’ prayers,

An’ never spier if they say theirs;

An’ thus they may slip ane anither,

An’ live in harmony together.

Whan a guid wife cries out and squeels,

He in a jiffy tak’s his heels,

Or mounts his steed, be’t soon or late,

Wi’ whip an’ spur, an’ to the gate;

Owre hills an’ dales he drives wi’ speed

To win the gossip’s cheese and bread,

Lights down and claps her on a seat,

An’ scarcely half an hour does wait,

Till he presents a girl or boy,

The bumpers then gae roun’ wi’ joy,

The bairn alive and blithe the minny,

He gets his booze and guid half Guinea,

Likewise the profit o’ his drugs,

For sixpence worth he tak’s three hogs;

He’s much esteem’d by every body,

Sae Den-m has nae time to study.

But while the Doctor he’s a preachin’,

Another woman fa’s a screechin’,

A messenger arrives a’ sweatin’,

Wha left her friens an’ neighbours greetin’,

This circumstance is very urgin,

The woman’s lost without a surgeon,

Anither message mair alarmin’,

The Doctor then maun quat his sermon,

The people gazin’ a’ like fools,

Awa’ he drives wi’ a’ his tools,

The woman that was almost dead,

His skilfu’ hand has brought to bed;

The midwives a’ may spit their venom,

An’ cast their caps at doctor Den-m.


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