Emma, The Tinker's Daughter; Or, The Benefits Of Sabbath School Instruction Poem by Thomas Cowherd

Emma, The Tinker's Daughter; Or, The Benefits Of Sabbath School Instruction

In a wretched, narrow street of an old English town,
A roving tinker lived; one who would often drown
Of Virtue every trace, by drinking much strong beer;
Oft mixing in a fight, a stranger to all fear.

Right before his door-step, mud did the gutter fill;
And once to cleanse it out he never had the will.
The windows of his house with patch-work were supplied,
And all within the door by coal-smoke well was dyed.

In such a place as this, we would not hope to find
One of the human race with pure and noble mind;
Yet one indeed there was, whom we shall Emma call-
Most beautiful her face, most lovely in her soul.

She was the only child of that sin-hardened man-
Her sainted mother died as her tenth year began;
The father brutal seemed to all the World around,
Yet never with his girl was he in anger found.'

And much his kindness told upon her gentle heart;
It soothed her childish grief, and made her act her part.
The lessons she had learned before her mother died,
Were now of greatest use, for she was sorely tried.

And when her father went to stay a week away,
She read her Bible oft, and cared not much for play;
But, feeling ill at ease, with dirt within and out
She whitewashed all the rooms; of this you need not doubt.

The gutter still remained, just in its former state;
That she could not mend, so left it to its fate.
But now she scrubbed the floors, and waited patiently,
Till came her father home, who smiled the change to see.

His feelings were roused up when he viewed the comforts round,
And wondered where the child could so much skill have found?
Then clasped her in his arms-felt now inclined to be
More worthy of his girl, and work right steadily.

About this time there came a Sabbath visitor,
Who had got youths to school, but wanted many more.
The tinker angry sat, nor asked the man within;
Said, 'Emma read her Book, and did not live in sin.'

But she, quite conscience-struck, said, 'Father, you're not right,
We all great sinners are, in God's most holy sight;
My Bible tells me this-I'm sure it speaks the truth;
Please let me go to school, while I am yet a youth!'

This unexpected thrust went to his parent-heart;
Yet still he did not like with his dear girl to part;
But bid the man sit down, and tell him what was taught
In these same Sabbath Schools, of which he had not thought.

This friend was nothing loath; he sought the good of souls-
Had tasted Jesus' love, which selfishness controls;
So told how many folks, by best of motives led,
Gave their own pleasure up, and taught the young instead.

'Mongst these were often found some great in rank and wealth,
Who loved the cause so well, they did it not by stealth;
But honor counted it to teach in Sunday School,
And thus to square their lives by their dear Savior's Rule.

The tinker was surprised to hear such news as this;
He thought that all fine folks were full of selfishness;
But, if it all was true, the girl at once might go-
Whatever good she got, she soon that good would show.

Then Emma threw her arms around his neck, and said,
'Dear father, for your love you shall be well repaid;
When I come home from school, I'll tell you all I learn,
Then the good of Sabbath Schools you may soon discern.'

She asked the man to tell where she would have to go;
Who said, 'My little girl, 'tis there, in Union Row;
In that large, lofty house; the time is half-past two.'
This heard, forth Emma went, and made no more ado.

The father, when alone, sat long time lost in thought,
Then took the Bible up, and through its pages sought;
He wished to see himself if all they said was true;
But little progress made-such work to him was new.

Soon came his bright-eyed girl, with face like rose in June,
Who told of hymns they sung, and of each pretty tune;
What chapters there were read-the questions asked she told-
What prayers were offered up, both for the young and old.

She said her teacher was a lady very grand,
Who, when she first went in, most kindly took her hand,
And led her to a seat where she herself sat down,
Nor seemed afraid to crush her beautiful silk gown.

The tinker heard it all, and wondered in his mind
How gentlefolks could be so very good and kind;
And promised her she should next Sabbath go again,
But wished that she would now her former words explain.

His conscience told him oft that he was far from right,
That he had wicked been, in sinning against light;
Oh, was there then no hope that he should yet be saved?
This thought was hard to bear, and could not well be braved.

Then Emma meekly spoke, and told him all she knew;
And searched the Bible's page, to prove her words were true.
This was an easy task, for there 'twas clearly seen
How men, because of sin, by God condemned had been.

He found this prove as gall, and felt so much distressed,
By day he could not work, at night obtained no rest.
Before the week was gone he, almost in despair,
Went forth into the woods, and wandered here and there.

When Sunday came at last, he hailed it with more joy
Than he had done before, and did its hours employ
In poring o'er that Book which had so roused his fears-
When Emma went to school his eyes were full of tears.

So strongly on her mind was his sad state impressed,
She to her teacher flew, and thus herself expressed:
'O, Madam, please to tell what sinners great must do,
When they, because of sin, feel quite pierced through and through?

'My father, all the week, not worked, nor ate, nor slept;
But seemed much like a man who was of sense bereft.
Oh, speak, dear lady, speak! for surely he will die
Unless he soon can learn which way he is to fly!'

With pity in her eyes, the lady kindly took
The humble, loving girl, whose frame with terror shook,
And placed her in a seat, and whispered in her ear
That Jesus came to save poor sinners filled with fear.

She told her how He was both God and Man in one-
The Lord of Heaven and Earth, yet God's beloved Son;
That He for sinners died, just out of purest love,
And on the third day rose, and went again above;

But sent His Spirit down to work upon our hearts,
Through His blest Word of Truth, sent to our inward parts;
And says in that same word-the Bible you have read-
That all who do believe are saved, because he bled!

She further kindly said, 'Wait now till school is done,
And I will go with you-so much my love you've won.'
Then Emma dried her tears, and with a pleasant face,
Amongst the other girls she quickly took her place.

Again, from portions read, the teachers questions ask;
They strove to work from love, and felt it was no task;
Once more sweet hymns were sung which suited Emma's case,
And prayer from all arose up to the Throne of Grace.

The truth that Emma heard went home into her soul,
And joyful feelings rose which she could scarce control.
The pleasant service o'er, the teacher with her went
Into that filthy street, nor thought her time misspent.

They entered soon the house; the wretched man was found
Nigh overwhelmed with grief, and waiting for the sound
Of news, which, as he thought, his darling girl would bring;
But at this proof of love his tears afresh did spring.

He truly felt ashamed that one like she should come,
To try to do him good, in his most wretched home;
The lady told him soon what she might do for such
Was done for Jesus' sake, which did his feelings touch.

She then sat meekly down, and in a heavenly frame,
Told him how Jesus Christ a Sacrifice became;
How sinners of all ranks, by Faith, might be forgiven-
Be saved from sin and hell, and go, at last, to Heaven!

The Lord her labors blessed-they both believed the Word-
And thus it did appear the prayer of Faith was heard.
For such a state of things had Emma's mother prayed,
And she had her request, though for a time delayed.

The tinker, now reclaimed by God's almighty power,
His business still pursued, nor lost a single hour;
On Sabbath went to Church, with his neat, pretty maid,
And in temptations strong received the Savior's aid.

Then, feeling that the place where they were living now,
Was not the place at all for Faith and Love to grow,
He took a small, neat house, just outside of the town,
And, for a proper life, gained from the good, renown.

In time dear Emma came to be a teacher, too,
And God did her employ much lasting good to do.
Her father, in due time, was taken to his rest,
And she, with loving man, as a wife was truly blest.

I might prolong my tale, but quite enough is told,
To show that Christian Love is better far than gold;
That those who wish to be most happy here below,
Must strive with all their might the Savior well to know.


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