|From the November 1877 issue
"Great Cry and Little Wool"
AS THE MAN SAID WHO CLIPPED THE SOW.
UR friend Hodge does not seem to be making much of an out at shearing. It will take him all his time to get wool enough for a blanket and his neighbors are telling him so. But he gets plenty of music of a sort; Hullah's system is nothing to it, and even Nebuchadnezzar's flutes, harps, sackbuts, and dulcimers could not make more din. He gets "cry" enough to stock a Babylon of babies, but not wool enough to stop his ears with.
Now is not this very like the world with its notions of pleasure? There is noise enough; laughter, and shouting, and boasting; but where is the comfort which can warm the heart, and give peace to the spirit? Thousands have had to weep over their mistake, and yet it seems that every man must have a clip at his own particular pig, and cannot be made to believe that like all the rest it will yield him nothing but bristles. One shears the publican's hog, which is so fond of the swill tub, and he reckons upon bringing home a wonderful lot of wool; but everybody knows that he who goes there for wool will come home shorn himself: the "Blue Boar" is an uncommonly ugly animal to shear. Better sheer off as far as you can. Another tries greediness, and expects to be happy by being a miser. That's a very clean hog to clip at. Some try wickedness, and run into bad company, and give way to vice. I warrant you, they may shear the whole styful of filthy creatures, and never find a morsel of wool on the whole lot of them. Loose characters, silly amusements, gambling, wantonness, and such like, are swine that none but a fool will try his hand on. I don't deny that there's plenty of pig music,who ever expected that there would be silence in a piggery? But then noise is not enough to fill the heart or cheer the soul.
John Ploughman has tried for himself, and he knows by experience that all the world is nothing but a hog that is not worth the shearing: "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity." But yet there is wool to be had; there are real joys to be got for the asking, if we ask aright. Below, all things deceive us, but, above us there is a true friend. This is John Ploughman's verdict, which he wishes all his readers to take note of
"'Tis religion that can give
Sweetest pleasures while we live;
'Tis religion must supply
Solid comfort when we die."
From John Ploughman's Sheet Almanack.