HAIL & FIRE - a resource for Reformed and Gospel Theology in the works, exhortations, prayers, and apologetics of those who have maintained the Gospel and expounded upon the Scripture as the Eternal Word of God and the sole authority in Christian doctrine.
HOME > Prayers, Hymns & Poems > The Vaudois Teacher by John G Whittier
"The Vaudois Teacher"
from "Poems" (1893 Edition)
John G. Whittier
This poem was suggested by the account given of the manner which the Waldenses disseminated their principles among the Catholic gentry. They gained access to the house through their occupation as peddlers of silks, jewels, and trinkets. "Having disposed of some of their goods," it is said by a writer who quotes the inquisitor Rainerus Sacco, "they cautiously intimated that they had commodities far more valuable than these, inestimable jewels, which they would show if they could be protected from the clergy. They would then give their purchasers a Bible or Testament; and thereby many were deluded into heresy." The poem, under the title Le Colporteur Vaudois, was translated into French by Professor G. de Felice, of Montauban, and further naturalized by Professor Alexandre Rodolphe Vinet, who quoted it in his lectures on French literature, afterwards published. It became familiar in this form to the Waldenses, who adopted it as a household poem. An American clergyman, J. C. Fletcher, frequently heard it when he was a student, about the year 1850, in the theological seminary at Geneva, Switzerland, but the authorship of the poem was unknown to those who used it. Twenty-five years later, Mr. Fletcher, learning the name of the author, wrote to the moderator of the Waldensian synod at La Tour, giving the information. At the banquet which closed the meeting of the synod, the moderator announced the fact, and was instructed in the name of the Waldensian church to write to me a letter of thanks. My letter, written in reply, was translated into Italian and printed throughout Italy.
"O LADY fair, these silks of mine
are beautiful and rare, -
The richest web of the Indian loom, which beauty's
queen might wear;
And my pearls are pure as thy own fair neck, with whose
radiant light they vie;
I have brought them with me a weary way, - will my
gentle lady buy?"
The lady smiled on the worn old man through the
dark and clustering curls
Which veiled her brow, as she bent to view his
silks and glittering pearls;
And she placed their price in the old man's hand
and lightly turned away,
But she paused at the wanderer's earnest call, -
"My gentle lady, stay!
"O lady fair, I have yet a gem which a purer
Than the diamond flash of the jewelled crown on
the lofty brow of kings;
A wonderful pearl of exceeding price, whose virtue
shall not decay,
Whose light shall be as a spell to thee and a
blessing on thy way!"
The lady glanced at the mirroring steel where her
form of grace was seen,
Where her eye shone clear, and her dark locks
waved their clasping pearls between;
"Bring forth thy pearl of exceeding worth, thou
traveller gray and old,
And name the price of thy precious gem, and my
page shall count thy gold."
The cloud went off from the pilgrim's brow, as a
small and meagre book,
Unchased with gold or gem of cost, from his
folding robe he took!
"Here, lady fair, is the pearl of price, may it prove
as such to thee!
Nay, keep thy gold - I ask it not, for the word of
God is free!"
The hoary traveller went his way, but the gift he
Hath had its pure and perfect work on that high-
born maiden's mind,
And she hath turned from the pride of sin to the
lowliness of truth,
And given her human heart to God in its beautiful
hour of youth!
And she hath left the gray old halls, where an evil
faith had power,
The courtly knights of her father's train, and the
maidens of her bower;
And she hath gone to the Vaudois vales by lordly
Where the poor and needy of earth are rich in the
perfect love of God!
"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it." Matt 13:44-46 KJV
Copyright © HAIL and FIRE