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THE PUNNING PARSON
AT the beginning of the war, the pastor of the Hollis
Street Church, Boston, was Matthew Byles.
He was as staunch a Tory as many of his brothers were
Whigs. No matter what rebukes or what threats were
hurled at him, he would not be crushed. His fire of sarcasm
was hot as ever; and his fund of humor never failed him.
At last he was removed from his pastorate, and a guard
placed over him.
"Sir," said he, as the officer paced back and forth, "how
nobly I am guarded."
Later the guard was removed, and then later still replaced.
"See now," said Matthew, "how carefully I am reguarded."
And again, when the guard was removed "for good and
all," this impressible old man cried out,—
"Behold, I have been guarded, reguarded, and now I am
Once, while the sentinel was pacing up and down in
front of his premises, the doctor persuaded him to go on an
errand, and while he was absent, he shouldered the musket
and kept guard over himself, much to the amusement of
passers-by. He used to call the sentinel his observ-a-tory.
The early history of Boston is full of stories, of this odd,
fun-loving parson. In early Boston poetry are found the
"Here's punning Byles provokes our smiles,
A man of stately parts,
He visits folks to crack his jokes,
Which never mend their hearts.
"With strutting gait and wig so great
He walks along the streets,
And throws out wit, or what's like it,
To every one he meets."