Born: Jan­u­a­ry 8, 1720, Read­ing, Berk­shire, Eng­land.

Died: Jan­u­a­ry 5, 1769, Read­ing, Berk­shire, Eng­land.

Buried: St. Lau­rence Church, Read­ing, Berk­shire, Eng­land.


Educated at Ox­ford Un­i­ver­si­ty, Mer­rick be­came a Fel­low of Trin­i­ty Col­lege. He took Ho­ly Or­ders, but was could not work in a par­ish due to ill health.



The Chameleon

Oft has it been my lot to mark
A proud, conceited, talking spark,
With eyes that hardly served at most
To guard their master ’gainst a post;
Yet round the world the blade has been,
To see whatever could be seen.
Returning from his finished tour,
Grown ten times perter than before,
Whatever word you chance to drop,
The travelled fool your mouth will stop.
Sir, if my judgment you’ll allow,
I’ve seen, and sure I ought to know.

So begs you’d pay a due submission,
And acquiesce in his decision.

Two travellers of such a cast,
As o’er Arabia’s wilds they pass’d,
And on their way, in friendly chat,
Now talked of this, and then of that,
Discoursed awhile, ’mongst other matter,
Of the Chameleon’s form and nature.
A stranger animal, cries one,
Sure never lived beneath the sun:
A lizard’s body lean and long,
A fish’s head, a serpent’s tongue,
Its foot with triple claw disjoined,
And what a length of tail behind!
How slow its pace! And then its hue!
Who ever saw so fine a blue?

Hold, there! the other quick replies;
’Tis green; I saw it with these eyes,
As late with open mouth it lay,
And warmed it in the sunny ray.
Stretched at its ease the beast I viewed,
And saw it eat the air for food.

I’ve seen it, sir, as well as you,
And must again affirm it blue.
At leisure I the beast surveyed
Extended in the cooling shade.

’Tis green, ’tis green, sir, I assure ye.
Green! cries the other in a fury;
Why, sir, d’ye think I’ve lost my eyes?
’Twere no great loss, the friend replies;
For if they always serve you thus,
You’ll find them but of little use.

So high at last the contest rose,
From words they almost came to blows,
When luckily came by a third;
To him the question they referred,
And begged he’d tell them, if he knew,
Whether the thing was green or blue.

Sirs, cries the umpire, cease your pother;
The creature’s neither one nor t’other.
I caught the animal last night,
And viewed it o’er by candle-light.
I marked it well; ’twas black as jet.
You stare! But, sirs, I’ve got it yet,
And can produce it.
Pray, sir, do;
I’ll lay my life the thing is blue.

And I’ll be sworn, that when you’ve seen
The reptile, you’ll pronounce him green.

Well, then, at once to ease the doubt,
Replies the man, I’ll turn him out;
And when before your eyes I’ve set him,
If you don’t find him black, I’ll eat him.

He said; and full before their sight
Produced the beast, and lo! ’twas white.
Both stared; the man looked wondrous wise.
My children, the Chameleon cries
(Then first the creature found a tongue),
You all are right, and all are wrong.
When next you talk of what you view,
Think others see as well as you;
Nor wonder if you find that none
Prefers your eyesight to his own.

James Merrick (1720–1769)

  1. Arise, Eter­nal God, Arise
  2. Arise, Great God
  3. As Pants the Hart for Cool­ing Springs
  4. Author of Good, to Thee We Turn
  5. Before Mes­si­ah’s Pre­sence Meet
  6. Behold Yon New-Born In­fant Grieved
  7. Blest In­struct­or, from Thy Ways
  8. Blest, Who with Ge­ne­rous Pi­ty Glows
  9. Celestial Orb, Whose Pow­er­ful Way
  10. Descend, O Lord! From Hea­ven Des­cend
  11. Earth, Big with Em­pires, to Thy Reign
  12. Eternal God, We Look to Thee
  13. Eternal Rul­er of the Skies
  14. Far as Cre­a­tion’s Bounds Ex­tend
  15. Festal Morn, My God, Is Come, The
  16. God Bids, and Lo!
  17. God of My Strength, the Wise, the Just
  18. God the Hea­vens Aloud Pro­claim
  19. He Who with Ge­ne­rous Pi­ty Glows
  20. His Breath Re­signed, on Earth’s Low Bed
  21. How Plea­sant, Lord, Thy Dwell­ings Are
  22. Immortal King! Through Earth’s Wide Frame
  23. Incumbent on the Bend­ing Sky
  24. Let Not the Sin­ner’s Wealth or Might
  25. Lift Up Your Voice and Than­kful Sing
  26. Lo, My Shep­herd’s Hand Di­vine
  27. Lord, My Strength, to Thee I Pray
  28. Lord th’Eter­nal Scep­ter Rears, The
  29. May the Eter­nal Mo­narch Shed
  30. Morn and Eve Thy Praise Re­sound, The
  31. My Heart Its Nob­lest Theme Has Found
  32. My Reins, My Fab­ric’s Ev­ery Part
  33. O Come, and to th’Eter­nal King
  34. O Hear Me, Lord
  35. O Let Me, Hea­ven­ly Lord, Ex­tend
  36. O Let My Soul, to Life Re­stored
  37. O Turn, Great Rul­er of the Skies
  38. On Thee, Great Rul­er of the Skies
  39. Placed on the Verge of Youth
  40. Praise, O Praise, the Name Di­vine
  41. See! Roused by Dis­cord’s Fierce Alarms
  42. Shepherd of Is­ra­el, Bow Thine Ear
  43. Sing to the Lord Some New-Taught Song
  44. Sing, Ye Sons of Might, O Sing
  45. Stretch Out Thy Arm, O Lord, and Save
  46. Taught by Thy Wis­dom, Let Me Learn
  47. Teach Me, O Teach Me, Lord, Thy Way
  48. Thee Let Me Bless
  49. Thy Foes Suc­ceed­ing Times Shall Own
  50. ’Tis Enough, the Hour Is Come
  51. ’Tis God, Whose All Dis­pos­ing Sway
  52. To God the All-Pro­li­fic Earth
  53. To Thy Pas­tures, Fair and Large
  54. With What De­light, Great God, I Trace
  55. Ye Child­ren Come; My Pre­cepts Hear
  56. Ye Works of God, on Him Alone

where to get Mer­rick’s pic­ture