The Reverend Prebendary J. R. Vernon was vicar of West Quantoxhead from 1872 until his death in 1902. He wrote a series of books with titles like The Harvest of a Quiet Eye: Leisure Thoughts for Busy Minds and Random Truths in Common Things: Occasional Papers from my Study Chair. They are principally musings and meditations on the Christian faith inspired by country walks and the passing seasons. Leather bound, full of sentimental illustrations of pastoral views and allegorical scenes of innocence and faith, charity and poverty, published by The Religious Tract Society they were very popular in their day; just the thing for reading aloud in a Christian family on a Sunday night.
His place among the Quantock poets is secured by a single published lyric: a hymn which was included in the 1889 Hymns Ancient & Modern There’s Peace and Rest in Paradise. The hymn doesn't merit quotation but here is a taste of Vernon's syrupy prose entitled Musings Among the Flowers:
When God bade the earth to bring forth thorns, in his tender pity He left the sweet flowers to grow among them. Spilled over the banks of closed Eden, and sending their seeds to sail with light wing above its trees, with what a smile of hope they must have transfigured earth's sad and chidden face. And how Adam and Eve, leaving that Garden Home for exile, and expecting perhaps only a thorny waste, must have thanked God and taken courage, when met on their journey by the quiet reassuring sympathy of the flowers. …And if flowers were first invented on that day, what an exquisite treat the angels must have had!
Or on the sparrows of his garden:
Yes, the offices of the inumerable little birds, that have no ear-arresting song, remind me, cheeringly, how many quiet, faithful-hearted servants of the Lord, unknown to us, there are in the world, and how valuable their lives may be in God's sight. For how much is wrought for Christ by the quiet routine of unobtrusive, incessant usefulness.
The twee piety may sound strange to our modern sensibility but it would be unfair to judge the past by the values of the present time. Many people found wisdom and comfort in Vernon's writings