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sical instrument about him, to play to us from morning to night; all which time we employed in dancing, in order to dissipate our chagrin, & tuer le temps."
Here Sir John gives very good philosophical reasops, why the kit could not be heard during the frost; but, as they are something prolix, I pass them over in silence, and shall only observe, that the honourable author seems, by his quotations, to have been well versed in the ancient poets, which perhaps raised his fancy above the ordinary pitch of historians, and very much contributed to the em. bellishment of his writings.
N° 255. SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 25, 1710.
-Nec te tua plurima, Pantheu,
VIRG. Æn. ii. 429.
From my own Apartment, November 24.
“ I am at present under very great difficulties, which it is not in the power of any one, besides yourself, to redress. Whether or no you shall think it a pro. per case to come before your court of honour, I can. not tell; but thus it is. I am a chaplain to an honour. able family, very regular at the hours of devotion, and, I hope, of an unblameable life; but for not of. fering to rise at the second course, I found my pa. tron and his lady, very sullen and out of humour, though at first I did not know the reason of it. At length when I happened to help myself to a jelly, the lady of the house, otherwise a devout woman, told me, that it did not become a man of my cloth to delight in such frivolous food; but as I still continued to sit out the last course, I was yesterday in. formed by the butler, that his lordship had no farther occasion for my service. All which is humbly submitted to your consideration by, Sir,
Your most humble servant, &c." The case of this gentleman deserves pity; especi. ally if he loves sweetmeats, to which, if I may guess by his letter, he is no enemy.
In the mean time, I have often wondered at the indecency of discharging the holiest man from the table as soon as the most delicious parts of the entertainment are served up, and could never conceive a reason for so absurd a custom. Is it because a liquorish palate, or a sweet tooth, as they call it, is not consistent with the sanc. tity of his character? This is but a trifling pretence. No man, of the most rigid virtue, gives offence by any excesses in plum-pudding or plum-porridge, and that because they are the first parts of the dinner. Is there any thing that tends to incitation in sweetmeats more than in ordinary dishes ? Certainly not. Sugar-plums are a very innocent diet, and conserves of a much colder nature than your common pickles. I have sometimes thought that the ceremony of the chaplain's flying away from the desert was typical
and igurative, to mark out to the company how they ought to retire from all the luscious baits of temptation, and deny thetr appetites the gratifications that are most pleasing to them ; or at least, to signify that we ought to stint ourselves in our most lawful satisfactions, and not make our pleasure, but our support, the end of eating. But most certainly, if such a lesson of temporance had been ne. cessary at a table, our clergy would have recom. mended it to all the lay-masters of families, and not have disturbed other men's tables with such ansca. sonable examples of abstinence. The original, therefore, of this barbarous custom, I take to have been merely accidental. The chaplain retired, out of pure complaisance, to make rvom for the removal of the dishes, or possibly for the ranging of the des. sert. This by degrees grew into a duty, until at length, as the fashion improved, the good man found himself cut off from the third part of the entertainmeat; and, if the arrogance of the patron goes on, it is not impossible but, in the next generation, he may see himself reduced to the tythe, or tenth dish of the table; a sufficient caution not to párt with any privilege we are once possessed of. It was usual for the priest in old times to feast upon the sacrifice, nay the honey-cake, while the hungry laity looked upon him with great devotion ; or, as the late lord Rochester describes it, in a very lively manner,
And while the priest did eat, the people star’d. At present the custom is inverted; the laity feast, while the priest stands by as an humble spectator. This necessarily puts a good man upon making great ravages on all the dishes that stand ncar him; and distinguishing himself by voraciousness of appetite, as knowing that his time is short. I would sain ask these stiff-necked patrops, whether they would not take it ill of a chaplain, that in his grace after meat should return thanks for the whole entertainment with an exception to the dessert? And yet I cao. not but think, that in such a proceeding he would but deal with them as they deserved. What would a Roman catholic priest think, who is always help ed first, and placed next the ladies, should he see a clergyman giving his company the slip at the first appearance of the tarts or sweet-meats? Would not he believe that he had the same antipathy to a can. died orange, or a piece of puff-paste, as some bave to a Cheshire cheese, or a breast of mutton ? Yet, toso ridiculous a height is this foolish custom growo, that even the Christmas pye, which in its very na. ture is a kind of consecrated cake, and a badge of distinction, is often forbidden to the Druid of the family. Strange! that a sirloin of beef, whether boiled or roasted, when entire, is exposed to his utmost depredations and incisions; but, if minced into small pieces, and tossed up with plums, and sugar, changes its property, and, forsooth, is meat for his master.
In this case I know not which to censure, the pa. tron, or the chaplain, the insolence of power, or the abjectness of dependence. For my own part, I have often blushed to see a gentleman, whom I knew to have much more wit and learning than myself, and who was bred up with me at the university upon the same foot of a liberal education, treated in such art ignominious manner, and sunk beneath those of his own rank, by reason of that character which ought to bring him honour. This deters men of generous minds from placing themselves in such a station of life, and by that means frequently excludes persons of quality from the improving and agreeable conver. sation of a learned and obsequious friend.
Mr. Oldham * lets. us know, that he was affrighted from the thought of such an employment, by the scandalous sort of treatment which often accompanies it :
Some think themselves exalted to the sky,
“ Hard by the cistern with your cap in hand :
I rate my freedom higher. This author's raillery is the raillery of a friend, and does not turn the sacred order into ridicule
; but is a just censure on such persons as take ad.. vantage, from the necessities of a man of merit, to impose on him hạrdships that are by no means suit.. able to the diggity of his profession.
* In “ A Satire addressed to a friend that is about to leave the University,” &c.