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enemy. In the mean time, I have often wondered at the indecency of discarding 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 sanctity 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 our common pickles. I have sometimes thought, that the ceremony of the chaplain's flying away from the dessert was typical and figurative, to mark out to the company how they ought to retire from all the luscious baits of temptation, and deny their 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 temperance had been necessary at a table, our clergy would have recommended it to all the laymasters of families, and not have disturbed other men's tables with such unseasonable 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 room for the removal of the dishes, or possibly for the ranging of the dessert. This by degrees grew into a duty, till at length, as the fashion improved, the good man found himself cut off from the third part of the entertainment; 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 part 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 lively manner :
And while the priest did eat, the people stared.
At present the custom is inverted; the laity feast, while the priest stands by as an humble spectator. This necessarily puts the good man upon making great ravages on all the dishes that stand near him, and distinguishing himself by voraciousness of appetite, as knowing that his time is short. I would fain ask these stiff-necked patrons, 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 cannot but think, that in such a proceeding, he would but deal with them as they deserved. What would a Roman Catholie priest think, who is always helped first, and placed next to the ladies, should he see a clergyman giving his company the slip at the first appearance of the tarts or sweetmeats? Would not he believe that he had the same antipathy to a candied orange, or a piece of puff paste, as some have to a Cheshire cheese, or s breast of mutton ? Yet to so ridiculous a height is this foolish custom grown, that even the Christmas pye, which in its very nature is a kind of consecrated cate, 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 patron chaplain ; the insolence of power, or the abjectness of depend. ance. For my own part, I have often blushed to see a gentle
man, 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 an 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 conversation 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,
. In "A Satyr, addressed to a friend that is about to leave the University," &c. V. Oldham's works, 1703. 8vo. p. 391.-N.
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 advantage from the necessities of a man of merit, to impose on him hardships that are by no means suitable to the dignity of his profession.
No. 256. TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 28, 1710.
Nostrum est tantas componere Lites.- Virg.
The procecdings of the Court of Honour, held in Sheer. Lane,
on Monday, the 20th of November, 1710, before Isaac Bick: erstaffc, Esq. Censor of Great Britain.
PETER Plumb, of London, merchant, was indicted by the Honourable Mr. Thomas Gules, of Gule Hall, in the county of Salop, for that the said Peter Plumb did in Lombard Street, London, between the hours of two and three in the afternoon, meet the said Mr. Thomas Gules, and after a short salutation, put on his hat, value five pence, while the Honourable Mr. Gules stood bare-headed for the space of two seconds. It was further urged against the criminal, that, during his discourse with the prosecutor, he feloniously stole the wall of him, having clapped his back against it in such a manner that it was impossible for Mr. Gules to recover it again at his taking leave of him. The prosecutor alledged, that he was the cadet of a very ancient family, and that, according to the principles of all the younger brothers of the said family, he had never sullied himself with business, but had chosen rather to starve like a man of honour, than do any thing beneath his quality. He produced several witnesses, that he had never employed himself beyond the twisting of a
whip, or the making of a pair of nutcrackers, in which he only worked for his diversion, in order to make a present now and then to his friends. The prisoner being asked what he could say for himself, cast several roflections upon the Honourable Mr. Gules : as, that he was not worth a groat; that nobody in the city would trust him for a half-penny; that he owed him money which he had promised to pay him several times, but never kept his word: and, in short, that he was an idle, beggarly fellow, and of no use to the public. This sort of language was very severely reprimanded by the Censor, who told the criminal, that he spoke in contempt of the court, and that he should be proceeded against for contumacy, if he did not change his style. The prisoner, therefore, desired to be heard by his counsel, who urged in his defence, ' That he put on his hat through ignorance, and took the wall by accident.' They likewiso produced several witnesses, that he made several motions with his hat in his hand, which are generally understood as an invitation to the person we talk with to be covered ; and that the gentleman not taking the hint, he was forced to put on his hat, as being troubled with a cold. There was likewise an Irishman who deposed, that he had heard him cough three and twenty times that morning. And as for the wall, it was alleged, that he had taken it inadvertently to save himself from a shower of rain which was then falling. The Censor having consulted the men of honour who sat at his right hand on the bench, found they were of opinion, that the defence made by the prisoner's counsel did rather aggravate than extenuate his crime; that the motions and intimations of the hat were a token of superiority in conversation, and therefore not to be used by the criminal to a man of the prosecutor's quality, who was likewise vested with a double title to the wall at the time of their conversation, both as it was the upper hand, and as it was a shelter from the weather. The evidence being very