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The case of this gentleman deserves pity; especially 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 patate, or à fweet tooth, as they call it, is not consistent with the sanctity of his character? This is but a trifling pretence. No man of the moft 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 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 pleafure, 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 bave recommended it to all the lay-masters of families, and not have disturbed other inen's tables with such unfeasonable examples of abstinence. The original therefore of this barbarous custom I take to have been merely accidental. The chaplain retired, out of pure complai fance, to make room for the removal of the dishes, or porfibly for the ranging of the desert. 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 entertainment; and if the arrogance of the patron goes on, it is not impoffible but, in the next generation, he
may fee himself reduced to the tithe, or tenth dish of the table; a sufficient caution not to part with any privilege we are once poflefled of. It was usual for the priest in old times to feast upon the facrifice, 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 cuftom is inverted; the laity feast, while the priest stands by as an humble spectator. This neceffa. rily 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 aik those 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 en. tertainment with an exception to the desert? And yet I cannot but think, that in such a proceeding he would but deal with them as they deserved. What would a Romancatholic priest think, who is always helped first, and placed next the ladies, should he see a clergyman giving his company the flip 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 a breast of mutton ? Yet to fo ridiculous a height is this foolith custom grown, that even the Christmas pie, which in its very nature is a kind of confecrated cate, and a badge of distinction, is often forbidden to the druid of the family. Strange! that a firloin of beef, whether boiled or roafted, 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 matter.
In this case I know not which to censure, the patron, or the chaplain, the infolence of power, or the abjectuels 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 an ignominious manner, and funk 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 fort of treatment which often accompanies it.
Some think themselves exalted to the sky,
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 profeffion.
NO. 256. TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 28, 1710.
Virg. Ecl. 3. ver. 108.
"Tis ours such warm contentions to decide.
The Proceedings of the Court of Honour, held in Sheer
lane on Monday the twentieth of November, 1710, before Isaac BICKERSTAFF, Esquire, Cenfor 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-ftreet, 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 imposible for Mr. Guies to recover it again at his taking leave of him. The prosecutor ailedged, that he was the cadet of a very ancient family; and that, according to the principles of all the younger brothers of the faid 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 een ployed himself beyo.id the twisting of a whip, or the making of a pair of nut-crackers, 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 reflections 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 feverely 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 likewise produced feveral witneffes, that he made feveral 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 alledged, 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 all of opinion, that the defence made by the prisoner's counsel did rather aggravate than extenuate his crime ; that the motions and intiinations of that 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 Thelter from the weather. The evidence being very full and clear, the jury, without going out of court, declared their opinion unanimously by the mouth of their foreinan, that the prosecutor was bound in honour to make the sun thine through the criminal, or, as they afterwards explained themselves, to whip him through the lungs.
The Cenfor knitting his brows into a frown, and looking very sternly upon the jury, after a little pause, gave them to know, that this court was erected for the finding out of penalties fuitable to offences, and to restrain the outrages of private justice; and that he expected they mould