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though every man uttered his voice with the same apprehensions that I had done, Et timidè verba intermissa retentat.
Ovid. Met. i. 747. And try'd his tongue, his silence softly broke.-Dryden.
At about half a mile's distance from our cabin we heard the groanings of a bear, which at first startled us; but, upon inquiry, we were informed by some of our company, that he was dead, and now lay in salt, having been killed upon that very spot about a fortnight before, in the time of the frost. Not far from the same place, we were likewise entertained with some posthumous snarls, and barkings of a fox.
• We at length arrived at the little Dutch settlement; and, upon entering the room found it filled with sighs that smelt of brandy, and several other unsavoury sounds, that were altogether inarticulate. My valet, who was an Irishman, fell into so great a rage at what he heard, that he drew his sword; but not knowing where to lay the blame, he put it up again. We were stunned with these confused noises, but did not hear a single word until about half an hour after; which I ascribed to the harsh and obdurate sounds of that language, which wanted more time than ours to melt, and become audible.
* After having here met with a very hearty welcome, we went to the cabin of the French, who, to make amends for their three weeks' silence were talking and disputing with greater rapidity and confusion than I ever heard in an assembly, even of that nation, Their language, as I found upon the first giving of the weather, fell asunder and dissolved. I was here convinced of an error into which I had before fallen; for I fancied, that for the freezing of the sound, it was necessary for it to be wrapped up, and, as it were, preserved in breath: but I found
take when I heard the sound of a kit playing a minuet over our heads. I asked the occasion of it; upon which one of the company told me “that it would play there above a week longer; for,” says he, “ finding ourselves bereft of speech, we prevailed upon one of the company, who had his musical instrument about him, to play to us from morning to night; all which time we employed in dancing, in order to dissipate our chagrin, et tuer
Here Sir John gives very good philosophical reasons, 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 histo. rians, and very much contributed to the embellishment of his writings.
No 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 proper case to come before your court of honour, I not tell; but thus it is. I am a chaplain to an honourable family, very regular at the house of devotion, and, I hope, of an unblamable life; but for not offering to rise at the second course, I found my patron 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 informed 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: 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 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 your 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 lay-masters 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, 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 impossible but, in the next generation, he may see himself reduced to the tithe, or tenth dish of the table; a sufficient caution not to part
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 a humble spectator. This necessarily puts a good man upon making great ravages on all the dishes that stand near him; and distinguishing himself by a 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 Catholic priest think, who is always helped first, and placed next 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 a breast of mutton? Yet, to so ridiculous a height is this foolish custom grown, that even the Christmas-pie, which in its very nature 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
patron, or the chaplain, the insolence of power, or the abjectness of dependance. 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 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.