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were inclined to drink made use of these vessels, for the cup was not pressed upon any man against his will." Royal clemency has taken far less gracious forms than this; this quality of it is twice blessed : it blesseth him that gives and him that takes.
Dr. Chalmers enters this memorandum in his diary of the year 1811: “Let me not press drinking so much. I have long had the vanity of being thought a good fellow. On the other hand, I may disgust by an appearance of parsimony.” A quarter of a century later we find his brother James writing to a sister in vehement deprecation of the tyrannies and exactions of hospitality in excess, with its invitations “rattling and reeling and ringing in one's ears everlastingly, as if a man could have no enjoyment beyond that of guzzling and drinking; and the worst of all is that they won't believe what you say; for surely if I tell a man that I like a bowl of kirn milk better than a bowl of punch, he ought to believe me. But no; he likes the punch best himself, and I must like it too, and ne'er a drap of kirn milk will he give me. It is indeed a great failing in the Scotch that they cannot, or will not, admit it possible that a person can have likes or dislikes or feelings different from their own.” James Chalmers had long been a resident in England; and if he was shy of revisiting his native country, it was in part from his dread of “being laid hold of and dragged away against his will to the beastly guzzlement.” Hospitality he pronounces highly commendable when properly exercised; but “the Scotch overdo it, and carry it beyond its proper bounds by their system of impressment; for surely they ought to allow the object of it to have a say in the matter, without cramming it down his throat whether he will or not.” He felt to owe them as little thanks as Cellini did to the wife of Sbietta, who would fain have poisoned him outright) with her dainty meats. Colman told Cowper of his
I “She was sorry, she said, we did not like our supper, as appeared by our eating so little. After having several times praised the entertainment, assuring her that I had never tasted anything better, or with a better appetite, I at last told her I had got enough. I could not immediately
in Colman's pla by the way, piot pressing the ite at my
being pressed at dinner by Garrick, with irksome iteration, to eat more of a certain dish that he was known to be particularly fond of; Colman as often refused, and at last declared he could not. “But could not you,” says Garrick, “if you were in a dark closet by yourself ? ” One would like Johnson to have been in Colman's place for the nonce, and to have heard his reply. Hannah More, by the way, piques herself, in a letter to one of her sisters in 1776, on her not pressing the Doctor; but then it was tea she was giving him. “I was quite at my ease, and never once asked him to eat (drink he never does anything but tea); while you, I dare say, would have been fidgeted to death, and would have sent half over the town for chickens, and oysters, and asparagus, and Madeira. You see how frugal it is to be well bred, and not to think of such a vulgar renovation as eating and drinking.” Johnson might as keenly have resented “ Punch's ” high pressure system as Elia's proud Poor Relation didl when his kindly hostess urged Mr. Billet once too often. Theodore Hook in one of his stories delivers his testimony, as a veteran diner out, against conventional entreaties to eat this and drink that, “ with an earnestness extremely prevalent in those circles where feeding seems to be the sole source of pleasure, and forcing food down a man's throat the very acmè of politeness.” In another he makes a female novice in dining out
guess why the lady pressed me so earnestly to eat.”—Life of Benvenuto Cellini, book iv., chap. xi.
I“A peculiar sort of sweet pudding, which appeared on no other occasion, distinguished the days of his coming. ... Once only I saw the old gentleman really ruffled. . . . He had been pressed to take another plate of the viand, which I have already mentioned as the indispensable concomitant of his visits. He had refused with a resistance amounting to rigour, when my aunt [who] would sometimes press civility out of season, uttered the following memorable application : ‘Do take another slice, Mr. Billet, for you do not get pudding every day. The old gentleman said nothing at the time, but he took occasion in the course of the evening, when some argument had intervened between them, to utter with an emphasis which chilled the company, and which chills me now as I write it, Woman, you are superannuated !""--Essays of Elia : Poor Relations.
Dr. Johnson, if he had said it, would have said it with the emphasis and without the interval.
complain of having been so pressed to eat “as if I should say No when I meant Yes,” and of being asked every five minutes why she did not finish her wine. In another a fair complainant is “worried to death by Mrs. Abberly to eat, and eat, and eat." George Geith at his Christmas dinner with the Bemmidges strives to enjoy himself, and to eat and drink enough to satisfy his host. “But had he succeeded in this endeavour he would certainly never have eaten and drank any more, for Mr. Bemmidge not merely wanted him to taste everything that was on the table, but also to take two or three helpings of each dish.”] The like ideal of politeness rules in the Marquesas islands, to judge from Mr. Herman Melville's account'of Kory-Kory thrusting food, in the form of little balls, into his, the stranger's, mouth. “All my remonstrances against this measure only provoked so great a clamour on his part that I was obliged to acquiesce.” The last attention to a feasted Esquimaux who can swallow no more is, we are told, to lay him on his back, and to coil a long strip of blubber into his mouth till it is quite filled, and then to cut off the superfluous fat close to his lips.
1 “What am I to do with it?” thought George Geith, as he had about a pound of plum pudding set before him, with an intimation from Mrs. Bemmidge that it was a triumph of her own culinary skill. And the accountant longed for the days of his youth, when he had a knack of secreting pieces of fat and other unsavoury viands unknown by mortal man. If I could but leave it !” he sighed. But no ; there it was, to be finished, and by him. Mrs. Bemmidge would hear of no smaller portion ; and indeed, in comparison to his, that allotted to Mrs. Gilling was a very Benjamin's.”—George Geith of Fen Court, chap. vi.
As Christmas, so a birthday, comes but once a year, and well for Mrs. Bagnet in Bleak House that it is so, for “two such indulgences in poultry might be fatal,” the poultry in question being abnormally tough and hard, as provided by the simple hearted old soldier for his helpmate in honour of the day. But Mr. Bagnet, unconscious of these little defects, sets his heart on Mrs. Bagnet eating a most severe quantity of the delicacies before her; and as she would not cause him a moment's disappointment for any consideration, she imperils her digestion fearfully.
THE FALL OF THE TOWER IN SILOAM.
St. LUKE xiii. 4. THOSE eighteen upon whom the tower in Siloam fell and
1 slew them are expressly and explicitly declared to have not been sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem ; any more than the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices were sinners above all the Galileans because they suffered such things. It was expedient to set forth this
? At the time of the cotton famine, consequent upon the civil war in America, a clerical dignitary in the north of England addressed a letter to the “operatives,” the drift of which was that the two or three millions who were more or less suffering from that calamity were suffering from a special Divine visitation upon our sins. Objectors were not lacking who observed that there is nothing which looks so religious, or which at so small a cost of thought and care and personal striving, establishes a character for being religious, as this doctrine of “visitation,” a man who is always talking about the Divine judgments being at once assumed to be religious. “of course he must be a man of God and a friend of God if he is so very intimate with Providence as to be entrusted with the secret intentions of Heaven.” The cotton famine “is a clear visitation of God for our sins." Might not the men of Lancashire, it was submitted, be disposed to ask teachers of this sort why they were to be punished in particular? They were not worse sinners than the men of Middlesex and Surrey. “The cotton famine is a visitation, and through it and by means of the American war God starves men in Lancashire. The cotton famine is a visitation, and through it and by means of the American war God enriches men at Blackwall and on the Clyde.” The natural question occurs, Can the same fountain send forth sweet water and bitter? Does the same just God ordain specially the same events to bring exceptional weal and exceptional woe to the same class of sinners? It were a mere mockery of religious language to say that all that was meant was that everything is of God's appointment. The clerical censor's censors, themselves perhaps clerical, were avowedly far from saying that there are no visitations, or that God does not interfere exceptionally in the way of rewards and punishments; what they deprecated was the assertion that we know when and where and why God interferes; and what they denied was the claim of the present or any other tract writer to be a secretis to Almighty God.
Montaigne begins an essay on the duty of 'soberly judging of Divine ordinances, with some remarks on “a set of people ” who take upon them to interpret and control the designs of God Himself, “making a business of finding out the cause of every accident, and of prying into the secrets of the Divine will, there to discover the incomprehensible motives of His works. And although the variety and the continual discordance of events throw them from corner to corner, and toss them from east to west, yet do they still persist in their vain inquisition, and with the same pencil paint black and white."
doctrine because mankind were then, as they are now, apt to read “a judgment” in such cases upon those who suffer such things. Pope incidentally puts the query to “ blameless Bethel":
- When the loose mountain trembles from on high,
Shall gravitation cease if you go by ?”. Think we, like some weak prince, the Eternal Cause prone for His favourites to reverse His laws ? So thought the Egyptian robber, who, as Jeremy Taylor tells the story, was awakened by Serapis while “sleeping under a rotten wall,” and sent away from the ruin; “but being quit from the danger, and seeing the wall to slide, he thought that the demon loved his crime, because he had so strangely preserved him from a sudden and a violent death”; whereas Serapis avowedly had but saved him from the wall to reserve him for the wheel. Benvenuto Cellini, in his readiness to saddle a judgment on those he dislikes, describes the sudden sinking of a room in which his father's foe, Pierino, was standing at the time : a catastrophe to be ascribed, in Cellini's judgment, either (which is rational or rationalising) to the defective construction of the vault over which the room was built, or to “the Divine vengeance, which, though late, never fails to overtake offenders.” Selden was rather before his age, if not in opposition to it, when he said: “We cannot tell what is a judgment of God; 'tis presumption to take upon us to know. . . . Commonly we say a judgment falls upon a man for something in him we cannot abide."1 Fresh, probably, in John Selden's remembrance was the commotion caused in London by the
i Selden in his Table-talk suggests an example in King James I. discoursing on the death of Henry IV. of France; one said he was killed as a judgment on his libertinism ; another for his renouncing the Reformed faith. “No, says King James, who could not abide fighting, he was killed for permitting duels in his kingdom.”
"Do you not perceive, Mr. Milton," Charles II. is said to have said to the sightless old poet, “ that your blindness is a judgment of God for taking part against the late king, my father?” “Nay, is said to have said Milton, calmly; “ if I have lost my sight through God's judgment, what can you say of your father, who lost his head ?”