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Barmecide in Persia, who was very hospitable, but withal a great humourist. The Barmecide was sitting at his table, that seemed ready covered for an entertainment. Upon hearing Schacabac's complaint, he desired him to sit down and fall on. He then gave him an empty plate, and asked him how he liked his rice-soup? Schacabac, who was a man of wit, and resolved to comply with the Barmecide in all his humours, told him it was admirable, and at the same time, in imitation of the other, lifted up the empty spoon to his mouth with great pleasure. The Barmecide then asked him if he ever saw whiter bread? Schacabac, who saw neither bread nor meat, 'If I did not like it, you may be sure (says he) I should not eat so heartily of it.' "You oblige me mightily, (replied the Barmecide,) pray let me help you to this leg of a goose." Schacabac reached out his plate, and received nothing on it with great cheerfulness. As he was eating very heartily on this imaginary goose, and crying up the sauce to the skies, the Barmecide desired him to keep a corner of his stomach for a roasted lamb, fed with pistacho nuts, and after having called for it, as though it had really been served up, ' Here is a dish (says he) that you will see at nobody's table but my own.' Schacabac was wonderfully delighted with the taste of it, which is like nothing, says he, I ever eat before. Several other nice dishes were served up in idea, which both of them commended and feasted on after the same manner. This was followed by an invisible dessert, no part of which delighted Schacabac so much as a certain lozenge, which the Barmecide told him was a sweetmeat of his own invention. Schacabac at length, being courteously reproached by the Barmecide, that he had no stomach, and that he eat nothing, and, at the same time, being tired with moving his jaws up and down to no purpose, desired to be excused, for that really he was so full he could not eat a bit more. Come, then, (says the Barmecide,) the cloth shall be removed and you shall taste of my wines, which I may say, without vanity, are the best in Persia.' He then filled both their glasses out of an empty decanter. Schacabac would have excused himself from drinking so much at once, because he said he was a little quarrelsome in his liquor; however, being pressed to it, he pretended to take it off, having beforehand praised the colour, and afterwards the flavour. Being plied with two or three other imaginary bumpers of different
wines, equally delicious, and a little vexed with this fantastic treat, he pretended to grow flustered, and gave the Barmecide a good box on the ear, but immediately recovering himself, Sir, (says he,) I beg ten thousand pardons; but I told you before, that it was my misfortune to be quarrelsome in my drink.' The Barmecide could not but smile at the humour of his guest, and instead of being angry at him, 'I find, (says he,) thou art a complaisant fellow, and deservest to be entertained in my house. Since thou canst accommodate thyself to my humour, we will now eat together in good earnest.' Upon which calling for his supper, the rice-soup, the goose, the pistacho-lamb, the several other nice dishes, with the dessert, the lozenges, and all the variety of Persian wines, were served up successively, one after another; and Schacabac was feasted in reality with those very things which he had before been entertained with in imagination."
No. 163. THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 16.
―miserum est alienâ vivere quadrâ. Juv.
WHEN I am disposed to give myself a day's rest, I order the lion to be opened, and search into the magazine of intelligence for such letters as are to my purpose. The first I looked into comes to me from one who is chaplain to a great family. He treats himself, in the beginning of it, after such a manner, as, I am persuaded, no man of sense would treat him. Even the lawyer and the physician, to a man of quality, expect to be used like gentlemen, and much more may any one of so superior a profession. I am by no means for encouraging that dispute, whether the chaplain or the master of the house be the better man, and the more to be respected. The two learned authors, Dr. Hicks and Mr. Collier, to whom I might add several others, are to be excused, if they have carried the point a little too high in favour of the chaplain, since, in so corrupt an age as that we live in, the popular opinion runs so far into the other extreme. The only controversy, between the patron and the chaplain, ought to be, which should promote the good designs and interests of each other most; and, for my own part, I think it is the happiest circumstance, in a great estate or title, that it qua
lifies a man for choosing, out of such a learned and valuable body of men as that of the English clergy, a friend, a spiritual guide, and a companion. The letter I have received from one of this order is as follows:
I hope you will not only indulge me in the liberty of two or three questions, but also in the solution of them. "I have had the honour, many years, of being chaplain to a noble family, and of being accounted the highest servant in the house, either out of respect to my cloth, or because I lie in the uppermost garret.
"Whilst my old lord lived, his table was always adorned with useful learning and innocent mirth, as well as covered with plenty. I was not looked upon as a piece of furniture fit only to sanctify and garnish a feast, but treated as a gentleman, and generally desired to fill up the conversation, an hour after I had done my duty. But now my young lord is come to the estate, I find I am looked upon as a censor morum, an obstacle to mirth and talk, and suffered to retire constantly, with Prosperity to the church' in my mouth. I declare solemnly, sir, that I have heard nothing, from all the fine gentlemen who visit us, more remarkable, for half a year, than that one young lord was seven times drunk at Genoa, and another had an affair with a famous courtesan at Venice. I have lately taken the liberty to stay three or four rounds beyond the church, to see what topics of discourse they went upon, but, to my great surprise, have hardly heard a word all the time besides the toasts. Then they all stare full in my face, and show all the actions of uneasiness till I am gone. Immediately upon my departure, to use the words. in an old comedy, 'I find, by the noise they make, that they had a mind to be private.' I am at a loss to imagine what conversation they have among one another, which I may not be present at, since I love innocent mirth as much as any of them, and am shocked with no freedoms whatsoever which are consistent with Christianity. I have, with much ado, maintained my post hitherto at the dessert, and every day eat tart in the face of my patron, but how long I shall be invested with this privilege I do not know. For the servants, who do not see me supported as I was in my old lord's time, begin to brush very familiarly by me, and thrust aside
my chair, when they set the sweetmeats on the table. I have been born and educated a gentleman, and desire you will make the public sensible, that the Christian priesthood was never thought, in any age or country, to debase the man who is a member of it. Among the great services which your useful papers daily do to religion, this, perhaps, will not be the least, and will lay a very great obligation on your unknown servant,
I was very much pleased with your paper of the 7th instant, in which you recommend the study of useful knowledge to women of quality or fortune. I have since that met with a very elegant poem, written by the famous Sir Thomas More; it is inscribed to a friend of his, who was then seeking out a wife: he advises him, on that occasion, to overlook wealth and beauty, and, if he desires a happy life, to join himself with a woman of virtue and knowledge. His words on this last head are as follow.
Proculque stulta sit
Jucunda sic erit
Semper, nec unquam erit
Vitæ comes tuæ,
Docebit et tuos
Cum lacte literas
Dum plectra personat
Inane gaudium :
The sense of this elegant description is as follows: "May you meet with a wife who is not always stupidly silent, nor always prattling nonsense! May she be learned, if possible, or at least capable of being made so! A woman thus accomplished will be always drawing sentences and maxims of virtue out of the best authors of antiquity. She will be herself in all changes of fortune, neither blown up in prosperity, nor broken with adversity. You will find in her an even, cheerful, good-humoured friend, and an agreeable companion for life. She will infuse knowledge into your children with their milk, and from their infancy train them up to wisdom. Whatever company you are engaged in, you will long to be at home, and retire with delight from the society of men, into the bosom of one who is so dear, so knowing, and so amiable. If she touches her lute, or sings to it any of her own compositions, her voice will soothe you your solitudes, and sound more sweetly in your ear than that of the nightingale. You will waste with pleasure whole days and nights in her conversation, and be ever finding out new beauties in her discourse. She will keep your mind in perpetual serenity, restrain its mirth from being dissolute, and prevent its melancholy from being painful.
"Such was, doubtless, the wife of Orpheus; for who would have undergone what he did to have recovered a foolish bride? Such was the daughter of Ovid, who was his rival in poetry. Such was Tullia, as she is celebrated by the most learned and the most fond of fathers. And such was the mother of the two Gracchi, who is no less famous for having been their instructor than their parent.”