And what if we have (as by all must be acknowledged) as wise and learned Bishops as be in the world, and many others of very great understanding and wisdom; yet (as was before hinted) unless there be provided for most towns and parishes some tolerable and sufficient Guides, the strength of Religion, and the credit of the Clergy will daily languish more and more.
Not that it is to be believed that every small country parish should be altogether hopeless as to the next life, unless they have a HOOKER, a CHILLINGWORTH, a HAMMOND, or a SANDERSON dwelling amongst them: but it is requisite, and might be brought about, that somebody there should be, to whom the people have reason to attend, and to be directed and guided by him.
I have, Sir, no more to say, were it not that you find the word Religion in the Title: of which in particular I have spoken very little. Neither need I! considering how nearly it depends, as to its glory and strength, upon the reputation and mouth of the Priest.
And I shall add no more but this, viz., that among those many things that tend to the decay of Religion, and of a due reverence of the Holy Scriptures, nothing has more occasioned it than the ridiculous and idle discourses that are uttered out of pulpits. For when the Gallants of the world do observe how the Ministers themselves do jingle, quibble, and play the fool with the Texts: no wonder, if they, who are so inclinable to Atheism, do not only deride and despise the Priests; but droll upon the Bible! and make a mock of all that is sober and sacred!
I am, Sir, Your most humble servant,
August 8, 1670.
[i.e., RICHARD STEELE].
The miseries of the Domestic Chaplain, in 1710.
[The Tatler. No. 255. Thursday, 23 Nov. 1710.]
To the Censor of Great Britain.
I am at present, under very great difficulties; which is not in the power of any one besides yourself, to redress. Whether or not, you shall think it a proper Case to come before your Court of Honour, I cannot tell: but thus it is.
I am Chaplain to an honourable Family, very regular at the Hours of Devotion, and I hope of an unblameable 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 “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 further occasion for my service.”
All which is humbly submitted to your consideration, by,