32. Service for Prisoners.


It is not, perhaps, generally known, that we have a form of prayer for prisoners, which is printed in the Irish common prayer-book, though not in our’s. Mrs. Berkeley, in whose Preface of Prefaces to her son’s poems I first saw this mentioned, regrets the omission, observing, that the very fine prayer for those under sentence of death, might, being read by the children of the poor, at least keep them from the gallows. The remark is just. If there be not room in our prayer-book, we have some services there which might better be dispensed with. It was not very decent in the late abolition of holydays, to let the two Charleses hold their place, when the Virgin Mary and the Saints were deprived of their red-letter privileges. If we are to have any state service, it ought to be for 51expulsion of the Stuarts. Guy Faux also might now be dismissed, though the eye of Providence would be a real loss. The Roman Catholics know the effect of such prints as these, and there can be no good reason for not imitating them in this instance. I would have no prayer-book published without that eye of providence in it. The experience of two thousand years has proved that fable and allegory are the best vehicles for popular instruction.


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