페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

transports. Her spirits were sportive as butterflies, and fluttered over the flowers of her imagination with a grace that was quite miraculous. She ridiculed the rapidity of our acquaintance, eulogized my modesty till it was well nigh burnt to a cinder, and every now and then sharpened her wit by a delicate recurrence to Apollo and the shoulders of Hercules.

The third and the fourth and the fifth day, with twice as many more, were equally productive of excuses for calling, and reasons for remaining, till at last I took upon me to call and remain without troubling myself about one or the other. I was received with progressive cordiality; and, at last, with a mixture of timidity which assured me of the anticipation of a catastrophe which was, at once, to decide the question with the Insurance Office, and determine the course of my travels. One day I found the Peri sitting rather pensively at work, and, as usual, I took my seat opposite to her.

"I have been thinking," said she, "that I have been mightily imposed upon."

"By whom?" I inquired.

"By one of whom you have the highest opinion-by yourself." "In what do you mistrust me ?"

"Come now, will it please you to be candid, and tell me honestly that all that exceedingly intelligible story about your father, and the liver complaint, and Heaven knows what, was a mere fabrication?

"Will it please you to let me thread that needle, for I see that you are taking aim at the wrong end of it ?"

"Nonsense! Will you answer me ?”

"I think I could put the finishing touch to that sprig. Do you not see? I continued, jumping up and leaning over her. "It should be done so and then so.- -What stitch do you call that ?"

The beauty was not altogether in a mood for joking. I took her hand-it trembled-and so did mine.

"Will you pardon me ?" I whispered. "I am a sinner, a counterfeit, a poor, swindling, disreputable vagabond,—but I love you to my soul."

The work dropped upon her knee.

In about a fortnight from this time I addressed the following note to my friend.

Dear Sir,

It will give you great pleasure to hear that my prospects are mending, and that you have lost your wager. As I intend settling the insurance on my wife, I shall of course, think you entitled to the job. Should your trifling loss in me oblige you to become an ensign in the West Indies or a missionary in New Zealand, you may rely upon my interest there.

[blocks in formation]

To sit among, and pass her time,
Before the lands more gentle clime,
And grassy bank or leafy shade,
That others think for sorrow made!-
But tombs of buried hope are dear,
And none will rob them of a tear!

NOUVEL ALMANACH DES GOURMANDS.*
"Tout s'arrange en dinant dans le siècle où nous sommes,
Et c'est par les diners qu'on gouverne les hommes."
Les Comediens.

THIS is unquestionably the golden age of the stomach, the era in which it receives that apotheosis against which St. Paul warned the ancient Philippians, and exercises a more direct and decided influence upon human affairs, than at any former period in the whole history of the world. Many men live exclusively for it, and not a few die in its cause. It is the great universal source of corruption, moral as well as material; for when Sir Robert Walpole maintained that every man had his price, he admitted that the great paramount temptation of money was, its power of ministering new stimulants to the pleasures of the table. Epicurism and its results seem to constitute the great leading objects of modern occupation and inquiry. Intellects of the first order are devoted to the composition of cookery-books; the public become, in consequence, more luxurious and profound in their banquets, a new set of talents is called into exercise, and a new series of books written to remedy the increasing diseases occasioned by good living; and both sets of authors run through numerous editions, and make rapid fortunes. Mrs. Rundle's "Domestic Cookery" was a larder of wealth to the publisher; Dr. Kitchiner's Peptic Precepts have made his pot boil for the remainder of his natural life; and Accum's publication would have answered the same purpose, had he not incautiously put poison in his own pot. Never was our culinary literature so rich; and as to medical works upon bile, indigestion, flatulency, heart-burn, and stomach complaints in general, the press groans with them. The gormandizers, who are apt to be in the same predicament as the press, buy them, and consult their authors, and get relief, and then perform a da capo. Does any young aspiring surgeon, or patientless physician, wish to ride in his carriage, let him write a book upon the diseases of the stomach, and his fortune is made. His subject comes home to the business and bosoms, or rather the bowels, of the whole community,for we are all enjoyers of good cheer, and all sufferers in some way or other from its consequences.

When Henri Quartre went to look at a magnificent house built by one of his nobles, he objected to the kitchen as being too small. " Sire," said the owner, "it is by always having a small kitchen, that I have been enabled to build so large a house." This is the last economy which we now dream of practising. How can we, indeed, where the whole business of the nation is carried on by dinners, from the highest

* Nouvel Almanach des Gourmands, servant de guide dans les moyens de faire excellente chère. Dedié au Ventre. Par A. B. de Perigord. Paris, 1825.

to the lowest sphere? What could ministers accomplish, were it not for their cabinet dinners? How could the majorities and minorities of the House of Commons be arranged, but for the edifying example of the Archbishop of Canterbury's son entertaining huge parties at his table upon the Sabbath day? What charity or public institution would thrive, were not the purses of its supporters stimulated by their palates? And finally, how could the New Monthly so decidedly hit the taste of the public, did not its contributors titillate their own, and at the same time sublimise their intellectual faculties by a monthly symposium?

Reverencing, as we do, the theory of gastronomy in all its branches, and becoming every day more and more impressed with its pre-eminent importance as a practical source of influence, we hail with delight the appearance of a new "Almanach des Gourmands," from whose erudite and interesting pages we purpose making such occasional extracts, as our readers may digest with perfect safety and satisfaction. Who does not recollect its illustrious and witty ancestor of the same name, and the many good things edible, bibulous, and risible, which it presented to the world? England would be ungrateful, indeed, did she not acknowledge her obligations to that celebrated work; for at the time of its first appearance, upwards of two and twenty years ago, she was still nearly as uncivilised as in the time of Louis Quatorze, whose ambassador in London complained that he had been sent to a country possessing twenty-four religious sects, and only two fish sauces! Monsieur A. B. de Perigord, who has already pleasantly associated himself with the delicious pies of that name, thus pathetically renders an honourable and ample justice to the surpassing merits of his thricerenowned prototype.

"A man, celebrated by the rare and happy union of talent and epicurism, joining an original mind to a delicate palate; edifying at table, instructive in a book, at once the model of hosts and guests, formerly published, during eight consecutive years, an Almanach des Gourmands," which was worthy to become the breviary of the bon-vivant, the criterion of all eating communities, the providence of every Lucullus of the new empire.

"Why is that voice, so dear to the art of cookery, condemned to silence? For the last fourteen years it has been heard no more! Whence arises this inaction of genius? The cause is well known: if the pen of this estimable writer sleeps in the inkstand, his stomach has not renounced its favourite tastes; every day his eye luxuriates over four regular courses, prepared according to the strictest rules of art; but he is jealous of his enjoyments; he veils the light which formerly sparkled from his pen. He dines in silence, and the kitchen, widowed of his oracles, is wrapped in mourning. Deprived of a sure guide, it wanders in a labyrinth of false doctrine; floating at random, it allies the trifling to the sublime; the most practised palate can no longer distinguish any thing in preparations, where every thing is confounded, and all the rules of art are violated. Romanticism, escaping from the drawing-room, has made itself master of the stoves and stew-pans; it has even penetrated into the sanctuary of the kitchen range!

"And how much more useful would the awakening of the eloquent author of the 'Almanach des Gourmands' be rendered by existing circumstances, by our new institutions, and the actual system of government! Splendid dinners, which were formerly only a brilliant superfluity, have become one of the legislative wants of our era. No laws, no budget, now-a-days, without dinners. The cook's art has become aggrandized, it governs the social edifice. Who is the great Elector of France? The Minister's Cook. Who serves as a rudder amid all the storms of Parliament? The Minister's Cook. Who votes in the ballotting-box? The mouth

purveyor of the Privy Council. Unparalleled man! predestined by Providence to govern the affairs of this lower world; the most powerful mover of consciences; be well impressed with the importance of thy functions, the sacredness of thy holy office! Alas! thou still wantest a code of laws; no guide directs thy steps in the slippery path which thou art pursuing. The Achilles of the Almanach des Gourmands' remains sleeping in his tent.

6

"In his absence, a less experienced warrior presents himself, animated with zeal, and full of ardour to combat every false doctrine of gastronomy. The majesty of the interests which he has to defend, will atone for his inexperience. A constant and unflinching study of his art, a practised palate, an assiduous intercourse with the first cooks of the capital, a capacious stomach-such are the recommendations by which he announces himself. He will occasionally indulge in politico-epicurean digressions, and insert specimens of gastronomical poetry, wishing to unite the useful and the agreeable, and persuaded that to obtain a complete success, he must charm the eye in flattering the taste, and seduce the understanding while he delights the palate."

Such is the prospectus of the work, which is not only embellished with a portrait of the author in his own well-stored cabinet, with pen in hand, victuals of all sorts behind him, and a stomach before him abundantly confirming his assertion as to its capacity; but there is, moreover, a gastronomical map of France, with a huge Perigord pie in one corner to designate its author, and over every city and town an engraving of the fish, flesh, fowl, or compound, edible or potible, for which it is most famous; thus imparting to the whole the appearance of a vast and teeming larder. Every river exhibits its peculiar fish, shooting along its bed, while their brethren of the sea are seen sporting and leaping along those coasts where they are caught in the greatest perfection. We defy any icthivorous reader to contemplate such a display without smacking his lips, and feeling his mouth water. For our own parts, we imagined ourselves, at the sight, to be dining at the Parisian Rocher de Cancale, and were on the point of pouring our ink, for capersauce, over a fine turbot (a Gallic mixture, to which it took us some time to get reconciled,) when we happily recovered from our hallucination. Seriously, we can conceive nothing better calculated than this device for teaching, at the same time, gastronomy and geography; for we doubt whether any knowledge is likely to be more thoroughly digested, than that which, instead of being acquired by head or by heart, is learnt by the stomach. We remember being stimulated into a deglutition of the alphabet, by having a gingerbread letter given us to eat as soon as we could recognise its name; and we have read of an ingenious tutor to a very stupid French princeling, who procured four and twenty servants, each having a huge letter painted upon his stomach, which his pupil was obliged to call out by name whenever he wanted the services of its wearer; but the present contrivance seems to us more argute and peristaltic and we counsel Paterson and Cary forthwith to illustrate their road book and itinerary, by a running bill of fare in the margin. Our travellers abroad, shaping their own course by the courses of the table, will derive incredible comfort and information from consulting this panorama for the intestines; although it must be confessed, to their credit, that many of them have already returned much more profoundly impressed with what they have eaten and drunk, than with any thing they have seen or heard. "How long do you remain in town?” said one Oxonian to another, whom he encountered in Piccadilly. "Ten

« 이전계속 »