Imágenes de páginas

meal of cold meats, prawns and lobsters, fruit, salad, strawberry pies and sardines, cold game when it is attainable, light wines according to the season.

Your ghost Of a breakfast in England, your curst tea and toast, as Tom Moore puts it, is an utter absurdity. The man who has heavy and definite work to do is most unwise to begin his day in such fashion. A lobster and some hock, or a cold grouse and some Burgundy, would set him up for the day more thoroughly. I have nothing to say to the critic who maintains it would cost more, since I write for those who can afford to live well. I do not write for millionaires or voluptuaries. I write for the man who gives good work of the brain in return for what the world gives him. It is quite true that such men can seldom live so freely as those who devote their faculties to making money out of the world ; but the whirligig of time brings in his

get the

revenges,' and Plutus does not permanently

upper hand of Apollo. The art of money-making, like all other arts, is apt to master its possessor: the man who has made his million in the City bows down and worships the God MILLION. It is not so with those of the first force: the merchant prince, who values money for what it can do, and intelligently uses it, is not unknown in England. In all departments of life the art overpowers the inferior artist : the small poet venerates rhyme, and the puny mathematician reveres formula.

With regard to dinner there is much to be said, and when all is said, much must be left to the man who wants to dine. First: the hour. For an average, writing as I am for men who use their nights wisely, sleeping six or seven hours, I take seven to be a capital time. But let there be variation with the weather. In winter dine by candle-light : of course no man who desires to live long will have gas in his house, or will, if he can avoid it, dwell within a district in which



is laid In summer when there is real summer in England—I like to dine on my lawn, under the trees : but if the capricious weather makes this dangerous, one can at least have the dining-room windows wide open to the Elysian air--by which I don't mean the east wind. How to dine is the next point. English cookery gets remarkably abused by the sagacious gentlemen who have dined in the gourmand's haunts in the Paris of the past. Those haunts I have tried, and have never found so good a dinner there as in London. We are too apt to run down our own doings. I have studied the literature of gastronomy, and know the careers of the illustrious cooks: and I maintain that an English farmer's daughter, with a little information from the book-learning of her mistress, will make a better cook for a gentleman and poet than all your Vatels, and Udes, and Soyers. We do not want cunning culinary contrivances in the land of the shorthorn sirloin and the southdown saddle, in a country whose esquires have venison in their parks and pheasants in their coverts. Garrick wrote

God sends us good meat, and the devil sends cooks. Certes, our ordinary English cookery verifies the epigram. But the fault is with the mistresses. Ladies should not be above obtaining that dainty knowledge of cookery (a branch of chymistry) which in these days is supplied by the most elegant scientific manuals. Servants are made by their masters and mistresses. If, with higher intellect and culture, you cannot make your people do their duty, the fault is your own. A primary necessity is, to know in theory what the persons you employ are expected to know in practice. Will it sound very hideous in the ears of a myriad pretty girls, whom I expect to read this book in the hope of learning to become great-grandmothers, if I tell them that to study a scientific manual of the culinary art will greatly help them to preserve the love of the young gentlemen who are sighing just now like furnaces for their favours? The ardent youngster exclaims, with courtly Waller :

Give me but what this ribbon bound:

Take all the rest the sun goes round. But if he wins what he wants, and if, when he and the Lady of the Ribbon are spending their honeymoon together, he finds that she knows how to order dinner, I guarantee that he will be agreeably amazed. And when they come back to his ancestral home-let us hope that it is an Elizabethan oak-shaded mansion-if the Lady of the Ribbon at once assumes the command of the kitchen, and cross-examines the cook, and shows some knowledge of the sirloin's under-cut, and insists on hot plates and perfection of service, I apprehend that the most poetic soul that

« AnteriorContinuar »