Imágenes de páginas

ever loved a woman will not be blind to such rare accomplishments. Verily, they are better than the Use of the Globes, or even than the power of performing on the piano fortissimo the Battle of Prague.

I am not joking in this matter. As are the patricians, so will be the plebs. Masters and mistresses make their servants. Evelyn, in his Silva, that most charming essay on woodcraft that was ever written (and I like to quote Evelyn in this connexion, for he lived wisely to about eighty-six years), reminds us of a good saying of Cato's : Male agitur cum Domino quem Villicus docet.' This aphorism suggests much, and its truth is undeniable. If you want your servant to do his work, you must know better than he how it should be done. There is an old proverb, “ If you want a thing well done, do it yourself.' I, on the other hand, say, never do yourself what you can get some one else to do; ut see that it is done. Thanks to


the multiplication of books, any man of culture may know more of gardening than the best practical gardener—more of cookery than any cordon bleu. This being so, the master should instruct the servants in the very arts they practise--which is the idea of Cato and of Evelyn.

This aristological chapter gives me an opportunity to break my prose with a cycle of sonnets adapted to the dinners of the

year. They were written, these careless trifles, at various times ; so I put the date of the year against each :

[ocr errors]


Janus, thou lookest back to Christmas tide,

And forward to the wondrous growth of spring:

Thine are the choicest birds that hither wing,
And thine the rarest products of the wide
Ocean that isolates us. 'Tis the pride

Of this sharp winter yearly hovering

Over old England that its keen months bring Woodcock and snipe to tempt us. Me arride Also the larks and wheatears which at Brighton

You get for breakfast from the Sussex Downs,

Ending, one need not say, with lobster after. Such prandium's pleasant when the quick waves

whiten, And Château d'Yquem the slight banquet crowns,

And there is ample room for love and laughter.




From Périgord to Paris there's a path

Brightened by truffles-diamonds culinary.

Though now with game our feasts we may not vary, Yet a delicious flavour widgeon hath, And we may find a pleasant aftermath

To cheer the febrile days of February.

Lo, now flies flicker, and the trout grows wary: Now, excellent are goslings, plump though rathe. And I maintain a moderate man can dine, Though epicures fastidious may demur,

[I of plain dinners am a hearty lover] On fresh-caught trout (Sauterne should be the wine) A few lamb cutlets served with cucumber,

And, last of all, a brace of golden plover.



This is the month that comes in like a lion:

It give us dust .. a peck of that same handsome And perfect in its beauty. Am I blamed

Dust is called worthy of a great king's ransom. The oyster's perfect now—that glorious scion Of King Poseidon. Nothing new to try on

The damask white appears. Still I may scan some

Reasons against your being quite impransum In windy March. What if you choose to fry an Eel from the Thames . a very useful riverWhat if you get lamb curiously early, And make your grumbling gardener force some

mint, I think-although the March winds make you shiver, And the cook 's sulky and the gardener's surly

If you can't manage to dine, the devil's in 't.



Thou beautiful Aprilis, month well named

By reason that all things thou openest,

Whether the fair flower or the maiden's breast, Or aught that is delicious and unshamed

For writing of sweet spring with joyous zest,

When the wicked cuckoo steals an alien nest, When woods are musical with wings untamed ? This will I say of April : he who knows

The true administration of the kitchen

Garden, and puts a clever little witch in
His culinary corner, safely grows

Green peas the vernal joint of lamb to suit,
And his asparagus is absolute.



May brings us salmon, mullet, trout, and prawn:

Red Arun mullet, stewed in sound port wine,

• The woodcock of the sea,' is food divine. Lobsters are pleasant on the picnic lawn, When lilacs are in bloom, and corks are drawn

Of Chablis or Montrachet. When you dine,

Pigeons and quails, in leafage of the vine Enwrapt, forget not-nor the dorée jaune. May is the merry month when subtle tackle

Woos spotted darlings from the sinuous stream: In May old hens to guard their ducklings cackle,

And turkey poults attain the stage supreme. Perfect asparagus is, and vernal spinach, And tiny whitebait throng the Thames at Greenwich.

« AnteriorContinuar »