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great Louis the Fourteenth'sface was so excessively winkled that it was impossible to take one off from him."
LIX. LAWYER'S FEE.
In Taylor the Water-poet's time, an angel was a lawyer's fee. See his Sculler, epigr. 21:—
"My lawyer said the case was plain for me,
LX. A DESULTORY CHAPTER ON EATING,
WITH ANECDOTES OP A FEW DISTINGUISHED
There has lately been a great deal of good writing on that important subject " the Table;" and a leading review,* throwing aside its Greek, its orthodoxy, and politics, has found room for the insertion of certain gastronomic articles which cannot be too much commended. We look upon this as a good sign of the times, and feel quite confident the reviewers will gain more converts by teaching his majesty's lieges how to enjoy themselves, than by inciting them to quarrel and fight with one another about matters which can never be half so intelligible, or a tenth part so valuable, as a good dinner.
The recent harvest made by our contemporaries has not so cropped and laid bare this vast field, but that there still remains abundant room for gleaning. We shall therefore proceed to pick up a few ears of corn, and tie them together, just as we find them scattered in our books and our memory.
The Count du Browsin.—Most of the later writers on
* The Quarterly.
this great subject seem to have forgotten the Count du Broussin, who was, however, a very distinguished man in his day, and one of the great improvers of la cuisine Francaise.
The count was accustomed to boast that he had acquired the fullness of culinary science, and yet he every day made some new discovery in the province of good eating. As an experimentalist he was indefatigable, devoting as much time and toil to find out a new dish as the alchymists did to discover the immortal elixir or the philosopher's stone. He could so disguise the natural taste of fish, flesh and fowl that nobody could tell what he was eating. Whenever he had produced a new combination of sauces, or made any other lucky hit in gastronomy, he invited the friends of whose taste he had the highest opinion, to deliberate and pass judgment on the dish; and this was done with more solemnity, and with much more sincerity, than people felt in criticising an epic poem or a new tragedy. With the count the word gout, or taste, had only its single, original, and physical meaning; and he esteemed men according to the delicacy and discrimination of their palates. His favourites were Duke de Lesdiguieres and the Count d'Olonne, who were critical and erudite in the science of cooking. When he had to give what he called a repas derudition (a learned dinner) to the duke and count, he was up by four o'clock in the morning, directing, ordering, counter-ordering, feeling, seeing, smelling, and tasting; now puzzling himself as to the precise seasoning for a soup, and now racking his invention to produce a new gout in an entremets. Like most good eaters, he was a good-natured man; but woe unto the chef, garcon de cuisine, or other servant, that neglected or disobeyed his orders on these occasions. He would storm like a madman; the least of his threats to the delinquent being to whip him, send him to the pillory, and cut off his ears.
Nor did the count's cares end with the cooking of the dinner; he was equally particular as to the manner of ita serving up; and, above all things, he was anxious thai the table should stand most mathematically horizontal, as he had discovered that the least deviation from the straight line—the slightest dip on this side or that, affected the flavour and delicacy of some dishes. He was therefore to be seen with rule and line, compasses, and level in hand, setting the dinner-table on what he called its proper legs.
One day, when, as we may suppose, the erudite duke and count were not present, he said solemnly to his guests, " Gentlemen, do you taste the mule's hoof in that omelette mix champignons?" The guests were all astonished at this apostrophe. "Poor ignorant creatures!" rejoined Broussin, " must I teach you that the champignons employed in this omelette have been crushed by the foot of a mule? That brings champignons (mushrooms) to the last point of perfection I"
Despreaux, who tells this story, was once obliged to give the savant gourmand a dinner. The poor satirist was terrified at the idea. "You must send me a fairy," said he, " to enable me, with my simple household, to regale you according to your superiority of taste." "Not at all, not at all!" replied the count; "give us just what you like; we shall be satisfied with a poet's dinner." The Duke de Vitry, and Messrs. de Barillon and de Gourville, were of the party, which went off marvellously well. As he took his leave, Broussin said with much emotion, "My dear Despreaux, you may boast of having given us a dinner without a fault."
Du Broussin was more of a gourmet than a gourmand; and here we may as well explain the delicate distinction made by the French, our masters in this science. A gourmet is one who is studious and recherchi in what he eats, and who will by no means throw away his appetite on common fare: he, moreover, too highly appreciates the qualities of a good stomach ever to injure them by over-feeding. A gourmand, on the contrary, is one who cares more for quantity than quality; who eats good things if he can get them, but always a great deal.
Diners-out.—Some men again, with a taste that might do honour to a prince, are so unfortunately situated that they can only afford to pay for the dinner of a peasant. Nothing, therefore, is left for them but to dine at the expense of other people, like Monsieur Pique-assiette, in the admirable French farce of that name. But it is not every man that can gain an easy access to the tables of the givers of good dinners, or keep it when he has got it. To do this, patience, watchfulness, steadiness of purpose, complacent humour, and a variety of peculiar talents, are required. There is, however, one little rule which parasites will find useful, and that is, always to set on the savouriness of a good dish against the unsavouriness of a remark, and the smiles of a well-covered table against the frowns and sneers of the presiding Amphitryon and the rest of the company. "The marquis calls me a fool," said an abbe, a finished master of the art; "but I am not such a fool as to quarrel with his pate-de-fois gras."
A man of this humour may do a great deal in the way of dining out, particularly in some countries on the Continent, where each wealthy family keeps a sort of open table one day in the week. Nothing more therefore is necessary to dine well every day, than to get a footing in seven houses having different feast-days; but we believe the more experienced and successful of these dinersout do not consider themselves well provided unless they have nine or ten families to count upon, which leaves them two or three as a corps de reserve, in case of sickness, death, bankruptcy, or the like, in any of the other houses. "Our day is Thursday," said a good dinnergiver in our hearing; "but you can't dine with us, as it is your day at the duchess's."
"I beg your pardon," replied the parasite, "the duchess has got the quinsy, and my Thursdays will be disengaged for two or three weeks to come." "Then come and make penitence with us."*
The Abbe C . In our time an old abbe carried
this art, " di scroccare pranzi,"\ to its utmost perfection; and he knew every man and woman that ever gave a good dinner. He kept a correct register of all the dishes
* Venitefar penilenza con not. A modest Italian idiom, frequently followed by a capital dinner. + To dine at other people's expense.
for which each house was celebrated, and of the days when they were likely to have their best dinners. A diner maigre, or repast without meat, is a serious thing with all gourmets, as it is exquisite, mediocre, or detestable, according to the science of the cook and the taste of his masters. Our abbe had therefore taken note, "always to dine with the Duke di C and the Countess R on Fridays and Saturdays, and oftener during
Lent, because their diners maigres are the best!" He had also established a gossiping acquaintance with every cook of any distinction, and would generally contrive to learn from them what was in cogitation for the day's or the morrow's dinner. We met him one morning perplexed in the extreme: "Timpano of maccaroni with Abruzzi truffles, at Don Domenico's; red mullets and pheasants from Persano, at the baron's! which shall I prefer?"
But the manner in which he cajoled and kept in good favour with the cooks, who in the south of Italy are now, as in the days of the great Apicius, very frequently Sicilians, was truly admirable.
"In tempo degli antichi Romani—'m the times of the undent Romans," he would say, "the Sicilians were the first cooks in the world. Cuoco Siciliano, that was enough! And they are the best cooks still. Ah, yes! the Sicilians were always a people of genius! and, di jjrazia, Mastro Antonio, couldn't ye contrive to send up a double dish of chickens' livers the next time I dine at the house?"
If good dinners could have kept a man alive, the abbe would have lived for ever; but, alas! it was not so, and one day he died. A wit composed his epitaph in Italian doggrel rhyme, the sense of which may be thus rendered into English:—
"Here lies the abbe, who lived seventy years and odd. And what, in seventy years and odd, did he do? He ate more good dinners for nothing than any man that ever lived, but at last he paid for a dinner, and it choked him."
He was certainly a great man in his way, though not