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“Then come and make penitence with us.” The Abbé C. . In our time an old abbé carried this art, “ di scroccare pranzi,”t 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 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 abbé 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 1” 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 Z" 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—in the times of the ancient Romans,” he would say, “the Sicilians were the first cooks in the world. Cuoco Siciliano, that was
* Venite far penitenza con noi. A modest Italian idiom, frequently followed by a capital dinner. " t To dine at other people's expense.
enough ! And they are the best cooks still. Ah, yes! the Sicilians were always a people of genius! and di grazia, Mastro Antonio, couldn't ye contrive to send up a double dish of chickens' livers the next time I dine at the house 2" If good dinners could have kept a man alive, the abbé would have lived for ever ; but, alas ! it was not so, and one day he died. A wit composed his epitaph in Italian doggerel rhyme, the sense of which may be thus rendered into English: “Here lies the abbé, 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 particularly distinguished out of it. One of the best of his sayings was the following: “It is a vulgar error to say, that where there is dinner for two, there is dinner enough for three:—it ought to be, where there is dinner for three, there is perhaps enough for two.” Cook bersus chaplain.—The Prince di , at whose table this prince of parasites often dined, although he paid for them, was as fond of good dinners as the abbé, and had a Sicilian cook of surpassing excellence. Once having occasion to visit his estates in the provinces, he sent on the chef and his assistants and casserols in a van some days before him, with orders to wait for him at a town near the foot of some mountains where the carriage-road ended. When the prince reached the appointed place, his first enquiry was for the dear cook, the second whether the implements of his art had arrived safe. The next day, being mounted on mules, the whole party, including, besides the chef and his aides-de-camp, the prince's chaplain, steward, valet, two footmen, a groom, and some soldiers as an escort, took a bridle-road across the mountains, which in many places was rather dangerous, being flanked by rocks and precipices. Having seen the batterie de cuisine safely packed on one beast, and the cook mounted on another, the prince said, “Take good care of yourself, for, if anything should happen to you, what shall I do for a dinner in these barbarous parts " and having so warned the chef, he went and placed himself at the head of the cavalcade. As the road or path became worse and worse, he turned round now and then to cry, “Have a care of those casseroles | Cook, mind what you are about !” But at a point where the path had turned round the shoulder of a rock, which prevented his seeing along the lengthened line, then marching in Indian-file fashion, his nerves sustained a sad shock, for on a sudden he heard the snort of a mule and the scream of a man, and then a plump and a splashing as if some one had fallen over the precipice into the torrent below. Pale, and with his knees knocking against his saddle, he turned back to see what it was, exclaiming as he went, “The cook the cook 1 holy Virgin, the cook " “No, your excellency!” replied a voice along the line; “it is Don Prosdocimo " “Ah! only the chaplain " said the prince: “God be thanked " Montmor.—It is quite natural that Paris, which boasts so many excellent cooks, should have a reasonable number of parasites and diners-out. There indeed the latter art has been systematised in that excellent and useful little book entitled “L'art de diner en ville.” In the old days of the Bourbons, few of the French parasites were more notorious than Montmor, who was, however, a man of wit as well as a scholar and glutton. One day that Lignière attacked him about his continual dinings-out, he said, “What would you have me do? I am so pressed!” “I believe you,” rejoined Lignière, “nothing is more pressing than gourmandise.” On another occasion, he was asked why he ran so eagerly after good dinners and festivals; “Because they will not run after me,” he replied, and then added this ingenious piece of etymology; “Our ancestors called their feasts festins, from the Latin verb festinare, to hurry or make haste, in order to show that people ought always to make haste in going to them.” The Scottish Heliogabalus.-The most distinguished dinner-giver of these realms, in the olden time, was John Hay, the famous Earl of Carlisle who flourished in the reigns of James the First and Charles the First. He was a Scotchman by birth, and has not unappropriately been styled “the Scottish Heliogabalus.” The money he spent in feasting was enormous; but he was born to no fortune, and got his money by means of his talent for giving dinners, his taste, splendour, and agreeable manners. His wealth went as it came; and, like that recent Apicius, Cambacères, feasting and dinner-giving were his political vocation, and the whole business of his life. His diplomacy— and he was a diplomatist of no mean fame—all lay in this; and he may almost be called the inventor of the “ diplomatic dinner”—a most admirable contrivance which has been improved in modern times, and, by keeping envoys and plenipotentiaries in good-humour, has no doubt greatly contributed to the maintenance of the peace of Europe. When the peace of England was disturbed, and the great civil war which interrupted dinner-giving, was on the point of breaking out, his lordship, his occupation being gone or going, shut up his cook's recipe-books and bills of fare, and wisely departed this life. His whole history is a speculum and shining example for all gourmands and bons-vivans, present and to come. We have said he was born to no fortune. He was the younger brother of a poor but noble Scotch family, and went at an early age to seek his fortune in France, where, his genius following its proper bent, he picked up correct notions in gastronomy and the difficult art of managing banquets and collations. On the accession of James the First, he hurried over from Paris to London ; became one of the numerous Scottish candidates for place and pensions and the royal favour, and was one of the few who were not disappointed. His success arose immediately out of his knowledge of the human palate, and the intimate connexion that exists between the stomach and the heart and affection of princes. While other supplicants wasted their time in exposing past services rendered to the royal cause, or puzzled their brains in devising schemes that might merit the royal patronage, Master Jemmie Hay gave the King a dinner, and that did his business at once. This fact is well authenticated by contemporary historians, and Weldon, among others, says, that his first favour arose from “a most strange and costly feast” which he gave the King, But Hay's choice