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he had spent an immense estate in feasting and other luxuries. The earl was about sixty years of age. For thirty-two years, i. e. from 1704 to 1736, his life was one continued feast, so that he may be said to have had a very good time of it. When the illustrious Marshal de Bassompierre was in England in 1626, as ambassador from the court of France, he tells us of being introduced to a “handsome collation” at Hampton Court, by the Earl of Carlisle; and as the marshal was a critical judge of good eating, and spent almost as much money in revelry as the earl, he would hardly have called handsome what was not in reality magnificent. On other occasions, he tells us of dining and supping with my Lord Carlisle, who treated him very sumptuously. A few weeks after Carlisle's collation, the favourite (the Duke of Buckingham) took Bassompierre to dine with the Lord Mayor, “who,” says the marshal, “that day gave a dinner to more than eight hundred persons.” After dinner, Bassompierre went to walk in Moorfields, which was then one of our fashionable promenades. . Good Dinners cure Satire.—Your learned men and your poets, though not always able to command the means of procuring one, have generally shown a great respect for a good dinner, and in all probability this respect has been the greater in proportion to their difficulties. In Italy, at least in modern times, poets have hardly been able to fill their bellies in any way, and the bread they eat is furnished by an ostentatious charity or patronage. This made Alfieri say of a satirical poet who had attacked him,
And this, considering that Alfieri was a count, and a rich man, and as bitter a satirist as ever lived to boot, was being rather hard upon the poor poet, who could not reasonably be expected to be good-natured on bread, even if he had had bread enough. If the count could have forgotten his own case, he might have said to the satirist, “My dear fellow ! if you had a good dinner every day, you would cease to be venomous;” for nothing takes away this sort of venom so soon as la bonne cuisine. It is a popular saying in the East, that the stings of serpents are only dangerous when the creatures are fasting or under-fed, and serpents as well as poets are closely connected with Apollo. There are exceptions to this, as to every other rule. It is said of the French savant, poet, and gourmand Montmor, already mentioned, that the more he feasted the worse tempered he became ; but this man, partaking of the nature of the boa-constrictor, set no bounds to his appetite, and, like the boa, his overrepletion was rather irksome and uneasy to himself than dangerous to others. With all his Greek and Latin, Montmor did not comprehend the golden rule of our friend the abbé, which was to this effect: “If the dinner be good, always eat as much as you can ; but if it be divine, never eat more than you can bear, even though it
cost you nothing, and you know not where to get another next day.” Dinners of French Academicians.—When l'Académie Française was first founded, notwithstanding the pensions granted by the Cardinal de Richelieu, which might have enabled each of them to get a dinner for himself, there were several members not rich enough to give dinners to their brother academicians, – a lapse seldom overlooked by learned bodies. Antoine Furetière was among the unlucky members, and he was expelled; or, as our French authors say, “ rejected from the bosom of the academy.” It would be unfair in us to say that he was rejected for this sole defect, seeing that he had besides the demerits of a bad temper and a disputed dictionary.” But then his temper might have been better, if he could have done as others did;—even the sins of his heterodox lexicon might have been forgotten over orthodox dinners; and, if he could only have kept a good table for his confrères, mathless he might have kept his seat in the academy. We are the more inclined to this belief by what happened after his expulsion. Furetière in his indignation published a poem entitled “Les Couches de l'Académie,” or, “ The Lyings-in of the Academy:” which is a production in advance of his age, showing the evil effects on literature of court patronage, monopoly, and bodies corporate. But it was spiteful, nevertheless. One of those most severely attacked, and who most caustically replied to him, was François Charpentier, a
* Furetière finished a dictionary by himself, while the “Forty” were making slow progress with theirs. Some people preferred Furetière's to the “Dictionnaire de l'Académie Française.”
distinguished member of the Academy. Charpentier, giving a laisser-aller to more solemn, but less important matters, stuck to the dinner! for Furetière hinted that he had given dinners to Charpentier, which Charpentier swore he had never eaten. We beg the reader's attention to the solemnity of Charpentier's protest and denunciation, and to the remarkable fact that there was once a Frenchman that did not like soup. “It is almost impossible,” says Charpentier, “to preserve the tranquillity of one's mind, and to spare a man who never spares us. We have, however, been friends, Furetière and I, and pretty proofs he gives me of it in his books I cannot read without indigmation a certain passage wherein he says, “ that a good soup would make as good friends again.' I never dined once at Furetière's, but he has dined more than ten times at my table. I was so little anxious that he should keep a debtor and creditor account of these dinners, and he was so far from being able to give a dinner in return, that every time I met him he only begged me to name the day when I should have time to go and dine with him; and this was merely a compliment which he continued to pay me for a very long time, without anything else. Being at last quite tired with his asking me to fix the day, I begged him, in a joke (a serious one), to name the gear in which I should dine with him; and this he failed to do. So that, never having eaten any soup within his doors, I do not know why he should pretend to regale me with a mess I dislike.” Death by Fish.-In the letters of the tender, melancholy, and fastidious Gray, there is frequently a forciblydisplayed sense of the ridiculous, and at times a most withering spirit of sarcasm, which we might wonder to find in the author of the Elegy in a country churchyard, were we not aware of the opposite qualities that meet in all men, and in men of genius in particular. In one of his letters, after inviting a friend to visit him at college, because everybody belonging to it is away, he goes on to describe the death of a Cambridge doctor who had been a great glutton. “Cambridge,” he says, “is a delight of a place now there is nobody in it. I do believe you would like it if you knew what it was without inhabitants. It is they, I assure you, that get it an ill name and spoil all. Our friend Dr. (one of its nuisances) is not expected here again in a hurry. He is gone to his grave with five fine mackerel (large and full of roe) in his belly. He eat them all at one dinner; but his fate was a turbot on Trinity Sunday, of which he left little for the company besides bones. He had not been hearty all the week; but after this sixth fish he never held up his head more, and a violent looseness carried him off. They say he made a very good end.”—Letter ciz. Mason's edition. A Hint to those who Dine with “ the Worshipful” in the City.—A stranger, dining with one of our very luxurious city companies, had himself helped to the first dish of meat that stood near him; and being hungry, and making no calculations as to the choicer dishes which were to follow, began to eat his slices of the plain joint with great gusto. “God bless my soul!” exclaimed a more experienced glutton, “surely you are not going to throw away that beautiful appetite upon a leg of mutton "