This eBook was produced by David Widger
Mangez-vous bien, Monsieur?
Oui, et bois encore mieux.
- Mons. de Porceaugnac.
My pamphlet took prodigiously. The authorship was attributed to the most
talented member of the Opposition; and though there were many errors in
style, and (I now think) many sophisms in the reasoning, yet it carried
the end proposed by all ambition of whatever species - and imposed upon
the taste of the public.
Sometime afterwards, I was going down the stairs at Almack's, when I
heard an altercation, high and grave, at the door of reception. To my
surprise, I found Lord Guloseton and a very young man in great wrath; the
latter had never been to Almack's before, and had forgotten his ticket.
Guloseton, who belonged to a very different set to that of the
Almackians, insisted that his word was enough to bear his juvenile
companion through. The ticket inspector was irate and obdurate, and
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having seldom or ever seen Lord Guloseton himself, paid very little
respect to his authority.
As I was wrapping myself in my cloak, Guloseton turned to me, for passion
makes men open their hearts: too eager for an opportunity of acquiring
the epicure's acquaintance, I offered to get his friend admittance in an
instant; the offer was delightedly accepted, and I soon procured a small
piece of pencilled paper from Lady - , which effectually silenced the
Charon, and opened the Stygian via to the Elysium beyond.
Guloseton overwhelmed me with his thanks. I remounted the stairs with
him - took every opportunity of ingratiating myself - received an
invitation to dinner on the following day, and left Willis's transported
at the goodness of my fortune.
At the hour of eight on the ensuing evening, I had just made my entrance
into Lord Guloseton's drawing-room. It was a small apartment furnished
with great luxury and some taste. A Venus of Titian's was placed over the
chimney-piece, in all the gorgeous voluptuousness of her unveiled beauty-
-the pouting lip, not silent though shut - the eloquent lid drooping over
the eye, whose reveille you could so easily imagine - the arms - the limbs-
-the attitude, so composed, yet so redolent of life - all seemed to
indicate that sleep was not forgetfulness, and that the dreams of the
goddess were not wholly inharmonious with the waking realities in which
it was her gentle prerogative to indulge. On either side, was a picture
of the delicate and golden hues of Claude; these were the only landscapes
in the room; the remaining pictures were more suitable to the Venus of
the luxurious Italian. Here was one of the beauties of Sir Peter Lely;
there was an admirable copy of the Hero and Leander. On the table lay the
Basia of Johannes Secundus, and a few French works on Gastronomy.
As for the genius loci - you must imagine a middle-sized, middle-aged man,
with an air rather of delicate than florid health. But little of the
effects of his good cheer were apparent in the external man. His cheeks
were neither swollen nor inflated - his person, though not thin, was of no
unwieldy obesity - the tip of his nasal organ was, it is true, of a more
ruby tinge than the rest, and one carbuncle, of tender age and gentle
dyes, diffused its mellow and moonlight influence over the physiognomical
scenery - his forehead was high and bald, and the few locks which still
rose above it, were carefully and gracefully curled a l'antique: Beneath
a pair of grey shaggy brows, (which their noble owner had a strange habit
of raising and depressing, according to the nature of his remarks,)
rolled two very small, piercing, arch, restless orbs, of a tender green;
and the mouth, which was wide and thick-lipped, was expressive of great
sensuality, and curved upwards in a perpetual smile.
Such was Lord Guloseton. To my surprise no other guest but myself
"A new friend," said he, as we descended into the dining-room, "is like a
new dish - one must have him all to oneself, thoroughly to enjoy and
rightly to understand him."
"A noble precept," said I, with enthusiasm. "Of all vices, indiscriminate
hospitality is the most pernicious. It allows us neither conversation nor
dinner, and realizing the mythological fable of Tantalus, gives us
starvation in the midst of plenty."
"You are right," said Guloseton, solemnly; "I never ask above six persons
to dinner, and I never dine out; for a bad dinner, Mr. Pelham, a bad
dinner is a most serious - I may add, the most serious calamity."
"Yes," I replied, "for it carries with it no consolation: a buried friend
may be replaced - a lost mistress renewed - a slandered character be
recovered - even a broken constitution restored; but a dinner, once lost,
is irremediable; that day is for ever departed; an appetite once thrown
away can never, till the cruel prolixity of the gastric agents is over,
be regained. 'Il y a tant de maitresses, (says the admirable Corneille),
'il n'y a qu'un diner.'"
"You speak like an oracle - like the Cook's Oracle, Mr. Pelham: may I send
you some soup, it is a la Carmelite? But what are you about to do with
"It contains" (said I) "my spoon, my knife, and my fork. Nature afflicted
me with a propensity, which through these machines I have endeavoured to
remedy by art. I eat with too great a rapidity. It is a most unhappy
failing, for one often hurries over in one minute, what ought to have
afforded the fullest delight for the period of five. It is, indeed, a
vice which deadens enjoyment, as well as abbreviates it; it is a shameful
waste of the gifts, and a melancholy perversion of the bounty of
Providence: my conscience tormented me; but the habit, fatally indulged
in early childhood, was not easy to overcome. At last I resolved to
construct a spoon of peculiarly shallow dimensions, a fork so small, that
it could only raise a certain portion to my mouth, and a knife rendered
blunt and jagged, so that it required a proper and just time to carve the
goods 'the gods provide me.' My lord, 'the lovely Thais sits beside me'
in the form of a bottle of Madeira. Suffer me to take wine with you?"
"With pleasure, my good friend; let us drink to the memory of the
Carmelites, to whom we are indebted for this inimitable soup."
"Yes!" I cried. "Let us for once shake off the prejudices of sectarian
faith, and do justice to one order of those incomparable men, who,
retiring from the cares of an idle and sinful world, gave themselves with
undivided zeal and attention to the theory and practice of the profound
science of gastronomy. It is reserved for us, my lord, to pay a gratefu
tribute of memory to those exalted recluses, who, through a long period
of barbarism and darkness, preserved, in the solitude of their cloisters,
whatever of Roman luxury and classic dainties have come down to this
later age. We will drink to the Carmelites at a sect, but we will drink
also to the monks as a body. Had we lived in those days, we had been
"It is singular," answered Lord Guloseton - "(by the by, what think you of
this turbot?) - to trace the history of the kitchen; it affords the
greatest scope to the philosopher and the moralist. The ancients seemed
to have been more mental, more imaginative, than we are in their dishes;
they fed their bodies as well as their minds upon delusion: for instance,
they esteemed beyond all price the tongues of nightingales, because they
tasted the very music of the birds in the organs of their utterance. That
is what I call the poetry of gastronomy!"
"Yes," said I, with a sigh, "they certainly had, in some respects, the
advantage over us. Who can pore over the suppers of Apicius without the
fondest regret? The venerable Ude [Note: Q. - The venerable Bede -
Printer's Devil.] implies, that the study has not progressed. 'Cookery
(he says, in the first part of his work) possesses but few innovators.'"
"It is with the greatest diffidence," said Guloseton, (his mouth full of
truth and turbot,) "that we may dare to differ from so great an
authority. Indeed, so high is my veneration for that wise man, that if
all the evidence of my sense and reason were on one side, and the dictum
of the great Ude upon the other, I should be inclined - I think, I should
be determined - to relinquish the former, and adopt the latter." [Note:
See the speech of Mr. Brougham in honour of Mr. Fox.]
"Bravo, my lord," cried I, warmly. "'Qu'un Cuisinier est un mortel
divin!' Why should we not be proud of our knowledge in cookery? It is the
soul of festivity at all times, and to all ages. How many marriages have
been the consequence of meeting at dinner? How much good fortune has been
the result of a good supper? At what moment of our existence are we
happier than at table? There hatred and animosity are lulled to sleep,
and pleasure alone reigns. Here the cook, by his skill and attention,
anticipates our wishes in the happiest selection of the best dishes and
decorations. Here our wants are satisfied, our minds and bodies
invigorated, and ourselves qualified for the high delights of love,
music, poetry, dancing, and other pleasures; and is he, whose talents
have produced these happy effects, to rank no higher in the scale of man
than a common servant? [Note: Ude, verbatim.]
"'Yes,' cries the venerable professor himself, in a virtuous and
prophetic paroxysm of indignant merit - 'yes, my disciples, if you adopt,
and attend to the rules I have laid down, the self-love of mankind will
consent at last, that cookery shall rank in the class of the sciences,
and its professors deserve the name of artists!'" [Note: Ibid.]
"My dear, dear Sir," exclaimed Guloseton, with a kindred glow, "I
discover in you a spirit similar to my own. Let us drink long life to the
"I pledge you, with all my soul," said I, filling my glass to the brim.
"What a pity," rejoined Guloseton, "that Ude, whose practical science was
so perfect, should ever have written, or suffered others to write, the
work published under his name; true it is that the opening part which you
have so feelingly recited, is composed with a grace, a charm beyond the
reach of art; but the instructions are vapid, and frequently so
erroneous, as to make me suspect their authenticity; but, after all,
cooking is not capable of becoming a written science - it is the
philosophy of practice!"
"Ah! by Lucullus," exclaimed I, interrupting my host, "what a visionary
bechamelle! Oh, the inimitable sauce; these chickens are indeed worthy of
the honour of being dressed. Never, my lord, as long as you live, eat a
chicken in the country; excuse a pun, you will have foul fare."
"'J'ai toujours redoute la volaille perfide,
Qui brave les efforts d'une dent intrepide;
Souvent par un ami, dans ses champs entraine.
J'ai reconnu le soir le coq infortune
Qui m'avait le matin a l'aurore naissante
Reveille brusquement de sa voix glapissante;
Je l'avais admire dans le sein de la cour,
Avec des yeux jaloux, j'avais vu son amour.
Helas! la malheureux, abjurant sa tendresse,
Exercait a souper sa fureur vengeresse.'
"Pardon the prolixity of my quotation for the sake of its value."
"I do, I do," answered Guloseton, laughing at the humour of the lines:
till, suddenly checking himself, he said, "we must be grave, Mr. Pelham,
it will never do to laugh. What would become of our digestions?"
"True," said I, relapsing into seriousness; "and if you will allow me one
more quotation, you will see what my author adds with regard to any
"'Defendez que personne au milieu d'un banquet,
Ne vous vienne donner un avis indiscret,
Ecartez ce facheux qui vers vous s'achemine,
Rien ne doit deranger l'honnete homme qui dine."
"Admirable advice," said Guloseton, toying with a filet mignon de poulet.
"Do you remember an example in the Bailly of Suffren, who, being in
India, was waited upon by a deputation of natives while he was at dinner.
'Tell them,' said he, 'that the Christian religion peremptorily forbids
every Christian, while at table, to occupy himself with any earthly
subject, except the function of eating.' The deputation retired in the
profoundest respect at the exceeding devotion of the French general."
"Well," said I, after we had chuckled gravely and quietly, with the care
of our digestion before us, for a few minutes - "well, however good the
invention was, the idea is not entirely new, for the Greeks esteemed
eating and drinking plentifully, a sort of offering to the gods; and
Aristotle explains the very word, THoinai, or feasts, by an etymological
exposition, 'that it was thought a duty to the gods to be drunk;' no bad
idea of our classical patterns of antiquity. Polypheme, too, in the
Cyclops of Euripides, no doubt a very sound theologian, says, his stomach
is his only deity; and Xenophon tells us, that as the Athenians exceeded
all other people in the number of their gods, so they exceeded them also
in the number of their feasts. May I send your lordship an ortolan?"
"Pelham, my boy," said Guloseton, whose eyes began to roll and twinkle
with a brilliancy suited to the various liquids which ministered to their
rejoicing orbs; "I love you for your classics. Polypheme was a wise
fellow, a very wise fellow, and it was a terrible shame in Ulysses to put
out his eye. No wonder that the ingenious savage made a deity of his
stomach; to what known and visible source, on this earth, was he indebted
for a keener enjoyment - a more rapturous and a more constant delight? No
wonder he honoured it with his gratitude, and supplied it with his peace-
offerings; - let us imitate so great an example: - let us make our
digestive receptacles a temple, to which we will consecrate the choicest
goods we possess; - let us conceive no pecuniary sacrifice too great,
which procures for our altar an acceptable gift; - let us deem it an
impiety to hesitate, if a sauce seems extravagant, or an ortolan too
dear; and let our last act in this sublunary existence, be a solemn
festival in honour of our unceasing benefactor."
"Amen to your creed," said I: "edibilatory Epicurism holds the key to all
morality: for do we not see now how sinful it is to yield to an obscene
and exaggerated intemperance? - would it not be to the last degree
ungrateful to the great source of our enjoyment, to overload it with a
weight which would oppress it with languor, or harass it with pain; and
finally to drench away the effects of our impiety with some nauseous
potation which revolts it, tortures it, convulses, irritates, enfeebles
it, through every particle of its system? How wrong in us to give way to
anger, jealousy, revenge, or any evil passion; for does not all that
affects the mind operate also upon the stomach; and how can we be so
vicious, so obdurate, as to forget, for a momentary indulgence, our debt
to what you have so justly designated our perpetual benefactor?"
"Right," said Lord Guloseton, "a bumper to the morality of the stomach."
The desert was now on the table. "I have dined well," said Guloseton,
stretching his legs with an air of supreme satisfaction; "but - " and here
my philosopher sighed deeply - "we cannot dine again till to-morrow!
Happy, happy, happy common people, who can eat supper! Would to Heaven,
that I might have one boon - perpetual appetite - a digestive Houri, which
renewed its virginity every time it was touched. Alas! for the
instability of human enjoyment. But now that we have no immediate hope to
anticipate, let us cultivate the pleasures of memory. What thought you of
the veau a la Dauphine?"
"Pardon me if I hesitate at giving my opinion, till I have corrected my
judgment by yours."
"Why, then, I own I was somewhat displeased - disappointed as it were -
with that dish; the fact is, veal ought to be killed in its very first
infancy; they suffer it to grow to too great an age. It becomes a sort of
hobbydehoy, and possesses nothing of veal, but its insipidity, or of
beef, but its toughness."
"Yes," said I, "it is only in their veal, that the French surpass us;
their other meats want the ruby juices and elastic freshness of ours.
Monsieur L - allowed this truth, with a candour worthy of his vast mind.
Mon Dieu! what claret! - what a body! and, let me add, what a soul,
beneath it! Who would drink wine like this? it is only made to taste. It
is like first love - too pure for the eagerness of enjoyment; the rapture
it inspires is in a touch, a kiss. It is a pity, my lord, that we do not
serve perfumes at dessert: it is their appropriate place. In
confectionary (delicate invention of the Sylphs,) we imitate the forms of
the rose and the jessamine; why not their odours too? What is nature
without its scents? - and as long as they are absent from our desserts, it
is in vain that the Bard exclaims, that -
"'L'observateur de la belle Nature,
S'extasie en voyant des fleurs en confiture.'"
"It is an exquisite idea of yours," said Guloseton - "and the next time
you dine here, we will have perfumes. Dinner ought to be a reunion of all
the senses -
"'Gladness to the ear, nerve, heart, and sense.'"
There was a momentary pause. "My lord," said I, "what a lusty
lusciousness in this pear! it is like the style of the old English poets.
What think you of the seeming good understanding between Mr. Gaskell and
"I trouble myself little about it," replied Guloseton, helping himself to
some preserves - "politics disturb the digestion."
"Well," thought I, "I must ascertain some point in this man's character
easier to handle than his epicurism: all men are vain: let us find out
the peculiar vanity of mine host."
"The Tories," said I, "seem to think themselves exceedingly secure; they
attach no importance to the neutral members; it was but the other day,
Lord - told me that he did not care a straw for Mr. - , notwithstanding he
possessed four votes. Heard you ever such arrogance?"
"No, indeed," said Golouston, with a lazy air of indifference - "are you a
favourer of the olive?"
"No," said I, "I love it not; it hath an under taste of sourness, and an
upper of oil, which do not make harmony to my palate. But, as I was
saying, the Whigs, on the contrary, pay the utmost deference to their
partizans; and a man of fortune, rank, and parliamentary influence, might
have all the power without the trouble of a leader."
"Very likely," said Guloseton, drowsily.
"I must change my battery," thought I; but while I was meditating a new
attack, the following note was brought me: -
"For God's sake, Pelham, come out to me: I am waiting in the street to
see you; come directly, or it will be too late to render me the service I
would ask of you.
I rose instantly. "You must excuse me, Lord Guloseton, I am called
"Ha! ha!" laughed the gourmand; "some tempting viand - post prandia
"My good lord," said I, not heeding his insinuation - "I leave you with
the greatest regret."
"And I part from you with the same; it is a real pleasure to see such a
person at dinner."
"Adieu! my host - 'Je vais vivre et manger en sage.'"
I do defy him, and I spit at him,
Call him a slanderous coward and a villain -
Which to maintain I will allow him odds.
I found Glanville walking before the door with a rapid and uneven step.
"Thank Heaven!" he said, when he saw me - "I have been twice to Mivart's
to find you. The second time, I saw your servant, who told me where you
were gone. I knew you well enough to be sure of your kindness."
Glanville broke off aburptly: and after a short pause, said, with a
quick, low, hurried tone - "The office I wish you to take upon yourself is
this: - go immediately to Sir John Tyrrell, with a challenge from me. Ever
since I last saw you, I have been hunting out that man, and in vain. He
had then left town. He returned this evening, and quits it to-morrow: you
have no time to lose."
"My dear Glanville," said I, "I have no wish to learn any secret you
would conceal from me; but forgive me if I ask for some further
instructions than those you have afforded me. Upon what plea am I to call
out Sir John Tyrrell? and what answer am I to give to any excuses he may
"I have anticipated your reply," said Glanville, with ill-subdued
impatience; "you have only to give this paper: it will prevent all
discussion. Read it if you will; I have left it unsealed for that
I cast my eyes over the lines Glanville thrust into my hand; they ran
"The time has at length come for me to demand the atonement so long
delayed. The bearer of this, who is, probably, known to you, will arrange
with any person you may appoint, the hour and place of our meeting. He is
unacquainted with the grounds of my complaint against you, but he is
satisfied of my honour: your second will, I presume, be the same with
respect to yours. It is for me only to question the latter, and to
declare you solemnly to be void alike of principle and courage, a
villain, and a poltroon.
"You are my earliest friend," said I, when I had read this soothing
epistle; "and I will not flinch from the place you assign me: but I tell
you fairly and frankly, that I would sooner cut off my right hand than
suffer it to give this note to Sir John Tyrrell."
Glanville made no answer; we walked on till he stopped suddenly, and
said, "My carriage is at the corner of the street; you must go instantly;
Tyrrell lodges at the Clarendon; you will find me at home on your
I pressed his hand, and hurried on my mission. It was, I own, one
peculiarly unwelcome and displeasing. In the first place, I did not love
to be made a party in a business of the nature of which I was so
profoundly ignorant. Besides, Glanville was more dear to me than any one,
judging only of my external character, would suppose; and
constitutionally indifferent as I am to danger for myself, I trembled
like a woman at the peril I was instrumental in bringing upon him. But
what weighed upon me far more than either of these reflections, was the
recollection of Ellen. Should her brother fall in an engagement in which
I was his supposed adviser, with what success could I hope for those
feelings from her, which, at present, constituted the tenderest and the
brightest of my hopes? In the midst of these disagreeable ideas the
carriage stopped at the door of Tyrrel's Hotel.
The waiter said Sir John was in the coffee-room; thither I immediately
marched. Seated in the box nearest the fire sat Tyrrell, and two men, of
that old-fashioned roue set, whose members indulged in debauchery, as if
it were an attribute of manliness, and esteemed it, as long as it were
hearty and English, rather a virtue to boast of, than a vice to disown.
Tyrrel nodded to me familiarly as I approached him; and I saw, by the
half-emptied bottles before him, and the flush of his sallow
countenance, that he had not been sparing of his libations. I whispered
that I wished to speak to him on a subject of great importance; he rose
with much reluctance, and, after swallowing a large tumbler-full of port
wine to fortify him for the task, he led the way to a small room, where
he seated himself, and asked me, with his usual mixture of bluntness and
good-breeding, the nature of my business. I made him no reply: I
contented myself with placing Glanville's billet doux in his hand. The
room was dimly lighted with a single candle, and the small and capricious
fire, near which the gambler was seated, threw its upward light, by
starts and intervals, over the strong features and deep lines of his
countenance. It would have been a study worthy of Rembrandt.
I drew my chair near him, and half shading my eyes with my hand, sat down
in silence to mark the effect the letter would produce. Tyrrel (I
imagine) was a man originally of hardy nerves, and had been thrown much
in the various situations of life where the disguise of all outward
emotion is easily and insensibly taught; but whether his frame had been
shattered by his excesses, or that the insulting language of the note
touched him to the quick, he seemed perfectly unable to govern his
feelings; the lines were written hastily, and the light, as I said