William Carew Hazlitt.

Old Cookery Books and Ancient Cuisine online

. (page 8 of 12)
Online LibraryWilliam Carew HazlittOld Cookery Books and Ancient Cuisine → online text (page 8 of 12)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

a certain literary tone, which certainly betrays a little the hand or
influence of Scott.

But though the present is a Scottish production, there is no narrow
specialism in its scheme. The title-page gives a London publisher as
well as an Anglo-Athenian one, and Mrs. Johnstone benevolently adapted
her labours to her countrywomen and the unworthier Southrons alike.

I imagine, however, that of all the latter-day master-cooks, Alexis
Soyer is most remembered. His "Gastronomic Regenerator," a large and
handsome octavo volume of between 700 and 800 pages, published in
1846, lies before me. It has portraits of the compiler and his wife,
and many other illustrations, and is dedicated to a Royal Duke. It was
produced under the most influential patronage and pressure, for Soyer
was overwhelmed with engagements, and had scruples against appearance
in print. He tells us that in some library, to which he gained access,
he once found among the works of Shakespeare and other _chefs_ in a
different department, a volume with the words "Nineteenth Edition"
upon it, and when he opened it, he saw to his great horror "A receipt
for Ox-tail Soup!" Why this revelation exercised such a terrifying
effect he proceeds to explain. It was the incongruity of a cookery
book in the temple of the Muses. But nevertheless, such is the frailty
of our nature, that he gradually, on regaining his composure, and at
such leisure intervals as he could command, prepared the "Gastronomic
Regenerator," in which he eschewed all superfluous ornaments of
diction, and studied a simplicity of style germane to the subject;
perchance he had looked into Kitchener's Preface. He lets us know that
he had made collections of the same kind at an earlier period of his
career, but had destroyed them, partly owing to his arduous duties
at the Reform Club, and partly to the depressing influence of the
nineteenth edition of somebody else's cookery book - probably, by
the way, Ude's. The present work occupied some ten months, and was
prepared amid the most stupendous interruptions from fair visitors to
the Club (15,000), dinners for the members and their friends (25,000),
dinner parties of importance (38), and the meals for the staff (60).
He gives a total of 70,000 dishes; but it is not entirely clear
whether these refer to the 38 dinner parties of importance, or to
the 25,000 of inferior note, or to both. The feeling of dismay at the
nineteenth edition of somebody must have been sincere, for he winds
up his preface with an adjuration to his readers (whom, in the
"Directions for Carving," he does not style Gentle, or Learned, or
Worshipful, but HONOURABLE) not to place his labours on the same shelf
with "Paradise Lost."

Soyer had also perhaps certain misgivings touching too close an
approximation to other _chefs_ besides Milton and Shakespeare, for he
refers to the "profound ideas" of Locke, to which he was introduced,
to his vast discomfort, "in a most superb library in the midst of a
splendid baronial hall." But the library of the Reform Club probably
contained all this heterogeneous learning. Does the "Gastronomic
Regenerator," out of respect to the fastidious sentiments of its
author, occupy a separate apartment in that institution with a
separate curator?

It seems only the other day to me, that Soyer took Gore Lodge, and
seemed in a fair way to make his removal from the Reform Club a
prosperous venture. But he lost his wife, and was unfortunate in other
ways, and the end was very sad indeed. "Soyez tranquille," was the
epitaph proposed at the time by some unsentimental wagforpoor Madame
Soyer; it soon served for them both.

But nearly concurrent with Soyer's book appeared one of humble
pretensions, yet remarkable for its lucidity and precision, Eliza
Acton's "Modern Cookery in all its Branches reduced to an easy
practice," 16mo, 1845. I have heard this little volume highly
commended by competent judges as exactly what it professes to be; and
the quantities in the receipts are particularly reliable.

The first essay to bring into favourable notice the produce of
Colonial cattle was, so far as I can collect, a volume published
in 1872, and called "Receipts for Cooking Australian Meat, with
Directions for preparing Sauces suitable for the same." This
still remains a vexed question; but the consumption of the meat
is undoubtedly on the increase, and will continue to be, till the
population of Australasia equalises supply and demand.



Besides the authorities for this branch of the inquiry already cited,
there are a few others, which it may assist the student to set down
herewith: -

1. A Collection of Ordinances and Regulations for the Government of
the Royal Household (Edward III. to William and Mary). 4to, 1790.

2. The book of Nurture. By Hugh Rhodes, of the King's Chapel. Printed
in the time of Henry VIII. by John Redman. 4to.

3. A Breviate touching the Order and Government of the House of a
Nobleman. 1605. _Archaeologia_, xiii.

4. Orders made by Henry, Prince of Wales, respecting his Household.
1610. _Archaeologia_, xiv.

5. The School of Good Manners. By William Phiston or Fiston. 8vo,

6. The School of Virtue, the Second Part. By Richard West. 12mo, 1619.

7. The School of Grace; or, A Book of Nurture. By John Hart. 12mo.
(About 1680.)

8. England's Newest Way in all Sorts of Cookery. By Henry Howard, Free
Cook of London. 8vo, London, 1703.

9. A Collection of above three hundred Receipts in Cookery, Physick
and Surgery, for the use of all Good Wives, Tender Mothers, and
Careful Nurses. By several Hands. The second edition, to which is
added a second part. 8vo, London, 1729. Fifth edition, 8vo, London,

10. The Compleat City and Country Cook. By Charles Carter. 8vo,
London, 1732.

11. The Compleat Housewife: or, Accomplish'd Gentlewomans Companion:
Being a collection of upwards of Five Hundred of the most approved
Receipts in Cookery, Pastry, Confectionery, Preserving, Pickles,
Cakes, Creams, Jellies, Made Wines, Cordials. With Copper Plates....
And also Bills of Fare for every month in the year.... By E. Smith.
Seventh edition, with very large additions, near fifty Receipts
being communicated just before the author's death. 8vo, London, 1736.
Eleventh edition. 8vo, London, 1742.

12. The Complete Family Piece: A very Choice Collection of Receipts
in... Cookery. Seventh Edition. 8vo, London, 1737.

13. The Modern Cook. By Vincent La Chapelle, cook to the Prince of
Orange. Third edition. 8vo, London, 1744.

14. A Treatise of all Sorts of Foods, both Animal and Vegetable, and
also of Drinkables, written originally in French by the Learned M.L.
Lemery. Translated by D. Hay, M.D. 8vo, London, 1745.

15. The Housekeeper's Pocket-Book. By Sarah Harrison. Sixth edition, 2
vols. 12mo, London, 1755.

16. Professed Cookery. By Ann Cook. Third edition. 8vo, London (about

17. The Experienced English Housekeeper. By Elizabeth Raffald. Second
edition. 8vo, London, 1771. There were an eighth, tenth, and eleventh
editions, and two others, described as "New Editions," between this
date and 1806. The compiler dedicates her book to "The honourable Lady
Elizabeth Warburton," in whose service she had been. She mentions that
the volume was published by subscription, and that she had obtained
eight hundred names. In the preface Mrs. Raffald begins by observing:
"When I reflect upon the number of books already in print upon this
subject, and _with what contempt they are read_, I cannot but be
apprehensive that this may meet the same fate with some who will
censure before they either see it or try its value." She concludes by
saying that she had not meddled with physical receipts, "leaving them
to the physician's superior judgment, whose proper province they are."
The author of the "Experienced Housekeeper" tells us that she had not
only filled that post in noble families during fifteen years, but
had travelled with her employers, and so widened her sphere of

18. The Young Ladies' Guide in the Art of Cookery. By Elizabeth
Marshall. 8vo, Newcastle, 1777.

19. English Housewifery Exhibited in above 450 Receipts. By Elizabeth
Moxon. Fourth edition. 8vo, Leeds (about 1780).

20. The Practice of Modern Cookery. By George Dalrymple. 8vo,
Edinburgh, 1781.

21. The Ladies' Assistant for Regulating and Supplying the Table. By
Charlotte Mason. 8vo, London, 1786.

22. The Compleat Family Companion. 8vo, London, 1787 (?).

23. The Honours of the Table; or, Rules for Behaviour during Meals,
with the whole Art of Carving.... By the Author of "Principles of
Politeness," etc. (Trusler). Second edition. Woodcuts by Bewick. 12mo,
London, 1791.

24. The French Family Cook: being a complete system of French Cookery.
From the French. 8vo, London, 1793.

25. The British Housewife; or, The Cook's, Housekeeper's, and
Gardener's Companion. By Martha Bradley. 8vo.

26. Cookery and Pastry. By Mrs. Macivey. New edition, 12mo, Edinburgh,

27. The London Art of Cookery. By John Farley. Fourth edition. 8vo,
London, 1807.

28. The School of Good Living; or, A Literary and Historical Essay on
the European Kitchen, beginning with Cadmus, the Cook and King, and
concluding with the Union of Cookery and Chymistry. 12 mo, London,

29. _Culina Famulatur Medicina_. Receipts in Modern Cookery, with
a Medical Commentary by Ignotus, and revised by A. Hunter, M.D.,
F.A.S.L. and E. Fourth edition, 12mo, York, 1806.

30. The Universal Cook. By Francis Collingwood and T. Woollams. Fourth
edition. 8vo, London, 1806.

31. A Complete System of Cookery. By John Simpson, Cook. 8vo, London,
1806. Again, 8vo, London, 1816.

32. Simpson's Cookery Improved and Modernised. By H.W. Brand. 8vo,
London, 1834.

33. The Imperial and Royal Cook. By Frederick Nutt, Esquire, Author of
the "Complete Confectioner." 8vo, London, 1809.

34. The Housekeeper's Domestic Library. By Charles Millington. 8vo,
London, 1810.

35. The Housekeeper's Instructor; or, Universal Family Book. By W.A.
Henderson. Seventeenth edition. By S.C. Schrubbelie, Cook to the
Albany, London. 8vo, London, 1811.

36. The Art of Preserving all kinds of animal and vegetable Substances
for several years. By M. Appert. Translated from the French. Second
edition. 8vo, London, 1812. With a folding Plate.

37. Domestic Economy and Cookery, for Rich and Poor. By a Lady.
8vo, London, 1827. In the preface the author apprises us that a long
residence abroad had enabled her to become a mistress of the details
of foreign European cookery; but she adds: "The mulakatanies and
curries of India; the sweet pillaus, yahourt, and cold soups of
Persia; the cubbubs, sweet yaughs and sherbets of Egypt; the cold
soups and mixed meats of Russia, the cuscussous and honeyed paste
of Africa, have been inserted with the view of introducing a less
expensive and more wholesome and a more delicate mode of cookery."

38. Apician Morsels; or, Tales of the Table, Kitchen, and Larder. By
Dick Humelbergius Secundus. 8vo, London, 1834.

39. Cottage Economy and Cookery. 8vo, London, 1844.[Footnote:
Reprinted from the Journal of the Agricultural Society, 1843, vol.
iii, part I].


The staple food among the lower orders in Anglo-Saxon and the
immediately succeeding times was doubtless bread, butter, and
cheese, the aliment which goes so far even yet to support our rural
population, with vegetables and fruit, and occasional allowances of
salted bacon and pancakes, beef, or fish. The meat was usually boiled
in a kettle suspended on a tripod [Footnote: The tripod is still
employed in many parts of the country for a similar purpose] over a
wood-fire, such as is used only now, in an improved shape, for fish
and soup.

The kettle which is mentioned, as we observe, in the tale of "Tom
Thumb," was the universal vessel for boiling purposes [Footnote: An
inverted kettle was the earliest type of the diving-bell], and the
bacon-house (or larder), so called from the preponderance of that
sort of store over the rest, was the warehouse for the winter stock of
provisions [Footnote: What is called in some places the keeping-room
also accommodated flitches on the walls, and hams ranged along the
beams overhead; and it served at the same time for a best parlour].
The fondness for condiments, especially garlic and pepper, among the
higher orders, possibly served to render the coarser nourishment of
the poor more savoury and flavorous. "It is interesting to remark,"
says Mr. Wright [Footnote: "Domestic Manners and Sentiments," 1862,
p. 91], "that the articles just mentioned (bread, butter, and cheese)
have preserved their Anglo-Saxon names to the present time, while all
kinds of meat - beef, veal, mutton, pork, even bacon - have retained
only the names given to them by the Normans; which seems to imply that
flesh-meat was not in general use for food among the lower classes of

In Malory's compilation on the adventures of King Arthur and his
knights, contemporary with the "Book of St. Alban's," we are expressly
informed in the sixth chapter, how the King made a great feast at
Caerleon in Wales; but we are left in ignorance of its character. The
chief importance of details in this case would have been the excessive
probability that Malory would have described an entertainment
consonant with the usage of his own day, although at no period of
early history was there ever so large an assemblage of guests at one
time as met, according to the fable, to do honour to Arthur.

In the tenth century Colloquy of Archbishop Alfric, the boy is made to
say that he is too young to eat meat, but subsists on cabbages,
eggs, fish, cheese, butter, beans, and other things, according to
circumstances; so that a vegetable diet was perhaps commoner in those
days even among the middle classes than at present. This youth, when
he is asked what he drinks, replies, water, or ale if he can get it.
The dish so deftly constructed by King Arthur, according to one of
his numerous biographers, exhibited that wedlock of fruit with animal
matter - fat and plums - which we post-Arthurians eye with a certain
fastidious repugnance, but which, notwithstanding, lingered on to
the Elizabethan or Jacobaean era - nay, did not make the gorge of our
grandsires turn rebellious. It survives among ourselves only in the
modified shape of such accessories as currant jelly and apple sauce.

But the nursery rhyme about Arthur and the bag-pudding of barley
meal with raisins and meat has a documentary worth for us beyond the
shadowy recital of the banquet at Caerleon, for, _mutato nomine_,
it is the description of a favourite article of popular diet in the
fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The narrative of Mrs. Thumb and
her pudding is more circumstantial than that of King Alfred and the
housewife; and if the tradition is worthless, it serves us so far,
that it faithfully portrays a favourite item of rustic consumption in
old times. We are told that the pudding was made in a bowl, and that
it was chiefly composed of the flesh and blood of a newly-killed hog,
laid in batter; and then, when all was ready, the bag with all its
savoury burden was put into a kettle.

As we are already on the threshold of legend and myth, we may linger
there a moment to recall to memory the resemblance between the
description of this piece of handiwork and that ascribed to good King
Arthur, who lived in days when monarchs were their own _chefs_,
for the Arthurian dish was also prepared in a bag, and consisted,
according to the ditty, of barley-meal and fat. Soberly speaking, the
two accounts belong, maybe, to something like the same epoch in the
annals of gastronomy; and a large pudding was, for a vast length
of time, no doubt, a prevailing _piece de résistance_ in all
frugal British households. It was the culinary forefather of
toad-in-the-hole, hot-pot, Irish stew, and of that devil-dreaded
Cornish pasty. The Elizabethan transmitters of these two Apician
nuggets possibly antedated the popular institution of the bag-pudding;
but the ancientest gastronomical records testify to the happy
introduction of the frying-pan about the era when we were under
Alfred's fatherly sway. It may have even preceded the grill, just
as the fork lagged behind the spoon, from which it is a seeming
evolution. That no reader may doubt the fact, that Tom's mother made
the pudding, and that Tom held the candle, we refer to the old edition
of this choice piece of chapman's ware, where an accurate drawing of
Mrs. Thumb, and the board, and the bowl, and Tom with the candle, may
be inspected. The _prima stamina_ of the modern fruit-pudding really
appear to be found in the ancient bag-pudding, of which Tom Thumb had
such excellent reason to be acquainted with the contents. The mode
of construction was similar, and both were boiled in a cloth. The
material and subsidiary treatment of course differed; but it is
curious that no other country possesses either the tart or the
pudding, as we understand them, and as the latter has perhaps been
developed from the dish, of the making of which Tom Thumb was
an eye-witness to his sorrow, so the covered fruit tart may not
improbably be an outgrowth from the old coffin pasty of venison or
game, with the superaddition of a dish for the safe custody of the

Another rather prominent factor in the diet of the poor classes, not
only in Scotland but in the North of England, was oatmeal variously
prepared. One very favourable and palatable way was by grinding the
meal a second time as fine as flour, boiling it, and then serving it
with hot milk or treacle. There is something in the nature of this
food so peculiarly satisfying and supporting, that it seems to have
been destined to become the staple nourishment of a poor population
in a cold and bracing climate. The fourteenth and fifteenth centuries
unquestionably saw a great advance in the mystery of cookery and
in the diversity of dishes, and the author of "Piers of Fulham"
complains, that men were no longer satisfied with brawn and powdered
beef, which he terms "store of house," but would have venison, wild
fowl, and heronshaw; and men of simple estate, says he, will have
partridges and plovers, when lords lack. He adds quaintly:

"A mallard of the dunghill is good enough for me,
With pleasant pickle, or it is else poison. pardy."

We have for our purpose a very serviceable relic of the old time,
called "A Merry Jest, how the Ploughman learned his Paternoster." The
scene purports to be laid in France, and the general outline may have
been taken from the French; but it is substantially English, with
allusions to Kent, Robin Hood, and so forth, and it certainly
illustrates the theme upon which we are. This ploughman was in fact a
farmer or husbandman, and the account of his dwelling and garden-stuff
is very interesting. We are told that his hall-roof was full of
bacon-flitches, and his store-room of eggs, butter, and cheese. He had
plenty of malt to make good ale -

"And Martlemas beef to him was not dainty;
Onions and Garlic had he enough,
And good cream, and milk of the cow."

But in "Vox Populi Vox Dei," written about 1547, and therefore
apparently not from the pen of Skelton, who died in 1529, it is said
that the price of an ox had risen to four pounds, and a sheep without
the wool to twelve shillings and upwards, so that the poor man could
seldom afford to have meat at his table. This evil the writer ascribes
to the exactions of the landlord and the lawyer. The former charged
too highly for his pastures, and the latter probably advanced money on
terms. The old poem depicts in sad colours the condition of the
yeoman at the same period, that had had once plenty of cows and cream,
butter, eggs, cheese, and honey; all which had gone to enrich upstarts
who throve by casting-counters and their pens. The story of the "King
and a poor Northern Man," 1640, also turns upon the tyranny of the
lawyers over ignorant clients.

The "Serving-man's Comfort," 1598, draws a somewhat gloomy picture
of the times. The prices of all provisions, among other points, had
trebled since the good old days, when his father and grandfather kept
house. Then people could buy an ox for 20s., a sheep for 3s., a calf
for 2s., a goose for 6d., a capon for 4d., a hen for 2d., a pig for
the same, and all other household provisions at a like rate. The
reason given by the farmer was that the landlords had raised their
rent. Let them have the land on the old terms, and the former prices
would pay. This plea and demand have come back home to us in 1886.

The tradition is, that when Queen Elizabeth received the intelligence
of the defeat of the Armada, she was dining off a goose - doubtless
about eleven o'clock in the morning. It was an anxious moment, and
perhaps her majesty for the moment had thrown ceremony somewhat aside,
and was "keeping secret house."

The author of the "Serving-man's Comfort," 1598, also laments the
decay of hospitality. "Where," he inquires "are the great chines
of stalled beef, the great, black jacks of double beer, the long
hall-tables fully furnished with good victuals?" But he seems to have
been a stickler for the solid fare most in vogue, according to his
complaint, formerly; and he represents to us that in lieu of it one
had to put up with goose-giblets, pigs' pettitoes, and so many other
boiled meats, forced meats, and made dishes. Things were hardly so
very bad, however, if, as he states previously, the curtailment of the
expenditure on the table still left, as a medium repast, two or three
dishes, with fruit and cheese after. The black jack here mentioned was
not discarded till comparatively modern days. Nares, who published his
Glossary in 1822, states that he recollects them in use.

"A meal's meat twice a week, worth a groat," is mentioned as the farm
servant's portion in "Civil and Uncivil Life," 1579. In "A Piece of
Friar Bacon's Brasen-heads Prophesie," a unique poem, 1604, we read
that at that time a cheesecake and a pie were held "good country
meat." The author adds:

"Ale and Spice, and Curdes and Creame,
Would make a Scholler make a Theame."

Breton, in his "Fantasticks," 1626, observes: "Milk, Butter and Cheese
are the labourers dyet; and a pot of good Beer quickens his spirits."

Norfolk dumplings were celebrated in John Day the playwright's time.
He has put into the mouth of his east-country yeoman's son, Tom
Strowd, in "The Blind Beggar of Bethnal Green," written long before
it was printed in 1659, the following: - "As God mend me, and ere
thou com'st into Norfolk, I'll give thee as good a dish of Norfolk
dumplings as ere thou laydst thy lips to;" and in another passage of
the same drama, where Swash's shirt has been stolen, while he is in
bed, he describes himself "as naked as your Norfolk dumplin." In
the play just quoted, Old Strowd, a Norfolk yeoman, speaks of his
contentment with good beef, Norfolk bread, and country home-brewed
drink; and in the "City Madam," 1658, Holdfast tells us that before
his master got an estate, "his family fed on roots and livers, and
necks of beef on Sundays." I cite these as traits of the kind of
table kept by the lower grades of English society in the seventeenth


Slender: You are afraid, if you see the bear loose, are you not?

Anne: Aye, indeed, Sir

Slender: That's meat and drink to me, now.


The manufacture of wine and of fruit preserves, and many of the
processes of cookery, could have scarcely been accomplished without a
large and constant supply of sugar.

The exact date of the first introduction of the latter into England
continues to be a matter of uncertainty. It was clearly very scarce,
and doubtless equally dear, when, in 1226, Henry III. asked the Mayor
of Winchester to procure him three pounds of Alexandria sugar, if so
much could be got, and also some rose and violet-coloured sugar;
nor had it apparently grown much more plentiful when the same prince
ordered the sheriffs of London to send him four loaves of sugar to
Woodstock. But it soon made its way into the English homes, and before
the end of the thirteenth century it could be procured even in remote
provincial towns. It was sold either by the loaf or the pound. It was
still exorbitantly high in price, varying from eighteen pence to
three shillings a pound of coeval currency; and it was retailed by the

In Russell's "Book of Nurture," composed about 1450, it occurs as an

1 2 3 4 5 6 8 10 11 12

Online LibraryWilliam Carew HazlittOld Cookery Books and Ancient Cuisine → online text (page 8 of 12)