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grandfather." Whereupon the father's conscience smites him, and the grandfather is allowed a plate at the table as before. In an Italian form of the story, borrowed from one of the French fabliaux, a man follows the custom of the country and packs off his old father to die in what may be called the workhouse, sending him a couple of shirts by the hands of his young son, the old man's grandson. The boy brings back one of them, and explains that it will do for his father to wear when his turn comes to go to the workhouse. Whereupon the man's heart is touched, and he fetches his aged parent home. The Russian story is more valuable, because it refers to a custom which undoubtedly once existed in many lands-that of killing off old people. Among nomads, who would find it difficult to carry about with them their aged relations, such a custom might naturally arise. At all events, it is on such a custom that the tale is founded. It runs as follows: In former days it was customary, when old folks reached a certain age, for their sons, if they had any, to take them out into the forest, and there to leave them to die. Once upon a time a son thus escorted from home, on what was meant to be his last journey, his aged father. Wishing to make that journey as comfortable as possible for the time-stricken traveler, he stretched a large piece of birch-tree bark in his cart, seated the intended victim upon it, and drove off to the forest. Along with him went his own young son, a boy of tender years. Having reached the appointed spot, he thereon deposited the aged man, having first, with filial attention, stretched on the possibly damp ground the sheet of bark for him to sit upon. Just as he was about to drive away home with his boy, that innocent child asked him if it would not be better to take back the bark. "Why so?" he replied. "Because," said the boy, "it will do for you to sit upon when the time comes for me to leave you in the forest." Touched by his child's simple words, the father hastened to where the grandfather was sitting, put him back into the cart, and drove him quickly home. From that time he carefully tended the old man till he died. And his example produced such an effect that all the other people in that land gave up the practice of exposing their parents to death when they grew old.*
Now it would be quite beside the mark to suggest a mythological explanation of this pathetic tale. It evidently refers to an actual custom once observed by real men, not to some supposed action attributed to imaginary gods. The evidence for the former existence of the custom is copious and undeniable. Even the familiar
* Afanasief, “Skazki,” vol. vii., No. 51.
expression, "a sardonic grin," has been supposed by some philologists to contain a reference to it. For the ancient Sardones were in the habit, when they grew old, of being killed and eaten by their friends and relatives. Before their death they used to invite their kith and kin to come and eat them on a certain day. And they were expected to smile while uttering the words of invitation. But their smiles, on such occasions, were apt to be somewhat constrained, and even at times ghastly. Wherefore, that particular kind of contraction of the risible muscles acquired the name of the "Sardonic grin." On so clear a point it is unnecessary to dwell longer. But it will be as well to point out that there is sometimes risk in attributing legends and traditions to an historical rather than a mythical origin. Many customs are mentioned in popular tales which can scarcely have prevailed among mankind at even the most prehistoric period. There are a number of stories, for instance, about girls who are so fond of their relatives that they eat them up. In the Russian "Witch and Sun's Sister," and in the Avar" Brother and Sister," a maiden of this kind is described as first devouring the whole of her family, and then attempting to eat the hero of the tale, her last surviving brother. Now, a belief in such hungry damsels, perpetually seeking what they may devour, is prevalent at the present day in Ceylon, the existence of such "poisongirls," as they are called, being generally accounted for by demoniacal possession. From such a wild belief tales of the kind just mentioned might naturally spring without their being founded upon any real custom. It is improbable that at any period of the world's history it was customary for sisters to eat their brothers. Nor is it likely that human fathers were ever in the habit of eating their children, as might be supposed, if we thought it necessary to see in the tale of how Kronos devoured his offspring an allusion to a custom, or even an isolated fact. What seems to be really demanded from every interpreter of old tradition, every explorer of the dark field of popular fiction, is a wariness that will not allow itself to be hoodwinked by any prejudice in favor of this or that particular theory. Every piece of evidence ought to be carefully tested and fairly weighed, whether it confirms the examiner's own opinion or not. If this be done, he will probably find that different classes of legends must be explained in divers manners. The more he becomes acquainted with popular tales, the less he will be inclined to seek for any single method of solving all their manifold problems. Not over-often will he be able to satisfy himself that he has arrived at even a fairy-tale's ultimate reason for existence. The greater pleasure will he have when he is enabled to trace the
growth of a narrative, to watch its increase from
Tradition asserts that there once existed at Rome a bas-relief representing Trajan on horseback in all his glory, and in front of him a woman sadly kneeling. Nothing can be more probable, and, if such was really the case, the suppliant female would, no doubt, represent a conquered province, just as Dacia is represented on one of Trajan's medals as a woman on her knees. How ever this may be, out of the tradition sprang a story illustrative of Trajan's justice. On the point of starting on a campaign, it said, the Emperor was suddenly stopped by a poor widow, who flung herself on her knees before him, and besought him to right her wrongs. He expostulated, but finally yielded, and did her justice before he resumed his march. This was the first half of the story's growth. The second seems to have followed at a later period. According to the completed legend, as Pope Gregory the
DINNERS IN LITERATURE.
Achilles in the "Iliad" has granted temptuously, by Seneca a man of extremely
morose temper-" the science of the cook-shop." Nor is it certain, when we consider how much a dinner shares in the constitution of human happiness, that this philosopher was altogether wise in reviling the discipline of Apicius as the disease of his age, or that la science de la gueule-to borrow a phrase of Rabelais and Montaignedeserves Columella's censure as the worship of the most degraded vice.
The good effects, moral and social, of a good dinner-not the least among the great and lasting triumphs of a civilized life—have been too often established to need any further evidence. What frantic enmities have been rung out, what everlasting friendships rung in, by that tocsin of the soul, the dinner-bell! A suitably served repast can remove prejudice, and abate pride; it can reconcile misunderstandings, and discover amiability. Will not a steaming turkey turn away strife, and meditations of evil vanish before a Christmas plum-pudding? Nay, resentment ere this has beat a retreat before a humble Welsh rarebit; and a horrid feud, which not even the
the request of the unhappy Priam in reference to the dead body of his son, he immediately suggests to the old man the propriety of taking some refreshment. Let us, he says, now remember our dinner. For this was a matter not forgotten by the fair-haired Niobe, even when all her twelve children lay dead in her house, slain by Apollo and Artemis. And Homer, if such a man there be, goes on to tell us how the swift-footed Greek at once rose up, and himself cut the throat of a white wether, and his companions flayed it, and got it ready in the proper fashion, and divided it cunningly, and pierced it with spits, and roasted it with circumspection, and did all those other things so well known to the student of the "Iliad," as thought worthy of many more mentions than one by the author of that divine poem.
Great passed through the Forum of Trajan one day, he bethought himself of that Emperor's many merits, and especially of his admirable conduct in righting the widow's wrongs. And a great sorrow came over him at the thought that so excellent a pagan should be lost eternally. Whereupon he prayed earnestly and constantly for Trajan's salvation, until at last a voice from on high informed him that his prayer was granted, but that in future he was to pray only for Christian souls. A later addition to the legend told how Gregory learned from an angel that, by way of punishment for his indiscreet though successful intervention, he would have to suffer from certain maladies for the rest of his life. The question as to whether Gregory was justified in his procedure greatly exercised the minds of many medieval casuists, one of whom solved the problem, and escaped from the doctrinal difficulties which it presented, by the following ingenious explanation: No one, he said, can be saved unless he be baptized. But baptism is precisely what Gregory obtained for Trajan. At the Pope's prayer the Emperor's soul returned to his body, Gregory baptized it, "and the soul, again quitting its earthly case, went straight up into heaven."
W. R. S. RALSTON (Nineteenth Century).
Not a few writers of eminence, both ancient and modern, have followed Homer's example in giving abundant details of what was called con
*"La Légende de Trajan," Paris, 1878.
family solicitor could disperse, has melted like a morning mist in sunrise at the approach of a goose at Michaelmas. What might have been the result of a judicious present by her lover to Sophia Western of a dish of those eggs of roasted pullets, of which, according to Black George the Gamekeeper's evidence, she was so fond? Surely a corresponding sweetness of temper had followed the impartial distribution of those sweetmeats which Dr. Johnson advised the brewer's wife to give away of an evening. The advice itself shows the importance which the philosopher attached even to the minutia of what is so happily called "good living." What irony of fate has deprived us of that philosophical CookeryBook which women could not write, but the Doctor could, and in place of it has offered to us-"Irene"!
There is a phrase attributed to Voltaire-to whom, having written much, much is attributed -that the fate of nations often depends upon the digestion of a minister. A slight variation in a carte de jour, like a variation in the length of Cleopatra's nose, might have altered the circumstances of a world. The decisive battles of Borodino and Leipsic were lost to Napoleon by a fit of dyspepsia. How certainly, then, does it become a man's bounden duty to meditate on few matters so seriously as on his meals! What is more natural than that eating should reach the dignity of an art, and such an art as, like mathematics, demands the whole man? and what wonder is it to see so much in literature concerning eating, from the earliest to the latest times? A reflection on the influence of food on the character of mankind diminishes our surprise at the boast of the subtile Ulysses, who is represented in the "Odyssey" declaring that no other mortal may compete with him-not, indeed, in the strength of his arm or the acuteness of his intellect, but in making up a fire and cutting up wood for burning, and jointing meat, and discharging generally the duties of a cook and a butler. The sacred historian has not thought it beneath him to describe the effect of a savory dish in procuring the benediction of Isaac; nor, when we remember the intimate association between the heart and the stomach, will the conduct of the French novelist appear absurd, who introduces, in the most pathetic part of the story, a descant of his heroine upon the several courses of her dinner.
The idea that eating is a subject of humiliation, that it is but a makeshift to repair the imperfection of our nature, that it dulls the intelligence-notions buttressed up by a few stock quotations out of the Latin Grammar, such as "fruges consumere nati," "animum quoque prægravat una "-has gone far to make dinner
a subject unworthy of the novelist and the poet, and so, not rarely, produced inconvenient results. Thus, to take an instance in our nursery rhymes, an idle attempt has been made, in the ancient ballad, which bears some mystic reference, in its opening lines, but nowhere else, to a sixpence and a pocketful of rye, absurdly to explain away the four-and-twenty blackbirds as black numerals baked into the glazed white face of an old dial, or as four-and-twenty hours; and to turn the whole song, by strained interpretations, into a nature myth. There is, indeed, no little difficulty in understanding the singing of the baked birds; but we are not, because of this subjective deficiency in our intelligence, justified in supposing that the ancient poet intended by his rhyme aught but a simple representation of a royal dinner of his place and period. The vastness of the dainty dish was doubtless introduced to add to our idea of sublimity in the sovereign, just as King Cyrus found an argument for Baal being a living God in the large quantity of his daily rations. As well may an allegorical meaning be assigned to Falstaff's feast in Shallow's house in Gloucestershire, and a figurative interpretation to the pigeons, the couple of short-legged hens, the joint of mutton, and the other sundry kickshaws which William Cook provided.
Full many a three-volumed novel, unwisely neglected, on account of an apparent predominance of gastronomical detail, by the superficial reader, forms the subject of interest and astonishment to the philosopher. To him, pages in which keenness of appetite is more remarkable than keenness of wit-pages in which the author's puppets make up for saying little by eating much-reveal the inner mental characteristics of the company; and he can almost prophesy the actions of each by observing the particular entrées he prefers. If he notices, for instance, that the dishes are improperly prepared, he will at once form a conclusion adverse to the presence of preciseness and exactitude in the host. Nor in doing so is he without the authority of the sage of Bolt Court, who said, “Sir, if a man can not get his dinner well dressed, he should be suspected of inaccuracy in other things." Where the unskilled reader sees only a tendency in the parties eating to enlarge the circumference of their bodies, the student of human nature will perceive subtile hints of the various anfractuosities of their minds. He will not be surprised at a fit of melancholy in him who feeds on hare, nor at a sanguine temperament in him who makes his meal of beef. He will be prepared for severity of demeanor in him who partakes of piecrust, according to the authority of Dr. King : "Eat pie-crust, if you'd serious be"; and, following the same great authority, will introduce
to the ladies' notice him who during dinner has shown a singular predilection for shell-fish. He will recognize the being with large discourse looking before and after in him who breakfasts as if uncertain of dinner, and dines as if reflecting he had not breakfasted. He will mark the weak stomach as the sure concomitant of the weak brain. He will be prepared for impetuosity of temper in him who subsists on animal out of all proportion to vegetable aliment, or, if in any proportion, in such as Falstaff's intolerable quantity of sack to his one halfpenny-worth of bread. He will perhaps expect to find good eating the parent of good sense. He will receive as an exquisite illustration of natural laws the circumstance that, in one chapter of a fashionable novel, the young lady, the heroine, during her residence in the temperate zone of the family, will eat about equal proportions of meat and vegetables, of carbonaceous and nitrogenous matter. In another chapter he will find her transported to the arctic circle of Miss Monflather's seminary; and there, in accordance still with the laws of Nature, she will be ready to devour the blubber and whale-oil of the pole. Yet again, in a third chapter, he will meet with her in the tropical atmosphere of a zealous young curate, and there behold her dining, like Amina the delicate, on a few grains of rice or an apple. Then, indeed, will her stomach be prouder than that of Arthur Clennam in "Little Dorrit," which awoke the indignation of Mr. F's aunt. She will disdain the familiar conjunctions of pork and pease-pudding, of bacon and beans, of mutton and capers. Only after repeated solicitations will she be induced to "try a little" of what some one with a pretty taste for the letter has called "the pernicious pasticcios of the pastry-cook, or the complex combinations of the confectioner."
Not a few philosophers have endeavored to show the intimate relation which subsists between the meat and the morality of nations. Some have gone so far as to consider the elevation of gastronomy to be that of the whole circle of arts and sciences, and regarded man as nothing more nor less than a sublime alembic.
Buckle, in his "History of Civilization," following Cabanis, considers food as one of the four physical agents most powerfully influencing the human race. The organization of society and the differences in peoples are traceable, in his opinion, to a diversity of dinner. Men's manners and morality, their customs and condition, depend mainly, if he may be believed, on what they eat. The boldness of the Norseman and the timidity of the Bengalee are ascribed as justly due to their respective preferences for meat or vegetables, for carbonaceous or nitrogenous diet, imposed on them by the temperature of VOL. VIII.-3
their climate. Slavery in India is the direct result of rice, in Egypt of dates, of maize in Mexico and Peru.
We all remember the mischievous effects of meat on Oliver Twist. When from the recesses of Mrs. Sowerberry's coal-cellar that boy blasphemed Mr. Bumble, "It is not madness," said that dignitary, after deep meditation, "it's meat!" Had the boy lived on gruel it had never happened. The congenital irritability of the English is perhaps owing to their consumption of animal food in a higher proportion than most other nations of Europe. "Beef," said Lord Sparkish, in Swift's "Polite Conversation," "is man's meat." Europa is borne now, as formerly, by a bull. Beef conduces to courage. It was roast-beef, maybe, that won the day at Blenheim and Ramillies, and potages and kickshaws that lost it at Agincourt and Poictiers. The French themselves say, “C'est la soupe que fait le soldat. However that may be, the lightness of their cookery appears to have caused considerable lightness of heel in their dancing-masters. Greece was once famous for song. How has its poetry sunk since the inhabitants of the Morea substituted coffee for wine!
A good dinner is indeed necessary to make a good subject. Correct views in politics and right opinions in religion are no less dependent on our nutriment than animal intrepidity and amiability of disposition. The word Whig is derived, it is well known, from a word used in North England for sour milk; and the advancement of the Catholic faith was certainly contemplated by the monks of the Abbey of Fécamp when they consecrated each bottle of their famous Benedictine liqueur with the mystic letters A. M. D. G., without which none, it may be added, is genuine. Even architecture and natural philosophy were shown by Sinon to be intimately related to cookery; and none will be surprised at his placing the science by which the greatest sum of pleasure is afforded to our friends, in close juxtaposition to that of military strategics, whereby the extreme amount of annoyance is occasioned to our enemies. The professors of medicine and morality are about equally indebted to the cooks. Few, however, have borrowed from them for such an early period of life as Van Helmont, who demanded of them a mystic sop of bread boiled in beer as a substitution in infants' food for that natural milk of which the amiable Dr. Brouzet seems to have had so bad an opinion. Nor have philosophers been unwilling to apply to themselves in practice the principles they advocated in theory. Boswell's illustrious friend, for example, was equally solicitous to supply heat and repair waste in his corporeal system. Half a dozen large peaches, according to Mrs. Piozzi, before LIBRARY
breakfast, counterbalanced a well-boiled leg of pork for dinner; the outside cut of a salt buttock of beef was accompanied by a liberal supply of chocolate, made with much cream or melted butter; nor could a veal-pie swell the veins in his forehead with satisfaction unless it contained plenty of sugar and plums. It is said of him that he sought less for flavor than effect. His proposition that a man seldom thinks with more earnestness of anything than he does of his dinner, he certainly defended by his own example, in his admirable admixture shown in the veal-pie, his favorite dainty, of substances with and without nitrogen, mixed it may be with an exactitude of chemical combination which would have been written down, doubtless, in that Cookery-Book of his, composed on philosophical principles, could he have been, in the interests of humanity, induced to undertake it.
The ancient Hebrew writers say little about dinners; and what indeed could be expected from a people who seem to have eaten meat only on festivals? Their silly simplicity confounds the labors of Vatel and Francatelli, of Soyer and Carême. They inverted the science of cookery by regarding bread as the principal dish, and flesh or its juice as a mere accessory. Widely different from these were the dishes that adorned the tables of imperial Rome. Vedius Pollio, the friend of Augustus, was singularly delicate in his diet. His most pleasing plat was lampreys, which he fattened with disobedient slaves. Hadrian's favorite dish, says Spartianus, in the biography which he wrote of that emperor, was called Tetrapharmacum, from its consisting of four principal ingredients-to wit: sow's udder, peacock, pheasant, and the gammon of a wild boar in paste. These meats appear to have been mixed in some manner which the author has omitted to mention. For the wild-boar pasty there is indeed to be found more than one receipt in Apicius Cælius. The best, perhaps, is the following: First boil the gammon with plenty of dry figs (in another receipt the exact number twenty-five is given) and three laurel-leaves. (The use of these figs, it is said, made the flesh tender.) Then skin it, slice it superficially into dice, and fill it with honey. Knead flour with oil, and cover it with this paste. When the dough is cooked, take it from the oven, and serve. "Faute de grives on mange des merles" is an old French proverb, and thrushes dressed in different ways are still devoured in France. Any person anxious to know how to cook them will probably find his curiosity satisfied by the cookery-books of Dubois or Carême. In England they are scarcely a common dish, and the index to Mrs. Beeton's recipes may be consulted in vain. Formerly they were highly esteemed. The
comestible thrush of the ancients was the smallest of its kind, known to us as the red-wing. It visits our coasts in severe winters, but is never fattened as at Rome.
Horace expresses an opinion that nothing is better than a fat thrush; nothing fairer than an ample sow's udder. Martial agrees with Horace, and has composed a little poem, of which the burden is that, in the poet's judgment, the titbit among birds is a thrush; but among quadrupeds a hare. On another occasion he tells us that he prefers a sucking-pig to any meat. The Spanish epigrammatist also observes that a crown of nard or roses may delight others, but he himself is chiefly delighted with a crown of thrushes. Such a present, to make his mistress know that he has not forgotten her, is suggested by Ovid to his pupil : “ Missaque corona Te memorem dominæ testificere tuæ." A subtilty of palate is hinted at in Persius, so exquisite as to be able to discriminate between the flavors of the male and female bird. Another poet tells us that to mix them with oysters disarranges the stomach, and is productive of bile. In a word, for once that the Roman authors speak of the music of these birds in the groves, they speak a dozen times of their merit on the table. They praise their savor rather than their song. They are agreeable in a poplar-tree, but more agreeable in a pasty. Lucullus, says Varro, built an aviary, containing a salle à manger, by which ingenious device he was enabled to eat thrushes cooked and contemplate them alive at one and the same opportunity. They, or rather their breasts, form a notable ingredient in the famous Patina Apiciana, or plat of Apicius, which also contained the inevitable udder, besides fish, fowl, and beccaficoes, and everything of the best. The relative merits, indeed, of beccaficoes, thrushes, mushrooms, and oysters were so difficult to determine, that Tiberius is said to have given a prize of some two thousand pounds to one Asellius Sabinus for an essay, in the form of a dialogue, on that subject.
Beccaficoes were eaten in England in the days of Henry II. Among the pious and dutiful sons of that king, who set their countrymen almost as fair an example of filial obedience as the sons of the first three Georges, Prince John was at least wise enough to know the best, perhaps the only, means to win the people's respect and love. He courted popularity, according to Sir William Scott, by a sumptuous repast. When it is remembered that his death was occasioned by a surfeit of peaches and new ale, it will probably be admitted that he put no great constraint upon himself in this matter. Be that as it may, it is recorded in "Ivanhoe" that he held high festival in Ashby Castle, where the tables "groaned," not indeed for the first or last time, under the