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Title: Host and Guest

a book about dinners, dinner-giving, wines, and desserts

Author: A. V. Kirwan

Release date: April 2, 2023 [eBook #70445]

Language: English

Original publication: United Kingdom: Bell & Daldy, 1864

Credits: MWS, Karin Spence and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This file was produced from images generously made available by The Internet Archive)



“Come, pilgrim, I will bring you where you shall host.”
All’s Well that Ends Well.
“Epicurean cooks, sharpen with cloyless sauce his appetite.”
Antony and Cleopatra.
“El que solo se come su gallo,
Solo ensilla su caballo.”
Spanish Proverb.
“He who eats his fowl alone, will have to saddle his horse alone.”
“Tres mihi convivæ prope dissentire videntur,
Poscentes vario multum diversa palato.
Quid dem? quid non dem?”










There is no want of cookery books in the principal languages of Europe, and least of all in the English language, in which, even in our own generation, several hundreds have been compiled and published. This volume, however, is not a cookery book, nor what the French call a dispensaire. It is a household book on the subject of Dinners, Desserts, Wines, Liqueurs, and on foods in general; and is the result of reading, observation, and a great deal of experience in foreign countries. I have been myself, during a life now nearly prolonged to threescore years, a diner out of some magnitude, and, as far as my means allowed, a giver of dinners; and have often when younger and less experienced, felt the want, and have heard my friends express their sense of the want, of some work of the kind now first presented, so far as I am aware, in an English dress.


Born in a country house—a messuage producing, to use a legal phrase, within the curtilage, beef, mutton, fruits, and vegetables—I have ventured to speak of the choice and quality of these good things from an early and practical acquaintance with the subject. So much needs to be said on a matter on which all are eloquent, though few agreeable—I mean self. It is necessary to state that it is not from reading, but actual practical experience, that I have learned all about the farm, the garden, and the poultry-yard.

There are several works of a cognate character to this in Latin and French, and some in Italian and Spanish. But these are scarce, costly, old, and obsolete. Few are acquainted with the treatises of Nonnius, Taillevant, cook to Charles VII., Champier, physician to Francis I., Bélon, Patin, Charles Etienne, Lémery, La Varenne, Schookius, Le Grand, De Serres, and L’Etoile, some of them written in indifferent Latin, and others in old French. I have extracted from these works a good deal curious, and something valuable in the choice and preparation of foods. I have endeavoured to show how the traditions of cookery have occasionally survived codes and constitutions, and how these traditions have been, in turn, occasionally set aside and overturned by[vii] some new culinary fashion. The work presented to the reader is therefore, in certain parts, historical, anecdotical, gossipping, and somewhat discursive; but the main object of the author has been to induce well informed and sensible people in England to adopt all that is good in the excellent cookery, and agreeable and social life of our neighbours of France, without in any wise abandoning the best of our British customs, or the simplicity of our substantial food.

It is not for the author to say in how far he has succeeded. That he leaves to the judgment, and they are a great majority, of those who criticise in a fair and candid spirit. All, however, who affect to criticise are not candid; but it may be said of a critic who deliberately misrepresents a work, that he is unworthy of his vocation, and as heinously criminal as the man who in social or commercial life gives a false character of a servant, or a false warranty of goods or merchandise.

73, Gloucester Place, Portman Square, W.

March 1, 1864.



CHAPTER I.—Ancient and Mediæval Cookery compared with the Cookery of the last Half Century.

Garum—Pilau seasoned with garum, 2. The Feast of Trimalchio in Petronius, 2. Macrobius’s description of a supper given by Lentulus, 2. Hedge hogs, raw oysters, and asparagus, and purple shell-fish, 2. Panes picences, 2. Greeks and Romans children in preparation of viands, 3. Carème’s opinion, 3. Cookery a practical art, 3. Characteristics of ancient and modern cookery, 4. The Monks, 4. Spanish cookery book of Ruberto de Nola, 4. Leo X., Raphael, Guido, Baccio, Bandinelli, and John of Bologna, 5. Italian wars under Charles VIII. and Louis XII., 5. Cookery under Henry III. became Italian, 6. Cookery under Henry IV., 6. The cabaret, 7. Maître queux cuisiniers porte-chapes, 7. First regular cookery book in France printed in 1692, 7. The “Dons de Comus,” 9. Preface written by Father Brumoy, 9. Brumoy’s comparison between ancient and modern cookery, 10. Idea of a perfect cook, 10. “Lettre d’un Pâtissier Anglais,” 11. Mrs. Rundell, 12. “La Science du Maître d’Hôtel Cuisinier,” 12. Carème, 13. Molière, 13. St. Evremond, 14. Lavardin, 15. The Regent Orleans, 15. The Duchess of Berri, 15. Filets de volaille à la Bellevue, 16. Poulets à la Villeroy, 16. Chartreuse à la Mauconseil, 16. Vol au vent à la Nesle, 16. Poularde à la Montmorency, 16. Louis XV., 17. Marquis de Béchamel, 18. Marshals Richelieu and Duras, Duke of La Vallière, the Marquis de Brancas, and Count de Tessé, 18. Consumption of pheasants in the kitchens of the Prince de Condé, 18. Louis XVI., 19. His enormous appetite, 19. Effects of Revolution on cookery, 19. Cardinal Caraffa, 20. Montaigne, 20. Restaurants, 21. Suppers of Madame du Deffand, 22. Dinners of D’Holbach, 22. Pic-nics of Crawford of Auchinames, 22. The epicure Barras, 23. Danton’s love of morels, 23. Barras’ love of button mushrooms, 23. Napoleon’s dinners, 23. M. de Bausset, M. de Cussy, Cambacères, Talleyrand, 25. The “Almanach des Gourmands,” 26. Purge your cooks, 28. Frog dressing at Riom, 28. Veal of Pontoise, 29. Gastaldy and the salmon, 29. Flesh killed by electricity, 30. Asses’ flesh, 30. White grease of the fig-pecker, 31. Beauvilliers, 31. Brillat Savarin, 31. Consumption of turkeys, 32. The Archbishop of Bordeaux and truffled turkeys, 33. The “Cuisinière Bourgeoise,” 33. Fauche Borel, 33. “Cuisinier Royal,” 33. Shakespeare, Age of Elizabeth, 34. Age of Anne, Wycherly, Vanbrugh, Congreve, Pope, 34. Foote’s farce, 35. Bills of fare in Pope’s day, 36. The “Queen’s Closet Opened,” 36. The “Treasure of Hidden Secrets,” 37. The “Gentleman’s Companion;” Dr. Hill, “Mrs. Glasse,” 37. The “Connoisseur,” 39. White’s, Pontacs’, Dolly’s and Horsman’s, 39. The “Art of Cookery,” by a lady, 39. The “Epicure’s Almanack,” 40. The “Cook and Confectioner’s Dictionary,” 40. Mrs. Dalgairns, 40. Scott’s “Dictionary of Cookery,” Kitchener’s “Cook’s Oracle,” 41. The “Housekeeper’s Oracle,” 41. Ude, 42. Walker’s “Original,” 42. “Domestic Cookery,” by a lady, 45. Carème, 47. Turtle soup, 48. Cookery of England and France, 50.

CHAPTER II.—On Modern Cookery and Cookery Books.

The object of sensible people should be to adopt all that is good in the cookery of France, 61. French potages and purées, 61. The gigot à l’ail aux haricots, 62. The filet de bœuf, 62. Vatel, La Chapelle, Grimod de la Reynière, Beauvilliers, Ude, Laguipierre, Carème, and Plumeret, 65.

CHAPTER III.—On Dinners and Dinner-giving.

Jules Janin, 66. Dr. Johnson, 66. Sydney Smith, 67. Apicius, 67. Nonnius, 67. Lémery, 68. Dr. Lister, 68. Dr. Kitchener, 68. Drs. Pereira and Lankester, 68. London dinners, 69. The finer cuisine bourgeoise of Paris, 69. The majority of Frenchmen thrifty, 70. Bankers’ and financiers’ dinners, 70. French punctuality, 72. The London season, 73. Difference between grand dinners in England and France, 74. Pretentious and costly rivalry in dinners, 76. Hints to dinner-givers, 78. Number of a company, 79. Expensive cookery, 81. The pot-au-feu, 82. Carème’s consommés, 82. French sauces, 82. Soles à la Normande, 82. Omelette aux fines herbes, 82. Choice of company, 84. Italian cookery, ices, and confectionery, 85. Spanish and German cookery, 85. Dutch cookery, 88. Dutch eel soup, 88. Flushing soup, 88. Russian cookery, 89. Turkish and Indian cookery, 89.

CHAPTER IV.—On Laying out a Table.

Dinners à la Russe, 91. Two and three courses, 94, 95. The dessert, 97. Memorandum as to dinners, 97.

CHAPTER V.—How to Choose Fish, Flesh, Fowl, and Game.

Salmon in and out of season, 98. How to choose various fish, 98–109. How to choose venison, 109. Mutton, 111. Lamb, veal, and pork, 112, 113. Bacon and hams, 114, 115. Poultry, game, eggs, cheese, and butter, 115–122.

CHAPTER VI.—On Soups and Broths.

Grand bouillon, 124. Rules for making nourishing broth, 125. How to make a stock-pot, 126. Celery to flavour soup, 129. Broth, 130. The great English soups and broths, 131. Carème and turtle soup, 133. Stocks for white soup, 133. French soups, 134. Purée à la Reine, des carottes au riz, de lapins, à la Chantilly, &c., 134. Soup for winter and spring months, 135.

CHAPTER VII.—How to Clean and Boil Fish.

To clean cod-fish, 137. Pilchards, mackerel, and plaice, 138. Red mullets, skate, and ling, 139. On boiling fish, 143, 144.


Fish naturally most voracious, 145. As a diet wholesome and palatable, 146. Fish rarely served as an entrée in England, 146. Various ways of serving turbot in France, 146–7. Turbot of Mediterranean, 148. Sturgeon, 148. Caviare, 149. French modes of dressing sturgeon, 149. Modes of dressing sturgeon in England, 149. Sturgeon à la Napoleon, according to Carème, 150. American sturgeon soup, 150. Salmon, 151. French mode of dressing salmon, 151. Nonnius on salmon, 152. Cod-fish, 152. Galen on haddock, 152. Nonnius and Pliny on haddock, 152. The sole, 153. French modes of dressing, 153. Red mullet, 154. Red mullet en caisse, and à la Cardinale, 154. John Dory and lamprey, 154. Quin, the actor, 154. Receipts for dressing lamprey, 155. The Reformation and fish diet, 155. Carème on lenten diet and Murat’s kitchen, 155. Fish dinners in Paris, 157. Dinner at the Rocher de Cancale, 1828, 157. Wine at 14 frs. and 25 frs. the bottle, 158–9.

CHAPTER IX.—The Roast.

Definition of roast, 160. Rôtisseries, 161. Rôtisseurs, 161. The traiteur, 161. The cuisinier traiteur, 161. The maître cuisiniers, 162. The art of roasting, 162. The best joint for roasting, 163. Doing to a turn, 164. Good roasters rarer than good cooks, 164. Great and little roast, 164. English, roasting, 165. Our game finer than the French, 165. Swift’s lines on mutton, 166. Rules for roasting pork, lamb, veal, and poultry, 167. Table of time for roasting, 169.

CHAPTER X.—Boiling.

Rule as to boiling, 170. Advantage of slow boiling, 172. Time required to boil poultry, 173. Frying, 173.

CHAPTER XI.—Poultry.

Definition of poultry, 174. Requisites in a poultry yard, 174. Best modes of feeding and cramming poultry, 175. Wholesomeness of poultry, 175. Lémery on fowls and capons, 176–7. How the fine flavour is given to the poularde du Mans, 178. The barn-door fowl described by Berchoux, 179. Roast and boiled fowl and turkey, 180. Ways of serving fowls and turkeys in France, 180. Entrées of fowl in France, 180–1. Schools of cookery, 181. Christmas consumption of turkeys in England and France, 181. Truffles with turkey, 181. Chaptal on fowls, 182. Pros and cons for a dinde aux truffes, 182. Were turkeys known to the ancients? 183. Madame de Sévigné on capons, 183. The crammer of fowls an officer of the royal household, 184. Blackbirds and thrushes, 184.

CHAPTER XII.—Game and Pastry.

Definition of game, 186. Keeper and taker of pheasants, 186. Swanherd, 186. 17 Hen. VIII., falconry, 187. Cookery Book of Taillevant, cook to Charles VII.; receipts for dressing herons, 187. Vultures, eagles, and falcons, eaten three centuries ago, 188. Game in Spain, partridges à la Medina Cœli, 189. Sautés, filets, and recondite modes of dressing game in France, 190. Filets and cutlets of hare and rabbit, 191. Pastry and cold entrées, 191. Carème on pastry, 192. Suggestions as to patties and pastry, 193. Pâtisserie, 194. Larks of Pithiviers, 194. Partridges of Perigueux, 194. Poulardes of Angers, 194. Foies gras of Versailles, 194. Foies d’oies of Strasbourg and Toulouse, 194. The Chancellor de l’Hôpital on petits pâtés, 194.

CHAPTER XIII.—Cheese and Salads.

Soft and rich cheeses the best, 196. Stilton and Gruyère, 196. Best English cheeses, 196. Best cheeses in France, 198. Roquefort, 198. Gruyère, 198. Italian cheeses introduced into France in the reign of Charles VIII., 199.


John Evelyn “On Salets,” 202. Fournitures of salads, 202. Chicorée, 203. Winter salads, 203. Roman or Coss lettuce, 204. Hotchpotch salads, 204. Salade à l’italienne, 204. Carème’s salade de poulets à la Reine, 204. Wine vinegar to be used for salads, 206. Chaptal’s receipt for dressing salad, 206. Sydney Smith’s ditto, 206–7. Spanish proverb as to salad, 207. D’Albignac a famous salad-dresser, 208. Eleven salads of the time of Champier, 210–11. Dr. Roques’ salad of asparagus, 211. Quickness with which asparagus may be cooked, 211. Napoleon’s salad of haricots de soissons, 212.

CHAPTER XV.—The Dessert.

Carème’s opinion of dessert, 213. La Chapelle’s opinion of dessert, 214. Forced cherries sent from Poitevins, in 1560, to Paris, 215. La Quintinié, head gardener of Louis XIV., served strawberries in March, peas in April, and figs in June, 215. Preserved pines at dessert in Paris, in 1694, 215. Italian liqueur prepared from the pine, 215. Dates, 216. Tunisian dates the best, 216. Oranges, 216. Fondness of Louis XIV. for, 216. Portuguese oranges, 217. Sweet citron, carried by ladies, to produce red lips, 217. Figs common at dessert in France 270 years ago, 217. Fig-trees placed in wooden boxes by the gardener of Louis XIV., 218. Figs at Worthing and Hampton Court, 218. Pomegranates, 218. Chestnuts, 219. Madame de Sévigné on chestnuts, 219. Cherries, 220. Apricots, 220. The reine claude, or greengage, 221. The peaches of Corbeil, of Troyes and, Dauphiné, 222. Pêches de vigne, 223. Abricots en plein vent, 223. The New-town pippin, 223. Golden pippin, 223. The paradis de Provence, 223. The capendu, 223. Pears and their different species, 224. Gooseberries, 224–5. The chasselas of Fontainbleau, and other grapes, 225. Strawberries and their varieties, 226. Trois mendiants, 227. Olives of Provence and Languedoc, 227. Gingerbread, 228. The drageoir, 229. Brandied fruits and compotes, 229. Brillat Savarin on the dessert, 230. Melon eaten with bouilli, 231. Madame de Sévigné on melons, 232.


Ices, 233. Turks had glacières in 1553, 233. Henry III. first introduced ice, 233.


Coffee, 235. Drank in Paris in 1657, 235. Praises of coffee by Rousseau, Buffon, Voltaire, Montesquieu, Delille, and Lebrun, 236. The retreat from Russia and coffee, 237. Twining’s coffee, 238. Brillat Savarin on pounded and ground coffee, 238. The best coffee in Paris, though the finest qualities in the London market, 240. Modes of making coffee, 241–3. Coffee sweetmeats, 242. Dr. Roques’ café à la creme frappé de glace, 243. Coffee should be hot, clear, and strong, 244. Tea, 244.

CHAPTER XVIII.—On different Liqueurs, Ratafias, and Elixirs, taken after Coffee.

Liqueurs, 245. Alkermes and rossolis, 245. Liqueurs of Batavia’, Jamaica, Martinique, and Montpelier, 246. Ratafias; absinthe, noyau, and curaçoa, 246. Eau d’or and eau de vie de Dantzic, 247. Patin on rossolis, 248. Madame Théanges and liqueurs, 248. La fenouillette and other lawful liqueurs, 249. Liqueurs of Montpelier and Lorraine, 249. Lémery on black currant ratafia, 250. Liqueurs of French West Indies, 251. L’huile de Venus, 252. Cinnamon water, crême de girofle, curaçoa, usquebaugh, &c., 253. Eau cordiale of Colladon, 254. Eau de vie d’Andaye, 254. Eau divine, cordiale du chasseur nuptiale, 257. Anisette and absinthe, 257. Cherry bounce, rum and pine-apple shrub, 257. Petit lait de Henri IV., l’eau des braves, l’huile de Vénus, le parfait amour, l’eau virginale, &c., 259. Adulterations of liqueurs, 260. German liqueurs; Pomeranzen, Wackholder, Kummel, &c., 260–61. Jean de Milan on liqueurs, 262. Famous cities for liqueurs in France, 262.

CHAPTER XIX.—Ale, Beer, Cider, and Perry.

Bass’s, Allsopp’s, and Guinness’s ale and stout, 263. Cider, its origin and history, 264. Cocky Gee, 265. Perry and hydromel, 266. Different kinds of beer, 267. The zythus and curmi of the Egyptians, 267. Fifteen hundred years ago the Parisians commenced with beer, and finished with wine, 268. The descent from wine to beer in France, 270. The French beer called godale, 271. The beer of Cambrai, of Bavaria, of Berlin, and of Brussels, 272. Beer should be light, brisk, and sparkling, 273. Forty brewers in Paris 120 years ago, 273. Seventy years ago but twenty-three, of whom Santerre the most celebrated, 273. Epitaph on Santerre, 273. English and Scotch brewers flocked to Paris at the peace in 1815, 273. In seasons of dearth Paris brewers forbidden to make beer, 274.

CHAPTER XX.—On Wines, Ancient and Modern.

Lord Bacon, Bacci, Barry, Redding, Shaw, and Denman on wines, 275, 276. Hippocrates on vinous mixtures, 276. Plato and Homer’s praises of wine, 277. Virgil, Pliny, and Columella on wines, 278. The Setine wine commended by Martial, Juvenal, and Silius Italiens, 278. Sand, powdered marble, and salt water added to ancient wines, 279. Cato’s receipt for artificial Chian and Falernian, 279. The Cæcuban, 280. The Falernian, 280. Galen and Martial on Falernian, 280. Virgil on the vinum Rhæticum, 281. The lighter wines of the Roman territory, 281. The earliest Greek wines, 281. The Thrasian and Cretan wines, 282. Greeks familiar with Asiatic and African wines, 282. Greeks drank wine diluted with water, 282. Athenæus on the πεντε και δυο, 283. The Greeks had casks, 283. Gauls knew the use of wine six centuries before Christianity was introduced, 283. Athenæus calls the wine of Marseilles good, 286. The Allobroges mixed pitch with wine, 286. Dioscorides says pitch is a necessary ingredient in Gaulish wine, 286. Secret as to the Bordelais wine, 287. The Marseillaise boiled their wine, 287. Horace and Tibullus on the smoking of wine, 288. Baccius on the wines of Alsace, 288. Domitian publishes an order for rooting up one half of the vines in some provinces, and for destroying them in others, 289. This order abrogated by Probus, 289. The Roman legions spread in Gaul employed in replanting the vine, 289. The Salique law, and law of the Visigoths, as to the cutting of the vine and stealing grapes, 290. Vine property regarded as sacred, 290. Tribute decreed by Chilperic, 290. Massacre of the officer who was to levy the tribute, 290. Passion for the culture of the vine among French kings, 290. Wine-presses and utensils for making wine in all the palaces, 290. Charlemagne and his Capitularies, 290. The Louvre enclosed vineyards within its precincts, 290. “La Bataille des Vins,” a fabliau of the thirteenth century, 291. Philip Augustus had vineyards in many districts of France, 291. Wines of Guyenne sold in Flanders and England, 291. Matthew Paris, on the sale of Gascony wine in England, 292. Froissart on the number of merchantmen that arrived at Bordeaux from England, A.D. 1372, 292. Champier as to the consumption of French wine and corn in England, 292. Charles IX. proscribed the vine in 1566, 292. His ordonnance respecting it, 293. In 1577 Henry III. modifies this ordonnance, 293. Louis XV, in 1731, forbade any new plantation of vines, 293. Origin of the expression, vendre à pot, 293. Adulterations 1800 years ago as frequent as now, 294. The ancients understood the maturing of wines, 294. Customs survive forms of polity and government, 294. Identity of the amphoræ to vessels in present use at Asti, Montepulciano, and Montefiascone, 295. Use of casks unknown to Greeks and Romans, 295. Romans employed glass, but a rude glass, 296. Invention of casks due to the Gauls, 296. Ordonnance of Charlemagne as to employment of barrels, 297. The άβαξ or abacus, 297. Misquotation of Barry as to abaci, 297. The ancients had servants like our butlers, 297. Business of the οἱνοπτης, 298. The cup-bearer and pourer out of wine, 298. Cicero’s description of a supper, &c., 298–9. Deep drinkers of a congius or gallon, 299. Cooling of wine by snow not a modern invention, 299. Pliny ascribes it to Nero, 299. Drinking of healths to absent friends, 299. Extract from Henderson as to the manner of pledging friends and drinking healths, 300. Analogy between the French and Greeks as to mixing wine and water, 300. The vin d’entremets; the wine for oysters and roast meat, 300. The coup-d’avant and du milieu, 300. The coup du milieu, according to the “Manuel des Amphitryons,” 301. Wormwood, Jamaica rum, or old cognac used for it, 301. Practice at Bordeaux in this respect, 301. The coup-d’avant used in Russia, Sweden, and Germany, 302. The coup-d’apres, what, 302. Wine used for it, 302. Wine cellars of the ancients, 303. Precautions as to cellar, 303. Women forbidden to enter the cellars of the ancients, 303. Principles of the ancients as to cellars, 303. An ante-cellar advisable, 304. Salt used in cellars, 305. The ancients more effectually preserved their wines than the moderns, 305. Wine better tasted in quarts than in pints, 305. Ancient rules for site of cellars, and on time for tasting and racking, still sanctioned by practice, 305. Wine of middle age best and most grateful, 305. Fancy prices paid for old wines, 306. No one obliged to drink on compulsion among the ancients, 306. Irish practice, 306. Some ancient sages great bibbers, but unexcited, 306. Cyrus a larger drinker than Artaxerxes, and therefore, in his own thinking, worthier of the crown, 306. Darius’s capacity of drinking, 307. Hippocrates rarely directs water, but almost invariably wine mixed with water, 307. Cornaro before and after a new vintage, 307. His plan of preserving his health, 308. Effect of fresh sugar-canes on mules, 308. Pitching ancient and modern wines, 308. Monster puncheons in Latium and Germany, 309–10. The French constructed their wine-vats in brick or stone, 310. Pierre de Blois’s denunciation of the luxury of the twelfth century, 310. Repast of Philippe de Valois and his leathern bottles, 311. Wine supplied by a miracle, 311. The tanners of Amiens obliged to furnish the bishop with two leathern bottles, 312. The derivation of the word bottle, 312. The name afterwards applied to decanters, 312. Charles VI., according to Froissart, was supplied with wine out of leathern bottles, 312. Gregory of Tours speaks of the wines of Maçon, Orleans, Cahors, and Dijon, 313. Wines of Rheims and Marne mentioned in a letter of Pandulus, 313. Henry I. and the wine of Rébréchien, 313. Louis le Jeune and the wine of Orleans, 313. Wines of Auxerre, Beaune, &c., 314. Wine of Chabli, Epernai, Rheims, &c., 314. The popes drank Beaune at Avignon, 314. The queen of Louis XII. sent Beaune to the ambassadors of the Emperor Maximilian at Blois, 314. Caprice in the estimate of wine, 315. Wine of Romanée Conti, 315. Wine of Mantes carried to Persia uninjured, 316. Burgundy and Champagne in the fifteenth century, 316. Leo X., Charles V., Francis I., and Henry VIII., had vineyards in Champagne, 316. Erasmus and Burgundy wine, 316. Champier on the excellence of French wines, 317. Rabelais vaunts Auxerre wine, 317. Canteperdrix wine, 317. This wine sent to Rome for the pope, 317. Canteperdrix wine now known as the vin de Beaucaire, 317. Favourite beverage of Henry IV., 318. Paumier on the colours of wine, 318. Wines of Château Thierry gout producing, 319. Gout does not come from Champagne, 319. Baccius on the wines of France, 319–20. Paumier on the wines of Paris, 320. Liebaut and Patin on wines, 320. The vin de Condrieux, 321. The manner of making Orleans wines, 321. Boileau on the wine of Orleans, 322. Vin de Grave, mentioned in 1550, 322. Why the wine is called Grave, 323. The Haut-Brion, 323. Hermitage, 323. Hermitage of Lord Castlereagh, afterwards Marquis of Londonderry, 323. Hermitage divided into five classes, 323. Prices of Hermitage, 324. How the Burgundy wines got their reputation, 325. The vin de Tonnerre, 325. The Abbé de Marolles’ list of Burgundy wines, 325. The wine of Olivotte, 326. The vin de Chablis for oysters, 326. Vin de Pouilly and Bucellas good with oysters, 326. Difficulty of transporting Burgundy, 327. Extent of Burgundy vineyards, 328. Arthur Young on the vineyards, 328. Mr. James Busby on the Burgundy vineyards, 329. Clos Vougeot, 329. The late notorious Ouvrard, 330. Père Perignon and the wines of Hautvilliers, 330. Sparkling Burgundy and Moselle, 330. The vin de Nuits, 330. The St. George, Meursalt, and Mont Rachet, 331. Volnay the finest wine in Barry’s time, 331. The vin de Beaune, 331. The vin de Pomard, 332. Chambertin the wine of Napoleon, 332. The Romanée Conti, 333. The Maçon and Beaujolais wines, 334. Maçon a wholesome wine, 335. Adulterated at Paris, 335. Burgundy not to be iced, 335. Burgundy at the roast, 336. Champagne wine, 337. Dispute, in the time of Louis XIV., between the Burgundy doctor and the Champenois, 337. Fagon forbid the use of Champagne to Louis XIV., 337. Opinion of the faculty of the town of Rheims, 337. Colbert, a Champenois, but he did not give renown to the wines, 338. Francis I., Leo. X., Charles V., and Henry VIII. had vineyards at Aï, 338. Volnay drank at the coronation of Sobieski, 338. Beaune served at Venice to the senators after the conquest of the Morea, 338. St. Evremond on Champagne wine, 338. Champagne used in putrid fevers, 339. Millions of worthless Champagne sold at two francs and three francs the bottle, 340. Dr. Henderson on Champagne, 340. The briskest Champagne not the best, 340. Crêmants and demi-mousseux wines, 341. Sillery Champagne, 341. Vin de la Maréchale, 342. The rich, dry Sillery, 342. Champagne not a vin de garde, 342. Old Champagne, 343. Jaquesson’s cellars, 343. Champagne always improved by ice, 343. Jullien on the high price of the vins mousseux, 344. How to obtain a first-rate Champagne, 345. Hundreds of thousands of bottles of Champagne at the docks are not worth the duty, 345. When the bottling of Champagne begins, 345. Vins grand mousseux, 346. Precautions in packing Champagne for exportation, 346. Champagne for India and America packed in salt, 346. Burgundies so packed preserve their qualities, 347. Claret, 347. Château Margaux and Château Lafitte, 348. Monton and Léoville, 348. Kirwan and Château d’Issau, 348. St. Julien, Béchevelle and St. Pierre, 348. Great management in Bordeaux cellars, 349. Brandy ought to be put in in very small quantities, 349. Extract from Davies’ work on colouring Claret, 350. A freer exchange of the vinous wealth of France with England desirable, 351. Difference in price between first and inferior wines, 352. Mixture of Benicarlo and other wines with claret, 353. The age of wine at Bordeaux counted par feuilles, 353. What Barry wrote ninety years ago on Claret wines, 353. Names of the proprietors of vineyards and factors, 110 years ago, 354. Irish Claret and Irish wine merchants, 355. The Bordeaux wines celebrated in the days of Ausonius, 355. A great proportion of the wine drank as Claret is vin ordinaire, 355. Definition of the word Claret, 356. The Côte Rôti, 356–7. Hermitage and its division into five classes, 357. White Hermitage of the late Lord Castlereagh, 357. Hermitage of the late Marquis of Wellesley, 358. The cost of wine cultivation in France immense, 359. The German wines, their general character and durability, 359. Price of Rüdesheim, 359. In Barry’s day the best old Hock sold at 50l. the auhm, 360. Marcobrunner, Rüdesheimer and Niersteiner, 360. Julius Hospitalis and Liesteinwein wines, 360. Spanish wines, 360–1. Cellars and stock of Gordon and Co. of Cadiz, 361. Amontillado, 361. Port and Madeira, 362. The Italian wines, 362. The wines of Hungary, 362. The Greek wines over-rated, 363. The Constantia wine of the Cape, 363. The Russian Champagne, 363. The New South Wales wines, 363. New vintages, 364. Advice as to purchase and stock of wines, 365. Good and low-priced wine a myth, 366. Prices of wines at sales in Edinburgh and Dublin, 366. Prices of Amontillado, Montilla, and Manzinilla, 366. Fabulous prices given for old Ports and Sherries, 366. First-rate Clarets rising in price, 367. Burgundies, 367. Dietetic qualités of wine, 367. The best Burgundies and Champagnes, 368. The best Bordeaux wines, 368. Red Constantin and Frontignan, 369. Consumption of Champagne doubled in England since 1848, 369.

CHAPTER XXI.—The Cellar for Wines.

The cellar for wines, 370. Requisites of a wine-cellar, 370. Lighter wines require a colder cellar than strong, 371.


Luxuries of the table in France and England in mediæval and modern times, 373. Menu of a dinner given by Mathieu Molé, in 1652, 375. Menu of a supper of the Regent Orleans, 376. Menu of a supper of Louis XV., 377. Carte dinatoire of the citizen General Barras, 378. Menu of the family Buonaparte at the Tuileries on Samedi Saint, 1811, 379. Bill of fare of the first dinner of Louis XVIII. at Compiègne, 380. Bill of fare of a dinner given by the Emperor Alexander on 11th September, 1815, 382. Bill of fare of the first diplomatic dinner of the Duke of Wellington in 1815, 383. Menu of a royal banquet given at the Tuileries by Louis XVIII. on Twelfth-day, 1820, 384. Bill of fare, 385. Luxuries in the days of Queen Mary, 385. Common Council’s regulation as to dinners, 385. Regulations for the aldermen, sheriffs, and city corporation, 386. City venison feasts in time of Elizabeth, 386. Letter of the Lord Mayor and aldermen to Lord Burleigh, 386. The reign of Queen Anne the golden age of cookery, 386. Dr. King’s “Art of Cookery,” 386. Sir John Hill, M.D., 386. The great Lord Chesterfield, 386. La Chapelle his cook, 386. Cookery book of La Chapelle, 386. Lord Chesterfield sitting on a chair outside Chesterfield House, 387. Bill of fare of official dinner of Lord Chesterfield, 387. Bill of fare of a supper of Lord Chesterfield, 389. The French emigrants in London, 390. Entertainments given to the French royal family by the Marquis of Buckingham and Earl of Moira, 390. Reception of the Count de Lille at Stowe, 390. Stowe, a scene of great festivity in 1805 and 1808, 390. Bill of fare of Christmas-dinner in 1808, given by the Duke of Buckingham to Louis XVIII, 391. The Prince Regent’s love of French cookery, 392. Bill of fare for the coronation banquet of George IV, 392. Bill of fare for a private dinner given at the Pavilion, Brighton, in 1817, 393. Bills of fare for dinners in January, April, May, and June, also for a dinner in plain English fashion, 395. Anthony Carème, 396. Mr. Wm. Hall’s panegyric on Carème, 398. Autobiography of Carème, 399 to 406. Fête given at the Elysée for the marriage of Prince Jerome, 406. New invention of Carème, 407. Aphorisms, thoughts, and maxims of Carème, 407. Death of Carème in 1835 or 1836, 409. Carème bestowed fine names on his soups, 409, Carème on maigre sauces, 409.



Atelets.—Small silver skewers.

Au naturel.—Plainly done.

Bain Marie.—A warm-water bath; to be purchased at the ironmonger’s.

Barber.—To cover with slices of lard.

Blanc.—A rich broth or gravy, in which the French cook palates, lamb’s head, and many other things. It is made thus: A pound of beef kidney fat, minced, put on with a sliced carrot, an onion stuck with two cloves, parsley, green onions, slices of lemon without the peel or seeds, or, if much is wanted, two pounds of fat and two lemons. When the fat is a good deal melted, put in water made briny with salt; and when done, keep the blanc for use.

Blanchir.—To blanch by giving some boils in water.

Bourguignote.—A ragoût of truffles.

Braise.—A manner of stewing meat which greatly improves the taste by preventing any sensible evaporation.

Braisière.—Braising-pan—a copper vessel tinned, deep and long, with two handles, the lid concave on the outside, that fire may be put in it.

Brider.—To truss up a fowl or anything else with a needle and pack-thread, or tape.

Buisson.—A method of piling up pastry to a point.

Bundle or Bunch.—Made with parsley and green onions,—when seasoned, bay leaves, two bunches of thyme, a bit of sweet basil, two cloves, and six leaves of mace are added.

Capilotade.—A common hash of poultry.

Cassis.—That part which is attached to the tail end of a loin of veal: in beef, the same part is called the rump.

Civet.—A hash of game or wild fowl.

Compiegne.—A French sweet yeast cake, with fruit, &c., &c.


Compote.—A fine mixed ragoût to garnish white poultry, &c.; also a method of stewing fruit for dessert.

Compotier.—A dish amongst the dessert service appropriated to the use of the compote.

Couronne (en).—To serve any prescribed articles on a dish in the form of a crown.

Court ou Short.—To reduce a sauce very thick.

Croustades.—Fried crusts of bread.

Cuisson.—The manner in which meat, vegetables, pastry, or sugar is dressed. It means also the broth or ragoût in which meat or fish has been dressed.

Cullis or Coulis.—The gravy or juice of meat. A strong consommé.

Dessert, entrée de.—Dish made of preceding day’s remains.

Dorer.—To brush pastry, &c., with yolk of egg well beaten.

Dorure.—Yolks of eggs well beaten.

Entre côte de Bœuf.—This is the portion of the animal which lies under the long ribs, or those thick slices of delicate meat which may be got from between them.

Entrées.—A name given to dishes served in the first course with the fish dishes.

Entremets—is the second course, which comes between the roast meat and the dessert.

Escalopes.—Small pieces of meat cut in the form of some kind of coin.

Fagot—is a bunch of parsley (the size varies of course), a bay leaf, and a sprig of thyme, tied up closely. When anything beyond this is required it is specified in the article.

Farce.—This word is used in speaking of chopped meat, fish, or herbs, with which poultry and other things are stuffed.


Filets Mignons.—Inside small fillets.

Financière.—An expensive, highly flavoured, mixed ragoût.

Glacer (to glaze).—To reduce a sauce by means of ebullition to a consistency equal to that of ice. Well made glaze adheres firmly to the meat.

Godiveau.—A common veal forcemeat.

Gras (au).—This signifies that the article specified is dressed with meat gravy.

Gratiner.—To crisp and obtain a grilled taste.

Grosses pièces de Fonds.—There are in cookery two very distinct kinds of grosses pièces: the first comprehends substantial[xxi] pieces for removes, &c.; the other pièces montées, or ornaments; by pièces de fonds is implied all dishes in pastry that, form one entire dish, whether from its composition, or from its particular appearance; as for example cold pies, Savoy cakes, brioches, Babas, gâteaux de Compiègne, &c.; whilst the pièces montées, or ornamental pastries, are more numerous.

Hors d’œuvres.—Small dishes served with the first course.

Larding-pin.—An utensil by means of which meat, &c., is larded.

Lardoire (larder).—An instrument of wood or steel for larding meat.

Lardons.—The pieces into which bacon and other things are cut, for the purpose of larding meat, &c., &c.

To Lard is when you put the bacon through the meat. Things larded do not glaze well. Everything larded on the top or surface is called piqué.

Madeleines.—Cakes made of the same composition as pound-cakes.

Mariner.—Is said of meat or fish when put in oil or vinegar, with strong herbs, to preserve it.

Mark.—To prepare meat to be dressed in a stew-pan.

Mask.—To cover a dish with a ragoût or something of the sort.

Nourir—is to put in more ham, bacon, butter, &c.

Noix de Veau.—The leg of veal is divided into three distinct fleshy parts, besides the middle bone; the larger part, to which the udder is attached, is called the noix, the flat part under it sous noix, and the side part, contre noix, &c. The petites noix are in the side of the shoulder of veal.

Paillasse.—A grill over hot cinders.

Pain de beurre.—An ounce, or an ounce and a half of butter, made in the shape of a roll.

Panner.—To sprinkle meat or fish which is dressed on the gridiron with crumbs of bread dipped in butter and eggs.

Panures.—Everything that is rolled in, or stewed with bread crumbs.

Parer—is freeing the meat of nerves, skin, and all unnecessary fat.

Paupiettes.—Slices of meat, rather broad, to be rolled up.

Piqué—is to lard with a needle game, fowls, and other meats.

Poëlé.—Almost the same operation as braising, the only difference is, that what is poëlé must be underdone; whereas a braise must be done through.


Puit.—A well, or the void left in the middle, when anything is dished round as a crown.

A Purée of onions, turnips, mushrooms, &c., is a pulpy mash, or sauce of the vegetable specified, thinned with boiling cream or gravy.

Quenelles.—Meat minced or potted, as quenelles of meat, game, fowls, and fish.

Roux.—This is an indispensable article in cookery, and serves to thicken sauces; the brown is for sauces of the same colour, and the colour must be obtained by slow degrees, otherwise the flour will burn and give it a bitter taste, and the sauces become spotted with black.

Reduce.—To boil a soup down to a jelly, or till it becomes rich and thick.

Sabotière.—A pewter or tin vessel, in which are placed the moulds containing the substance to be frozen.

Sasser.—To stir and work a sauce with a spoon.

Sauce tournée and velouté are not the same, nor has the latter name been substituted by the moderns for the former. Sauce tournée is an unfinished sauce; it is of itself a basis for many other white sauces, but it is in no instance served alone as a sauce with any entrée or entremets. Velouté is served with hashes of chickens, veal, boudins à la reine, émincés, and entrées of quenelles, &c.

Sautez—is to mix or unite all the parts of a ragoût, by shaking it about.

Singez.—To dust flour from the dredging-box, which is afterwards to be moistened in order to be dressed.

Tamis (Tammy).—An instrument to strain broth and sauces.

Tendrons (veal)—are found near the extremity of the ribs.

Tourner.—To stir a sauce; also to pare and cut roots, vegetables, &c., neatly.

Tourte.—A puff-paste pie.

Vanner.—To work a sauce well up with a spoon, by lifting it up and letting it fall.



The traditions of classic cookery may be said to be nearly effaced; but sufficient remains recorded to afford grounds for comparison, and he must be prejudiced who hesitates for an instant to award the palm to the moderns. An impartial person need but to glance over the ten books left us under the name of Apicius,[1] to come to the conclusion of the ingenious Jean le Clerc, who says that “the work contains receipts for extraordinary dishes and strange ragouts, which would ruin the stomach, and burn up the blood.” One of the most nauseous of the condiments which entered into the Roman ragouts was the garum, by some supposed to be the expressed brine of the anchovy: while others contend it was an acrid decoction of the mackerel. This abominable sauce has now been[2] banished Christendom, yet has found a refuge in the congenial cookery of “our most ancient ally,” the Turk. Travellers who have visited Turkey and Constantinople, will recur, as I do, with no pleasurable sensations to the pilau seasoned with this acrid and ill-savoured preparation.

Though the feast of Trimalchio, so graphically told in the pages of Petronius, is somewhat overcharged, and too Asiatic in style and taste to be true to the letter, yet it gives an idea of the domestic economy of the Romans, and supports the opinion as to the superiority of modern cookery; but if more positive evidence were wanting in support of these views, it might be found in a passage of Macrobius, the description of a supper given by Lentulus. For the first course, says the officer of the household of Theodosius, there were sea hedge hogs, raw oysters, and asparagus; for the second, a fat fowl, with another plate of oysters and shell fish, several species of dates, fig-peckers, roebuck, and wild boar, fowls encrusted with paste, and the purple shell fish, then esteemed so great a delicacy. The third course was composed of a wild boar’s head, of ducks, of a compôte of river birds, of leverets, roast fowl, and Ancona cakes, called panes picences, which must have somewhat resembled Yorkshire pudding. There is one secret, however, which we may well desire to learn from the Romans, namely, the manner of preserving oysters alive, in any journey however long or however distant. The[3] possession of this secret is the more extraordinary, as it is well known that a shower of rain will kill oysters subjected to its influence, or the smallest grain of quick lime destroy their vitality.[2] It will be seen from what I have stated, that epicurism is an ancient vice; but all the French authorities, nevertheless, agree in thinking that the Greeks and Romans, notwithstanding their luxury and civilization, were mere children in the preparation of their viands. The reason of this, says Carème, is, that they sacrificed too much to sugars, fruits and flowers, and that they had not the colonial spices and learned sauces of mediæval and modern cookery. It is true that the “officers of the mouth” of Lucullus and Pompey were possessed of secrets to stimulate the jaded appetite, and give tone to the debilitated stomach: but notwithstanding all their profusion, I am inclined to think that Carème and the corps of French cooks are right in their disparaging observations touching ancient cookery.

Cookery is eminently an experimental and a practical art. Each day, while it adds to our experience, increases also our knowledge, and as we have come long after the Romans, and have had the benefit of their experience, it is no marvel that we should have greatly surpassed them. The characteristic of ancient cookery was profusion; the characteristic of[4] modern is delicacy and refinement. In the fifth century all trace of the Roman cookery had already disappeared. The barbarians from afar had savoured the scent of the Roman ragouts. The eternal city was invested, and her kitchen destroyed. The consecutive incursions of hordes of barbarous tribes and nations had put out at once the light of science and the fire of cookery. Darkness was now abroad, and the “glory” of the culinary art was, for a time, “extinguished,” but, happily, not for ever. “Lorsque il n’y a plus de cuisine dans le monde, il n’y a plus de lettres, il n’y a plus d’unité sociale,” says the enlightened and ingenious Carème.

But the darkness of the world was not of long duration. The monks—the much-abused and much mistaken monks—fanned the embers of a nascent literature, and cherished the flame of a new cookery. The free cities of Italy, Genoa, Venice, Pisa, Florence, the common mothers of poetry, painting, sculpture, and architecture, contemporaneously revived the gastronomic taste. The Mediterranean and the Adriatic offered their fish, and the taste for table luxuries extended itself to the maritime towns and other cities of the Peninsula, to Cadiz, to Barcelona, to St. Sebastian, and to Seville.

Spain had the high honour of having furnished the first cookery book in any modern tongue. It is entitled—“Libro de Cozina, compuesto por Ruberto de Nola.” I also possess an edition of the “Arte de[5] Cocina compuesto por Francisco Martinez Montiño,” printed in Madrid in 1623, and presented by His Royal Highness the late Duke of Sussex to Lady Augusta Murray. This work is exceedingly rare. The cookery professed at this epoch was no longer an imitation of the Greek or Roman kitchen, or of the insipid dishes and thick sauces of the Byzantine cooks. It was a new and improved and extended science. It recognised the palate, stomach, and digestion of man. The opulent nobles of Italy, the rich merchant princes, charged with the affairs and commissions of Europe and Asia, the heads of the church—bishops, cardinals, and popes, now cultivated and encouraged the culinary art. Arts, letters, and cookery revived together, and among the gourmands of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, some of the most celebrated pontiffs and artists of the time may be named, as Leo X., Raphael, Guido, Baccio Bandinelli, and John of Bologna. Raphael, the divine Raphael, did not think it beneath him to design plates and dishes for his great patron the most holy father. While Italy had made this progress, France, the nurse of modern, if not the mother of mediæval cooks, was in a state of barbarism, from which she was raised by the Italian wars under Charles VIII. and Louis XII. The Gauls learned a more refined cookery at the siege of Naples, as the Cossacks did some hundreds of years later in the Champs Elysées of Paris. Here ends the parallel, however; for while the people of France,[6] like most apt pupils, surpassed their masters, we have yet to wait for the least glimmering of culinary art at Moscow, Kieff or Novogorod, or even at that fag end of Finland (which is not Russia) called St. Petersburgh. An attempt was made a couple of years ago by Mr. Money to get up a sensation in favour of Russian cookery, but the attempt was a failure.

It was under Henry III., about 1580, that the delicacies of the Italian tables were introduced at Paris. The sister arts of design and drawing were now called into requisition to decorate dishes and dinner-tables. How great was the progress in the short space of 150 years, may be inferred from an edict of Charles VI., which forbad to his liege subjects a dinner consisting of more than two dishes with the soup: “Nemo audeat dare præter duo fercula cum potagio.” At this period the dinner hour was ten o’clock in the morning, while the supper was served at four. The social, friendly, and agreeable humour of Henry IV., in a succeeding reign, contributed to the spread of a more kindly spirit, and a better cookery. This monarch was eminently of a frank and cordial nature, and his personal qualities contributed to the security of his throne, to his successes both in negotiation and war, and to the social comforts and material prosperity of his subjects. His benevolent wish that every peasant in his dominions might have a fowl in the pot for his Sunday dinner, discloses a warm and[7] affectionate heart, and was not lost on a nation combining the greatest share of intellect with sensuality. The cabaret then was what the café is now, and was the rendezvous of marquis and chevalier, and people of condition. Men learned to pursue the pleasures and enjoyments of life in the cabaret, and their wants become multiplied, and their desires extended. It was Henry IV. who first permitted the traiteurs to form a community, with the title of “Maître queux cuisiniers porte-chapes,” in 1599.

The first regular cookery book published in France was, I believe, printed at Rouen in 1692, the very year in which Sir George Rooke struck so signal and successful a blow against the marine of our neighbours. It was the production of the Sieur de la Varranne, esquire of the kitchen of M. d’Uxelles. It is dedicated to MM. Louis Châlon du Bled, Marquis d’Uxelles and of Cormartin. The first sentence of the dedication is a curiosity in its way, and sufficiently indicates the immense distance which feudalism then interposed between an esquire of the kitchen and a French marquis and lieutenant-general, holding the rank of governor of the citadel of Châlons-sur-Saone. “Monseigneur,” says the book, “bien que ma condition ne me rende pas capable d’un cœur heroïque, elle me donne cependant assez de ressentiment pour ne pas oublier mon devoir. J’ai trouvé dans votre maison, par un emploi de dix ans entiers, le secret d’apprester delicatement les viandes.” The preface is not less[8] curious than the dedication. The author begins by stating that, as it is the first book of the kind which has been published, he hopes it will not be found altogether useless. A number of books, says he, have been published containing remedies and cures at small cost; but no book has yet been printed with a view of preserving and maintaining the health in a good state, and a perfect disposition, teaching how to separate the ill quantity of viands by good and diversified seasonings, which tend only to give substantial nourishment, being well dressed. These are things conformable to the appetite, which regulate corpulency, and ought to be no less considered, &c. He expatiates on the thousand-and-one vegetables and other “victual,” which people know not how to dress with honour and contentment (“avec honneur et contentement”), and then exclaims that, as France has borne off the bell from all other nations in courtesy and bienséance, it is only right and proper that she should be no less esteemed for her polite and delicate manner of living (“pour la façon de vivre honneste et delicate”). Many of the receipts are curious, and some of them useful. The frequency with which he introduces capers into his cookery, an article for which we are indebted to Barbary, and rarely introduced into the cookery of modern France, except in sauces for turbot and salmon, and in a few entrées, liaisons, and ragouts, is extraordinary.

La Varranne, after having given hundreds of other[9] receipts, consoles himself, at the conclusion of his labours, with the reflection, “That as all other books, as well ancient as modern, were composed for the aliment of the mind, it was but just that the body should be a little considered,” and therefore it was, says he, that I meddled with a subject so necessary to its conservation. Enjoy, then, my receipts, dear reader, he exclaims, “Jouissez en, cher lecteur, pendant que je m’étudierai à vous exposer en vente quelque chose qui méritera vos emplois plus relevez et plus solides.”

The first edition of that remarkable cookery book, the “Dons de Comus,” appeared about 1740, and is in every respect a superior work to the droll production just mentioned. It was composed by M. Marin, cook of the Duchesse de Chaulnes. The very learned and ingenious preface, signed de Querlon, is by Father Brumoy, the Jesuit, the translator of the “Théâtre des Grecs.” An Italian author calls a preface the sauce of a book, “La Salsa del Libro;” and certainly never was there a more piquant and spicy sauce than that of the erudite Father. He has brought ancient and modern literature to bear on the matter in hand. Not content with citing orators, poets and historians, he has also summoned the doctors, in the persons of the Frenchman Hecquet and the Englishman Cheyne. His comparison between ancient and modern cookery is ingenious.

“Modern cookery,” says he, “established on the foundations of the ancient, possesses more variety,[10] simplicity and cleanliness, with infinitely less of labour and elaboration, and it is withal more sçavante. The ancient cuisine was complicated and full of details. But the modern cuisine is a perfect system of chemistry. The science of the cook consists in decomposing, in rendering easy of digestion, in quintessencing (so to speak) the viands, in extracting from them light and nourishing juices, and in so mixing them together, that no one flavour shall predominate, but that all shall be harmonised and blended. This is the high aim and great effort of art. The harmony which strikes the eye in a picture should in a sauce cause in the palate as agreeable a sensation.” There is nothing new under the sun. A friend has recently lent me a copy of St. Augustine, in which is the very same thought, “Omina pulchritudinis formæ unitas est,” says the learned father. The following is Father Brumoy’s idea of a perfect cook: “A perfect cook should exactly understand the properties of the substances he employs, that he may correct or render more perfect (corriger ou perfectionner) such aliments as nature presents in a raw state. He should have a sound head (la tête saine), a sure taste, and a delicate palate, that he may cleverly combine the ingredients. Seasoning is the rock of indifferent cooks (l’écueil des médiocres ouvriers). A cook should have a ready hand to operate promptly and should assiduously study the palate of his master, wholly conforming his own[11] thereto.”[3] All this is excellent in its way. It is rare to find history, metaphysics and chemistry, the tone of a man of the world, the taste of an erudite classic, and the talent of a really good cook, so happily blended. Father Brumoy is the very opposite of that Greek cook, of whom Pausanias makes mention, whom all the world praised for his running, but whom no one praised for his ragouts: for in the three volumes now before me there are a variety of admirable receipts, which have made the stock in trade of many cookery books more vaunted and better known than Father Brumoy’s.

The “Dons de Comus” was followed by a spruce little satire, intituled “Lettre d’un Patissier Anglais au nouveau cuisinier Français,” in which the soi-disant pastry-cook deals some hard blows to the Jesuit.

In the “Dons de Comus” there had been much dissertation about quintessences, and the giving the largest portion of nutriment in the smallest possible compass. Hereupon the “Patissier Anglais” says, “Thus the more the nourishment of the body shall be subtilised and alembicated, the more will the qualities of the mind be rarefied and quintessenced too. From these principles, demonstrated in your work, great advantage may be reaped in all educational establishments. Children lose an infinity of time in learning the dead languages, and other trash of that[12] kind, whereas, henceforward, it will only be necessary, according to your system, to give them an alimentary education, proper for the state for which they are destined. For example: for a young lad destined to live in the atmosphere of a court, whipped cream and calves’ trotters should be procured; for a sprig of fashion, linnets’ heads, quintessences of May bugs, butterfly broth, and other light trifles. For a lawyer, destined to the chicanery of the Palais or who would shine at the bar, sauces of mustard and vinegar and other condiments of a bitter and pungent nature would be required.” Appended to the “Patissier Anglais” was “Le Cuisinier Gascon,” an excellent and valuable little work, now extremely scarce. There are many admirable receipts in this little volume, to which Mrs. Rundell was deeply indebted. She has borrowed largely from it without acknowledgment.

“La Science du Maître d’Hôtel Cuisinier” was the next published in point of chronological order. This was an attempt to render cookery the handmaid of medicine, and had great success. The plan, though not new in the conception, for the germ of it may be found in Terence, “Coquina medicinæ famulatrix est,”[4] was undoubtedly so in the execution; and the associated booksellers reaped a profitable harvest.

The cookery of France at this epoch, and indeed[13] from the time of Louis XIV., was distinguished by luxury and sumptuousness, but, according to Carème, was wanting in “delicate sensualism.” They ate well, indeed, at the court, says the professor of the culinary art, but the rich citizens, the men of letters, the artists, “were only in the course of learning to dine, drink, and laugh with convenance. Vatel, of whom so much has been said,” says Carème, “had only a mind deeply intent on his subject, you but see in him the conscientious man of duty and etiquette. His death astonishes but does not melt you (sa mort frappe mais ne touche pas), for he had not reached the highest elevation of his art.” You cannot think, you who read these lines, that any one of our cooks of the present day, brought up by Carème, could ever fall into his faults. For whatever may happen, a cook, like a commander, and, indeed, like the great masters of the art, Laguipière and Carème, “should always have splendid and imposing reserves.”

This dictum of Carème must be taken, like many of his dishes and sauces, cum grano salis. Molière lived and wrote at this period; and though it would be unfair not to concede that he was greatly in advance of his age, and, like Shakspeare, seemed to be universally informed, and by intuition, yet on the other hand there is scarcely a better description of a gourmand than is to be found in the “Bourgeois Gentilhomme,” act iv. sc. 1. The language of the art, too, is as much superior to the jargon of professional[14] cooks, as Paques is (the pun was inevitable) to Carème. But here is the passage in extenso, from which all may judge:—“Si Damis s’en étoit mêlé, tout seroit dans les règles; il y auroit par-tout de l’élégance et de l’érudition, et il ne manqueroit pas de vous exagérer lui-même toutes les pièces du repas qu’il vous donneroit, et de vous faire tomber d’accord de sa haute capacité dans la science des tous morceaux; de vous parler d’un pain de rive à bizeau doré, relevé de croûte par-tout, croquant tendrement sous la dent; d’un vin à seve velouté, armé d’un vert qui n’est point trop commandant; d’un carré du mouton gourmandé de persil; d’une longe de veau de rivière, longue, blanche, délicate, et qui, sous les dents, est une vraie pâte d’amande; de perdrix relevées, d’un fumet surprenant; et pour son opéra, d’une soupe á bouillon perlé, soutenue d’un jeune gros dindon, cantonnée de pigeonneaux, et couronnée d’oignons blancs, mariés avec la chicorée.”[5] It should also be observed that St. Evremond, a man of letters as well as a soldier and a gentleman, rendered himself celebrated even in 1654, for the exquisiteness of his taste in cookery, and that the coterie in which he lived were equally famous for their good cheer. The dinners of the Commandeur de Souvré, of the Comte d’Oloure, and of the Marquis de Bois Dauphin, were celebrated for equal refinement and delicacy. Lavardin, Bishop of[15] Mans, in speaking of the clique, says, “Ils ne sauroient manger que du veau de rivière: il faut que leurs perdrix viennent d’Auverge: que leurs lapins soit de la Roche Guyon.”[6] The same thought may be found in the fifth Satire of Juvenal, though somewhat differently expressed.

“Mullus erit domino, quem misit Corsica, vel quem
Taurominitanæ rupes, quando omne peractum est,
Et jam deficit nostrum mare.”

With the qualifying restrictions previously made, it may fairly be admitted that it is not to the Grand Monarque, but to the Regent Orleans, that the French of the present day owe the exquisite cuisine of the eighteenth century. The Pain à la d’Orleans was the invention of the regent himself; the filets de lapereau à la Berri were invented by his abandoned daughter, the Duchess de Berri, who plunged into every sensual excess, and whose motto was “Courte et bonne.” Her suppers were the best, and, it must be added, the most profligate in Paris.

As the Duchess de Berri, the daughter of the regent, was gourmande as well as galante, she is deified by the race of cooks and epicures, one of whom says that the alimentary art owes to her fertile genius a great number of receipts. Nor was she the only female who distinguished herself at this era in cookery, for it became à-la-mode to be the creator of a plat.[16] The filets de volaille à la Bellevue were invented by the Marquise de Pompadour, in the château of Bellevue, for the petits soupers of the king. The poulets à la Villeroy owe their birth to the Maréchale de Luxembourg, then Duchess of Villeroy, one of the most sensual “gourmandes” of the court of Louis XV. The Chartreuse à la Mauconseil has been transmitted to us by the Marquise de Mauconseil, celebrated alike by her taste and her gallantries. The vol au vent à la Nesle proceeded from the fertile brain of the Marquis de Nesle, who refused the peerage to remain premier marquis of France, and the poularde à la Montmorency was the production of the duke of that name. Filets de veau à la Montgolfier, are so named because they are of the shape of balloons. The petites bouchées à la reine owe their origin to Maria Leczinska, wife of Louis XV., whose devotions, however self-denying in other respects, never prevented her from relishing a good dinner. All the entrées bearing the name of Bayonnaises were invented by the Maréchal Duke de Richelieu. The perdreaux à la Montglas acknowledge as their father a worthy magistrate of Montpelier, whilst the cailles à la Mirepoix were imagined by the marechal of that name, who in gourmandise, but in gourmandise only, rivalled the Marechal de Luxembourg; and last, though not least, the cotelettes à la Maintenon were the favourite dish of that frigid piece of pompous and demure hypocrisy, Madame de Maintenon herself.


It may be concluded, that the regency and the reign of Louis XV. were among the grand epochs of French cookery. The long peace which followed the treaty of Utrecht, the large fortunes made by the tribe of financiers, who, in ruining the state, enriched themselves—the tranquil and voluptuous life of a monarch who gave himself more concern about his personal pleasures and enjoyments than his royal renown—the character of the courtiers and public men of the day—all contributed to stamp an intensely sensual character on the age of Louis XV. A taste for English equipages and horses was now introduced, and our puddings and beef-steaks were also imitated. The example of the regent was refined on and extended in this reign. The petits soupers of the king were cited as models of delicacy and gourmandise. The kitchen in France, as in all the world over, requires “the cankers of a calm world and a long peace,” to sustain and support it; while the troubles of the League and the Fronde, the temperament of Louis XIV., and the despotic and tempestuous character of Richelieu, interfered with its progress in former reigns. There were great cooks as well as great captains in the reign of Louis XIV., notwithstanding the disparaging remarks which Carème casts on the memory of Vatel; but a witty author maintains that the only ineffaceable and immortal reputation of that time handed down to us in cookery, is that of the Marquis de Bechamel, who[18] introduced into the sauce for turbot and cod fish an infusion of cream. The Bechamel de turbot et de cabillaud still maintain their popularity, though kings, dynasties, and empires have fallen, and half the globe has been revolutionized.

In the royal kitchen of Louis XVI., the art as an art declined; but the sacred fire of cookery (to use the inflated language of some of the craft) was preserved in many old houses, as, for instance, in the establishments of Marshals Richelieu and Duras, the Duke of La Vallière, the Marquis de Brancas, the Count de Tessé, and some others, who equalled in the delicacy of their tables the elegant sumptuosity of the reign of Louis XV. The excesses of some of the French nobility of this day would now appear incredible. One hundred and twenty pheasants were, at this period, weekly consumed in the kitchens of the Prince de Condé; and the Duke de Penthievre, in going to preside over the estates of Burgundy, was preceded by one hundred and fifty-two hommes de bouche! Can any, after this, wonder at the excesses of the Revolution? The unexpected death of Louis XV. (says a gourmand of the succeeding reign, and who survived the Revolution and the Consulate) struck a mortal blow at cookery. His successor, young and vigorous, ate with more voracity than delicacy, and did not pride himself on (the words are untranslateable) a “grand finesse de gout”—an exquisite delicacy of taste in the choice[19] of his food. Large joints of butchers’ meat, and dishes essentially nutritive, represented his ideas of good living. His enormous appetite contented itself in satisfying hunger; learned efforts were not necessary to stimulate its vast cravings.

The French Revolution at length broke forth, and the historians of the kitchen speak with mournfulness of its effect on the science, which Montaigne quaintly calls l’art de la gueule. The kitchens of the faubourg of St. Germain and the Chaussée d’Antin no longer smoked, the perfumes of truffles were exhaled and vanished, the great and noble of the land were obliged to fly for their lives, and too often to dine with Duke Humphrey, or at best to dine frugally and sparingly. The financiers, who aped the luxuries and mimicked the extravagance of the court, were all ruined or denounced. The stoic’s fare—the radish and the egg, the Jus nigrum of the severe Spartans, and the black bread of the Germans of the middle ages, scarcely fit food for horses, were now revived. For three long years this spare Spartan régime continued. Had the Goths and Vandals gone on a little longer, says a witty epicure, who survived the Revolution, the receipt for a fricassee of chicken had been infallibly lost. The markets were no longer supplied. Beef, mutton, ham, and veal, had disappeared; as to fish, it was preposterous to think of it.[7] Not a good turbot, or salmon, or sturgeon,[20] says Grimod, appeared during the Revolution. Fowls and game had become a “sick epicure’s dream,” not a solid reality. Nor were these miseries confined to Paris alone. “You might go into a country market,” says the same author, “with a ream of assignats in your hand, and not be able to buy a sack of flour.” A return to a gold currency produced a visible alteration in the Res Cibaria. The louis and five-franc pieces again peopled the markets with a populace of poultry and partridges. Cooks again began to talk in the language which the Italian maître d’hôtel of Cardinal Caraffa addressed to the pleasant and witty Montaigne, language which the laughing author has imperishably recorded in those inimitable volumes, which will be read and admired so long as the French language and literature endure. “Il m’a fait un discours de cette science de gueule avec une gravité et contenance magistrale, comme s’il m’eust parlé de quelque grand poinct de theologie. Il m’a dechiffré une difference d’appetits; la police de ses sauces; les qualités des ingredients et leurs effects, les differences des salades. Après cela il est entré sur l’ordre de service plein de belles et importantes considerations, et tout cela enflé de riches et magnifiques paroles; et celles mêmes qu’on employe à traiter du gouvernement d’un empire.”

The oxen of Auvergne and Normandy were now again marched slowly and gravely up from the provinces to be slaughtered in Paris. The sheep of[21] Beauvais, of Cotentin and the Ardennes, were again, as under the old régime, cut up into cutlets, and the cooks soon appeared. Instead of serving as chefs de cuisine, butlers, intendants, and maîtres d’hôtel, they now were called citoyens, pensionnaires, and rentiers; for there were no grands seigneurs to employ them. For a while there was some inconvenience, but a Frenchman sooner accommodates himself to circumstances than any other human being, and such of the cuisiniers as had saved somewhat from the shipwreck of the Revolution formed eating-houses, taverns, and restaurants. These establishments have since become the temples of good cheer and gourmandise, in which wandering Englishmen spend and have spent millions upon millions of money; but it is an historical fact known to few, that the greater number of these restaurants owe their origin to the Revolution.[8]

The complete overthrow of the French kitchen, the work of three centuries, might have been[22] effected at this season, had not its traditions been preserved. Happily there were Acolytes and Neophytes sufficient in existence, says one of the historians, to catch and perpetuate the scientific savour of the ancient “flesh pots.” In such a loss as this, weightier interests had been imperilled than mere cookery. More than half the intelligence, and nearly all of the French agreeability of the past age, had been in a great degree promoted by the French cuisine. The cook of the Condés and the Soubises contributed in no mean degree to give a zest and a vivacity to the dinners at which Montesquieu, Voltaire, Diderot, Helvetius, D’Alembert, Duclos, and Vauvenargues so often met; and this remark applies, in a great degree, to the suppers of Madame du Deffand, the dinners of the Baron D’Holbach, and the dinners, suppers, and pic-nics of the agreeable Crawford of Auchinames, whose “Tableau of French Literature” is not sufficiently known nor read in our day. It was at these social réunions that French conversation, then indeed a style parlé became animated and improved by the exquisite cheer which the “cunning hand” of the cook provided. A few hours of delightful, easy, unrestrained conversation between polite and well-informed men, did more to advance the progress of the human mind than the labours of a wilderness of speculative bookmaking academies. The solution of many great and grave questions—the propagation of new and enlarged[23] views, the production of ingenious essays and instructive memoirs, are all owing to that elegant and agreeable body of men and women, kept together in a main degree by the exquisite attraction of petits soupers and luxurious dinners.

From the moment of the Executive Directory, 1795, to the period of the 18th Brumaire, all the historians among; the great cooks admit that their illustrious art was under the greatest obligations to Barras, that well-born tribune of the people, of whose family it was said, “noble comme les Barras, aussi anciens que les rochers de Provence.” Whether as Commissary of the government at Toulon—at whose siege, by the way, he first became acquainted with Bonaparte—or as Director, or as residing as a private gentleman at his château of Grosbois, Barras always exhibited those epicurean tastes which were either natural to him, or which he had acquired from a residence at the French settlement of Pondicherry.

During the most ferocious periods of the Revolution, there were but two splendid exceptions to the self-denying ordinances of the time. That desperate demagogue Danton loved and copiously indulged himself in morels, and is recorded to have given dinners at 400 francs a head; and Barras, when in the Directory, had his button mushrooms conveyed to him en poste from the Bouches du Rhone.

Napoleon, who may be said to have succeeded to power at the epoch of the 18th Brumaire, is falsely[24] represented as an enemy of the pleasures of the table. It is true, a love of good cheer was not a dominant passion with him; he did not exhibit the crapulous gluttony of an over-fed sensualist, but he was not insensible to the pleasures of good eating. M. de Bausset,[9] the prefect of the Imperial palace, has handed down in his most interesting work some of the Emperor’s ordinary bills of fare. They are distinguished by simplicity and moderation, but there is also a pervading suitableness and taste very significant of the man, and of the nation over which he “reigned and governed.”

M. de Cussy, also attached to the kitchen and household of the Emperor, and who obtained from his patron, or assumed, the title of Marquis de Cussy, has also left us interesting details on the subject. One day at breakfast, says he (this was some time after his marriage), Napoleon, after having eaten, with his habitual haste, a wing of a chicken à la Tartare, turned towards M. de Cussy (who was always present at the Emperor’s meals), and the following dialogue took place between them: “The deuce! I have always hitherto found chicken-meat flat and insipid, but this is excellent.” “Sire, if your[25] Majesty would permit, I would desire to have the honour of serving a fowl every day in a different fashion.” “What! M. de Cussy, you are then master of 365 different ways of dressing fowl?” “Yes, Sire, and perhaps your Majesty, after a trial, would take a pleasure à la science gastronomique. All great men have encouraged that science, and, without citing to your Majesty the example of the great Frederick, who had a special cook for each favourite dish, I might invoke, in support of my assertion, all the great names immortalized by glory.” “Well, then, M. de Cussy,” replied the Emperor, “we shall put your abilities to the test.” The case might be left to a jury of gourmands on this evidence, and the Emperor would be convicted, if not of gourmandise, at least of friandises. Who will, however, deny the gourmandise of his arch-chancellor, Cambacères, or of his minister of foreign affairs, Talleyrand? “The first clouds of smoke” (says Ude) “which announced the resurrection of cookery, appeared from the kitchen of a quondam bishop.” Napoleon himself was in the habit of saying that more fortunate treaties, more happy arrangements and reconciliations were due to the cook of Cambacères than to the crowds of diplomatic nonentities who thronged the ante-chambers of the Tuileries. On one occasion the town of Geneva sent to the arch-chancellor a monster trout, together with the sauce, the expense of which was verified by the[26] Cour des Comptes as amounting to 6000 francs, or 240l. of our money.

A rare epoch in the history of cookery was the publication of the first number of the “Almanach des Gourmands,” which appeared in the beginning of the year 1803, and which the late Duke of York called the most delightful book that was ever printed. The sale of this work was prodigious. 22,000 copies of the four first years were speedily disposed of, and the work subsequently went through new editions. As the book is very scarce everywhere, and not to be found in England, I may be pardoned for dwelling on it. Gastronomy became the fashion of that day. Every one spoke on the subject; many wrote on it. Cookery passed from the kitchen to the shop, from the shop to the counting-house, from the counting-house to the studies of lawyers and physicians; thence to the salons and cabinets of ladies and statesmen. The object of life, according, at least, to our simple English notions, seemed reversed: people in England eat to live; in France, they appeared to live only to eat. This was in consonance with French character and practice.

To return, however, to the “Almanach des Gourmands.” Each volume contained an almanac for the year in which it was published, and a species of nutritive itinerary of the different traiteurs, rotisseurs, restaurateurs, pork-men, poulterers, butchers, bakers, provision, sauce, and spice shops, milkmen, oilmen,[27] &c. Nor were the cafés, limonadiers, glaciers, nor wine and liqueur merchants neglected; for ample and amusing accounts of almost all the principal magasins de comestibles are given. The volumes are generally written in a playful, humorous style, and occasionally indicate originality and research. The first four numbers are by far the best, though there are passages in the seventh, eighth, and ninth equal to anything which appeared in the preceding numbers. The author and editor was Grimod de la Reyniere. His father, a fermier général was choked, in 1754, by attempting to swallow rather too voraciously a slice of a pâté de foies gras. The son inherited the hereditary passion for the pleasures of the table, joined to a sprightly yet quaint humour, which rendered him a general favourite. It must be admitted, that while he inspired a taste for cookery, he ennobled its language.

As a specimen of his manner, take a short extract from the second volume, under the head of the health of cooks. “The finger of a good cook should alternate perpetually between the stewpan and his mouth, and it is only thus in tasting every moment his ragouts, that he can hit upon the precise medium. His palate should therefore have an extreme delicacy, and be in some sort virgin, in order that the slightest trifle may stimulate it, and thus forewarn him of its faults. But the continual odour of ovens—the necessity under which a cook lies to drink often, and sometimes[28] of bad wine, the vapour of charcoal, the accumulation of bile, and many other things, each and all contribute to interfere with his organs of sense, and most quickly to derange and alter his sense of taste. His palate becomes indurated; he has no longer that tact, that finesse, that exquisite sensibility, on which depends susceptibility of taste. His palate at length becomes case-hardened. The only means of restoring to him that flower which he has lost (cette fleur qu’il a perdue), and recruiting his strength, his suppleness, and his delicatesse, is to purge him, despite of any resistance he may be induced to make; for there are cooks deaf to the voice of glory, who see no need to take physic when they are in health. Oh, ye then who wish to enjoy at your daily board delicate and recherché fare, cause your cooks to be purged frequently (faites purger souvent vos cuisiniers), for there is no other means to accomplish your wishes.”

In another volume, published in 1806, the author says that in Riom, in Auvergne, there was an innkeeper named Simon, who had a special talent for dressing frogs. The process of feeding and dressing them is given in detail, admirably and graphically told, but at far too great a length to extract. “What proves the goodness of the dish, and the impossibility of counterfeiting it,” says Grimod, “is, that the author has gained 200,000 francs at this art, though he gives you for 24 sous a dish containing three dozen of frogs.”

The three “Frères Provenceaux,” we learn in the[29] same volume, were even thus early renowned for Provençal ragouts, and, above all, for their Brandades de Merluche; and the veal of Pontoise was then, as now, fed on cream and biscuits, and carried to Paris in carriages made expressly for the purpose. It is in this year’s almanac also that the author speaks of the death of a celebrated gourmand and friend of his, Doctor Gastaldy, physician to the late Duke of Cumberland. The last dinner which he partook of was on Wednesday, the 20th December, at Cardinal Belloy’s, Archbishop of Paris, where, having eaten three times of the belly part of the salmon, he died of the effects of this invincible gluttony. The doctor would have gone to the salmon a fourth time, but that the prelate “tenderly upbraided him for his imprudence, and ordered the desired dish to be removed” (le reprit tendrement de son imprudence, et fit enlever ce sujet de convoitise). But alas, it was too late—the gulosity of Gastaldy caused his death, and he was hastily buried the day after his demise. Let this be a warning to priests in high places, whether Protestant, Popish, or Presbyterian, as to helping their guests too often to the richest part of a salmon.

In one of the volumes there is a long chapter on the opening of oysters, from which the concluding portion is extracted.

“It is not until the oyster is detached from the under shell that it ceases to live. The real lovers of oysters (such, for example, as the late M. Grimod de[30] Verneuil), won’t allow the oyster-women to open their fish, reserving to themselves the important privilege of performing this operation on their own plate, in order that they may have the pleasure of swallowing this interesting fish alive.”

It is in this volume that the important secret is disclosed that the flesh of beasts, fowls, and game killed by electricity, is much more tender than if killed in the usual manner. “The discoverer of this important truth,” says Grimod, “was a Dr. Beyer, of the Rue de Clichy, who deserves to be ranked with the Rechaud, the Morillon, and the Robert, who had so worthily illustrated the culinary art, towards the end of the last century; and who, like the Raphaels, the Michael Angelos, and the Rubens, have been the founders of the three great schools of good living.”

Here also is a dissertation on asses’ flesh, wherein the author states that, during the blockade of Malta by the English and Neapolitans, the inhabitants, having had recourse to horseflesh, dogflesh, cats, rats, &c., at length tried asses’ flesh, and found it so excellent, that the gourmands of Valetta preferred this strange diet to the best beef and veal. When an ass was killed, there was great competition for the prime bits. “Your ass,” says Isouard, father of the musical composer of that name, “should not be more than three or four years old, and fat.”

There is also an account of a seasoning used by the gourmands of Terra Nova, a small town situated on[31] the southern coast of Sicily, between Gergali and Scoglietti, on the sea-shore. This is a white grease, extracted from the fig-pecker, much sought after by the gourmands of Sicily and Naples. At Malta all respectable families use it in lieu of oil and butter. An immense number of birds, taken in nets, are necessary to produce so much grease. When killed they are thrown, in immense heaps, into an enormous oven, and the fat is thus melted out. It is bottled, and the carcasses of the birds thrown away.

The “Manuel des Amphytrions,” by the author of the almanac, is as curious and amusing, and a more succinct work than the “Almanach des Gourmands.”

The first work of any note, published in 1814, after the Restoration, was that of Beauvilliers. The author had been cook to the Count de Provence (Louis XVIII.), but at this period followed the business of a restaurateur in the Rue de Richelieu. Any eulogium on such a work would be supererogatory. The artist, who had been many years cook to the inventor of the soupe à la Xavier, that consummate and gouty gourmand, Louis XVIII., and who had often served and satisfied the Count d’Artois, afterwards Charles X., the inventor of the ris de veau à la d’Artois, must have been a cook of surpassing merit.

The “Physiologie du Goût” appeared in 1828. The author was M. Brillat Savarin, Conseillier en la Cour de Cassation. He had been bred to the bar, and was already in practice when the Revolution broke[32] out. By the suffrages of his townsmen he was sent as a deputy to the Constituent Assembly. But in 1793, having resisted the progress of anarchy, he was forced to emigrate. He embarked for the United States, and established himself at New York, where he remained for two years, giving lessons in the French language, and filling nightly one of the first places in the orchestra of the theatre; for, among his other accomplishments, he was distinguished as a musician. During the Directory he returned, and the last twenty-five years of his life were spent in the Court of Cassation. It was in the leisure which this honourable retreat afforded him that he composed this work. It is, however, more a scientific essay, or a book of aphorisms, in the short and sententious style of the ancients, than a practical work on cookery.

Some of the statistics of this book are curious. It appears that, from the 1st of November to the end of February, there is a daily consumption of 300 turkeys, making, in all, but 36,000 turkeys. The work also contains a number of witty and curious anecdotes, from which I venture to extract one.

M. de Sanzai, Archbishop of Bordeaux, was an agreeable man and a respected prelate. He had won from one of his grand vicars a truffled turkey, which the loser seemed in no haste to pay. Towards the close of the carnival, the archbishop reminded his subordinate of the lost wager. “Monseigneur,” said the vicar, “the truffles are good for nothing[33] this year.” “Bah, bah!” replied the archbishop, “that’s a report spread by the turkeys,” (c’est un bruit que les dindons font courir).

A vast number of editions of the “Cuisinière Bourgeoise” have appeared both in France and Switzerland, and, to speak truly, there is no more useful work. A greater number of copies have been sold, for the last seventy years, than even of the “Fables” of La Fontaine. The receipts are by no means expensive, and there is no better cookery for the middle classes of all countries. Even in England the dishes might be adopted among the better classes, occasionally abridging any undue portion of garlic or onion. This work was pirated at Neufchatel, in 1798, by the celebrated Fauche Borel, employed in many delicate negotiations by the emigrants, and he made a large sum by the piracy.

The “Cuisinier Royal,” published by Barba, is also a good work. It is of a more ostentatious character than the “Cuisinière Bourgeoise,” but the receipts are very numerous and varied, and there are no learned disquisitions on the art, which many would consider an advantage.

I have now gone through the chief culinary works of France, and it remains for me to speak of English cookery and cookery books. And first of the former. The traditions of English cookery are faint, few, and far between. In the earlier comedies there are few allusions to the art, and even in Shakespeare himself,[34] though we find mention of barley-broth, of calf’s head and capon, of collops, cod’s head, soused gurnet, and salmon tail, of roasted pig and rashers, of beef and mustard, and “thick Tewkesbury mustard,” of hot venison pasty and hodge pudding, and lastly (in ridicule of foreign cookery), of “adders’ heads and toads carbonadoed;” yet still from these names no other inference can be drawn than that such dishes were in vogue. From the reign of Elizabeth to the Revolution, the style of cookery was undoubtedly heavy and substantial. Chines of beef and pork smoked on the early dinner tables, and the remains were eaten cold, and washed down with foaming tankards of ale on the following morning.

The age of Anne was distinguished by an extraordinary burst of intellectual vigour and great progress in the culinary art. Though the comedies of Congreve, Wycherly, and Vanbrugh, are fair specimens of the society of that day, still they throw little light on the social habits of the people. From the manner in which Lady Wishfort drinks, in the “Way of the World,” and the exhibition of Sir Wilful Witwold’s drunkenness, in the same piece, one would infer that immoderate inebriety was the characteristic of the time. Valentine, in “Love for Love,” calls for a bottle of sack and a toast; and Careless, in “The Double Dealer,” exclaims “I’m weary of guzzling.”

The pages of Pope throw an important light on the cookery of his time. His imitation of the second satire[35] of the second book of Horace has a value which cannot always be affixed to his more important pieces. A light is not only thrown on the personal habits of the man, but on the social characteristics of the epoch.

“Preach as I please, I doubt our curious men
Will choose a pheasant still before a hen;
Yet hens of Guinea full as good I hold,
Except you eat the feathers green and gold.
Of carps and mullets why prefer the great,
Though cut in pieces as my lord can eat;
Yet for small turbots such esteem profess,
Because God made these large, the other less.
Oldfield, with more than harpy throat endued,
Cries, send me, gods! a whole hog barbecued!”

The hog barbacued is a West India term of gluttony. It was a hog roasted whole, stuffed with spice and basted with Madeira wine. Allusion is made to this dish in Foote’s “Patron,” where Sir Peter Pepperpot says, “I am invited to dinner on a barbacue, and the villains have forgot my bottle of chian.”

It is plain from every line of these imitations of Pope, that the science of cookery had made great strides in the reign of Anne, nor is this to be wondered at. “La Reine Anne,” says a French author, “était très gourmande; elle ne dédaignait pas de s’entretenir avec son cuisinier, et les dispensaires Anglais contiennent beaucoup de préparations designées à la manière de la Reine Anne.” The following glimpse at the table of the poet himself has an attractive interest:


“Content with little I can piddle here
On brocoli and mutton round the year;
But ancient friends, tho’ poor, or out of play,
That touch my bell, I cannot turn away.
’Tis true, no turbots dignify my boards,
But gudgeons, flounders, what my Thames affords:
To Hounslow Heath I point, and Bansted-Down,
Thence comes your mutton, and these chicks my own.
From yon old walnut-tree a shower shall fall;
And grapes, long lingering on my only wall;
And figs from standard and espalier join;
The devil is in you if you cannot dine.”

The bill of fare at this time often consisted in the month of April of the following: green geese, or veal and bacon—haunch of venison roasted—a lumber pie—rabbits and tarts. Second course: cold lamb—cold neat’s-tongue pie—salmon, lobsters, and prawns—asparagus.

But in other months the following dishes were given—brawn and mustard, hashed shoulder of mutton, broiled geese, minced pies, a loin of veal, marrow pie, venison pasty, a lambstone pie, Westphalia bacon, a Westphalia ham, artichoke pie, neat’s-tongue, and udder roasted, a roast turkey stuck with cloves, and for a second course, Bologna sausages, anchovies, mushrooms, caviare, and pickled oysters, in a dish together.

And now a word as to English cookery books. The “Queen’s Closet Opened,” published in 1662, is the first English cookery book I have been able[37] to meet with, for the “Treasure of Hidden Secrets, or Good Huswife’s Closet,” published in 1600, is but a congeries of receipts for perfumes, essences, and candies. Some of the dishes in the “Queen’s Closet,” maintain their popularity to the present day,—as, for instance, chicken and pigeon pie, boiled rump of beef, and potted venison; but others have wholly passed away,—as, for example, a baked red deer, a capon larded with lemons, a steak pie with a French pudding in it, a fricase (we retain the spelling) of campigneons, a salet of smelts, flounders, or plaice, with garlick and mustard, an olive pie, and dressed snails.

The “Gentleman’s Companion,” published in 1673, is the earliest work of the kind met with after the “Queen’s Closet,” for “May’s Cookery,” “The Ladies’ Companion,” or even “Mrs. Glasse,” written by Dr. Hill, and which has become exceedingly scarce, I do not possess. To what a civilized and social state our gentlewomen had attained 171 years ago, will be apparent from the following extract from Mrs. Woolley.

Some choice observations for a gentlewoman’s behaviour at table. “Gentlewoman, the first thing you are to observe, is to keep your body straight in the chair, and do not lean your elbows on the table. Discover not by any ravenous gesture your angry appetite, nor fix your eyes too greedily on the meat before you, as if you would devour more that way than[38] your throat can swallow. In carving at your own table, distribute the best pieces first, and it will appear very comely and decent to use a fork, if so, touch no piece of meat without it.

“I have been invited to dinner, where I have seen the good gentlewoman of the house sweat more in cutting up a fowl, than the cookmaid in roasting it, and when she had soundly beliquored her joints, hath smelt her knuckles, and to work with them again in the dish; at the sight whereof my belly hath been three-quarters full, before I had swallowed one bit!”—Page 65.

“Do not eat spoon-meat so hot, that the tears stand in your eyes, or that thereby you betray your intolerable greediness. Do not bite your bread, but cut or break it, and keep not your knife always in your hand, for that is as unseemly as a gentlewoman who pretended to have as little a stomach as she had a mouth, and therefore would not swallow her peas in spoonfuls, but took them one by one, and cut them in two before she would eat them.

“Fill not your mouth so full that your cheeks shall swell like a pair of Scotch bag-pipes.”—Page 71.

Many remarks are made by our countrymen and women about the filth of the French, but Englishmen should read the following, written about a century and a half ago, for the guidance of their own countrywomen.

“It is uncivil to rub your teeth in company, or to[39] pick them at or after meals, with your knife or otherwise, for it is a thing both indecent and distasteful.”—Page 72.

The following is the advice “to the female younger sort.”

“You will show yourself too saucy by calling for sauce or any dainty thing. Avoid smacking in your eating. Forbear putting both hands to your mouth at once; nor gnaw your meat, but cut it handsomely, and eat sparingly. Let your nose and hands be always kept clean. When you have dined or supped, rise from the table, and carry your trencher or plate with you, doing your obeisance to the company.”—Pp. 19, 20.

Some insight into the cookery of 1754, maybe obtained from the pages of the “Connoisseur.” The fools of quality of that day “drove to the Star and Garter to regale on macaroni, or piddle with an ortolan at White’s or Pontac’s.” At Dolly’s and Horsman’s beef steaks were eaten with gill ale; and behind the Change, a man worth a plum used to order a twopenny mess of broth with a boiled chop in it; placing the chop between the two crusts of a halfpenny roll, he would wrap it up in his check handkerchief, and carry it away for the morrow’s dinner.

The “Art of Cookery,” by a Lady, was published by Miller, Tonson, and Strahan, in 1765. There are many good receipts in the work, and it is written in a plain style. The author sensibly says in her preface,[40] “The great cooks have such a high way of expressing themselves, that the poor girls are at a loss to know what they mean.” This book has one great fault, it is disfigured by a strong anti-Gallican prejudice.

An attempt was made by Longman and Co. to start a sort of “English Almanach des Gourmands,” in 1815, but it was a complete failure. It was called the “Epicure’s Almanack.” Only one number was published.

The “Cook and Confectioner’s Dictionary,” which appeared in 1747, contains a vast deal of curious west country and Cornish cookery. It is a rare book, and was obligingly lent to me by Mr. Cyrus Redding, who deserves the gratitude of all for his intrepid and successful attempts to introduce a pure sherry at the English tables.

Mrs. Dalgairns’ is one of the best of cookery books for persons in the upper class of life not overburdened with wealth. It ought to be an invaluable book to the middle classes. Sir Walter Scott contributed largely to this work. The only fault with which the worthy old lady may be reproached is, that she is somewhat over national and exhibits too palpable an addiction to Scotch dishes. This is a prevailing peccadillo—if not the heinous fault of all Picts, old or young, male or female.

“Scott’s Dictionary of Cookery,” is a pretentious failure, published in 1828 by Colburn. The author[41] was a Scotch doctor, practising at some small continental town. The work seems to have been got up with the view of rivalling Mrs. Rundell’s publication.

The “Cook’s Oracle,” by Dr. Kitchener, was first published in 1817. It had great success, but never did a book less deserve renown. Totally destitute of arrangement and originality, it is an odd confused olla podrida of receipts, observations, maxims, and remarks, drawn from all sources, ancient and modern, foreign as well as domestic. It is written in a vain-glorious, assuming style, and filled with gasconading vulgarisms and obsolete pedantry. The attempts at wit are ludicrously heavy and unsuccessful. It is a reproach to the national taste to have patronized a book of no theoretical, and of little practical worth.

The greater part of these observations also apply to that exceedingly indigested posthumous book of scraps and patches, called the “Housekeeper’s Oracle,” published in 1829.

The “French Cook,” by Ude, “officier de la bouche,” first to the Earl of Sefton, and afterwards to Crockford’s Club, has gone through many editions. It contains a disquisition on the rise and progress of cookery, which is not without merit; but the greater portion of it is taken from the “Cuisinier des Cuisiniers.” The partiality of our countrymen for melted butter in a variety of shapes is happily hit off, and is about as reasonable, in point of taste, as the antipathy of that choleric Frenchman, who exclaimed, “Je deteste[42] ces vilains Anglais, parcequ’ils versent du beurre fondu sur leur veau rôti.”

The work of Ude is intended for the higher ranks, and for people of fortune. The book and the cook have been a little over-rated. It is neither French nor English—neither fish, flesh, nor good red herring. The late Lord Sefton, who was too much of a mere glutton, would have perverted the taste of any cook, however good, who had been long in his service.

There is not a more amusing and racy volume than the “Original,” by Mr. Walker, formerly of Trinity College, Cambridge, and afterwards a police magistrate. Although several extracts have been already made from the book in the “Quarterly Review,” the following may be reproduced with advantage:—

“To order dinner is a matter of invention and combination. It involves novelty, simplicity, and taste; whereas, in the generality of dinners, there is no character but that of dull routine, according to the season.

“Any body can dine, but very few know how to dine, so as to ensure the greatest quantity of health and enjoyment—indeed, many people contrive to destroy their health; and as to enjoyment, I shudder when I think how often I have been doomed to only a solemn mockery of it, how often I have sat in durance stately, to go through the ceremony of a dinner, the essence of which is to be without ceremony, and how often in this land of liberty have I felt myself a slave.


“There are three kinds of dinners—solitary dinners, every day social dinners, and set dinners. All these involving the consideration of cheer, and the last two of society also. Solitary dinners, I think, ought to be avoided as much as possible, because solitude tends to produce thought, and thought tends to the suspension of the digestive powers. When, however, dining alone is necessary, the mind should be disposed to cheerfulness by a previous interval of relaxation. As contentment ought to be an accompaniment to every meal, punctuality is essential, and the diner and the dinner ought to be ready at the same time. A chief maxim in dining with comfort, is to have whatever you want when you want it. It is ruinous to have to wait just for one thing, and then another, and to have the little additions brought, when what they belong to is half or entirely finished. To avoid this, a little oversight is good, and, by way of instance, it is sound practical philosophy to have mustard upon the table before the arrival of toasted cheese. This very omission has caused as many small vexations in the world as would, by this time, make a mountain of misery. Indeed, I recommend an habitual consideration of what adjuncts will be required to the main matters; and I think an attention to this, on the part of females, might often be preventive of sour looks and cross words, and their anti-conjugal consequences. There is not only the usual adjuncts, but to those who have anything like genius for dinners,[44] little additions will sometimes suggest themselves, which give a sort of poetry to a repast, and please the palate to the promotion of health.

“The present system of dinner giving I consider thoroughly tainted with barbarism and vulgarity, and far removed from real and refined enjoyment. As tables are now arranged, one is never at peace from an arm continually setting on or taking off a side dish, or reaching over to a wine cooler in the centre; then comes the more laborious changing of courses, with the leanings right and left, to admit a host of dishes, that are set on only to be taken off again, after being declined in succession by each of the guests, to whom they are handed round; yet this is fashion, and not to be departed from. With respect to wine, it is often offered when not wanted, and when wanted, is perhaps not to be had till long waited for. It is dreary to observe two persons, glass in hand, waiting the butler’s leisure to be able to take wine together, and then, perchance, being helped in despair to what they did not ask for; and it is still more dreary to be one of the two yourself. How different when you can put your hand upon a decanter the moment you want it! I have been speaking hitherto of attendance in its most perfect state; but then comes the greater inconvenience, and the monstrous absurdity, of the same forms with inadequate establishments. Those who are overwhelmed with an establishment, are, as it were, obliged in self-defence[45] to devise work for their attendants, whilst those who have no such reason ape an example which, under the most appropriate circumstances, is a state of restraint and discomfort, but which, when followed merely for fashion’s sake, becomes absolutely intolerable. I remember once receiving a severe frown from a lady at the head of her table, next to whom I was sitting, because I offered to take some fish from her, to which she had helped me, instead of waiting till it could be handed me by her one servant; and she was not deficient either in good breeding or sense. It is one of the evils of the present day, that every body strives after the same dull style, so that, when comfort might be expected, it is often least to be found. State, without the machinery of state, is of all states the worst. In conclusion of this part of my subject, I will observe that I think the affluent would render themselves and their country an essential service, if they were to fall into the simple, refined style of living, discarding everything incompatible with real enjoyment, and I believe that, if the history of overgrown luxury were traced, it has always had its origin from the vulgar—rich—the very last class worthy of imitation.”

The 243rd Thousand of “Domestic Cookery, by a Lady,” has been published in the present year. This is perhaps the most popular and practical work of the kind which has ever appeared in England, but it is exclusively a middle-class book, and intended for the[46] rich bourgeoisie. The compiler, Mrs. Rundell, had spent the early part of her life in India, and the work is enriched with many receipts of Indian cookery. It is on the whole a succinct and judicious compilation, but though well worth its price, it is yet far from being a perfect production. For many years, if report speaks truly, it has produced 1000l. a year to the publisher, and he is said to have very liberally presented the authoress with a present of 2000l.

I have not hitherto spoken of the “Cookery Book of Carème,” nor did I notice it among the French works on cookery, for two reasons: first, because Carème had been cook to George IV.; to the Marquis of Wellesley, and to the Marquis of Londonderry; and had spent a considerable portion of his life in England, or in the service of Englishmen; and, secondly, because the book has been translated by Mr. Hall, “cook to T. P. Williams, Esq., of Temple House, near Marlow, and conductor of the parliamentary dinners of Lord Canterbury.” The translation is very clumsily and sometimes incorrectly executed, but as the translator is himself a cook and a conductor of dinners! (the office seems to us new and original) it will be more convenient to take his version of the original. Mr. Hall has at least one requisite for his task, namely, admiration of his author. “I conceive (says he in his preface) I am laying before my readers the productions of a man whose abilities transcended the generality of writers in the art, whose imagination[47] greatly enlarged the variety of entrées and entrémêts previously practised, and whose clear and perspicuous details render them facile not only to the artist who has already an advance in his profession, but also to those whose knowledge of the higher code of the kitchen has been necessarily limited.” The following are Carème’s notions on large dishes of fish, not rendered certainly into very pure and undefiled English by Mr. Hall. The sense and substance of the author are however preserved:


“I had remarked,” says M. Carème, “at the grand dinners of Prince Talleyrand, that the larger pieces of cookery of the first course never corresponded with the elegance of the bronzes, the glass, and the plate. Delivering myself up entirely to cookery, I promised myself that I would reform an infinity of old usages, though practised as they were by the greatest masters of the art. When I became chief of the kitchen of the Emperor Alexander, I commenced this great reform. In the years 1816 and 1817 I was in England with the Prince Regent, and I was there gratified, for this truly royal table was always served in the French manner, and the service of silver was so superb and elegant that I was struck with wonder. It appeared then, that it would advance my reputation to commence the reform that I had proposed. What could be more ridiculous and absurd than, for instance,[48] to see served pike or carp à la Chambord, the garniture of which were composed of larded sweetbreads, young pigeons, cocks’ combs, and kidneys? But such was, however, the practice of men highest in reputation.

“When at Vienna with Lord Stewart (now Marquis of Londonderry), his Britannic Majesty’s ambassador at the court of Austria, I for the first time served the carp à la Chambord, surrounded with my new garnitures of fish: this large piece was noticed, and the nobility of Vienna, as well as my illustrious employer, approved this novelty; for it is certain that in the Austrian capital, until then, the French cooks in reputation there had preserved the ancient customs of Paris. I think that a cook can never make too many pecuniary sacrifices to accelerate the progress of his art. I each day feel a grateful satisfaction in my work, from the flattering encouragements I receive from the noble personages I serve, but to accomplish it I have not only made great sacrifices in money, but every day have meditated on some new thing: this work will afford proofs of it.”

The following is Carème’s idea of our English turtle soup, which we will reproduce in speaking of soups:—


“This soup is, without contradiction, the most lengthened in its details of any that are known; the composition of its seasoning claims an able hand and[49] a strong memory. The palate of the cook who executes it should be very fine; none of the ingredients should predominate, not even the cayenne or allspice, which the English cooks inconsiderately employ.”

How well expressed is this! What parliamentary language! An able hand and a strong memory; and then the “inconsiderate” use of spices is as delicately and dexterously hinted as though Carème had taken practical lessons of the late Sir Robert Peel, or studied Hamilton’s Parliamentary Logic.

Notwithstanding the dictum of the author of the “Manuel des Amphitryons,” that “Un grand cuisinier ne doit point se livrer à la patisserie, dans laquelle il ne pourroit jamais être que mediocre,” it is in pastry and such small trifles that Carème chiefly shines. His work is unsuited to the mass of even the higher classes in this or any other country, and its use must be limited to persons of colossal fortune, who have thousands a year to expend in magnificent entertainments. The sale of such a work must, under any circumstances, be extremely limited, even though the price did not amount to the extravagant sum of twenty-one shillings.

Having now gone through the principal cookery books of England and France, I may be indulged in a few remarks on the cuisine of both countries. The cookery of England is, with the greater part of the nation, an object, not of luxurious desire or[50] morning meditation, but of plain necessity and solid and substantial comfort.

“Due nourishment we seek, not gluttonous delight,”

to use the words of Milton. Men dine to satisfy hunger in England, and to sustain and strengthen themselves for those avocations, professional, parliamentary, and commercial, into which they throw more eager energy, more properly-directed vigour, force, and intensity than any other nation under the sun, not even excepting the Americans. It may be a humiliating confession, but in England no learned treatises have been written on the art of dining or dinner giving. We are wholly without “meditations” or “contemplations gastronomiques;” we do not spend thousands of pounds in the gingerbread gilding of cafés and restaurants; nor have we “magasins de comestibles,” in the style of Chevet and Corcellet. Our inventive powers are not turned in the direction of luxury, nor do we make our bill of fare our calendar, nor measure the seasons by their dainty productions. We talk little of dining or dishes, however much the most luxurious and sensual among us may think about it. We can knead and bake, and roast and boil, and stew plain food as well, perhaps better, than our livelier neighbours; but we are not so expert in petits plats, in entrées, entremets, and ragouts, and are therefore justly obnoxious to the pert remark of Voltaire, that[51] though we have twenty-four religions, we have but one sauce. We can compare, combine and search out causes in morals, science, and legislation, but we have given no heed to the canons or combinations of cookery. We have given birth to a Bacon, a Locke, a Shakespeare, a Milton, a Watt; but we are without a Vatel, a Bechamel, a Laguipierre, a Beauvilliers, or a Carème. We have perfected railroads, steam-boats, and canals, but we cannot make a suprème de volaille in perfection, nor arrange des petits choux en profiteroles. We have produced the best quadrants, the best sextants, the best achromatic telescopes, and the best chronometers; but the truffles we grow in Derbyshire and Hampshire are pale and flavourless, and we cannot make larks au gratin. We have built the best steam-ships, the best steam-carriages, the best vehicles of every description for draught, business, pleasure, and amusement; but we cannot fatten frogs with the science of a Simon, and we do not render our mutton tender by electricity. We have beaten the nations of the earth in fabrics of linen, woollen, and cotton; but we are ignorant of epigrams of lamb, and know nothing of salpicons à la Vénetienne. We have invented the safety-lamp, the stocking-frame, and the spinning-jenny; but we hopelessly try our hands at filets de lapereaux en turban, and ignominiously fail in salmis of partridge à la bourguinote. We have excelled in everything requiring a union of enterprise, energy, perseverance,[52] and wealth; but we have no pâtés de foies-gras of home invention, and no terrines de Nerac. We have discovered and planted colonies which will perpetuate our name, our language, our literature, and our free institutions, to the last syllable of recorded time; but we cannot make veloutés of vegetables, nor haricots blancs à la maître d’hôtel. We have given liberty to the slave, and preached the pure word of the gospel to the nations subjected to our dominion and sway; but we still eat butter badly melted with our roast veal, and we have not invented three hundred and sixty-four ways to dress eggs. Our schoolmaster has indeed been “long abroad;” but though he has so far yielded to innovation and reform as to cast off the cauliflower wig of the time of the great Busby, yet he will not hear of chouf-leurs au gratin or au jus, but will still eat his esculent boiled hard in plain water. But a truce with comparisons, which are somewhat odious. Mankind undoubtedly owe to our neighbours many ingenious culinary processes by which the productions of nature are artfully and pleasantly disguised—many delicate combinations of sauces by which the palate is alternately stimulated and palled; but though we are indebted to the French for these nick-nackeries—though we owe to them hats and hair-powder, bon-bons and busks, caps and crinolines, stays and swaddling-clothes, sabots, wigs, and waistcoats, filigrams and foulardes, gold thread, gloves, and the guillotine—yet[53] the world is but little their debtor in any invention which does not turn on vanity, epicurism, or sensuality. They are a people who, according to their own historian, De Thou, discovered how to make tapestry before they had learned how to make broad cloth.

The metropolis of England exceeds that of France in extent and population; it commands a greater supply of all articles of consumption, and contains a greater number and variety of markets, which are better supplied. There are also some articles of meat and some articles of cookery in which England exceeds France. Though we are also undoubtedly inferior to the Gauls in the articles of veal and fowl, yet we greatly surpass them in mutton, produce better beef, lamb, and pork, and are immeasurably superior both in the quantity and quality of our fish, our venison, and our game.

This was admitted by St. Evremond nearly two hundred years ago in some stanzas, entitled “Les Avantages de l’Angleterre,” wherein he says—

“Roche-guyon, Bene, verfine,
Ne vantez plus votre lapin;
Windsor en fournit la cuisine
D’un fumet encore plus fin.”

In the same poem he alludes to the profuse supply of woodcocks, snipe, pheasant, and larks, and to the fine flavour and colour of the Bath mutton. It is in[54] fish, however, that we have been always most pre-eminent.

The turbot brought to Billingsgate in large quantities from the sand-banks, on the coast of Holland and St. George’s Channel, sufficiently attest our energy and enterprise. The coast of Holland, and the sea beyond our western coast, are as open to the French as to the British, yet when has any Paris market disclosed such a supply of fish as may be seen daily at Billingsgate, even after the hundreds of thousands of retail fishmongers have been supplied. In a few soups, such as turtle, which we possess in the greatest perfection, owing to our colonial trade, and ox tail, mock turtle, giblet, hare, pea, and mutton broth, we also surpass the French—but in the making of the latter admirable broth for invalids, there is still much to desire at coffee-houses and clubs. There is scarcely known a public establishment where it may be eaten in perfection, excepting at Brooke’s in St. James’s-street. It were most desirable that we should learn how to make a French bouillon or a lait de poule, for here indeed we are ignorant and at fault. In the boiling of all plain fish we surpass our neighbours. There is nothing in Paris equal to a first-rate English turbot, cod-fish, haddock, john-dorey, or Southampton water or Severn salmon, but the sauces used for these fishes in France are infinitely preferable. It is a remark of the late Lady Holland, that no fish should be eaten with another, and, therefore,[55] lobster sauce was excluded from her table. Dutch sauce is unquestionably more favourable to the flavour of all boiled fish.

The French certainly beat us in sturgeon cutlets, filets de sole, and béchamels of fish. The oysters of Cancale, of Etretat, of Ostend, and Marenne, are equal, if not superior, to the generality of English oysters, because they are less artificially fed, and have not their flavour washed away. But if the London tradesmen would spare their oatmeal and fresh water, the Milton native oyster would be found superior to its Gallic brother. In other shell-fish, also, we have a decided superiority. The corpulent, respectable, full-fed crab is almost unknown to the Gauls, and they have but a small quantity of lobsters and prawns, but they cultivate the smaller cray-fish in great quantities—a fish which is not common in England. Nor is there anything in French cookery equal to our barons of beef, our noble sirloins, our exquisite haunches, and saddles, and legs, and loins of Southdown mutton; our noble rounds of boiled beef, and those prime five guinea haunches of venison, which one sees from June till September, at the establishments of the Messrs. Grove, at Charing Cross and Bond Street. In cutlets of all kinds, in fricassées, in ragouts, in salmis, quenelles, purées, filets, and more especially in the dressing of vegetables, our neighbours surpass us; but we roast our game more perfectly, and can hash mutton and venison better than[56] any one of the myriads of French cooks. In bread, cream, butter, eggs, whether with reference to size or freshness, England is not to compare with France; and a French poularde of La Bresse or du Mans is worth all the Dorking fowl hatched since the time of the deluge. Though, therefore, the French cuisine be more luxurious, more varied, more palatable, more fair and dainty to look on than our ruder, more simple, more frugal, and less luxurious kitchen, yet our aliments (with the single exception of our vegetables) are infinitely more nutritious, and to English stomachs, at least, just as easy of digestion—perhaps, indeed, easier than the more refined and recherché fare of our livelier neighbours. It were undoubtedly desirable that we should learn a little from them in the way of white and brown sauces in veloutés, in the dressing of vegetables, in the making that simple, excellent thing, an omelette, in cooking beef-steaks, veal cutlets, and mutton chops, in seasoning and flavouring with ham instead of with salt; and in a more profuse use of eggs, oil, and butter. The great objection to the more general employment of these good things hitherto has been the expense, but now that the extended operation of the tariff has rendered all kinds of provisions cheaper, a great improvement in the kitchen even of the middle classes should be expected. Within the last thirty years great improvements have been introduced into the domestic cookery of the highest nobility, and within the last[57] twenty years, owing to frequent intercommunication, such has been the rapid progress that one may fancy oneself dining in the Rue de Bourbon, the Rue de Grenelle, or the Rue St. Florentin, instead of in Grosvenor or Belgrave-square or Park Lane; but still while anything is imperfect, something remains to be done, and with the continuation of peace, we may look forward with hopefulness, not alone to a more extended commerce, but to an improved cookery. No one desires to see Englishmen gluttons, gourmands, or refined sensualists, but only to see them adopt some few culinary improvements which would contribute to their material comfort, to their physical health, and to their mental enjoyment. “Comer à gusto y vestir al uso,” is philosophy in England as well as in Spain. Dr. Johnson declared that the subject on which a man most frequently and most earnestly thought was his dinner, and the great leviathan spoke truly in so far as he was personally concerned. “I could,” says he, “write a better book of cookery than has ever yet been written; it should be a book on philosophical principles; I would tell what is the best butcher’s meat, the proper seasons of different vegetables, and then how to roast and boil and to compound.”

Would that the doctor had lived to complete the task. The work would have been as useful as popular, and as well executed as the dictionary; and there can scarcely be a doubt that it would be comprehensive[58] and cosmopolitan in its character, and lucid and well-arranged in its details. Such a work yet remains to be written, and the only wonder is, that it has not been long since attempted and accomplished. When it is considered that no body of men in this our country, from a parish vestry to the Imperial Parliament, can meet on any public occasion without dining together—that the Whigs dine with Lord John Russell, the Conservatives with Lord Derby, and the Radicals with any leader of theirs, if any such there be, with a good house and cellar and a good cook—it must be considered that the art of dining (“l’art de la gueule,” as Montaigne says) is one of the most important bases of representative government, and it should not be without its professors, historians, and exponents. The subject is nevertheless of a neutral character, and I have endeavoured to show the respective merits of French and English cookery. Substantial solidity and simplicity are the distinctive marks of the one; variety, delicacy, and harmonious combination is the character of the other. Both are excellent in their way, but a fusion of the two kitchens, rejecting what is coarse and barbarous in the English, and too gross, Gascon, and Provençal in the French, would be the perfection of good living. Though personally no admirer of French manners or French morals—though I put no faith in French equality, abhor French centralization, loathe from the very bottom of my heart[59] French tyranny, and think French military glory—which is but a velvety euphemism for French brigandage and French invasion—should be put down by the comity of nations, and the strong will and strong arm of all mankind—yet I am of opinion that there is much in the French kitchen which might be advantageously transplanted and successfully imitated in this country. But as nations cling with constancy to their old culinary customs, and as systems of cookery often survive systems of polity, I am not very hopeful as to any immediate change. A new cookery book, however, pointing out the respective merits of the French and English culinary art, is a work greatly and urgently wanted. The Peel Tariff, or free trade, will never have a fair trial till such a publication sees the light.



I am, in the matters of the kitchen, as will be learned from the previous chapter, no admirer of the wisdom of our ancestors. Cookery is eminently an experimental and a practical art. Each day, while it adds to our experience, should also increase our knowledge. And now that intercommunication between distant nations has become facile and frequent; now that we may make an early breakfast in London and a late dinner in Paris, it cannot be permitted that cookery should remain stationary. Far am I from saying that a dinner should be a subject of morning or mid-day meditation or of luxurious desire; but in the present advanced state of civilization, and of medical and chemical knowledge, something more than kneading, baking, stewing, and boiling are necessary in any nation pretending to civilization. The metropolis of England exceeds Paris in extent and population; it commands a greater supply of[61] all articles of consumption, and contains a greater number and variety of markets, which are better supplied. We greatly surpass the French in mutton, we produce better beef, lamb, and pork, and are immeasurably superior both in the quantity and quality of our fish, our venison, and our game, yet we cannot compare, as a nation, with the higher, the middle, or the lower classes in France, in the science of preparing our daily food. The only articles of food in the quality of which the French surpass us are veal and fowl, but such is the skill and science of their cooks that with worse mutton, worse beef, and worse lamb than ours, they produce better chops, cutlets, steaks, and better made dishes of every nature and kind whatsoever. In fricassées, ragouts, salmis, quenelles, purées, filets, and more especially in the dressing of vegetables, our neighbours surpass us. No good reason can be alleged why we should not imitate them in a matter in which they are perfect, or why their more luxurious, more varied, more palatable, and more dainty cookery, should not be introduced more generally among the higher and middle classes.

The object of sensible people should be to adopt all that is good in the cookery of both nations. While English soups, such as ox tail, mock turtle, giblet, hare, pea soup, and mutton broth have their merits, the French potages à la reine, à la Condé, à la Julienne, and the various purées should not be forgotten.[62] While, also, the practical cook may find copious receipts in English cookery books for the boiling of turbot, cod-fish, john-dorey, and salmon, in the English and Dutch fashion, the sturgeon cutlets of the French, and their filets and béchamels of fish should be also introduced to English favour and attention from French cookery books. Our barons of beef, our noble sirloins, our exquisite haunches, saddles, legs, and loins of Southdown mutton, our noble rounds of boiled beef, and those haunches of British venison, the envy and admiration of the world, are worthy of the highest praise. But, on the other hand, the gigot à l’ail aux haricots blancs ought to be made more favourably known to the Englishman, as well as the filet de bœuf, an excellent every-day dish in the good city of Paris. In any new cookery book, while no English receipt of approved excellence should be cancelled, yet there should also be given within a reasonable compass a short system of French, and a compendium of foreign, cookery. It is desirable that we should learn much from our neighbours, as I have said in a former chapter, in white and brown sauces, in veloutés, in the dressing of vegetables, in the seasoning and flavouring with ham instead of with salt, and in a more profuse use of eggs, oil, and butter.

A new cookery book, pointing out the distinctive merits of the French and English kitchens, is a work urgently needed. In such a manual of the art the readers should be presented with all that is best[63] in the substantial solidity and simplicity of the English kitchen, and all that is most varied, delicate, and harmoniously combined in the kitchen of the French. Both are excellent in their way, and there are already many separate treatises on each; but a fusion or combination of the two systems ought now to be attempted. If any professed cook or amateur succeeds in causing an abandonment of all that is coarse and unwholesome in the English kitchen, and in introducing all that is light, elegant, and varied in the French, he will have accomplished a great object, and have done the health of diners-out and dinner-givers equal service. It is the greatest mistake, in a medical point of view, to suppose that an unvaried uniformity of food contributes either to health or to comfort. Variety is as necessary to the stomach as change of scene, or change of study to the mind, and that variety should be placed in our day within the reach of as many as possible.

As there is scarcely an English family among the higher or middle classes who does not number among its members a retired military or civil servant of the East India Company, or a retired naval officer or Indian merchant, it would be advisable to introduce a chapter in any coming cookery book on Anglo-Indian cookery. Mulligatawney soup, and curries, and pillaus, are exceedingly wholesome.

Neither the Spanish, the Portuguese, the Russian, nor the Polish cookery are deserving of general commendation;[64] but a few national dishes and soups, which have obtained a more general reputation, are worthy of attention and adoption.

Cookery is, above all others, a traditional and practical art, and unless receipts have stood the test of time and experience, and general approval, they are little worth. Cookery books are, for the most part, copies of each other; and the first cookery book is only the most original, because we cannot trace the plagiarism beyond the period when printing was invented. But there is little doubt, that in the rolls of great houses, and in the muniment rooms of colleges, halls, and religious establishments, would be found in vellum manuscript every receipt published in the first English cookery book. And the plagiarism may be tracked, as a wounded man by his blood, from 1470 to 1863. The compilers of all cookery books have, more or less, copied the earlier compilers who preceded; and so it must ever be, till we are foolish enough to reject all experience, and trust to theory or conjecture.

The compilers of any new cookery book should lay no claim to originality. They should avail themselves, though never servilely, of the labours of nearly all their predecessors, and by collation, comparison, addition, retrenchment, and the exercise of their own skill, experience, and discoveries, endeavour to improve on works already in print.

Among the French masters in the science of[65] cookery are, Vatel, La Chapelle, Grimod de la Reynière, Beauvilliers, Ude, Laguipierre, Carème, and Plumeret; but receipts of more general utility for the public at large will be found in the “Cuisinier Royal” and the “Cuisinière Bourgeoise.”

Many of the receipts of Carème require alterations and additions, but some may be adopted in their entirety. Of Carème’s cookery, however, the distinguishing characteristic is profuse expenditure. In order to render such a system not merely easy of adoption, but possible, men cooks, splendid establishments, and colossal fortunes must become much more universal than they ever have been or ever can be.

The object of all should now be not to render the introduction of French cookery difficult and expensive, but easy, and within the reach of persons of moderate fortune.

The present age is distinguished as an age of rapid progress, and the improvements suggested now may, in this day of easy and inexpensive communication with the Continent, become permanently rooted to the British soil before 1869.



Dinner is unquestionably the most important and substantial meal of the two, three, or four, in which civilized man indulges, and it is a meal which any healthful and laborious person (whether his labour be of mind or body) enjoys zestfully. Man is distinguished from the beasts of the field in being a conversing and a dining animal. Jules Janin says somewhere, with more of truth and less of exaggeration than he usually employs, that beasts feed, but man dines; that lower animals hunger, but man something more than hungers, for he has a discriminating appetite.

Dinner is an important consideration to those who study health, temper, and the best method of getting through business. Our great moralist, Johnson, would never have accomplished a tithe of what he has done for his generation and posterity, had he not sensibly given much more attention to what[67] suited his palate and his appetite than the great mass of mankind. The Doctor laughed at those who affected not to care for dinner, and asserted that from having long thought on the subject, he could write a better cookery book than had ever appeared in his day, because it would be written on philosophical principles. The late Sydney Smith, too, one of the ablest and wittiest men of our own generation, laid great stress on the importance of dinner to the proper performance of our most serious duties and functions; and there can be no doubt that the Canon of St. Paul’s had reason on his side. Every sensible and thoughtful man is, in truth, aware how much better he is able to speak, or to write, or take his part in conversation and debate after a satisfactory meal, which pleased his palate, and suited and satisfied his appetite, than after a cold, a comfortless, or an unrelished dinner. The result can be explained on purely medical and physiological grounds, and need not be further laboured in a work of this kind. Suffice it to say, however, that in ancient, mediæval, and modern times, some of the most scientific and learned men have not disdained to write on dinners. I need but mention the treatise of Apicius, who lived in the time of Augustus, “De Re Culinaria;”[10] the treatise of Nonius, a learned Antwerp physician of the sixteenth century, “De Re Cibariâ;” and the more[68] modern treatise of Lemery, physician of Louis XIV., and thirty-three years the physician to the Hôtel Dieu at Paris. Lemery published his “Traité des Alimens,” in 1702. Contemporaneously with him, flourished Dr. Lister, Physician to our own Queen Anne, who wrote a cookery book in 1705, and gave a paraphrastic translation of the work of Apicius, under the title, “De Obsoniis et Condimentis sive de Arte Coquinaria.” In the reign of George IV., Dr. Kitchener and half a dozen of his brethren of the faculty in Paris, wrote disquisitionally upon cookery; and, in our own day, Drs. Pereira and Lankester have written valuable treatises on food, with a view that we should employ such a diet and regimen as is most conducive to health. The truth is that we must all dine, tant bien que mal, every day in the three hundred and sixty-five; and, as many of us give dinners every seven, fourteen, twenty-eight or thirty days, or every quarter of a year, to our friends and acquaintances, it behoves us to know what to order for ourselves, when dining en famille, as well as for the guests who honour us with their company.

Each country and capital has its mode and season for giving dinners, but there can be no doubt whatever that the best dinners in the world are given in Paris and in London. Probably if the dinners of London were to be judged by the specimens afforded in the most refined houses of the highest aristocracy in Grosvenor Square, Mayfair, and Belgravia, in the[69] season between April and July, we should bear off the bell against the world; but the general cookery of a great capital containing nearly three millions of souls cannot be properly judged by the superior cookery of about three hundred first-rate houses, in all of which accomplished French or French-trained men cooks officiate. The dinners given at such houses present the substantial solidity, as well as the gracefulness, lightness, and science of French cookery, and display a combination as rare as nutritious, as desirable as delightful. But if we descend in England beyond the upper ten thousand, though the fried and roast are generally excellent, the attendance good, and the display of glass, crystal and plate much greater and better kept, than in any other country and capital in the world, yet the cookery is not to be compared to the finer cuisine bourgeoise of Paris. The professional and learned classes at Paris, as well as the class of superior traders, all feast at a cuisine, which, for its science, its relishing and appetizing qualities, greatly surpasses ours. In moderate houses in Paris there is far less pretension than there is among us. For instance, an eminent lawyer, doctor, or publisher, will give you at a small friendly dinner of four or six, a good soup, a good fish plain or dressed, a good roti, and a couple of side dishes, all of which are excellent in their way, with a salmi of game and a couple of entremets quite perfect of their kind, and this at an expense of little[70] more than one half of what an English dinner costs. There is on the table plenty for every guest; but the beauty of such dinners is, that nearly every morsel is eaten up. There are a few good dishes well cooked, and everybody relishes his portion. The wines, liqueurs, and coffee are all good.

In some of the very first houses in the Faubourg St. Germain, at a small party you seldom see more than two men servants, and often only one. Among professional men living in the neighbourhood of the Palais de Justice, the Chaussée d’Antin, the Faubourg St. Honoré, or the Marais, the attendance is generally by a femme de charge, aided by what would in this country be called a parlour maid, and who sometimes acts as the femme de chambre of the lady of the house, if there be one.

On the other hand, among the foreign ambassadors in Paris, and more especially at the Austrian and Russian Embassies, there are most sumptuous dinners, distinguished by great luxury and display. The great functionaries of the Court too, the Ministers, the Prefect of the Seine, and other high official dignitaries, most of whom are nouveaux riches, live expensively, keeping numerous servants, taking their cue from the Court. But it would be an error to suppose from this, that excessive expenditure is the custom of the nation. Far indeed from it; for the great majority of Frenchmen are thrifty, and spend little on hospitality. The class of bankers, however,[71] agents de Change, speculators on the Bourse, railroad contractors, and persons connected with the Crédit Foncier and the Crédit Mobilier make much display, and live fastly, though in bad taste; many of them, poor and utterly unknown fourteen or fifteen years ago, now possess fine mansions, first-rate cooks, and live à la Lucullus.

But these men do not move in high or select society. They live among speculators and jobbers, and their tables are often presided over by some incognita of the demi-monde, some première danseuse of the opera, or some jeune première of the Variétés or the Vaudeville.

The gentry and higher middle classes in Paris enjoy an exquisite and not expensive cuisine bourgeoise, but English or foreigners are rarely met at their dinners. The truth is that few Englishmen speak the French language sufficiently well or understand French domestic life so thoroughly as to relish French society. Notwithstanding the great intercourse that has prevailed between the two nations for nearly half a century, they do not mix well together socially. Englishmen, notwithstanding the extended intercourse they have had with the Continent, still like to sit an hour or so over their wine, after the ladies have departed, whereas in Paris ladies and gentlemen leave the salle à manger, or dinner table, together, and retire to another room to coffee and conversation. The coffee and liqueurs despatched, the[72] dinner circle is dissolved by host and guests either proceeding to the theatres, or to some cercle or réunion, where other friends are met. The result is, that after from two and a half to three hours of agreeable conviviality, the circle separate, mutually pleased with each other, and greatly exhilarated by the good cheer, the good converse, and the good coffee. The parties sit down to their repast at six or seven, and separate at half-past eight or half-past nine, when it is not too late to go to the Italian or French opera, or even to the Theatre du Palais Royal, the Vaudeville, or the Variétés. There is no torturing headache the next day from that “casse tête” wine called port, and there has been no time lost in waiting, as with us, for people arrive in France at the very moment invited—a moment which is always considered military time, so precisely is it kept.

It is a pity we do not adopt something of this system among all classes in England. People might under this condition of things, give two dinners for every one they now give, and both host and guest would be all the better in person and pocket for a more elegant and temperate style of living.

To return, however, to English dinners. Though in no capital in the world is hospitality more generally exercised than in London from January to December, yet among the higher classes the grand time for giving dinners is at the height of the season—that is to say, when both houses of Parliament[73] are sitting. The season may generally be described as extending from the middle of April to the middle of July, a period of three months. Occasionally it begins a little earlier and ends a little later, but on an average of years it would be found that London is filled with the most distinguished visitors during these months.

During the season of which I speak, the prices of all table luxuries are enhanced, spring chickens as they are called costing generally about 12s. or 13s. the couple. Fashion, however, will exert its sway, and, totally irrespective of cost, diners d’apparat, or grand entertainments, are always given during this season. Covers are laid for twelve, fourteen, sixteen, eighteen, or twenty, as the case may be, though occasionally the number of guests is considerably larger. At regular dress dinners of this kind there is great magnificence, great luxury, all the primeurs, as the French call them, all the early fruits and vegetables, no matter what the cost, are provided and produced. Green peas are imported from Portugal, and asparagus from the same place, and from Hyeres, Nice, &c. Most of the nobility and gentry are enabled to supply themselves from their country seats with hot-house grapes and pines; but, to such as are not, Covent Garden, and the best fruiterers of London are always open, and in no country in the world do you find, if prepared to incur the expenditure, finer fruits (especially hot-house fruits) than in England,[74] though finer vegetables are to be found in the Brussels and occasionally in the Parisian markets.

At the grand dinners of which I speak the custom has been, and still in a great degree is, to divide the dinner into several courses, but this is a practice super-inducing trouble, profusion, and expense. These may be incurred where there are large establishments and colossal fortunes (as there are in England in a greater degree than in any country in the world), and where the object is to astonish and render rivalry hopeless, rather than to please or satisfy your guest; but as in the great majority of cases the fortunes and the desires of men are moderate, it seems to me it would be in better sense, and, indeed, in better taste too, to allow of but two courses as in France. In some of the best houses in the Faubourg St. Germain, fish and hors d’œuvre, such as patties, &c., form part of the first course, and not a distinct course as here.

In all grand dinners for twelve persons in England, two soups, two fishes, and four entrées for the first course are considered indispensable; and two roasts, two removes, and half a dozen entremets for the second course. For a dinner of twenty, the entrées and the entremets would necessarily have to be doubled, being each increased to eight. Of course the bill of fare for these dinners varies with the season. In April a turtle and a spring soup may be given with turbot and crimped salmon, roast fore-quarter of lamb, fillet of[75] beef, &c.; whereas in January or February there may be an ox-tail, a mock turtle, a gravy or a giblet or a grey pea soup, with a variety of game, such as partridges, black cock, wild duck, snipe, and woodcock, not procurable in April or May. Persons giving dinners should, of course, consider the season.

Men of rank and fortune who keep a regular house steward or maître d’hôtel have this trouble taken off their hands, for a confidential servant, or a French chef de cuisine arranges with the master of the establishment or the lady of the house what is to be the menu or bill of fare; but persons of two or three thousand a year, or of one thousand a year (and such persons now give occasional dinners, vying with those of ten and twenty times their fortune) cannot afford to keep French men cooks, or to maintain extensive establishments. It is therefore necessary, unless these gentlemen be supplied by Gunter, Bridgeman, or some other tradesmen, at so much per head, that he should know how to order a dinner.

In the case of men of moderate fortune, it is very likely a first-rate man cook, French or English, will be introduced for the occasion, and come the day before the dinner to make preliminary arrangements, and to give directions to, and to aid the ordinary woman cook of the household. Unless some such arrangement as this be adopted, a dinner cannot be very satisfactory, and probably it would be better for persons who have to give set dinners on certain occasions[76] twice or thrice a year, and who cannot fully rely on their own English female cook, and the professed man cook brought in to assist and superintend, to contract with some renowned undertaker or entrepreneur of dinners, such as Gunter, Staples, Bathe and Breach, &c., to supply the party of twelve or twenty, as the case may be, at so much a head, exclusive of wine.

In arrangements such as this much trouble is saved to the man of small fortune, and there is no waste, for the provider of the dinner removes the débris on the very night of the feast, or early the following morning. Why, however, it will be asked, should persons of a couple or three thousand a year give so pretentious and costly a dinner? Because every one in England tries to ape the class two or three degrees above him in point of rank and fortune, in style of living, and manner of receiving his friends. Thus it is that a plain gentleman of moderate fortune, or a professional man making a couple of thousands a year, having dined with a peer of £50,000 a year in Grosvenor Square or Belgravia, seeks when he himself next gives a dinner, to imitate the style of the Marquis, Earl, or Lord Lieutenant of a county with whom he has come into social contact. The attempt is a great mistake, and generally a failure; for unless there be a unity and completeness, an ensemble in such a feast, it is a misadventure. In a party of twenty at one of these great houses there are from a[77] dozen to fifteen servants, exclusive of the butler and under-butler, waiting at table, and where is the man of three thousand or six thousand a year who could afford such a retinue of liveried lackeys! The keep, liveries, beer-money, and wages of a dozen livery servants of this kind, would amount to from £1600 to £2000 a year alone. Is it not therefore folly for gentlemen of small means, or for struggling professional men, to seek to vie with, by aping, these magnates. Let the great brewers, the great bankers, the great merchants, and the great railway contractors and millionaires, vie with them if it please them, but let men of mind and brain not attempt it. Even in the case of millionaires, the essay at rivalry is rarely successful. There is ostentation without ease, elegance, good breeding, or good taste, and the parvenu too often appears in all his disagreeable hideousness and self-sufficiency. It were far better if men of moderate fortune would attempt less. The success of a dinner does not depend in the least on two soups, two fishes, two removes, and eight entrées, but on having sufficient on table the best of its kind, and thoroughly well dressed. Better far have one first-rate soup and one good fish, such as turbot or salmon, than a multiplicity of dishes, unless you have good cooks and a retinue of servants, and all the accessories of a first-rate establishment. It is within the power of every gentleman of fair means to give a good soup, a good fish, a couple of removes, and four[78] entrées at the first course, and a couple of small roasts, a couple of removes, and a few entremets at the second course, and what can any reasonable man want in addition? If the dinner be composed exclusively of English, let the remove be a haunch or saddle of mutton, a roast turkey and ham, a braized leg of mutton, a fillet or a sirloin of beef, and surely there is enough to create “a soul under the ribs of death,” with the entrées of lamb, mutton, and veal cutlets, with fillets of pheasants, vol au vents blanquette, of sweetbreads and such like. In April, May, June, and July, fricassées of chickens, leverets, pigeons, fillets of rabbits, with quails, ducklings, turkey poults, and guinea fowls may be served for entrées and second courses; while in August there is venison, grouse, and wheatears. In September, October, November, and December, there are partridges, grouse, blackcock, golden plover, snipe, woodcock, wild duck, hare, and pheasants; while in the two last months of November and December, ox-tail, mulligatawney, mock turtle, and giblet soups may do frequent duty, with turbot, crimped cod, haddock, and brill for fish. For entrées in the winter months there may be pork cutlets, quenelles, mutton cutlets, rabbit curries, &c.

I am now speaking, of course, of dinners of some pretension; but there are every day given in England those quiet little family dinners of six or eight persons, which are the perfection of social life.


It is said that the number present at these dinners should not be less than the graces, nor more than the muses. There is a good deal of truth in this. Conversation cannot be general or quite unrestrained, where the company exceeds eight or ten. In a party of sixteen or twenty you are forced to converse with your neighbours on either side, or with the gentleman opposite to you. The master of a feast should take care in selecting his guests, whether in a large or in a small party, but more particularly in a small party—that they should be people of analogous tastes. In most cases it would not very well answer to place a Puritan side by side with a High Churchman—or a peace-at-any-price man next an engineer officer, earnest in the pursuit of his profession. An Allopathist should not be united en petit comité with a Homœopathist; nor a whig of the old school with a violent radical. The great object is to pair amiable, pleasant and agreeable men, who have travelled much and lived in the world, and pleasant and agreeable women. A good talker at a dinner-table is a great acquisition, but good listeners are not less essential.

But your good talker should be an urbane and polite man, not bumptious and underbred. Barristers and travelled physicians are generally excellent company, though the former not seldom monopolise too much of the conversation, and give it occasionally a shoppy air. If the object of dining be to secure the greatest quantity of health and enjoyment, such[80] results are more likely to be attained at small than at those set and formal dinners, where people are kept—to use the language of the late Mr. Walker, in “stately durance.” The essence of a good dinner, as the author of the “Original” sensibly remarks, is “that it should be without ceremony, and that you should have what you want when you want it.” This you cannot have at a ceremonial and formal London dinner, where you are encumbered with help, and are not allowed to do anything for yourself. At small every-day dinners, you may have every thing upon the table that is wanted at the time; thus for salmon you would have lobster, or parsley and butter, or cockle sauce, as you might prefer, with cayenne, chili vinegar, sliced cucumber, &c. The comfort of this is great, as the guests pass the sauces at once and instantaneously to each other. At great dinners this is never done. Everything is handed round by a file of liveried servants, who are continually changing the courses and taking up and laying down dishes, to the discomfort of the guests. Yet it is this dull, comfortless, stately and ostentatious formality that every one is striving at.

“State,” as Mr. Walker observes, “without the machinery of state, is of all states the worst;” and it is detestable to see men with a couple of thousands a year, and a couple of men servants, and an English female cook, imitating the style of living of men of thirty thousand a year, with a dozen male servants. I[81] would not have it inferred, that a large income and a first-rate man cook are indispensable to the giving of good dinners. There are now several Schools of Cookery in London, from some of which one can obtain regularly educated female cooks, and it is quite possible, with small establishments and small fortunes, to give comfortable and even elegant dinners, in which the English style shall be diversified by the French. But in these small establishments too much should not be attempted. Everything savouring of too much state and over-display should be discarded. The dishes should be choice, but limited in number, and the wines more remarkable for their excellence than their variety. It is the exquisite quality of a dinner or a wine that pleases us, not the number of dishes, nor the number of vintages. The late Earl of Dudley was wont to say, “that a good soup, a small turbot, a neck of venison, and ducklings with green peas, or chicken with asparagus, or an apricot tart, was a dinner for an emperor!” and to my thinking it was far too good for most emperors past and present.

I have already observed, that in my mind the really fine cuisine bourgeoise of good houses in France is perfection, and I do not despair of seeing such cookery infinitely more generally used in England than it ever has been; but the more expensive French cookery is never likely to become generally prevalent amongst us. Carème tells us that at grand balls and dinners he[82] used to roast turkeys only for his soups and consommés, and he talks as volubly of two, four, and half-a-dozen fowls, as though they were had for eighteen pence a piece, instead of costing at the cheapest rate and time 5s. 6d. or 6s. a couple. A system of cookery so expensive as this can never become general in any country. Carème tells how he formed his consommés, and though doubtless they were better flavoured and presented a more golden appearance than the generality of consommés, yet, to use the language of Burke,

“They were soon exhaled, and vanished hence—
A short, sweet odour at a vast expense.”

There are, however, many things in the French kitchen which are daily coming into more general use. First, there is the pot au feu for the family broth; there are the various purées for fowl, rabbit, and vegetable soups of all kinds, from Jerusalem artichokes, carrots, and turnips, to onions and cerfeuil. Thirdly, there are the various sauces of blanc, espagnole, roux blanc, velouté, sauce à la creme, and poivrade, which are now of much more common usage than they were thirty, twenty, or even ten years ago. We are every day also getting more and more into the habit of filleting our soles, or dressing them au gratin or à la Normande; and in the serving of entrées and entremets we have made visible improvement. Still there are few English cooks in England who can turn out an omelette aux fines herbes, or an omelette soufflée[83] as well as an ordinary French cook. Yet, what an excellent thing this for breakfast or lunch when one is tired of a boiled egg, of a slice of cold ham, beef, or tongue, or of a mutton chop, beefsteak, or cold game pie.

A morning’s meal is no unimportant thing to a man who has to appear in half a dozen causes in a crowded court, who has to visit five-and-twenty patients, or to get through half a dozen Blue-books before he goes down to a Parliamentary Committee at the House of Lords or Commons. Our mental energies, in a great degree, depend on our physical condition and well-being; and the physical condition of that man, be he peer, senator, advocate, or doctor, who, for half a dozen days, has had an indifferent breakfast or dinner, cannot be good.

In asking people to dinner, you should put to yourself the question, “Why do I ask them?” and unless the answer be satisfactory, they are not likely to contribute much to the agreeability and sociality of the entertainment. They may be ornamental; it may be necessary, in a give-and-take sense, to have them in return for a dinner already long received and digested; but, unless they are sensible, social, unaffected, and clever men, they are not likely to contribute much to the hilarity of the entertainment. You may ask a man because he is a bon vivant, because he is a raconteur, because he talks brilliantly and eloquently, because he is a wit, because he is a distinguished traveller, poet, historian, or orator, or because he is[84] a good-natured popular man, a “bon enfant,” or, what used to be called, a “jolly good fellow.” But do not ask any, however much above the average, who is a prig, who is pretentious, who is disputatious, or who is underbred. Never introduce to your table men who have not the feelings, habits, manners, and education of gentlemen—I had almost said, the birth of a gentleman; but it must be remembered that nature now and again produces some magnificent specimens of what somebody has called “God Almighty’s gentlemen.” But these are the exceptions, not the rule; for it will generally be found that men of gentle birth are also men of gentle breeding. The only two positively offensive and ill-bred men I ever encountered in society were men of some ability who had probably never entered the house of a gentleman to dinner, till they were four or five-and-twenty. In these instances, the want of early training and culture in manners and les convenances had never been supplied. The presence of men of this stamp is destructive to good fellowship. They are social pests, and should be avoided comme la gale.

Though the French learned a great deal of their cookery, and still more of their confectionery, from the Italians, yet there is little now in Italian cookery worthy of imitation or adoption among us. Macaroni and semolina soups are better made in Paris than in Italy, though the ribbon macaroni is better prepared at Naples and in Sicily than anywhere else in the world. Veal cutlets, also, are very well prepared[85] in the great cities of Italy, and more especially at Naples and Turin.

Italian ices and confectionary are worthy of all praise; but, as the nation is not a dinner-giving nation, we have little or nothing to adopt from them. Some of their sausages are extremely good and appetizing.

The Spaniards are as little of a dinner-giving people as the Italians. Though every Spaniard tells you, with asseverating protestations, “Mi casa sta à la dispocion di usted,” yet this means nothing whatever, for assuredly you are never destined to eat or drink within his four walls, unless it be a cup of cold water. The only national dishes of any note in Spain, are the olla and the puchero, and neither would be relished by Englishmen of well-educated palates.

Germany has little to teach us in the way of cookery. On the banks of the Rhine they dress a carp well, with both sweet and sour sauce; but, for my own part, I prefer a Rhenish carp served in Paris by a French cook. German sauer kraut, with Hambro’ beef, may be said to be a national dish, and right good the Hambro’ salt beef is; but few Englishmen like either sauer kraut or potato salad—a dish of Fatherland. German batter and German horseradish sauce, made with cream, and also the cherry-sauce, so common, is not despicable with certain meats; but, on the whole, German cookery is not either elegant or palatable.

It may be thought that my condemnation of German cookery is too sweeping. It is not without full[86] experience I speak of it, for I have lived in every capital town of Germany. At Dresden, many years ago, I rented a house in the Neu Markt, of the cook of Madame de Stael, and he furnished the best-dressed dinners I saw in Germany. At Vienna, among the Ambassadors of the five Great Powers, and among some of the Hungarian and Bohemian nobility, first-rate dinners are given, dressed by French cooks; but this is not the cookery of the nation at large, nor even of the well-to-do and easy portion of it. Carème was a considerable time at Vienna, as cook of the late Marquis of Londonderry, and he liked Vienna very well; but he says that the beef, mutton, and veal are very indifferent, badly bled, and disagreeable to dress. “There are wanting at Vienna,” says Carème, “the truffles of France, and the fish of the sea.” But, though these wants are now speedily supplied by rail, the general cookery is not good.

The best and truest account of German cookery is given in the “Bubbles from the Brunnens of Nassau.” “During the fashionable season,” says the author, the dinner at Langenschwalbach is at one o’clock. Seated at the table of the Allee Saal, I counted one hundred and eighty people at dinner in one room. To say in a single word whether the fare was bad or good would be quite impossible, it being so completely different from anything ever met with in England. To my simple taste, the cookery is most horrid; still there were now and then some dishes, particularly sweet ones, which I thought excellent.[87] With respect to the made-dishes, of which there were a great variety, I beg to record a formula which is infallible; the simple rule is this—let the stranger taste the dish, and if it be not sour, he may be quite certain that it is greasy: again, if it be not greasy, let him not eat thereof, for then it is sure to be sour. With regard to the order of the dishes, that too is unlike anything Mrs. Glasse ever thought of: after soup, which all over the world is the alpha of the gourmand’s alphabet, the barren meat from which the said soup has been extracted is produced; of course it is dry, tasteless, withered-looking stuff, which a Grosvenor Square cat would not touch with its whiskers; but this dish is always attended by a couple of satellites—the one, a quantity of cucumber stewed in vinegar; the other, a black greasy sauce; and if you dare accept a piece of this flaccid beef, you are instantly thrown between Scylla and Charybdis, for so sure as you decline the indigestible cucumber, souse comes into your plate a deluge of the sickening grease. After the company have eaten heavily of messes, which it would be impossible to describe, in comes some nice salmon—then fowls—then puddings—then meat again—then stewed fruit; and after the English stranger has fallen back in his chair quite beaten, a leg of mutton majestically makes its appearance! The pig who lives in his sty would have some excuse, but it is really quite shocking to see any other animal overpowering himself at mid-day with such a mixture and superabundance of food. “Yet[88] only think,” says our author, “what a compliment all this is to the mineral waters of Langenschwalbach, if the Naiads of the Pauline can be of real service to a stomach full of vinegar and grease, how much more effectually ought they to tinker up the inside of him who has sense enough to sue them in formâ pauperis.”

The quantity of fat and lard used in German cookery, more especially in cooking vegetables, renders it unpalatable to English tastes.

We may borrow from the Dutch kitchen something in fish soups. The Dutch eel soup is rich, full of flavour, and very nourishing; and the soup of herring roes, called Erasmus’s soup, prepared with twelve soft roes of herrings generally, and a quart of young peas, is by no means despicable.

I have also, after tossing on the German Ocean, enjoyed in Holland a Flushing soup made of flakes of cod and salmon. Our own modes of dressing cod, whether fresh or salted, is good, but something may be adopted from the Dutch in sauces for fish, and in the various ways of dressing herrings.

I have, in another part of this work, expressed an opinion as to the Russian mode of laying out a table. I will here merely say that almost everything good in the Russian cookery has been adopted from the English, French, and Dutch kitchens.

There is a fish soup in Russia, the chief ingredient in which is the sterlet, but as the fish is not obtainable here, it is useless to speak of it. Few of our peasantry would eat the Russian national soup—the tschy; and[89] the barch, the Polish soup, which is fermented, is little likely to please an English or a French palate.

While Carème admits that the Russians have a few national dishes, he properly says these do not constitute a system of cookery. Their butcher’s meat, he adds, is very indifferent, their pullets are poor and small. The mutton consumed in St. Petersburgh comes from the interior, and is often, like the salmon, frozen.

From the Turkish and Indian cookery we may adopt much more than from the Russian. The pilau and kalobs of Turkey are very relishing, and so are the fish and vegetable curries of India—the pish poshes, pepper pots, and cutcharees and country captains. The Indian mulligatawney soup is excellent in the damp and cold weather, from the beginning of November to the end of February.

For ordinary dinners, English gentlemen should prefer simplicity and excellence to variety. Simplicity and convenience have triumphed in dress, and will sooner or later in dinners.

The circular form seems the most desirable in a dinner-table; and with respect to setting it out, I would say with the late Mr. Walker, nothing should be placed on it but what is wanted. The great object of meeting round table is to have free and unrestrained communication and hilarity, and these are impeded by plateaus, dormants, and centre-pieces.

I have not said a word of bachelors’ dinners, though of all dinners in the world they are the pleasantest,[90] from the laisser aller and laissez faire style which prevails at them. At bachelors’ parties the age, disposition, and amusing qualities of the guests are more considered than at regular set dinners. Bachelors look for the idem velle and the idem nolle when they play the Amphytrion, and in consequence they succeed. Another reason of the success of bachelors’ entertainments arises from the fact that the dishes are few and simple; and as the dinner is generally given in a small house or chambers, the kitchen is not too far removed from the eating parlour. Everything comes up “screeching hot,” as they say in Ireland, and not lukewarm or soddened, as too often happens at great dinners. Centrepieces, epergnes, and dormants do not generally figure at bachelors’ dinners, and there is an absence of form and ceremony which gives zest. Ladies in general love ceremony and ornaments, and the accessories of epergnes, flowers, and perfumes.

I have not said anything of American dinners. The best of these in private houses are copied from the English and French model, although there is much that is distinctive in the manner of serving and consuming dinners at the great hotels in New York. American turtle soup is excellent; and so is their sturgeon soup. Though I do not agree in Mr. Money’s estimate of the Russian dinners, I quite concur in his valuable suggestion, that dinner chairs at our tables should be made lighter and more flexible in the back and sitting part.



The manner of laying out a table is nearly the same in all parts of the United Kingdom: yet there are trifling local peculiarities to which the mistress of a house must attend. A centre ornament, whether it be a dormant, a plateau, an epergne, or a candelabrum, is found so convenient, and contributes so much, in the opinion of some, to the good appearance of the table, that a dinner is seldom or never set out without something of this kind. Of late years people who give dinners give them what is called à la Russe; but if you ask nine out of every ten what they mean by dining à la Russe, they are unable to tell you. All they can say is, that there is nothing on the table but flowers and fruits, that the dishes are carved on the sideboard and handed about to the guests. This fashion still continues, but I never could see any good reason for its introduction. It seems to me exceedingly odd that a a people, like the English, who, for certainly five[92] centuries, have enjoyed a high degree of civilization, should copy the Russians in the system of dinner-giving—a people who, a century ago, were plunged in the deepest barbarism, and who, as yet, are scarcely half civilized. Even now the Russians have not in their language any word which conveys the idea of gentleman, and the title of Prince, so common amongst them, is not much more than a hundred years old. Coats of arms were first borne in Russia only about eighty years ago, and they were then introduced by the German adventurers, with which class Russia still abounds.

In the days of Peter the Great, about a century and a half ago, the Russian Boyars (the only title of nobility, properly speaking, Russian), were so very ignorant that many of them could not write, and so very drunken as to astonish so potent a tippler as Peter himself. When this great reformer knouted his nobles into the luxury of shaving themselves, and the decent habit of wearing nether garments, early in the eighteenth century, they lived chiefly on cabbage soup, and bacon, and sausages, and even these were cooked in Homeric fashion. It is true, great progress has been made in Russia since 1697, and even since 1815, but no sensible Englishman would think of going to Russia to learn to serve a dinner. I spent much time in Russia, somewhat more than thirty years ago, and lived a great deal among Russians of wealth and position; but though there was[93] profusion and a great expenditure on their dinners, there was nothing like elegance or good taste. The earlier Russian cookery of a century ago was adopted from the Dutch and the Germans, and all that is valuable in the later Russian cookery has been adopted from the French and the English kitchens.

It results from serving dinners à la Russe in England that the joints are frequently mangled, and you receive your portion lukewarm or cold. By carving and serving only one dish at a time also the dinner is unnecessarily prolonged to four hours instead of two and a half or three, and many more servants and attendants are necessary. In Russia this is not an important consideration, for domestic service is performed by serfs, who receive merely nominal wages. Another reason against serving dinners à la Russe is, that those costly services of gold and silver plate which nearly every good family in England possesses, are not displayed under the new fashion, which, like crinoline, will have its long reign, and ultimately pass away.

Utility should be the true principle of beauty, at least in affairs of the table, and, above all, in the substantial first course. A very false taste, is, however, often shown in centre ornaments. Strange ill-assorted nosegays, and bouquets of artificial flowers, begin to droop or look faded among hot steams. Ornamental articles of family plate, carved, chased, or merely plain, can never be out of place, however old-fashioned.[94] In desserts, richly-cut glass is ornamental. I am far, also, from proscribing the foliage and moss in which fruits are sometimes seen bedded. The sparkling imitation of frost-work, which is given to preserved fruits and other things, is also exceedingly beautiful; as are many of the trifles belonging to French and Italian confectionary.

Beautifully white damask, and a green cloth underneath, are indispensable.

In all ranks, and in every family, one important art in housekeeping is to make what remains from one day’s entertainment contribute to the elegance or plenty of the next day’s dinner. This is a principle understood by persons in the very highest ranks of society in France, who maintain the most splendid and expensive establishments. Vegetables, ragouts, and soups may be rewarmed; and jellies and blancmanges remoulded, with no deterioration of their qualities. Savoury or sweet patties, croquets, rissoles, vol-au-vents, fritters, tartlets, &c., may be served almost without cost, where cookery is going forward on a large scale. In the French kitchen, a numerous class of culinary preparations, called entrées de dessert, or made-dishes of left things, are served even at grand entertainments.

At dinners of any pretension the first course consists of soups and fish, removed by boiled poultry, ham, or tongue, roasts, stews, &c.; and of vegetables, with a few made-dishes, as ragouts, curries, hashes,[95] cutlets, patties, fricandeaux, &c., in as great variety as the number of dishes permits. For the second course, roasted poultry or game at the top and bottom, with dressed vegetables, omelets, macaroni, jellies, creams, salads, preserved fruit, and all sorts of sweet things and pastry are employed, endeavouring to give an article of each sort, as a jelly and a cream. This is a more common arrangement than three courses, which are attended with so much additional trouble both to the guests and servants.

Whether the dinner be of two or three courses it is managed nearly in the same way. Two dishes of fish dressed in different ways, if suitable, should occupy the top and bottom; and two soups, a white and a brown, or a mild and a high-seasoned, are best disposed on each side of the centre-piece: the fish-sauces are placed between the centre-piece and the dish of fish to which each is appropriate; and this, with the decanted wines drunk during dinner, forms the first course. When there are rare French or Rhenish wines, they are placed in the original bottles, in ornamented wine-vases, between the centre-piece and the top and bottom dishes; or if four kinds, they are ranged round the plateau. If one bottle, it is placed in a vase in the centre.

The second course at a purely English dinner, when there are three courses, consists of roasts and stews for the top and bottom; turkey or fowls, or fricandeaux, or ham garnished, or tongue for the sides;[96] with small made-dishes for the corners, served in covered dishes, as palates, curry of any kind, ragout or fricassée of rabbits, stewed mushrooms, &c., &c.

The third course consists of game, confectionary, the more delicate vegetables dressed in the French way, puddings, creams, jellies, etc.

Caraffes, with the tumblers belonging to and placed over them, are laid at proper intervals. Where hock, champagne, &c., &c., are served, they are handed round between the courses. A very bad habit has for some years prevailed of not placing any wine on the table, thus leaving you at the mercy of servants who rarely come round, and then scarcely half-fill your glass. This is meant to be an imitation of the French system, but nothing can be more unlike the system adopted in France. The English imitators, or would-be imitators, wholly forget that a guest at a French table can never languish for lack of wine, for “vin ordinaire” always remains on the table, while only the very highest qualities of wine are handed round by the servants. In England, for many years past, the table is altogether stripped of wine, and the guests are at the mercy of butlers of paid waiters, who use the wine either for their private drinking after the dinner, in the servants’ hall, or of hosts who, to save their wine, would stint their guests. When the third course is cleared away, cheese, butter, a fresh salad, or sliced cucumber, are usually handed round; and the finger-glasses precede the dessert. At many tables, particularly in Indian[97] houses, it is customary merely to hand quickly round a glass vessel or two filled with simple, or simply perfumed tepid water, made by the addition of a little rose or lavender water, or a home-made strained infusion of rose-leaves or lavender spikes. Into this water each guest may dip the corner of his napkin, and with it refresh his lips and the tips of his fingers.

The Dessert, at an English table, may consist merely of two dishes of fine fruit, for the top and bottom; common or dried fruits, filberts, etc., for the corners or sides, and a cake for the middle, with ice-pails in hot weather. Liqueurs are handed round at this stage; and the wines usually drank after dinner are placed, decanted, on the table along with the dessert. The ice-pails and plates are removed as soon as the company finish their ice. This may be better understood by following the exact arrangement of what is considered a fashionable dinner of three courses and a dessert.

Memorandum respecting Dinners.—To make your Bill of Fare according to the season and the number of your company. When you have two roasts, they should bear no resemblance to each other—i.e., one should be white and the other brown.

It is not in general the custom to place the fish sauces on the table, except in establishments where there is a servant to every guest, but so placed they are always most accessible. It is a great convenience to have the sauce near you when you want it.



Fish of all sorts is best when short, thick, well-made, bright in the scales, stiff and springy to the touch, the gills of a fresh red, and the belly not flabby. When the gills are not bright and fresh red-coloured, the fish is not eatable. Salmon, carp, tench, barbel, pike, trout, whiting, &c., when the eyes are sunk, the fins hanging, and the gills grown pale, are not good.

There is a great difference between salmon in and out of season. If eaten out of season or when stale, this fish is very unwholesome, and the same observation applies to mackerel. It should be remarked that, except in frosty weather, fish rarely keeps more than two or three days. Care should be taken to remove the intestines from fish which is meant to be kept, immediately after they are caught. This rule should be especially observed in reference to whiting, haddock, perch, &c. The livers of these fishes contain[99] an oil, which, in very warm weather, imparts a rancid and most unpleasant taste to the fish. Soles should never be salted. Mackerel, herrings, and pilchards cannot be dressed too soon. When eaten fresh caught, they are free from that oily taste which they sometimes acquire before they are even half a day out of the water. It may also be generally remarked that neither a carp nor a red-mullet should ever be boiled.

Turbot.—Choose a turbot by its plumpness, thickness, and colour. It should be very white, fleshy, and firm. Observe whether its surface be covered with a round, swelling grain, an indication of its fine healthy condition. The moderate or even smaller size is to be preferred to the very large, which is almost always dry, tasteless, and woolly. To be good, it should be plump, and the belly of a fine, opaque, light cream-colour. If of a bluish cast, like water tinged with milk, or thin, they are not good. A turbot ought to be bled near the tail as soon as taken, or it will assume a red tinge, impairing its appearance not only in the market, but at table. If necessary, turbot will keep for two or three days, and be in as high perfection as at first, if lightly rubbed over with salt, and carefully hung in a cold place.

Skate.—The best skate are white and thick; they should be kept a day or two before you dress them, otherwise they will eat tough. The she skate is the sweeter, especially if large. Skate is best during[100] the autumn and winter. This fish may be eaten either boiled, fried, or stewed.

There is a great difference in this fish. The flavour and fineness of the skate depend, in a considerable degree, on the locality in which it is taken. It should be broad and thick, prickly on the back, and of a beautiful creamy white. On the north-east coast of Scotland, there is a small skate of a leaden blue colour caught, which is said to be of the most delicate flavour. Care should be taken not to eat skate when out of season.

Oysters.—There are in England various species of oysters. The goodness of oysters depends, in a great measure, on the grounds or sea-beds from which they are taken; but the Colchester, Pyfleet, and Chilford, are generally esteemed superior to all others, being white and flat, yet the others may be made to possess these qualities, in some degree, by being properly fed. The large shelled oysters are never good, for even when fattened they have a strong flavour. The best oysters in Ireland are the Burren and Poldooday, the Carlingford being now extinct. In France the best are found at Cancale, Etretat, and Marennes. In Belgium the best are fished at Ostend. When alive and healthy, the shell closes on the knife. They should be eaten immediately they are opened, or the flavour will be lost. Oysters taken on muddy bottoms, generally have a disagreeable taste, and thin or shrivelled oysters which scarcely fill up their[101] shell are, for the most part, rank and ill-favoured. Oysters taken in rivers where the waters are affected by copper mines are poisonous. This fish is never fit to be eaten if the shells open naturally. There is a fine-flavoured, delicate small oyster much in vogue at Genoa, and a green finned oyster at Venice, both of which are good. The Irish and foreign oysters possess a fresh, natural, sea-water flavour, generally wanting in the English oyster, which is frequently spoiled by too much feeding and washing. We advise all amateurs of oysters to obtain their supply direct from the boats at Billingsgate before they get into the hands of the retail dealer.

Eels.—are taken both in fresh water and the sea. The fresh-water eels are the best, and the silver eel among these should always be preferred. Buy them, if possible, alive, and in order to kill them, divide the spine just behind the head without severing it from the body. They will die almost instantaneously. The freshness of the eel, like the lobster, is known by the vivacity of its motion, and its quality by the colour of the skin.

Ling.—It is to be regretted that the ling, one of the finest fishes of the cod tribe, is not oftener brought to Billingsgate Market. It may be eaten fresh or salted, and will well bear transport fresh in the winter season from Cornwall to London. Like the cod, the ling has a fine sound, which may be dressed with the fish or salted. Ling varies in colour[102] according to the bank it inhabits. When in good order, the ling is thick about the poll. The whiteness of the liver indicates the good condition of the fish. When out of season the liver is red.

Smelts.—if good, have a fine silvery hue, are very firm, and have a refreshing smell like cucumbers newly cut. They are caught in the Thames, and some other large rivers, and should be eaten within twenty-four hours after being taken.

Salmon.—If new, the flesh is of a fine red (the gills particularly), the scales bright, and the whole fish stiff. When just killed, there is a whiteness between the flakes, which gives great firmness; by keeping, this melts down, and the fish is more rich. The Thames and Chudchurch salmon bear the highest price; that caught in the Severn is next in goodness, and is even preferred by some. The best have small heads and are thick in the neck. Look also for a roundness and breadth over the back, and thickness down to the tail-fin. The upper part of the back red and dark-coloured.

Flounders.—They should be thick, firm, and have their eyes bright. They very soon become flabby and bad. They are both a sea and a river fish. The Thames produces the best. They are in season from January to March, and from July to September. Flounders differ much in quality. There is a flounder with scarlet spots, a very good fish to look at, but which is coarse and woolly in the grain. The best flounders are of a sober greyish colour.


Whitings.—Always buy whitings fresh. Having gutted them, you can keep them two or three days in a cool place in the winter months. Never purchase uncleaned whiting unless it be perfectly fresh out of the water. The firmness of the body and fins is to be looked to, as in herrings; their high season is during the first three months of the year, but they may be had a great part of it. Whiting is one of the most wholesome of fish, and is so light that physicians recommend it to invalids when more solid nutriment is forbidden. The largest whiting are taken off the coasts of Devon and Cornwall. They are in highest season from Michaelmas to February, shortly after which they begin to cast their spawn. They are again fit for the table by the latter end of May or the beginning of June.

It is not easy to distinguish the whiting from the codlin, but it is very necessary to be able to do so, as fishmongers have an ugly trick of substituting the one for the other. The codlin, however, has a beard, while the whiting is smooth.

Cod.—Cod, skate, maids, and thornback should be in a state fit to crimp, and are so when the fish rises again on being pressed with the finger. There are sixteen different species of cod taken on our coasts; but the most esteemed is the Dogger Bank cod.

This fish is best when thick towards the head, with a deep pit just behind it, and the flesh cuts white and clear. The fish should be perfectly stiff. This affords a proof of its freshness, and of its eating firm.[104] The gills should be very red, and the eyes fresh and bright; when flabby they are not good. Cod is invariably good, when the weather is cold, dry, and frosty; and it is in primest season during the periods London fashionables dine by candle-light—namely, from November to March. The larger cod, if in good order, are generally the firmer and better flavoured fish. The smaller cod-fish are, for the most part, flabby and watery, though these defects may be in a measure removed, by sprinkling salt over the fish, a few days before it is cooked.

Sturgeon.—when good, has a fine blue in its veins and gristle; a brown or yellowish cast in these parts denote a bad fish; if kept too long this fish has a disagreeable taint. The flesh must be perfectly white, and must cut without crumbling.

It is from the roe of the sturgeon that the caviare is composed, though it is sometimes made of the spawn of the grey carp, or the hard roe of the grey mullet.

Haddock.—bears some resemblance to cod, but may be easily distinguished by the black spot on each shoulder. It is a superior fish; the flesh is firm, and of a snow-white colour, with a creamy curd between the flakes. The largest haddocks are in general the best, and the larger size keep better than the smaller ones. The finest haddocks are taken in Dublin Bay, and off the coasts of Devon and Cornwall. Haddocks of all kinds may be almost daily obtained of Grove, Charing Cross. A haddock should[105] be chosen like a cod, by the thickness and depth of the body, and fulness at the poll. The freshness of a haddock may be ascertained by the redness of the gills and brightness of the eyes.

Sole.—A sole should be chosen in the same manner as a turbot. The smallest soles are of the sweetest and best flavour for frying. If you wish to boil your fish, choose a large Dover or Torbay sole. They are in season nearly the whole year, but are best at Midsummer. Soles are usually skinned on the dark side only; the scales on the white side should be carefully removed, which is often done in a very slovenly manner, and sometimes omitted altogether. The soles of the west of England and of Ireland, are quite different from the sole sent to the London market, being a much richer and thicker fish, with a black skin. For invalids or persons of a delicate stomach, the smaller and whiter sole is preferable. If the sole come to market, gutted and packed, by land-carriage, you must judge of the freshness by the smell. The best proof of their freshness, however, is the transparency of the slime on the dark side, through which the fine scales may be easily seen, and by a frothy appearance in the slime on the lower side; but this fish, if gutted, may be kept good long after these marks have disappeared.

Salmon, haddock, whiting, and all other fish, whether of the sea, pond, or river, may be judged, as to freshness, by the red, lively colour of the gills, the[106] brightness of the eye, the clearness and regular undisturbed position of the scales, and a plumpness of body, amounting to stiffness. A dead eye, livid gills, and flabby condition of the flesh, are sure signs that the fish is stale.

Lampreys.—The sea and the river lamprey, or lampern, are easily distinguishable, not only by their size, but by their colour. The sea lamprey is of a rusty, mottled colour, whilst the river lamprey is of the colour of the common eel, or a shade darker. The sea lamprey is also considerably larger than the river, sometimes weighing as much as five or six pounds, whilst the river lamprey seldom exceeds twelve inches in length, and seldom exceeds from half a pound to a pound, or a pound and a quarter in weight. River lampreys are excellent, either stewed, potted, or in pies. Some there are who fry them; but they are generally sent up from Worcester in a prepared sauce, in order to be stewed, which is the preferable mode of eating them. They are, it must be confessed, a more agreeable than wholesome food. Henry I. died from a surfeit of them. The lamprey is in the most perfect season during the months of April and May.

Red Mullet.—This fish is called the woodcock of the sea. It is so choice in its food, that, like that bird, it is cooked without drawing. It is in prime season during the heats of summer, and is therefore difficult to obtain fresh. When the red mullet is first[107] taken out of the water, it is of an exquisite rose-colour, varying in lighter tints. When dead, and some time out of water, it assumes a brownish tinge; as it becomes more stale, the colour grows paler. Redness of the gills is in this, as in most other fish, a criterion of freshness. Red mullets require to be carefully packed; if pressed on by other fish they are apt to burst. They should be eaten, if possible, on the day on which they are taken out of the water; for though they may be perfectly sweet and wholesome on the following day, yet their livers, by keeping, will have become soft, and will no longer have that delicate flavour which they would have possessed if dressed on the day they were taken.

Pilchards.—The pilchard is an exquisite fish of the herring tribe. It is somewhat rounder than the herring. The portion of the back-fin, too, is placed more forward in the pilchard. The criterion of freshness is the same as in the herring. Pilchards are in season whenever they are to be met with. They are best when boiled with their scales on without gutting.

Whitebait—are in season in July, August, and September.

Plaice and Flounders—to be good, should be stiff, and have a full eye. The plaice is best when the belly has a bluish cast.

Herrings and Mackerel—are unfit for the table when faded, wrinkled, or pliable in the tail.[108] The freshness of mackerel may be ascertained by the stiffness of the body and the prismatic brilliancy of its colours. When they are out of condition, they have got what is called the “rogue’s mark,” are long and thin made, with a sharp belly wanting in fulness. When fresh, the sides and belly are bright and silvery, the body is stiff, and the skin devoid of wrinkle. They are in season from June till November. Their gills should be of a fine red, and their eyes bright, and the whole fish should be stiff and firm. Herrings should not be too frequently partaken of when they first come into season. They have then a peculiar richness, which even affects the stomach of the strongest fisherman. The freshness of herrings and sprats is ascertained by the brightness of the scales.

Lobster.—should be chosen by its weight, alertness, and fresh smell; by the tail, which when newly caught, will be stiff and springy, and the firmness of its sides. The heaviest are the best, if there be no water in them. If you desire a cock lobster, select that which has a narrow back part of the tail, with the two uppermost fins within. The tail should be hard and stiff like a bone. The back of the hen is soft, and is invariably broader: her fins are also soft. Before selecting, carefully smell a lobster. If stale, it may be easily known by a heavy, muggy smell. Crabs, prawns, and shrimps, may be chosen in the same manner. Always choose the largest and heaviest[109] crab you can find. These shell-fish, if kept more than one day, will become bad. The colour of stale shell-fish fades, becoming blackish and dark if naturally red. They also, when stale, become pliable in their claws and joints.

John-Dory.—This is one of the very best fishes in the sea. They are found in greatest abundance on the southern coasts of Devon and Cornwall. They sometimes weigh as much as twelve pounds, but the greater proportion are not half that size. The larger dories are in best season from September to Christmas, but are good eating at all times. They keep well, but should be gutted, otherwise the flesh acquires an unpleasant taste. The choicest morsels are to be found over the collar-bones, and about the head of this fish. Larger dories are best boiled; the smaller ones may be fried. The flesh is of a fine clear white when dressed, with the exception of that part covering the fins, which is of a brownish colour.

Venison.—should be thick and firm in the fat, and the lean pure. The age of the deer, as well as of hares and rabbits, is known by the clefts and claws being close and smooth in the young animal.

Try the haunches or shoulders, under the bones that come out, with the finger or knife, and as the scent is sweet or rank, it is new or stale; and the like may be said of the sides in the fleshy parts; if tainted, they will look green in some places, or more than ordinarily black.


Few people like venison when it has much of the haut gout.

The buck venison begins in May, and is in high season till Allhallows-day: the doe, from Michaelmas to the end of December, or sometimes to the end of January.

The best joints of the best meat cost most money at first, but are most economical. All stale meat may be known by the eyes being sunk, the kidney tainted, and the flesh white.

All provisions should be bought with ready money, or the bills settled weekly; this will effect a saving of twenty per cent. to the housekeeper.

Beef.—The finest ox beef may be known from having a smooth, open grain, an agreeable carnation colour, delicately marbled with streaks of fat, the flesh should look red, and the suet white; and if young, it will be tender, and of an oily smoothness. The colour of the fat should be rather white than yellow. Yellow fat indicates that the beast has been fed on oil-cake. Cow beef is not so open in its grain, nor is the red of so pleasant a colour, but the fat is much whiter. It may be also distinguished by the udder, when dressed on the whole or in quarters. You may know whether or not it is young, by making an impression on the lean with your finger, which mark, if young, will soon disappear. The sweetest and best-flavoured beef is that of the small Scotch bullock, when fed on English pasture, or the shorthorned[111] Devon. Northampton and Leicestershire beef is large, and the flavour is not fine.

Bull beef should never be purchased, being clammy, rank, and more closely grained than other beef. The colour is a dusky red, and the flesh tough in pinching. The fat is rank, skinny, and hard.

Mutton.—is not good under three years old; younger, it is turgid and pale. The best is above five; but it is seldom to be got in the market of that age. The black-faced, or short sheep are best for the table, though more depends on the pasture than on the breed.

Mutton fed on mountains and downs, where the herbage is short and fine, is better than that fed on rich pasture. Always, therefore, choose the Dartmoor, the small Welsh, the South Down, or Scotch Highland mutton. Some of the largest and fattest sheep are produced in Leicestershire, and the marshes of Kent, but the smaller mutton is to be preferred. The flesh of the wether should always be preferred to that of the ewe. Hill wether mutton, from four to seven years old, is far the best whether for boiling or roasting. Choose it short in the shank, thick in the thigh, and of a pure, healthy, brownish red, with the flesh marbled.

Pinch the flesh with your fingers; if it regains its former state in a short time, the mutton is young, but otherwise it is old, and the fat will be clammy and fibrous. If it be ram mutton, the flavour of[112] which is disagreeable and strong, the grain will be close, the lean tough and of a deep red colour; it will not rise when pinched, and the fat will be spongy. The test of excellence in this meat is that it does not fly from the knife when cut, but rather closes upon it. Carefully observe the vein in the neck of mutton or lamb; if it look ruddy or bluish, the meat is fresh, but if yellowish, is decaying, and if green, completely tainted. The hind-quarter may be judged of from the kidney and knuckle. If you find a faint smell under the kidney, or the knuckle is unusually limp, the meat is stale. That mutton and lamb will always prove the best, the legs and shoulders of which are short-shanked.

Lamb.—In the choice of lamb, observe the eye, which should be bright and full; if it be sunk and wrinkled, the meat is stale.

Grass lamb comes into season in April or May, and continues till August. House lamb may be had in great towns almost all the year, but is in highest perfection in December and January.

Veal.—The whitest veal in England is not the most juicy, having been made so by frequent bleeding. The French veal of Pontoise is finer than the English. The whiteness is produced by feeding the animal on milk and biscuits. The calf is there brought to market in a covered van.

Veal should be fat, and white, and young; the mode of feeding is of great importance. Examine[113] the kidney, the state of which will show the feeding and condition of all animals.

Veal, when stale, generally becomes flabby and clammy. The flesh of the cow-calf is not of so bright a red, nor so firmly grained as that of the bull-calf, neither is the fat so much curdled. The shoulder may be known by the vein in it, which if it be not of a bright red, is surely stale, and if any green spots appear about it, totally unfit for use. Should the neck or breast appear yellowish at the upper end, or the sweetbread clammy, it is not good. In the choice of this meat, one of the best indications is that the kidney be covered with a white dense fat.

The loin may be known by smelling under the kidney, which always taints first, and becomes putrescent, and the fat in that case loses its firm consistence. The leg may be known by the joint, which if it be limp, and the flesh clammy, with green or yellow spots, is unfit for use.

The head, if new and sweet, must have the eyes plump and lively, but if they are sunk or wrinkled, it is not good.

This rule applies also to the head of the sheep or lamb. The greatest quantity of veal consumed in London is brought from Essex, which may be called the Pontoise of England.

Pork.—A thin rind is a good indication in all pork; a thick, tough one, not easily impressed with the finger, is a sign of age.


When you purchase a leg, a hand, or a spring, take especial care that the flesh is cool and smooth, for if otherwise it is certainly stale; but particularly put your finger under the bone that comes out, and if the flesh be tainted, you will immediately discover it by smelling your finger. The lean of young pork will break on being pinched. Measly pork is easily distinguishable from sound by the fat being full of kernels. London is supplied with the best pork by the dairy farms in Essex.

When you purchase a sucking-pig, remember that the barrow, or sow, is better than the boar, the flesh of which is neither so sweet nor so tender. Smell carefully at the belly, and examine about the tail, and if it has no disagreeable odour, nor any yellow and green spots in those parts, the pig is as good as you could desire; but you will in general find that the short, thick necks are the best.

As to bacon and ham, observe whether the smell be fresh, and see that the fat and lean be clear, and not streaked with yellow.

In marketing for bacon, observe also whether the fat feels oily, appears white, and does not crumble, and that the flesh bears a good colour, and adheres closely to the bone, in which case only the bacon is good. The best bacon comes from Hampshire, but much sold as Hampshire is Buckinghamshire and Irish bacon. The bacon of Yorkshire, Cumberland, and Gloucestershire is good.

With respect to hams, you should select one with[115] a short shank, and try it with a sharp-pointed knife, which thrust into the flesh as near the pope’s eye as possible. If it come out only a little smeared, and smells well, you may be assured that the ham is good, but if it be daubed, and have a fetid smell, it is good for nothing. When freshly cured, and not over salted, a ham may be trimmed, and wrapped in a coarse paste, and will be found more juicy, and of finer flavour baked than boiled. York, Cumberland, Westmoreland, and Gloucestershire, are famous for their hams; but a great proportion of the hams now sold as Yorkshire, are Irish.

The Strasbourg bacon is highly smoked, and has a delicious flavour, but is excessively dear. It may be obtained at any of the Italian oil-shops; where Bayonne and Westphalia hams can also be purchased. The latter are now imported in large quantities, and may be purchased so low as eightpence per pound; but they are no longer prepared with the care and perfection bestowed on them when they were sold at fourteenpence per pound. Spanish and Portuguese hams have also been introduced into the English markets, and though the latter are of an ungraceful and awkward shape, they are good in colour and flavour. Bacon should always be twice salted, and patiently rubbed both times. All meat salted in pieces and packed must be entirely covered with the brine.

Fowls.—As to poultry, it may generally be remarked, that barn-door fowls are preferable to those[116] fed in coops. Much experience and observation are requisite in forming a judgment of the freshness and goodness of fowls. Any appearance of greenness about the rump is a sure sign of putrescence. The Poland breed of fowls is the largest. Dorking, in Surrey, and Epping, in Essex, are alike famed for good poultry. Bethnal Green and Mile End fatten much poultry for Leadenhall-market, but it is inferior to barn-door fowl. Good fowls are short, plump, broad in the breast, and thick in the rump. A hen is old if her legs and comb be rough, but young if they are smooth. You may also judge of the freshness by her vent, in the same manner as the cock. Young poultry may be distinguished by the pellucid appearance, and peculiar feel of the flesh, and by the flexibility of the breast-bone. Many poulterers, aware of this, take care to break the breast-bone of every fowl they expose for sale. It may be here remarked that the poularde of France, from Mans, in the department of the Sarthe, is superior to any English fowl whatever.

Geese.—As to geese, the feet and bill of a young goose are yellow; they turn red as the bird grows old. It has but few hairs on the feet; when old, however, the feet become hairy. If fresh, the feet are supple; but if stale, dry and stiff. Great quantities of geese come to London from Devonshire, Lincolnshire, Buckinghamshire, &c. In France the greatest number are reared in the Gironde. The quantity of geese reared in France is almost incredible.[117] The minister of the interior, Chaptal, states that 120,000, destined to be fattened, were annually sold in the market of Toulouse alone.

The wild ducks from the coast—those feeding on what they can get from the salt water and the lands contiguous—are often tough and fishy, though some of them may be found tender, but not quite free from the fishy flavour. These are the birds which, with widgeons and teal, are hawked about in the streets of London, and sold sometimes at from eighteenpence to half-a-crown a couple, according to the powers of eloquence of the vendor, and the powers of gullibility of the purchaser, who can generally, if he has any experience, obtain them for one half the price at first demanded.

Wild Duck.—Of the many varieties of wild ducks, those with red legs are held in the highest estimation.

The best wild ducks are those from the fens of Lincolnshire, taken by decoys. The same species is found in the Campagna of Rome. They are esteemed a great delicacy at the Roman tables about Christmas time. They are wholly free from rankness and a fishy taste, and are of a fine, rich gamey flavour. Wild ducks are to be purchased, when in season, at the shops of all the respectable poulterers in London, and at a very reasonable price.

Widgeon.—The widgeon, which is a smaller bird of the duck species, is not so good as the wild duck. It is coarse, often fishy, rank, and rough, and is not[118] fit to appear at a dinner of any pretension, except in the form of a truffled sauté.

Teal.—The teal, the smallest of the tribe, is much superior, and forms a recherché roast even among the most difficult to please of the knights of the dinner-table. Teal and widgeon are supple-footed when fresh, but stiff and dry-footed when stale. If fat, they are thick and hard on the belly, and lean if thin and soft.

Duck.—A tame duck—and the remark applies also to a wild duck—when fat and young, is thick and hard on the belly, and is old when lean and thin. When fresh, the foot is pliable, but dry, if stale. Observe, that the foot of the best wild duck is red, and of the great majority of wild ducks reddish, and that it is less than that of a tame duck.

Partridge.—Partridges, when young, have yellowish and dark-coloured bills. This bird taints first in the crop, therefore you should open its bill and smell. Next, examine the bill, legs, and vent; if the bill be white, and the legs have a bluish cast, the bird is old; but if the bill is black, and the legs yellow, it is young. If the vent be fast, it is new; but stale, if open and green. In France, the red-legged partridge is the most esteemed; but all partridges in that country are inferior to the English; they are dry and flavourless, and want the juice and succulence of the English game.

Snipe.—A snipe is chosen in the same manner as the woodcock; but the snipe, when fresh is fat[119] in the side, under the wing, and feels thick in the vent.

Turkey.—The legs of a cock turkey should be black and smooth, its spurs short, the feet limber, and the eyes lively; but if the eyes are sunk and the feet dry, the bird is stale. The hen is chosen in the same manner, only observe, that if she is with egg, the vent will be soft and open, but if not, close and hard.

The county of Norfolk has the reputation of breeding the finest turkeys. They are in season from November to March, at which period they are succeeded by turkey poults. The number of turkeys and fowls produced in France is much greater, making all allowance for the size and superficial extent of the country, than in England. Nearly half a century ago, according to Chaptal, minister of the interior, the capital embarked in the poultry trade in France, amounted to 51,600,000 francs.

Rabbit.—A rabbit has long; rough claws, and grey hairs intermixed with its wool if it be old; but when young, the wool and claws are smooth. If stale it is supple, and the flesh bluish, with a kind of slime upon it; but if fresh it will be stiff, and the flesh white and dry.

Hare.—A hare and leveret are thus chosen: if the claws of a hare are blunt and rugged, the division in the lip spread much, and the ears appear dry and tough, and the bones hard, it is old; but if the claws are sharp and smooth, the division in the lip not greatly spread, and the ears will easily tear, it is[120] young. If fresh killed, the flesh of both will be white and stiff; but if stale, supple and blackish in many places. To discover a true leveret, feel near the foot on its fore leg, and if you find there a knob, or small bony protuberance, it is a real leveret, but if destitute of this, it must be a hare.

Heathcock.—The heathcock and hen when young have smooth legs and bills, which become rough when old. You may judge of their freshness in the same manner as you do of the pheasant.

Wheatear.—The delicate bird called a wheatear is fresh, if it has a limber foot and fat rump: otherwise it is stale.

Pheasant.—A young cock-pheasant has dubbed spurs, but if old, the spurs will be sharp and small. If the vent be fast, the bird is fresh; but if it be open and flabby, stale. If a hen, and young, the legs will be smooth, and her flesh of a fine grain; but if old, her legs will be rough, and, as it were, hairy, when pulled.

Pheasants and heath-poults are fresh when their feet are limber, and their vents are white and stiff; but are stale when they are dry-footed, have green vents, and will peel, if touched hard.

Pigeons.—Pigeons when they grow red-legged are old, and are stale when their vents are flabby and green. If fresh, they will be limber-footed, and feel fat in the vent.

By this rule you may judge of all kinds of doves, fieldfares, thrushes, blackbirds, plovers, larks, &c.


Woodcock.—The woodcock, if stale, will be dry-footed; and if bad, its nose will be moist; but if new and fat, it will be limber-footed, thick, and hard.

Capon.—A capon is known by a short and pale comb, a thick rump and belly, and a fat vein on the side of the breast; when young, the spurs will be short and blunt, and the legs smooth; and if fresh, the vent will be close and hard; but if stale, loose; which last remark may be applied to cocks and hens.

Cock.—A cock when young has short and dubbed spurs, but it should be observed that the spurs of old cocks may be scraped so as to deceive any but a very accurate observer. If fresh his vent will be hard and close; but you cannot be too particular in observing the spurs, as the market people frequently scrape them.

Eggs.—As to eggs, hold the great end of the egg to your tongue; if it feels warm, it is new; if cold, bad; and so in proportion to the heat or cold is the goodness of the egg. Another way to know is to put the egg in a pan of cold water, the fresher the egg, the sooner it will fall to the bottom; if rotten, it will swim at the top. This is a sure way not to be deceived. The best way to keep eggs is in bran or meal, turning them frequently; some, however, place the small end downwards in fine wood-ashes: to keep them for a long period they may be buried in salt, which it is said will preserve them in almost any climate.


Butter.—When you buy butter, trust not to that which may be good in external appearance, but try in the middle, and if your smell and taste be good, you cannot be deceived.

Cheese.—If old cheese be rough-coated, rugged, or dry at top, beware of little worms called hoppers, and also of mites, a still smaller animal. If it be full of holes, moist, or spongy, hoppers may also be expected to be found in it. If any crack or any soft and perished place appear on the outside, examine into its depth, for the greater part may be hidden within. Cheese is to be chosen by its moist smooth coat. A fat cheese, if of much size, has generally rounded edges, and the sides are swelled out more or less; although excessive swelling out of the sides is not a good sign; neither is an elevation of the top desirable. A poor cheese has usually keen edges, and the sides are straight. Fat cheese may also be known by rubbing a small portion of it between the finger and thumb: if it soon becomes smooth and soft, melting as it were on the finger by the animal heat, it is fat; but if it remains tough and crumbly, it is not rich nor of prime quality. No cheese should be chosen which has the surface much swelled, such swelling being an indication of its containing holes and being badly made, and that it has most probably also an unpleasant smell and taste. Besides these indications, no cheese should be purchased without being both tasted and smelled.



At every great dinner—indeed I may say at every dinner of the least pretension in the most civilised countries—you begin by eating soup. Often in Paris and at Brussels, between September and April, at dinners at restaurants, you also commence by half a dozen, a dozen, or eighteen oysters by way of appetiser; but this practice is not resorted to at formal dinners, or, as the French say, diners d’apparat, in private houses; though if three or four intimate friends are dining together sans façon, oysters may be, and often are, introduced before the soup. In Russia the custom is to take caviare, or a slice of raw or pickled herring before soup, which relish is followed by a glass of Cognac or some liqueur. But these are customs not likely to be introduced into more civilized countries; customs, moreover, quite repugnant to English habits.

The basis of nearly every soup is a stock or broth[124] called by the French a grand bouillon. The best way of making this stock is by boiling, or rather stewing down a sufficient quantity of properly prepared and washed beef in a marmite, or iron or earthen pot, or stewpan. The water must be judiciously apportioned to the quantity of meat. The French, who make the best bouillon in the world, generally pour a quart of water, on half a kilogramme (equivalent to about a pound) of meat, and let it simmer from five-and-a-half to six hours. When the liquid is sufficiently diminished to receive the vegetables, a few young carrots, an onion with a couple of cloves stuck in it, a parsnip, a little celery and a bunch of thyme and parsley are added. The water should be cold, and seasoned with a little salt. The pot or earthen vessel should be placed on a clear fire, and allowed to remain till the liquid is diminished a third. This bouillon is the basis of most soups, and it is called a consommé when a large fowl or the half of a turkey is added. Some cooks use old partridges or pigeons instead of fowls. It is an axiom in cookery, however, that at least two sorts of meat are necessary to make a good bouillon. When the bouillon is skimmed it serves as the stock for all kinds of soup. It cannot be too often stated that the basis of all soup, and indeed of all broth, except mutton, should be juicy young beef and pure soft water. It should be remembered that the trimmings and the bones of fresh meat, the necks of poultry, the liquor in which a joint has been boiled,[125] and the shank-bones of mutton, are excellent additions to the stock-pot, and should be reserved for it. As soup is the food of childhood and old age, it should be restorative and nourishing. The great defect of English soups is, not the want of meat, but the want of a proper boiling or concoction. This radical fault is vilely but vainly attempted to be supplied by the excessive use of seasoning and herbs. The following elementary rules for making nourishing broth, are from the French of Parmentier:—

 I. Sound, healthful, fresh viands.

 II. Vessels of earthenware in preference to those of metal, as a less degree of heat keeps them boiling; and once heated, a few hot cinders will maintain that slight degree of ebullition which is wanted.

III. Double the weight of water to that of the meat used.

IV. A sufficient quantity of common salt to facilitate the separation of the blood and slime that coagulates under the form of scum.

 V. In the early stage of the process, such a degree of heat as will throw off the whole scum.

VI. A lower, but an equable temperature, that the soup may simmer gently till the substances employed, whether nutritive, colouring, or flavouring, are perfectly combined with the water, according to their several degrees of solubility.


Great care should be taken to have all the utensils clean. Pots, saucepans, and stewpans, should be well tinned, especially for soups and gravies, as they are obliged to remain a long time upon the fire. Whatever is boiled in a brass or copper pot, should be taken out while it is hot; if left to cool, it would have a disagreeable taste, and be very unwholesome. As a convincing proof of this, if the liquor that any kind of meat is boiled in remains in the pot till the next day, the fat at the top will be quite green, and the liquor of course very pernicious. Iron pots, saucepans, &c., are the most wholesome, but they spoil the colour of many articles of cookery, and therefore are not much used; but they are useful for anything that would not be discoloured. Pots lined with earthenware are certainly preferable to any other kind, but they are very expensive.

The broth to be used for soups and gravies should be kept separate; because the broth of the stock-pot, being required for white as well as brown sauces, should not be coloured; whilst that for soups, unless they be white soups, should always be made brown. If, however, you have more coloured broth than you require for soup, you may apply it to making brown gravies.

An excellent stock-pot may be produced with all the bones you can collect, carcasses, and the under or claw-legs of poultry or game—all bones and parings, in short, of flesh and fowl. Put them into[127] a large pipkin with water; or if you have the liquor in which beef, or mutton, or veal, has been boiled, use it in preference. To this you may add, if you have it, a few ladlefuls of the water in which a ham has been boiled, first skimming off the fat. With the bones, put a bunch of leeks, a bunch of green celery, an onion with three cloves stuck into it, a couple of carrots, a turnip, a bit of parsnip, some salt, a bunch of herbs, and two or three sheep’s melts. A small quantity of sugar will also greatly improve the flavour of stock, and indeed of all rich soups. Let the whole stew simmer very slowly during seven or eight hours, keeping it closely covered all the while. Season it with a little salt. When reduced to a good consommée, and you are satisfied with its flavour, strain it through a sieve, and put it by for use.

This broth, if required, may be used for making white soups.

All soups should be closely covered during their boiling, by which the heat will be very much economised. There may be, however, occasionally some deviations from this course, which must depend upon the discretion of the cook. In making soups and broths, stale as well as fat meat should be avoided; the first will impart an ill taste, and the last will be attended with considerable waste.

Of the kinds that will keep are brown soup, hare soup, soup of game of any kind, giblet soup, and generally all soups made of the meat of animals of[128] mature growth. Soups into which vegetables and young meats enter in any quantity, are best when fresh made, as these things have a strong tendency to ferment. This also applies to veal and fish soups. This tendency may be partly checked by boiling them up, or changing the vessels.

The best meat soups are, beyond question, those which are made from the lean alone, without much, if any, fat.

In making pea-soup with dry peas, soft water should be used; with green peas, hard water, which contributes to the preservation of their colour.

A soup should never be permitted to grow cold in the vessel in which it has been boiled. If not immediately wanted, it should be poured out into a clean pan; one made of stoneware is the best, as neither salts nor acids will act upon it, a consideration of essential importance. While cooling, the soup should not be covered over; nor indeed is it desirable to cover soup after it is cold, except with a hair sieve. It facilitates the operation, if meat for soup or gravy be cut into pieces of about half a pound each, and improves both the flavour and colour, if the meat, onions, and carrots be stewed at the bottom of the soup-pot or digester, before the water is added to it, with a bit of butter to prevent burning.

To this previous drawing out of the juices without much or any water, much of the superiority of French soups is to be attributed. Some French cooks, to regulate[129] the flavour of soups more exactly, boil the roots, herbs, and vegetables separately to a mash, and then squeeze them and add the juice till the desired flavour is obtained.

As long boiling is necessary to make good soup, particularly where the whole or the greater part of the virtues of butchers’ meat are to be extracted, it will be necessary to add more water from time to time as it boils away; and, in order to save time, it will be best to add the water boiling, or, at least, very hot to the soup. In the addition of herbs, other vegetables, or condiments, care should be taken that they are in such quantities that no one may predominate, unless, as is sometimes the case with celery or onion, it is desired that there should be a predominancy of a particular flavour.

As celery is so generally used to flavour soups, the cook should know that, when the root is scarce, the seeds bruised and added to the soup a few minutes only before it is served up, will flavour it well; indeed the seeds will be generally found superior to the root for the purpose of flavouring. Boiling the seeds, however, for a long time, will dissipate their essential oil on which their flavour chiefly depends. This observation applies with equal force to all spices, the long boiling of which, in open vessels, must necessarily dissipate their oils in which their good qualities reside: indeed, sometimes a few drops of their essential[130] oil, as of cinnamon or cassia, will supply the place of the spice itself.

The boiling of poultry and game in the stock-pot is a practice very common abroad. When stewed enough to be tender, they should be served immediately with a good sauce.

In regard to broths, some of the general directions concerning boiling must be carefully attended to, as well as the preceding observations on the preparation of soups. Broth may be made from the coarsest pieces of meat, and of any strength, by adapting the water to the quantity of meat, and by sufficient simmering. To make the broth good the meat should always be simmered till it is tender, and will separate without difficulty from the bones. In every case, as well of broth as of soup, in order to obtain them with the least boiling, and consequently most economically, the meat should be cut into small pieces, the bones, if large, broken, and the joints, such as those in a neck of mutton, separated, unless the meat be wanted to be served up with the broth or otherwise as a whole joint.

Broth, I may safely say, is the essence and foundation of all cookery. Among our neighbours, the French, the broth-pot, or pot-au-feu, may be said to be the substratum of the cookery of the middle and working classes. To them it yields a substantial nourishment. Any parings or trimmings of meat will serve to make the first broth, provided the scum and fat be[131] carefully removed. If this be not sedulously attended to, the broth will be too highly coloured to mix with the sauce. Those, therefore, who are charged with the stock-pots should skim them slowly over a gentle fire, adding at intervals a little cold water, that the scum may rise more copiously. Broth should always be in the larder of a good kitchen, as it is perpetually required for sauces, braises, soups, consommés, and essences.

The great English soups are, real turtle, mock turtle, ox-tail, gravy, giblet, hare, green-pea soup, and pea soup. The great English broths are, chicken broth, mutton broth, Scotch-barley broth, veal broth, and beef broth or tea, which is almost equivalent to the French grand bouillon.

Real turtle soup is seldom made in private houses, unless of the very highest distinction. It is generally obtained ready prepared from the Waterloo Hotel at Liverpool, and from some of the great taverns in the City in Bishopsgate or Aldersgate Street, or from Gunter’s at the West end, who has jars ready prepared, from the West Indies and Brazil. Twenty-five years ago a great deal of turtle used to come to London prepared by Weeks, of the Bush Hotel,[11] Bristol.[132] But Bristol then, and antecedently, stood at the head of the West-India trade, and there were those who preferred the Bristol-made turtle to that of Birch, Bleaden, or Kay. But the Bush Hotel no longer exists, and London now bears off the bell for its turtle soup, as well as for its calipash and calipee.

Turtle generally arrives in this country about the latter end of May or the beginning of June, though, from the uncertainties of a sea voyage, no exact period for its first appearance can be fixed. In the year 1814 it was so unusually late, that at the banquet given in Guildhall to the Emperor of Russia and the King of Prussia, on the 18th of June, there was no turtle to be had. The weight of a turtle varies from 30 lbs. to 500 lbs. or 600 lbs., and the price from 2s. 6d. to 5s. per pound. The cooking of a turtle is generally performed by a professed artist, whose fee is from one to two guineas. Some epicures prefer the turtle cut into steaks and broiled, to be eaten with melted butter, Cayenne pepper, and the juice of a Seville orange. They say the flesh thus quickly dressed retains most flavour.

This soup is, says Carème, the most lengthened in its details of any that are known; “the composition[133] of its seasoning claims an able hand and a strong memory: the palate of the cook who executes it should be very fine; none of the ingredients should predominate, not even the Cayenne or allspice, which the English cook inconsiderately employs.”

The great artist divides the dressing of a turtle into four operations, and on each expends a page. In order to dress the turtle as it ought to be prepared, he says, two large legs of veal, eight fowls, lean ham in slices, sweet herbs, beef stock, the nut of a ham, cloves, Cayenne, allspice, mace, long pepper, white pepper, eight bottles of dry Madeira, and sixty eggs, are necessary. It is therefore clearly better for those who wish to give turtle soup at a dinner, to have a quart or gallon of it from some first-rate hotel, than to go to the expense of all these ingredients.

Gravy, ox-tail, mock turtle, and giblet soups are much more common at English dinners than real turtle soup, for the two sufficient reasons, that they are more easily prepared, and that they are less costly. Ox-tail, mock turtle, hare, and giblet soups are still made in the fashion in which they were at the beginning of the present century. Calf-tail soup is simply made by substituting pieces of calf-tail for ox-tail. It is much more delicate than ox-tail, and very nutritious.

The stocks for white soups are made of veal, mutton, fowl, rabbit, chicken, ox-feet, calf’s head and feet, with[134] bacon and ham. In drawing these stocks, a bit of ham, ham-bone, or lean bacon, is used with the usual seasoning. Fish may be used in thickening meat white soups; they give a turtleish lightness and flavour. Eggs make an excellent thickening for the poorer kinds; but the richer or more delicate, are thickened with almonds and artificial or real cream. Though the stocks be properly made and well-seasoned, the thickening and finishing, nevertheless, require great care.

As to French soups, their name is legion. There is scarcely a complete French treatise on the art of cookery that does not contain receipts for at least 150 soups; but those most used at English dinner-tables are, the purée à la Reine, the purée des carottes au riz, the purée de lapins, à la Chantilly, à la Colbert, à la Dauphine, the potage à la brunoise aux pointes d’asperges, à la paysanne, the à la Julienne, and à la jardinière. There are also the bisques d’écrevisse, de crabe, de chevrettes, &c. But for all these soups the aid of a really accomplished cook is necessary. Italian soups are generally of macaroni, semolina, or of rice; but these, whether à la Medicis or à la Corinne, are much better prepared after the French than after Italian receipts. No human being who had any taste in cookery would think of giving the German soup made of green rye, or the soup of poached eggs after the Styrian fashion; and Russian and Polish soups are[135] not suitable to English stomachs. The Russian cabbage soup may suit a people who love train oil (which Theodore Hook used to say was “bad for the liver, but good for the lights”), but assuredly it would be rejected by any civilized Englishman.

I have said in another place that the Dutch eel soup, and the soup of herring-roes, is very relishing.

To sum up, a host in England can never go wrong in ordering in the winter months for his guests an ox-tail, a mock turtle, a calf-tail, a giblet or mulligatawney from among English soups; or a brunoise or purée de gelinotte, a Julienne, or a purée à la Reine if he requires a French soup. For the spring and summer, English spring soup may be given with turtle, green pea, a soup à la Condé, or à purée de navets, or à consommé à la Xavier.



The great thing to be attended to in the preparation of fish, is to have every particle that is foul or offensive cleansed away. This must, however, be accomplished in such a manner, that the fish may still retain its original firm and stiff appearance, which is often destroyed by the rough handling it gets while undergoing the process of cleaning. It too frequently happens, owing to the ignorance of cockney dealers, that the firmness and fine flavour of the fish is washed away. If not wholly destroyed, it is in most cases greatly impaired. It is impossible to see one of these smirking, smiling tradesmen with a watering-pot in hand, without wishing to give him the benefit of a shower-bath by means of his own engine, or hoisting him (to use a Shakespearian phrase) by his own petard.

In cleaning fish, a pump of clear spring water is a great advantage, as the force of the water pumped over the fish will wash off all that is required without subjecting[137] it to scrubbing or handling. In London a small hand-engine or hose might be used for the purpose. As a general rule, it may be remarked, that all fish should be laid flat on its side, on either a board or a flat stone. It should be held by the head and shoulders with the left hand, and all the scales and slime should be scraped off with the right. This done, the operation should be repeated on the reverse side. The fins should then be cut off, and the hand-engine or pump used upon the fish to remove any loose scales or slime that may still adhere to it. The fish should then be opened, the intestines carefully extracted, well scraping the blood out from the back-bone, then wash the fish by a pump or in a pan of clean water, handling it as little as possible. Lastly, take out your fish and hang it up to drain till required for use. Never leave a fish in the water one moment after it is washed. If allowed to soak, the fine flavour of the fish is very materially lessened.

Cod-fish—requires great care in cleaning, particularly in cleansing the back-bone from blood, which spoils the appearance of the sound, and sometimes renders it too unsightly for the table. To prevent this, the fish should be cut open for some distance below the vent, the sound upon one side should be carefully cut off with a sharp knife, as close as possible to the back-bone, still leaving it attached to the opposite side, and then the blood or the intestines of the back-bone should be scraped out with the point of[138] a knife, or scrubbed out with a small brush; by this means not only will the blood be removed, but the sound will wear a much more presentable appearance, and can be more easily carved, and without injuring the other parts of the fish.

Fishes that are to be dressed in their scales, should be dipped in water, and rubbed with a coarse towel to remove the slime. But great care should be taken to rub only from the head downwards, for if rubbed against the grain, some of the scales may become displaced, which would, in a great measure, frustrate the effect intended to be produced by dressing the fish with this coating upon them.

Pilchards—should be dressed without wiping at all; whilst sprats, which are better when scaled, may be deprived of this outward covering with a coarse cloth, without bruising or injuring the fish.

Mackerel—intended for frying, should be split down the back to the tail, as indeed should all fish meant to be cured, whether in pickle or dried; but whitings, perch, small trout, and all other small fish, should be opened at the belly. In the preparation of trout, the back-bone must be scraped very clean, otherwise the blood collected there will have a black and muddy appearance, extremely disagreeable to the eye.

Plaice—may be considerably improved by being beaten with a flat piece of wood or a rolling-pin, which has the effect of making the fish eat more[139] firmly. It also removes, in a great measure, the flabby and watery appearance this fish possesses.

Red Mullets—are usually dressed without being either scaled or gutted; if fresh, it improves them to extract the intestines carefully, throwing away the garbage, and replacing the liver; but this can only be done when very fresh, and the liver firm. This process should never be attempted after the fish has been more than six hours out of the water.

Skates, Thornbacks, and all fishes of this kind should be skinned, a process which will be greatly facilitated by previously scalding the fish in hot water.

Salt-fish—requires great attention in its preparation for dressing, and in being properly soaked in water. It is from neglect of these requisites that salt-fish is not so highly esteemed as an article of food as it deserves to be.

How often do we see a piece of cod or ling as hard as a stone, and as salt as the very brine, from having been carelessly thrown only half-an-hour previous to boiling into water, perhaps hardly sufficient to cover it, and from thence transferred to the pot. It is then vigorously boiled until the cook thinks it is sufficiently done to send to table. Cooked in this barbarous fashion, the best salt fish would not be worth the eating.

Ling—when being prepared for table, should soak, fully immersed, at least twelve hours in water, and then be taken out and well scrubbed with a hard brush, or rubbed with a coarse cloth. It should next be placed[140] either on a flat stone or board to drain for six or eight hours. An experienced cook would then place it in lukewarm water, and let it remain soaking for from ten to twelve hours longer, when it will have become pliant and tender, and also swell considerably. Warm water and milk will considerably improve both the flavour and appearance of the fish; a little vinegar may also be added as an additional means of extracting the salt. The fish requires, however, two soakings, the first water being a kind of pickle, which becomes in time as salt as the brine from which the fish was taken.

Dried Cod—requires only half as much soaking each time as salt ling; unless, indeed, the fish be a very large one, in which case it will require to be soaked nearly as long as a ling. When the fish is placed in water over night, to be ready early in the morning, throw one or two wine-glassfuls of vinegar into the water; take out the fish the first thing in the morning, and hang it up by its tail to drain.

In English cookery there is little or no variety in the preparation of fish for the table. Three or four modes only of dressing this delicacy are known among us—frying, boiling, stewing, grilling, &c., and the numerous preparations of fish by which the palate is delighted and the health maintained in other countries, are not to be seen among the refinements of English dinners, when these latter are confined to[141] dishes of home manufacture. By some strange prejudice, fish is never eaten among us except at the very beginning of dinner, following the soup. Its appearance at a second course would be considered an anomaly in England; and yet no set of persons in the world will, very truly says the “Magazine of Domestic Economy,” relish fish at a second course, on the Continent, more than those Englishmen who have left their prejudices behind them in their native country.

In fish, England has always enjoyed an admitted pre-eminence over the nations of the Continent. The fish brought to her markets is fresher, finer, and in greater variety, yet the uniformity of her cookery in this respect is alternately to foreigners the theme of wonder and ridicule. Billingsgate, adjoining the Custom House, is the mart whence this vast metropolis is supplied. The fishmongers exhibit their stores on trays of marble or of lead. Every tide brings up fleets of vessels varying in size, the Berwick smack, the Dutch galliot, the Norway fishing-boats and the well-appointed steamer. There are smacks laden with salmon packed in ice; Dutch schuyts with their wells filled with luxurious turbots, or delicious eels; boats and barges almost sinking with their plentiful cargoes of cod, haddock, skate, soles, herrings, or mackerel, according to the season; oysters, crabs, lobsters, crawfish, &c., &c. Hither the Brighton mackerel and soles, at the commencement[142] of the season, are forwarded by land and rail carriage, and occasionally those welcome guests at the tables of the great and opulent, the john-dory, and the mullet, both gray and scarlet. The traffic is under proper regulations. Oysters, muscles, cockles, sprats, and other fish that are sold by measure, are subject to the inspection of the city-meters. Around Billingsgate and in its vicinity are numerous dealers in salt and dried fish, such as salmon, cod, ling, and herrings. In the spring and summer seasons the supply from Newcastle of that great delicacy, pickled salmon, is very considerable, and great quantities daily arrive fresh from Ireland and Scotland by steam and rail. The money expended annually in the purchase of fish landed at this place, is of enormous amount: it has been said that the Dutch used to take yearly from our current coin, fifty thousand guineas for turbot only! The principal market-day at Billingsgate is Monday.

Dr. M’Culloch asserts that a small proportion of sugar will keep fish perfectly fresh for several days; but the fish must be fresh when it is applied, as it will not recover from taint. Sugar also cures salmon and white fish, which keeps any length of time in a dried state, provided it is not allowed to get damp. A little salt may be added to the sugar to please the taste.

The directions are:—To lay the fish upon its side and rub it with a little sugar, particularly about the[143] stomach and throat; two or three tea-spoonfuls is enough for a good-sized salmon. If it be kept fresh, there will be no occasion to open it.

Salmon—if large, should be dressed in slices like cod; if small, on the contrary, it may be dressed whole, fixing the tail in the mouth by means of a skewer, and boil it in a turbot-kettle. The fish is sent to table resting on its belly side, the back being uppermost. The liver and spawn, as in the cod, takes a longer time than the other parts to boil it thoroughly; and if eaten underdone, it is extremely unwholesome. Salmon, when not crimped, should be put into cold water and boiled gradually, but if dressed in thin slices, it should be plunged into hot water at once. After allowing it to remain a minute or two in the fish-kettle, raise it out of the hot water for a couple of minutes; let this process be repeated three or four times, and it will cause the curd to set, and the fish to eat more crisp. When you have followed these directions, allow the fish to boil at a moderate pace until it is thoroughly done, for nothing is more indigestible than underdone salmon. Be careful in removing the scum during the boiling. The hardest water is recommended as preferable for boiling salmon.


If the fishmonger does not clean it, fish is seldom very nicely done; but those in great towns wash the[144] fish beyond what is necessary for cleaning, and by perpetual watering, diminish the flavour. When quite clean, if to be boiled, some salt and a little vinegar should be put into the water to give firmness; but cod, whiting, and haddock, are far better if a little salted, and kept a day; and if it be not very hot weather, they will be good for two days.

Fresh-water fish has often a muddy smell and taste: to take this off, soak it in strong salt and water after it is nicely cleaned; or, if of a size to bear it, scald it in the same compound; then dry and dress it.

The fish must be put into the water while cold, and set to boil very gently, or the outside will break before the inner part is done.

Crimped Fish should be put into boiling water, with salt; and when it boils up, pour a little cold water in to check extreme heat, and let it simmer for a few minutes by the side of the fire.



Plutarch tells us that Symmachus and Polycrates wrote treatises to prove that the “innocent fishes” should be respected, and that they who ate of them were among the most ferocious of men. According to Columella, however, Apollo was called ίκθηφαγος by the Greeks, because they considered that the god of music, poetry, and eloquence should only feed on the most delicate and dainty diet; and such the Greeks considered fish. It is curious that the epithet “innocent” is also applied to fish, naturally most voracious, by St. Augustine. “Fishes were spared from the malediction,” says this father of the Church, “because it was not the fish of the sea, but the fruits of the earth which contributed to the fall of our first parents.” Whatever Plutarch or Augustine may say to the contrary, however, fish was used as a diet by the earliest Christians; and none were more celebrated in increasing the breed of fish,[146] whether on the Continent or in England, than the earlier Churchmen—the much abused monks of the middle ages.

There is, in truth, no more wholesome or palatable diet than good fish; and one dish of fish, and sometimes two, is generally found at a gentleman’s dinner-table in England, if he entertains a family-party of four or six. But though we have the finest fish in the world in this country, we do not dress it in the variety of ways in which it is served in France. Unless immediately after the soup, we seldom eat fish, whereas in most Continental countries it is served dressed as an entrée, and in this manner it is most wholesome, as well as very relishing.

Probably, turbot, during the height of the London season, is more frequently seen than any other fish at English dinner-tables. It is almost always plainly boiled and served with lobster sauce, whereas in France it is served in fifteen or twenty ways, at the least, as will appear from the following list:—

Juvenal, in his fourth Satire, tells us what store Roman epicures set on turbot, and gives a description of the company assembled by order of Domitian to pronounce on the goodness of the fish. The graphic pages of Suetonius, the vigorous periods of Tacitus, and the scourging satire of Juvenal, were employed to show up the vices of Domitian. Berchoux, in his poem “La Gastronomie,” thus paraphrases Juvenal:—

“Domitien un jour se présente au sénat:
Pères conscrits, dit-il, un affaire d’état
M’appelle auprès de vous. Je ne viens point vous dire
Qu’il s’agit de vieller au salut de l’empire;
Exciter votre zéle, et prendre vos avis
Sur les destines de Rome, et des peuples conquis;
Agiter avec vous ou la paix ou la guerre,
Vains projets sur lesquels vous n’avez qu’à vous taire;
Il s’agit d’un turbot: daignez déliberer
Sur la sauce qu’on doit lui faire preparer....
Le sénat mit aux voix cette affaire importante,
Et le turbot fut mis à la sauce piquante.”[12]


The turbot is found in all seas. They are very large in the ocean and the Mediterranean. Rondelet says he has seen turbot five fathoms long, four in breadth, and a foot thick. Such turbots have never been seen in England. A turbot weighing from ten to twelve pounds is generally coarse and woolly. The best flavoured are the moderate sized, called chicken turbot, weighing from three to six pounds. In the middle ages, the turbot was called the phasianus aquaticus, or water-pheasant. The turbot is very voracious, and is especially fond of cray-fish. Turbot is thus described in one of the volumes of the “Almanach des Gourmands”:—

“Turbot is the pheasant of the sea, because of its beauty: it is the king of Lent, because of its majestic size. It is ordinarily served au court bouillon. The turbot has the simplicity and majesty of a hero, and every species of ornament offends him much more than it honours him. On the day after he makes his first appearance, it is quite another affair; he may be then disguised. The best manner of effecting this is to dress him in Béchamel, a preparation thus called after the Marquis de Béchamel, maître d’hôtel of Louis XIV., who has for ever immortalised himself by this one ragoût.”

Turbot is best from March to September, but is eaten all the year round.

Sturgeon, called the royal fish (because by a statute of Edward II. it is said “the king shall have[149] sturgeon taken in the sea, or elsewhere, within the realm”), is seldom seen at private tables in England. Two distinct species have been distinguished by the fishermen of the Solway Firth; but several species frequent the rivers of Russia. Caviare, so much used in Russia, and now very generally imported into this country, is made of the roe of the female sturgeon. The flesh of the sturgeon, besides being preserved by salting and pickling, is in request for the table while fresh, and is generally served with a rich sauce. The appearance and flavour of sturgeon is not unlike that of veal. The flesh, like that of most of the cartilaginous fishes, is more firm and compact than is usual among those of the osseous families. When fresh, sturgeon is as white as the very finest veal; when red, nothing whatever can be done with it. There are thirty different methods of dressing sturgeon in France. I give the names of a few of them:—

Sturgeons in England are roasted, or baked, or boiled in Ude’s manner, or served à la Beaufort, for which there is a receipt in Francatelli’s “Modern Cook.”


Portions of this fish may be also served in blanquettes, and croquettes, and as cutlets.

I give Carème’s receipt for serving a sturgeon à la Napoleon. It will be seen that it requires three bottles of champagne.

Esturgeon à la Napoleon.—Clean and tie up a piece of sturgeon (two feet and a half in length), dress it in a Mirepoix moistened with three bottles of champagne, and two ladlesful of consommé; proceed with it as above directed; take off the skin, glaze, and dish it, surrounding it with a ragoût à la Régence, consisting of small quenelles of whitings, with cray-fish-butter, truffles, carps’ tongues, and mushrooms, of each a plateful; before putting them into the sauce, mix a good piece of cray-fish-butter and a little glaze with it; the ragoût should receive scarcely a boiling afterwards; lay upon the ragoût some white roes of carp, and livers of turbots, and surround it with a garniture of fillets of soles, decorated with truffles; fix eight hatelettes (skewers) garnished with truffles, cray-fish, and smelts, turned round, and boiled in salt water, and always serve a portion of the ragoût in a sauce-boat.

In America they make a sturgeon soup from the fresh fish, and there is also a “sturgeon soup à l’anglaise et à l’indienne”—the receipts for which may be found in Francatelli’s “Modern Cook.”

The Romans much vaunted a sturgeon, and when served crowned it with flowers. The Greeks also[151] considered it as the best dish at their grand repasts.

Next to turbot, the fish most in request at English dinner-tables during the season is salmon. Our chief salmon fisheries are carried on in the rivers and estuaries of Scotland; but the finest salmon in the London market comes from the Southampton water, near Christchurch; and much good salmon is also sent to Billingsgate both from Ireland and Holland. The produce of the fishings of the rivers Tay, Dee, Don, Skey, Findhorn, Beauley, Borriedale, Thurso, and the coasts adjacent, are conveyed in steam-boats and small sailing-vessels to Aberdeen, where they are packed with ice in boxes, and sent to London. The Severn salmon is in season in January, February, March, October, November, and December; and the Scotch from March to September. There are innumerable ways of dressing salmon practised by French cooks, such as Darne de saumon au vin de champagne, sauce au beurre d’écrevisses, saumon au court bouillon, à la française, à la Régence, à la Cardinale, &c.; but it may be questioned whether salmon is ever eaten with more relish or satisfaction by Englishmen than when plain boiled, either whole or in slices, in the English fashion. It may be served with lobster, shrimp, Dutch, or parsley-and-butter sauce. The slices of crimped salmon served at London dinners in May and June, are, to my mind, perfection.


Nonius says of this fish,—“Carnem enim habet teneram dulcem et præpinquem.”

The cod-fish brought to England is much finer than that sold on the Continent; and from November to April there can be no better dish than slices of crimped cod, done either in the English or the Dutch fashion, which most Englishmen prefer to the more elaborate dressing of French cooks. A Béchamel of cod-fish in the French fashion is, however, a very good thing; and cabillaud grillé à la Laguipierre is excellent. This last was said to be a favourite dish with the late Duke of Wellington; and certain it is, that it was often placed on the table both at Strathfieldsaye and at Apsley House.

The haddock, which is now more commonly served at English dinner-tables than in my youth, is an excellent fish when of the proper size. The Dublin Bay haddock is pre-eminently good, and merits the encomium of Galen:—“Aselli si probo utantur alimento et in maripuro degunt, carnis bonitate cum saxatilibus contendunt.”[13]

Pliny also in his ninth book, cap. xvii., says the haddock “post acipenserem apud antiquos nobilis simum piscium.”[14] Haddocks, to my thinking, are best dressed in the English fashion—boiled, either[153] with egg or parsley-and-butter sauce. In Ireland, they sometimes serve them with cockle sauce: and an excellent friend of mine (the son of a late accomplished and eloquent Chief Justice of the Queen’s Bench) tells me they are admirable in this fashion. In French cookery, the haddock is generally dressed and served as cod-fish is dressed. There are worse things than a fillet of haddock à la Royale, or à l’italienne.

There is no more nourishing or easily digested fish than the sole, and it is in season all the year round. The richest and largest sole, called by some the black sole, comes from the Devon coast; and these, as well as the Dover sole, and the black sole of Ireland, are best plain boiled. The smaller and whiter sole found on the coast of Sussex is best fried. Lemery calls the sole, perdrix marina (the partridge of the sea); and Ovid classes it with the flounder, to which it is far superior.

“Fulgentes soleæ candore et concolorillis passer.”

There are thirty or more excellent ways of serving sole in the French fashion, the principal of which are à la Colbert, à la Perigord, au gratin, en matelote normande, à la provençale, filets de soles aux truffes, et aux fines herbes. All of these are excellent, but require a good cook. If you are not sure of your cook, order your soles to be fried or plainly boiled.

I must say a word on the fish of which the celebrated Roman orator Hortensius was so fond—a fish[154] furnishing occasion for the epigrams of Martial, and the scathing satire of Juvenal. Red mullet is only prime during the warm weather, and is best done en papillote. It may also be done en caisse aux fines herbes, à l’italienne, and à là Cardinale, but in no way is it so good as en papillote.

Mullet should never be drawn; it is sufficient to take out the gills, as the liver and trail are the best parts of the fish. When we know that Apicius spent £60,000 to vary the taste of sauces, we can well believe that a sum of £240 was given in the olden time, at Rome, for three mullets of a large size.

I will only speak of two other fishes, the john-dory and the lamprey. The john-dory is finest on the western coast of England, and is best plain boiled. Quin, the actor, a great gourmand, was remarkably fond of this fish and red mullet, and used to go down to Exeter for the purpose of eating them. One morning after his arrival in the west, his valet came in to call him as usual. “Well, John, any dory in the market?” “No, sir.”

“Very well; I’ll lay a-bed to-day. You may call me this time to-morrow.”

There are two kinds of lampreys—the marine lamprey, found at Worcester and Gloucester, where it is dressed and preserved, to be heated up with a wine. The other, the lampern, is found in the Thames from October till March. The lamprey is in the best condition in April and May. Receipts[155] for dressing lamprey, à la Forey, à la Beauchamp, and à la Beaufort, may be found in Francatelli’s “Modern Cook.”

While on the chapter on fish, I may as well state that the late Marquis de Cussy, prefect of the palace of the first Napoleon, has published a book, in which he states his belief that the Reformation was brought about by the compulsory use of fish and meagre fare on particular days. Here are his words:—

“The schism of Martin Luther was really and seriously occasioned by the fastings and the like punishments inflicted on the true believers of Germany. The spiritual power should never meddle with the kitchen. In consequence of this fault, the situation of the Church was changed in Europe.”

Carème’s thoughts on living on maigre diet are equally curious.

“It is in a lenten kitchen,” he says, “that the cleverness of a cook can shed a brilliant light. It was in the Elysée Imperial, and by the example of the famous Laguipierre and Robert, that I was initiated into this fine branch of the art, and it is inexpressible. The years of ’93 and ’94, in their terrible and devastating course, respected these strong heads (ces fortes têtes). When our valiant First Consul appeared at the head of affairs, our miseries and those of gastronomy finished. When the empire came, one heard of soups and entrées maigres. The splendid maigre first appeared at the table of the[156] Princess Caroline Murat. This was the sanctuary of good cheer, and Murat was one of the first to do penitence. But what a penitence!”

One does not know whether to be indignant or to laugh at this. The old proverb, “set a beggar on horseback and he will ride to the devil,” is undoubtedly true. A few years before the consulate, the ambitious Caroline Buonaparte, afterwards wife of Murat, was, with her mother and the other female members of her family, in so destitute a situation at Marseilles, that they had not the means of buying wood to warm themselves; and as to Murat, her husband, it is well known that he rose from the very dregs of society, his father being a village innkeeper at Bastide Frontonière, in the department of Lot.

It was Murat’s kitchen, Carème tells us, that restored le beau maigre to mother Church. Thus the great chef unfolds his views as to fish dinners:—

“Succulence, variety, and recherche, Murat undoubtedly desired at his table, and his wishes were supplied. But he owed all these things to our great Laguipierre” (his cook!) “whom he loved. What a labour was Laguipierre’s! This glorious establishment of Murat’s, exhibiting the grandeur of a royal household, was dearly loved by all true gastronomes. The causes of its splendour were the magnificence of the prince, the splendid, friendly, and associated talents of M. Robert, his comptroller, and of the famous Laguipierre, his chef de cuisine. I had the[157] happiness, during two years, of being the first assistant of Laguipierre, as well as his friend. In that time we recreated that grand cuisine maigre, and restored le beau maigre to old Mother Church.”

Any one who wishes to dip further into the literature of fish dinners, should read the article on red herrings, in the fourth volume of the “Almanach des Gourmands;” the description of the house of Billiote, whose cookery and cellars were patronized by the whole body of the French clergy, and the description of the account of the table d’hôte, au nom de Jésus, in the Cloître St. Jacques de l’Hôpital, where a fish dinner was served up every Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, for the moderate sum of two francs ten sous. Such a dinner in Imperial France of 1864 would cost four times the money.

When I first knew Paris as a youth in 1822, the most famous place for a fish dinner was the Rocher de Cancale, in the Rue Montorguiel. It was then and had for eighteen or twenty years before been kept by M. Baleine, aided by Madame Beauvais.

In the sixth volume of the “Almanach des Gourmands,” published in 1808, it is stated that this famous restaurant was in that year frequented by Russian princes, German barons, and the élite of diplomatic society, who then ordered dinners at ten, fifteen, and eighteen francs per head, without wine. The cook at this period was said to be one of the best in Paris, and the reputation of the house continued[158] till 1840, and even later. You were always sure to find the finest and freshest fish at the Rocher de Cancale; and the poultry, and meats, and game were also of the choicest. But the year 1848, which upset the Orleans dynasty, ruined this famous establishment, and it is now only numbered as a thing of the past.

I remember dining there with a party of six persons in the year 1828, the bill for our dinner amounted to 450 francs, or 75 francs per head, including wine. The dinner principally consisted of divers kinds of fish and game. From this dinner, composed of a bisque or French soup, with fillets of turbot and various entrées of fish and game, every one of the party rose hungry. On this occasion some Chateau Margaux was ordered, said to be in bottle from 1789, a period of thirty-nine years, for which a charge of fourteen francs per bottle was made. But this would now be considered a bagatelle, as at several of the restaurants in Paris there is Chateau Margaux charged at twenty and twenty-five francs per bottle, not a quarter so old as the wine of which I speak.

The most expensive part of the 1828 dinner was the fish, and not the wine. M. Ferdinand Fayot, in his “Treatise de la Table particulière de M. Talleyrand,” relates the following anecdote of an abbé who was wont to frequent the Rocher de Cancale for its fish:—

“A certain abbé, who was uncommonly fond of[159] fish, often visited the Rocher de Cancale. Upon one occasion, having dined copiously of salmon, a heavy indigestion was the consequence. Three days afterwards, whilst saying mass, the idea of the fish came across his mind, and, instead of saying the mea culpa of the Confiteor, he was heard to repeat, in striking his breast, ‘Ah, le bon saumon! ah, le bon saumon!’”



The definition given of the word roast in the “Dictionnaire des termes du vieux François,”[15] is a very curious one. Here it is:—“Rost et raust du rosty. Ce mot vient de rusticus parceque le feu noirci, et brule la viande comme le soleil qui hâle le visage des paysans.” Anything more futile, trivial, and far-fetched than this it were impossible to conceive; yet a person daily accustomed to lexicographic studies will simply smile at meanings so forced and strained—meanings very common, however, with dictionary makers and lexicographers.

Boxhornius, in his Britannico-Latin Dictionary, tells us rhost (sic) is an ancient British word.[161] “Antiquam esse vocem Brittanicam, ostendit nomen Regis Armoricani, Daniel Dremrost ab ustis, oculis, vel usto vultu sic dicti.” Wolfgang Lazius, also, in his tenth book, “de Migrationibus Gentium” states that rost (sic) in the Vandal and Teuton languages signifies a grill; and Jean Bruyère, in his book “de Re Cibariâ,”[16] says, that in early times in France, a guest who was invited to a dinner without a roast on a day when it was lawful to eat meat—in other words, to live en gras—fared very frugally indeed, if by any accident the roast was omitted. This can be well credited, for among the English and French the roast has been always the principal dish, or, as our neighbours would say, the pièce de résistance.

In very early times, in Paris, there were what were called in old French, rôstisseries, where roast meats were sold ready to be eaten instantly at meals. Du Loir tells us that in the mediæval times, an Italian patriarch thought nothing so admirable at Paris as these rôtisseries, where he could find such delicate tit-bits as a roast gigot, or a roast shoulder or leg of lamb. The rôtisseries were kept by rôtisseurs and rôtisseuses, and they exist to this day. There were independently of these general rôtisseurs, and rôtisseuses as they were called en blanc, who sold only larded roasts, such as filets piqués, &c.

The traiteur, or the cuisinier traiteur, was sometimes[162] also a rôtisseur, a calling distinguished from the pâtissier or pastry-cook. The Company of Maître Rôtisseurs in France was much older than the Company of Maître Cuisiniers, which latter was only erected into a corporation in 1559, in the reign of Henry IV. The statutes of the Maître Rôtisseurs were granted by Stephen Boileau, Provost of Paris, about 1258. The rôtisseurs, for the most part, lived in the street called Aux Oyers, where, so late as 1767, a great many of them were established.

I have in another and preceding chapter remarked, that the French kitchen was very much indebted to Italian cookery. The truth is, that the Italians of the middle ages have been in most sciences the instructors of Europe. Catherine de Medici came to France surrounded with a legion of cooks, rôtisseurs and pâtissiers, and these new-comers first improved the cookery already existing, and having found apt scholars in the French, were soon surpassed by their pupils.

The art of roasting is considered an especial art by our neighbours. It is very true, that there is no process in cookery so simple, and yet very few can accomplish it properly. A roast, whether of beef, mutton, venison, lamb, or fowl, should neither be under nor over done. The great secret therefore is to avoid either extreme, and so to hit the middle point. Venison, beef, mutton, lamb, require to be equally done through all the parts, yet no portion of the gravy[163] should be wasted. Scorching is not roasting, and burning is not browning a joint. The best joint of beef for roasting in England is the sirloin. The fire should be brisk and clear, as well as large, steady, and intense in proportion to the size of the joint, and the meat should be perpetually basted, so that no cessation in the process should take place. Large joints should be put down soon after the fire is made up and begins to burn. The gradual access of the heat to meat prevents its burning. If a joint be burned in the early process, it is an evil scarcely remediable in the subsequent stages of the operation of roasting. For this reason it is that in the great kitchens in France there is always some one whose special duty it is to attend to the roast alone. In the fourth volume of the “Almanach des Gourmands,” it is said that a dinner may be compared to the rooms of a house, and the roast is the salon or principal apartment. “The salon in a French house,” says M. Grimod de la Reynière, “is the room on which an hospitable host spends all his spare money. It is furnished and decorated with the greatest care, because in this room the master receives his friends. Just a like process is pursued in respect to the roast that smokes upon his table. It is the dish that has cost him most money, and on which he hopes to content and feast his guests.” It is, therefore, most important that the roast, by its excellence, juice, and tenderness, should satisfy; for if it be bad, burned, or hard, all however excellent that has preceded it,[164] is forgotten; a tristful silence succeeds to hilarity, and the grieved Amphitryon seeks to repair the blunder of his cook by the production of excellent wine.

The misfortune is, that there is no strict law to “rule the roast.” The doing it to a turn depends on a congeries of circumstances and contingencies which are eternally varying. The beef or mutton may be old, tough, sinewy, or not sufficiently hung. A great deal depends on the size of the coal or wood before which it is placed. Much also on the regular basting or the punctual arrival of the guests. Sometimes a delay of five or ten minutes spoils a beautiful roast joint, and renders it flavourless and insipid. “Ainsi,” says Grimod, (becoming poetical) “Ainsi que la beauté dans sa fleur, il n’a qu’un moment pour être cuelli et ce moment une fois passé ne revient jamais.”

It is not therefore an exaggeration to say that good roasters are even more difficult to find than good cooks. It was the opinion of so competent a judge as this, that in an establishment where the cook attended both to the preparing of the dinner and the roast, the roast was sure to be bad. I will not go to this length, for an experienced kitchen-maid can always bestow on the roast of the first and second course all the attention necessary. The roast, according to this great and experienced authority, is divided into great and little roast—gros rôt et petit rôt. The larger roast comprises venison, beef, mutton, veal, lamb, and pork, quarters of wild boar, &c., and the smaller, fowl,[165] grouse, and small birds. Grimod recommends that smaller birds should be larded with a slice of good lard. Great care should be taken in the selection of the lard, for a rancid lard will spoil the best bird that ever flew. At large dinners, the editor of the “Almanach” holds that the roast should be served without entrées or entremets, flanked merely by four different salades. A general rule among cooks is to allow a quarter of an hour to each pound of the joint. Thus a joint of eight pounds will take two hours. Slow roasting adds to the tenderness and flavour of a joint, and it may be observed, that the longer a joint is kept the less time it will require in roasting.

Our roasts in England (with the single exception of a leg of mutton) are better than in France. The quality of the meat (with the exception of veal) is much better, and good English cooks excel in roasting meat and game. Our game is much finer than in France, though we have nothing to equal the French poularde of the Mans, in the department of the Sarthe. Nothing in France can compare to our haunches and necks of venison, to our barons and sirloins of beef, to our haunches, saddles, and legs of mutton, to our barons and fore-quarters of lamb. Our beef is in season all the year round, and may be given as a roast from October to March. Our saddles, haunches, legs, and necks of mutton, may also be given as a roast for the first course, being varied with pork, veal, and roast turkey. For a second course in January[166] and February, we have widgeon and woodcock, snipe, teal, wild duck and black game, hares, &c. All this game is better flavoured and better roasted in England than in France. In April, we have excellent lamb for a first course, with guinea-fowls and ducklings for a second. In May we have poulardes and quails, turkey poults, &c., for a second. Venison begins in June, and in August we have grouse, and that excellent bird the golden plover. A little later come partridges, black cock, and then snipe and wild duck, while lamb and mutton alternate in the first. Mutton, whether as a roast, or an entrée in the shape of cutlets, can be alike served; and with Swift’s receipt for roasting mutton, I will conclude this branch of the subject:

“Gently stir and blow the fire,
Lay the mutton down to roast,
Dress it quickly, I desire;
In the dripping put a toast,
That I hunger may remove;—
Mutton is the meat I love.
On the dresser see it lie;
Oh! the charming white and red!
Finer meat ne’er met the eye,
On the sweetest grass it fed;
Let the jack go swiftly round,
Let me have it nicely brown’d.
On the table spread the cloth,
Let the knives be sharp and clean,
Pickles get and salad both,
Let them each be fresh and green.
With small beer, good ale, and wine,
O ye gods! how I shall dine!”


I by no means mean to imply that our neighbours, the French, have not a greater variety of ways of dressing their roasts for first and second courses than we have; all I mean to assert is, that our simple roasting of venison, beef, mutton, and game, is better than the French. The material to work upon is incomparably better. Toujours perdrix, however, is sure to pall on the palate, and our object should be to vary our mode of dressing these excellent materials. Till schools of cookery become more general, it will not be safe for a host, with an ordinary plain cook, to set before his guest a filet de bœuf, sauce à la poivrade, a salmi of partridge, or a filet de canard sauvage.

It would even be a dangerous experiment in many cases to essay a loin of veal à la Béchamel, fillets of fowl à la tartare, a common fricassée of chicken, or a braized saddle of lamb à la jardinière.

It is perhaps unnecessary to say that pork, veal, and lamb should be done well; turkeys and fowls should have no red in them, but game should be somewhat underdone.

I have already said that the time necessary to roast a joint depends on a variety of circumstances, of which an experienced male or female cook will be the best judge. The following table, however, very nearly approximates to the exact time, supposing a coal fire to be employed:—


A joint of beef weighing 20 lbs. 4 hours.
10 lbs.
6 lbs. 2
A joint of veal 10 lbs.
4 lbs. 2
A joint of mutton 10 lbs. 2
6 lbs.
4 lbs. 1
A joint of fresh pork 8 lbs. 4
4 lbs.
A haunch of buck venison 4
A neck of buck 1½ to 2
A joint of venison 10 lbs.
6 lbs.
(Venison should be rather under than over done.)
A large turkey 2
A medium-sized one
A turkey poult 1
A capon 1
A poularde
A large fowl ¾
A goose 1 to 1¼
A gosling ¾
A pigeon ½
A hare
A leveret ¾
A rabbit ½
A pheasant ½ [169]
A partridge 20 minutes.
Cock of the wood, or black game, 1 to 1¼ hour.
Grouse ½
Woodcock ½
Snipe 20 minutes.
Golden plover 20
Teal 15
Quail 20
Larks 20
Ortolans 15
Fig-pecker 15



All meats should be boiled slowly, in sufficient water; and a ham should not be allowed to boil until a very short time before it is taken out of the pot, in which it has been allowed to simmer slowly for four, five, or six hours, according to its size, age, &c. When meats are boiled fast, the outside is hardened before the inside is warm; in addition to which the meat becomes discoloured.

It is usual in boiling as well as in roasting, to allow a quarter of an hour’s boiling to every pound of meat. The rule usually is a good one, but there are several exceptions, that will task the discretion and science of a cook.

If the joint be large and thick, such as buttock or round of beef, more than a quarter of an hour must be allowed for each pound. If, however, the joint be a small or a thin one, such as a neck of lamb, somewhat less than a quarter of an hour for[171] each pound will suffice. During the process of boiling meat or fish, the scum which arises should be skimmed off, otherwise the meat or fish will be discoloured. The majority of cookery books direct that fresh meat should be put into water when it boils, and salt meat when the water is cold; but the better opinion seems now to be that fresh and salted meats should be put into cold water, and allowed to become hot gradually. The five constituent properties of the flesh of animals used by man are—fibrine, gelatine, osmazone, fat, and albumen. Gelatine is soluble only in boiling or very hot water, whereas osmazone is very soluble, even in cold water, and contains the sapid principle of all meats. Fat is insoluble in water, but the heat melts it, when it floats in a liquid form on the surface.

Albumen resembles the white of an egg. It is soluble in cold or lukewarm water, and coagulates at a less temperature than that of boiling water. Albumen abounds in the blood, and exists in portions of the flesh of animals. It is the albumen, in coagulating after having been dissolved, which causes the scum to rise in the liquid in which a joint has been boiled. It is evident that if the meat be put in a vessel with boiling water, or if the water being cold be boiled too quickly, the albumen in the first case by coagulating on the surface of the water, and in the second in the interior of the joint of meat, prevents the gelatine and osmazone from dissolving.[172] Though boiling does not require so much nicety and care as roasting, yet it is seldom perfectly performed. It requires patient watchfulness and vigilance. “It is natural,” says Count Rumford, “to suppose that many of the finer and more volatile parts of food must be carried off by the steam when the boiling is violent. The water should be heated gradually until it boils, for the slower the meat boils the more juicy and tender will it be. Meat freshly killed takes longer to boil than when it has been properly hung, and meat killed in cold or frosty weather takes longer to boil than meat killed in summer. Meat or poultry should not be allowed to remain in the water after they are done, as they soon become sodden.”

It is usual to boil lamb, veal, and pork longer than beef or mutton. Of course all vessels in which meat is boiled, should be clean and wholesome. Vessels of copper, brass, and lead must be avoided in cookery, unless the inside be well tinned. The best saucepans are of iron, tinned in the inside. I would observe, that salmon requires nearly as much boiling as meat, that is to say, about a quarter of an hour to every pound of fish. Turbot, salmon, john-dory, cod-fish, haddocks, brill, skate, and the large Dover and West of England black soles, are best boiled. Other kinds of sea-fish are best fried or filleted, or done in the French fashion, such as filets de turbot, sauce suprême, or escalopes de turbot, aux truffes à la Royale. Cod-fish, besides being boiled[173] or fried, may be served in twenty ways—à la hollandaise, à la Sainte Ménéhould, à la Perigeaux, à la provençale. As to salmon, the same observation may be made. It may be served à la Saint Cloud, à la génevoise, à la vénitienne, à la Royale, in filets aux anchois, à la d’Artois, à la Sainte Ménéhould, en papillotes, à la d’uxelle; but, unless you have a superior cook, salmon is best plain boiled.

I will conclude with the following remarks as to the time required to boil poultry.

Turkeys, capons, fowls, chickens, &c., are all boiled in the same manner, allowing time according to their size.

A chicken will take about twenty minutes.

A fowl, about forty minutes.

A poularde or capon, about an hour.

A small turkey, an hour and a half.

A large turkey, two hours or more.

Rabbits should be put into a basin of warm water; then put them into plenty of water, and boil half an hour. If large, three quarters of an hour.

Of frying I would merely say, that the frying is the finest and most delicate when good olive oil is employed. “Il est reconnu que c’est avec la bonne huile d’olive que se font fritures les plus fines, les plus délicates.”—Manuel de Cuisinier et de la Cuisinière, par P. Cardelli.



The term Poultry, includes all the domesticated birds reared for the table—fowls, capons, turkeys, geese, ducks, and guinea fowl. Those who live in the country and intend to rear fowls for the consumption of their families, should have a poultry-yard, called by the French, a basse cour. It should be well sheltered, with a warm aspect, and sufficiently inclined to be always dry. It should also be supplied with sand or ashes, and there should be also a supply of running water, of which poultry are fond. A green patch of earth should be next to the poultry-yard, to allow the fowls free exercise. Poultry are the better for high feeding from the very shell, and on this account it is advisable to give them the heaviest corn. Even young chickens may be put for feeding as soon as the hen has ceased to regard them. When chickens are wanted for domestic purposes, they should be left at liberty in the farm-yard, and if they have plenty of[175] food they will be soon fit for the table, and rich and juicy in flavour. Nowhere do you get these young and juicy chickens better than at the country inns in Ireland and Scotland. As soon as fowls are sufficiently fat, they should be killed, or they will lose flesh and become unhealthy. Turkeys are more delicate to rear in their infancy than fowls, but they become hardy as they grow older. When well-grown, turkeys supply themselves in their ramblings, so that they require no food but at leaving their homes in the morning, and returning at night. After six months, turkeys may be crammed, as is practised with fowls; but they require a much longer period to render them fully fat for the table. Guinea fowls are in the season greatly prized at London dinner tables. The same food appropriated to the young of gallinaceous fowls and turkeys, is good for guinea chicks.

The white duck being the largest of the domesticated kind, is the best for the poulterer, though it is not usually considered so delicate in flavour as the dark coloured. The grand object of preparing poultry of all kinds as speedily as possible for the table, is effected by supplying them with dry, soft, and green food, by keeping them thoroughly clean, and by affording them water and exercise ground.

Of the wholesomeness of poultry, as an article of diet, Lémery thus speaks in his “Traité des Aliments:”—


“Their flesh is pectoral, easily digested, produces good juice, is very nourishing, increases the spirits, moistens and cools, and is very proper for macerated persons, that are recovering from sickness. Avicen pretends, it makes the understanding more quick and lively, and that it clears the voice.

“It agrees at all times, with any age and constitution: in the meantime it is better for nice persons, and such as lead an idle life, than for those who are strong, robust, and used to a violent exercise or hard labour, seeing these last require more solid food, and that does not so easily waste.”

“Some persons,” he goes on to say, “formerly were of opinion, that the eating of hens, chickens, and capons, caused the gout; and perhaps there were two things that gave occasion for this popular error. First, these animals are subject to the same disease, and consequently may impart it to those who feed upon them; but it would follow from hence, that we must contract all the diseases of every animal we eat of, which we find otherwise by experience. Secondly, they were inclined to this opinion, from a consideration that those who lead an idle life, fare high, and feed upon juicy and nice food, such as chickens and capons, are more afflicted with the gout than others; but it is not because these people live usually upon capons and chickens, that they are subject to this distemper, but rather by reason of the idle life they lead, and the excess they go to in all sorts of pleasures.[177] In short, if it were true that the eating of these fowls brought the gout upon us, we should see nothing else but gouty persons everywhere; for we may say, that there is now-a-days no food more common than poultry.”

Of capons, this famous doctor thus speaks:—

“Their flesh is very nourishing, it produces good juice, is restorative, recovers decayed strength, good for the phthisic and consumptions, easy of digestion; and they often make broth of it, in order to fortify and recover strength. The flesh of a capon is in virtue and taste much like unto that of a chicken; in the mean time, that of a capon is more nourishing, pleasant and properer for people used to fatigue than the other; and the reason is, because this same flesh contains juices that are more concocted, digested, and fuller of oily balsamic particles.”

When poultry is brought into the kitchen for use, it should be kept as cool as possible. The best position in which to place it is with the breast downwards, on a shelf or marble slab. The crop and the gut of the rump should be taken out. Choose fowls with a thin transparent skin, white and delicate. Pigeons full fledged, are heating and hard to digest. The younger they are in general the better, and in Italy, where pigeons are much used, they are always eaten young.

In choosing turkeys, select the brown Norfolk; but if you can find any of the red American breed, the flavour is still finer.


I have said in another chapter that the finest fowl in the world is the poularde du Mans, in the department of La Sarthe. Here is a true description of the manner in which that fine flavour which they possess is given to the bird:—

“It is to the feeding on barley, and to that only, that the fine flavour of the poularde du Mans and of La Fleche is to be traced. This is one of the joys and delights of a gourmand, and if you have a little farm, or even a trifle of a garden, you can fatten your own fowl. With a little care and time, you will have fowls and capons of an exquisite flavour. Feed them with ground barley, mixed with bran and milk, for some days, and then put them in a cage in a dark, dry spot. Give them as much farinaceous barley and milk as they can swallow. But mind, above and before all things, to separate the little cocks from the hens. This is indispensable, and must be rigorously observed. In a fortnight or three weeks your fowls will have acquired a fine and delicate obesity. ‘Beware,’ said Brillat de Savarin, ‘of the turkey poults of the neighbourhood of Paris. They have a bitterness which revolts a delicate palate, for they are fed on stale crusts, horse-chestnuts, and sour vegetables.’”

The ordinary barn-door fowl, for which so many of us are compelled to pay 5s. 6d. in the month of May, at the West-end poulterers, is thus remorselessly treated by a French gourmand, Berchoux, in his poem “La Gastronomie,”—


“Proscrivez sans pitié ces poulets domestiques,
Nourris en votre cour et constamment étiques,
Toujours mal engraissés par des soins ignorants;
Ne connaissez que ceux de la Bresse ou du Mans.”

A fowl or chicken should be kept some time before it is cooked. If cooked immediately on being killed, as is frequently the case at country inns in Ireland and Scotland, even a young fowl is tough. Horace’s method of rendering a fowl tender is well remembered by every Etonian:—

“Si vespertinus subitò te oppresserit hospes,
Ne gallina malùm responset dura palato,
Doctus eris vivam musto mersare Falerno:
Hoc teneram faciet.”

“Poultry,” says M. Brillat Savarin, “is to the kitchen that which canvas is to the painter, or Fortunatus’ wishing cap to the charlatan. Poultry may be served boiled, roasted, fried, hot or cold, whole or in parts, with or without sauce, boned or unboned, devilled, grilled, or farced, and always with equal success.” To my thinking, the best fowls in France are those “du Mans,” in the department of La Sarthe; but M. Brillat Savarin holds those of Caux in Normandy, and de la Bresse, to be equally good. The poularde of Montalbanois en Quercy is excellent.

For ages roast poultry has been a favourite dish in England. Shakespeare, who knew every thing, from heaven-born philosophy down to humblest household affairs, puts into the mouth of Justice Shallow directions[180] for a dinner, which might be eaten with relish now-a-days. “Some pigeons, Davy; a couple of short-legged hens (the true criterion of goodness), a joint of mutton, and any pretty, little tiny kickshaws.” A capon in his day was as much relished as now, and the cost, according to the papers found in the pocket of Falstaff, was, a capon 2s. 2d., sauce 4d., sack, two gallons, 5s. 8d., bread, a halfpenny.

Our roasting of poultry, though not so excellent as our roasting of beef and mutton, is yet very good, and unless a host be sure of his cook, he had better order for his guest a roast capon, a roast fowl, or a roast or boiled turkey. The turkey, either roast or boiled is excellent, and the same remark applies to fowl. If served boiled, nothing is better than good celery sauce, either with fowl or turkey. There are scores of ways of serving a poularde in France. There is the poularde rôtie, the poularde au gros sel, the poularde à la bourgeoise, the poularde à la Montmorency, à la Marseillaise, à la Tartare, au suprême, invented by Beauvilliers, and à la Grimod de la Reynière.

There are also various entrées of fowl and chicken, such as poulets à la reine, à la regence, à la Montmorency, à l’ivoire; and various fricassées, as, à la chevalière, à la Saint Lambert, à la financière, à la Bourguinonne, à la Villeroi, and tutti quanti; but it is necessary to say, that to produce these entrées, or the filets de poulet à la royale, or cotellettes de cuisses de[181] poulets à la perigueux, or à suprême de volaille, one must have an accomplished cook.

The sooner we multiply schools of cookery for entrées and entremets, the better. There are a couple or three existing already, I believe: one in Mortimer Street, Cavendish Square; one in Charles Street, Middlesex Hospital; and one in Berners Street, Oxford Street. But there ought to be twenty times as many. Nothing is so difficult to obtain as a good cook, and yet higher wages are paid to male and female cooks than to any other class of servants.

There is an immense consumption of turkeys at Paris, at Christmas time, and a much larger consumption in London. In the days of stages, the Norfolk coaches were stowed with turkeys from the middle of December to Twelfth-day; and in our day the goods traffic on the Norfolk Railway is more than trebled during Christmas. In the “Physiologie du Goût,” of Brillat Savarin, under the head “Influence financière du Dindon,” is the following remark:—

“I have some reason to think, that from the commencement of November to the end of February, 300 truffled turkeys are daily consumed in Paris, making a total of 36,000 turkeys. Calculate the value of these.”

The English have yet to learn the general use of the truffle with the turkey. A rich bourgeois of Paris will go to the expense of from 60 to 75 francs for a first-rate turkey for his rôti, and will afterwards[182] disburse from 70 to 100 francs in truffles to season the bird. We have no idea of this expenditure in England, nor do our higher and better classes use or consume truffles as they ought to be used. Chaptal, who was one of Napoleon’s Ministers of the Interior in France, published a work, “Sur l’Industrie Française,” in 1819. In it he speaks of the enormous quantities of fowls in France:—

“In order to have an idea (says the Comte de Chaptal) of the enormous quantity of fowls of all species which exists in France, it will suffice to observe, that there are annually sold at the markets of Toulouse 120,000 geese, which are fattened in the neighbourhood; and M. Lavoisier has estimated the number of eggs consumed at Paris, on an average of several years, at 78,000,000, and the number of fowls at 39,000,000. Supposing the price of each to be a franc, including the cocks, this would give a capital of 41,600,000 francs. If to this be added the value of hens and cocks, of turkeys, geese, ducks, and pigeons renewed almost every year, the amount may be augmented by 10,000,000; so that the capital for fowls of all species amounts to 51,600,000 francs.”

Some exquisites and Muscadins of the second Empire maintain that there is nothing “si Chaussée d’Antin,” nothing “si lourdement bourgeois” as a dinde aux truffes, as a plat de rôt. Let these coxcombs rail on. The dinde aux truffes, as a Christmas Parisian dish, will survive them and the false gods of[183] their idolatry. Of the turkey, Nonius says, “Egre giè alunt et bonum succum corpori suppeditant.”[17]

Some writers, such as Athenæus, Ælian, and Aristotle, would have us believe that turkeys were known to the ancients under the name of Meleagrides, but this is a mistake. It is a nice question when turkeys first appeared in France, and who first introduced them. La Mare, in his “Traité de la Police,” would have it that it was Jaques Cœur, the treasurer of Charles VII.; but this is also an error. According to Champier, who wrote his treatise “De Re Cibariâ,” in 1560, they were only introduced into France a few years before he wrote. Here are his words:—“Venere in Gallias, annos abhinc paucos, aves quædam externæ, quas gallinas indicas appellant: credo quoniam ex Insulis Indiæ nuper à Lusitanis Hispanisque palefactæ, primum invectæ fuerunt in urbem nostrum.”

In the French poets of the thirteenth century, and in authors still more ancient, there is frequent mention of capons. Madame de Sevigné speaks of the “poulardes de Cân,” and of the “bonnes poulardes de Rennes.”

In Regnard’s “Comedy du Bal,” A.D. 1696, the author speaks in praise of “les poulardes de Caux.” Long—nearly a century—antecedent to this, our[184] own Shakespeare, had used the word “capon” again and again; and again Le Grand d’Aussy contends that the Gauls learned the art of fattening and cramming fowls from the Romans. Crammed fowls were from early times more esteemed in France than any others. Among the officers of the Royal household in France in early times, was a crammer of fowls. An ordonnance of St. Louis dated in 1261, more than six centuries ago, gives to this officer the name of poulailler.

Our neighbours on the other side of the Straits of Dover are not only very fond of fowls and capons, but of much smaller birds. They eat thrushes, blackbirds, and robin red-breasts. Dr. Roques, in his “Fragments sur les Plantes usuelles,” thus speaks of this liking for smaller birds:—

“The taste for blackbirds and thrushes has passed from the ancients to the moderns. These birds are much esteemed in Germany, and in our southern provinces. The blackbirds of Corsica and Provence are renowned, above all renowned as they feed on myrtle and juniper-berries. Cardinal Fesch, archbishop of Lyons, had a supply every year from Corsica. One dined at the house of his eminence partly because of his agreeable manners, partly for the noble and gracious reception he gave you, but, also, for his blackbirds, which were of exquisite flavour. More than one Lyonnese gourmand impatiently waited for the archiepiscopal clock to strike six. Then it was that these delicate little birds appeared upon the table, their delicious[185] perfume charming all the guests. Their appearance, their seductive tournure, were also admired. Their backs were garnished with a small bouquet of fried sage, in some sort imitating the tail with which they were furnished when they poured forth their notes from the elm and hawthorn. ‘But what,’ the reader will exclaim, ‘you do not speak of the fine oil in which these beautiful birds were baked, nor of the agreeable rôtis, whose bitterness strengthened your stomach, while it perfumed your mouth?’ You are right, judicious reader.”

Although the poulterers in London truss all the different animals which they send home, yet, as it often happens, that untrussed game and poultry are sent to private families from the country, it is necessary that the art of trussing should be known by every cook.



Game in England is declared to include hares, pheasants, partridges, grouse, heath or moor game, black game, and bustard. Snipe, quail, landrail, woodcock, and conies are not game; but they can only be taken or killed by certificated persons. Game has been always prized amongst us at table; and it has been a subject of legislation from the Conquest to the present time. In the time of Queen Mary, there was not only a keeper of pheasants and partridges to the queen, but likewise a taker. The kings of England had also, formerly, a swanherd; and Sir E. Coke makes this office one of his titles in the Fourth Institute.[18] The 17 chap. of Henry VIII. is entitled, “The forfeiture for taking of fesants and partridges,[187] or the eggs of hawkes or swans.” That the gentry, even in those early days, were imbued with sound common sense, and could regard the pleasurable as well as the palatable and profitable side of a question, will appear from the preamble to this statute. It recites the great injury to lords of manors, not only from the loss of the pleasure and disport to their friends and servants, but likewise the loss to their kitchen and table. So that in 1494, ideas of gourmandise and good cheer were just as rife as in 1864.

Falconry, says the Hon. Daines Barrington,[19] first occasioned the system of game laws; and hence, herons were held in high esteem, being the noblest bird the falcon could fly at. There can be no doubt whatever that, less than three centuries ago, herons were eaten both in England and France. Our ancestors, indeed, were much less delicate and less particular as to the tenderness of their food than their descendants, for they ate not only the heron, but the crane, the crow, the cormorant, and the bittern. In an old cookery book of Taillevant, who was first cook of Charles VII. of France, there are receipts for dressing these last-named birds. In the statutes of Bordeaux, made in 1585, with a view to regulate the sale of game, in the regulation of Henry II. in 1549, for the same object the heron is counted among[188] the number of birds allowed to be brought to market. When Charles IX. passed through Amiens, he was offered, among other birds, twelve herons, six bitterns, and six swans. Bélon, in his history of birds, written in 1554, says, that the bittern, though of a nauseous taste at first, “est cependant entre les délices françoises;” and Liebant calls the heron “une viande royale.” Héronnières were, in his day, as common among French gentlemen as were faisanderies in 1760 or 1780. Three centuries ago, vultures and falcons, and other birds of prey, were also eaten in France—now, and for a century and a half, so friande and dainty in its tastes. In Auvergné, Bélon states that in winter every one ate of a kind of eagle, named boudrée, or gorian; though he admits owls and birds feeding on carrion were not served at table. It is singular that the very people who then ate herons, vultures, and cormorants, would not touch young game. They regarded leverets and young partridges as indigestible, and only partook of old hares and old birds. Henry Stevens states that the eating of young game was introduced by the Ambassador of France, who had sojourned at Venice. Game among our neighbours, the French, is divided into gros gibier and menu gibier. In the gros gibier is comprised the buck, doe, stag, wild boar, &c.; and the menu gibier comprehends pheasant, wild duck, teal, larks, ring-doves, partridges, woodcocks, quails, ortolans, thrushes, grouse, red-breasts, lapwings, &c. French writers also speak of[189] le gibier à poil, in which are comprised hares, leverets, and rabbits. It will be at once seen that the French consider as game many small birds on which we set little value. In the excellence and succulence of our game, and the number of our game preserves, we beat the world. The only countries that can be compared to England in the excellence and abundance of game are Hungary, Styria, Carinthia, and parts of the Basque provinces, Gallicia, and Spanish and Portuguese Estremadura.

Southey, who visited Spain in 1797, speaks thus in his letters of having a woodcock for supper at Merida:—“At Merida we had a woodcock for supper, which we trussed ourselves; but the old woman of the house brought up the bird sprawling, told us that they had forgot to cut off the rump and draw it, and then poked her finger in to show how clean the inside was.”

Nearly thirty years after this date I can myself bear testimony to the abundance of game in parts of Spain, and to the excellent manner in which a salmi of partridges is occasionally served in the Peninsula. It is one of the few dishes in Spanish cookery which an Englishman can relish.

Game is a light food, and easy of digestion; and there is no country in the world in which it is plainly roasted so well as in England. But in sautés, filets, or cutlets of game, in salmis of game aux truffes, à la rocambole, in crepinettes, or à la provençale, we are not[190] to be spoken of in the same century with the French. There are even tolerably simple ways of dressing game à la française, in which some of our French cooks are no adepts. I will not speak of perdreau aux choux, for I deem it profanation to serve cabbage with so admirable a bird; but you cannot always trust a good English cook to serve a partridge or a quail à la financière. Our game pies, more especially in country houses, are good, but they are not to be compared to the pâté de bécassines aux truffes, or the pâtés des cailles aux fines herbes, or to the pâté de godiveau aux champignons, or aux truffes. The chévreuil à France is very inferior to our venison, and it is only the sauce poivrade, the truffles, or the filet à l’italienne, or à la Marechale that makes it eatable. It may be asked why we cannot have these dishes in England? There is no reason why we should not have them, if schools of French cookery are multiplied, and families will go to the expense of the Madeira and Malaga wines, the truffles, the morels, the button mushrooms, and the bunches of sweet herbs. These things are expensive in London; and there are few so prone to obey the vulgar appetite of the belly—to use a phrase of the Roman historian, Sallust—that the outlay is not incurred. Our peers, our country gentlemen, as well as our wealthy merchants, are quite content to have their game well-roasted, which means not overdone. It is one of the old canons of cookery to spit the game when the first[191] course is removed: “Quand le premier service est fini il faut mettre le gibier à la broche.” I cannot choose but think, however, that we may easily vary our roast hare and boiled rabbit by fillets and cutlets of both, by civets of hare, and by salmis and scollops of pheasant à la Bourguinotte, and à la Richelieu, or fillets of partridge à la Perigird, or à la Lucullus.

Pheasant is often a dry bird in England, and oftener so in France; but I would not order a woodcock en salmi, unless the bird were of venerable age. Nonius, who wrote about 240 years ago, tells us there are two sorts of pheasants in France; one is called Royal and the other is called bruyant. Here are his words:—“Galli duplex phasianorum genus statunt, Regium unum quod prestantius est de quo jam diximus, alterum quod Bruyant vocant.”[20] But in this the learned writer is probably mistaken, and confounds bruyant with Coq de bruyère. Grimod de la Reynière says:—“A pheasant should be suspended by the tail, and eaten when he detaches himself from this incumbrance. It is thus that a pheasant hung on Shrove Tuesday is susceptible of being spitted on Easter-day.”

I have not said anything on pastry or cold entrées, because the pastry-cook and the cook constitute, in[192] France and in most continental countries, two different trades or employments. In England, however, the cook and the pastry-cook are often, in considerable establishments, amalgamated; so that the perfect or professed cook should be conversant with every branch of his or her profession, as few establishments, even of the highest in rank or the most wealthy, include a cook and a confectioner, or pastry-cook. Those, therefore, who, in this country, are anxious to excel in their art, ought to be acquainted with the various preparations of pastry, by which I mean not merely tarts, puddings, but feuilletage, or puff-paste, and paste for hot and cold pies, paste for timbals, half-puff paste, and paste for heavy cakes, &c.

From Carème’s observations on making paste, one may conceive that, to his thinking, the operation was difficult. “The soul of the operation,” says he, “consists in having the paste well mingled; for, should there be any neglect in the preparation, a bad result only can be obtained: also, if the pastry, when baked, possesses a colour the least objectionable to the eye of the connoisseur, it will be no less disagreeable to the palate, being heavy and indigestible; therefore the manipulation should be perfect, both in the oven and on the table. It is easier to bake than to make it. The oven claims, it is true, care, assiduity, and practice; but the composition permits not mediocrity—requiring memory, taste and skill—for, from its perfect[193] seasonings, and the due amalgamation of the different bodies of which it is composed, it receives its good or bad qualities. The oven is one simple and self-same thing—the compositions are varied to infinity.”

In most moderate establishments, where a regular dinner is given, the ordinary cook, with the aid of a first-rate man cook, has quite enough to do in preparing the soup, fish, meats, fowl, and game, without being embarrassed with patties and pastry. I would therefore suggest that in establishments where there are not first-rate assistants, and a sufficient number of them, patties, and all kinds of pastry, jellies, ices, &c., should be procured from the confectioner. There are many first-rate confectioners who undertake this duty, such as Gunter, Grange, Bridgman, Waud, and others. A great deal of trouble will thus be saved to the host; and unless his kitchen and his servants be all of a superior description, it is likely the small patties, pastry, ices, and confectionary, will be better from the confectioner’s than if prepared at home. Of course, every professed cook ought to know how to make pâtés of venison and of all sorts of game and fish; but with what the French call pâtisserie it is different, and entertainers who wish these articles will do well to order them from a confectioner.

For small family dinners every good cook should know how to make apricot puffs, orange or rum jelly, blanc-manger, tourtes, apple tarts, soufflés, iced puddings, gauffres, nougats, merlitons, Charlottes à la[194] Russe, gooseberry and all tartlets; but this is a widely different thing from undertaking this duty for a dinner of fourteen, sixteen, or twenty persons, in addition to the two or three courses. For my own part, I have remarked that the people most in the habit of dining out eat very sparingly of pâtés and pastry.

Under the head pâtisseries, the French in general comprehend, first, les pâtés chauds et tourtes d’entrées. Secondly, les pâtés froids, les gateaux, les pâtisseries sucrées. Thirdly, les pâtisseries seches ou croquantes, eaten at dessert. In early ages, in France, the cabaretiers, who furnished food to the traveller, furnished also pastry. Saint Louis, in 1270, regulated this trade by certain statutes; but there was not a regular company of pâtissiers till 1567. One hundred and fifty years ago Pithiviers was celebrated for its pâtés of larks; Perigueux, for its pâtés of truffled partridges; Amiens, for its turkeys and geese; Angers, for its poulardes; Versailles, for its foies gras, and Strasbourg and Toulouse, for its pâtés of foies d’oies. It was not till 1780 that a pâtissier of Paris invented pâtés de jambon. When l’Hôpital was Chancellor of France, he forbade the sale of petits pâtés in Paris, on the ground, “qu’un pareil commerce favorisait d’un côté la gourmandise et de l’autre la paresse.”



There is a great deal of difference in cheese. Much depends on the preparation and seasoning, much on its being new or old, much on its taste and smell. That is the best cheese which is neither too old nor too new, which is called fat, and is salted enough, and which is of middling consistence, has been made of good milk, and is of good taste and smell. Cheese is nourishing enough, and helps digestion if you take but a little of it, according to the Latin line—

“Caseus ille bonus quem dat avara manus.”

The flavour and goodness of cheese depends in a considerable degree on the nature of the pasture on which the cows are fed; yet the mode in which the different stages of the lubrication of the curd is managed, is also to be taken into consideration. Hence the superiority of the cheeses of particular districts over others, without any apparent difference in the pasture. Soft and rich cheeses are the best[196] for the epicure’s dinner, and are not intended to be kept long. Hard and dry cheeses will not be relished by men of taste, or offered by hosts who care for the comfort and health of their guests. Of the rich cheeses almost all are cream cheeses; and those soft cheeses called Bath and Yorkshire cheeses, sold as soon as made: but these if kept too long become soft and putrid.

Stilton and Gruyère cheeses are intermediate between the soft and hard. The Gruyère and Parmesan cheeses differ only in the nature of the milk, and in the degree of heat given to the curd in different parts of the process. Gruyère cheese is entirely made from new milk, and Parmesan from skimmed milk. In the first nothing is added to give flavour; in the latter, saffron gives both colour and flavour.

The best English cheeses are the Stilton, Cheshire, double Gloucester, and Cheddar; and Stilton and Cheshire are greatly prized in Paris. For the last thirty years or more it has appeared to me that finer Stilton and Cheshire cheeses are to be had in the restaurants of Paris than in London. The Stilton and Cheshire cheeses at Chevets, Corcellets, and other magazins de comestibles in Paris, are larger than those generally seen in London, and I dare say a better price is paid for them by the French than by the English dealers, for gourmands in Paris will give larger prices for table luxuries than people ejusdem[197] farinæ in London. It may be also that our English cheeses, like our English and Irish porter, is improved by the voyage, though if this were so, there is no reason why one should not eat better cheese in Dublin than in London, which one never does. My idea is that the super-excellence of the Stilton in Paris arises from the fact that it is improved or doctored (to use a trade phrase) by a perfect connoisseur in the art of improving comestibles. Cellarmen in France, when a cheese has become very dry, wash it several times in soft water, and then lay it in a cloth moistened with wine or vinegar till it becomes soft and mellow, which it will inevitably become if it be a rich cheese.

Stilton cheese is made by adding the cream of the preceding evening’s milk to the morning’s milking. To eat a Stilton cheese in perfection, you must not only have one made of rich milk, but manage it well after it is so made. Epicures prefer a Stilton cheese with a green mould. To accelerate the growth of this mould, pieces of mouldy or over-ripe cheese are inserted into holes made for the purpose by a scoop or instrument called a taster. Wine or ale is then poured in. But the best Stiltons do not require this, for they are in perfection when the inside is soft and rich, like butter, without any appearance of mouldiness. Cheeses are frequently coloured to make them look rich; the substance most commonly used for this purpose is arnotto, or[198] the juice of the orange, carrot, and marygold flowers.

The best cheeses in France are those of Neufchâtel in Normandy, of Brie, which is much eaten in Paris, and above all, the fromage de Roquefort en Rouergue, now called Aveyron. To my taste this is the best of all dry cheeses; it has some analogy with Stilton, but is much finer. Roquefort cheese is manufactured in the village whose name it bears. Some portion of the excellence of this cheese is due to the cellars in which the straining or refining of the cheese takes place, and some portion to the peculiar manner in which the animals are milked; a process which is explained by M. Giron de Bazareinques. Roquefort cheese is made of a mixture of sheep and goat’s milk; the first communicates consistence and quality, the latter whiteness and a peculiar flavour. Roquefort cheese may be had in perfection at Corcellets’ Palais Royal, and at Morel’s in Piccadilly.

Gruyère cheese is made in the canton of Friburg, in Switzerland, and in the provinces of Franche-Comté, Bresse, and Bugey. There is a cheese made in the Mont d’Or, in Auvergne, which has a high flavour.

At large dinners in London, cheese is oftenest eaten in the form of ramequins, or grated Parmesan, and other preparations; but at small dinners the Stilton, the Roquefort, the Chester, the double Gloucester, or the Somersetshire cheese is invariably produced.


For nearly a thousand years the art of mixing herbs and cheese together has been known in England and France. In France this operation is called persiller, because a good deal of parsley is mixed with the cheese, as here we mix a good deal of sage.

Cheese is always produced at the end of a repast. In any other fashion the Italian proverb makes light of it:—

“Fromagio, peri, e pan
Pasto de vilan.”

According to La Bruyère Champier, who, when attached to the household of Francis I. in a medical capacity in 1560, wrote his treatise “De Re Cibariâ,” cheese was the principal production, and the principal aliment of the Auvergnats.

In the earliest times in France, several of the provinces made good cheeses. Pliny states that those of Nimes were much sought for in his time at Rome, as well as those of Mont Losere and the neighbourhood: but these cheeses would not keep, and were eaten fresh. Martial makes mention of the cheese of Toulouse.

Italian cheeses were not introduced into France till the time of Charles VIII. When this monarch on his expedition to Naples passed through Placentia, or Placenza, as it is more commonly called, the citizens presented him with several cheeses. But he was so astonished at the size of them (“aussi grand,” says Monstrelet, “quasi comme la largeur de[200] meules à moulin”) that out of curiosity he sent one to the queen and to the Duke of Bourbon, who were then sojourning in Bourbonnais. It was found excellent, and henceforth came into general use. De Serres, who wrote in 1600, gave the first rank among foreign cheeses to Parmesan, and the second to Turkey cheeses, which arrived in France in bladders. Gontier, in his treatise “De Sanitate tuendâ,” written in 1688, mentions among excellent cheeses that of Gruyère.

Ninety or a hundred years ago, the taste as to cheese changed in Paris, and not long antecedent to the French Revolution of 1789, cheese was thought fit food only for Germans, English, or Italians.

The popular proverb then was—

“Jamais homme sage,
Ne mangea fromage.”

But, nevertheless, any one who examines cookery books of the time of Louis XV. and Louis XVI., will find that cheese was used in an infinity of ragouts, and that toasted cheese was placed in a liquid state on toast, with cinnamon, sugar, and aromatic spices. This was evidently an improvement on the old Welsh-rabbit, or rare-bit, which was so seldom well done, even at the Wrekin in Russell Court, Covent Garden, a house frequented by Edmund Kean in my younger days. Dr. King, in his “Art of Cookery,” thus speaks of toasted cheese:—


“Happy the man that has each fortune tried,
To whom she much has given and much denied;
With abstinence all delicate he sees,
And can regale himself on toasted cheese.”

Of caseous substances, Nonius says:—“Magna est differentia inter recentem et vetustum caseum. Recens enim et mollis, duratis et veteribus salubritatis caussa preferendus. Teste enim Dioscoride, magis alit, stomacho utilis, corpus auget, et facillime digeritur. Minus vero nutrit si sale aspersus fuerit et stomacho inutilis. Vetustos caseos Galenus damnat.”[21]

I have not said anything of the Schabzeiger cheese of Switzerland, or the Strachino of Milan, as there are few English people who relish anything so rank. Roquefort is a much finer cheese than either of them, but the consumption of Roquefort in England is singularly small.



In 1664, if my memory serves me rightly, John Evelyn wrote a treatise “On Salets,” in a small volume, which I possess in my library; but I cannot, at this moment, lay my hand on the little book. Though curious in a certain sense, the treatise would be found more useful for the horticulturist than for the cook. Salads are now, as in Evelyn’s day, composed of certain pot-herbs, to which are added various aromatical odoriferous herbs, or fournitures (that is the term of art in French cookery), which greatly add to the zest of the mixture. There are about twelve of these herbes de fourniture, as they are called, namely, garden-cress, water-cress, chervil, chives, scallions or green onions, tarragon, pimpernel or burnet, parsley pert, hartshorn, sweet basil, purslain, fennel, and young balsam. Cresses are wholesome and anti-scorbutic, chervil is a purifier, chives a stimulant, tarragon stomachic and corroborant, while parsley is carminative,[203] and the remaining herbs are all pronounced by Lémery in his “Traité des Aliments,” to have medicinal virtues. Salads, of course, vary according to the season. Chicorée or endive, is in season at the end of autumn, and it is not usual to add any herbe de fourniture to that salad. Some, in France, place at the bottom of the salad-basin containing an endive salad, a small crust of stale bread rubbed over with garlic, which gives a slight flavour to the dish. Later in the season, another species of chicorée, called scarole, is had recourse to. It is not so tender as chicory or succory, but has as much flavour, and is quite as wholesome. Chicory or succory is, according to Lémery, of a moistening and cooling nature, and creates an appetite. Winter salads are generally composed of mâche or corn salad, rampions (which, according to Lémery, “fortify the stomach, help digestion, are detersive, and agree with every age and constitution”), and chopped celery. Sometimes, also, in winter, a salad is made exclusively of chopped celery, seasoned with oil and mustard.

Garden or water-cress is also a winter salad. It is good to mix it with slices of beetroot; and in France, more especially in Provence, olives are often added. Towards February, the salad most in vogue is an endive called barbe de Capucin, or Capucin’s beard. It is seasoned like the white succory.

The lettuce, known in England for more than three centuries, generally appears about the commencement[204] of Lent, but the better sort of lettuce does not make its appearance before Easter. It is the most popular of all salads, and possesses soothing properties. Herbes de fourniture are added to it, with which anchovies and chopped chives are mixed. Sometimes, to vary the dish, prawns and shrimps are likewise thrown in.

Next comes the Roman lettuce, less watery, and with much fuller and finer flavour than the preceding, especially when the leaves are streaked. The Roman lettuce is sometimes served with odoriferous herbs, but hard eggs are rarely added to the seasoning. Roman lettuce is in season from May to the end of Autumn.

Besides these, there are hotch-potch salads, made en Macedoine, with a variety of roots and vegetables, such as French beans, haricots blancs, lentils, small onions, beetroot, saxifrage, or goat’s beard (called in French, salsifis), potatoes, carrots, artichoke-bottoms, asparagus-tops, gherkins, sliced anchovies, soused tunny, olives, truffles, &c.

There are salads also of meat, fish, and game. A salade à l’italienne is composed of cold fowl cut up in pieces, and served with anchovies and dressed salad. Sometimes this salad is made with a cold partridge; and very relishing it is.

I insert here Carème’s receipt for a salade de poulets à la Reine. It will be seen that, like all his receipts, it would be somewhat costly:—“Dress in a poële, or[205] roast four fine chickens, and when cold cut them in pieces, as for a fricassée; lay the pieces in a basin, with salt, pepper, oil, vinegar, whole parsley washed, a small onion sliced, or a shalot, and cover with a round piece of paper; leave them in this seasoning for some hours; boil eight eggs of the same size hard, and take off the shells; wash six fine lettuces; half an hour before serving, drain the fowl upon a napkin, separating the small pieces of parsley and onions, take the leaves from the lettuces, preserving the hearts very small, cut the leaves small, season them as a salad usually is, and turn them into the dish; lay upon them in a circle the eight thighs of the fowls, in the centre put the wings, upon the top of the thighs lay the rumps and two of the breasts only, surmount these with the fillets, laying one the smooth side upwards, and the next the contrary way, or upside down (as four are taken from the left, and four from the right side), on these lay the two other breasts; be careful to keep this entrée very neat and very upright; make a border of eggs cut in eight pieces, and between each quarter place upright small hearts of lettuces, each heart cut in four or even six pieces; place half an egg, in which fix upright a heart of lettuce, and place it on the summit of the salad; then mix in a basin a good pinch of chervil and some tarragon leaves, both being chopped and blanched, with salt, pepper, oil, ravigote vinegar, and a spoonful of aspic jelly, chopped small; the[206] whole well mingled, pour it over the salad and serve immediately.”

The vinegar used in salads should always be wine vinegar, not pyroligneous acid.

Chaptal, the great chymist, and afterwards Minister of the Interior, in France, has given a receipt for dressing salad. He directs that the salad should be saturated with oil, and seasoned with salt and pepper, before the vinegar is added. It results from this process that there never can be too much vinegar, for, from the specific gravity of the vinegar compared with oil, what is more than needful will fall to the bottom of the salad bowl. The salt should not be dissolved in the vinegar, but in the oil, by which means it is more equally distributed through the salad.

There are also salads of lemons, oranges, pomegranates, pears, apples, &c.; but these will be more properly spoken of under the head Dessert.

The following receipt for a winter salad is from the pen of one of the wittiest men, and one of the purest writers of England of this generation, the late Sydney Smith:—

“Two large potatos, passed through kitchen sieve,
Unwonted softness to the salad give.
Of mordent mustard add a single spoon;
Distrust the condiment which bites so soon;
But deem it not, thou man of herbs, a fault
To add a double quantity of salt.[207]
Three times the spoon with oil of Lucca crown,
And once with vinegar procured from town.
True flavour needs it, and your poet begs,
The pounded yellow of two well-boiled eggs.
Let onion atoms lurk within the bowl,
And, scarce suspected, animate the whole;
And lastly, on the flavoured compound toss
A magic teaspoon of anchovy sauce.
Then, though green turtle fail, though venison’s tough,
And ham and turkey are not boiled enough,
Serenely full the Epicure may say,—
Fate cannot harm me—I have dined to-day!”

The Spanish proverb says, that to make a perfect salad, there should be a miser for oil, a spendthrift for vinegar, a wise man for salt, and a madcap to stir the ingredients up and mix them well together. The proverb is perfect with the exception of the last member of the sentence. A patient and discreet man, a painstaking and careful man or woman should be entrusted with the duty of mixing the salad with its seasoning.

The French say, “Il faut bien fatiguer la salade.” It is said by a dramatic writer,

“Toute française à ce que j’imagine,
Sait bien ou mal faire un peu de cuisine;”

and the same may be said of every Frenchman. Some of the emigrants, who fled to England and other countries between 1790 and 1804, gained their livelihood by giving lessons in cookery; and Brillat Savarin tells us, in one of his chapters, that when in emigration at Boston, in America, he taught the restaurateur Julien[208] to make œufs brouilles au fromage. Captain Collet, also, he tells, made a great deal of money at New York in 1794 and 1795, in making ices and sorbets. In my earlier days there were two Frenchmen in London who made good incomes by dressing salads, and each of them kept his cabriolet. One took as a fee 10s. 6d., but the other charged a guinea.

In an article, headed “Industrie gastronomique des Emigrés,” Brillat Savarin thus speaks of a famous salad-dresser:—

“In passing through Cologne I met a Breton gentleman who made a good thing of it by becoming a traiteur. I might multiply examples of this kind to an indefinite extent, but I prefer relating, as more singular, the history of a Frenchman who acquired a fortune in London by his cleverness in making a salad. He was a Limousin, and, if my memory serve me rightly, called himself d’Aubignac, or d’Albignac. Though his means were very small subsequent to his emigration, he happened to dine one day at one of the most famous taverns of London. Whilst he was in the act of finishing a slice of juicy roast beef, five or six young men of the first families were regaling themselves at a neighbouring table. One among them stood up, and, addressing the Frenchman in a polite tone, said, ‘Sir, it is a general opinion that your nation excels in the art of making a salad, would you have the goodness to favour us by mixing one for us?’ D’Albignac, after some hesitation, consented,[209] asked for the necessary materials, and having taken pains to mix a perfect salad, had the good fortune to succeed. While the salad was in process of mixing, he candidly answered all questions addressed to him on his situation and prospects; stated he was an emigrant, and confessed, not without a slight blush, that he received pecuniary aid from the British government. It was this avowal, doubtless, which induced one of the young men to slip into his hand a five-pound note, which, after a slight resistance, he accepted. He gave the young man his address, and some time afterwards was not a little surprised to receive a letter, in which he was asked in the politest terms to come and dress a salad in one of the best houses in Grosvenor Square. D’Albignac, who began to have a distant glimmering of durable advantage, did not hesitate an instant, and arrived punctually, fortified with some new ingredients destined to add new relish to his mixture. He had the good fortune to succeed a second time, and received on this occasion such a sum as he could not have refused without injuring himself in more ways than one.

“This second success made more noise than the first, so that the reputation of the emigrant quickly extended. He soon became known as the fashionable salad-maker; and in a country so much led by fashion, all that was elegant in the capital of the three kingdoms would have a salad made by him. D’Albignac, like a man of sense, profited by his popularity. He[210] soon sported a vehicle, in order the more readily to transport him from place to place, together with a livery servant carrying in a mahogany case everything necessary, such as differently perfumed vinegars, oils with or without the taste of fruit, soy, caviare, truffles, anchovies, ketchup gravy, some yolks of eggs. Subsequently he caused similar cases to be manufactured, which he furnished and sold by hundreds. By degrees the salad-dresser realised a fortune of 80,000 francs, with which he ultimately returned to France.”

Three centuries ago, we learn from Champier, who wrote in 1560, that many materials were used for salads which are not thought of now; among others, fennel, marshmallow-tops, hops, wild marjoram, elder-flowers, and a species of nettle. Tomatas and asparagus were also at this period used as salads.

In a “Mémoire pour faire un Ecriteau pour un Banquet,” published in the sixteenth century, I find in the list of salads the following:—

  1. Salade blanche.
  2. Salade verte.
  3. Salade de citron.
  4. Salade d’entremets.
  5. Salade de grenade.
  6. Salade de Houblon.
  7. Salade de laitues.
  8. Salade d’olives.
  9. Salade de perce-pierre.[211]
  10. Salade de poires de bon crétien.
  11. Salade de pourpier confit.

We know better in our day than to make a salad of asparagus. Dr. Roques thus speaks of asparagus in his “Observations sur les Plantes usuelles”:—“The asparagus grows naturally in the woods, in the hedges, in the sea-sand, and on the banks of rivers. The ancients knew and cultivated asparagus. Athenæus speaks of field and mountain asparagus; he says the best are those which grow naturally, without being sown. Martial, Pliny, and Juvenal also speak of asparagus. The Romans especially esteemed those of Ravenna. Nature, says Pliny, wished that asparagus should grow wild so that they might be gathered every where by everyone; but being improved by cultivation, the blades astonish by their thickness. They are sold at Ravenna at three to the pound.”

In Covent Garden Market, in the season, it is very common to find asparagus so fat that six weigh a pound.

Why is Dr. Roques so silent as to the velocity with which this vegetable may be cooked? Quicker than asparagus is boiled, became a proverb among the Romans.[22] Juvenal mentions a large lobster surrounded with asparagus, and promises, in the eleventh satire to his friend Perseus, a plate of mountain[212] asparagus, which had been freshly gathered by his farmer’s wife.

Asparagi, posito quos legit villica fuso.”

I remember having read somewhere of a gentleman travelling near the town of Arras (where Robespierre was born), and meeting a countryman who insisted on supping with him. Entering an inn, the gentleman asked for an omelette and some asparagus. After having helped the rustic to his half-share of the omelette, the stupid lout asked what were the asparagus. “Oh!” replied the host, “they are a very fine vegetable, and you shall have half of the bunch, as you have had half of the omelette.” Thereupon the intelligent gourmand transferred to his neighbour’s plate the ends, or as the late Mr. Justice Creswell quaintly, yet forcibly used to say it, the handle of the esculent, who thought these quisquiliæ tougher to chew than the stalky part of the cabbage.

The Marquis de Cussy tells us that no less a personage than Napoleon ate the haricots de soissons, or kidney-beans with oil, as a salad.



The Dessert, if by that word be understood the agreeable mingling together of cakes, of fruits, and sweetmeats, is an Italian invention. It was cradled in the sweet south, and is the offspring of beautiful gardens, and flourishing cities and towns, clustering with grapes and peaches. Carème used to say that the dessert had been elevated into a science with a view to retain girls, young women, and children at table, in friendly family converse. In such sort it deliciously prolongs the repast. A dessert should above all things be simple; considered as a third or fourth course, it is often a dangerous superfluity, and the fruitful cause of many an indigestion. There are some who eat of it solely and simply because it appears promotive of a light, agreeable, and sparkling conversation. But these worthy, good-natured people often deceive themselves. It is a rock, says Carème, at the end of a dinner, a serious embarrassment for the liver, which[214] it too often harasses and obstructs. Lachappelle (port-queue of Louis XIII., and his major domo) goes further, and mentions that all persons who make a point of eating dessert after a good dinner are fools, who spoil at once their wit and their stomachs. “Reject, therefore, once for all,” says another French author, “the Macedoines glacées fruits rouge, the white cheeses à la Bavaroise, the petits pains à la duchesse, the fanchonnettes de volaille, the vol-au-vent à la violette. Experienced diners out never touch these things, not even at the end of a second course. When we speak of experienced and clever people, who know what they are about, we would speak of those gourmands so gifted, and so superior in all the affairs and business of life, such as Lorenzo de Medicis, Leo X., Raphael, Prince Talleyrand, George IV., the Emperor Alexander, Castlereagh, and Pitt himself.” M. F. Fayot, who writes biographies of Canning, and political articles in the French newspapers, ought to have known that Pitt did not care for such knick-knackeries as Pistachio nuts, and crème à la vanille.

Though the dessert was originally invented in Italy, yet the usage was early transplanted into France. In the works of St. Gelais I find some lines, in which he sends fresh cherries to a lady on the first of May. How this fruit could be thus early produced, without the aid of hot-houses, is difficult to imagine. From Champier, however,[215] who wrote about 1560, we learn that the Poitevins sent yearly forced cherries in post to Paris. The fruit was prematurely ripened by putting lime at the root of the tree, or watering the roots with warm water. La Quintinié, the head gardener of Louis XIV., boasts that he served strawberries for the dessert of his royal master at the end of March, green peas in April, and figs in June.

It was in 1694 that preserved pine-apples, shipped from the French West India islands of St. Domingo and Gaudaloupe, were first seen at dessert in Paris. The tree had been originally transplanted from Asia to the West Indies, where the heat of the climate preserved it from degenerating. “Although the fruit of the pine be fibrous,” says Father Dutertre, “it melts into water in the mouth, and is so well flavoured, that you find the taste of the peach, of the apple, of the quince, and of the muscatel, blended together.” It is plain to perceive that Father Dutertre was friand, and that he possessed, in matters of the table at least, the science of analysis. The “pine,” says Dr. Roques, “is impregnated with a corrosive juice, which may be extracted by steeping the root for one or two hours in sugared brandy.” Lovers of pine cut it up in slices, cover it with sugar, and bathe it copiously over with sherry wine. Jellies, ices, and creams, are also made of this fruit; and the Italians prepare with it a liqueur which is called manaja, and which is really delicious.


Dates, so well known and so esteemed in ancient times, are oftener served at dessert in Spain, Italy, and the south of France, than in England. Theophrastus, Plutarch, and Pliny speak in rather extravagant terms of the date-tree, and the excellence of its fruit. Nicholas of Damascus, in Syria, one of the most distinguished members of the Peripatetic school, sent to the Emperor Augustus the famous dates that grow in the valley of Jericho. Pliny says they are so thick, that four ranged together would be the length of a cubit. This fruit is gathered in the autumn, and dried in the sun. The Tunisian dates are the best; they are pulpy, mucilaginous, saccharine, and nutritious. The expressed juice of the date yields a syrup, which serves as a substitute for butter, and is used as a seasoning. Lémery says that those who feed on dates are generally afflicted with the scurvy and lose their teeth. They have been generally considered a dry and stringent fruit. Though an incentive to wine, they are indigestible, and in Spain have generally a harsh, rough, and unpleasant taste.

There is not a more grateful or a less noxious fruit at dessert than oranges. Louis XIV. was particularly fond both of the tree and the fruit. When the monarch gave those magnificent fêtes, so vaunted both in prose and verse, the porticoes, halls, and ante-chambers of his palaces were decorated with orange-trees, and the fruit, then esteemed rare, always[217] appeared at dessert. The Maltese oranges were, at that period, considered the finest; while the fruit of Portugal maintained a secondary rank only. But even Portuguese oranges were deemed a present worthy of being offered to the children of kings. “Monsieur me vint” (says the Duchess of Montpensier in her Memoirs); “il me donna des oranges de Portugal.” Molière, in giving a description of the comedy which formed a portion of the famous fêtes given at Versailles in 1688 by Louis XIV., remarks that there was first laid a magnificent collation of Portuguese oranges, and of all sorts of fruits, in thirty-six baskets. About this period a species of sweet citron was much in vogue. It is mentioned by Lémery in his treatise on foods, written about 1705, who says “that the ladies of the court carried about sweet citrons in their hands, which they bit from time to time to produce red lips.”

More than 270 years ago figs were common at dessert in France. There were then but four species of this delicious fruit; the red, the purple, the white, and the black. The two latter were the most common, but the black were considered in Provence the most wholesome, as well as the most agreeable. The figs of Marseilles, had then, as indeed they have now, great repute, and were renowned all over the country. Nor were those of Montpelier, Nismes, and St. Andéol, without their admirers, though inferior to the figs of Marseilles. There have been few[218] fig-trees in the neighbourhood of Paris for some centuries, though in the time of the Emperor Julian the figs of Paris were already celebrated.

The famous gardener and horticulturist La Quintinié, to please his master, Louis XIV., who was particularly fond of figs, adopted the plan of placing the trees in wooden boxes, as had been previously adopted in reference to orange-trees. Some of the finest figs in England are grown in the neighbourhood of Worthing. Those who have spent a summer there must have often eaten them for dessert. There is a magnificent fig-tree at Hampton Court, as old as the time of Charles II. rooted in a place which shall be nameless, and the fruit of which is particularly fine flavoured. In parts of Italy, Sicily, and the Levant, they have a curious custom of acupuncturating the fig when half ripe, and introducing a drop of fine oil into the fruit; this greatly mellows the flavour, while it increases the size of the fig. The white figs at Cherbourg are very fine, as those will say who have eaten them at dessert at the excellent table d’hôte in that town. Occasionally, also, white figs, equally excellent, are to be procured in the Channel Islands.

Pomegranates are scarcely ever seen at dessert in England, and rarely in France, except in Languedoc and Provence. In the sixteenth century this fruit was much used in certain diseases, and, in localities where it was not grown, was often sold for a[219] louis-d’or. When Clement VII. arrived at Marseilles to have an interview with Francis I., several Frenchmen, who had eaten to excess of pomegranates, became seriously ill in consequence. Pomegranates are a favourite dessert at Grenada in Spain, where they grow in great quantities.

Chestnuts, though a very common dessert fruit in France, are comparatively little used in England, though there is no reason why they should not be much cultivated, as they grow well in a cold, and even in a mountainous country. In Perigord they count eight different species of chestnuts, and there, as well as in Brittany, the chestnut forms a staple article of food for the peasantry. Madame de Sévigné, writing from her estate of the Rochers, near Vitré, says:—“Je ne connaissais la Provence que par les grenadiers, les oranges, et les jasmins; voilà comme on nous la dépeint. Pour nous, ce sont des châtaignes qui font notre ornement; j’en avois l’autre jour trois ou quartres paniers autour de moi. J’en fis bouiller, j’en fis rôtir, j’en mis dans ma poche; on en sert dans les plats, on marche dessus, c’est la Bretagne dans son triomphe.” In the thirteenth century Lombardy chestnuts were cried in the streets of Paris. According to heathen records chestnuts were first noticed at Sardes, in Lydia. Virgil speaks of the “castanea molles.” They are eaten at dessert boiled or roasted, and are in both ways palatable.

Cherries are, in the season, an important portion[220] of a French as well as of an English dessert. There are in France six species of black-heart cherries, six of bigarreux, and five-and-twenty of cherries and black cherries. The cherries most prized by the Parisians, however, are those of Montmorency, so named from that rich valley in which they grow, extending from St. Denis to Pontoise. England, our own dear country, greatly transcends France in this article of dessert, brought originally from the garden of Mithridates. Not only are cherries produced in greater quantity, but are much finer in flavour. Kent, Berkshire, Oxfordshire, are pre-eminent in this produce; and the May-duke (probably originally from Médoc), Biggarroon (bigarreux), and white-heart attest our superiority.

Apricots, which frequently appear at dessert in France, and not unfrequently in England at the tables of the wealthy, were not known in either of these countries (though they are mentioned by Dioscorides, who lived in the time of Nero, under the name of prœcocia) till the sixteenth century. After that period they became rather common; but previously were sold, says Champier, as though the price were extravagant, at a farthing a-piece. When this fruit was first introduced into France it appeared no bigger than the smallest plum; but the science and art of French gardeners not only contributed to increase its size but its flavour. In 1651 there were but three species of apricots; the late, the early, and the[221] musqué, or musk-flavoured. Now there are at least twenty, of which the apricot of Nanci is the largest and best. But the apricots of Angoumois, of Holland, of Portugal, and of Alexandria, are not to be despised. Under favour, and with submission be it said, however, that the best apricot that ever was in Grange’s, Owen’s, Marks’, Levy’s, Solomon’s, Israel’s, or Raine’s shop, is but a dry and insipid article compared with a fine peach, fine greengages, fine fresh-gathered, green, hairy gooseberries, fine Mirabel plums, fine pears, or fine mellow ribston pippins. The apricot comes originally from Armenia. The name originates in the situation which the tree prefers—a wall exposed to the heat of the meridian sun. The word apricus is sometimes differently applied, as aprici senes, old men who delight in sitting and prattling on benches exposed to the reviving warmth of Sol’s rays.

There are about twenty kinds of plums both in England and France; but among these the greengage, called by the French the reine claude, is by far the most luscious, succulent, and full-flavoured. These plums, called after the daughter of Louis XII., first wife of Francis I., have, in France, a peculiarly rich mellow juiciness, the effect probably of a drier atmosphere, and the being exposed to a warmer sun on mud-built lime-washed walls, with a southern aspect. These greengages are always eaten with a peculiar relish in Paris. There is a sun-burnt look about them, as well as,—


“A deep embrowned tint, which tells
How rich within the soul of sweetness dwells;”

whereas the greengage of England looks pale and peaky, as though it were afflicted with the green-sickness.

The peach, or Persian apple, is one of the oldest known fruits in France, and one of the commonest served at dessert. The most esteemed in the neighbourhood of Paris, is the peach of Corbeil. In the provinces, those of Troyes and Dauphiné enjoy the greatest renown. The Auberi peach is common in Languedoc, and has latterly been cultivated in the neighbourhood of Paris. The Duracine peach is a native of Brittany. It is of more than ordinary size, and the flesh firm and juicy; but almost all peaches in France are mere turnips compared with the hot-house fruit in England. Enter Grange’s in Piccadilly, or the elder Owen’s in Bond Street, Marks’ at the corner of Holles Street, and try one of the shilling peaches in the season, and you will find a rich, juicy, fleshy flavour and aroma oftener sought than found in the fruit of France. It is true that you may have six or eight peaches in France for the price you would pay for one in England at any of these three shops, but that one peach is better than a bushel of such tasteless turnip fruit as is often presented to you all over Gaul. The ten and twelve sous peaches of Corbeil, which may be obtained at Madame Malliez in the Marché St. Honoré, are certainly a more[223] commendable fruit, but I should prefer for my own eating a first-rate hot-house peach to any three of them. I know not whether an improved peach has recently come from China. The peach is a fruit which has been cultivated in the Celestial Empire from the earliest times, and celebrated in their ancient books, in the songs of their poets, and the disquisitions of their doctors. The peach yu, it is said in their legends, produces an eternity of life, and preserves the body from corruption to the end of the world. A fine peach is a delicious fruit; it is good with sugar, good without sugar, and excellent, super-excellent with a glass of good Madeira, sherry, or brandy thrown over it. The peach-tree does not always require the protection of the sheltering wall in warmer climates. The trees stand insulated in the vineyard or orchard, swinging gently in the breeze, which the French call pêches de vigne, and abricots en plein vent.

There is no better dessert fruit than a good apple, and in this fruit England beats all the world, with the exception of America. The New-town pippin is unquestionably the first of apples, but first-rate ribstons come next to it. The nonpareil and golden pippin (the golden apple of the Hesperides) are not without merit. The great defect of French apples, however, is their general mealiness and want of juiciness. The paradis of Provence is the best of its kind. There is also an apple of very tolerable flavour, called the capendu, which ladies lock up in their drawers and[224] wardrobes to perfume their clothes. There are about forty-six kinds of apples mentioned in the “Théâtre d’Agriculture,” but the grey and white reinette are the only apples desirable at a French dessert.

The different species of pears (from the Epirean orchards of Pyrrhus) are more numerous even than the species of apples. De Serres speaks of ninety-five kinds of pears; 400 are mentioned in the “Jardinier Française,” and more than 300 in “La Quintinié.” It is not generally known that the famous chaumontel (called by corruption in England charmontel), was a wild pear transplanted into the garden and rendered perfect by culture. The Burgundy pear, called Madame Oudotte (and by corruption Amadotte), was also a wild pear found in a wood belonging to a lady of the name of Oudotte. Four of the best dessert pears in France are the beurré, the cuisse de madame (my lady’s thigh), the pear of Lyons, the bergamotte of Lorraine, and the bon chrétien of Tourraine. The bon chrétien is by no means a common pear in England; though towards the latter end of August, or the beginning of September, it is always to be had at Covent Garden Market. The finest Spanish bon chrétiens I have ever eaten in England were grown in the garden of Mr. Powell, near to Minster and Herne, in Kent. This is extraordinary, as the Kentish soil is unfavourable both to pears and apples, while the opposite coast of Essex produces exquisite fruit, and above all, those bulbous thin-skinned gooseberries,[225] equal to the best chasselas of Fontainbleau. Compotes of pears are excellent and cooling at dessert, and render the fruit more digestible, according to the line,—

“Cruda gravant stomachum relevant pyra cocta gravatam.”

Talking of the chasselas grape of Fontainbleau, the reader will naturally ask why I have hitherto omitted all mention of the finest fruit, oranges excepted. This was from no indisposition to do every justice to grapes, the wholesomest and most grateful of fruits. The best grapes in France are undoubtedly the chasselas, which come into the Paris markets neatly packed in small baskets, sold for forty, fifty, and sixty sous each, according to the quality. In the autumn of the year many of the Parisian badauds undergo a regimen of grapes, eating nothing else for three weeks or a month. Used thus, grapes have all the effect of the Cheltenham waters. “They open the body,” says old Lémery, physician to Louis XIV., “create an appetite, are very nourishing, and qualify the sharp humour of the heart. They agree with every age and constitution, provided they be not used to excess.” The ciotat, the Corinthe, the black morillon, the muscat of Touraine, are all excellent grapes, and may be purchased in France for a few sous a pound. In the southern departments of France as many grapes as the most inveterate eater of that fruit would desire may be had for the small sum of one[226] penny, though it must be admitted that the hot-house grapes of England are superior in flavour and variety to every description of grape in France, excepting the chasselas; but the prices asked in Covent Garden Market are enormous and wholly unjustifiable. Hot-house grapes are, in fact, a luxury wholly beyond the reach of persons of moderate fortune.

Notwithstanding the decided taste which Louis XV. had for strawberries, and the efforts made by his minions to furnish him with this fruit at his dessert all the year round; we have, nevertheless, for the last century and a half, surpassed the French in the variety and quality of this esculent. The Chilian strawberry is one of the largest produced in the imperial gardens of Versailles and Fontainbleau; but strawberries of nearly twice the size may be daily seen during the months of May, June, and July, in Covent Garden Market. The pine strawberry, originally of Louisiana, was first introduced into France in 1767. Though it may have more pine flavour than our pine strawberry, yet it is by no means so large as the common run of pines in Covent Garden. It too frequently happens, however, that what fruits gain in size they lose in flavour. Every good judge of fruit is quite opposed to the idea of monster fruit, fish, flesh, or fowl; convinced that average-sized turbots, bullocks, turkeys, and fruits, are among the very best.

The dried fruits are, of course, never produced[227] at dessert, when fresh fruits can be obtained. A very common French dessert in the winter months is composed of almonds, raisins, and figs; but, though these afford a passable pastime enough when nothing better can be had, yet the opinion of the Gauls concerning their value may be learned from the name given to them. If you wish to obtain the trio at a restaurant after a copious or a spare dinner, you must not call for des amandes, des raisins, et des figues, but ask for trois mendiants. Provence furnishes dried figs to Paris; the ancient province of Maine, dried cherries; and Rheims, Tours, and Brignoles, dried plums. Dried apples, a very palatable dessert, come from Tours and Orleans.

In England our winter dessert is thus furnished: the raisins come from Malaga, the figs and currants from Turkey and the Grecian islands, the almonds from Syria and the Archipelago, and the olives from Spain and Italy. France produces this latter fruit on her own soil. The Phocians, founders of Marseilles, first planted the olive in that locality; and, according to Strabo, taught the natives the art to cultivate it. Olives are now grown in every part of Provence and Languedoc, and may be always found at dessert at the most moderate tables d’hôte of Marseilles, Toulon, Nismes, Montpelier, Avignon, &c. Biscuits, cakes, and sweetmeats, are also an accompaniment. The poets of the thirteenth century speak of flamiches and galettes chauds, and at this[228] period the Rheims gingerbread was also in great vogue. When Champier wrote, about 1560, the gingerbread of Paris was nearly as renowned at dessert as the famous croquets of Rheims. A cake made of powdered sugar and almonds, called massepain, has also been common at dessert in France for more than three centuries. Its component parts are filberts, almonds, pistachio nuts, pines, sugar, and a little flour. It is, however, rather a dear morsel, and can only be eaten by the wealthy. L’Etoile, describing a magnificent collation of three courses given at Paris in 1596, says, “Que les confitures seiches et massepans y estoit si peu espargnez que les dames et damoiselles, estoient contraintes de s’en décharger sur les pages et les laquais, auxquels on les bailloit tous entiers.”

In the time of Rabelais a tartlette or cake called darioles, was eaten at dessert; there were also other friandises called ratons, and cassemuseaux, and petit choux. The first and last words have since been adopted as terms of endearment among lovers, and from nurses and nursery-maids to children.

Aromatic spices and warm seeds were much more frequently used at dessert a century and a half ago than in our own day. After dinner, says the work called “Les Triomphes de la Noble Dame,” “On sert chez les riches, pour faire la digestion, de l’anis du fenouil et de la coriandre confits au sucre.” The author of “Ile des Hermaphrodites,” in painting the[229] manners of the court of Henry III., makes the same remark. After the dessert, says he, “Les uns prenoient un peu d’anis confit, les autres, cotignac,[23] mais il falloit qu’il fût musqué. Autrement il n’eut point eu d’effet en leur estomach qui n’avoit point de chaleur s’il n’etoit parfumé.”

At the royal table, and in establishments of great lords, another custom prevailed which did not obtain in the houses of private persons. Independently of the spices which composed the dessert, there were others more select still, which were served in a small box divided into compartments. This box was of gold, silver, or silver gilt, and was called a drageoir, comfits being the principal portion of its contents. This box was generally presented to the king by an esquire or person of condition, and to the king only, unless his majesty wished particularly to honour some one among the guests. He then sent to him his comfit-box, “On apporta vins et épices,” writes Froissart, “et servit du drageoir, devant le Roi de France tant seulement, le Comte d’Harcourt.”

Brandied fruits, compotes and fruits preserved in syrup, are generally produced at a French dessert; as are marmalade fruits, as, for instance, marmelade d’abricots, de pêches, de pommes, &c. Fruit jellies, as cornel berry jelly, apple jelly, are also esteemed delicacies. Various pastes are also occasionally handed[230] round at dessert, as apricot paste, peach paste, and ginger paste. Le Loyer, in his poetical pieces, speaks of these pastes as proper to be given to cold and indifferent husbands:—

“Que, sur la fin du dessert, on leur porte
L’hypocras rouge on bien un puissant vin,
La truffe noir avec le fruit du pain.”

There is no more pleasant dessert in the month of September than young filberts and walnuts, in which former fruit England certainly surpasses the world. In walnuts we are equalled, if not surpassed, by Switzerland and France.

The truth is, however, that the dessert after a good London or Parisian dinner is a superfluity, and in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred does more harm than good. This was the opinion of Brillat Savarin in his “Physiologie du Goût.” A little bit of cheese, says this great epicure, may be permitted, and some preserve or a sweetmeat. “Un beau diner,” he adds, “sans vieux fromage, est un joli femme à qui il manque un œil.”

The word dessert was introduced into the French language at the end of the sixteenth century. In an ordonnance of the 21st January, 1563, the word occurs. “En quelques noces festins ou tables particulières que ce puisse être, il n’y aurait dorénavant que trois services au plus savoir, les entrées de table, la viande ou le poisson, et le dessert.” The following is the regulation of the ordonnance concerning the[231] dessert:—Au dessert, soit fruit, pâtisserie, fromage, ou autre chose quelconque, il ne pourroit non plus, être servi que six plats, le tout sous peine de 200 livres d’amende pour la première fois, et 400 cent pour la seconde. Speaking of desserts, a French authoress says, “Le choix et l’arrangement des fruits ou des fleurs dont est parée la table, l’elegance des edifices sucrés, la symmetric des assiettes, ne sont pas des soins tout à fait étranges aux arts. L’appetit satisfait, les yeux et l’odorat sont flattés à la fois par la beauté du fruit élégamment élevé en pyramides; par les formes varies des sucreries, dont la saveur parfumée réveille encore la satieté, enfin par la fumée des vins pétillants ou liquoreux dont les esprits volatils excitent la verve et animent la gaité. Carème says the dessert ought to be the special labour of the lady of the house. Medical men in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, more especially in France, ordered some fruits at the commencement of dinner. Champier recommended that cherries, raspberries, peaches, and apricots should be so eaten; and that after dinner medlars, pistachio nuts, filberts, chestnuts, apples, quinces, and pears should be produced. Melon, in the time of Henry IV., and to this day, is eaten in France with the boulli, just after the soup. Sully tells that one day when Henry IV. was at dinner, his Maître d’Hôtel entered with a golden basin filled with melons. “Right glad am I,” said the jovial king, “for I wish to-day to have a surfeit. They never[232] injure me when I eat them on an empty stomach and before meat, as the doctors direct.” In Madame Sévigné’s time the same opinion existed touching melons. “Je ne vous deffends point les melons (she wrote to her daughter), puisque vous avez si bon vin pour les cuire.” The author of “La Nouvelle Instruction pour la Culture du Figuies,” written in 1692, writes that figs should be eaten on an empty stomach and before dinner, for it is an axiom, he says, in medicine, to commence at supper or dinner by the things most easily digested.



At regular set dinners ices are always served. For a party of ten or fourteen there is generally a cream and water ice, with biscuits, &c. The French generally serve a greater number of ices than we do. The ices most in vogue in London are pine, lemon, orange, ginger, strawberry, and cherry ices. In Paris, apricot, peach, chocolate, coffee, and four fruit ices are more common than with us.

Some there are who date the use of ice at table from the time of Alexander the Great; who, it is said, had caves in India for the preservation of ice; but it is certain that in Alexander’s time the Greeks cooled their wine with ice, and that the Romans were also acquainted with this luxury. A French traveller in Turkey, writing in 1553, tells us that the Turks had their glacières, in which they preserved ice for table use. Henry III. was said to be the first who introduced ice at his table in France, and it became common[234] enough in the following century. The word glacière is not found in the dictionary of Monet, published in 1636. But in 1667 Boileau wrote:—

“Pour semble de dis grace
Par le chaud qu’il faisait nous n’avions point de glace,
Point de glace, bon Dieu! dans le cœur de l’été,
Au mois de Juin.”

Wenham Lake ice is now handed round during dinner to mix with wine or water between April and August.



After the dessert comes Coffee, and it is now fitting that I should make a few remarks on the best means of making that agreeable and stimulating beverage.

The coffee tree is a native of Arabia. The use of the berry extended itself to Mecca, Medina, and then to Cairo in Egypt. It continued its progress northward; and in 1554, under the reign of Solyman the Great, became known to the inhabitants of Constantinople. The Venetians introduced coffee to the western parts of Europe. In 1644 it was brought to Marseilles, and in 1657 to Paris. According to Le Grand D’Aussy, the custom of drinking coffee became general in Paris in 1669, through the example of Soliman Aga, ambassador of Mahomet IV. The coffee is an evergreen shrub, rising to twenty feet in height. The fruit is a round, fleshy berry, and great care is taken to conduct little rills of water in small channels to the roots of the trees.[236] The berry grown in Arabia is smaller than that of the East and West Indies, but its flavour is much finer, because in Arabia the soil is rocky, dry, and hot. The trees are watered by artificial means, and therefore the proper quantity of moisture only is imbibed by them. Almost all studious, hard-working men love coffee; and this is not wonderful, as it is, when properly made, a delightful, innoxious, and exhilarating beverage. “It is a slow poison,” said some one to Voltaire, who saw him drinking strong coffee. “It must be a very slow poison indeed,” rejoined the wit, “as I have been taking it now for more than seventy years.” How often must a man who laboured as Voltaire did have required a beverage which excited the nerves and exhilarated the spirits, without producing the baneful effects of those stimulating liquids and narcotic substances which act on the brain? In cases of extreme heat or cold, coffee is the most salutary beverage, as it not only warms and exhilarates the system, but dissipates the languor produced either by fatigue or the influence of the climate or weather.

How many writers are there who have vaunted the good effects of coffee? Delille and Lebrun have praised its virtues in well-tuned verses. The poem entitled “Les Disputes,” by Rulhière, originated in coffee. Fontenelle, who lived more than 100 years, is lavish in its praise. Montesquieu has consecrated to the brown ambrosial berry some eloquent and sounding periods; and Rousseau, and Buffon, the most eloquent[237] of prose writers, have not forgotten to record the brilliant inspirations which they owed to its influence. Nor are these the only triumphs of the brain-clearing beverage. Heroes, and statesmen, and philosophers, have bowed down before the filagree cups; and Frederick of Prussia and Napoleon, Talleyrand and Cambaceres, and Metternich, Portalis, Corvisart, and Cuvier, have all acknowledged and felt the inspiration and good effects of coffee.

One of the virtues, the dissipating the fumes of wine, has also been alluded to by Delille:—

“Le Café vous presente une heureuse liqueur,
Qui d’un vin trop fumeux dissipe la vapeur.”

In another passage, the same poet thus apostrophises the cheering yet not inebriating liquor:—

“Il est une liqueur au poète bien chère,
Qui manquait à Virgile, et qu’adorait Voltaire:
C’est toi, divin café, dont l’aimable liqueur,
Sans altérer la tête, épanouit le cœur.”

It is a remarkable fact that, during the retreat of the French from Russia, such soldiers as refrained from brandy, and took only coffee, escaped being frost-bitten, or any of the diseases arising from exposure to cold. There is no part of the world in which better coffee is sold than in London, more especially the Mocha coffee of Twining (which may be purchased, unground and unroasted, at 1s. 8d. the pound, and roasted, or ground and roasted, at[238] 2s. 4d. the pound); yet there is no spot in this world, we verily believe, where coffee is generally so badly made, as in this great wilderness of a metropolis. This arises from several causes: first, the purchasing coffee ground and roasted. The consumption and sale of the article is so small in England, compared to France, that in many of the shops the ground coffee is a week, and in many a fortnight or a month old; and, being too frequently exposed to the influences of the weather and climate, the aroma has entirely evaporated. There is scarcely a shop in London where coffee is daily roasted; and, even if there were such a shop, the quantity purchased for private consumption is generally so large, and the use of it so unfrequent in families, that the flavour in so humid a climate is gone long before the coffee is consumed. The Turks, who are our masters in the art of making coffee, do not employ a mill to triturate the berry, but pound it in mortars, with pestles or mallets of wood. When these machines have been long used for the purpose, they are esteemed precious, and sell at a large price. Brillat Savarin relates the result of an experiment which he caused to be made as to the comparative merits of the liquid made from the pounded and the ground berry:—

“I roasted with care,” says he, “a pound of good Mocha coffee, and separated it into two equal portions, one of which was ground, and the other pounded in the manner of the Turks. I made coffee with[239] both one and other of these powders, taking an equal weight of each, pouring on each an equal portion of boiling water, and in all respects dealing equally between them. I tasted these coffees, and caused them to be tasted by the best judges, and the unanimous opinion was, that the liquid produced from the powdered was evidently superior to the produce of the ground coffee.”

The second reason why the coffee is inferior in England is, that the berry is burned instead of being roasted, and is consequently bitter and burnt, instead of being fine-flavoured and aromatic.

The third reason is, that at hotels, coffee-houses, clubs, and even in private houses, enough of the coffee (even though it were good) is not infused; and the fourth reason may be found in the addition of an excess of water. Now, in the first place, the roasting of coffee should be carefully watched and superintended by an intelligent person. The moment the berry crackles and becomes crisp enough to pulverise, it is sufficiently roasted. Once taken off the roaster, it should be placed in several thick folds of flannel to undergo the process of cooling. This preserves the essential oil in the coffee, and prevents the aroma from escaping. When the coffee is cool, place it in an air-tight canister. Sufficient for the day should be the coffee thereof. In other words, never roast, if you can avoid it, more than for a single day’s consumption—certainly not more than for two or three[240] days. Grind or pound your coffee not more than a quarter of an hour before you want to make the infusion.

There are various methods of preparing the infusion. Any one of them would have the effect of producing very tolerable coffee, if the directions I have given touching the roasting and grinding of the berry were attended to, and a sufficient quantity of the powdered coffee used. But unfortunately English servants, who drink tea or beer, are ignorant of or insensible to the true flavour of coffee, and as they do not partake themselves of the beverage, become indifferent to its preparation. The coffee produced by them is, indeed, drowned in a deluge of water, and deserves the title given it in an old tract called the “Petition against Coffee,” namely, “a base, black, thick, nasty, bitter, stinking, puddle water.”

The best coffee in the world, taken altogether, is certainly made in Paris, though I have occasionally tasted at private houses in England, where the master was a gourmet, and the servants disciplined, finer coffee than was ever brewed either at the Café Foy or the Café Corrazza. And the only wonder is, that it should not be always so; for, as was before observed, the very finest qualities of coffee come to the London market.

For the last forty years, a great deal of fancifulness has prevailed in Paris as to the best manner of making coffee. Much of this arose, no doubt, from[241] the inordinate love which Napoleon exhibited for coffee; as everyone was desirous to improve upon the favourite beverage of the little Corsican and great conqueror. Projects of all kinds were started: to make coffee without roasting it, without grinding it, to infuse it cold, to make it boil three quarters of an hour, &c. Another mode was to run the cold water several times through the powder; another, to infuse the coffee over night. But, notwithstanding these vagaries, coffee is generally well made in France. It is true, that it is most commonly adulterated by the admixture of chicorée, but there is nothing noxious in the endive; it merely adds a bitterness to the coffee, and is adopted in nine instances out of ten from motives of economy.

The most usual method of making coffee in France is à Dubelloy, which consists in pouring boiling water on coffee placed in a porcelain or silver vase, cullendered or pierced with very small holes. This first decoction is poured off, heated to boiling heat, passed again through the coffee-pot, when a clear and exquisite coffee is produced. More than a full-sized tablespoonful of coffee should be allowed for each guest in making a small cup of coffee after dinner.

The most complete apparatus for coffee making ever invented in England, is said to have been the production of Mr. Jones, of Bond Street, ironmonger; but, as I have never tried it, I will not speak of its merits. The ordinary English tin coffee-biggin succeeds[242] tolerably well if the coffee be properly roasted and ground; but the disadvantage is, that the filtering occupies so long a time, that the coffee is half cold when ready to be poured into the cups.

The cylinder for roasting coffee, which one cannot pass through the streets of Paris without seeing constantly at work, has been in use since 1687. The love of novelty is so great in that capital, that when coffee was first introduced, two methods were adopted of preparing it: one, the ordinary method now in use; the other, a method said to prevail in the seraglio at Constantinople, for the mistresses of the Grand Signor. This consists in boiling for a certain time in hot water, not the grain itself, but the shell or pod which envelopes it. This method affords a liquor of an agreeable colour to the eye, but it yields a pale and flavourless coffee, though decorated with the name of café à la sultane. Blegny invented, in 1687, a distilled coffee water, an oil, and a syrup of coffee. Under the Regent Orleans, coffee sweetmeats were invented, to appear at dessert; and a few years afterwards the distillateurs of Montpelier made a liqueur, produced after dessert, which they called eau de café, whose odour resembled roasted coffee. There were also tablettes de café, which were eaten before the liqueurs. There were and are medical men who, from the time of its introduction to our day, have not ceased to sound the alarm as to the unwholesomeness of coffee; but I think with old[243] Lémery, that “coffee fortifies the stomach and brain, promotes digestion, allays the headache, suppresses the fumes caused by wine, makes the memory and fancy more quick, and people brisk that drink it.” This last effect, says he, has been observed by the shepherds of Africa, who took notice, that before coffee was used, and that their sheep fed upon this kind of pulse, that they skipped about strangely.[24]

I shall close my observations on coffee by giving a receipt of Dr. Roques for a café à la crême frappé de glace. It is a delicious breakfast during the summer heats. Here it is:—“Make a strong infusion of Mocha or Bourbon coffee; put it in a porcelain bowl, sugar it properly, and add to it an equal portion of boiled milk, or one-third the quantity of a rich cream. Surround the bowl with pounded ice.” Doctor Bonnafous, of Perpignan, recommended this beverage to such persons as had lost their appetite, or who experienced general debility. This agreeable epicurean one day said to a patient, Dr. Roques, who was himself in the profession,—“Study, my friend, that which is good, that which pleases your palate. Try to become a little friand; commence a series of gastronomic experiments without infringing a regimen. You will be the better for it, and in certain circumstances you will exercise on sickly people inclined to gourmandise an unlimited power. Breakfast[244] during July, August, and a part of September, on iced coffee, and in winter on woodcock soup. This is a regimen with which I restored to health and sense an aged canon who had nearly lost all appetite, and who was disgusted with life.”

Brillat Savarin recommends that coffee should be taken in the dinner-room, as thus served it is hotter. This may be so in establishments where there are an insufficient number of servants; but in good houses in England, where there is a regular establishment of servants, coffee is served quite as hot in the drawing-room, library, or salon, as in the dining-room or salle a manger. Coffee should be hot, clear, and strong; and, like every other good thing, be taken in moderation. Morin, in his “Manuel d’Hygiene,” says, “Quelle que soit son action sur l’estomac, il en est du café comme de toute autre chose, il faut en user et ne pas en abuser.” Tea is much more generally taken after dinner in England than coffee, and it is a beverage deemed more wholesome and more agreeable by the great majority of Englishmen. Cowper’s lines in the “Task,” on the winter evening cup of tea, will recur to the reader.

“Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast,
Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,
And, while the bubbling and loud hissing urn
Throws up a steamy column, and the cups
That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each;
So let us welcome peaceful evening in.”



The name of liqueurs is given to preparations composed of spirits of wine, brandy, sugar, and the extracts of certain substances more or less aromatic. The desired result is obtained either by distillation or by infusion. Infused liqueurs are called ratafias. Elixirs are certain wholesome or therapeutic liquors, taken only by spoonfuls. Ratafias are as old as the time of Louis XII., contemporary with Henry VII.; and elixirs were known antecedent to the time of Charles VII., contemporary with our Henry VI. The most renowned foreign liqueurs are the alkermes of Florence, the rossolis or rosoglio of Bologna, the barbados and the tarlufolgio of Turin; the citronelle of Venice, the cinamonium of Trieste, the maraschino of Zara, the krambambouli of Dalmatia, the absinthe of Switzerland, the kirschen wasser of the Black Forest, the persicot of Treves, the kumin Dantzic, the double anisette and the white curaçoa of Amsterdam, the tafià[246] of the Isle of France, the blanc rack of Batavia, the old rum of Jamaica, the noyau of Martinique, the white vanilla of St. Domingo, the eau des créoles of Martinique, and the mirobolan of Madame Anfoux. The fine or distilled liqueurs fabricated in France are, les crêmes de thé, de menthe, de canelle, d’orange, and the eau angelique. Most of these are made at Montpelier, but all of them can be obtained at Tanrades’, in Paris, who is himself the proprietor and distiller of the crême d’ananas, and the petit lait d’Henry IV. Ratafias are, for the most part, made in the provinces. Thus Verdun is famous for its persicot, Phalsburg for its noyau, Lyons for its absinthe, Grenoble for its wild cherry ratafia, Hieres for its five fruited ratafia, and Orleans for its quince ratafia. Few of these, however, are known in England, where the principal liqueurs used are noyau, curaçoa, cherry-brandy, and cognac. Of these I should say the three last were the wholesomest and most stomachic. Nothing can exceed, indeed can equal, cognac for a liqueur, if it be old and genuine. A liqueriste, or a distillateur, is a distinct trade in France from a limonadier. These distillateurs composed their beverages for the most part from brandy or spirits of wine, aromatised by the infusion of spices, flowers, honey, fruits, &c. Cubebs, cinnamon, cloves, grains of paradise, liquorice, sweetened and flavoured with rose-water, pomegranate juice, and sugar, were the component parts of the earliest liqueurs which[247] appeared in Europe, with the exception of the eau d’or, or aqua aurea, which Arnaud de Villeneuve describes as brandy, in which was infused or macerated rosemary flowers, with spices and colours to flavour it. When golden elixirs became rife, somewhat later, the public desired that the eau d’or should really contain gold; and hence the custom of putting some goldbeater’s leaf, cut up into small pieces, into the infusion. The eau de vie de Dantzic, of which a considerable portion is consumed in Paris, is prepared in this fashion.

Liqueurs, though known a considerable time previously, were first greatly sought for in France at the period when Catherine de Medicis, in 1533, came to wed the dauphin son of Francis I. The Italians whom she brought in her suite, and the creatures of that nation who flocked in crowds to France when she became queen, greatly introduced the use of liqueurs, which had been heretofore common in Italy. The nascent taste for them grew gradually into a passion; and in 1604, Sully, in examining the objects of luxury which cost the French most, particularises festins and liqueurs. The populo and the rossolis were, about two centuries ago, the most popular of liqueurs. The former was made with spirits of wine, water, sugar, musk, amber, essence of aniseed, essence of cinnamon, &c. The rossolis took its name from the plant ros solis, which was one of its ingredients. Among foreign rossolis, that of Turin[248] was the most celebrated. The liquor, writes Patin, in 1653, in one of those letters, half French, half Latin, which he was in the habit of inditing,—the liquor called rossolis “nihil habet solare, sed igneum quid potentissimum, lumborum renum, que doloribus adversissimum.” At this period, all liqueurs were considered unpardonable luxuries, if not sinful. Madame Théanges, who had been a gay demirep in her day, at length became devout. Madame de Sévigné, writing in 1674, says:—“Elle (meaning Madame de Théanges) est souvent avec Madame de Longueville et tout à fait dans le bel air de la dévotion; mais elle est toujours de très bonne compagnie et n’est pas solitaire. J’étois l’autre jour auprès d’elle à diner. Un laquais lui présenta un grand verre de vin de liqueur; elle me dit, Madame, ce garçon ne sait pas que je suis dévote.” And Madame de Sévigné archly adds, “Cela nous fit rire.”

Well, indeed, might the company laugh, though the proper rebuke would have been to answer, in the words of Shakespeare, “Think’st thou, because thou art virtuous, we shall have no more cakes and ale? Ay, by St. Anne! and ginger shall be hot in the mouth, too.”

The first manufactory of liqueurs in France which had a remarkable success, was a fabric established at Montpelier.

In 1704, when Louis XIV. suppressed the community of limonadiers, establishing in their stead 150[249] privileged persons, an ordonnance pointed out what liqueurs it was lawful to sell. These were la fenouillette, le Vatté, l’orange, Cette, Genièvre, and millefleures. The first fabric of liqueurs which had any extensive renown was that of Montpelier. It may be well imagined that a city which had so long been celebrated as a school of medicine had eminent chymists and distillateurs; but, when these acquired a renown as liquorists, they reposed on their success, became careless, and in the end were justly supplanted by others. Lorraine succeeded to the renown of the Mons Puellarum, or Montpelier. This was chiefly owing to the decoction of one Solmini, probably an Italian, who, about a century ago, pretended to have invented a liqueur which he called parfait amour. This, however, was no new invention at all; it was but ratafias of fruits and nuts, the eau de cédrat of the Sieur la Faveur of Montpelier, which this worthy had disguised by giving it a red tinge by means of cochineal. The brothers Bosserrant succeeded Solmini, producing a cheap and inferior article, which had for a season a vogue. But the imposition was soon found out, and the reputation of the brothers was lost as speedily as it was acquired. In the country parts of France most of the grocers sold, and still sell, ratafias fabricated by themselves; but they are, one and all, poor stuff. At Beaumont and Neuilly, in the environs of Paris, were two ratafia makers who had great success. The Neuilly man[250] made a considerable fortune and built a country house, in which he caused to be engraved this inscription, “Ex liquido solidum.” This is almost as good as the Irish distiller who made a large fortune by smuggling, and built a magnificent house which he called “Sans souci.” A brother in the trade, who had been less fortunate because more honest, built a small modest box nearly opposite, which he called “Sans six sous.” To return, however, to ratafias. These are certainly the liqueurs which are preferably adopted in all ménages bourgeois, because, being but infusions of flowers or fruits, they are the cheapest and the most easily made. The most popular ratafia in France is the black currant, a renown which it owes in a great measure to the praises bestowed on it by Lémery,[25] who thus speaks of it:—

“C’est un élixir très excellent, et très propre à entretenir la santé. Il est très bon pour les hydropiques dissout les pierres, fait sortir le gravier, guérit toutes les fièvres tierces, quartres, continues. Il presérve du vomissement sur la mer, et du scorbut de la bouche. Il fait sortir la petite vérole, la rougeole, le pourpre, et toutes les maladies contagieuses. Il prévient la goutte, et purifie merveilleusement le sang; c’est un antidote contre tous les poisons et piqûres de bêtes vénimeuses. Il est bon pour les coliques,[251] les dyssenteries, les maux et duretés de la rate. Il fortifie l’estomac, chasse les vents, réjouit le cerveau, guérit les migraines et les maux de tête. Il est bon pour toutes les maladies des femmes, même en couche. Il facilitte l’accouchement. Quand on en use habituellement, on n’a presque rien à craindre de l’apoplexie ni de la paralysie. Il n’y a point de maladie qu’il ne soulage ni ne prévienne. Son effet dans les plaies est plus prompt que celui du baume du Pérou. On en a donné à des chevaux très malades, qui ont été guéris en très peu de temps,” &c.

Although the French of the metropolis are now somewhat disenchanted of their passion for black currant ratafia, yet it maintains its popularity in the provinces.

The liqueurs of the French West India Islands obtained a great renown in the last century. These liqueurs were strong and ardent, and required to be kept a long time before they were generally used. One of the most renowned makers of these liqueurs was the widow Anfoux of Martinique, who ultimately came to Paris. It was plain, however, that it was “distance” that “lent enchantment” to her distilling; for no sooner had she settled in the Rue Montmartre, than her decoctions, infusions, and brewings, began to pall on the taste of the Parisians. Before the first French Revolution, liqueurs were divided into two classes. The first might be called essences; they bore the name of oily liqueurs, for[252] they were, in fact, thick and oily: the second class were, in opposition to those, called dry. The inventor of the oily liqueurs was a Doctor Sigogne, who, by the application of boiled sugar and saffron, sought to render the liqueurs which he produced more soft, velvety, and unctuous. In this he perfectly succeeded, and subsequently hit upon the happy name for his brewing of l’huile de Vénus. This liqueur had a prodigious success; some notions of which may be formed from the fact that, after the death of the inventor, small packages of it were sold at private sales at the rate of three and four louis a pint. The first distillateur liquoriste who acquired a reputation in Paris was Le Lièvre, then La Serre, and afterwards a Sieur Omfroi.

The most renowned liqueur of our West India Islands was the eau des Barbades. A very small bottle of this used to sell for a louis d’or; but the price, as well as the fiery nature of the article, caused it to sink in public favour.

The Dutch invented cinnamon water, crême de girofle, and crême de canelle, when they were the exclusive possessors of the Spice Islands, and also curaςao, which is now produced in great quantities in Luxembourg (previously to the Belgian Revolution of 1830 a Dutch town) and Amsterdam. The crême de girofle is a delightful liqueur, and is said by a writer in the “Magazine of Domestic Economy” to be excellent for singers when suffering under relaxation[253] of the throat. It is made by adding forty drops of oil of cloves to a quart of spirits of wine and a quart of syrup, with as much of red colouring matter as will impart a good colour. Crême de canelle is also an agreeable liqueur, and beneficial to the dyspeptic by warming the stomach, and giving increased action to that organ.

Curaςoa is one of the very best of liqueurs. The finest is made at Luxembourg and Amsterdam; but, if the frugal housekeeper cannot afford the expense of the genuine article, he may resort to a receipt contained in the second volume of the “Magazine of Domestic Economy.”

The tincture and pod of vanilla is much used in France in flavouring as well as colouring liqueurs. The crême de vanille is not an unpleasant cordial, and is stomachic, and slightly stimulant.

Ireland invented that horrid burning beverage called scubac, shubach, or usquebaugh. This liqueur, called usquebaugh, or schubagh, had its birth in the sweet, clean, neat little town of Drog-h[=e]-da; or, as it was called in the time of Cromwell, Tredagh.

Schubagh is a decoction of barley, tinged with an infusion of saffron, sweetened with sugar, to which is added spirits of wine to give it strength. It is the strongest and most fiery of cordials, and is only fit for a Gueber. Schubagh was early counterfeited in France, and the counterfeit may, by a species of contradiction, be said to have surpassed the original.[254] Many new ingredients were added, as mace, cloves, cinnamon, jujubes, aniseed, juniper-leaves, &c.; but, notwithstanding this addition and improvement, this beverage never became a favourite in Paris, though it had subsequently some repute at Copenhagen, Stockholm, Revel, and Riga.

To Ireland we are also indebted for raspberry and black currant whiskey. A teaspoonful of either may be taken, but it should be kept ten years in bottle.

The eau cordiale of Colladon, a famous physician of Geneva, was composed of the essential oil of lemons, extracted by expression, rectified spirits of wine, sugar, and eau de mélisse. This liqueur is reported to have been the most salubrious and agreeable of any in the category; but the price of it was so excessive, even during the life of the inventor, that it was but little consumed.

The eau de vie d’Andaye is a pure and simple brandy; but the slight taste of fennel which is communicated to it in distillation, places it in the rank of liqueurs. It was in the month of September, 1837, that having crossed over the Bidassoa in a fordable part, running the risk of being mistaken by the Carlists for a Christino, that I sat down under the shadow of the town of Irun, and within view of Andaye itself, to eat of a Dutch cheese, a shallot, some cresses, and a crust of the beautifully white bread of Spain. I washed down this homely fare with a glass of the far-famed eau de vie d’Andaye, diluted with the water of a rill[255] which ran ripplingly over the pebbles beneath my feet; and, whether from the exercise, the purity of the air, the tranquil stillness of the place—rendered more fearfully still by the reverberation of a stray shot in the distance—I thought the fare delicious, and relished the brandy as the most vinous and cordial drop I ever tasted. Mentioning this in the summer of the following year to a West India gentleman, my late lamented friend, Mr. James MacMahon, in the Quarry Walk of Shrewsbury, and who was a great gourmet, though a point-blank realist and matter-of-fact man, he replied, “There’s no delusion in it; and neither the air, the scenery, nor the exercise, had anything to do with the matter. It is the pure quality and excellence of the brandy alone that gave to the beverage so intense a relish, as I shall prove to you. A week ago I dined with Earl Talbot at Ingestrie. There was a large party; it was a diner d’apparat, with turtle, venison, and all the delicacies of the season. Half-a-dozen liqueurs were produced; but last of all some eau de vie d’Andaye, which the host declared had been in the cellar since 1796, a period of forty-two years. Now it was nine o’clock when this was produced, and my taste was somewhat palled from the multitude of good things, both solids and fluids, of which I had tasted; yet, whether from age or frequent rectification, I never tasted anything so delicious, so that your theory falls to the ground.”


In the island of Ré, it is said, brandy is prepared exactly by the same process as at Andaye; but, though I have sailed by this island, it has never been my fate to taste of the produce of its distillation.

The eau de vie de Dantzic is simply brandy rectified, with the addition of aniseed and goldbeater’s leaf. This liqueur is not much used here, but it is in great request in Paris. The receipt for making it is as follows:—To one quart of spirits of wine, add twelve drops of oil of aniseed, six of oil of cinnamon, three of oil of roses, and eight of oil of citron; mix with it a quart of syrup, filter it, and, when bottling, mix with goldbeater’s leaf cut into little bits.

Maraschino is the produce of a wild cherry, common in the territory of Zara in Dalmatia. For a long succession of years the Dalmatians only made a species of cherry-wine of their fruit; but they afterwards extracted a brandy from them, and ultimately a liqueur, which was so perfect and popular, that before the first French Revolution the senate of Venice kept the sale of the precious beverage in its own hands. Some of the frontier French provinces of Alsace, Lorraine, and Dauphiné, endeavoured to extract from the same species of cherry a brandy called kirchwasser. With this they essayed, but in vain, to imitate the maraschino of Zara.

There are many ratafias, essences, waters, and syrups produced in France as liqueurs, such as ratafia d’angélique, de flore, de fleurs d’orange, de grenade,[257] eau divine, cordiale du chasseur nuptiale, &c.; but it would be unjust not to mention the noyau, the anisette de Bordeaux, and the absinthe. The noyau is one of the most pleasing, but also one of the most pernicious liqueurs when taken to excess. It is chiefly made of the kernels of apricots and peaches, which contain a vast quantity of prussic acid. Orange-flower water and triturated vanille are also ingredients. A very small liqueur-glass of this cordial is a pleasing thing enough after fruit or coffee; but the portion taken should be small, nay, of the infiniment petits. There is a pink as well as a white noyau, but the latter is to be preferred.

Bordeaux is famous for its anisette; and this liqueur is not a bad carminative for gouty old men. The name of Marie Brissart, as a manufacturer of anisette, has attained a European reputation.

The absinthe is an excellent tonic and stomachic. It is an infusion of wormwood, and is an especially favourite liqueur with critics and reviewers, for its extreme bitterness is nearly akin to their own.

The English liqueurs are few. The cherry bounce of Hoffman and Son, of Bishopsgate Street Within, which used to sell at 8s. or 9s. the pint, was excellent, but the firm have made a fortune and retired. This beverage had an immense sale at Bombay, Madras, and Calcutta; but it is, if possible, still more popular up the Mofussil.

Rum ratafia, rum shrub, pine-apple rum, and[258] brandy shrub, are all good things, but none of them are so excellent as Hoffman’s bounce.

It will be seen, from what I have stated, that all these liqueurs, with whatever fine names they may be decorated, have for their basis a mixture of brandy, sugar, and water, whose proportions vary according to the kind of liqueur which is to be prepared. Such aromatic accessories are added as are deemed most proper to flatter the taste and the smell; and the great talent of a liquouriste consists in the choice and admixture of these aromatics, and in the mingling together such fruits and flavours as fraternise most fully and cordially. The finest aroma in fruit and flower will not always suffice, however, to produce fine liqueurs. Some plants of exquisite natural odours produce in distillation indifferent liqueurs; others there are of not so odorous a smell, which form the happiest possible combinations. There are many, for instance, who do not like the aroma of the truffle, and the perfumer can make little of it, yet it furnishes a most agreeable ratafia. It must in candour be admitted that the French are our masters in the art of the liquouriste. They divide liqueurs into three classes,—ordinaires, fines, and surfines. The fine and superfine liqueurs are also known under the designation of crêmes and huiles. Oily liqueurs should be made thicker than creamy, and should pour out like olive oil. Such liqueurs as go under the names of crêmes are white, while the oily liqueurs should be[259] of the colour of olive-oil. Our lively neighbours profit by every innocent artifice to give a greater vogue to their productions, and christen their cordials with the most taking—why should we not say with the most pocket-picking names? Thus we have the petit lait de Henri Quarte, l’eau des braves, l’huile de Vénus, le parfait amour, l’eau nuptiale, l’eau virginale, &c., the gouttes de Maltes of La Moine, and the liqueur impériale, and de Pomone of the same fabricant. Many of the liqueurs drunk both in England and France are exceedingly unwholesome; and should any one need a cordial or stimulant after dinner or with his coffee, I would in preference recommend a small glass of pure Cognac brandy; but this should be obtained from a trustworthy house, as the Cognac brandies are adulterated with Spanish or Bordeaux brandy of very inferior quality, with neutral-flavoured rum and rectified spirits. British brandy-bitters are used to fill up the flavour, but comparatively in small quantities, as it is exceedingly powerful. The adulterated brandy is usually composed of rectified spirits, cassia, carraways, chamomile-flowers, orange-peel, &c. Cherry-laurel water is also used to answer the same purpose as British brandy-bitters, and is, indeed, more frequently had recourse to, because the quantity of it applied does not prevent a trial of the strength of the brandy by the hydrometer. The qualities of laurel-water are poisonous and pernicious, and the extract of almond-cake, prepared by keeping[260] a quantity of the cake for a long time in spirits of wine, is also a noxious ingredient. The almond-cake is used to impart to the adulterated brandy a taste resembling the kernel flavour which the genuine article possesses. The extract of capsicums and extract of grains of paradise, known in the trade by the name of the devil, are also frequently used. The extract of capsicums is made by putting a quantity of the small East India chilies into a bottle of spirits of wine, and keeping it closely stopped for a month. The same process is followed in reference to grains of paradise, and they are both used to impart an appearance of strength. They infuse into the spirit, a hot, pungent, fiery flavour, which no one of good taste—no one, indeed, whose organs of taste were not vitiated by a long indulgence in ardent spirits—would at all relish. Colouring of burnt sugar is also had recourse to, to deepen the colour of the brandy rendered too pale by the preceding mixtures, and it is further employed to answer the same end with rum. Saffron, mace, terra japonica, spirits of sweet nitre, and prunes, are used to improve the flavour of brandy, and new brandy is made to look like old by the addition of aqua ammoniæ.

On the German liqueurs I have not yet touched. The principal among these are the Pomeranzen, Wackholder, and the Kummel. The Pomeranzen is made by adding to a quart of spirits of wine ninety drops of oil of orange and a quart of the syrup.


The Wackholder is made by putting thirty drops of oil of juniper to a quart of spirits of wine, adding a quart of the syrup; and Kummel is prepared by adding to a quart of spirits of wine seventy drops of oil of carraways. After it has been shaken well, it should be filtered, and it will then be fit to bottle.

I have already intimated an opinion that the profuse, or indeed the frequent and moderate use of liqueurs is to be deprecated: but as an agreeable termination to a repast, or as a gentle stimulus, inducing the stomach to perform its functions more kindly, they may be used with advantage. They should, however, be taken rarely and sparingly, for the particular effect to be looked for is a gentle action of the stomach. The liqueur, whatever its nature, should be taken as in all foreign countries, as a chasse café, immediately after the small cup of strong coffee, and it should be sipped slowly, and allowed to linger on the palate.

Jean de Milon, a famous physician, who wrote in the seventeenth century, and addressed his aphorisms to a king of England, proclaimed in the following verses that nothing should be taken after coffee, so excellent was it, and for this reason he condemns liqueurs:—

“Præludant offæ, præcludat prandia coffe.
Dulcitur invadit, sed duriter ilia rodit.
Spiritus ex vino quern fundit dcxtra popino.”

But with all respect to so eminent an authority, the occasional use of a thimbleful of brandy bounce may[262] be recommended after coffee as rather beneficial than otherwise, for most will agree with old Lémery[26] in thinking, “these liquors, being taken moderately, heat and fortify the stomach, help digestion, expel wind, allay the cholic, revive the spirits, promote the circulation of the blood, and recover strength.”

I have only to say, in conclusion, that the most famous liqueurs of France are fabricated at Blois, Grenoble, Langres, Montpelier, Nismes, Verdun, and Paris.



Ale or beer are rarely if ever produced at regular set dinners now-a-days, though at quiet family parties of three or four, or in private houses en famille, table beer, ale, and stout are often used by invalids; and occasionally are taken from choice by young, middle-aged, and elderly people who drink both ale and wine. At the mid-day meal called lunch, also, beer is an article not unfrequently taken by those young ladies who exhibit so little appetite for dinner at fashionable tables at eight o’clock.

The beers most generally consumed in London are Bass’s and Allsopp’s bitter beer, and Guinness’s Irish stout. All these, when obtained genuine, are excellent, and I believe wholesome, but they should be used very sparingly indeed when wine is taken. Dr. Paris tells us that the most useful quality in the beer comes from the hop. “Independently,” says he, “of the flavour and tonic virtues which hops[264] communicate, they precipitate by means of their astringent principle the vegetable mucilage, and thus remove from the beer the active principle of fermentation; without hops, therefore, we must either drink our malt liquors new and ropy, or old and sour.” The nutricious qualities of malt liquors, for those who live much in the open air, who hunt, shoot, or use much corporeal exercise, cannot be disputed. But the studious and the sedentary would do well to avoid beer, if wine be consumed by them at the same meal.

Good cider is an exceedingly wholesome beverage for persons who exercise much in the open air, and it relieves thirst better than malt liquors, but it is now never seen at a London dinner-table, and is only to be met at country houses in Devonshire, Gloucestershire, Somersetshire, or Herefordshire, or occasionally in some of the common rooms of Oxford and Cambridge.

According to the accounts of some modern writers, it is not more than four centuries since cider has been introduced into France. Be this as it may, provincial academies in all parts of Normandy, Brittany, and the higher Pyrenees, have agitated the question for years and years together de origine cidri, and it seems now to be agreed by these men, or literati, that the invention is due to the Biscayans, who taught the natives of Barbary to fabricate it; who, in their turn, taught the art to the Normans. It is certain, if we[265] are to believe Du Perron, that when the Normans, in the sixteenth century, had not sufficient cider for their own consumption, they drew their supply from Biscay; but long before the period contended for either by Normans or Biscayans, cider was drunk at the table of the French kings of the first race.

In France the best ciders are produced in the Pays de Caux, in the Valley d’Auge, and in the beautiful country of the Cotentin. Francis I., in passing by Morsalines in 1532, found the cider so good, that he purchased a considerable quantity, of which he drank so long as the provision lasted. The finest cider in England, taken in the gross, is made in Herefordshire; but there is a particular kind made in Somersetshire which, for softness, fulness, and velvety flavour, surpasses the Herefordshire cider. It is called by the extraordinary name of Cocky Gee. The best cider in France goes by as extraordinary a cognomen. It is called the Cue-Noué, and is pronounced by Charles Etienne unequalled for softness, bouquet, and beauty of colour. There was a college in Oxford in my younger days, two of the fellows of which used to yearly obtain hogsheads of this Cocky Gee cider from an old clergyman in Somersetshire, who made the liquor from the produce of his own orchard. Never was there a more delicious beverage. Full-flavoured, soft, creamy, yet vigorous, it was preferred to any champagne.


Of perry, it is not necessary I should say much, as it has a great affinity to champagne. The pious Radegonde, according to the legend, drank perry water to mortify herself. The three best species of perry are made with the Poire de Ciré, the Robert, and Carisi. The first does not keep, the second flies to the head, and the third, though it has the same effect, is renowned for its strength, limpidity, and muscadel flavour. Two centuries and a half ago this country imported much cider and perry from Normandy. About the same period, great quantities were sent to Paris from the provinces; but, so soon as it was perceived that the cabaretiers made use of it to adulterate their wines, the use of the beverage was forbidden.

It was not till about a century ago that the usage of hydromel at dinner and dessert altogether ceased. In the thirteenth century this beverage was made by adding twelve pints of water to one of honey; but it was then so insipid and flat, that aromatic herbs, foreign and domestic, were added to give it pungency. Hydromel thus prepared was called bogerase, borgerafre, or borgeraste. In the monkish houses it was used as a treat on feast-days. In the coutumes of the order of Cluni it is called potus dulcissimus. The clergy, in those days, had, like the laity, their periods of festivity and rejoicing. In the repasts of the northern nations, beer was always served with dessert, and, even in the present day, in Hamburg, Lubeck,[267] Altona, Kiel, Dantzic, and many other of the northern parts of Germany, nuts and ale are considered a rare treat. It is a mistaken notion to think that beer is a modern beverage, or that its use is exclusively confined to England. The Egyptians had two sorts of beer, one called zythus, the other curmi or carmi. Belon, in his “Observations sur les Singularités trouvées en Grèce et en Asie,” inclines to the opinion that the curmi was made with the whole grain, and that the zythus was, like the posca of the Latins, a species of orgeat, made with the flour of the grain, which was kept in paste and diluted for the occasion. The ancient Gauls knew but two beverages, wine and beer. The use which they made of beer is attested by Diodorus Siculus, by Athenæus, by Theophrastus, and by Pliny. Diodorus and Theophrastus state that the Gauls called their beer zythus. If this be true, it is not improbable that they received from the Egyptians both the name and the beverage. Be this as it may, it is certain that the insensate order which Domitian gave, to tear up all the vines in Gaul, rendered the use of beer but the more general. Nor did the permission of Probus to replant the vine cause a more general use of the juice of the grape; for, about eighty years after his reign, the Emperor Julian complains of the general use of beer, and even condescends to brew an epigram against the bitter and wholesome beverage. To Probus, however, every lover of wine is indebted. The wines of Burgundy,[268] Champagne, and even Tokay, owe to him their existence.[27] Speaking of this emperor, Crevier says:—“Je m’étonnerais que ce prince n’eût pas été célébré par les buveurs comme un nouveau Bacchus, si les buveurs étoient savans.[28] Il prit soin lui-même de faire planter en vigne par les soldats le Mont Alma près de Sermim sa patrie, et le Mont d’or dans le Moesie supérieure, et il donna ces vignobles aux habitans du pays, en les chargeant du soin et des frais de la culture.”

Julian, on the contrary, affected or followed sobriety, disdained the use of beer, and, though he praises the severe and simple manners of his beloved Paris, την φιλην Aευκετιαν,[29] yet he austerely chides the intemperance of the Gauls, while admitting the excellence of their vines. That the vines were rare in his time, and wine dear, is plain from the fact that the Parisians of that early day were in the habit of drinking beer, as the middle classes of England do in the year of grace, 1864. Thus, 1500 years ago, to speak in round numbers, the Parisians commenced their repasts with beer, and finished with wine. The custom still subsists both in England, Flanders, and Germany, though it may be said to be nearly fallen into disuse in France. At the table of the Burgundian kings it was customary to serve both wine and[269] cider at the same time; and if Thierri, King of Burgundy, drank both wine and cider at the same meal, who will deny that the French kings may not have drunk wine and beer? Charlemagne, in his capitulary de villis, directs that among the workmen to be employed on his farms there shall be some who know how to make beer. It is a remarkable fact, that the fairest and most favoured countries of the earth—the countries producing the best wines, Greece, Gaul, Italy, and Spain—have simultaneously used beer. The council of Aix-la-Chapelle regulated the quantity of beer and wine which should be consumed by both sexes in religious houses. In a rich house, situated in an abundant wine country, each regular canon was daily allowed five pounds’ weight of wines, and each chanoinesse three. If it were a country not thickly studded with vines, the allowance was three pounds of wine with three of beer for the canon, and two of beer and two of wine for the chanoinesse. There were brewhouses in all the ancient monasteries. In going through Picardy, Normandy, and Brittany, even in our own day, the spot where the brewhouse formerly existed is always shown. When the monks drank beer they were wise enough to brew it themselves, and were not tributary to the Barclays, Meuxs, Calverts, Guinnesses, Basses, Hodsons, and Allsopps of the day. Within the walls of the convent were the ovens, the vats, and even the mills necessary for the grain. There exists a charter[270] of Henry I. (1042) in favour of the monastery of Montreuil-sur-Mer, by which the monarch grants to that house two of those mills cerevisiæ usibus de servientes. In our own country the custom of brewing in religious houses survived the Reformation, and the beer of Trinity and Christchurch is now just as good as it was in the time of William of Wykeham, Archbishop Chichele, Hugh de Balsham, or William Bateman, Bishop of Norwich.

As the number of vineyards increased in France, the use of beer diminished, until it became at length uncommon to see it at the table of a layman. In the thirteenth century that very Paris, which under the Emperor Julian had scarcely any other beverage than beer, could hardly count a brewer. But the fraternity who delight in gentian, coculus Indicus, mazerion, liquorice root, and grains of paradise, again appeared in numbers towards 1428. The author of the “Journal de Paris,” composed under the reigns of Charles VI. and VII., attributes this descent from wine to beer to the oppressive taxation and heavy exactions of Charles VI. Among the memoirs furnished to the Duke of Burgundy in 1698 by the different intendants of the kingdom, on the state of France, the memoir of the intendant of Paris remarks that the misery and distress of the people had considerably diminished the commerce of wine in his district; whilst the consumption of beer, on the contrary, increased in proportion, so that in the same[271] year the brewers had consumed 80,000 setiers (the setier was twelve bushels) of barley, without counting the corn employed for white beer. At this period beer in France was made of barley and rye, but meslin, corn, vetches, and lentils, were also added. The seeds or flowers of hops were added only when wheat or barley was used.

The use of hops was entirely unknown to the ancient Gauls, and how they, under these circumstances, contrived to keep their beer is a secret lost to us moderns. In the thirteenth century the French had a better species of double beer, which they called godale, probably from the English words good ale, or the Frisian gut ael. The wisest of men has said, “There is nothing new under the sun;” and a further illustration of the truth of this remark is afforded by the fact that, even thus early, the Parisian brewers were accustomed to put spices, bay-leaves, and pitch, into their beer to give it flavour. The statutes of Boileve, exclusively meant for brewers, say that these practices “ne sont ne bonnes ne loyaux.” Some there were who, according to Charles Etienne, added tares to the beer, at the risk of rendering the beverage not only intoxicating, but dangerous. But, as if to excuse this Parisian practice, the author adds, “The English mix in their beer sugar, cinnamon, and cloves, and afterwards clarify it.” Schookius, who wrote in 1661, tells us that it was the custom to salt the beer at Minden, in Westphalia; and that in[272] Flanders they added besides the hops, the bay-leaf, gentian, sage, lavender, and clary, which is after all a species of sage.

There was a more agreeable beer, which was made sweeter with honey, and which was much in vogue in France among the rich. In Germany no other beer was drunk, and it became so popular in that country that it was forbidden to penitents, excepting on the Sunday, because, says the Council of Worms, “it was too voluptuous a drink.” This sweeter beer prevailed in France till the end of the sixteenth century, when liqueurs à l’eau de vie became the rage. The beer-brewers, not wishing to be behindhand, tried to make a species of liqueur out of their beer-vats. They produced an article called à l’ambre, in which there was a decoction of coriander seeds, and another à la framboise; but neither of these were successful. The beer of Cambrai was the best Continental beer in the sixteenth century, but it is beaten in the nineteenth by the brown beer of Bavaria, the white beer of Berlin, and the alembique of Brussels. It is in no respect wonderful that the inhabitant of the more northern regions should excel in this beverage the native of the sweet south. The German, the Fleming, the Dutchman, who drinks beer, and beer only, wishes it strong, nourishing, and malty; the Parisian, on the contrary, whose ordinary drink is wine, and who resorts to beer as we do in warm weather to soda water, pop, and ginger-beer, merely[273] requires that the liquor shall be light, brisk, sparkling, and agreeable. I have no means of knowing the number of brewers in Paris at present, but there were forty 120 years ago, who annually made about 75,000 muids of beer (the muid is 300 pints). Little more than seventy years ago there were but twenty-three brewers in Paris, of whom the revolutionary Santerre was the most celebrated in the Faubourg St. Antoine. On the 10th of August he became commandant of the National Guard; on the 11th of December, he conducted Louis XVI. to the bar of the National Convention; and on the 21st of January, 1793, he commanded with Berryer the troops that were present at the execution of this unfortunate prince. It was the brewer Santerre who interrupted the monarch when he essayed to speak from the scaffold, and who caused his sovereign’s voice to be drowned by beat of drum. Santerre more than once showed the white feather, as the epitaph written on him proves:

“Ci gît le Général Santerre,
Qui n’avait de Mars que la bierre.”

That there are now as many brewers in Paris as there were a century ago may be well doubted. At the peace in 1815, a number of English and Scotch brewers went over, and entered into brewery speculations in Paris and the provinces; but the greater number of these were wholly ruined, and repented, when too late, of their short-sighted imprudence.


In seasons of dearth, the Paris brewers were forbidden by ordonnance to make beer. Ordonnances of the Prévôt de Paris appeared to this effect in 1415, and again in 1482. An arrêt of the council renewed this interdiction in 1693, and two others of the parliament to a like effect appeared in 1709 and 1740.



Several treatises have been written on wine in most European countries. Lord Bacon, in the days of Elizabeth, did not disdain to give his attention to the subject; and his Italian contemporary, Andrea Bacci, the physician of the able Sextus the Fifth, has given us probably the best history of wine in that rare and curious book, “De Naturali Vinorum Historia.” About a century ago a Sir Edward Barry, then a physician at Bath, and afterwards state physician to the Viceroy of Ireland, published his “Observations, Historical, Critical, and Medical, on the Wines of the Ancients; and on the Analogy between them and Modern Wines.” In consequence of the interest excited by the topic, this work, now somewhat rare, acquired a certain repute, but it does not now stand in the estimation it did half a century ago. Much that Barry tells us of the ancient wines is borrowed from Bacci; and there is a great deal of useless disquisition mixed with some absurdity. The[276] late Dr. Henderson, a good judge of wine, and who had some excellent wine in his cellar, published his “History of Ancient Wines” some seven or eight and thirty years ago, in which there is a great deal of interesting and useful information. This was followed by a “History and Description of Modern Wines,” commenced by Mr. Cyrus Redding in 1832, and published in 1833. The work was so useful and successful that a second edition was called for in 1835, and published in 1836.[30] From 1836 to the past year there has not been anything very remarkable published in England on the subject of wines. In the month of December last Mr. J. G. Shaw published a work entitled, “Wine, the Vine, and the Cellar,” and in January of the present year, Mr. Denman, also a wine merchant, published a work called the “Wine and its Fruit,” more especially in relation to the production of wine. Both of these works are well printed and illustrated, but they really add little to what was before known on the subject by any one who has made wine his study.

Barry tells us it was the reading of Hippocrates as a professional duty which first led him to the consideration of the subject of wines. Hippocrates described the various qualities of wines, and adapted vinous mixtures to different diseases and constitutions. By lessening the proportion of water usually[277] mixed with wine, he made a powerful cordial; as, by increasing the water, he obtained a cooling diluent.

It is impossible to deny that wine, taken in moderation, tends to strengthen and excite the spirits, to cheer and comfort the languid, and to refresh the toil-worn and exhausted. The poets of Greece and Rome celebrate the praises of wine, and, as though the invention of the liquor were too transcendental to be human, attribute it to the gods—to Osiris, Saturn, and Bacchus. Anacreon calls the juice of the grape ambrosial; and Homer himself bestows on wine the epithet divine, πoτoν θείον.

Plato, while he would strictly restrain the use and severely censure excess in wine, maintains with more than his usually persuasive power, that nothing more excellent than the juice of the grape was ever granted by God to man. It appears from the ancient historians that the rules for the culture and preparation of wine and grapes descended from the Egyptians to the Greeks, who improved and perfected them, and that the Romans, in turn, became the scholars of the Greeks.

As the soil of Italy was favourable to the vine, vineyards soon spread through the country. Italy became distinguished by the name of Œnotria., and the inhabitants were called Œnotrii viri. An infinity of wines were produced from the various species of grapes. Virgil, who was as familiar with agriculture as he excelled in poetry, says it would be as[278] easy to enumerate the sands of the sea-shore as the different species of wine.

Pliny carefully collected all that had been written before his time on the subject of the vine. He describes the various species of the vitis, and the mode and manner of making wines. He enumerates the principal wines of Asia, Greece, and Italy.

Cato, Marcus, Varro, and Columella have also written on the culture of the vine and wine-making; and it appears from the productions of these writers that they perfectly understood the racking off into fresh casks which had been previously impregnated with the vapour of sulphur. Out of these authors and Palladius, Mr. Redding admits that an excellent treatise might be formed on the grape and its products; though he states, and truly, that on the qualities and flavour of the ancient wines the moderns must be content to remain in ignorance.

We know, for instance, that the light and delicate Setine, was the favourite wine of Augustus; that it is commended by Martial, Juvenal, and Silius Italicus, who pronounces it to be worthily reserved for Bacchus himself, “ipsius mensis seposta Lyaci.” I am not, however, quite so sure as Dr. Barry that it was the wine so much recommended by St. Paul to Titus for strengthening the stomach. “It was grown,” says Henderson, “on the heights of Sezza,” and though nota strong wine, possessed sufficient firmness and permanence to undergo the operation of the fumarium;[279] for Juvenal alludes to some which was so old that the smoke had obliterated the mark of the jar in which it was contained. The process which these wines underwent in the fumarium gave to them a greater transparency and more early maturity. This method had been long known to the Greeks, their αποθηκη being equivalent to the Roman fumarium. The ancients were perfect adepts in these methods of forcing wines, and they used for the purpose plain and burnt salt, bitter almonds, the whites of eggs, and particularly isinglass. But when wines were more than usually foul, they added sand, or marble finely powdered. Salt water, also, was frequently used to depurate and preserve wine. This discovery is said to have been owing to a slave’s having drunk part of a cask of wine committed to his care and concealed the fraud with sea water; the wine thus falsified was found to be superior to the wine of the same growth contained in the other casks. The Romans were but children in the art of adulteration, when compared with the Greeks. Palladius gives several receipts which were used by the Greeks for improving the flavour, colour, and strength of their wines, and likewise to give to new the qualities of old wine; in one, a mixture of hepatic aloes had a considerable share. Cato favours us also with a curious receipt for making an artificial Chian wine with the Falernian. He directs that the sea-water should be taken up at a great distance from the land, and that it[280] should be kept in casks for some time before being used.

The Cæcuban wine is described as a generous, strong-bodied wine, which would keep, but which would affect the head if taken in quantity: in a word, it was a heady liquor, which the modern French would call, as they do the vin de Jurançon, “capiteux.” Like most heady wines, too, it required long keeping ere it was ripe. It was one of the favourite wines of Horace, and was generally reserved for important festivals:—

“Antehac nefas depormere Cæcubum
Cellis avitis.”

The far-famed Falernian was grown about the bases of hills. Galen observes that were two sorts of Falernian, the dry and the sweetish. The latter was only produced when the wind continued in the south during the vintage. Martial dignifies Falernian with the epithet immortal:—

“Addere quid cessas, puer, immortale Falernum?”

But, although the name of the Falernian be familiar in our mouths as “household words,” nothing is known of its taste, flavour, or colour. It is, however, described as a strong wine, that would keep long, and so rough, that it required to be cellared a great number of years before it was sufficiently mellow.

The wines of the Mons Falernus, however, always preserved a superior character. Tibullus places them[281] under the superintending care of Bacchus. Silius Italicus gives them a preference over the Asiatic and Greek wines; and Virgil, in bestowing smooth, flowing praises on the vinum Rhæticum, says, it must, nevertheless, yield the palm to the Falernian.

Among the lighter wines of the Roman territory, the Sabinum, Nomentanum, and Venafrum, were among the most popular. “The first,” says Henderson, “was a thin table wine, of a reddish colour, attaining its maturity in seven years. The Nomentanum, a delicate claret wine, is described as coming to perfection in five or six years.” Among the Sicilian wines, the Mamertinum, which came from the neighbourhood of Messina, and is said to have been first introduced at public entertainments by Julius Cæsar, was light and astringent.

The Greeks were fonder of wine than the Romans, and were supplied with a greater variety. Among the earliest of the Greek wines, of which we have any distinct account is the Maronean, “probably,” says Henderson, “the production of Ismaurus, near the mouth of the Hebrus, where Ulysses received the supply which he carried with him on his voyage to the land of the Cyclops. The Maronean was a black, sweet wine, and from the manner in which Homer sings its virtues, the quality must have been indeed superior. The Pramnian a red, but not a sweet wine, of equal antiquity. It was a potent and durable liquor, and must have somewhat resembled[282] port. It was, however, in the luscious, sweet wines that the Greeks surpassed their neighbours. These wines were the products of the islands of the Ionian and the Ægean Seas, where the exquisite climate and a suitable soil gave to the fruit a peculiar flavour and excellence. Lesbos, Chios, and Thasos, seems, according to Henderson, to have contended for the superiority; but several of the other islands, such as Corcyra, Cyprus, Crete, Cnidos, and Rhodes, yielded wines which were much esteemed for their sweetness and delicacy. The Thasian and some of the Cretan wines were peculiarly fragrant. Athenæus calls the former οινος ανθοσμιος.”

The Greeks, gourmets as they were, did not confine themselves to the indigenous growths. They were familiar with the produce of the African and Asiatic wines, of which several enjoyed a high reputation. They drank of the white wines of Mareotis and Taenia, in Lower Egypt; of the wine of Antylla, the produce of the vicinity of Alexandria; of the sweet wine of Lydia, in Asia Minor; of the Scybellites, so called from the place of its growth in Galatia, also in Asia Minor. The Greeks, like the Romans, drank all their wines, especially those of the stronger kind, very largely diluted with water, for their common drink. Plutarch has mentioned three different kinds of mixtures. The πεντε, or five, consisted of three parts of water and two of pure wine; and the τρια, or three, of two parts of water and one of wine;[283] the fourth consisted of three parts of water, and one of wine.

Athenæus mentions a mixture called πεντε και δυο, which consisted of five parts of pure wine and two of water.

The recent Greek wines, which were meant for more immediate use, were kept in goat-skins. But, even in Homer’s time the Greeks were well acquainted with the art of preserving their best and stronger wines in wooden casks, or hogsheads (which he calls πιθοι), until they had attained a proper maturity.

As to the Gauls, it is certain that, six centuries before Christianity was introduced, they knew the use of wine; for, when the Phocæans came to found Marseilles, Petta, the daughter of a king of the country, presented, according to Athenæus, to Euxenes their chief, a cup filled with wine and water. But who first planted the vine in Gaul, and who first cultivated it there? It would be difficult to answer these questions. According to Justin and Strabo, it appears that the Phocæans were not only the first to introduce the vine among the Gauls, but the first to learn them to cut and cultivate it. Pliny, on the other hand, says it was a person named Elicoa, who, having made some money at Rome, and wishing to return to his country, carrying with him wine and dried fruits, sold them to the inhabitants, exhorting them to the conquest of the flowing, fruitful land[284] that produced such liquor. Cicero tells us, that one of the most lucrative of commercial transactions among the Gauls was the exportation of their wine to Italy. Columella counts these wines among the number rendered necessary for consumption in Rome,—“Nobis e transmarinis provinciis advehitur frumentum, ne fame laboremus; et vindemias condimus ex insulus Cycladibus, ac regionibus Beticis Gallicisque.” Diodorus Siculus, however, maintains that it was the Italian wines that were consumed in Gaul, and states the Ultramontane dealers who carried them gained immense sums in this commerce. Possidonius, an author contemporary with Diodorus and Cicero, and who had travelled in Gaul, is cited by Athenæus to prove that it was only the richest of the nation that drank wine, which they imported from Italy or the territory of Marseilles.

There is some reason to believe that the vineyards of Burgundy are as old as the Antonines. In the beginning of the fourth century, the orator Eumenius speaks of the vines in the territory of Autun, which were decayed through age, and the first plantation of which was totally unknown. The Pagus Arebrignus is supposed by M. d’Anville to be the district of Beaune, celebrated now for a fine growth of Burgundy.

When the Romans had submitted that portion of Gaul to their arms which is called Provence, the Roman colonists in Dauphiné, Provence, and a part[285] of Languedoc, extended vine-plantations. Soon they spread far and wide, and, in the time of Cæsar, many provinces were in possession of vines, as Strabo, Varro, and Cæsar himself, testify.

Among the excellent grapes peculiar to Gaul, Columella numbers those of the Bituriges; but, as this name was common both to the people of Berry and of the Bordelais, it is difficult to divine to which of the provinces the praise of the Latin author properly applies. The probability, however, is, that it refers to the Bordelais; for Ausonius, who lived in the fourth century of the Christian era, loudly boasts of the wine of Bordeaux.

The mode of training the vine in Gaul consisted in intertwining the branches amongst each other, which differed essentially from the Roman system. The ancient Gaulish practice subsists to this day in Provence, in Languedoc, in Bearn, and in the eastern portion of Dauphiné. The Gauls, who manured their fields with marl, used ashes as a compost for the roots of their vines.

Marseilles, says Pliny, produces a rich, thick wine, which has two flavours, and serves to mix with other wines. It is difficult, he continues, to pronounce on the merits of the wines of Narbonne, because the wine-makers, with a view to change their taste and colour, adulterate them, mix them with herbs and noxious drugs, even with aloes. These tricks were in Italy reduced to a trade, and the wine-doctors[286] were called Conditura vinorum. But notwithstanding these faults, writes Athenæus, the wine of Marseilles was good, and possessed, above all, the quality of ripening other wines when mixed with them.

The Narbonnese were not the only adulterators. The Allobroges, a people of Dauphiné, had a particular pitch which they mixed with their wine. If we are to believe Dioscorides, the infusion of pitch was a necessary ingredient in the Gaulish wines; otherwise, says he, they would have soured, the climate not being warm enough to ripen the grape. The reason assigned by Dioscorides would prove either that the climate of Gaul was then really colder than it is now, or that the art of making wine was still in its infancy. Excellent wine is now made in provinces more northward than Dauphiné, and still better in the north of France, and the countries bathed by the waters of the Moselle and the Rhine. No doubt, innocent means may be employed in cold years, without any risk, to give to the wine a quality which it wants. For a long while the Champenois have been in the habit of smoking their casks with sulphur before using them. The Abbé Rozier, in a Memoir upon the best manner of making the wines of Provence, proposes, when the wine is austere or acid, to dilute honey in the must before it ferments. M. de Prefontaine, in the “Maison Rustique de Cayenne,” published in 1763, speaking of the grapes produced[287] in that island, says that if they were to be used for the purpose of making wine, their natural tartness might be corrected by adding a little sugar. But this practice had been long previously secretly followed in that portion of the Bordelais traversed by the Dordogne, whose principal towns are Bergerac and St. Foi. At the commencement of the last century the wines of this province suddenly acquired such a renown, that there were proprietors who, in a few years, quadrupled the price. The neighbouring proprietors suspected there was something wrong, some secret they could not fathom. They watched for a long while, and at length discovered that immense quantities of sugar arrived in the night. This discovery at first led to nothing; but, in the end a cooper, who knew the secret, having been dismissed from an establishment in which he had been employed, revealed the secret in order to revenge himself. Only five or six families profited by the man’s treason. They took good care to keep the profit to themselves, till a M. Vaucocour published a letter, in which he disclosed the receipt, which consisted in reducing the sugar to a syrup, and then in aromatising it with peach-flowers or the like.

The Marseillais had, in the olden time, another method. This was to boil and smoke their wines in order to thicken them, and to give them the appearance and flavour of old wines:—

“Improba Massiliæ quidquid fumaria cogunt,
Accipit ætatem quisquis ab igne cadus.”


The Romans were also in the habit of smoking their wines. The proof is recorded in Horace:—

“Amphoræ fumum bibere institutæ.”

Tibullus also alludes to it:—

“Nunc mihi fumosos veteris proferte Falernos

Baccius, in his work, “De Naturali Vinorum Historia,” speaking of the wines in Alsace, says that they were kept exposed to the smoke in hot chambers, where they became so thick that they were no longer drinkable, unless they were beaten with twigs or diluted with hot water. The following are his words:—“Super fumo diu et in æstuariis retenta, eam acquirunt vetustate crassitiem, ut potari per se non possint, nisi diu agitata immissis scopis aut origis dissolvantur, vel eliquata per aquam calidam fiant potui idonea: quo usu legimus crassa fuisse antiquis vina, quæ similiter per aquam calidam essent dissolvenda.”

Since the discoveries made at Herculaneum and Pompeii, there have been found among the ruins one of the vases which served for the operation of which I speak, and in which the wine had entirely dried. A similar vase or urn has been discovered in the territory of Vienne, in which the inspissated juice of the wine had crystallized.

Whatever were the processes employed in Gaul for the preparation of wine, many of its vineyards had acquired reputation, and had, moreover, become[289] a source of wealth. This rising spring of riches was soon dried up by the tyrants who reigned over the country. The year of the Christian era 92 having been unpropitious to corn and favourable to the vine, a general scarcity followed. Domitian, who was then emperor, concluded that the cause of this was, that the vines were too numerous, and corn not sufficiently sown. Proceeding on this false assumption, he published an edict, by which he ordered that in the greatest part of the provinces of the empire half of the vines should be rooted out, and that in the others they should be entirely destroyed. Towards the year 282, Probus abrogated it. After having, by his victories, restored peace to the empire, the wise and valiant emperor, says Aurelius Victor, Eutropius, Vopiscus, and Eusebius, restored to the provinces the liberty of replanting the vine. The Gauls commenced the task with alacrity. The Roman legions spread abroad in Gaul were employed in these plantations, for it was the wise policy of Rome, when her soldiers were not engaged in war, to occupy them in useful public labours. Soon were the greater number of the hills of Gaul covered with vines; and these were not, as in the times of the two first Cæsars, bounded by the north of the Cevennes; for almost each province, on the contrary, had its vineyards.

In the Salique law, as well as in the law of the Visigoths, penalties are decreed against those who shall[290] destroy a cutting of the vine, or who shall steal grapes. The protection which the government accorded to this species of property caused it to be regarded as sacred. Chilperic having decreed that each vine-proprietor should annually furnish him with an amphora of wine for his table, there was, says Aimoin, a revolt in Limousin, and the officer whose duty it was to receive this odious tribute was massacred. So great had the passion for the vine become that the French kings turned a portion of their private domains into vineyards. Each of their palaces had its vineries, with wine-presses and all the utensils necessary for the vintage. From the Capitularies of Charlemagne we learn that the monarch entered into this species of administration in the minutest detail. When, after the death of Louis the Débonnaire, the three sons of that prince, laying down their arms, agreed on the division of his estates, Charles the Bald had Western France; Lothaire, Eastern France and Italy; and Louis, that portion which was situated in Germany beyond the Rhine. But as this latter had no vineyards, the Saxon Chronicle and the Chronicle of the monk Sigebert remark that there were joined to his division some towns or villages beyond the river which produced wine. The Louvre itself, like the other royal palaces of France, inclosed vineyards within its precincts. That such vineyards were considerable appears from the fact that in 1160 Louis le Jeune could annually assign out of their[291] produce six muids of wine to the curate of St. Nicholas.

Among the “Fabliaux of the Thirteenth Century,” published by Le Grand, there is one entitled “La Bataille des Vins,” in which the author supposes that the King, Philip Augustus, causes to be brought to his table all known wines, national as well as foreign, in order to examine which are worthy of admission. The monarch is in this piece represented as a confirmed gourmet, and lover of good wine. From an account of the revenues of this king, left us by Brussel, we learn that in the matter of wines Philip loved variety, and wished to have a copious cellar, for he possessed vineyards at Bourges, at Soissons, at Compiegne, at Lân, at Beauvais, at Auxerre, Corbeil, Betesi, Orleans, Moret, Poissi, Gien, Anet, Chalevanc, Verberies, Fontainbleau, Rurecourt, Milli, Bois Commun, Samoi, and Auvers. Breton, in his Latin poem on Philip, counts the wines of Gascony and La Rochelle among the articles of commerce which Flanders took of France. The wines of Guyenne were not only sold in Flanders, but in much greater quantity in England. The same political considerations which induced us to close our ports twenty years ago to French wines unless on the payment of a very considerable import duty, caused us then to open them to the wines of a province subject to English authority. Matthew Paris, speaking of the discontent and bitterness which prevailed in[292] Gascony in 1251 against Henry III., states that public opinion was so exasperated, that these provinces would have revolted had they not need of England for the sale of their wine. A fact related by Froissart will give us an idea of the extent of the trade at that time. “In 1372,” says this historian, “there arrived from England, at Bordeaux, 209 sail of merchantmen, which came for wine.” Champier, who wrote about a century and a half after Froissart, remarks, that from his time England scarcely consumed any other wine or corn than that of France, and that, when this commerce was interrupted by war, England experienced a species of famine. “So that,” said he, “France may boast of having in her hands power of producing famine or abundance in England.”

Although the other French provinces had not such advantageous outlets for their commerce as Guyenne, the vine was, nevertheless, cultivated with an equal success. This may be seen by the “Fabliaux” cited, in which the French wines dispute the preference with foreign. These effects were solely brought about by the national industry; the government did nothing to recompense or favour it, and when it did concern itself about the French wine-trade its interference was injurious. The kingdom having experienced a scarcity, in consequence of the bad harvest of 1566, Charles IX. wrongly attributed the cause to the too great abundance of vines, and, like Domitian,[293] proscribed them. An ordonnance published by him directed that in each canton, or district, the vines should only occupy a third of the ground; the other two-thirds were to be converted into arable or pasture lands. In 1577 Henry III. modified the ordonnance of the king his brother, recommending to all the officers charged with the government of his provinces to see that the arable land was not left uncultivated to give place to an excessive plantation of the vine.

The edict published under the reign of Louis XV. was not so foolish as the preceding one. Many intendants of provinces having represented that the vines occupied an undue space of lands fitted for corn or pasturage; that it caused the dearness of wood; that it multiplied the quantity of wine to such an excess that the value and reputation were in a number of places destroyed; the king, in 1731, forbade any new plantation of vines, and directed that vineyards which had ceased to be cultivated for two years should no longer be continued.

It often happened that proprietors of wines, not being able to get rid of their article, preferred to sell it in retail. In this contingency they suspended to the threshold of their door a broom, a crown of ivy, or something similar. Those who wished to purchase carried a pot with them, and thence came the expression, vendre à pot. Some caused their wine to be announced by the public crier.


It will appear from what I have written that the attention paid to vine-dressing and the cultivation of the vine was the result of a perfect knowledge of husbandry.

I have already said that the wines of the ancients were racked and fined, but there seems to have been as much adulteration 1800 years ago as at the present moment. Adulterations are repeatedly mentioned in the classic writers. After the wine was made and underwent the secondary fermentation, it was placed in pitched skins, or in earthen vessels, denominated amphoræ, containing twenty-seven old English gallons.

That the ancients understood the process of maturing wines perfectly is evident from all the writers on the subject. After the wine was made and put into the vat, where it underwent the secondary fermentation, it was placed in pitched skins, closed with a lid of baked earth, and hermetically sealed.[31]

It were a curious task to trace how long domestic customs and utensils survive forms of polity and government. In glancing at such a subject, I merely remark that the amphoræ have outlived the Roman[295] emperors, the republic, nay even the Roman nation and people, and all their magnificent institutions. It is impossible now to pass forty-eight hours in the neighbourhood of Asti Montepulciano, Montefiascone, or any of the wine districts of Italy, without being struck with the identity to the amphoræ of those earthen vessels with two handles, holding from about eighteen to twenty quarts of our measure, which one sees in every cellar, and almost in every street. Suetonius tells us of a man who aspired to the quæstorship, and drank the contents of a whole amphora at a repast given by the Emperor Tiberius, “Ob epotam in convivo propinante se vini amphoram;” but, though there may be men in Scotland, or Scotchmen in England, who could carry away so much liquor and be none the worse for it, the capacity of any Englishman to do as much may be doubted.

The use of casks or wine hogsheads were unknown to the Greeks and Romans.[32] They could therefore only transport their wines in earthen vessels or skins, which in the older English authors are queerly and alliteratively called “borachio bottles.” The earthen vessels presented the inconvenience of being fragile, whilst the skins were subject to bursting, to become[296] insecure, &c. My late excellent and learned friend Dr. Henderson states, and truly, that the Romans occasionally employed glass. They undoubtedly did so; but the accomplished historian of wines is wrong when he affirms that they brought the manufacture of glass to a great degree of perfection; for nothing, on the contrary, can be more common than those specimens of glass found in Pompeii, and those drinking-cups and lachrymatories, various specimens of which may be seen in the Museo Borbonico at Naples. That glass, however, was used at table in those days appears certain from a passage in which he speaks of those glass magnums or jugs, as being large and closed with a species of plaster or Roman cement. “Adlatæ sunt amphoræ vitreæ diligenter gypsatæ.” He elsewhere says, “Amphoras copiosas gypsatas ne effluat vinum.”

All the Latin authors agree that the ingenious invention of casks is due to the Gauls, who established themselves along the banks of the Po; but we are entirely ignorant if the Greeks knew the cooper’s art before they left their native country, or if they invented casks and hogsheads after their transmigration beyond the Alps. Notwithstanding the incontestable superiority of casks over skins, these latter continued to be still used. That they were much in vogue would appear from one of the capitularies of Charlemagne, in which, glancing at the prevalence of skins, he forbids his people to use any other vessels[297] than good barrels (bonos barridos) hooped with iron.

At the Roman entertainments there was a particular part of the convivial room set apart for the reception of the wines. Here the various vessels and drinking-cups were ranged on a table called αβαξ, or abacus. This was generally of marble, in the form of a long square, not unlike the modern sideboard. From the account which Philo Judæus gives of the number of vessels placed on it, it must have been very large. Pliny, speaking of the rich spoils exhibited by Pompey in the triumph he obtained for his victories over the pirates, says that the number of drinking vessels adorned with jewels was sufficient to furnish nine abaci: “Triumpho quem de piratis Asia, Ponto, egit, transtulit lectos tridiniares tres; vasa ex auro et gemmis abacorum novem.”[33] Cicero charges Verres with having plundered the abaci, “Ab hoc iste abaci vasa omnia ut exposita fuerant abstulit,” and Dr. Barry, in giving this quotation, misquotes it, “In abacis erant abstulit.” These articles of luxury, according to Livy, were imported from Asia first as luxuries, but soon, like all other superfluous wants, they became necessaries. The ancients had, like the moderns, servants like our butlers, specially charged with the care of the wine. The office necessarily required judgment and[298] experience. The head butler is called by Pollux οἰνοπτης. His business was to inspect the wines before and after they had been prepared, and mixed in another apartment. When they were placed on the abacus, he stood there as a modern butler or maître d’hôtel does at our side-boards, and gave his orders to the underlings and slaves. The next in office under the butler was the pinceran or οἰνοχοος, which we should render as the pourer out of wine, or cup-bearer, the word being used in this sense both by Homer and Xenophon. This man received all his directions from the butler, and by him and his acolytes the wines were regularly prepared and distributed to the guests. Of these inferior ministering agents there were many, and of different degrees. It was a part of the luxury of the times to be waited on by beautiful boys, purchased at high prices, who served the master and the superior guests; but the inferior ones and those of meaner condition were served by African slaves of coarse appearance, woolly-headed, and of most unsavoury odour. Notwithstanding the number of servants and slaves, many mistakes unavoidably happened in the mixture of wine. Nor is this wonderful when it is considered that the host and his guests called for wine variously diluted either with hot or cold water, and occasionally for whatever strong wine was agreeable to them. Cicero, describing a supper, alludes to the symposium of Xenophon, where the wines were prepared by hot water and[299] afterwards cooled in snow: “Et pocula sicut in symposio Xenophontis minuta atque rorantia et refrigeratio in æstate, et vicissim aut sol, aut ignis hibernus.” Of the quantity of wine drank on these occasions we have no very certain account. Pliny says that Democritus wrote a volume to prove that no one ought to exceed the fourth or sixth glass; but instances have been given of persons who have drunk a congius or gallon in one draught.

There are many who think that the cooling of wine by snow is a modern invention; but that this system was perfectly known to the Greeks and Romans, as I before observed, is sufficiently evident. The vessels which contained the wine mixed with boiled water were immersed in the snow, and such wine is particularly distinguished by Martial. This invention is ascribed by Pliny to Nero, who prided himself more on this improvement in luxury than Augustus did in encouraging the fine arts.

It was a common practice at the convivial meetings of the Greeks and Romans to drink, not only to the healths of distinguished individuals, but to the absent friends and mistresses of the guests. The greater or less number of cups afforded an indication of the respect in which the person whose health was toasted was held. The numerous coincidences which exist between the convivial customs of past ages and the present are thus succinctly summed up by Dr. Henderson:—“If we compare the ceremonies and[300] usages of the Romans with the convivial customs of the present day, we cannot but be struck with the numerous coincidences which subsist between them. The arrangements of our dinners, the succession and composition of the different courses, the manner of filling our glasses, of pledging our friends, and of drinking particular healths, are all evidently copied from the Greeks and Romans.[34] With another modern nation, however, which has been thought to resemble the ancient Greeks in character, the analogy is still more complete. Thus, at all entertainments among the French, the ordinary wine is used with a large admixture of water, generally in the proportion of one to three, except immediately after soup, when it is drunk pure. The finer kinds are circulated in the intervals between the courses, or towards the end of the repast, and hence are termed vins d’entremets; but with particular dishes certain wines are served, as chablis with oysters, and sillery after roast meat. The coup-d’avant of vermuth has been already noticed as corresponding with the draught of mulsum; and the coup du milieu, which consists of some liqueur, ‘quod fluentem nauseam coerceat,’ may be regarded as identical with the cup of sweet wine handed round in the middle of a Grecian feast. With[301] dessert the luscious sweet wines are always introduced.”

The doctor makes a slight mistake in regarding the coup du milieu as identical with the cup of Greek sweet wine. The coup, which was drunk immediately after the roast, consisted, and still consists, of a bitter or spirituous, or sometimes a bitter and spirituous cordial (and not of a sweet wine), taken as a stomachic. It is swallowed, according to the “Manuel des Amphitryons,” to give tone to the fibres of the stomach, and “pour accélérer le mouvement péristaltique qui produit la digestion.” The Swiss extract of wormwood, Jamaica rum, or very old cognac, is used for the purpose. It is to the city of Bordeaux, so dear to gourmands and gourmets, that this invention is due. It is a trait of genius, says the author of the “Almanach des Gourmands,” which enables one to make a second dinner, and which doubles the power and capacity of the weakest stomachs. Between the roast and the entremetsi.e., towards the middle of the dinner, you see at Bordeaux the doors of the dining-room open, when a girl about eighteen, tall, fair, and well-proportioned, her features beaming with an air of engaging alluringness, appears. Her sleeves are turned up to the very shoulders, and she holds in one hand a mahogany frame, in which are ranged as many small glasses as there are guests; and in the other a crystal decanter filled with Jamaica rum, or wormwood, or vermuth, though this latter[302] beverage more properly belongs to the coup-d’avant. Thus armed the Hebe makes the round of the table, and pours out to each guest a glass of the bitter nectar it is her business to distribute. The effect of the coup du milieu is stated to be almost magical in renewing the appetite, but on what principle it produces this result physicians must determine. The coup-d’avant is little practised in Paris, though greatly used in Russia, Sweden, and the north of Germany. It consists of a large glass of vermuth, or of simple brandy, which is presented to each of the guests by way of appetiser. Physicians differ in opinion as to the virtues of the coup-d’avant: it is said rather to dispose the stomach to digestion; but, be this as it may, the Russian stomachs, where the coup-d’avant is so much practised, are far more vigorous than the English or French. It may be that from the effects of the climate some such stimulant is required. The coup-d’après consists, as Dr. Henderson states, of half a glass of pure wine taken immediately after the soup. This is considered so salutary a practice, that it is proverbially said to take a crown out of the pocket of the physician. The wine offered for the coup-d’après in France is generally a good Beaune or Macon; whilst in England it is commonly sherry or Madeira. In any event it should be a good sound wine; for the palate, at that early stage of a dinner, is most sensible to taste and flavour.


As to the wine-cellars of the ancients, we know little certain. Vitruvius directs that they should have a northern aspect, that the doors and windows should be placed in the same direction, that the doors should be small and seldom opened, and then to renew, not to alter, the temperature of the air. Care was also taken that the cellar should not be near a dung-heap, nor roots of trees, nor vegetables, nor anything fetid; and it was also as far removed as possible from the vicinage of baths, ovens, sewers, cisterns, and reservoirs. Women were also strictly forbidden to enter within the cellar walls. Barry would have it that the Greeks and Romans had extended vaults under ground, but against this theory Henderson cites Pancirollus, who is of opinion that the ancients were not in the practice of having repositories of wine under ground like our modern cellars. That their repositories for wine must have been extensive there is no doubt, for it is stated that Hortensius bequeathed to his heirs 10,000 cadi of wine, about 410 tons of our measure. From the rules of the ancients, and the principles laid down, Barry properly points out certain defects in our modern wine-cellars in the following passages:—

“The size of the cellar ought to be in proportion to the quantity of wine for which it is designed; and it is more easy to defend a small cellar from the admission of a greater quantity of the external air, and to renew it occasionally, than one of a larger[304] size. The situation ought to be low and dry; therefore, not on any great declivity, where the undercurrents from the superior ground must always keep it moist, and infect the air with its putrid exhalations; this communication, however, may be prevented by intermediate trenches.

“A small anti-cellar built before all large cellars would be a considerable defence and improvement to them, in which a quantity of wine sufficient for a few days may be kept, and the necessity prevented of more frequently opening the large cellar, and admitting the external air, which must always in some degree alter the temperature of it, and in sudden or continued great heats or frosts, may be particularly injurious to the wine.

“It is usual to cover the bottles in the bins with sawdust, to which I should prefer dry sand, the density of which is much greater. I saw a remarkable instance of the benefit arising from an intermediate defence of this kind. A hogshead of claret, which had been lately bottled, was heaped up in a corner of a merchant’s common large cellar, with a view of removing it soon to the wine-cellar. In the meantime a load of salt, from the want of a more convenient place, was thrown on the bottles, and remained there several months before it was removed. This wine was afterwards found to be much superior to the wine of the same growth, which had been imported and bottled about the same time, and had been immediately[305] placed in the wine-cellar. The large quantity of salt formed a compact vault over the bottles, which entirely defended the wine from the influence of the air, though greatly exposed to it; and probably the coldness of the salt contributed to this improvement.

“The ancients certainly more effectually preserved their wine in larger earthen vessels, pitched externally, than we can in our bottles, as they are more capable, from their superior density and capacity, of resisting the frequent changes in the air; and it is a common observation, that the wine received into bottles which contain two quarts proves better than that which has been kept in single quarts.”

Of the truth of this latter remark there can be no doubt, as any who have tasted a pint and a quart bottle of wine out of the same hogshead will freely admit.

It is no doubt true that many of the usages adopted by the ancients for preserving and mellowing their wines have fallen into disrepute; but their rules for the site and construction of a wine-cellar—some of which I have quoted—their observations on the proper time for tasting and racking wines, are still sanctioned by modern practice.

Wine of a middle age was then, according to Pliny, as indeed it now is, to be preferred, as being the most wholesome and grateful; but then in ancient times it was the fashion, as it is in our own day, to place the greatest value on what was rarest. Thus[306] extravagant sums were given for wines not drinkable, or in a state of decomposition. Who does not know that within the past forty years twelve guineas a dozen was given for Mr. Pattle’s sherry, and half as much for some sherry once the property of the late Sir John Leach, Vice-Chancellor.

Though the ancients often drank very freely, yet no one was obliged to drink on compulsion. The doors were never locked, as they were fifty years ago in Ireland, five and fifty years ago in Scotland, or little more than half a century ago in England. Large cups and more generous wines were frequently brought in, but no one was obliged to drink or to stay. If the guest did not drink on he departed, according to the old convivial rule, “Aut bibe, aut abi.” Some of the wisest sages of antiquity were as great sponges as some of the modern Scots. For instance, Socrates, whether he lived abstemiously or drank copiously, was equally unexcited, equally unaltered; and the very same remark might be made on a remarkable man lately deceased. Cyrus, among other reasons which he urges why he should gain the crown in preference to his elder brother, insists on his being able to drink a larger quantity of wine without being inebriated; for Artaxerxes was not only occasionally subject to getting “right royal,” vulgo vocato, drunk, but also to the infirmity of losing his temper to boot. Athenæus mentions that Darius desired no greater encomium should be engraved[307] on his tomb than that he was able to drink a great quantity of wine without being inebriated.

In his third book the Father of Medicine gives a description of the general qualities and strength of the Greek wines, and of the peculiar medical virtues which they possessed. He likewise points out in what diseases, and in what quantities, they are to be used, so as to render them salutary and innoxious. It is remarkable that Hippocrates rarely directs water alone, but almost invariably orders its exhibition with wine, or combined with honey and vinegar. Water was no doubt the basis of all his cooling drinks; but there was always added to it a moderate proportion of the weak white wines, to render it more effectually diluting. To the infirm and valetudinarian, wine is a necessary comfort beyond all price. When a patient has been long habituated to the use of it, a change in diet cannot be suffered without danger.

There is a remarkable instance of this afforded in the case of the celebrated physician Cornaro, who always revived just after the vintage, when he left off the old and decaying wines of the last vintage, and commenced drinking the new. The passage is in the account which he gives of the rules by which he repaired his constitution, injured as it was by excesses, till the period when he was forty years old. By the régime he prescribed to himself, it is well[308] known he preserved his health and spirits to the age of 100. The efficacy of his system depended on his taking a certain quantity of solids and fluids every day. The fluid consisted entirely of wine, but he gradually diminished the quantity of each as he advanced in years. During this period he enjoyed an equal state of health, except that sometimes, before the vintage returned and the new wine was made, he quickly became so weak and languid that his physicians declared he could not possibly continue to survive many days in that declining state. “But on the return of the vintage,” says he, “and on taking the same quantity of new wine, I very quickly recovered my usual strength and spirits.” The same effect is observed, to compare animals with men, among the mules of Jamaica. When the new sugar-canes are being gathered in, the most exhausted animal, fed on the fresh sugar-canes, gains a revival of strength.

The Romans were in the habit of pitching their wine, nor can it be doubted that the Gauls also followed their example in this respect, with a view to render them more saleable in the Italian markets. The Allobroges had a peculiar pitch, with which they smeared their puncheons, after the manner of the wine-growers of Latium. Many etymologists suggest that the French word poinçon, adopted in many of the French provinces to signify a puncheon common to them, is derived from the vas piceum, of which it is[309] an abbreviation.[35] These, however, are but conjectures, and why should we resort to conjectures in the face of formal proof? Such were the two charters of Charles the Bald in favour of the monasteries of St. Denis and St. Germain des Près. By the first (A.D. 862), the emperor makes an annual grant to the abbey of ten silver livres, for the purchase of the necessary pitch for casks; by the second he grants to the other convent twenty pounds of soap and of pitch, “ad vasa vinaria componenda.” The soap, of which a grant is here made with the pitch, leads me to infer that there were persons who, not content with laying a coat of pitch on their casks, composed a peculiar mastic in mixing the soap and some other substance with the pitch, after the manner of the Romans.

Strabo, in giving a description of Latium (the modern Lombardy), and an idea of the abundance of its vines, says that the puncheons were taller than the houses. It is probable that the Gauls established in these parts, or their descendants, seeing that the ordinary casks were insufficient, or that[310] there was not cellar-room for them, invented those monster puncheons of which the geographer speaks, and which were long ago, and are now, in common use in Germany. But the French, for the most part, in lieu of these not very solid vessels, preferred to construct their wine-tubs or vats, in brick or in stone. De Serres states that, even so late as 1600, many persons thus constructed their vats. It is true, he says, the wine took a longer time to ferment in these receptacles than in wooden tubs; but they were most easily cleaned, contracted no bad taste, lasted longer, and required little or no outlay to keep them in repair. But though these cisterns might be serviceable to the proprietor as a repository for his wine, he was obliged, when he sold it, to have recourse to casks or skins. The skins, notwithstanding the many inconveniences they presented, were long used for that purpose. I have before stated that Charlemagne forbade them in the cellars of his palace. Pierre de Blois, declaiming, in the twelfth century, against the luxury of the chevaliers, represents them as leading horses laden with skins of wine, and all the “creature comforts” that announce gluttony and drunkenness:—“Non ferro, sed vino; non lanceis, sed caseis; non ensibus, sed utribus; non hastis, sed verubus onerantur.”

At the repast which Philippe de Valois gave to the kings of Scotland, of Majorca, and of Bohemia, there was on the royal dresser (le dressour royal) no[311] plate of gold or silver, but only a leathern bottle, in which was the wine of the princes and kings who sat at the festal board. In order to understand this passage, which is extracted from a very old work, it is necessary to mention that, in the time of Philip, there were no bottles, nor were they known for many years afterwards. Wine, at this epoch, in the royal establishment as elsewhere, was drunk from the cask. If many sorts were given at an entertainment, as often happened on occasions of great ceremony—in that event many casks were tapped, and the remains of all belonged to the grand bouteiller. Travellers on horseback, who were apprehensive of not finding wine on the road, carried with them a species of leathern bottle attached to the saddle. In the “Life of St. Maur” we read that, travelling to visit one of the farms of his monastery, he saw suddenly arrive Ansgaire, archdeacon of the church of Angers. The holy abbé wished to refresh him. Unfortunately, there was no other wine at the farmer’s than the little which remained attached to the saddle-bow of St. Maur, “in uno parvissimo vasculo quod ad sellam pendere consuerit.” But the holy man, says the historian, supplied the deficiency by a miracle, and multiplied this remains of the liquor so exceedingly, that it sufficed to quench the thirst of seventy-eight persons who were there present.

In the thirteenth century the vessels of which I have been speaking were called bouchaus, boutiaux,[312] bouties, or boutilles. When the gentry of that day wished to make a long journey, or were on their way to the wars, they took bottles with them of considerable capacity. It appears, by an early charter, that when the Bishop of Amiens marched thus in the arrière ban, the tanners of the city were obliged to furnish him with two good and sufficient leather bottles, one holding a muid and the other twenty-four sétiers of wine. The butchers were, on their part, bound to furnish the grease to cover these bottles. If cover means to cork, as the sense would seem to indicate, it was certainly a strange process to seal a canteen destined for the keeping and transport of wine. These boutiaux, or boutilles, took the name of bouteilles, or bottles. This name was afterwards applied to the decanters which were subsequently used. On the first indication of madness presented by Charles VI., on his journey to Brittany, the officers of his household, who had preceded him, served him with drink; and being suspected of having poisoned him, the Duke of Burgundy, who accompanied them, caused them to undergo an interrogatory: but they protested their innocence, says Froissart, and offered to prove it, as there remained in the bottles a portion of the wine of which the king had drunk. There can be no doubt that the bottles here spoken of were made of leather.

It now remains for me to touch on those wines which have enjoyed the greatest reputation, from the conquest[313] of the Franks to the present time. The earlier writers offer little on this subject. Gregory of Tours speaks of the wines of Maçon, Orleans, Cahors, and Dijon. The wines of Auvergne are spoken of in a “Life of St. Germain,” written in verse by Heric, who lived under Charles the Bald; and there is mention of those of Rheims and of the River Marne, in a letter of Pandulus, Bishop of Lan, to Hircanar. Baldric, or Baudri, author of a Latin poem which Mabillon has cited in the “Benedictine Annals,” says that Henry I. greatly esteemed the wine of Rébréchien (area Bacchi), near Orleans, and that when he went to the army he took a provision with him to animate his courage. There is a letter of Louis le Jeune, written from the Holy Land to Suger and to the Comte de Vermandois, regents of the kingdom in his absence, by which he directs them to give to his intimate friend, Arnould, Bishop of Lisieux, sixty modii of his excellent wine of Orleans. “Dilecto et præcordiali amico, Lexoviensi Episcopo, sexaginta Aurelianenses modios de meo optimo vino Aurelianensi dare non reanatis.” It is probable that this wine of Orleans was the wine called Rébréchien. It is said that the greater number of the Orleanais are one-eyed, lame, and hump-backed, which is attributed by some, most inconsequentially, to the wine of Orleans.

A fabliau of the twelfth century has come down to us which gives us a list of the best reputed wines of[314] that day. Among the wines of the provinces the poet vaunts those of the Gatinias, d’Auxois, d’Anjou, and of Provence. Over the list of the particularly celebrated wines we will not now travel. Suffice it to say, that Burgundy was then renowned for its wine of Auxerre, Beaune, Beauvoisins, Flavigni, and Vermanton; Champagne for its Chabli (not Chablis, the Burgundy wine of the department of the Yonne), Epernai, Rheims, Hauvilliers, Sczanne, Tonnerre.

This production represents the Beaune wine of a yellow colour, inclining to the shade of an ox’s horn. It is very difficult to have a precise idea of such a colour. When the popes in the thirteenth century transported their pontificial chair to Avignon, the table of their holinesses, and of all their principal officers, were furnished with wine from the monastery of Cluni. This was probably a wine of Beaune; for Petrarch, writing in 1366 to Urban V. to engage him to come to Rome, and combatting the different reasons which retained the cardinals beyond the mountains, says, “I have heard it sometimes alleged that there was no Beaune wine in Italy. When, in 1510, the ambassadors sent by the Emperor Maximilian to Louis XII., travelled across France to find the prince at Tours, where he was, the queen, on their passage through Blois, sent them fresh sea-fish, with three barrels of old wine of Beaune and Orleans.”

There is a great deal of fashion and caprice in the rise and fall of wines. The reputation of different[315] vintages may be compared to the characters of certain men. To rise above the crowd, it does not alone suffice to be possessed of real merit. Sometimes favourable circumstances or a happy chance is needed, which is more often sought than found. It has happened to us all to have drunk in a remote spot delicious wines, which only needed the recommendation of a consummate gourmet to obtain instantaneous vogue. It may also occasionally chance that a vineyard which, for a long time had but an indifferent reputation, may, by the industry of a new proprietor, by peculiar processes of making the wine, or by a better cultivation of the grape, become more perfect than it had been before. There are hundreds of examples of this, of which one may be cited. Who does not know that the wine of Romanée, so famed for more than a century (the estate on which it grows has since been purchased by the Prince of Conti), owes its celebrity to a Sieur de Cromanbourg, a German officer in the service of France, who, having married the heiress of this vineyard, rendered it at length one of the first in Burgundy. In each century some of the wines of the preceding fall in repute, and new vintages arise to take their place. Eustace des Champs (who died about 1420), in the numerous poetical MSS. which he has left, cites the vines of Burgundy, Gascony, La Rochelle, Chabli, St. Pourcain, Beaune, and Orleans, which had been already cited by authors anterior to him; but he also[316] mentions the names of many new wines,—“Aï, Aussone, Cumières, Dameri, Germoles, Givri, Gonesse, Iranci, Mantes, Pinos, Tournus, Troy, and Verlus.” It was said more than seventy years ago that the wine of France which best bears transport is the wine of Mantes; and, in continuation of this fact, a French traveller of the sixteenth century is cited, who carried some of this wine to Persia without its being in the least injured. If this fact be true, it is not unexampled nor peculiar to the wine of Mantes.

It appears that, in the fifteenth century, Burgundy and Champagne disputed the palm among the wines of France. If Burgundy had its Beaune, Champagne had its Aï. These two wines were counted among the best in France. “This last,” says Patin, “is the wine that Baudius called Vinum Dei at the house of De Thou.” Paumier, in his “Treatise on Wine,” written in 1588, says it was the ordinary beverage of kings and princes. It is certainly true that Leo X., Charles V., Francis I., and Henry VIII. had each a vineyard in Champagne; and St. Evremond alludes to the circumstance in a letter to the Duke d’Olonne. Burgundy was, at this period, considered the wholesomest, the most cordial, and the most generous of wines. Erasmus, being tormented with nephritic pains, which he attributed to the harsh and bitter wines of the Rhine, took to drinking burgundy exclusively, and soon became perfectly restored. “Sic enim subito recreatus est stomachus,” says he, “ut[317] mihi viderer renatus in alium hominem.” He has left us, in one of his letters, the praise of a liquor to which he was indebted for health. “Happy province!” he exclaims: “well may Burgundy be called the mother of man, suckling him with such milk!” He who first taught the art of making this wine ought to be considered, not merely as having gratified us with a new liquor, but as having given to us new life.

Champier makes a remark, which is truer now than it was in the sixteenth century, namely, that there was no country on earth which had such excellent, or a variety of such admirable wines, as France. He counts among this number the wine of Arbois and the muscat of Languedoc; and tells us that, in Arbois and Hainault, there was a demand for Beaune wine, but that the remaining portion of Flanders preferred the wines of Orleans. Beaujeau vaunts the wines of La Crau; and Rabelais those of Auxerre, Mirevaux, Migraine, Canteperdrix, and Frontignan. At the repast which the King of France gave, in 1602, to the Swiss ambassadors, Canteperdrix wine was served. Madame de Noyer (in her “Lettres Historiques et Galantes”) says that this may well be called the wine of the gods, since it was sent to Rome for the private drinking of the holy father. There is no such wine as Canteperdrix known, in the present day, by that special designation. It is now called the vin de Beaucaire,[318] and is a red wine of Languedoc. As to the wine of Arbois, it was the favourite beverage of Henry IV., as we learn from an anecdote related in Sully. When the Duke of Mayenne had laid down his arms, and treated with Henry IV., the king, in order to fix the fidelity of his vassal, gave him two bottles of Arbois wine. “Car,” said the lively, good-hearted monarch, “je pense, mon cousin, que vous ne le haïssez pas.” When Sully, being created duke and peer, gave a grand repast on the day of his reception, the king surprised him by appearing among the number of the guests. “But,” says the duke, “as he was hungry, and they were dilatory in serving the dinner, he ate, in the interval, some oysters, which he washed down with wine of Arbois.” And a good preparation for a dinner it was.

Paumier, a Norman physician, has written a treatise on wines, in which he counts four different colours,—white, red, blackish, and œil de perdrix, i.e., reddish. He says that France then produced no red wine which was sweet, excepting in the Bordelais, in which district there were red and black wines of great sweetness. His description of the wines of Gascony is, that they were hot, vinous, easy of digestion, and of a red or partridge-eyed colour. This description, in two particulars holds good to the letter to the present day. These wines are still vinous and easy of digestion, but they are not hot, nor are they generally[319] of a partridge-colour until they are old, and in a state bordering on decomposition. The doctor further states that the wines of Château Thierry were agreeable, but so dangerous, that the greater part of the inhabitants were afflicted with the gout from their tender infancy, and died before they attained the ordinary age.

Château Thierry is on the borders of Champagne, and, whatever may have been the case in the time of Paumier, in the sixteenth century, it is certainly not true in the nineteenth that the inhabitants have the gout from their earliest years, or that they die so prematurely. But their wine is still good. “The red wine of the Clos de St. Thierry, a league from Rheims, is of a quality between burgundy and champagne, and is very highly esteemed by the connoissieur.” The idea of having the gout prematurely is preposterous. The gout is a disease scarcely known in Champagne; and, if it be very common in England, as must be admitted, after occasional excesses, it does not arise from the drinking of champagne solely, to which it is most frequently attributed, but from the mixture of a variety of wines, champagne among the number.

Baccius, in his treatise “De Viniis,” printed at Rome in 1596, has a chapter on the wines of France. He praises the wines of Arles, Beziers, Bordeaux, Frontignan, Gaillac, and St. Laurent. Nor does he omit the wines of Avignon, which arrived in[320] small barrels, hooped with iron; the white wines which sparkle out of the glass, and which please the smell as much as the taste (probably he means champagne); and the wines of Paris, which yield the palm to none in the kingdom. What Paumier says of the wines of Paris will appear, at present, very strange. The contempt with which the wines of the neighbourhood of the metropolis of France are at present treated will appear the more extraordinary when it is known that they enjoyed, for fourteen centuries previously, the highest reputation.

Liebaut praises, in a bad poem, written in 1605, the wines of Ruel and Surenne; and the Abbé de Marolles those of Surenne, Argenteuil, and St. Cloud; “which,” says he, “are pure, and not unwholesome.” Paumier is endless in his praises of the wines of Paris, which have not the inconvenience of drying up the blood, like those of Gascony; do not fly to the head, like those of Château Thierry and Orleans; and do not occasion obstructions and humours, like those of Bordeaux. According to him, burgundy, when it has lost its roughness, and is in its best state, may be alone compared to the wine of the environs of Paris. Patin, writing in 1669, says, “Long live the bread of Gonesse, with the good wine of Paris, Burgundy, and Champagne!” Chaulieu, in a piece of poetry written in 1702, represents his friend, the Marquis de la Fare, as going often to Surenne to drink the wine:—


“Et l’on m’ecrit qu’ à Surênne,
Au cabaret on a vu
La Fare et la bon Silène,
Qui pour en avoir trop bu,
Retrouvoient la porte à peine,
D’un lieu qu’ils ont tant connu.”

These wines are now all forgotten, and, with the exception of the vin de Condrieux, exist no longer. Who could have imagined this a century ago? and how “has it come to pass?” May it not have been, as Le Grand d’Aussy suggests, that the proprietors, blinded by the bait of a sure and speedy sale, which the proximity of the capital afforded, were guilty of the imprudence of neglecting the proper cultivation of the vines, or chose plants of an inferior quality. It was remarked, more than two centuries ago, that the reputation of the Orleans wines was owing to the manner of making them. It appears that the inhabitants of Orleans, like wise and sensible men, confined themselves to that object alone, making it their only occupation. Over the minutest details they exercised supervision and control; whereas the Lyonnais and the Parisians purchased a wine estate, rather as a showy bauble than as a matter of commerce, and completely surrendered the management to paid agents. “Whence comes it,” says Liebaut, “that you rarely hear a native of Orleans or a Bourguignon complain of his vines, whilst the complaints of a Parisian are iteratively urged?” The[322] reason is that one occupies himself personally in the matter, whilst the other trusts to an ignorant or knavish vine-dresser.

To Francis I., and the grandees of his court, Champier attributes the discredit into which the wines of the neighbourhood of Paris had commenced to fall. “These personages,” says he, “having had their taste blunted by good cheer, found the Parisian wines poor and weak. They, therefore, fell on the strong and vigorous wines of the south of France, which they obtained at considerable cost.”

The Auvernat wine of Orleans, so praised by the Abbé de Marolles, is thus severely treated by Boileau,—

“Un laquais effronté m’apporte un rouge bord
D’un Auvernat fumeux, qui mêlé de lignage;
Se vendoit chez creuet pour vin de l’hermitage;
Et qui rouge et vermeil, mais fade et doucereux,
N’avoit rien qu’on goût plat, et qu’un déboire affreux.”

The first time I find mention of a vin de Grave is towards the year 1550. If we are to judge from the testimony of Madame de Sévigné, it was indifferently esteemed in her day. In speaking of M. de Lavardin, who is stated by St. Evremont to have been Bishop of Metz, she says, “C’est un gros mérite qui ressemble au vin de Grave.” The district of Graves yields from 1000 to 1500 tuns, generally of a lively and brilliant colour, with more body than the vines of Medoc, but less bouquet, raciness, and fineness.[323] The Graves are so termed from the nature of the soil which produces them. Formerly the appellation was confined to the white sorts; but it now comprehends the red as well as white wines which grow on the gravelly lands to the south-east and south-west of Bordeaux. The Haut-Brion ranks highest amongst the red wines, and approaches in quality to some of the better sorts of Burgundy; but it wants the fine perfume by which the Medoc wines are distinguished.

The vins de Grave are an excellent table wine, and very proper to be taken with oysters, if Chablis cannot be obtained. But little mention is made of the Hermitage wine till the seventeenth century. But if its reputation was tardy, it was at least brilliant. As soon as it became known at the court, it was placed in the first rank of wines. “The king,” wrote Patin, in 1666, “has made a present to the King of England of 200 muids of very good wine of Champagne, Burgundy, and Hermitage.” Boileau, soon afterwards, speaks of it as a wine of first quality. The best white Hermitage I ever drank was a parcel purchased at the sale of the late Marquis of Londonderry’s wines in St. James’s Square, after the death of Emily, Marchioness of Londonderry, in 1828. It was really exquisite,—a perfect liqueur in its way.

“Hermitage wine is divided into five classes. It is styled by the French the richest coloured in their great variety of wines, but it differs much with the seasons as to quality. Red Hermitage will not keep[324] more than twenty years without altering. The price of the first class is often as high as 550 francs the piece of 210 litres. The other growths or classes sell from 450 down to 300, and even as low as 250 francs the piece. When the season is bad, and the wine of moderate quality, the wine of the first growth will not bring more than 250, and of the last, 120 francs.

“Red Hermitage, when it is of the first quality, is not bottled for exportation until it has been four or five years in the cask, in which, as well as in bottles, it is generally sold at that age. The price, in the former case is high, even if the quality be moderate.

“The white Hermitage is made of white grapes only, and divided into three growths. This is the finest white wine France produces. Its colour should be straw-yellow; its odour is like that of no other known wine. It is of a rich taste, between that of the dry and luscious wines. It is often in a state of fermentation for two years, but it is never delivered to the consumer, if it can be avoided, until fermentation is complete. The quantity of real white Hermitage does not exceed 120 pieces annually.”

The reputation acquired by the Burgundy wines was due to an accidental circumstance. Louis XIV. having fallen ill, the physicians advised him the vin de Nuits as the most pectoral and proper to re-establish his health; and thence the reputation which this class of wine has ever since enjoyed. The memoir of the[325] Intendant of Burgundy tells us that the wines of Tonnerre were, in 1698, very much sought after by the Flemish. The vin de Tonnerre is fine, full-flavoured wine, of great body, and very suitable to a damp, cold climate. It is not unlike first-rate old port, but far superior in bouquet and fragrancy. The finest ever drank by me was at the château of the Marquis de Louvois, at Ancy-le-France, and had been grown on his own estate.

The Abbé de Marolles, in his translation of Martial, gives a list of the wines for which Burgundy was renowned in his day, and here they are. The wines of Auxerre, Beaune, Coulanges, Joigny, Irancé, Vermanton, and Tonnerre, “which some people prefer,” says he, “to all other wine” (“que quelques-uns préférent à tous les autres”).

The wine of Tonnerre is certainly particularly calculated for the cold and foggy climate of Burgundy, or for any portion of England. Henderson thus alludes to the vin de Tonnerre:—“The department of the Yonne furnishes several excellent red wines, of which those of Tonnerre and Auxerre have been long celebrated.”

Redding is more copious and careful in his remarks on the Burgundies. “The wines of Tonnerre,” says he, “of the finest kind fetch ninety francs the hectolitre on an average; and the other wines in gradation from sixty to thirty-five. The wine of Olivotte, one of the best, has good flavour, is fine, and of excellent[326] colour, but it lacks the true bouquet, unless in very favourable years. The communes which furnish the best wines are Tonnerre, Epineuil, Dannemonie, for the finer red wines.”

The country round Tonnerre has many distinguished vineyards; as those of Pitoy, de Perrière, and Des Preaux. Near these localities is situated the famous vineyard called Des Olivottes, already spoken of, which produces wines of a good colour, much body, and particularly spirituous. They are at the same time fine and delicate, and possess aromatic flavour and bouquet. Among the white wines of Burgundy is the Chablis, so universally used with oysters, both in France and on the Continent generally. The best classes of Chablis, produced at four leagues from Auxerre, rank among the second classes of white Burgundy. Chablis is not always to be procured good in England, more especially in the provinces; but such as desire a light, pleasant wine with their oysters, may swallow a tumbler of Chablis or Sauterne, or vin de Pouilly, or a large glass of good Bucellas, a wine possessing the fragrancy and bouquet of the Rhenish, with the warm, aromatic, and cordial flavour of the best Spanish and Portuguese wines. Bucellas is produced at about six leagues from Lisbon; it is preferred to the dry wine of Setuval, and is stronger than Barsac. It is, however, like all delicate wines, irretrievably injured by an admixture of brandy. Care should therefore[327] be taken to procure it from a trustworthy source.

To return to the vins de Bourgogne. It would take a volume to describe the different species of Burgundy. It is the vinous product most noted in France for its exquisite flavour, bouquet, and delicacy; but Burgundy is nevertheless a wine which least bears transport even on land, whilst transport by sea is too often fatal to its fragrance and flavour. Within the last thirty years I have imported three parcels, one of which was completely spoiled. The two others (one I procured through the good offices of my late friend the celebrated Mauguin, deputy for Burgundy) arrived soundly and uninjured; but the merchants had taken care to envelope the bottles in a thick paper, very much like cotton wadding, and to encase the wine in two casks, the inner hogshead being smeared over with a composition formed of plaster of Paris and other ingredients of which I am ignorant. Burgundy is also frequently exported, more especially to Russia and America, enveloped in salt. The Burgundy wines are divided into numerous classes. In the quantity yielded, as well as in the quality, these classes differ hugely.

“That of the first class,” says Redding, “is small in quantity, and, if any other wine be mingled with it, is certain to be injured irreparably. From hence it may be judged how little the common wine of Portugal can claim to be classed high in the list of[328] superior wines, when from six to ten gallons of brandy are added to each pipe. The difference in the effect of wine that intoxicates from the presence of a large admixture of alcohol, and that which exhilarates from its native qualities alone, is very singular. The pure wine, by the accurate blending of the constituent parts, even where there has been a habit of free indulgence, never leaves those distressing effects upon the constitution which are caused by drinking wine and unblended alcohol.”

The author of the “Topographie des Vignobles” says that the vineyards of Burgundy cover 103,000 hectares; the produce, on the average, being 2,550,000 hectolitres of wine, 70,000 of which are consumed in the country. The vineyards have increased very much since the Revolution, many landowners having converted into vineyards low and marshy lands; others having introduced manures, or carried new earth upon the old to increase the crop; others, again, have substituted young for the old plants, and even common plants for the fine and superior growths of the vine. This has caused a degeneracy in the wines in the opinion of the purchaser; but, notwithstanding the increase in low and common wines, the number of good vineyards have, in the opinion of good judges, likewise increased. But little has been written in England on the subject of vineyards since the time of Arthur Young, whose work on France was published at Bury St. Edmund’s in 1794,[329] seventy years ago. The most modern journal giving an account of the Burgundy vineyards that I have met with is the journal of Mr. James Busby, published originally in New South Wales, and reprinted by Smith, Elder, and Co. several years ago.

It is no common thing, according to the best authorities, for a hogshead of red Burgundy wine to fetch from 1250 to 1500 francs; but the white wine is never said to rise above 600 francs the hogshead.

Touching the Clos Vougeot in particular, however, M. Joubert remarks—and he represents at Paris the houses of Barton and Guestier of Bordeaux, of Ruinart, père et fils, at Rheims, of Charles Marcy of Nuits, and of Deinhart and Jordan of Coblentz—that this famous vintage is year by year deteriorating. Formerly, says M. Joubert, this wine possessed the greatest renown of any wine in France, but it is not so now. It is no longer the production of artistes, but purely and simply an affair of trade. So long as the vineyard was the property of the monks (we owe to the monasteries the finest vineyards of France), the Clos Vougeot was made with infinite care, and carefully preserved till age had developed its full perfections. The Messrs. Tourton and Ravel had continued to practise these good traditions, but M. Joubert seems to insinuate that since their time fraud and falsification abound in the preparation of the wine. This remark was probably addressed to the late notorious Ouvrard, who, in the year 1832 or[330] 1833, took a large house at the corner of Langham Place, for the purpose of making known these wines. But notwithstanding these frauds, Burgundy produces in good years admirable wines, in the most exact signification of the term, possessing an incomparable colour and bouquet. A worthy Benedictine named Perignon, according to the author of the “Spectacle de la Nature,” presided at the making of the wines of the Abbaye of Hauvilliers; and Pluche says, by the invention of new processes, Père Perignon procured for these wines a reputation which they never enjoyed before.

As though the vinous wealth of Burgundy were not already sufficiently extensive, the wine proprietors have introduced within the last dozen years a sparkling Burgundy; as Deinhart and Jordan, at Coblentz, have sought to introduce a sparkling Moselle; but these new inventions, though applauded by greenhorns, are not patronised by those wiser and older wine drinkers who have been accustomed to Nuits, Volnay, Beaune, Pomard, and Chambertin. The Nuits wine is seldom fit for drinking till the third or fourth year after the vintage, but is said by Henderson to bear the carriage well; and there can be no doubt that, when old, it acquires a high flavour. Salins, who wrote in 1704 the “Defense du vin de Bourgogne contre le vin de Champagne,” says, the inestimable advantage which Burgundy possesses over its rival is that of furnishing successively cases[331] of wine for all seasons of the year. “In the first place,” says he, “there are the wines of Pomard, Beaune, and Volnay; then the white wine of Meulsant; and lastly the Nuits qui n’a pas son pareil et ne peut être assez prisé.”

It is the district of Nuits which produces the Burgundy called St. George and the Meursault wines. Here, also, the curious wine called Mont Rachet is made of three distinct kinds of grape grown on the same aspect, with no difference that can be discovered in soil; and yet, says Redding, one species is so good as to bring three times the price of the others. The wine produced at Volnay, a village situated about three miles from Beaune, was in Barry’s time, who wrote in 1775, exactly eighty-nine years ago, the finest and most volatile wine in Burgundy.

In the year of a good vintage, there is no better wine of entremets than Beaune. It is of a fine red colour, has no noxious qualities, does not heat the blood like other crus of Burgundy, will keep a long time without spoiling, and will bear water carriage. I have drunk excellent Beaune in the remotest corners of Hungary and Transylvania, in the heart of Poland, nay, even in the midst of Russian snows. It is a favourite wine both at Petersburg and Moscow, where great quantities are consumed, mingled with ice and water in the summer months. In order to drink Beaune in perfection, it should not, however, be more than four or five years old.


Pomard is a delicious wine, having body and colour; and, if first-rate, a light and grateful aroma. I have now some more than thirty years old, obtained pure direct from the grower, through the instrumentality and good offices of M. Mauguin, who succeeded the Marquis de Chauvelin, as deputy for the Côté d’Or. A finer wine was never tasted.

Chambertin, it is well known to everyone, was the favourite wine of Napoleon before he arrived at St. Helena. After that period he drank Bordeaux, probably because he thought Burgundy would have been injured by the sea voyage. Chambertin is produced, according to M. Jullien, two leagues and a half from Dijon, occupies twenty-five hectares, and produces yearly from 130 to 150 pieces of excellent wine, which gives a most perfect bouquet and aromatic flavour, what the French wine merchants call sève and moelleux. It has a fuller body and colour than the Romanée, with an aroma nearly as fragrant. The Richebourg Tache and St. George approach, according to Henderson, the Chambertin in their more essential qualities. Chambertin is said to be one of the Burgundy wines which best bears exportation. This, and almost all other Burgundy wines should, however, be drunk in moderation, for they are apt to give a feverish heat to the blood. Herein the true gourmet should follow the advice so happily given by Panard:—

“Se piquer d’être grand buveur
Est un abus que je déplore:[333]
Fuyons ce titre peu flatteur;
C’est un honneur qui déshonore.
Quand on boit trop on s’assoupit,
Et l’on tombe en délire:
Buvons pour avoir de l’esprit,
Et non pour le détruire.”

The wine which ranks the highest in estimation of all the Burgundy wines is the Romanée Conti. The produce is exceedingly scant, as the vineyard is limited to five acres. As the quantity is so small, this wine is rarely exported. It sells even on the spot from six to eight francs the bottle. Henderson says it is seldom met with in a genuine state, and that there is reason to believe that the produce of the vineyard of Romanée St. Vivant (so called from the monastery of that name), which is more abundant and of a similar, though inferior quality, is often sold for it. It may be here remarked, that when the monks possessed the superior Burgundy vineyards, they wisely made it a rule to sell the wines only in bottle. Tourton and Ravel of Paris, who purchased the vineyard of Clos Vougeot during the Revolution at a million of francs, or about £500 the English acre, followed this example; but it appears the marked distinction of qualities that existed in the time of the monks has not been kept up, and that it will be long before the ancient character can be regained.

The vinous products of Saone and Loire do not[334] equal the premiers crus of the Côté d’Or, but several of them nearly approach the wines of this far-famed district; and they are in general what French wine-growers call plus solides, i.e., they are less injured in the transport and less exposed to sudden changes, ruinous to the merchant and most unsatisfactory to the consumer. Chalons and Mâcon possess wines of high merit. Under the name of Mâcon wines are comprehended not only the growths of the Mâconnais, but also the wines of the Beaujolais, forming part of the department of the Rhone. Those of Romanèche and of Thorins, in the vicinity of Mâcon, in particular, are esteemed for their delicacy, and sprightliness, and agreeable flavour; that of Chenas, in the canton of Beaujeu, on the other hand, is a more spirituous and fuller wine, and will bear keeping three or four years in the wood. Of these wines the best are grown, according to Henderson, on a granitic soil. Formerly the plant called chanay, which produces a very small grape, and yields an excellent wine, was in general cultivation here; but the cupidity of the farmers had led to the substitution of the Bourguignon grape, in which, as usual, quality is exchanged for quantity.

It may not be uninteresting to state that the Mâcon wines are praised by no less an authority than Gregory of Tours; and mention is also made of them in the “Comédie des Côteaux ou les Friands Marquis,” published in the year 1665. They are, without[335] any doubt, the wholesomest wines that come from Burgundy, and may be drunk with impunity at all seasons of the year; but a great portion of the ordinary Mâcon consumed at Paris is adulterated. When, however, this wine is obtained genuine, it is equal to mothers’ milk. I remember as a boy dining with an old gentleman of large fortune in the Chaussée d’Antin, who had been one of the Mousquetaires Rouges, and who gave me goblet after goblet of this pure Mâcon.

“Where, my dear sir, did you obtain this excellent wine?” I asked.

“Ah, mon cher!” said my old friend, “that was a present to me from Créuzé de Lesser, when he was Prefect at Autun. I doubt that my neighbour Tourton, who lives at the corner of the Rue de Provence, or that Jovet or Vilcoq of Antun could match it!”

Mâcon wine may be generally imported into England without risk of being injured in flavour. There is one observation which might be made on the wines of Burgundy before this part of the subject is closed, and the observation equally applies to all wines which have, like the Burgundies, a very fine bouquet and aromatic flavour. Such wines should never be iced. Icing, or even a too cold cellar, causes them to lose that inappreciable and fugacious flavour which is developed by a moderate degree of heat. Burgundies should be taken out of the cellar an hour or[336] two before dinner and placed in the dining-room, within the wake of a temperate fire.

I go farther than most persons, and maintain that most red wines should not be iced. It may be answered, that “there is no wine more iced than Claret in all the Indian presidencies;” but this Claret so iced is not the pure juice of the grape. It is a loaded wine made for the market, which every genuine lover of Claret should abhor. It was the custom in the first society of Bordeaux, and always at the prefecture, in the days of Baron d’Haussey, afterwards Minister of Marine to Charles X., to serve Claret with a tepid napkin round the claret-jug or decanter into which the wine was poured, or round the green glass bottle itself, if, as indeed it more frequently happened, the wine was not decanted. This gentle heat brings out advantageously the flavour and aroma of the wine.

As to the period of the dinner when Burgundy should be introduced, all I would say is this, that it should not be served later than the roast. A glass of Pomard, Nuits, or Chambertin, may be very well taken after the first mouthful of a good haunch of South Down or a filet de bœuf à la Poivrade is swallowed. Neither should I object to a repetition of the dose (whatever Lord Brougham, who contends for Claret after game, may say to the contrary) after swallowing a slice of woodcock, partridge, or that excellent bird, so justly bepraised, the golden plover; but to reserve Burgundy for the entremets, sucrés, or dessert,[337] is a piece of rampant snobbishness worthy of a nouveau riche.

The water-drinkers may laugh at me for having written at such length on such subjects, but I answer in the lines of François de Neufchateau:—

“Mais la sobrieté
Dans ses travers sera-t-elle plus sage?
Pour fuir l’abus doit-on bannir l’usage?
Ah, je connais la pauvre humanité
Tout est jolie; et bien mieux que personne
Un buveur d’eau quelquefois déraisonne.”

I now come to Champagne wine. The quarrel which existed in the time of Louis XIV. between the Burgundy doctor and the Champenois, concerning the respective merits and defects of the wines of their different provinces, has been before alluded to. The Bourguignon maintained that Burgundy merited a preference over the wine of Rheims, for that these latter over-excited the nerves, produced dangerous maladies, such as the gout; and, in a word, that Fagon, first physician to Louis XIV., forbade their use to that monarch. The citizens of Rheims deemed themselves in duty bound to resent this insult, and the faculty of medicine of the town was charged with the task. The faculty, of course, maintained that the wines of Aï, Pierri, Versenai, Silleri, Hauvilliers, Tassi, Montbré, and St. Thierri, bore off the bell in the “top-loftiest manner,” as Sam Slick would say, from Burgundy; that they possessed a more limpid colour,[338] a sweeter perfume, more body, and greater durability. The Bourguignon rejoined, that the courts of England, Germany, and Denmark, drank no other beverage than Burgundy; “and as to Champagne,” says he, “it owes its renown to the two ministers, Colbert and Le Tellier, who, as wine-proprietors, vaunted their own vineyards in the neighbourhood of Rheims.”

This was, however, a mistake. Colbert was, indeed, a Champenois, but neither he nor Le Tellier gave renown to the wines of Champagne. The vineyards of Champagne had been celebrated for centuries before they were born; and Francis I., Leo X., Charles V., and Henry VIII., had each of them a vineyard at Aï, with a resident superintendent. The other objections of the Bourguignon have more show of reason. “Champagne is a wine,” says he, “which is neither strong, nor full-bodied, nor generous. It is weak, insipid, and watery, liable to change colour, incapable of bearing exportation, or a long journey; whereas Volnay was drunk in Poland at the coronation of Sobieski, and Beaune was served at Venice by Comandante Morosini at the entertainment which he gave the senators after the conquest of the Morea, when it was considered one of the first wines of Europe.”

The champion of Champagne answered with an extract from a letter of St. Evremond to the Duke d’Olonne:—“Fussiez vous a deux cens lieues de Paris, n’épargnez aucune dépense, pour avoir des vins[339] de Champagne. Ceux de Bourgogne ont perdu leur credit auprès des gens qui ont le goût délicat; et à peine conservent ils un reste de réputation chez les marchands.”

This vinous battle continued till 1741, when another question was started, viz. “Le vin de Champagne est il aussi salutaire qu’agréable?” It was à propos of this question that the Sieur Navier maintained twenty years later, in the schools of Rheims, that Champagne might be usefully employed in putrid fevers. But notwithstanding these pros and cons, the world went on pretty much as usual. Those who relished Champagne drank it, and those who preferred Burgundy swallowed their modicum of their favourite tipple without the least regard to the literary combatants. So it will ever be.

The department of Marne, in the opinion of most women, and of all boys, is the real and genuine vinous glory of France. I admit that if you find a Champagne of a really first-rate cru; limpid, neither too sweet, nor too sparkling, nor too spirituous; but brisk with body, vinous, and retaining these amiable qualities so as fully to develope them in the arrière bouche—that then you obtain a rare wine, and not to be despised. But how seldom, how very rarely indeed, is such a wine to be had!

In consequence of the tricks played with Champagne wines, the generality of the vintages possess not that perfect, piquant, and fine flavour which[340] heretofore characterized them. How can it be otherwise? A gentleman with whom Mr. Busby travelled told him he could buy very good sound Champagne at Châlons for two francs a bottle, and was then going to purchase one hundred bottles at that price. Millions of bottles of champagne mousseux are, however, yearly sold in the Champagne country at two and three francs the bottle, and this shocking swipes is too dear by half. Champagne should only be purchased with the greatest precautions.

“By Champagne wine,” says Henderson, “is usually understood a sparkling or frothing liquor, or a wine subjected to an imperfect fermentation, and containing a quantity of carbonic acid gas that has been generated during the insensible fermentation in bottle, and is disengaged on removing the pressure by which it was retained in solution. This notion is not altogether correct; for the district under review furnishes many excellent wines, both red and white, which do not effervesce. It is true, indeed, that most of the white, or River Marne wines, are brisk; and in general, they are of superior quality, and more highly esteemed than the red or mountain wines. They are distinguished by their delicate flavour and aroma, and the agreeable pungency and slightly acidulous taste which they derive from the carbonic acid. Their exhilarating virtues are familiar to every one.

“It must be remembered, however, that the briskest wines are not always the best. They are, of[341] course, the most defective in true vinous quality, and the small portion of alcohol which they contain immediately escapes from the froth as it rises on the surface, carrying with it the aroma, and leaving the liquor that remains in the glass nearly vapid; for it has been shown by Humboldt, that when the froth is collected under a bell-glass, surrounded with ice, the alcohol becomes condensed on the sides of the vessel by the operation of the cold. Hence the still, or the creaming, or slightly sparkling Champagne wines (crêmants, or demi-mousseux) are more highly valued by connoisseurs, and fetch greater prices than the full-frothing wines (grand-mousseux). By icing these wines before they are used, the tendency to effervesce is in some degree repressed, or only allowed to operate to such an extent as may be compatible with the more perfect flavour that we desire to find in them; but when they are kept cool this precaution is unnecessary.

“Among the white wines of Champagne, the first rank is usually assigned to those of Sillery, under which name is comprehended the produce of the vineyards of Verzenay, Mailly, Raument, &c. It is a dry, still liquor, of a light amber colour, with considerable body and flavour, somewhat analogous to that of the first growths of the Rhine, and, being one of the best fermented Champagne wines, may be drunk with the greatest safety. Having been originally brought into vogue by the peculiar care bestowed[342] on the manufacture of it by the Maréchale d’Estrées, it was long known by the name vin de la Maréchale. It has always been in much request in England, probably on account of its superior strength and durable quality. It is usually drunk iced.”

The rich dry Sillery is kept longer in the cask than the other wines, and the fermentation not being checked, it is esteemed more wholesome. The still wines of Epernay are inferior to those of Rheims; but the other kinds, according to Redding, approached very nearly to those of Aï in delicacy of bouquet. The price to the merchant on the spot, according to the same authority, is about 2s. 3d. a bottle, and in scarce years 2s. 6d. In an article in the “Encyclopædia Metropolitana,” it is said that those wines must be kept three years in bottle to attain perfection, and will continue excellent for ten, twenty, and even thirty years or more, if they are of prime quality. This, under favour and with submission, is a grave mistake. Champagne, with the exception of first-rate qualities, is not a vin de garde, and requires to be looked after every year. If there be the least sediment or deposit, it is the custom in all the great wine-vaults in Champagne to filter the wine into fresh bottles. The Champagne wines are short-lived; but if the quality of the liquor be of the very best, the wine does not acquire perfection till it has been three years in bottle. Supposing it to be of the very primest quality, the cream of Champagne certainly[343] may last for fifteen or twenty years, and still acquire perfection. Some there are, indeed, who say that delicious Champagne has been tasted forty years old. I never tasted any above thirteen years old, and that was many years ago, at the house of Mr. Marsh, author of “The Clubs of London,” then living in the Rue de Bourbon, Faubourg St. Germain. A friend, however, who is a good judge of Champagne, and fond of a good glass of it—and, what is better than all, a good fellow,—says he has tasted excellent twenty years old, and I defer to his authority, now that the old Irish peer, Allen (the fondest and most inveterate of Champagne-drinkers I ever encountered, whether peer or plebeian), is not producible, or, at least, not forthcoming to give his evidence, though called on his subpœna.

It should be stated, that the wine-growers in Champagne prepare their merchandise for the various tastes and caprices of different nations. Thus, the Champagne for the Russians is a very different wine from the Champagne for the Germans; which, again, differs from the wine confectionné for the English market. The Americans are said to put up with anything which foams and sparkles in a “tarnation toplofty fashion.” In Jaquesson’s cellars at Châlons sur Marne, you see bins for all the principal towns of the world,—London, Vienna, Paris, Petersburg, Madrid, &c.

Champagne, unlike Burgundy or Claret, is a wine[344] always improved by ice. The chief characteristic of the best Champagne is its exquisite delicacy of flavour. The strength of the bottles for the sparkling wines, and their uniform thickness, are most carefully ascertained. A bottle with the least imperfection or malformation is put aside for the red wines.

It were useless to particularise every variety of wine produced in Champagne. Some of the classes are so bad that they will not bear exportation. The wine most esteemed after the Sillery is the Aï; but it is nearly equalled by the wine of Mareuil. The wine of Pierry is drier, but will keep longer than those of Aï, and nearly equals them in quality. The wines of Dizz follow next, and lastly Epernay, part of whose wines is inferior, and part equal to those of Aï.

The author of the “Topographie des Vignobles” thus speaks of the high price of the Vins Mousseux:—“The high price of the Vins Mousseux,” says Jullien, “comes not only from the quality of the wines chosen to make them, and the infinite pains required before they are finished, but also from the considerable losses to which the proprietors and dealers are exposed in this kind of speculation, and the strange phenomena which determine or destroy the qualité mousseuse. As to losses, the owners count in general upon fifteen or twenty bottles broken in a hundred; sometimes even thirty or forty. To this must be added the diminution which takes place as the wine[345] is separated from its deposits by decanting,—an operation which is performed at least twice.”

These certainly are curious and unexplainable phenomena; but explainable or not, one thing is certain, that if gentlemen wish to obtain first-rate Champagne, whether still or sparkling, they must go to a respectable wine-merchant, and pay a good price, whether at home or abroad. In dealing with Moët, or Ruinart, or any other accredited agent, they cannot fail to find a superior article; but they should avoid the cheap Champagnes with as much care as they would avoid the feculent water flowing out of Fleet Ditch into the Thames. Mr. Redding, in a valuable little book of his called “Every Man his own Butler,” says, “Some people fancy they get better Champagne by going to the docks and choosing for themselves.” But that this is not so will be very apparent, when it is stated that hundreds of thousands of bottles of Champagne are imported, which, glass, wine, and all, are not worth the duty.

The bottling of the effervescing Champagne wines begins in March, and the fermentation in May. The latter continues all the summer, but is particularly strong in June, during the flowering of the vine; and in August, when the fruit begins to ripen. At these times, the greatest loss in the bursting of bottles takes place, and it is not safe to pass through a cellar without being guarded with a mask of iron wire. It occasionally happens that the workmen who neglect[346] this precaution are sometimes severely, sometimes dangerously, wounded. Among the wines prepared to effervesce—or, to use the technical phrase, for la mousse—there are some which only partake of a slight fermentation. These are the crêmants wines, which drive out the cork with less force, and sparkle in the glass. Their mousse is frothy, and, like the

“Snow-ball on the river,
A moment white, then gone for ever.”

They are said to have the advantage over the Vins grand mousseux, in preserving more vinous qualities and being less sharp. Their price is also higher, for they are sought for by connoisseurs, and cannot be obtained in great quantity. The best red Champagne wines are produced upon the north side of the declivities of the Marne, which are called the Montagnes de Rheims.

The Champagne wine-merchants use the greatest precaution in packing their wines for exportation. The sides of the baskets or cases are lined with pasteboard, and each bottle is enveloped in a sheet of blue or grey paper. Champagne mousseux, exported to the Indies or America, is preserved from the excessive heat by being packed in salt. At the bottom of the case there is a layer of straw, and then a layer of salt, upon which the first row of bottles is placed. Jullien, in his “Manuel du Sommelier,”[347] states that the finest Burgundies thus packed have preserved all their qualities on a voyage to India, and experienced but fourteen degrees of heat in passing under the equator.

I come at length to Claret, and with Francesco Redi, exclaim,—

Quel claretto!”

Blessed, indeed, be Bordeaux, the ground that bare it; for it is king of all wines, past, present, and to come! Of this opinion, too, was Lémery, physician to Louis XIV., who thus speaks of it:—“Claret,” says he, “of all others, is generally the best wine for all constitutions; and the reason is, because it contains a sufficient quantity of tartarous parts, that make it less heady and more stomachical than white wine. As for pale wine; it is a middling sort, between the red and white; the same is made of grapes of the same colour, or else by mixing white wine with a little red.”

The Bordeaux wines are generally divided into vins de Médoc, des Graves, des Palus, des Côtes, de Terre forte, and vins d’entre deux Mers; but so much do they differ by the taste, colour, bouquet, durability, and a thousand imperceptible shades, that it would be difficult to give an exact list of the varied and magnificent productions of the Gironde. Commercial men have, however, established two recognised classes, which appear to be tacitly admitted by all[348] parties, and which may serve as a guide to the purchaser. In the first class are ranked Château Margeaux, Château Lafitte, Latour, Haut Brion. The product of these four vintages may be rated at from 400 to 450 tonneaux, the value of which represents a capital of 2400 to 3000 francs per tonneau. When age has developed the qualities of these wines, more particularly in a good vintage, the value is at least doubled. For the last twenty years the Haut Brion seems to be on the wane in public favour, and it sells at a lesser price than one of its three rivals.

The second class of Bordeaux wines is composed of the Rauzan, Braune, Mouton, Léoville, Gruau, La Rose, Pichon, Longueville, Durfort, Degorse, Destournelle; producing 850 tonneaux, which ranges at from 2000 to 2100 francs the tonneau.

The third class comprises within its ranks the Kirwan, Château d’Issau, Poujets, many clos of Cantenac, and of Margeaux, Mulescot, Ferrière, Giscours, &c. These vineyards produce about 1100 tonneaux, of the value of from 1700 to 1800 francs the tonneau.

The fourth class has two divisions: first, the Saint Julien, Béchevelle, Saint Pierre, &c.; producing about 650 tonneaux, worth about from 1200 to 1500 each. In the second division are ranged the great properties of Pauillac and Saint Estèphe, with some others, producing about 1000 tonneaux, at from 1000 to 1200 francs the tonneau.

The difference which exists between these four or[349] five superior qualities of wine, and the wines made by small proprietors, which are sold at from 300 to 450 francs the tonneau, results less from the quality of the grape and the nature of the soil than from circumstances incident to the want of capital, and from the desire of obtaining quantity at the expense of quality. There can be no doubt whatever that the large capitalist purchases a better wine than the small one, though the small capitalist has it in his power to produce as good a bottle of wine on his own table as his richer neighbour. But, when he caters for the public, it is more profitable by different mixtures to produce 100 tonneaux of middling quality than fifty of superior wine, even though the latter be sold at a considerably higher price than the former. In the cellars at Bordeaux there is great management of the wine. It is always kept in a vault or cellar pretty nearly of the same temperature, and is fed, once every two or three weeks, if intended for the English or foreign market, with a pint or two of the best brandy. The wine is frequently tasted to know what state it is in, and the brandy is used accordingly. Care must, however, be taken never to put in much at a time, especially for wines intended for immediate sale, as such a mode of proceeding would destroy the flavour of the wine, and cause it to taste fiery. If a little be put in at a time, it is said to incorporate quickly with the wine, and to feed and mellow it. Among the London wine merchants the[350] custom is, if the Claret be faint and has lost its colour, to rack it into a fresh hogshead upon the lees of good Claret. It is then bunged up, pulling the bung downwards for two or three days that the lees may run through it, after which its bung is laid up till it be fine. If the colour be not then perfect, it is racked off again into a hogshead that has been nearly drawn off, then an ounce of cochineal is added, shaken up in a bottle of wine, and put it into the hogshead; and by this method the wine is said to acquire both a good colour and body. Sometimes a pound of turnsole is put into a gallon or two of wine, and the cask rolled about, and then the wine-doctors tell you your beverage will have a perfect colour. The greenhorns may think this is pure invention; but, lest I should be thought “to draw on my fancy for facts,” I extract the following receipts from the work of John Davies, who, having practised them on the lieges of Leeds for a long while, at length came up to the metropolis, and published his work “On the Managing, Colouring, and Flavouring of Foreign Wines and Spirits,”—a work which subsequently went through many editions. The following are his receipts verbatim et literatim:—

Method of Colouring Claret.—Take as many as you please of damsons or black sloes, and strew them with some of the deepest-coloured wine you can get, and as much sugar as will make it into a syrup. A pint of this will colour a hogshead of[351] Claret. It is also good for red Port wines, and may be kept ready for use in glass bottles.

A Remedy for Claret that drinks Foul.—Rack off your Claret from the dregs on some fresh lees of its own kind, and then take a dozen of new pippins, pare them, and take away the cores or hearts, then put them in your hogsheads, and, if that is not sufficient, take a handful of the oak of Jerusalem and bruise it, then put it into your wine, and stir it very well. This not only takes away the foulness, but also gives it a good scent.”

The great commerce of Bordeaux is in its wine, but it is much diminished since the loss of St. Domingo. A considerable export of wines, not so loaded as they formerly were, has recently taken place to the East Indies; and no doubt the opening of the China trade will also somewhat tend to improve the condition and state of the Gironde wine-grower. But what most desire to see, would be a freer exchange of the vinous wealth of France with England. It is in every sense desirable that our population, instead of drinking that thick and heady Port, consumed by the Eldons and Stowells of a past generation, and some old dons and tutors of Oxford, a few old barristers, and a great mass of attorneys of the present generation, should drink the ordinary red Bordeaux wines; or, if they will have white wines, those Sauternes and Graves whose prices sometimes rise so high as 3000 francs the tonneau. There is not[352] a pleasanter or more healthful wine than good Sauterne. It is, of course, difficult to get pure Sauterne in taverns or hotels; but to such as have not establishments in town, a trial of the Sauterne at Bellamy’s, at the House of Commons, would be advisable. The following account of Jullien is very interesting:—

“The inferior wines of Bordeaux,” says the author of the “Topographic des Vignobles,” are exported to America and the interior of France; those of the first quality to India, Russia, and England.

“The difference in price between the first and inferior wines is very great. Those of the best vineyards sell generally the first year at from 2000 to 3000 francs the tonneau, and rise to 5000 or 6000, and even higher, in a very favourable vintage. On the contrary, the vins communs fetch only from 100 to 120 francs, and seldom rise to more than 200 or 300.

“The wine of first quality, at its point of maturity, ought to have a beautiful colour, much firmness, a very agreeable bouquet, and a flavour which embalms the mouth, strength without intoxicating, and body without harshness. The Bordeaux wines are, contrary to the generality of French wines, improved by a sea voyage; and wines of the second and third quality, after a voyage, have equalled those of the first.

“The English houses at Bordeaux, immediately after the vintage, purchase a large quantity of the wines of all the best vineyards, in order that they may undergo[353] la travaille à l’anglaise. This operation consists in putting into fermentation part of the wines during the following summer; by mixing in each barrel from thirteen to eighteen pots of Alicant or Benicarlo, or the wines of the Hermitage, Cahors, Languedoc, and others; one pot of white wine called Muet (wine whose fermentation had been stopped by the fumes of sulphur), and one bottle of spirits of wine. The wine is drawn off in December, and then laid up in the chars (cellars) for some years. By this operation the wines are rendered more spirituous and very strong, they acquire a good flavour, but are intoxicating. The price, likewise, is increased.

“The age of wine at Bordeaux is counted par feuilles; that is, the number of times the vine has been in leaf since the vintage. The years which the wines require to be kept vary, but those of vins de Graves do not reach perfection before the fifth or sixth.”

This is a recent account; but it will be well to hear what old Barry, who wrote ninety years ago, says on the same subject. After having perused his account it will appear that we, at the commencement of the twentieth century, are but practising, with variations, the tricks which our ancestors played centuries ago.

“The French wine-merchants,” says Barry, “encouraged by the great demands for these Claret wines, first began to mix their inferior wines with the[354] Spanish; and, though there was a severe law forbidding this practice, yet it was connived at, as it increased the value and demand for them. This encouraged some persons from hence and Ireland to reside there as factors, with a view, at first, of acquiring the profit arising from the large commissions which before had always been consigned to the French wine-merchants. But these factors soon became wine-merchants likewise, among whom it was usual to employ their tasters, after the vintage was over, to examine the new wines; and, when they had been properly informed, purchased such a quantity as was sufficient to answer the demands they expected. These were soon after mixed and prepared with the Spanish wines, which added more strength and flavour to them. Thus the price of them was gradually raised much higher than the wines of these growths had been formerly estimated.

What Barry says about factors is perfectly true; but a very old Bordeaux wine-merchant and wine-grower informed me, nearly forty years since, that the factors of seventy years ago were principally Irish and Scotch, and that there were at that period many Irish and Scotch among the proprietors of vineyards. “There were,” said he, “Gernons, Byrnes, Cruises, Cassins, M’Donnells, Maxwells, Stewarts, M’Laurins, among the factors; and among the proprietors of vineyards Cockburns, M’Kinnons, Kirwans, Frenches, Dalys, Walshes, Bogles, Archers, and O’Connors.” This may[355] have accounted for the superiority which Dublin and Edinburgh obtained more than half a century ago over the London market in respect of Claret,—a superiority which was attested by the great run made for these wines on the house of Sneyd, French, and Barton; Cockburn and Co.; Cranston and Co.; Stewart and Co.; Roche and Co.; Sir John Ferns and Co.; Sir Anthony Perrier and Co.; Brook and Co.; Wilson and Co., and many others.

The excellence of the Bordeaux wines was celebrated even in the days of Ausonius, and they have uniformly maintained their repute. They are, without any manner of doubt, the most perfect wines that France produces. They keep perfectly, are improved by sea carriage, and may be freely exported to any part of the world. The original fermentation being usually very complete, they are less disposed to acidity, and are more wholesome than the wines of Burgundy. A great proportion of the wine, however, which is drunk as Claret, is but vin ordinaire, or the secondary wine of the country, for the prime growths fall far short of the demand which prevails for these wines all over the world. In Bordeaux the very best growths are scarce, and cannot be purchased at less than from six to seven francs a bottle. “During the twenty years that I have been living at Bordeaux,” says one of Rozière’s correspondents, “I have not tasted three times any wine of the first quality; yet I am in the way of[356] knowing it and getting it when it is to be had. The wines of the year 1784 were so superior to those of other years, that I have never met with anything like them.”

Whence comes the word Claret? From the French adjective clairet, which in the feminine, is clairette. In the masculine it is only used of what is called a vin rouge paillet, vinum rubellum sanguineum. In this sense a man is said to be entre le blanc et le clairet, i.e., that he is entre deux vins. Hypocras was formerly called Claret, and is still so called in Germany. Old Cowel, in his “Interpreter,” says, “This denomination originates from claretum, a liquor made anciently of wine and honey, clarified by decoction, which the Germans, French, and English call hippocras, and it is for this reason that the red wines of France were called Claret.”

In Pegg’s “Cury” there is an account of the rolls of provisions, with their prices, in the time of Henry VIII., and we there find at the dinner given at the marriage of Gervys Clifton and Mary Nevil, the price of three hogsheads of wine (one white, one red, one claret), was set down at 5l. 5s.

The department of the Rhone produces the Côte Rôti at a vineyard about seven leagues from Lyons. This a wine which possesses body, spirit, flavour, and perfume. If allowed to remain in the cask for five or six years, it improves wonderfully. It may then be bottled, and will improve in bottle for twenty years.[357] The Côte Rôti is a wine much drunk in Switzerland and Franche Comté. It is grown at Ampuis, and ranks as one of the best wines of France. It is, when young, slightly bitter and rather heady, but is much improved by a voyage. The flavour somewhat resembles red Hermitage, and if it were generally imported into England, it would be preferred to Port by all who have a sound palate and liver.

Tain, four leagues from Valence, possesses the famous Hermitage vineyard. Hermitage is divided into five classes. It is not bottled for exportation till it has been four or five years in the cask. The price of the wine is high, even if the quality be moderate. I am in possession of some obtained twenty years ago as a favour, at 96s. a dozen, from the Prince Charles de Broglie, and with freight, carriage, interest of money, &c., it now stands me in at least seven guineas the dozen.

The white Hermitage is made of white grapes only, and is divided into three growths. It is an exquisite and most delicious beverage, and may be pronounced to be the finest white wine France produces. White Hermitage is said to keep a century. I tasted some bought at the sale of the late Marquess of Londonderry’s wines in St. James’s Square, which must be at least sixty years old, and a more delicious wine was never produced at table. The only difference between it and white Hermitage of five years old is that the tint and colour are of a deep[358] amber, but in dryness, richness, and aroma, it is unrivalled.

In 1836, a few bottles of this wine, which had been in the late Marquess of Wellesley’s cellars since 1807, was purchased by me; but, although a fine wine, it was not to compare with the Hermitage of the late Lord Londonderry, better known as Lord Castlereagh.

The grape from which the red Hermitage is made is supposed to have come originally from Persia.[36] The vineyard was, it is said, planted by a hermit of Bessas for his amusement.

Richard and Sons are among the first wine-merchants and bankers at Tournon, a town on the opposite side of the Rhone to Tain, and joined to it by a suspension-bridge. They export large quantities of the finest growth of Hermitage to Bordeaux to mix with the first growths of Claret. The largest wine-press in France belongs to this firm. By one charge of it the proprietors can obtain forty casks of wine, of about fifty gallons each.

One of the principal proprietors of the Hermitage vineyards is a gentleman of Irish descent, a Mr. Machon. The soil on which the Hermitage grows is highly calcareous, and it is to this peculiarity, as well[359] perhaps as to the selection of the plants, that the wine owes its superiority. The labour bestowed in the vineyards is said to be unremitting.

The cost of wine cultivation in France is immense, and it seldom happens that more than four or five per cent., and frequently not more than two or three, are returned to the landowner.

The German wines, as a general description, may be pronounced generous and finely flavoured, rich in bouquet, and the least acid among the northern wines. They are, however, drier than the wines of France. That they are what the French call vins de garde, or wines that will keep, is plainly apparent from the fact that the better qualities have been found perfect at eighty and even at a hundred years old. The Moselle wines are among the least acid of the German, or indeed of the wines of any country. The German jurist Hontheim says the best Moselle wines make men cheerful; when drunk in quantity and old, good; the heat leaving the body and head without inconvenience and disorder. Rüdesheim, six leagues from Mayence, is said to produce the best wines in Germany, having more body, strength, and bouquet, than those on the left bank of the Rhine. An auhm of 1811 sells for 55l. On the Johannisberg wines it would be unnecessary to dilate here. Barry, seventy years ago, in speaking of the Hock wines, adduced, as a circumstance that contributed to their advancement, the fact that there was an annual addition of[360] a due proportion of the recent and new wine of the same growth to the old wine. In his day the best old Hock sold at the price of 50l. the auhm. The Rhine wines of most strength are the Marcobrunner, Rüdesheimer, and Nierstiner. The Johannisberger, Geissenheim, and Hockheim have the most perfect delicacy and aroma. The wines of Bischeim, Asmanshausen, and Laubenheim, are also light and agreeable. The German proverb says, “Rhein wein, fein wein, Necker wein, lecre wein, Franken wein, tranken wein, Mosel wein, unnosel wein.” But the wines of all wines are the Julius Hospitalis Steinwein of 1811, and the Cabinet Leinstenwein of 1822. I remember in 1828 and 1829 drinking fine specimens of both at the Three Moors at Augsburg (a capital hotel), and noting down that the price of the Steinwein was four florins, twenty-four kreutzers, and of the Leinstenwein five florins, forty-eight kreutzers; the one amounting nearly to 8s. and the other fully to 9s. of our money. They are both exquisite wines, but are said to produce strangury. Switzerland grows little good wine. The Neufchâtel would, perhaps, most please an English palate; it is equal to the third quality of Burgundy, and has some resemblance to Port without much body.

On the Spanish wines I must be brief. Under the influence of the sun of a warm climate, they contain more alcohol, and are altogether differently prepared. The grapes are suffered to become quite[361] ripe, and part of the must is concentrated by boiling it in large cauldrons for forty-four hours. The Spanish wines, however, with the exception of those of Xeres and Malaga, are greatly neglected in the manufacture. Manzinilla, the country wine of the district of Xeres de la Frontena, is a light, pleasant beverage, not destitute of mellowness and flavour. It is far preferable in every respect to those loaded, coloured compounds which pass for Sherries in London taverns.

The extent of the cellars of Gordon and Co., of Cadiz, is immense. The length of the largest 306 feet, and the breadth 222 feet. The ordinary stock of wine is said to be 4000 butts, which is kept in casks of various sizes, containing from one to four butts. The wine merchants of Xeres never exhaust their stock of finest and oldest wine. A cask of wine, said to be fifty years old, may contain a portion of the vintages of thirty or forty seasons. The better class of wine merchants at Xeres never ship wine for England till it is two years old. The higher qualities of Sherry are made up of wine the bulk of which is from three to five years old; and this is mixed in the older wines. From the gradual mixture, therefore, of the wines of various ages, no wine can be less a natural wine than Sherry. The Amontillado is a dry kind of Sherry, abounding in a dry, nutty flavour. It is very light in colour, and is often used to restore the colour of Sherries of too deep[362] a brown. It sells much dearer than other Sherry wines. The Malaga Sherry very much resembles the wine of Xeres, and large quantities are exported to foreign countries as genuine Sherry. 200l. have been paid for a first-rate cask of Malaga.

On the Portuguese wine called Port I shall not waste many words. When dry and old it is a good winter wine for old people, if they restrict themselves to a glass or two.

A good glass of genuine Madeira which has gone the rounds, is good after soup, but the wine is no longer fashionable.

The only Italian wines worth drinking are the Montefiascone, Montepulciano, and Vino d’Asti. Many of these wines are too harsh, and some of them are too thick and sweet for a French or English palate.

Some of the wines of Hungary are very tolerable. The Tokay wine is exquisite. Even the Maslas, which is a diluted Tokay, is a splendid wine; soft, oily, and stomachic. A glass of it may be had any day after dinner, at about 10d. or 1s. English, in the Speise Saal of the Schwann, at Vienna, where I in my youth consumed many a bottle of Tokay. The Vermuth is a stomachic mixture, too much bepraised by those who have never tasted it; indeed, as much overpraised as the Crême d’Absinthe. All the Greek wines are also over-rated. There are tuns of them not worth the amount of a farrier’s yearly bill for[363] shoeing a dog; or if you wish the Gallic phrase, “ne valent pas les quatres fers d’un chien.”

The Constantia wine of the Cape, though much liked by Frenchmen of seventy and upwards, and Frenchwomen above forty, never can be generally a favourite with Englishmen. There are some few Russian wines. At Kaffa, in the Crimea, they produce a Champagne very nearly as good as either the growth of the Borough or Lambeth.

Of New South Wales wines a word or two. I learned with much pleasure that the French, and all other wines, are now tried in that colony; and that the climate is particularly well suited to the growth of the vine. The preparation and keeping of the wine must, however, be much more attended to than heretofore. At the Cape, too, the English wine-growers have gone on very progressively from year to year in ameliorating their Pontacs. The best white Capes fetch, since their flinty character is diminishing, prices as high as Sherries of middling qualities. Such prices were, however, encouraged perhaps by the import duties on colonial wine being only half the amount levied on foreign grown. As these Cape wines are now so pure as to mix well with Xeres wines, the conscientious London dealer, of course, largely availed himself of a colonial-grown article to mix with Sherry wines for English country consumption.

Two works have recently been published on wine,[364] in which may be found chapters dedicated to the wines of Southern Africa, Greece, the Western Archipelago, and to the wines of Columbia, Australia, &c. But notwithstanding these efforts to introduce new vintages from Italy, Greece, Hungary, Australia, and Southern Africa, elderly and middle-aged men of the present generation are certain still to adhere to the old wines which their fathers and grandfathers consumed for the last half-century. It may, I think, even be doubted whether the use of any new vintages can become general (supposing them to be as good or better than the old) before the end of the present century or A.D. 1900, from which coming epoch we are still removed by an interval of seven and thirty years. It would, therefore, be the idlest of idle follies in me to recommend to any host to fill his cellar with new vintages of which his guests knew nothing, and which they might not relish. The aim of a host, now as heretofore, should be to have choice wines and liqueurs, all excellent of their kind. Persons of moderate fortune should look to the excellence of the quality of the wines, rather than to the variety of their stock. With good bins of Sherry, Madeira, Port, Claret (white and red), Champagne, Hock, and Burgundy, any gentleman is in a position to entertain his guests worthily. Larger quantities of Sherry, Port, Madeira, and first-rate Claret, may be laid in than of lighter wines, for of these latter the consumption will be necessarily less.


At most London dinners in the season, Champagne, Sauterne, Barsac, Rhenish and Moselle wines are produced; but of the four latter wines scarcely more than a bottle of each is used, though three or four bottles of Champagne may be consumed, in a party of twelve. But, notwithstanding that there is a more considerable consumption of Champagne than of other light wines, it is not advisable that any private gentleman should have a large stock of this wine in his cellar, as after a twelvemonth it is apt to get ropy, and to require fresh bottling. But of the vins de garde, such as Madeira, Sherry, Port, first-rate Claret, and Burgundy, a host may profitably cellar as large a quantity as his fortune will allow. Of one thing, however, every purchaser should convince himself before he purchases a single bottle, and that is, that it is impossible to have good wine at a low price. The finest vintages of wine are always scarce and dear; and the finest vintages must, like other and inferior vintages, be matured before they are fit to drink. A considerable efflux of time is necessary for this, so that there is interest on the original cost of the wine, as well as the interest on its keep, to be added to the prime or original cost. This is so if the wine be imported direct from the wine-grower; but if it be obtained from the merchant or dealer in this country, his profit, as well as the skill, labour, and industry he has applied, must all be additional items in the price. The idea of low-priced wine is[366] therefore a mere myth; and, whether at the sales of private gentlemen’s stock or otherwise, good wine generally fetches its full value in London. It is said that, at the sales of deceased gentlemen in Dublin and Edinburgh, few wines, unless some exceedingly rare specimens, fetch above 60s. per dozen; but in London it is very common, at private sales, for Port and Sherry to fetch double as much as this.

The best way for any gentleman desiring to stock a cellar, is to go to a first-rate wine merchant of position and character. Such a man will deal honestly, and give his customer a good article, though he may charge what is called in the trade a long price for it. If gentlemen have personal friends or connections at Cadiz in whom they can confide to send them wine in the piece, they may lay in Amontillado, Montilla, or Manzinilla, at 10s. or 12s. a dozen less than they can obtain them of the wine merchants in England. Anything like a first-rate Amontillado sells among English wine merchants at from 72s. to 84s. the dozen, while Manzinilla and Montilla range at from 60s. to 70s.

Fabulous prices are given for old Ports and East India Sherries and Madeiras, at the sales of well-known connoisseurs in wine. Many East India Sherries have sold for nine and ten guineas a dozen, and much of the late Mr. Justice Talfourd’s Port went for eleven and twelve guineas a dozen. Though the wine was excellent, this was unquestionably a fancy[367] price. There is no need to give so large a sum for old and first-rate Port. Any man of ordinary acumen and intelligence, in addressing himself to a first-rate wine house in London may have excellent, if not first-rate, Port at from three to four guineas a dozen, and considerably cheaper if he buys it in the wood.

First-rate Clarets have been rising in price during the last five or six years; but even in London first-rate Clarets ought to be and are procurable at from four to five guineas a dozen, and the best sparkling Champagne at about the same price, or a shade lower. Sillery Champagne of the very highest quality is sold by wine merchants at 6l. the dozen. Burgundies of the highest qualities are rare, and difficult to find good; but excellent Beaune and Chablis can be obtained at two guineas the dozen in London, and considerably cheaper if imported direct.

As to the dietetic qualities of the wine, I would remark that those wines which contain a sufficient quantity of alcohol, and which have undergone a complete fermentation, stimulate and accelerate digestion. Among these are Madeira, Sherry, Port, Rhone, and Rousillon wines. The most salutary wines are those which contain a moderate quantity of alcohol, as old Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Champagne. The modern practice of taking a great variety of wines at table cannot be commended. It is decidedly injurious to health and digestion, more especially[368] when sweet succeed to slightly acidulated wines, or wines of much body to very light wines.

I should say that the best red Burgundy was the Romanée Conti, and the best white the Montrachet. But good vintages of Pomard, Volnay, Nuits, and Chambertin, are excellent. Burgundy, however, is a wine of which only a small quantity should be drunk, as it is very heating.

Among the Champagne wines the most esteemed growths are those of Aï, Sillery, and Epernay; and among the Rousillon and Rhine wines, red and white Hermitage, Côte Rôti, and St. Peray.

The best growths of Bordeaux red wines are Lafitte, La Tour, Château Margaux, and Haut Brion. Among the second class of red wines the best are the Monton, the Rauzan, and the Léoville; and among the third class are the Kirwan, the Château d’Issan, and Lagrange.

A glass of Chablis, Barsac, Sauterne, or Bucellas, may be taken after the oysters, while a glass of old Madeira or Sherry follows the soup. In the middle of the first course, in France, they serve Champagne or sparkling Burgundy; and toward the end of the first course, the finer kinds of Claret, white and red. With the roast comes Burgundy and Hermitage, and these wines, as well as Bordeaux, may be served with game. With the dessert it is the custom in France to offer Malmsey and Malaga; but these wines are rarely produced in England, though white[369] and red Constantia, and Frontignan are frequently produced.

In the last sixteen years the consumption of Champagne has doubled in England. In 1831, the quantity of French wine imported amounted, in round numbers, to 254,000 gallons, whereas in 1861 it amounted to 2,227,000 gallons.



The cellar for good wine should be a suitable lodging for this welcome guest in every well arranged household. A great deal of wine, good and middling, is spoiled beyond redemption from being deposited in a bad cellar. There are many families in this great metropolis who, if well lodged themselves, never bestow a thought on how their wine is lodged. Yet this is a matter of essential importance if the master of a household consults his own health or the health of his guests.

A wine cellar should neither be too hot nor too cold. It should neither be near the kitchen, the scullery, nor the laundry fire; nor yet out of doors, exposed to every change of temperature in this variable climate. No gentleman valuing the quality of his wine, or the health of those who are to drink it, would convert a spare bed-room, or cock-loft, or cupboard into a wine cellar, though in a warm climate Madeira may be[371] improved by being placed under the sun’s rays on the leads of dwelling-houses, a system much practised in the great cities of America. A cellar, as Mr. Redding clearly and succinctly says, “should be a cellar in material, site, temperature, and solidity of construction.” The finer and more delicate wines grow turbid, ropy, or sharp when stowed away in unfitting localities. In such a city as London, all one can hope for or expect is to secure a cellar of an equal temperature, solidly constructed of brick or stone. The variations of the external atmosphere should not be allowed to penetrate within it. As Barry wrote ninety years ago, “the structure of a wine cellar ought to be such as will most effectually defend the wine from the frequent variations of the external air, adjacent fires, and the agitation of carriages, and to preserve an equal degree of heat, though some variations must be unavoidable.”

Lighter wines require a colder cellar than the strong wines; but, as a general direction, the temperature of a cellar ought to be from about forty to fifty degrees. The size of a cellar ought to be in proportion to the quantity of wine for which it is designed. The situation ought to be low and dry. Double doors are an advantage to every cellar, as one may be closed before the other is opened, and thus the changes of the external atmosphere cannot penetrate. Cellars in private houses are rarely ventilated, and thus foul air is frequently generated. In[372] cities the back of the house is the best place for the wine cellar, as the bottles are not then shaken in their bins by the motion of carriages.

No sink or sewer should be in the neighbourhood of a cellar, and no vegetable or animal matter should be deposited adjacent to it. A wine cellar should contain no other liquor than wine. Champagne should be carefully laid on laths or in sand, and never placed on their bottoms, as from this cause the wine will speedily lose its effervescence. Quarry sand is the best substance in which to imbed the bottles, and laths should be placed between each tier.



According to Brantome, the first nobleman in France who introduced at court a more luxurious table was the Marshal St. André. The historian thus speaks of him:—“Et certes estoit par trop excessif en friandises et délicatesse de viandes, tant de chair que de poisson et autres friands mangers, tellement que quelqu’un qui n’eust ouy que de sa vie délicieuse n’eust jamais pu n’y en juger n’y croire qu’il fust esté si Grand Capitaine.” Among the kings of France, the first who distinguished himself by this sumptuosity of fare was Francis I., and he carried his table extravagance to a foolish and absurd extent; for besides the unequalled luxury of the royal table, there were, according to Brantôme, the tables of the grand master, of the great chamberlain, of the chamberlain, of the gentlemen of the chamber, of the gentlemen servants, and ever so many others. The graphic memoir writer, the Seigneur de Bourdeille adds:—“Et toutes si bien servies que rien n’y manquoit. Et ce qui estoit plus remarquable c’est que dans un village, dans les forêts, dans les assemblées, l’on y estoit traité comme si l’on eust esté dans Paris.”

Henri II. and Francis II. kept as good a table as their father and grandfather; but things changed under Charles IX. and Henry III., of whom Brantôme says, “C’était par boutades que l’on y faisoit bonne chere, car le plus souvent la marmité se renversoit; chose que hait beaucoup le courtesan qui aimeà[374] avoir bouche à cour et à l’armée parceque alors il ne lui conte rien.”

Henry IV., for a long time, was as “heinously unprovided” (to use a Shakespearian phrase) as his royal predecessor. His finances were so straitened, say the “Memoirs of the Duke of Angouleme,” “que souvent sa table manquoit, et qu’il se trouvoit contraint d’aller manger chez quelqu’un de ses sérviteurs.” Louis XIII. established, in a great degree, the luxury of Francis I.; and Louis XIV., to use the words of Le Grand, effaced even the remembrance of the repasts of the most luxurious of former kings, by his elaborate feasts. It was under his reign that “collations grasses” were eaten after dinner. Madame de Sévigné writes, in 1680, “La Princesse de Tarente m’a faite une collation en viande; je la lui ai rendue. C’est une sotte mode; je pense que cela ne durera pas.” Bélon, who published his “Traité des Oiseaux,” in 1555, describes how magnificently the dinner tables were served in that day. “Pour entrées,” he says, “nous avons mille petits deguisemens de chair comme potages, fricassées, hachis, salades. Le second service est de rôti, de bouilli, de diverses viandes, tout de boucherie que de gibier. Pour issue de table choses froides comme fruictages, laictages, et doulceurs, rissoles, petits choux tout chauds, petits gateaux caveux, ratons de fromage, pommes de capendu, salade de citron ou de grenades.”

Gontier, who wrote in the seventeenth century, complains of the luxury of the dinners in 1668, at which period, he says, there were no less than eight courses. The “Mercure Galant” gives a description of the royal banquet that was given at Versailles, for the marriage of Mademoiselle de Blois, natural daughter of Louis XIV., with the Prince of Conti. At this feast there were three courses of 160 dishes at each course. The first course was half soups and half entrées; the second, half in entremets and half in roasts; the third, dessert. The roasts were all small, and the ortolans alone cost 16,000 francs.

Later in the reign of Louis XIV., the mode of serving dinners in France a good deal resembled the system followed in the present day. In the entertainment given by Louvois to the Queen at Meudon, covers were laid for nineteen, and there were four courses.

The first course consisted of forty entrées, the second of forty roasts and salads, the third of hot and cold entremets, and the[375] last course of dessert. In the kitchen of Louis XV. there were about thirty cooks employed, and four pâtissiers-bouche.

I now proceed to give a few bills of fare, from the days of Louis XIV. to the present time.

The first is the menu of a dinner given 212 years ago by Matthew Molé, keeper of the seals in France to Mons. Le Prince Louis de Bourbon-Condé, on the 9th August, 1652:—

Meneu du Disner qui fust donné par Messire Mathieu Molé, Garde des Sceaux de France, à Monsieur le Prince (Louis de Bourbon-Condé), le Samedi, 9 Αout, 1652.

XIV. potages maigres,

XIV. plats de poissons.

XIV. plats de rost.

XIV. sallades.

XIV. assiettes gauffrées.

XVIII. jattes de fruicts et aultres,

Dont cxii. escus pour le coust d’yceulx fruicts et fleurs, et pour le tout de la despense généralle, mil neuf cens soixante et cinq liures, et unze sols,

The second is the menu of a supper of the Regent Orleans, moitié gras, moitié maigre:—

Menu d’une Table de Douze Couverts, pour un Souper du Régent, servi moitié Gras, moitié Maigre.


Deux potages, savoir:

Dix entrées, savoir: quatre dans quatre jattes, et six dans six plats à festons.

Les quatre jattes, savoir:

Les six plats à festons, savoir:

Deux plats de poissons pour relever les potages, savoir:


Deux plats de pâtisserie, savoir:

Quatre plats de rôt, savoir:

Quatre salades différentes avec quatre différentes sauces.

Quatre petits entremets chauds, savoir:

The following is the menu of a supper of Louis XV. at La Muette, on 18th February, 1749:—

Souper du Roi Louis XV. à la Muette, le Samedi, 18 Février, 1749.

Deux grandes entrées.

Deux oilles.

Deux potages.

Seize entrées.

Quatre relevés.

Deux grands entremets.

Quatre moyens.

Huit plats de rôts non mention-nés.—Seize entremets.

Here is a Carte Dinatoire for twelve persons, for the table of the Citoyen Directeur et Général Barras, le Décadi, trente floréal:—

Carte Dinatoire pour la table du Citoyen Directeur et Général Barras, le Décadi, 30 Floréal. Douze personnes.

(Autographes de M. Théodore Vivien.)


Les six entrées.

Les deux plats de rôt.

Les six entremets.

Trop de poisson. Otez les goujons. Le reste est bien. Qu’on n’oublie pas encore de mettre des coussins sur les siéges pour les citoyennes Tallien, Talma, Beauharnais, Hinguerlot et Mirande.

Et pour cinq heures très-précises.

Signé Barras.

Faites venir des glaces de Veloni. Je n’en veux pas d’autres.

Here is a menu of a dinner served to the Emperor Napoleon and his family, on the Samedi Saint, 1811:—

Menu d’un Dîner de la Famille Bonaparte, aux Tuileries.

Deux potages.

Deux relevés.

Quatre entrées.

Deux rôtis.

Deux plats de légumes.


Quatre entremets au sucre.

Now comes the first dinner en maigre which Louis XVIII. had at Compiegne. It is certainly a most recherché one:—

Premier Diner du roi Louis XVIII., à Compiegne.

(En Maigre.)

Quatre potages.

Quatre relevés de poissons.

Quatre grosses pièces.

Trente-deux entrées.

Les croquettes de brochets.

La grosse anguille à la Régence.

La marinade de bonne morue.


Les filets de soles à la Dauphine.

La bar à la vénitienne.

La orly de filets de carrelets.

Quatre grosses pièces d’entremets.

Quatre plats de rôts pour les contre-flancs.

Trente-deux entremets.

Les aiguillettes de goujons.

L’hermitage Indien.

Les poules de mer.

Les sarcelles au citron.

L’hermitage Russe.

Les petites truites au bleu.

Pour extra, dix assiettes de petits soufflés en croustades.


There is now the bill of fare of the dinner given by the Emperor Alexander, on his birthday, at Vertus, near Chalôns, on the 11th September, 1815. Covers were laid for 300, and the dinner began with 600 plates of oysters, for which 300 lemons were provided:—

Diner de l’Empereur Alexandre, à Vertus, près Chalons-sur-Marne, le 11 Septembre, 1815, jour anniversaire de la naissance de sa Majesté.

(Table de 300 couverts, servie à la russe.)

600 assiettes d’huîtres, 300 citrons.


Les huîtres, les citrons.

Trois potages.

Vingt-huit hors-d’œuvres.

De petits vol-au-vent à la purée de gibier.

Vingt-huit entrées froides.

De galantines de poulardes à la gelée.

Vingt-huit grosses pièces.

De filets de bœuf au vin de Madère, demi-espagnole.

Cent douze entrées.

Vingt-huit plats de rôts.

Cinquante entremets de légumes.

Cinquante-six entremets au sucre.

Underneath is the bill of fare of the first diplomatic dinner given by the Duke of Wellington, when ambassador in Paris, in 1815. It will be seen that the fare was simple, and most of the dishes dressed in the English fashion:—

Premier Dîner Diplomatique de l’Ambassadeur d’Angleterre à Paris. Menu d’un Service à l’Anglaise pour 20 Couverts.



Deux bouts de table.

Six entrées.



Deux salades.

Six entremets.

Treize assiettes de dessert.

I conclude French bills of fare with a menu of a royal banquet given at the Tuileries, on Twelfth-day, 1820, at which Louis XVIII., Monsieur (afterwards Charles X.), and the Duchess of Angouleme, the Duke and Duchess of Berri, the Duke and Duchess of Orleans, the Duke and Duchess of Bourbon were present:—

Menu du Grand-couvert, ou Banquet Royal aux Tuileries, pour le jour des Rois, 6 Janvier, 1820.

Deux potages.

Quatre grosses pièces.

Seize entrées.

Quatre grosses pièces.

Quatre plats de rôts.

Seize entremets.

Deux plombières, extra. Dessert.

At the period when luxurious tables became prevalent in France, good cheer also prevailed in London. In the time of Queen Mary, according to Maitland, luxury prevailed to such an excessive degree in the sumptuousness and extravagance of the city magistrates, that many of the principal citizens chose rather to retire into the country than to serve expensive offices. It was enacted by the Common Council, to prevent such extravagances, that the mayor should have no more than one course either at dinner or supper; and that on a festival day, a flesh day, a repast was to consist of no more than seven dishes, whether hot or cold; and on every festival day being a fish day, of eight dishes; and on every common flesh day, six dishes; and on every common fish day, seven dishes, exclusive of brawn, collops with eggs, salads, potage, butter, eggs, herrings, sprats, and shrimps, together with all sorts of shell-fish and fruits.

Regulations were also issued for the aldermen, sheriffs, and[386] City companies at their several entertainments.[37] They were to have neither swan, crane, nor bustard under the penalty of forty shillings.

During the reign of Elizabeth, the city venison feasts became offensive to the queen and her nobility. In consequence, a letter, signed by the Lord Mayor and two aldermen, was addressed to Lord Burleigh, in which these officials say, “For avoyding the excessive spending of venison and other vitail in the halles of this citie, which we understand to have been offensive to her matie and the nobilitie, we have by act of common counsel forbidden such festes hereafter to be kept, and have restrained the same only to necessary metinges in wh also venison is permitted as by copie of this act herewith sent into yr L. may appere.” These worshipful personages go on to assure Lord Burleigh that, unless similar proceedings be adopted in St. Martin’s and Westminster, the restraints imposed on the City of London would be of little use.

The golden age of cookery in modern times in England, however, was the reign of Queen Anne. The Queen herself was fond of good eating, and elaborate feasts became the custom among the nobility, gentry, and wealthy traders. In this reign it was that Dr. King published his “Art of Cookery,” in imitation of Horace’s “Art of Poetry,” making an attempt to introduce French dishes. In an oft-quoted passage of his poem he says:—

“The French our relish help, and will supply
The want of things too gross by decency.
Our fathers most admired their sauces sweet,
And often asked for sugar with their meat;
They butter’d currants on fat veal bestow’d,
And rumps of beef with virgin honey strew’d.”

Sir John Hill, M.D., followed Dr. King, with “Mrs. Glasse’s Cookery Book,” in which are some few receipts for French dishes. The great Lord Chesterfield, however, was the first nobleman who made the most strenuous efforts to introduce French cookery. He engaged as his cook La Chapelle, a descendant of the famous cook of Louis XIV. La Chapelle published a treatise on cookery in three volumes, which is now very rarely met with. It is entitled “The Modern Cook,” by[387] Vincent La Chapelle, chief cook to the Earl of Chesterfield, and was printed for the author in 1733, and sold by Nicholas Prevost, a Frenchman, over against Southampton Street, in the Strand.

About the period of the publication of this book, Lord Chesterfield was lord steward of the household to George II., and undoubtedly was the most renowned and fashionable host in London. His dinners and suppers were then deemed perfection; and these entertainments were one of the few items in which his expenditure was liberal. Lord Chesterfield lived till 1773, and I more than once heard the late Earl of Essex say, more than thirty years ago, at Brookes’s Club, that he remembered as a boy of fourteen or fifteen seeing the Earl seated on a rustic seat, inhaling the air outside the court-yard of his house in May Fair. Chesterfield House was ninety-one years ago at the very extremity of London, and all beyond it was an expanse of green fields.

The table of twenty or twenty-five covers was one of the noble earl’s official dinners, but the supper was for a party of intimate friends:—

A Table of Twenty or Twenty-five Covers, served with Twenty-nine Dishes.


The middle of the table.

A surtout in the middle.

Two terrines.

Two pots of olió.

Two terrines.

Four soops.

Eight entries, four with meat, and four in meager.

The four meager dishes.

Eight small dishes of melons, figs, and radishes.

Four removes for the soops.

To remove the eight small dishes of melons, figs, and radishes.

Four of meat.


For the large entremets for the middle of the table.

For the two sides of the table.

Eight dishes of roast, viz., four of meat and four meager.

The four meager.


Eight entremets, to remove the eight dishes of roast.

Eight hot entremets to remove the four sallets and four sauces.


A Bill of Fare for a Supper of Fifteen or Sixteen Covers, served up with a great Dish, two middling, four small, and Six Hors d’Œuvre.


For the middle.

Two pots of olió, one for each end.

Four entries.

Six small dishes.

To remove the two pots of olió.



For both ends of the table.

Four dishes of roast fowl.

Four sallets and 2 sauces.


Ten hot small entremets to remove the sauces, sallets, and roast-meat.


Sixteen or seventeen years after the death of Lord Chesterfield, a great number of French refugees of the highest family, who had emigrated in consequence of the Revolution to England, mixed much in English society, and the consequence was that French cookery became more prevalent. Several of our nobility vied with each other in entertaining the French princes, the Count de Lille, and the Count d’Artois (afterwards Louis XVIII. and Charles X.), and also the Dukes of Condé and Bourbon. Among the foremost of these were the Marquis of Buckingham and the Earl of Moira, both of whom expended vast sums in these hospitalities.

The Count de Lille and others of his family occupied, in 1807, Gossfield House, near High Garret, in Essex, a seat belonging to the Marquis of Buckingham; and in 1808 these princes were received with the most splendid marks of hospitality at the princely mansion of Stowe, where their residence was commemorated by a Latin inscription. For several months there was a dinner prepared daily for Louis XVIII., the Count d’Artois, the Duke d’Angoulême, the Duke of Berry, the Duke of Orleans, the Count de Beaujolais, the Prince of Condé, and the Duke of Bourbon. But Stowe was a scene of even greater festivity in 1805, when the Heir Apparent (afterwards George IV.), the Duke of Clarence (afterwards William IV.), with Mr. Fox, and all the members of the new coalition, were present. On this occasion 800 persons were invited. Grand entertainments were given during several successive days; illuminations took place in the evening, and the grotto in which their Royal Highnesses supped was illuminated with from 10,000 to 15,000 lamps.

At the Christmas dinner of the Duke of Buckingham, in 1808, Louis XVIII. was present, and the following was the bill of fare, as prepared by Mr. Simpson, the duke’s cook. It is undoubtedly more substantial than elegant.



Of French cookery the Prince Regent was during his life a great admirer, and no one in his Majesty’s dominions, or out of it, kept a more recherché or expensive table. But the Coronation Dinner at Westminster Hall, in 1822, was a monster banquet merely, and it gives no indication whatever of the king’s more refined taste in cookery. As a curiosity I print the bill of fare of this great feast.

Bill of Fare of the Banquet given by George IV. on the 19th of July, 1822, in Westminster Hall, on the day of his Coronation.

Hot Dishes.—160 tureens of soup; 80 of turtle; 40 of rice; 40 of vermicelli; 80 dishes of turbot; 40 of trout; 40 of salmon; 80 dishes of venison; 40 of roast beef; 3 basins of beef; 40 dishes of mutton and veal; 160 dishes of vegetables, including potatoes, peas, and cauliflowers; 480 sauce-boats; 240 lobsters; 120 of butter; 120 of mint.

Cold Dishes.—80 of braised ham; 80 savory pies; 80 of geese à la daube, two in each dish; 80 of savory cakes; 80 of braised beef; 80 of braised capons, two in each dish; 1190 side dishes of various kinds; 320 of mounted pastry; 400 of jellies and creams; 80 of lobsters; 80 of crayfish; 161 of roast fowls; 80 of house-lamb.

Total Quantities.—Beef, 7442 lbs.; veal, 7133 lbs.; mutton, 2474 lbs.; house-lamb, 20 quarters; legs of ditto, 20; lamb, 5 saddles; grass-lamb, 55 quarters; lamb sweetbreads, 160; cow-heels, 389; calves’-feet, 400; suet, 250 lbs.; geese, 160; pullets and capons, 720; chickens, 1610; fowls for stock, 520; bacon, 1730 lbs.; lard, 550 lbs.; butter, 912 lbs.; eggs, 8400.

The Wines.—Champagne, 100 doz.; burgundy, 20 doz.; claret, more than 200 doz.; hock, 50 doz.; moselle, 50 doz.; Madeira, 50 doz.; sherry and port, about 350 doz.; iced punch, 100 gallons. The champagne, hock, and moselle, were iced before being placed upon the table.

The expenses of this banquet and the coronation together amounted to the sum of 238,238l. As a contrast to this, it may be also mentioned that the banquet and coronation of his Majesty William IV., which took place September, 1831, did not cost 50,000l.

It may be mentioned that, at the coronation of George IV.,[393] the glut of fruit was unprecedented; a gentleman of Lambeth cut sixty ripe pine-apples on the occasion; and that many hundreds of pines remarkable for size and flavour came from distant parts of the country; one from Lord Cawdor’s weighed 10 lbs., and formed part of the royal banquet.

The taste of the royal gourmand will be more fully disclosed by a bill of fare of one of the private dinners given at the Pavilion, Brighton, in 1817.

Carème was at that period for eight months chef de cuisine to the Prince Regent of England (afterwards George IV.), and for seven months of that period the chef says he never quitted his post. During these seven months, if we are to believe this celebrated cuisinier, his Royal Highness never felt any attack of gout, whereas before the cookery was so highly spiced (aromatisée) that the royal gourmand was tormented with it both day and night. Here is one of those menus of thirty-two entrées, given at the Pavilion, Brighton, on the 8th of Jan., 1817, which gave no gout:—

Quatre potages.

Quatre relevés de poissons.

Quatre grosses pieces.

Quatre contre-flans.

Quatre plats rôts.

Huit entremets.


Bill of Fare for Ten or Twelve Persons. January.


Two soups.

Two fishes.

Two roasts.

Four entrées.


Two roasts.

Four entremets.

Dinner for Fourteen Persons. April.


Two soups.

Two fishes.

Two removes.

Four entrées.


Four entremets.


Dinner for Sixteen in May or June.


Two soups.

Two fishes.

Two removes.



Six entremets.

Dinner in a plain English Fashion for Fourteen.


Two soups.

Two Fishes.

Two roasts.

Eight entrées.



Eight entremets.


Of Carème it is necessary I should say a little before he proceeds to tell his own story. If you believe him (see passim the six volumes of his culinary works) he was the Homer and Virgil, the Corneille and Dryden, the Pope and Boileau, the Byron and De Béranger of cookery. Every other art, noble or ignoble, every other superiority, literary, legal, histrionic, saltatory, medicinal, modistical, may be contested with the Gauls; but great and little of all nations, peers and pork-men, boyars and butchers, graffs and gastronomers, of whatever land, all by common consent agree in shouting, in loud cosmopolitan acclaim, the glories and the greatness of Carème. “He was a man,” says one of his disciples, “whose tension and activity of mind were never exhausted; the more tedious and difficult were his duties, the more brilliant he emerged from them.” The greatest men in ancient and modern times have written their own history. Plato in his choicest dialogues gives us an insight into his own character; Cicero, in his work “De Oratore,” paints himself under a feigned name; Caesar writes us an account of his own exploits in his “Commentaries,” as the Duke of Wellington does in his “Despatches;” Montecuculli penned his own Memoirs; and Napoleon laboured at the “Mémoriel de St. Hélène;” why, therefore, should not a greater man in his own estimation than any one among them all, reveal his own precious history and the mysteries of his science, and lay patent to the public the simple grandeur of his batteries de cuisine? Ay, why not? Open the pages of his instructive Memoirs and Autobiography, and see whether there is any one of the Useful Knowledge Society heroes who have gone so far in the pursuit of knowledge under imminent and impending difficulties, as that really noble fellow[397] Anthony Carème? Did he not abandon the first families to write his cookery and the practice of some great contemporaries? for, observe you, Carème is not always peering a Brobdignagian I under your nose, or flourishing the flaunting motto of “Ego et Rex Meus” before your perplexed eyes. No, this good savoury Samaritan cook has some bowels, some thoughts of others, some kindliness for the absent and the departed. He seems always with the modesty of real merit to say, though of the strongest in his generation, “Vixere fortes Agamemnona.” But his virtues were not merely negative, they were of the most positive kind. He would only accept places “where his taste for study would not be interfered with;” for his ambition was “serious and elevated.” Then he felt, poignantly felt, “the misery of living among men destitute of education.”

Rousseau, in that most eloquent of books, “The Confessions,” tells us under what circumstances certain of his writings were composed. The gruff Sam. Johnson, the delightful debt-contracting Oliver Goldsmith, the ingenious and fantastic William Hazlitt are equally communicative; but, maugré this copious sincerity, what are these men to Carème? Is there any one sentence in all they have ever written equal to the following? “From the time I arranged the sideboard of the Saxon ambassador, the thought of the ‘Pâtissier Royale,’ and the ‘Cuisinier Parisien,’ entered my head.” Cause and effect are here beautifully, lucidly transparent. Dr. Brown and Dugald Stewart, and all the Scotch mystifiers, might have written on the subject till the crack of doom, and left the darkness more dim, and the subject more perplexed; it is only Carème who has made, in throwing off this bright sentence, the doctrine quite plain.

“It was at the little inn at Llangollen,” says Hazlitt, “after a supper, that I wrote such a sketch” (which he names). See how great geniuses fall on the same style and method. “It was in the night,” says Carème, “after a short sleep, that I lately dictated to my daughter my most recent chapters.”

“In the busiest period of my service with Alexander,” says this ingenious maker of sauces, “I never once abandoned my evening notes.” Admirable, glorious man! who will not think in reading this of the parallel passage in the life of Fox, who, in the busiest conflicts of party, left the blaze and bustle of the Commons to read Aristophanes, as the other great performer left[398] the blaze and bustle of the kitchen to compose his evening notes. It was owing to these “viginti annorum lucubrationes”—it was owing to the “severe studies of the empire,” that he was at length, after wrestling with difficulties unheard of, enabled “to seize on sugared entremets as his domain in fee.” He had, too, all the independence of mind of a great genius, “the surveillance of Russia appeared degrading to him, and he promptly left the land of the tyrant and the slave. Nor was this all: such was the profoundness of his ennui in this work-a-day world of ours—in this heavy, muddy, manufacturing England—that he was forced to leave the service of George IV. to resume the composition of his works.

These works are collected in six volumes; and, as one great genius may be permitted to speak of another, “they are,” says William Hall, cook to Thomas Peere Williams, and “conductor” of the parliamentary dinners of Viscount Canterbury,—“they are the productions of a man whose imagination greatly enlarged the variety of entrées and entremets previously practised, and whose clear and perspicuous details render them facile, not only to the artist who has already an advance in his profession, but also to those whose knowledge of the higher code of the kitchen has been necessarily limited.”

The cooks of Rome and Athens stood in the market-place with aprons on, waiting to be hired for the occasion, and, after they had done the day’s service, were ignominiously dismissed out of doors; but the cooks of our day are the friends and familiars of the great. “I conversed for more than an hour on gastronomy with Prince Esterhazy,” says Carème, “and it is astonishing what a knowledge of the art he displayed.” How different, however, is the fate of different authors! Corneille died in an unknown corner, in forlornness and distress; Goldsmith was always in want of a guinea; Samuel Johnson was often sorely pinched; glorious John Dryden laboured hard for the day’s dinner; Fielding was often in the hands of bailiffs, and Savage and Otway lived and laboured in misery and distress: but Carème, unlike these, gained not only immortality, but money; not only praise, but good solid pudding. “My works,” says he, “created me, exclusive of places whose emoluments I sacrificed, a yearly income of more than 20,000 francs.”

The most amusing of these works is undoubtedly an autobiography,[399] which he did not live to finish. As it has not appeared in an English dress, I give the gem in a translation made at the time it was published.

“Although born of one of the poorest families of France, of a family which counted amongst its members five-and-twenty children—although my father, to save me, literally flung me into the street; Fortune, nevertheless, rapidly smiled on me, and a good fairy often took me by the hand, to lead me in the right way. In the eyes of my enemies (and I have many) I have more than once appeared the spoiled child of Fortune. I have accepted and refused, at various times, the finest places; I have abandoned the first families in Europe to write my practice of cookery and that of some great contemporaries gone to their account, whose principles and practice were engraved in my memory.

“I have only accepted good places, however, in families where my taste for study, and the views which I early entertained as to eminence in my profession, would not be interfered with. In the rapid passage to all these places heaps of money were offered me half a score of times, but I have not been over-desirous of mere wealth. My ambition was serious and elevated, and very early in life I desired to elevate my profession into the dignity of an art. It is precisely in this road that I have encountered the greatest obstructions. I have everywhere found idleness and envy—that miserable disposition of mind made wretched by every superiority, and above all by that of a comrade. But I have had more success than I desired, though the exceptionable position in which I have been placed has never diminished the misery of often living among men destitute of all education. For some years I have sought the means to give these men a moral culture (l’éducation du cœur); but I could not very clearly see my way, for this self-education in the midst of an active life is the most difficult of acquisition. The example of a family is necessary to educate our soul.

“Here and there I have some remembrance of seriously disagreeable passages, owing to the low rich (vilains riches); but I ought, on the other hand, to recall to mind the good, the excellent conduct of gentlemen of truth, noble seigneurs that I have served. I have never had to complain but of the conduct of a parvenu, a name which the fellow decorated himself with[400] without tact. It was under the Empire that I was most employed; it was, above all, at this era that my studies were severe; “c’est surtout à cette époque que j’ai fait des fortes études.” My researches were made in good time; they were continuous; they were serious. At M. de Talleyrand’s I was under Boucher, chef des services of the prince. I there perfected myself in one of the principal parts of cookery, which I afterwards developed. Some years previously I had executed many parts of the beaux extras. A little later I had the management of the charming little dinners given by a distinguished and lofty-minded man, M. de Lavalette. I also cooked the dinners and arranged the sideboard of the Saxon Ambassador. It is from that period that the first decided thought of the “Pâtissier Royal” and of the “Cuisinier Parisien,” first entered my mind. I now acquired the excellent habit of noting down in the evening, on returning home, the modifications that I had made in my labour, each day bringing some change. With pen in hand, I set down the reasons which had determined my mind. That which then particularly occupied me was the finer parts of the oven’s produce, and the cold sugared entremets. This labour is the most delicate portion of the art of the pastry-cook. I invented much in this branch—the foundation, the execution, the form—all these parts became easy to me, and I seized on them as of my domain in fee.

“I enjoyed perfect freedom at M. de Lavalette’s to compose my dinners. It was there I did the most to realize the problem whose solution I early sought—the union of order, delicacy, and economy. The guests were assiduous at these dinners; they were generally members of the senate, learned men, celebrated officers, all connoisseurs.

“I laboured as a supernumerary at the Prince de Talleyrand’s in 1814, when the Emperor Alexander arrived there. There I obtained the friendship and protection of an agreeable and distinguished man, the comptroller of his Imperial Majesty’s household, M. Muller. Under his direction I became chief cook of the kitchens of the emperor, and was charged with all the expenses and the ordering of the bills of fare. This was the most active moment of my life; yet I did not renounce my custom, but continued to write what I had changed remodelled. I thus fixed ideas and combinations in my memory which might have been effaced from it. When the Emperor[401] Alexander quitted Paris, I refused simultaneously the offer of the situation of chef de cuisine in many great houses. Soon after I decided to set out for Aix-la-Chapelle, still in the service of the Emperor Alexander. The congress of sovereigns was united, and M. Muller renewed his propositions of Paris, namely, that I should go and continue my labours at Petersburg. My mode of cookery pleased the emperor much, he said; that was easy, for everything was noble and truly imperial in that great establishment of the czar. My emoluments were 2400 francs per month, and the culinary expenses. That which I directed at Aix-la-Chapelle was from 80,000 to 100,000 francs a month; but this munificent expenditure was based on the greatest order and regularity, and the utmost strictness in making up the accounts.

“The Prince Louis de Rohan, a member of the congress, was one of my kindliest protectors. He advised me to enter into the regular service of the emperor. I wished for a delay, for I could not resolve to quit the researches and labours of digesting my works, which I had commenced at Paris.

“I then entered the service of Lord Stewart. The English embassy at Vienna was most brilliant at this time. Affairs called milord to London. It was there that Prince Orloff offered me anew the vacant places of maître d’hôtel and chef des cuisines to the Emperor Alexander. I left London, and came to see at Paris M. Daniel, who had just left the service of the Emperor of Russia, rich and honoured. He advised me to start for Petersburg. ‘You will not,’ he exclaimed, ‘find much serious rivalry there.’ I made up my baggage, and embarked at Honfleur. Arrived at Cronstadt, my old friend Riquette presented me immediately to the Prince Wolkonski. I was selected for the place of maître d’hôtel, but remarking that it was degraded by a humiliating surveillance, I determined to give it up. A few days afterwards I decided on leaving Petersburg, after having visited Moscow. I determined to return either to France or England, where I would find a good place in accordance with my habits and talents.

“I set sail, then, from Cronstadt; but the voyage was one continual tempest. We had been thirty-nine days at sea when we took shelter between Calais and Boulogne. On the morning of the thirty-ninth day, relief was afforded by large fishing smacks from Calais. After some days of repose, I returned to[402] that Paris which I had never ceased to regret, and on my arrival, entered the service of the Princess Bragation, a lady of high rank, good, clever, and mistress of a table which, in delicacy, dignity, and culinary novelties, yielded the palm to no lordly table, whether French or English. The taste of this lady was exquisite. She had a grace, a charm of conversation which were cited as models. I always served my dinner en maître d’hôtel, and was uniformly complimented. The princess said to me one day, ‘Carème, did they not tell you that you were entering the service of a capricious lady?’ I signified assent. ‘You see the contrary, however, for I am delighted with your bills of fare, and accept them as you offer them.’ I thanked the princess, and added that the characteristic quality of my cookery was, above all, that delicacy and that variety which she was good enough to praise. One day somebody said that he had been invited to a dinner dressed by Carème. Her highness immediately answered, ‘There must be a mistake, for I am sure that Carème dresses no dinner out of my house.’ Madame understood my character. The guest replied, ‘Well, this cook of which I spoke is a pearl, at all events.’ ‘Say rather,’ rejoined the princess, ‘a false pearl, while mine is a real one.’ And there I was, as large as life!

“The princess was often ill. One day at dinner, and before me, the Prince de Talleyrand felicitated her on improved health. ‘Yes, I am better, and I owe that to Carème.’ The prince, with his usual intellectual grace and kindliness, approved of the princess’s remark. At that moment I was very happy.

“During my journey into Russia, Lord Stewart wrote to me at Petersburg, to engage me to go with him to Vienna, ‘as he could find no cook who reminded him of me.’ These were his very words. The Princess Bragation being some time afterwards almost perpetually confined to her bed, my place became nearly a sinecure, and I obtained from my kind patroness the permission to return to Vienna. When I arrived in the latter capital the ambassador was no longer there, but I rejoined him at Laybach.

“On my return to Vienna, I undertook the editing of the bill of fare (la rédaction du menu), which was not changed. I each day received in our magnificent kitchen the visit of milord; he daily bestowed on me presents and encouragements.[403] It was his excellency who received the letter of the Prince Wolkonski, in which it was said that the emperor would accept the dedication of my projects of culinary architecture. A magnificent ring, studded with valuable diamonds, accompanied this letter. I received it with tears in my eyes. How happy had my life become!

“My ring was the subject of universal curiosity among my brethren. It was envied me by those who passed their lives in dissipation. See how delicate the emperor was. He would not reward me in an art in which I had pleased him, but he rewarded me in another art, to which I had consecrated all the leisure moments of my life. How often in that moment did I mentally thank M. Percier, that finely accomplished draughtsman, for the priceless instruction which he was good enough to give me.

“A short while after, we left Vienna, to be present at the coronation of George IV. Ten years before I had served this monarch, then I left him to go to Russia. I left him notwithstanding his generosity, notwithstanding the illustration which his regrets, so benignantly expressed, had thrown around my name. We did not arrive in time for the coronation. I regretted this at first; but, when I knew with what manner of men I should be associated, I looked on my absence as a real blessing. According to all account, nothing could be more triste, more paltry, more out of joint with the occasion, than these fêtes. My ancient colleague of Carlton House had completely failed.

“Towards the end of 1823 there was a talk of Prince Esterhazy as ambassador at Paris. The Duke de Perigord recalled me to the memory of his excellency Prince Esterhazy, who received me with kindness, and remembered with a lively pleasure the dinners of the Prince Regent. He engaged me in the event of his being nominated to the Parisian embassy, and retained me long enough that day to talk of the gastronomy, of which he spoke in a truly pertinent manner, and with much talent. The prince set out for London. I remained at Paris sixteen months in the expectation of the new place, and meanwhile refused fine offers; one of the Russian ambassador’s at Naples, the other of Lord Granville, who was leaving the Hague. I made it a point to be scrupulously faithful to the engagement which I had entered into with the prince.


“I forgot to say that, at the end of six months, Rothschild’s place was offered me. At first I refused, but, Prince Esterhazy not coming to Paris, one of my kind protectors, the Prince Louis de Rohan, presented me to Madame Rothschild. I accepted the place. The Duke de Perigord wished at this time that I should present my “Culinary Architecture,” magnificently bound by Thouvenin, to the Tuileries. The result was as I had foreseen—I only received cold compliments. The reward of the public was somewhat different. My “Projets d’Architecture,” though containing only rough sketches, were examined and approved. At the moment I write, 1833, here are nearly five years that I am with the Rothschilds. I have since refused the service of the Spanish embassy and of Prince Esterhazy, who came to Paris with the kindly thought of taking me back to England. M. Esterhazy was the intimate friend of George IV.; he dined weekly with his majesty. It was difficult for these two eminent gourmets, for these two personages, full of taste, to pass some hours together without talking of cookery. One day his Majesty asked the Prince where I was. ‘At Rothschild’s,’ said Esterhazy, ‘and in that house is the very best table in Paris.’ ‘I believe it,’ said George IV., ‘since Carème has the management of it.’ These words were repeated to me by a person of eminent rank who was present. George IV. was so perfect a connoisseur in all that related to the table, that I had a right to feel flattered by his approval. These words of kindliness were in conformity with everything which the Regent had the goodness to say to me ten years before—to every communication he caused to be made to me in the interval. Magnificent conditions were now proposed to me on the part of George IV.; my salary was to be doubled, and that salary was to be converted into a pension for life at the end of a few years. But, in the interval between the fashionable seasons, London and the country-houses of the three kingdoms were insupportable to me. Notwithstanding the kindness and friendship of this royal prince, I experienced while in his service so profound a melancholy and ennui, that I was forced to return to Paris to resume the composition of my works. It is not, therefore, to be wondered that I refused with regret, though with gratitude, offers of recall to the service of George IV. In the first place, my situation at Rothschild’s suited me perfectly; and, in the second place, I was somewhat wearied[405] with service. I felt the first attack of the malady which gnaws at my vitals. I now only think of profiting of the days which Heaven may yet spare to me to finish the books whose germs are in my mind. These books have been the meditation of my entire life. What torments, what preoccupations, what cares, do they not represent, and how I have tormented body and mind by my long vigils. At break of day I was at the fish-market, seeking the elements of my labours. Some hours after, I was in the thick of business, with cap and apron on; and I was again at work, busy as a bee, some hours before dinner. It was in the night, after a short sleep, that I lately dictated to my daughter my most recent chapters. The certainty now remains to me of leaving something useful behind me. But I shall not leave all that I had conceived touching our art, in the interest of kindly civil men and good practicians.

“I now edited my ‘Maître-d’Hôtel;’ I published a new edition of the ‘Pâtissier Royale,’ and the third of the ‘Pâtissier Pittoresque;’ the copyright I kept in my own hands.

“My works, forming already six volumes, had created for me at last (exclusive of places whose emoluments I always sacrificed to my studies!) the annual income necessary to a tranquil and comfortable existence. I made that year an income of more than 20,000 francs (800l.). M. de Rothschild, valuing my services, raised, of his own accord, my wages. He had just about this time purchased of the Duke of Otranto the handsome estate of Ferrières. The baron was good enough to say that the resources of Ferrières would render my service more easy; he added, with kindness, ‘This beautiful château will, a dozen years hence, offer you a retreat.’ I eagerly thanked him, but said that I did not think my health would permit me to accept his offers, that I was worn out. ‘My wish,’ said I, ‘M. le Baron, is not to finish my days in a château, but in an humble lodging in Paris.’ I further mentioned that my books brought me in an income which exceeded my wants. I shall increase this income, for I have not finished my labours; I have yet to publish a book on the actual state of my profession.’ ‘But what is the amount of that income?’ kindly asked M. de Rothschild and his family. A lively surprise was the result of my answer. What I said appeared a dream. I added that this income was not of the past year only, but dated back for several years.


“It was some months after this that I was attacked with the malady which torments me, and which will close, perhaps, the future on me. I am still under the hands of the doctors, but do not mend. One of my old friends, M. Magonty, replaces me in my post.

“I will not close this chapter without saying that I obtained, while in the house of Madame Rothschild, the inestimable good-will of a man of genius, of the Maestro Rossini; he is a connoisseur, as is well known; he always said that he only dined well, according to his taste, at the house of Madame Rothschild. He asked me one day if my labours were not the result of very attentive meditation? I answered affirmatively, ‘All that I do is written; I slightly alter in execution.’ I remember that one day there was some talk of Rossini going to the United States; he was good enough to say, ‘I’ll start at once if Carème will but accompany me.’”

I shall conclude with a few detached passages, aphorisms, and thoughts, from the same great authority.

Fête given at the Elysée Impérial for the Marriage of Prince Jerome and the Princess of Wurtemburg.

“At this, a grand ball, Robert was comptroller, and the famous Laguipierre chef des cuisines. Riquette[38] and I were charged with such portion of the supper as was served cold. We thus, as nearly as I can remember, filled the tables: twenty-four large joints, fourteen stands bearing hams, six galantines, and two wild boars’ heads, six loins of veal à la gelée, seventy-six entrées, six of which were sides and fillets of beef à la gelée, six noix de veau, six of dressed calves’ brains bordered with shapes of jelly, six of pain de foie gras, six of poulets à la reine en galantine, six d’aspics garnished with cocks’ combs and kidneys, six of salmis of red partridge lukewarm, six of fricasées of poulet à la reine, six of mayonnaises de volaille, six of slices of salmon au beurre de Montpelier, six of salads of fillets of soles, six of galantines of eels au beurre de Montpelier. Our[407] borders were thus composed: for the slices of salmon, beurre rose; for the eels, beurre à la ravigotte vert-tendre; for the salads of filets de sole, borders of eggs; for the mayonnaises de volaille, the same; for the game and fowls, borders of truffles, mushrooms, and morels.”

New Invention of Carème.

“Towards 1804 I imagined our new suédoises. The shapes which they had before my time were without grace or elegance. My attempt had a decided success at a grand extra of a ball, which the marshals of France gave to the Chief-Consul, their master. The ball was magnificent; it was given in the Salle de l’Opéra decorated with hangings. M. Bécar, cook of the sugared entremets, called me in to assist him, he confided to me the suédoises. I made him thirty-six of them, and for several days afterwards these suédoises were the only topic of conversation from the kitchens to the salons of Paris. Happy times! agreeable labours!”

The following are the most striking among the Aphorisms, Thoughts, and Maxims, of the Cook Carème.

“France is the mother-country of amphitryons. Its kitchen and its wines assure the triumph of gastronomy. It is the only country in the world for good cheer. Strangers are convinced of these truths.

“The culinary art serves as a sort of escort to European diplomacy.

“The great diplomatist should have a renowned cook.

“The diplomatist is a fine appreciator of a good dinner.

“For the young nobility, embassies are courses of diplomacy and gastronomy.

“Gastronomy marches like a queen at the head of civilization, but vegetates merely in a period of revolution.

“Great doctors and great musicians are great lovers of good living; witness the celebrated Broussais, Roques, Rossini, and Boïeldieu.

“The rich man, fond of the pleasures of the table, passes through life with comfort and happiness, when he cares not a straw for public affairs.

“Cookery is a difficult art; a generous host knows how to appreciate its grandeur and dignity.


“In the houses of the old nobility, the chef de cuisine became maître d’hôtel, the assistant-cook took the place of the cook, and the scullions became assistant-cooks. By these mutations, these ministers to the mouth (hommes de bouche) attached themselves more and more to these noble houses, and thus the masters at once preserved their health and secured the comfort of their servants.

“In the epoch in which we live the first culinary talents vegetate at Paris, and London is enriched with our renowned cooks.

“A cook is a gastronome both by taste and by profession.

“A cook who is clean in his person is clean also in his work.

“In ancient and modern times, the talents of cooks were honoured by kings, witness Marc Antoninus and the great Frederick.

“The French cook is esteemed by the great in distant lands; he is sought for and appreciated.

“The French cook is incited to his work by a point of honour inseparable from the culinary art; witness the death of the great Vatel.

“The French cook is happy in all the capitals of Europe, but he who does not wish to quit his country should have courage.

“At the Russian court the cook on duty (for there are four who take the work by turns every fortnight) always served his dinner en maître d’hôtel. This thoroughly gastronomical fashion should be generally adopted by amphitryons who love to make good cheer.

“The hypocritical valet is fatal to the tranquillity of a great establishment; he is vain, proud, paltry, crawling, lazy, and gluttonous; he is a tale-bearer for the purpose of gaining his master’s confidence, which he afterwards abuses; he is the Tartuffe of domestic life.

“The upstart valet is self-sufficient and scented.

“The doctor speaks ill of the cook, in order that he may not lose his influence over the mind of the rich man; but the talent of a good cook tends more to the preservation of his master’s health than the factitious science of certain doctors, whose medical advice is regulated by their own interests.

“The rich man who leads an irregular life ought rather to trust to the science of a cook to re-establish his health, if he[409] feels the necessity of it, than to the discourses of the interested doctor.”

Such was Anthony Carème. He had gained the suffrages of emperors and kings, of princes royal and princes not royal, of noble ladies and rich banker Jews, when the climax of his felicity was capped by the friendship and good-will of Rossini, and a flattering notice of his work, in his usual sparkling style, from the facile pen of Jules Janin. This was too much for mortal man, and encumbered by the very splendour and vanity of his successes, and not a little worn out also, by thirty years of service, he sank into premature decay, and was taken from that world of bon-vivants and sensualists of whom he had formed the delight, somewhere about the year of grace 1835 or 1836. “He was,” says a celebrated gourmand, “lively, ardent, enthusiastic, of a rare patience, of an imperturbable sangfroid,” The last work of Carème, “’Art de Cuisine Française au XIXème Siècle,” was left in an unfinished state, but M. Plumeret, first cook of the Russian embassy, has finished it by the publication of the sixteenth and seventeenth parts. In the “aître d’Hôtel Français,” the “uisinier Parisien,”and “a Cuisine de Paris au XIXème Siècle,” will Carème live.

“Carème bestowed fine names on his soups:—Potages Condé, Boïeldieu, Broussais, Roques, Ségalas (the three last learned and agreeable doctors); Lamartine, Dumesnil (the historian); Buffon, Girodet; and to be just to all the world, that great practitioner in the culinary art which the world has lost, had not forgotten, before his death, to give also to one of his best soups the name of Victor Hugo. He called a matelote of fish after M. Delavigne, and a dish of perch after his physician, M. Gaubert.”

Here are M. Carème’s ideas on maigre sauces:—“It is in a lenten kitchen that the cleverness of a cook can shed a brilliant light. It was in the Elysée Imperial, and by the example of the famous Laguipierre and Robert, that I was initiated into this fine branch of the art, and it is inexpressible. The years ’93 and ’94, in their terrible and devastating course, respected these strong heads (ces fortes têtes). When our valiant First Consul appeared at the head of affairs our miseries and those of gastronomy finished.

“When the empire came, one heard of soups and entrées[410] maigre. The splendid maigre first appeared at the table of the Princess Caroline Murat. This was the sanctuary of good cheer, and Murat was one of the first to do penitence. But what a penitence!”

One does not know whether to be indignant or to laugh at this. The old proverb, “Set a beggar on horseback and he will ride to the devil,” is undoubtedly true. A few years before the consulate the ambitious Caroline Buonaparte, afterwards wife of Murat, was, with her mother and the other female members of her family, in so destitute a situation at Marseilles, that they had not the means of buying wood to warm themselves; and as to Murat, her husband, it is well known that he rose from the very dregs of society, his father being a village innkeeper at Bastide Frontonière, in the department of Lot.



[1] An edition of Apicius, with notes and comments, has been given by Dr. Lister, physician to Queen Anne.

[2] “Cours Gastronomique,” 124.

[3] “Namque cocus domini debet habere gulam.”—Martial.

[4] “Donat. in Terent. Andr.,” act. i. sc. 1.

[5] “Bourgeois Gentilhomme,” act iv. sc. 1.

[6] Amsterdam, 1726.

[7] “Almanach des Gourmands,” 6me année.

[8] Previous to 1789, says the “Almanach des Gourmands,” tom. i, p. 162, there were not one hundred restaurateurs in Paris. Now (in 1803) there are five times as many. Speaking at random and without book, there are at present 4000 or 5000, great and small. The author of the “Almanach des Gourmands” falls into the strange mistake of attributing the increase of restaurateurs to an Anglomania. “It is well known,” says he, “that the English almost always dine at a tavern.” What inconceivable ignorance!

[9] “Memoires Anecdotiques sur l’intérieur du Palais, et sur quelques Evenemens de l’Empire, depuis 1805 jusqu’au 1 Mai 1814, pour servir à l’Histoire de Napoleon,” par L. F. J. De Bausset, ancien Préfet du Palais Impérial.

[10] This was first printed at Milan, in 1498.

[11] At the beginning of this century, Weeks’ Bush Inn, at Bristol, was famous for its Christmas fare. The bill of fare for Christmas 1800 was as follows:—A turtle of 120 lbs., 72 pots of turtle, a bustard, red game, black game, fish of almost innumerable kinds, venison, 42 hares, 87 wild ducks, 17 pheasants, 41 partridges, 17 wild geese, 149 snipes, 81 woodcocks, 17 wild turkeys, 44 tame turkeys, 10 capons, 52 barrels of Purfleet oysters.

[12] Juvenal relates the story somewhat differently:—

“Sed deerat pisci patinæ mensura: vocantur
Ergo in concilium proceres,” &c.—Sat. II.

[13] Galen, Lib. III.—De Aliment. See also Lib. VIII.—Methodi Medendi.

[14] See also, Nonius de Re Cibar.—Lib. VIII.

[15] Dictionnaire des termes du vieux François, ou tresor de recherches et antiquités Gauloises et Françoises, par M. Borel, Conseiller et Médecin ordinaire du Roi. Paris: chez Briasson, Rue St. Jacques. MDCCL.

[16] Lib. XII. cap. 5.

[17] “Ludovici Nonni Dieteticon,” Antverpiæ, MDCXVI. Lib. II. p. 242.

[18] See 4 Inst., cap. lxvi. The office of swanherd is in Rot. Patentium, anno 11 and 4, called “Magister deductus Cygnorum.” See “Le case de Swannes,” lib. 7.

[19] “Observations on the Ancient Statutes.” Dublin: Grierson, 1767.

[20] Nonni “De Re Cib.” Lib. II.

[21] Nonni, “De Re Cibariâ,” lib. ii., p. 215.

[22] “Velocius quam asparagi coquuntur.” Suet.

[23] Cotignac was a confection of quinces.

[24] “Traité des Alimens,” par Lémery.

[25] See “Traité des Alimens de Lémery.” Par le Docteur Bruhier.

[26] “Traité des Alimens,” p. 360.

[27] Eutropius.

[28] Hist. des Empereurs, tom. ii.

[29] Julian in Misopogon, p. 359.

[30] I believe a third edition has been published in 1860.

[31] It would, however, appear that the Romans employed corks:—

“Corticem astrictum pice dimovebit

says Horace.

[32] Henderson says that in some places where wood abounded, as in the neighbourhood of the Alps and in Illyria, wine casks were made of that material; but the vessels in general use among the Greeks and Romans were of earthenware. No authority is, however, cited by the Doctor for this statement.

[33] Lib. xxvii., c. 6.

[34] These customs are now (1864) exploded in London society, and only exist on circuit, at regimental messes, or at public dinners.

[35] “Un poinçon de vin, d’huile, &c. Dolium vel doliolum. Le poinçon est la moitié d’un tonneau d’Orléans, ou d’Anjou. C’est un nom qu’on donne en Blasois et en Touraine au muid de vin. A Rouen le poinçon contient treize boisseaux. C’est à Paris la même chose qu’une demi-queue. On dit, Voici vendanges, il faut acheter des poinçons, faire relier nos poinçons, en parlant de toutes sortes de futailles et de vaisseaux.”—Dictionnaire de Trevoux.

[36] This grape is named the Ciras. In the “Œnologie Française” for 1826, it is spelt Scyras, and it is stated, according to the tradition of the neighbourhood, the plant was originally brought from Shiraz, in Persia, by one of the hermits of the mountain.

[37] History of London, vol. I., p. 250.

[38] Riquette was then a young Parisian cook, who has since made a considerable fortune in the service of the Emperor Alexander. He spoke and wrote so remarkably, that his competitors called him the beau parleur.

Transcriber’s Notes:

1. Obvious printers’, punctuation and spelling errors have been corrected silently.

2. Where hyphenation is in doubt, it has been retained as in the original.

3. Some hyphenated and non-hyphenated versions of the same words have been retained as in the original.