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the unparalleled victories that have been gained in this reign: for I would desire my reader to coosider, what work our countrymen would have made at Blenheim and Ramillies, if they had been fed with fricasees and ragoûts.
For this reason, we at present see the florid com-, plexion, the strong limb, and the hale constitution, are to be found chriefly among the meaner sort of people, or in tbe wild gentry who have been educated among the woods or mountains. Whereas many great families are insensibly fallen off from the athletic constitution of their progenitors, and are dwindled away into a pale, sickly, spindle-legged generation of valetudinarians.
I may perhaps be thought extravagant in my notion ; but I must confess, I am apt to impute the dishonours that sometimes happen in great families, to the inflaming kind of diet which is so much in fashion. Many dishes can excite desire without giving strength, and heat the body without nourishing it; as physicians observe, that the poorest and most dispirited blood is most subject to fevers. I look upon a French ragoût to be as pernicious to the stomach as a glass of spirits; and when I have seen a young lady swallow all the instigations of high soups, seasoned sauces, and forced meats, I have wondered at the despair or tedious sighing of her lovers.
The rules among these false Delicates are, to be as contradictory as they can be to nature.
Without expecting the return of hunger, they eat for an appetite, and prepare dishes, not to allay, but to excite it.
They admit of nothing at their tables in its natural form, or without some disguise.
They are to eat every thing before it comes in season, and to leave it off as soon as it is good to be éaten.
They are not to approve any thing that is agree. able to ordinary palates ; and nothing is to gratify their senses, but what would offend those of their inferiors.
I remember I was last summer invited to a friend's house, who is a great admirer of the French cookery, and, as the phrase is, “ eats well.” At our sitting down, I found the table covered with a great variety of unknown dishes. I was mightily at a loss to learn what they were, and therefore did not know where to help myself. That which stood before me, I took to be a roasted porcupine, however did not care for asking questions; and have since been informed, that it was only a larded turkey. I afterwards passed my eye over several hashes, which I do not know the names of to this day; and, hearing that they were delicacies, did not think fit to meddle with them.
Among other dainties, I saw something like a pheasant, and therefore desired to be helped to a wing of it; but, to my great surprise, my friend told me it was a rabbit, which is a sort of meat I never cared for. At last I discovered, with some joy, a pig at the lower end of the table, and begged a gentleman that was near it to cut me a piece of it. Upon which the gentleman of the house said, with great civility, “ I am sure you will like the pig, for it was whipped to death." I must confess, I heard him with horror, and could not eat of an animal that had died so tragical a death. I was now in great hunger and confusion, when methought I smelled the agreeable savour of roast beef; but could not tell from wbich dish it arose, though I did not question but it lay disguised in one of them. Upon turning my head I saw a noble sirloin on the side-table, sinok. ing in the most delicious manner. I had recourse to it more than once, and could not see without some indignation, that substantial English dish
banished in so ignominious a manner, to make way for French kickshaws.
The desert was brought up at last, which in truth was as extraordinary as any thing that bad come before it. The whole, when ranged in its proper order, looked like a very beautiful winter-piece. There were several pyramids of candied sweetmeats, that bung likę icicles, with fruits scattered up and, down, and hid in an artificial kind of frost. At the same time there were great quantities of cream beaten up into a snow, and near them little plates of sugarplums, disposed like so many heaps of hailstones, with a multitude of congelations in jellies of various colours. I was indeed so pleased with the several objects which lay, before me, that I did not care for displacing any of them; and was half angry with the rest of the company, that, for the sake of a piece of lemon-peel, or a sugar-plum, would spoil so pleasing a picture. Indeed, I could not but smile to see several of them cooling their mouths with lumps of ice, which they had just before been burning with salts and peppers.
As soon as this show was over, I took my leave, that I might finish my dioner at my own house. For as I in everything love what is simple and natural, so particularly in my food: two plain dishes, with two or three good-natured, cheerful, ingenuous friends, would make me more pleased and in than all that pomp and luxury can bestow. For it is my maxim, That" he keeps the greatest table who has the most valuable company at it."
N° 149. THURSDAY, MARCH 23, 1709-10.
From my own Apartment, March 22. It has often been a solid grief to me, when I have reflected on this glorious nation, which is the scene of public happiness and liberty, that there are still crowds of private tyrants, against whom there nei. ther is any law now in being, nor can there be invented any by the wit of man. These cruel men are ill-natured husbands. The commerce in the conjugal state is so delicate, that it is impossible to prescribe rules for the conduct of it, so as to fit ten thousand nameless pleasures and disquietudes which arise to people in that condition. But it is in this as in some other nice cases, where touching upon the malady tenderly is half way to the cure; and there are some faults which need only to be observed, to be amended. I am put into this way of thinking by a late conversatiou, which I am going to give an account of.
I made a visit the other day to a family for which I have a great honour, and found the father, the mother, and two or three of the younger children, drop off designedly to leave me alone with the eldest daughter; who was but a visitant there as well as myself; and is the wife of a gentleman of a very fair character in the world. As soon as we were alone, I saw her eyes full of tears, and methought she had much to say to me, for which she wanted encou. ragement. Madam," said I,
you kuow I wish you all as well as any friend you have: speak freely
what I see you are oppressed with; and you may be, sure, if I cannot relieve your distress, you may at least reap so much present advantage, as safely to give yourself the ease of uttering it.” She immediately assumed the most becoming composure of countenance, and spoke as follows: “ It is an aggravation of affliction in a married life, that there is a sort of guilt in communicating it: for which rea. son it is, that a lady of your and my acquaintance, instead of speaking to you herself, desired me, the next time I saw you, as you are a professed friend to our sex, to turn your thoughts upon the reciprocal complaisance which is the duty of a married state.
"My friend was neither in birth, fortune, nor education below the gentleman whom she married. Her person, her age,' and her character, are also such as he can make no exception to. But so it is, that from the moment the marriage ceremony was over, the obsequiousness of a lover was turned into the haughtiness of a master. All the kind endea. vours which she uscs to please him, are at best but sỌ many instances of her duty. This insolence takes away that secret satisfaction, which does not only excite to virtue, but also rewards it. It abates the fire of a free and generous love, and imbitters all the pleasures of a social life.” The young lady spoke all this with such an air of resentment, as discovered bow nearly she was concerned in the distress.
When I observed she had done speaking, “ Ma. . dam," said I, “ the affliction you mention is the greatest that can happen in human life; and I know but one consolation in it, if that be a consolation, that the calamity is a pretty general one. There is nothing so common as for men to enter into marriage, without so much as expecting to be