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of time he kept the dinner on the table, by declaring that he had taken a very long walk in the morning, and came in fasting ; but as that excuse could not serve above once or twice at most, he has latterly dropped the mask altogether, and chosen to appear in his own proper colours without reserve or apology. You cannot imagine how unpleasant his conduct has be
His way of staring at the dishes as they are brought in has absolutely something immodest in it: it is like the stare of an impudent man of fashion at a fine woman, when she first comes into the room. I am positively in pain for the dishes, and cannot help thinking they have consciousness, and will be put out of countenance, he treats them so like what they are not.
Then, again, he makes no scruple of keeping a joint of meat on the table, after the cheese and fruit are brought in, till he has what he calls done with it. Now how awkward this looks where there are ladies, you may judge, Mr. Reflector-how is disturbs the order and comfort of a meal. And yet I always make a point of helping him first, contrary to all good manners-before any of
my female friends are helped - that he may avoid this very error. I wish he would eat before he
What makes his proceedings more particularly offensive at our house is, that my husband, though out of common politeness he is obliged to set dishes of animal food before his visiters, yet himself and his whole family (myself included) feed entirely on vegetables. We have a theory, that animal food is neither wholesome nor natural to man; and even veg, etables we refuse to eat until they have undergone the operation of fire, in consideration of those numberless little living creatures which the glass helps us to detect in every fibre of the plant or root before it be dressed. On the same theory we boil our water, which is our only drink, before we suffer it to come to table. Our children are perfect litile Pythagoreans: it would do you good to see them in their nursery, stuffing their dried fruits, figs, raisins, and milk, which is the oniy approach to animal food which is allowed. They have no notion how the substance of a creature that ever had life can become food for another creature. A beef-steak is an absurdity to thein; a mutton-chop, a solecism in terms ; a cutlet, a word absolutely without any meaning; a butcher is nonsense, except so far as it is taken for a man who delights in blood, or a hero. In this happy state of innocence we have kept their minds, not allowing them to go into the kitchen, or to hear of any preparations for the dressing of animal food, or even to
know that such things are practised. But as a state of ignorance is incompatible with a certain age, and as my eldest girl, who is ten years old next midsummer, must shortly be introduced into the world and sit at table with us, where she will see some things which will shock all her received notions, I have been endeavouring, by little and little, to break her mind and prepare it for the disagreeable impressions which must be forced upon it. The first hint I gave her upon the subject, I could see her recoil from it with the same horror with which we listen to a tale of Anthropophagism ; but she has gradually grown more reconciled to it, in some measure from my telling her that it was the custom of the world- to which, however senseless, we must submit so far as we could do it with innocence, not to give offence; and she has shown so much strength of mind on other occasions, which I have no doubt is owing to the calmness and serenity superinduced by her diet, that I am in good hopes, when the proper season for her debut arrives, she may be brought to endure the sight of a roasted chicken or a dish of sweetbreads for the first time without fainting. Such being the nature of our little household, you may guess what inroads into the economy of it—what revolutions and turnings of things upside down, the example of such a feeder as Mr. is calculated to produce.
I wonder at a time like the present, when the scarcity of every kind of food is so painfully acknowledged, that shame has no effect upon him. Can he have read Mr. Malthus's Thoughts on the Ratio of Food to Population? Can he think it reasonable that one man should consume the sustenance of
many. The young gentleman has an agreeable air and person, such as are not unlikely to recommend him on the score of matrimony. But his fortune is not over large ; and what prudent young woman would think of embarking hers with a man who would bring three or four mouths (or what is équivalent to them) into a family? She might as reasonably choose a widower in the same circumstances with three or four children.
I cannot think who he takes after. His father and mother by all accounts were very moderate eaters ; only I have heard that the latter swallowed her victuals very fast, and the former had a tedious custom of sitting long at his meals. Perhaps he takes after both.
I wish you would turn this in your thoughts, Mr. Reflector, and give us your ideas on the subject of excessive eating; and particularly of animal food.
EDAX ON APPETITE.
To the Editor of the Reflector
MR. REFLECTOR-I am going to lay before you a caso of the most iniquitous persecution that ever poor devil suffered.
You must know, then, that I have been visited with a calamity ever since my birth. How shall I mention it without offending delicacy? Yet out it must. My sufferings, then, have all arisen from a most inordinate appetite
Not for wealth, not for vast possessions—then might I have hoped to find a cure in some of those precepts of philosophers or poets, those verba et voces which Horace speaks of,
Quibus hunc lenire dolorem
not for glory, not for fame, not for applause--for against this disease, too, he tells us there are certain piacula, or, as Pope has chosen to render it,
“Rhymes, which fresh and fresh applied,
Will cure the arrant'st puppy of his pride;"
nor yet for pleasure, properly so called ; the strict and virtuous lessons which I received in early life from the best of parents, a pious clergyman of the church of England, now no more, I trust have rendered me sufficiently secure on that side.
No, sir, for none of these things; but an appetite, in its coarsest and least metaphorical senseman appetite for food.
The exorbitances of my arrow-root and pappish days I can not go back far enough to remember, only I have been told, that mother's constitution not admitting of my bemg nursed at home, the woman who had the care of me for that purpose used to make most extravagant demands for my pretended excesses in that kind; which my parents, rather than believe anything unpleasant of me, chose to impute to the knows covetousness and mercenary disposition of that sort of people. This blindness continued on their part after I was sent for home, up to the period when it was thought proper, on ac
that I should mix with other boys more unreservedly than I had hitherto done. I was accordingly sent to boarding-school.
Here the melancholy truth became too apparent to be disguised. The prying republic of which a great school consists soon found me out: there was no shifting the blame any longer upon other people's shoulders ; no good-natured maid to take upon herself the enormities of which I stood accused in the article of bread and butter, besides the crying sin of stolen ends of puddings, and cold pies strangely missing. The truth was but too manifest in my looks—in the evident signs of inanition which I exhibited after the fullest meals, in spite of the double allowance which my master was privately instructed by my kind parents to give me. The sense of the ridiculous, which is but too much alive in grown persons, is tenfold more active and alert in boys. Once detected, I was the constant butt of their arrows, the mark against which every puny leveller directed his little shaft of scorn. The very Graduses and Thesauruses were raked for phrases to pelt me with by the tiny pedants. Ventri natus—Ventri dediius—Vesana gula-Escarum gurges-Dapibus indulgens—Non dans fræna gulæ-Sectans lautæ fercula mensæ, resounded wheresoever I passed. I led a weary life, suffering the penalties of guilt for that which was no crime, but only following the blameless dictates of nature. The remembrance of those childish reproaches haunts me yet oftentimes in my dreams.
My schooldays come again, and the horror I used to feel, when in some silent corner retired from the notice of my unfeeling playfellows, I have sat to mumble the solitary slice of gingerbread allotted me by the bounty of considerate friends, and have ached at heart because I could not spare a portion of it, as I saw other boys do, to some favourite boy; for, if I know my own heart, I was never selfish-never possessed a luxury which I did not hasten to communicate to others; but my food, alas! was none; it was an indispensable necessary; I could as soon have spared the blood in my veins, as have parted that with my companions.
Well, no one stage of suffering lasts for ever: we should grow reconciled to it at length, I suppose, if it did. The miseries of my school-days had their end; I was once more restored to the paternal dwelling. The affectionate solicitude of my parents was directed to the good-natured purpose of concealing even from myself the infirmity which haunted me. I was continually told that I was growing, and the appetite
I displayed was humanely represented as being nothing more than a symptom and an effect of that. I used even to be
complimented upon it. But this temporary fiction could not endure above a year or two. I ceased to grow, but alas! | did rot cease my demands for alimentary sustenance.
Those times are long since past, and with them have ceased to exist the fond concealmentthe indulgent blindness—the delicate overlooking—the compassionate fiction. I and my infirmity are left exposed and bare to the broad, unwinking eye of the world, which nothing can elude. My meals are scanned, my mouthfuls weighed in a balance: that which appetite demands is set down to the account of gluttony-a sin which my whole soul abhors, nay, which Nature herself has put it out of my power to commit. I am constitutionally disenabled from that vice; for how can he be guilty of excess who never can get enough? Let them cease, then, to watch my plate; and leave off their ungracious comparisons of it to the seven baskets of fragments, and the supernaturally-replenished cup of old Baucis; and be thankful that their more phlegmatic stomachs, not their virtue, has saved them from the like reproaches. I do not see that any of them desist from eating till the holy rage of hunger, as some one calls it, is supplied. Alas! I am doomed to stop short of that continence.
What am I to do? I am by disposition inclined to conviviality, and the social meal. I am no gourmand : I require no dainties : I should despise the board of Heliogabalus, except for its long sitting. Those vivacious, long-continued meals of the latter Romans, indeed I justly envy; but the kind of fare which the Curii and Dentati put up with I could be content with. Dentatus I have been called, among other unsavory jests. Double-meal is another name which my acquaintance have palmed upon me, for an innocent piece of policy which I put in practice for some time without being found out; which was--going the round of my friends, beginning with the most primitive feeders among them, who take their dinner about one o'clock, and so successively dropping in upon the next and the next, till, by the time I got among my more fashionable intimates, whose hour was six or seven, I had nearly made up the body of a just and complete meal, (as I reckon it,) without taking more than one dinner (as they account of dinners) at one person's house. Since I have been found out, I endeavour to make up by a damper, as I call it, at home, before I go out. But alas ! with me, increase of appetite truly grows by what it feeds on. What is peculiarly offensive to me at those dinner parties, is the senseless custom of cheese, and the dessert afterward. I have a rational antipathy to the former; and for fruit, and those other vain vegetable substitutes for meat, (meat, the only legitimate aliment for human creatures since