Part 2 out of 2
Gray, with dishevelled hair,
Still stands the willow there--
THE MAID IS GONE!
Sing we a litany,--
Sing for poor maiden-hearts broken and weary;
Sing we a litany,
Wail we and weep we a wild Miserere!"
One of the chief beauties of this ballad (for the translation of
which I received some well-merited compliments) is the delicate way
in which the suicide of the poor young woman under the willow-tree
is hinted at; for that she threw herself into the water and became
one among the lilies of the stream, is as clear as a pikestaff.
Her suicide is committed some time in the darkness, when the slow
hours move on tolling and tolling, and is hinted at darkly as
befits the time and the deed.
But that unromantic brute, Van Cutsem, the Dutch Charge-d'Affaires,
sent to the Kartoffelnkranz of the week after a conclusion of the
ballad, which shows what a poor creature he must be. His pretext
for writing it was, he said, because he could not bear such
melancholy endings to poems and young women, and therefore he
submitted the following lines:--
"Long by the willow-trees
Vainly they sought her,
Wild rang the mother's screams
O'er the gray water:
'Where is my lovely one?
Where is my daughter?
"'Rouse thee, sir constable--
Rouse thee and look;
Fisherman, bring your net,
Boatman your hook.
Beat in the lily-beds,
Dive in the brook!'
"Vainly the constable
Shouted and called her;
Vainly the fisherman
Beat the green alder;
Vainly he flung the net,
Never it hauled her!
"Mother beside the fire
Sat, her nightcap in;
Father, in easy chair,
When at the window-sill
Came a light tapping!
"And a pale countenance
Looked through the casement.
Loud beat the mother's heart,
Sick with amazement,
And at the vision which
Came to surprise her,
Shrieked in an agony--
'Lor! it's Elizar!'
"Yes, 'twas Elizabeth--
Yes, 'twas their girl;
Pale was her cheek, and her
Hair out of curl.
'Mother!' the loving one,
'Let not your innocent
Lizzy be blamed.
"'Yesterday, going to aunt
Jones's to tea,
Mother, dear mother, I
FORGOT THE DOOR-KEY!
And as the night was cold,
And the way steep,
Mrs. Jones kept me to
Breakfast and sleep.'
"Whether her Pa and Ma
Fully believed her,
That we shall never know,
Stern they received her;
And for the work of that
Cruel, though short, night,
Sent her to bed without
Tea for a fortnight.
"Hey diddle diddlety,
Cat and the Fiddlety,
Maidens of England take caution by she!
Let love and suicide
Never tempt you aside,
And always remember to take the door-key!"
Some people laughed at this parody, and even preferred it to the
original; but for myself I have no patience with the individual who
can turn the finest sentiments of our nature into ridicule, and
make everything sacred a subject of scorn. The next ballad is less
gloomy than that of the willow-tree, and in it the lovely writer
expresses her longing for what has charmed us all, and, as it were,
squeezes the whole spirit of the fairy tale into a few stanzas:--
"Beside the old hall-fire--upon my nurse's knee,
Of happy fairy days--what tales were told to me!
I thought the world was once--all peopled with princesses,
And my heart would beat to hear--their loves and their distresses;
And many a quiet night,--in slumber sweet and deep,
The pretty fairy people--would visit me in sleep.
"I saw them in my dreams--come flying east and west,
With wondrous fairy gifts--the new-born babe they bless'd;
One has brought a jewel--and one a crown of gold,
And one has brought a curse--but she is wrinkled and old.
The gentle queen turns pale--to hear those words of sin,
But the king he only laughs--and bids the dance begin.
"The babe has grown to be--the fairest of the land
And rides the forest green--a hawk upon her hand.
An ambling palfrey white--a golden robe and crown;
I've seen her in my dreams--riding up and down;
And heard the ogre laugh--as she fell into his snare,
At the little tender creature--who wept and tore her hair!
"But ever when it seemed--her need was at the sorest
A prince in shining mail--comes prancing through the forest.
A waving ostrich-plume--a buckler burnished bright;
I've seen him in my dreams--good sooth! a gallant knight.
His lips are coral red--beneath a dark moustache;
See how he waves his hand--and how his blue eyes flash!
"'Come forth, thou Paynim knight!'--he shouts in accents clear.
The giant and the maid--both tremble his voice to hear.
Saint Mary guard him well!--he draws his falchion keen,
The giant and the knight--are fighting on the green.
I see them in my dreams--his blade gives stroke on stroke,
The giant pants and reels--and tumbles like an oak!
"With what a blushing grace--he falls upon his knee
And takes the lady's hand--and whispers, 'You are free!'
Ah! happy childish tales--of knight and faerie!
I waken from my dreams--but there's ne'er a knight for me;
I waken from my dreams--and wish that I could be
A child by the old hall-fire--upon my nurse's knee."
Indeed, Ottilia looked like a fairy herself: pale, small, slim, and
airy. You could not see her face, as it were, for her eyes, which
were so wild, and so tender, and shone so that they would have
dazzled an eagle, much more a poor goose of a Fitz-Boodle. In the
theatre, when she sat on the opposite side of the house, those big
eyes used to pursue me as I sat pretending to listen to the
"Zauberflote," or to "Don Carlos," or "Egmont," and at the tender
passages, especially, they would have such a winning, weeping,
imploring look with them as flesh and blood could not bear.
Shall I tell how I became a poet for the dear girl's sake? 'Tis
surely unnecessary after the reader has perused the above versions
of her poems. Shall I tell what wild follies I committed in prose
as well as in verse? how I used to watch under her window of icy
evenings, and with chilblainy fingers sing serenades to her on the
guitar? Shall I tell how, in a sledging-party, I had the happiness
to drive her, and of the delightful privilege which is, on these
occasions, accorded to the driver?
Any reader who has spent a winter in Germany perhaps knows it. A
large party of a score or more of sledges is formed. Away they go
to some pleasure-house that has been previously fixed upon, where a
ball and collation are prepared, and where each man, as his partner
descends, has the delicious privilege of saluting her. O heavens
and earth! I may grow to be a thousand years old, but I can never
forget the rapture of that salute.
"The keen air has given me an appetite," said the dear angel, as we
entered the supper-room; and to say the truth, fairy as she was,
she made a remarkably good meal--consuming a couple of basins of
white soup, several kinds of German sausages, some Westphalia ham,
some white puddings, an anchovy-salad made with cornichons and
onions, sweets innumerable, and a considerable quantity of old
Steinwein and rum-punch afterwards. Then she got up and danced as
brisk as a fairy; in which operation I of course did not follow
her, but had the honor, at the close of the evening's amusement,
once more to have her by my side in the sledge, as we swept in the
moonlight over the snow.
Kalbsbraten is a very hospitable place as far as tea-parties are
concerned, but I never was in one where dinners were so scarce. At
the palace they occurred twice or thrice in a month; but on these
occasions spinsters were not invited, and I seldom had the
opportunity of seeing my Ottilia except at evening-parties.
Nor are these, if the truth must be told, very much to my taste.
Dancing I have forsworn, whist is too severe a study for me, and I
do not like to play ecarte with old ladies, who are sure to cheat
you in the course of an evening's play.
But to have an occasional glance at Ottilia was enough; and
many and many a napoleon did I lose to her mamma, Madame de
Schlippenschlopp, for the blest privilege of looking at her
daughter. Many is the tea-party I went to, shivering into cold
clothes after dinner (which is my abomination) in order to have one
little look at the lady of my soul.
At these parties there were generally refreshments of a nature more
substantial than mere tea punch, both milk and rum, hot wine,
consomme, and a peculiar and exceedingly disagreeable sandwich made
of a mixture of cold white puddings and garlic, of which I have
forgotten the name, and always detested the savor.
Gradually a conviction came upon me that Ottilia ATE A GREAT DEAL.
I do not dislike to see a woman eat comfortably. I even think that
an agreeable woman ought to be friande, and should love certain
little dishes and knick-knacks. I know that though at dinner they
commonly take nothing, they have had roast-mutton with the children
at two, and laugh at their pretensions to starvation.
No! a woman who eats a grain of rice, like Amina in the "Arabian
Nights," is absurd and unnatural; but there is a modus in rebus:
there is no reason why she should be a ghoul, a monster, an ogress,
a horrid gormandizeress--faugh!
It was, then, with a rage amounting almost to agony, that I found
Ottilia ate too much at every meal. She was always eating, and
always eating too much. If I went there in the morning, there was
the horrid familiar odor of those oniony sandwiches; if in the
afternoon, dinner had been just removed, and I was choked by
reeking reminiscences of roast-meat. Tea we have spoken of. She
gobbled up more cakes than any six people present; then came the
supper and the sandwiches again, and the egg-flip and the horrible
She was as thin as ever--paler if possible than ever:--but, by
heavens! HER NOSE BEGAN TO GROW RED!
Mon Dieu! how I used to watch and watch it! Some days it was
purple, some days had more of the vermilion--I could take an
affidavit that after a heavy night's supper it was more swollen,
more red than before.
I recollect one night when we were playing a round game (I had been
looking at her nose very eagerly and sadly for some time), she of
herself brought up the conversation about eating, and confessed
that she had five meals a day.
"THAT ACCOUNTS FOR IT!" says I, flinging down the cards, and
springing up and rushing like a madman out of the room. I rushed
away into the night, and wrestled with my passion. "What! Marry,"
said I, "a woman who eats meat twenty-one times in a week, besides
breakfast and tea? Marry a sarcophagus, a cannibal, a butcher's
shop?--Away!" I strove and strove. I drank, I groaned, I wrestled
and fought with my love--but it overcame me: one look of those eyes
brought me to her feet again. I yielded myself up like a slave; I
fawned and whined for her; I thought her nose was not so VERY red.
Things came to this pitch that I sounded his Highness's Minister to
know whether he would give me service in the Duchy; I thought of
purchasing an estate there. I was given to understand that I
should get a chamberlain's key and some post of honor did I choose
to remain, and I even wrote home to my brother Tom in England,
hinting a change in my condition.
At this juncture the town of Hamburg sent his Highness the Grand
Duke (apropos of a commercial union which was pending between the
two States) a singular present: no less than a certain number of
barrels of oysters, which are considered extreme luxuries in
Germany, especially in the inland parts of the country, where they
are almost unknown.
In honor of the oysters and the new commercial treaty (which
arrived in fourgons despatched for the purpose), his Highness
announced a grand supper and ball, and invited all the quality of
all the principalities round about. It was a splendid affair: the
grand saloon brilliant with hundreds of uniforms and brilliant
toilettes--not the least beautiful among them, I need not say, was
At midnight the supper-rooms were thrown open and we formed into
little parties of six, each having a table, nobly served with
plate, a lackey in attendance, and a gratifying ice-pail or two of
champagne to egayer the supper. It was no small cost to serve five
hundred people on silver, and the repast was certainly a princely
and magnificent one.
I had, of course, arranged with Mademoiselle de Schlippenschlopp.
Captains Frumpel and Fridelberger of the Duke's Guard, Mesdames de
Butterbrod and Bopp, formed our little party.
The first course, of course, consisted of THE OYSTERS. Ottilia's
eyes gleamed with double brilliancy as the lackey opened them.
There were nine apiece for us--how well I recollect the number!
I never was much of an oyster-eater, nor can I relish them in
naturalibus as some do, but require a quantity of sauces, lemons,
cayenne peppers, bread and butter, and so forth, to render them
By the time I had made my preparations, Ottilia, the Captains, and
the two ladies, had wellnigh finished theirs. Indeed Ottilia had
gobbled up all hers, and there were only my nine in the dish.
I took one--IT WAS BAD. The scent of it was enough,--they were all
bad. Ottilia had eaten nine bad oysters.
I put down the horrid shell. Her eyes glistened more and more; she
could not take them off the tray.
"Dear Herr George," she said, "WILL YOU GIVE ME YOUR OYSTERS?"
. . . . . .
She had them all down--before--I could say--Jack--Robinson!
I left Kalbsbraten that night, and have never been there since.
BEING APPEALS TO THE UNEMPLOYED YOUNGER SONS OF THE NOBILITY.
The fair and honest proposition in which I offered to communicate
privately with parents and guardians, relative to two new and
lucrative professions which I had discovered, has, I find from the
publisher, elicited not one single inquiry from those personages,
who I can't but think are very little careful of their children's
welfare to allow such a chance to be thrown away. It is not for
myself I speak, as my conscience proudly tells me; for though I
actually gave up Ascot in order to be in the way should any father
of a family be inclined to treat with me regarding my discoveries,
yet I am grieved, not on my own account, but on theirs, and for the
wretched penny-wise policy that has held them back.
That they must feel an interest in my announcement is unquestionable.
Look at the way in which the public prints of all parties have
noticed my appearance in the character of a literary man! Putting
aside my personal narrative, look at the offer I made to the
nation,--a choice of no less than two new professions! Suppose I had
invented as many new kinds of butcher's meat; does any one pretend
that the world, tired as it is of the perpetual recurrence of beef,
mutton, veal, cold beef, cold veal, cold mutton, hashed ditto, would
not have jumped eagerly at the delightful intelligence that their
old, stale, stupid meals were about to be varied at last?
Of course people would have come forward. I should have had
deputations from Mr. Gibletts and the fashionable butchers of this
world; petitions would have poured in from Whitechapel salesmen;
the speculators panting to know the discovery; the cautious with
stock in hand eager to bribe me to silence and prevent the certain
depreciation of the goods which they already possessed. I should
have dealt with them, not greedily or rapaciously, but on honest
principles of fair barter. "Gentlemen," I should have said, or
rather, "Gents"--which affectionate diminutive is, I am given to
understand, at present much in use among commercial persons--
"Gents, my researches, my genius, or my good fortune, have brought
me to the valuable discovery about which you are come to treat.
Will you purchase it outright, or will you give the discoverer an
honest share of the profits resulting from your speculation? My
position in the world puts ME out of the power of executing the
vast plan I have formed, but 'twill be a certain fortune to him who
engages in it; and why should not I, too, participate in that
Such would have been my manner of dealing with the world, too, with
regard to my discovery of the new professions. Does not the world
want new professions? Are there not thousands of well-educated men
panting, struggling, pushing, starving, in the old ones? Grim
tenants of chambers looking out for attorneys who never come?--
wretched physicians practising the stale joke of being called out
of church until people no longer think fit even to laugh or to
pity? Are there not hoary-headed midshipmen, antique ensigns
growing mouldy upon fifty years' half-pay? Nay, are there not men
who would pay anything to be employed rather than remain idle? But
such is the glut of professionals, the horrible cut-throat
competition among them, that there is no chance for one in a
thousand, be he ever so willing, or brave, or clever: in the great
ocean of life he makes a few strokes, and puffs, and sputters, and
sinks, and the innumerable waves overwhelm him and he is heard of
Walking to my banker's t'other day--and I pledge my sacred honor
this story is true--I met a young fellow whom I had known attache
to an embassy abroad, a young man of tolerable parts, unwearied
patience, with some fortune too, and, moreover, allied to a noble
Whig family, whose interest had procured him his appointment to the
legation at Krahwinkel, where I knew him. He remained for ten
years a diplomatic character; he was the working-man of the
legation; he sent over the most diffuse translations of the German
papers for the use of the Foreign Secretary; he signed passports
with most astonishing ardor; he exiled himself for ten long years
in a wretched German town, dancing attendance at court-balls and
paying no end of money for uniforms. And what for? At the end of
the ten years--during which period of labor he never received a
single shilling from the Government which employed him (rascally
spendthrift of a Government, va!),--he was offered the paid
attacheship to the court of H. M. the King of the Mosquito Islands,
and refused that appointment a week before the Whig Ministry
retired. Then he knew that there was no further chance for him,
and incontinently quitted the diplomatic service for ever, and I
have no doubt will sell his uniform a bargain. The Government had
HIM a bargain certainly; nor is he by any means the first person
who has been sold at that price.
Well, my worthy friend met me in the street and informed me of
these facts with a smiling countenance,--which I thought a
masterpiece of diplomacy. Fortune had been belaboring and kicking
him for ten whole years, and here he was grinning in my face: could
Monsieur de Talleyrand have acted better? "I have given up
diplomacy," said Protocol, quite simply and good-humoredly, "for
between you and me, my good fellow, it's a very slow profession;
sure, perhaps, but slow. But though I gained no actual pecuniary
remuneration in the service, I have learned all the languages in
Europe, which will be invaluable to me in my new profession--the
mercantile one--in which directly I looked out for a post I found
"What! and a good pay?" said I.
"Why, no; that's absurd, you know. No young men, strangers to
business, are paid much to speak of. Besides, I don't look to a
paltry clerk's pay. Some day, when thoroughly acquainted with the
business (I shall learn it in about seven years), I shall go into a
good house with my capital and become junior partner."
"Meanwhile I conduct the foreign correspondence of the eminent
house of Jam, Ram, and Johnson; and very heavy it is, I can tell
you. From nine till six every day, except foreign post days, and
then from nine till eleven. Dirty dark court to sit in; snobs to
talk to,--great change, as you may fancy."
"And you do all this for nothing?"
"I do it to learn the business." And so saying Protocol gave me a
knowing nod and went his way.
Good heavens! I thought, and is this a true story? Are there
hundreds of young men in a similar situation at the present day,
giving away the best years of their youth for the sake of a mere
windy hope of something in old age, and dying before they come to
the goal? In seven years he hopes to have a business, and then to
have the pleasure of risking his money? He will be admitted into
some great house as a particular favor, and three months after the
house will fail. Has it not happened to a thousand of our
acquaintance? I thought I would run after him and tell him about
the new professions that I have invented.
"Oh! ay! those you wrote about in Fraser's Magazine. Egad!
George, Necessity makes strange fellows of us all. Who would ever
have thought of you SPELLING, much more writing?"
"Never mind that. Will you, if I tell you of a new profession
that, with a little cleverness and instruction from me, you may
bring to a most successful end--will you, I say, make me a fair
"My dear creature," replied young Protocol, "what nonsense you
talk! I saw that very humbug in the Magazine. You say you have
made a great discovery--very good; you puff your discovery--very
right; you ask money for it--nothing can be more reasonable; and
then you say that you intend to make your discovery public in the
next number of the Magazine. Do you think I will be such a fool as
to give you money for a thing which I can have next month for
nothing? Good-by, George my boy; the NEXT discovery you make I'll
tell you how to get a better price for it." And with this the
fellow walked off, looking supremely knowing and clever.
This tale of the person I have called Protocol is not told without
a purpose, you may be sure. In the first place, it shows what are
the reasons that nobody has made application to me concerning the
new professions, namely, because I have passed my word to make them
known in this Magazine, which persons may have for the purchasing,
stealing, borrowing, or hiring, and, therefore, they will never
think of applying personally to me. And, secondly, his story
proves also my assertion, viz, that all professions are most
cruelly crowded at present, and that men will make the most absurd
outlay and sacrifices for the smallest chance of success at some
future period. Well, then, I will be a benefactor to my race, if I
cannot be to one single member of it, whom I love better than most
men. What I have discovered I will make known; there shall be no
shilly-shallying work here, no circumlocution, no bottle-conjuring
business. But oh! I wish for all our sakes that I had had an
opportunity to impart the secret to one or two persons only; for,
after all, but one or two can live in the manner I would suggest.
And when the discovery is made known, I am sure ten thousand will
try. The rascals! I can see their brass-plates gleaming over
scores of doors. Competition will ruin my professions, as it has
It must be premised that the two professions are intended for
gentlemen, and gentlemen only--men of birth and education. No
others could support the parts which they will be called upon to
And, likewise, it must be honestly confessed that these professions
have, to a certain degree, been exercised before. Do not cry out
at this and say it is no discovery! I say it IS a discovery. It
is a discovery if I show you--a gentleman--a profession which you
may exercise without derogation, or loss of standing, with certain
profit, nay, possibly with honor, and of which, until the reading
of this present page, you never thought but as of a calling beneath
your rank and quite below your reach. Sir, I do not mean to say
that I create a profession. I cannot create gold; but if, when
discovered, I find the means of putting it in your pocket, do I or
do I not deserve credit?
I see you sneer contemptuously when I mention to you the word
AUCTIONEER. "Is this all," you say, "that this fellow brags and
prates about? An auctioneer forsooth! he might as well have
No such thing. A little boy of seven, be he ever so low of birth,
can do this as well as you. Do you suppose that little stolen
Master Montague made a better sweeper than the lowest-bred chummy
that yearly commemorates his release? No, sir. And he might have
been ever so much a genius or gentleman, and not have been able to
make his trade respectable.
But all such trades as can be rendered decent the aristocracy has
adopted one by one. At first they followed the profession of arms,
flouting all others as unworthy, and thinking it ungentlemanlike to
know how to read or write. They did not go into the church in very
early days, till the money to be got from the church was strong
enough to tempt them. It is but of later years that they have
condescended to go to the bar, and since the same time only that we
see some of them following trades. I know an English lord's son,
who is, or was, a wine-merchant (he may have been a bankrupt for
what I know). As for bankers, several partners in banking-houses
have four balls to their coronets, and I have no doubt that another
sort of banking, viz, that practised by gentlemen who lend small
sums of money upon deposited securities, will be one day followed
by the noble order, so that they may have four balls on their
coronets and carriages, and three in front of their shops.
Yes, the nobles come peoplewards as the people, on the other hand,
rise and mingle with the nobles. With the plebs, of course, Fitz-
Boodle, in whose veins flows the blood of a thousand kings, can
have nothing to do; but, watching the progress of the world, 'tis
impossible to deny that the good old days of our race are passed
away. We want money still as much as ever we did; but we cannot go
down from our castles with horse and sword and waylay fat
merchants--no, no, confounded new policemen and the assize-courts
prevent that. Younger brothers cannot be pages to noble houses, as
of old they were, serving gentle dames without disgrace, handing my
lord's rose-water to wash, or holding his stirrup as he mounted for
the chase. A page, forsooth! A pretty figure would George Fitz-
Boodle or any other man of fashion cut, in a jacket covered with
sugar-loafed buttons, and handing in penny-post notes on a silver
tray. The plebs have robbed us of THAT trade among others: nor, I
confess, do I much grudge them their trouvaille. Neither can we
collect together a few scores of free lances, like honest Hugh
Calverly in the Black Prince's time, or brave Harry Butler of
Wallenstein's dragoons, and serve this or that prince, Peter the
Cruel or Henry of Trastamare, Gustavus or the Emperor, at our
leisure; or, in default of service, fight and rob on our own
gallant account, as the good gentlemen of old did. Alas! no. In
South America or Texas, perhaps, a man might have a chance that
way; but in the ancient world no man can fight except in the king's
service (and a mighty bad service that is too), and the lowest
European sovereign, were it Baldomero Espartero himself, would
think nothing of seizing the best-born condottiere that ever drew
sword, and shooting him down like the vulgarest deserter.
What, then, is to be done? We must discover fresh fields of
enterprise--of peaceable and commercial enterprise in a peaceful
and commercial age. I say, then, that the auctioneer's pulpit has
never yet been ascended by a scion of the aristocracy, and am
prepared to prove that they might scale it, and do so with dignity
For the auctioneer's pulpit is just the peculiar place where a man
of social refinement, of elegant wit, of polite perceptions, can
bring his wit, his eloquence, his taste, and his experience of
life, most delightfully into play. It is not like the bar, where
the better and higher qualities of a man of fashion find no room
for exercise. In defending John Jorrocks in an action of trespass,
for cutting down a stick in Sam Snooks's field, what powers of mind
do you require?--powers of mind, that is, which Mr. Serjeant
Snorter, a butcher's son with a great loud voice, a sizar at
Cambridge, a wrangler, and so forth, does not possess as well as
yourself? Snorter has never been in decent society in his life.
He thinks the bar-mess the most fashionable assemblage in Europe,
and the jokes of "grand day" the ne plus ultra of wit. Snorter
lives near Russell Square, eats beef and Yorkshire-pudding, is a
judge of port-wine, is in all social respects your inferior. Well,
it is ten to one but in the case of Snooks v. Jorrocks, before
mentioned, he will be a better advocate than you; he knows the law
of the case entirely, and better probably than you. He can speak
long, loud, to the point, grammatically--more grammatically than
you, no doubt, will condescend to do. In the case of Snooks v.
Jorrocks he is all that can be desired. And so about dry disputes,
respecting real property, he knows the law; and, beyond this, has
no more need to be a gentleman than my body-servant has--who, by
the way, from constant intercourse with the best society, IS almost
a gentleman. But this is apart from the question.
Now, in the matter of auctioneering, this, I apprehend, is not the
case, and I assert that a high-bred gentleman, with good powers of
mind and speech, must, in such a profession, make a fortune. I do
not mean in all auctioneering matters. I do not mean that such a
person should be called upon to sell the good-will of a public-
house, or discourse about the value of the beer-barrels, or bars
with pewter fittings, or the beauty of a trade doing a stroke of so
many hogsheads a week. I do not ask a gentleman to go down and
sell pigs, ploughs, and cart-horses, at Stoke Pogis; or to enlarge
at the Auction-Rooms, Wapping, upon the beauty of the "Lively
Sally" schooner. These articles of commerce or use can be better
appreciated by persons in a different rank of life to his.
But there are a thousand cases in which a gentleman only can do
justice to the sale of objects which the necessity or convenience
of the genteel world may require to change hands. All articles
properly called of taste should be put under his charge.
Pictures,--he is a travelled man, has seen and judged the best
galleries of Europe, and can speak of them as a common person
cannot. For, mark you, you must have the confidence of your
society, you must be able to be familiar with them, to plant a
happy mot in a graceful manner, to appeal to my lord or the duchess
in such a modest, easy, pleasant way as that her grace should not
be hurt by your allusion to her--nay, amused (like the rest of the
company) by the manner in which it was done.
What is more disgusting than the familiarity of a snob? What more
loathsome than the swaggering quackery of some present holders of
the hammer? There was a late sale, for instance, which made some
noise in the world (I mean the late Lord Gimcrack's, at Dilberry
Hill). Ah! what an opportunity was lost there! I declare solemnly
that I believe, but for the absurd quackery and braggadocio of the
advertisements, much more money would have been bid; people were
kept away by the vulgar trumpeting of the auctioneer, and could not
help thinking the things were worthless that were so outrageously
They say that sort of Bartholomew-fair advocacy (in which people
are invited to an entertainment by the medium of a hoarse yelling
beef-eater, twenty-four drums, and a jack-pudding turning head over
heels) is absolutely necessary to excite the public attention.
What an error! I say that the refined individual so accosted is
more likely to close his ears, and, shuddering, run away from the
booth. Poor Horace Waddlepoodle! to think that thy gentle
accumulation of bricabrac should have passed away in such a manner!
by means of a man who brings down a butterfly with a blunderbuss,
and talks of a pin's head through a speaking-trumpet! Why, the
auctioneer's very voice was enough to crack the Sevres porcelain
and blow the lace into annihilation. Let it be remembered that I
speak of the gentleman in his public character merely, meaning to
insinuate nothing more than I would by stating that Lord Brougham
speaks with a northern accent, or that the voice of Mr. Shell is
sometimes unpleasantly shrill.
Now the character I have formed to myself of a great auctioneer is
this. I fancy him a man of first-rate and irreproachable birth and
fashion. I fancy his person so agreeable that it must be a
pleasure for ladies to behold and tailors to dress it. As a
private man he must move in the very best society, which will flock
round his pulpit when he mounts it in his public calling. It will
be a privilege for vulgar people to attend the hall where he
lectures; and they will consider it an honor to be allowed to pay
their money for articles the value of which is stamped by his high
recommendation. Nor can such a person be a mere fribble; nor can
any loose hanger-on of fashion imagine he may assume the character.
The gentleman auctioneer must be an artist above all, adoring his
profession; and adoring it, what must he not know? He must have a
good knowledge of the history and language of all nations; not the
knowledge of the mere critical scholar, but of the lively and
elegant man of the world. He will not commit the gross blunders of
pronunciation that untravelled Englishmen perpetrate; he will not
degrade his subject by coarse eulogy or sicken his audience with
vulgar banter. He will know where to apply praise and wit
properly; he will have the tact only acquired in good society, and
know where a joke is in place, and how far a compliment may go. He
will not outrageously and indiscriminately laud all objects
committed to his charge, for he knows the value of praise; that
diamonds, could we have them by the bushel, would be used as coals;
that above all, he has a character of sincerity to support; that he
is not merely the advocate of the person who employs him, but that
the public is his client too, who honors him and confides in him.
Ask him to sell a copy of Raffaelle for an original; a trumpery
modern Brussels counterfeit for real old Mechlin; some common
French forged crockery for the old delightful, delicate, Dresden
china; and he will quit you with scorn, or order his servant to
show you the door of his study.
Study, by the way,--no, "study" is a vulgar word; every word is
vulgar which a man uses to give the world an exaggerated notion of
himself or his condition. When the wretched bagman, brought up to
give evidence before Judge Coltman, was asked what his trade was,
and replied that "he represented the house of Dobson and Hobson,"
he showed himself to be a vulgar, mean-souled wretch, and was most
properly reprimanded by his lordship. To be a bagman is to be
humble, but not of necessity vulgar. Pomposity is vulgar, to ape a
higher rank than your own is vulgar, for an ensign of militia to
call himself captain is vulgar, or for a bagman to style himself
the "representative" of Dobson and Hobson. The honest auctioneer,
then, will not call his room his study; but his "private room," or
his office, or whatever may be the phrase commonly used among
He will not for the same reason call himself (as once in a
momentary feeling of pride and enthusiasm for the profession I
thought he should)--he will not call himself an "advocate," but an
auctioneer. There is no need to attempt to awe people by big
titles: let each man bear his own name without shame. And a very
gentlemanlike and agreeable, though exceptional position (for it is
clear that there cannot be more than two of the class,) may the
He must not sacrifice his honesty, then, either for his own sake or
his clients', in any way, nor tell fibs about himself or them. He
is by no means called upon to draw the long bow in their behalf;
all that his office obliges him to do--and let us hope his
disposition will lead him to do it also--is to take a favorable,
kindly, philanthropic view of the world; to say what can fairly be
said by a good-natured and ingenious man in praise of any article
for which he is desirous to awaken public sympathy. And how
readily and pleasantly may this be done! I will take upon myself,
for instance, to write an eulogium upon So-and-So's last novel,
which shall be every word of it true; and which work, though to
some discontented spirits it might appear dull, may be shown to be
really amusing and instructive,--nay, IS amusing and instructive,--
to those who have the art of discovering where those precious
An auctioneer should have the organ of truth large; of imagination
and comparison, considerable; of wit, great; of benevolence,
And how happy might such a man be, and cause others to be! He
should go through the world laughing, merry, observant, kind-
hearted. He should love everything in the world, because his
profession regards everything. With books of lighter literature
(for I do not recommend the genteel auctioneer to meddle with heavy
antiquarian and philological works) he should be elegantly
conversant, being able to give a neat history of the author, a
pretty sparkling kind criticism of the work, and an appropriate
eulogium upon the binding, which would make those people read who
never read before; or buy, at least, which is his first
consideration. Of pictures we have already spoken. Of china, of
jewelry, of gold-headed canes, valuable arms, picturesque
antiquities, with what eloquent entrainement might he not speak!
He feels every one of these things in his heart. He has all the
tastes of the fashionable world. Dr. Meyrick cannot be more
enthusiastic about an old suit of armor than he; Sir Harris Nicolas
not more eloquent regarding the gallant times in which it was worn,
and the brave histories connected with it. He takes up a pearl
necklace with as much delight as any beauty who was sighing to wear
it round her own snowy throat, and hugs a china monster with as
much joy as the oldest duchess could do. Nor must he affect these
things; he must feel them. He is a glass in which all the tastes
of fashion are reflected. He must be every one of the characters
to whom he addresses himself--a genteel Goethe or Shakspeare, a
How can a man be all this and not be a gentleman; and not have had
an education in the midst of the best company--an insight into the
most delicate feelings, and wants, and usages? The pulpit oratory
of such a man would be invaluable; people would flock to listen to
him from far and near. He might out of a single teacup cause
streams of world-philosophy to flow, which would be drunk in by
grateful thousands; and draw out of an old pincushion points of
wit, morals, and experience, that would make a nation wise.
Look round, examine THE ANNALS OF AUCTIONS, as Mr. Robins remarks,
and (with every respect for him and his brethren) say, is there in
the profession SUCH A MAN? Do we want such a man? Is such a man
likely or not likely to make an immense fortune? Can we get such a
man except out of the very best society, and among the most favored
Everybody answers "No!" I knew you would answer no. And now,
gentlemen who have laughed at my pretension to discover a
profession, say, have I not? I have laid my finger upon the spot
where the social deficit exists. I have shown that we labor under
a want; and when the world wants, do we not know that a man will
step forth to fill the vacant space that Fate has left for him?
Pass we now to the--
This profession, too, is a great, lofty and exceptional one, and
discovered by me considering these things, and deeply musing upon
the necessities of society. Nor let honorable gentlemen imagine
that I am enabled to offer them in this profession, more than any
other, a promise of what is called future glory, deathless fame,
and so forth. All that I say is, that I can put young men in the
way of making a comfortable livelihood, and leaving behind them,
not a name, but what is better, a decent maintenance to their
children. Fitz-Boodle is as good a name as any in England.
General Fitz-Boodle, who, in Marlborough's time, and in conjunction
with the famous Van Slaap, beat the French in the famous action of
Vischzouchee, near Mardyk, in Holland, on the 14th of February,
1709, is promised an immortality upon his tomb in Westminster
Abbey; but he died of apoplexy, deucedly in debt, two years
afterwards: and what after that is the use of a name?
No, no; the age of chivalry is past. Take the twenty-four first
men who come into the club, and ask who they are, and how they made
their money? There's Woolsey-Sackville: his father was Lord
Chancellor, and sat on the woolsack, whence he took his title; his
grandfather dealt in coal-sacks, and not in woolsacks,--small coal-
sacks, dribbling out little supplies of black diamonds to the poor.
Yonder comes Frank Leveson, in a huge broad-brimmed hat, his shirt-
cuffs turned up to his elbows. Leveson is as gentlemanly a fellow
as the world contains, and if he has a fault, is perhaps too
finikin. Well, you fancy him related to the Sutherland family:
nor, indeed, does honest Frank deny it; but entre nous, my good
sir, his father was an attorney, and his grandfather a bailiff in
Chancery Lane, bearing a name still older than that of Leveson,
namely, Levy. So it is that this confounded equality grows and
grows, and has laid the good old nobility by the heels. Look at
that venerable Sir Charles Kitely, of Kitely Park: he is interested
about the Ashantees, and is just come from Exeter Hall. Kitely
discounted bills in the City in the year 1787, and gained his
baronetcy by a loan to the French princes. All these points of
history are perfectly well known; and do you fancy the world cares?
Psha! Profession is no disgrace to a man: be what you like,
provided you succeed. If Mr. Fauntleroy could come to life with a
million of money, you and I would dine with him: you know we would;
for why should we be better than our neighbors?
Put, then, out of your head the idea that this or that profession
is unworthy of you: take any that may bring you profit, and thank
him that puts you in the way of being rich.
The profession I would urge (upon a person duly qualified to
undertake it) has, I confess, at the first glance, something
ridiculous about it; and will not appear to young ladies so
romantic as the calling of a gallant soldier, blazing with glory,
gold lace, and vermilion coats; or a dear delightful clergyman,
with a sweet blue eye, and a pocket-handkerchief scented charmingly
with lavender-water. The profession I allude to WILL, I own, be to
young women disagreeable, to sober men trivial, to great stupid
But mark my words for it, that in the religious world (I have once
or twice, by mistake no doubt, had the honor of dining in "serious"
houses, and can vouch for the fact that the dinners there are of
excellent quality)--in the serious world, in the great mercantile
world, among the legal community (notorious feeders), in every
house in town (except some half-dozen which can afford to do
without such aid), the man I propose might speedily render himself
Does the reader now begin to take? Have I hinted enough for him
that he may see with eagle glance the immense beauty of the
profession I am about to unfold to him? We have all seen Gunter
and Chevet; Fregoso, on the Puerta del Sol (a relation of the ex-
Minister Calomarde), is a good purveyor enough for the benighted
olla-eaters of Madrid; nor have I any fault to find with Guimard, a
Frenchman, who has lately set up in the Toledo, at Naples, where he
furnishes people with decent food. It has given me pleasure, too,
in walking about London--in the Strand, in Oxford Street, and
elsewhere, to see fournisseurs and comestible-merchants newly set
up. Messrs. Morel have excellent articles in their warehouses;
Fortnum and Mason are known to most of my readers.
But what is not known, what is wanted, what is languished for in
England is a DINNER-MASTER,--a gentleman who is not a provider of
meat or wine, like the parties before named, who can have no
earthly interest in the price of truffled turkeys or dry champagne
beyond that legitimate interest which he may feel for his client,
and which leads him to see that the latter is not cheated by his
tradesmen. For the dinner-giver is almost naturally an ignorant
man. How in mercy's name can Mr. Serjeant Snorter, who is all day
at Westminster, or in chambers, know possibly the mysteries, the
delicacy, of dinner-giving? How can Alderman Pogson know anything
beyond the fact that venison is good with currant jelly, and that
he likes lots of green fat with his turtle? Snorter knows law,
Pogson is acquainted with the state of the tallow-market; but what
should he know of eating, like you and me, who have given up our
time to it? (I say ME only familiarly, for I have only reached so
far in the science as to know that I know nothing.) But men there
are, gifted individuals, who have spent years of deep thought--not
merely intervals of labor, but hours of study every day--over the
gormandizing science,--who, like alchemists, have let their
fortunes go, guinea by guinea, into the all-devouring pot,--who,
ruined as they sometimes are, never get a guinea by chance but they
will have a plate of pease in May with it, or a little feast of
ortolans, or a piece of Glo'ster salmon, or one more flask from
their favorite claret-bin.
It is not the ruined gastronomist that I would advise a person to
select as his TABLE-MASTER; for the opportunities of peculation
would be too great in a position of such confidence--such complete
abandonment of one man to another. A ruined man would be making
bargains with the tradesmen. They would offer to cash bills for
him, or send him opportune presents of wine, which he could convert
into money, or bribe him in one way or another. Let this be done,
and the profession of table-master is ruined. Snorter and Pogson
may almost as well order their own dinners, as be at the mercy of a
"gastronomic agent" whose faith is not beyond all question.
A vulgar mind, in reply to these remarks regarding the gastronomic
ignorance of Snorter and Pogson, might say, "True, these gentlemen
know nothing of household economy, being occupied with other more
important business elsewhere. But what are their wives about?
Lady Pogson in Harley Street has nothing earthly to do but to mind
her poodle, and her mantua-maker's and housekeeper's bills. Mrs.
Snorter in Belford Place, when she has taken her drive in the Park
with the young ladies, may surely have time to attend to her
husband's guests and preside over the preparations of his kitchen,
as she does worthily at his hospitable mahogany." To this I
answer, that a man who expects a woman to understand the philosophy
of dinner-giving, shows the strongest evidence of a low mind. He
is unjust towards that lovely and delicate creature, woman, to
suppose that she heartily understands and cares for what she eats
and drinks. No: taken as a rule, women have no real appetites.
They are children in the gormandizing way; loving sugar, sops,
tarts, trifles, apricot-creams, and such gewgaws. They would take
a sip of Malmsey, and would drink currant-wine just as happily, if
that accursed liquor were presented to them by the butler. Did you
ever know a woman who could lay her fair hand upon her gentle heart
and say on her conscience that she preferred dry sillery to
sparkling champagne? Such a phenomenon does not exist. They are
not made for eating and drinking; or, if they make a pretence to
it, become downright odious. Nor can they, I am sure, witness the
preparations of a really great repast without a certain jealousy.
They grudge spending money (ask guards, coachmen, inn-waiters,
whether this be not the case). They will give their all, heaven
bless them to serve a son, a grandson, or a dear relative, but they
have not the heart to pay for small things magnificently. They are
jealous of good dinners, and no wonder. I have shown in a former
discourse how they are jealous of smoking, and other personal
enjoyments of the male. I say, then, that Lady Pogson or Mrs.
Snorter can never conduct their husbands' table properly. Fancy
either of them consenting to allow a calf to be stewed down into
gravy for one dish, or a dozen hares to be sacrificed to a single
puree of game, or the best Madeira to be used for a sauce, or half
a dozen of champagne to boil a ham in. They will be for bringing a
bottle of Marsala in place of the old particular, or for having the
ham cooked in water. But of these matters--of kitchen philosophy--
I have no practical or theoretic knowledge; and must beg pardon if,
only understanding the goodness of a dish when cooked, I may have
unconsciously made some blunder regarding the preparation.
Let it, then, be set down as an axiom, without further trouble of
demonstration, that a woman is a bad dinner-caterer; either too
great and simple for it, or too mean--I don't know which it is; and
gentlemen, according as they admire or contemn the sex, may settle
that matter their own way. In brief, the mental constitution of
lovely woman is such that she cannot give a great dinner. It must
be done by a man. It can't be done by an ordinary man, because he
does not understand it. Vain fool! and he sends off to the pastry-
cook in Great Russell Street or Baker Street, he lays on a couple
of extra waiters (green-grocers in the neighborhood), he makes a
great pother with his butler in the cellar, and fancies he has done
Bon Dieu! Who has not been at those dinners?--those monstrous
exhibitions of the pastry-cook's art? Who does not know those made
dishes with the universal sauce to each: fricandeaux, sweet-breads,
damp dumpy cutlets, &c., seasoned with the compound of grease,
onions, bad port-wine, cayenne pepper, curry-powder (Warren's
blacking, for what I know, but the taste is always the same)--there
they lie in the old corner dishes, the poor wiry Moselle and
sparkling Burgundy in the ice-coolers, and the old story of white
and brown soup, turbot, little smelts, boiled turkey, saddle-of-
mutton, and so forth? "Try a little of that fricandeau," says Mrs.
Snorter, with a kind smile. "You'll find it, I think, very nice."
Be sure it has come in a green tray from Great Russell Street.
"Mr. Fitz-Boodle, you have been in Germany," cries Snorter,
knowingly; "taste the hock, and tell me what you think of THAT."
How should he know better, poor benighted creature; or she, dear
good soul that she is? If they would have a leg-of-mutton and an
apple-pudding, and a glass of sherry and port (or simple brandy-
and-water called by its own name) after dinner, all would be very
well; but they must shine, they must dine as their neighbors.
There is no difference in the style of dinners in London; people
with five hundred a year treat you exactly as those of five
thousand. They WILL have their Moselle or hock, their fatal side-
dishes brought in the green trays from the pastry-cook's.
Well, there is no harm done; not as regards the dinner-givers at
least, though the dinner-eaters may have to suffer somewhat; it
only shows that the former are hospitably inclined, and wish to do
the very best in their power,--good honest fellows! If they do
wrong, how can they help it? they know no better.
And now, is it not as clear as the sun at noonday, that A WANT
exists in London for a superintendent of the table--a gastronomic
agent--a dinner-master, as I have called him before? A man of such
a profession would be a metropolitan benefit; hundreds of thousands
of people of the respectable sort, people in white waistcoats,
would thank him daily. Calculate how many dinners are given in the
City of London, and calculate the numbers of benedictions that "the
Agency" might win.
And as no doubt the observant man of the world has remarked that
the freeborn Englishman of the respectable class is, of all others,
the most slavish and truckling to a lord; that there is no fly-
blown peer but he is pleased to have him at his table, proud beyond
measure to call him by his surname (without the lordly prefix); and
that those lords whom he does not know, he yet (the freeborn
Englishman) takes care to have their pedigrees and ages by heart
from his world-bible, the "Peerage:" as this is an indisputable
fact, and as it is in this particular class of Britons that our
agent must look to find clients, I need not say it is necessary
that the agent should be as high-born as possible, and that he
should be able to tack, if possible, an honorable or some other
handle to his respectable name. He must have it on his
THE HONORABLE GEORGE GORMAND GOBBLETON,
Apician Chambers, Pall Mall.
SIR AUGUSTUS CARVER CRAMLEY CRAMLEY,
Amphitryonic Council Office, Swallow Street.
or, in some such neat way, Gothic letters on a large handsome
crockeryware card, with possibly a gilt coat-of-arms and
supporters, or the blood-red hand of baronetcy duly displayed.
Depend on it plenty of guineas will fall in it, and that
Gobbleton's supporters will support him comfortably enough.
For this profession is not like that of the auctioneer, which I
take to be a far more noble one, because more varied and more
truthful; but in the Agency case, a little humbug at least is
necessary. A man cannot be a successful agent by the mere force of
his simple merit or genius in eating and drinking. He must of
necessity impose upon the vulgar to a certain degree. He must be
of that rank which will lead them naturally to respect him,
otherwise they might be led to jeer at his profession; but let a
noble exercise it, and bless your soul, all the "Court Guide" is
He will then give out in a manly and somewhat pompous address what
has before been mentioned, namely, that he has seen the fatal way
in which the hospitality of England has been perverted hitherto,
accapare'd by a few cooks with green trays. (He must use a good
deal of French in his language, for that is considered very
gentlemanlike by vulgar people.) He will take a set of chambers in
Canton Gardens, which will be richly though severely furnished, and
the door of which will be opened by a French valet (he MUST be a
Frenchman, remember), who will say, on letting Mr. Snorter or Sir
Benjamin Pogson in, that "MILOR is at home." Pogson will then be
shown into a library furnished with massive bookcases, containing
all the works on cookery and wines (the titles of them) in all the
known languages in the world. Any books, of course, will do, as
you will have them handsomely bound, and keep them under plate-
glass. On a side-table will be little sample-bottles of wine, a
few truffles on a white porcelain saucer, a prodigious strawberry
or two, perhaps, at the time when such fruit costs much money. On
the library will be busts marked Ude, Careme, Bechamel, in marble
(never mind what heads, of course); and, perhaps, on the clock
should be a figure of the Prince of Conde's cook killing himself
because the fish had not arrived in time: there may be a wreath of
immortelles on the figure to give it a more decidedly Frenchified
air. The walls will be of a dark rich paper, hung round with neat
gilt frames, containing plans of menus of various great dinners,
those of Cambaceres, Napoleon, Louis XIV., Louis XVIII.,
Heliogabalus if you like, each signed by the respective cook.
After the stranger has looked about him at these things, which he
does not understand in the least, especially the truffles, which
look like dirty potatoes, you will make your appearance, dressed in
a dark dress, with one handsome enormous gold chain, and one large
diamond ring; a gold snuff-box, of course, which you will thrust
into the visitor's paw before saying a word. You will be yourself
a portly grave man, with your hair a little bald and gray. In
fact, in this, as in all other professions, you had best try to
look as like Canning as you can.
When Pogson has done sneezing with the snuff, you will say to him,
"Take a fauteuil. I have the honor of addressing Sir Benjamin
Pogson, I believe?" And then you will explain to him your system.
This, of course, must vary with every person you address. But let
us lay down a few of the heads of a plan which may be useful, or
may be modified infinitely, or may be cast aside altogether, just
as circumstances dictate. After all I am not going to turn
gastronomic agent, and speak only for the benefit perhaps of the
very person who is reading this:--
"SYNOPSIS OF THE GASTRONOMIC AGENCY OF THE HONORABLE GEORGE GOBBLETON.
"The Gastronomic Agent having traversed Europe, and dined with the
best society of the world, has been led naturally, as a patriot, to
turn his thoughts homeward, and cannot but deplore the lamentable
ignorance regarding gastronomy displayed in a country for which
Nature has done almost everything.
"But it is ever singularly thus. Inherent ignorance belongs to
man; and The Agent, in his Continental travels, has always
remarked, that the countries most fertile in themselves were
invariably worse tilled than those more barren. The Italians and
the Spaniards leave their fields to Nature, as we leave our
vegetables, fish, and meat. And, heavens! what richness do we
fling away, what dormant qualities in our dishes do we disregard,--
what glorious gastronomic crops (if the Agent may be permitted the
expression)--what glorious gastronomic crops do we sacrifice,
allowing our goodly meats and fishes to lie fallow! 'Chance,' it
is said by an ingenious historian, who, having been long a
secretary in the East India House, must certainly have had access
to the best information upon Eastern matters--'Chance,' it is said
by Mr. Charles Lamb, 'which burnt down a Chinaman's house, with a
litter of sucking-pigs that were unable to escape from the
interior, discovered to the world the excellence of roast-pig.'
Gunpowder, we know, was invented by a similar fortuity." [The
reader will observe that my style in the supposed character of a
Gastronomic Agent is purposely pompous and loud.] "So, 'tis said,
was printing,--so glass.--We should have drunk our wine poisoned
with the villanous odor of the borachio, had not some Eastern
merchants, lighting their fires in the Desert, marked the strange
composition which now glitters on our sideboards, and holds the
costly produce of our vines.
"We have spoken of the natural riches of a country. Let the reader
think but for one moment of the gastronomic wealth of our country
of England, and he will be lost in thankful amazement as he watches
the astonishing riches poured out upon us from Nature's bounteous
cornucopia! Look at our fisheries!--the trout and salmon tossing
in our brawling streams; the white and full-breasted turbot
struggling in the mariner's net; the purple lobster lured by hopes
of greed into his basket-prison, which he quits only for the red
ordeal of the pot. Look at whitebait, great heavens!--look at
whitebait, and a thousand frisking, glittering, silvery things
besides, which the nymphs of our native streams bear kindly to the
deities of our kitchens--our kitchens such as they are.
"And though it may be said that other countries produce the
freckle-backed salmon and the dark broad-shouldered turbot; though
trout frequent many a stream besides those of England, and lobsters
sprawl on other sands than ours; yet, let it be remembered, that
our native country possesses these altogether, while other lands
only know them separately; that, above all, whitebait is peculiarly
our country's--our city's own! Blessings and eternal praises be on
it, and, of course, on brown bread and butter! And the Briton
should further remember, with honest pride and thankfulness, the
situation of his capital, of London: the lordly turtle floats from
the sea into the stream, and from the stream to the city; the rapid
fleets of all the world se donnent rendezvous in the docks of our
silvery Thames; the produce of our coasts and provincial cities,
east and west, is borne to us on the swift lines of lightning
railroads. In a word--and no man but one who, like The Agent, has
travelled Europe over, can appreciate the gift--there is no city on
earth's surface so well supplied with fish as London!
"With respect to our meats, all praise is supererogatory. Ask the
wretched hunter of chevreuil, the poor devourer of rehbraten, what
they think of the noble English haunch, that, after bounding in the
Park of Knole or Windsor, exposes its magnificent flank upon some
broad silver platter at our tables? It is enough to say of foreign
venison, that THEY ARE OBLIGED TO LARD IT. Away! ours is the palm
of roast; whether of the crisp mutton that crops the thymy herbage
of our downs, or the noble ox who revels on lush Althorpian oil-
cakes. What game is like to ours? Mans excels us in poultry, 'tis
true; but 'tis only in merry England that the partridge has a
flavor, that the turkey can almost se passer de truffes, that the
jolly juicy goose can be eaten as he deserves.
"Our vegetables, moreover, surpass all comment; Art (by the means
of glass) has wrung fruit out of the bosom of Nature, such as she
grants to no other clime. And if we have no vineyards on our
hills, we have gold to purchase their best produce. Nature, and
enterprise that masters Nature, have done everything for our land.
"But, with all these prodigious riches in our power, is it not
painful to reflect how absurdly we employ them? Can we say that we
are in the habit of dining well? Alas, no! and The Agent, roaming
o'er foreign lands, and seeing how, with small means and great
ingenuity and perseverance, great ends were effected, comes back
sadly to his own country, whose wealth he sees absurdly wasted,
whose energies are misdirected, and whose vast capabilities are
allowed to lie idle. . . ." [Here should follow what I have only
hinted at previously, a vivid and terrible picture of the
degradation of our table.] ". . . Oh, for a master spirit, to give
an impetus to the land, to see its great power directed in the
right way, and its wealth not squandered or hidden, but nobly put
out to interest and spent!
"The Agent dares not hope to win that proud station--to be the
destroyer of a barbarous system wallowing in abusive prodigality--
to become a dietetic reformer--the Luther of the table.
"But convinced of the wrongs which exist, he will do his humble
endeavor to set them right, and to those who know that they are
ignorant (and this is a vast step to knowledge) he offers his
counsels, his active co-operation, his frank and kindly sympathy.
The Agent's qualifications are these:--
"1. He is of one of the best families in England; and has in
himself, or through his ancestors, been accustomed to good living
for centuries. In the reign of Henry V., his maternal great-great-
grandfather, Roger de Gobylton" [the name may be varied, of course,
or the king's reign, or the dish invented], "was the first who
discovered the method of roasting a peacock whole, with his tail-
feathers displayed; and the dish was served to the two kings at
Rouen. Sir Walter Cramley, in Elizabeth's reign, produced before
her Majesty, when at Killingworth Castle, mackerel with the famous
GOOSEBERRY SAUCE, &c.
"2. He has, through life, devoted himself to no other study than
that of the table: and has visited to that end the courts of all
the monarchs of Europe: taking the receipts of the cooks, with whom
he lives on terms of intimate friendship, often at enormous expense
"3. He has the same acquaintance with all the vintages of the
Continent; having passed the autumn of 1811 (the comet year) on the
great Weinberg of Johannisberg; being employed similarly at
Bordeaux, in 1834; at Oporto, in 1820; and at Xeres de la Frontera,
with his excellent friends, Duff, Gordon and Co., the year after.
He travelled to India and back in company with fourteen pipes of
Madeira (on board of the Samuel Snob' East Indiaman, Captain
Scuttler, and spent the vintage season in the island, with
unlimited powers of observation granted to him by the great houses
"4. He has attended Mr. Groves of Charing Cross, and Mr. Giblett
of Bond Street, in a course of purchases of fish and meat; and is
able at a glance to recognize the age of mutton, the primeness of
beef, the firmness and freshness of fish of all kinds.
"5. He has visited the parks, the grouse-manors, and the principal
gardens of England, in a similar professional point of view."
The Agent then, through his subordinates, engages to provide
gentlemen who are about to give dinner-parties--
" 1. With cooks to dress the dinners; a list of which gentlemen he
has by him, and will recommend none who are not worthy of the
"2. With a menu for the table, according to the price which the
Amphitryon chooses to incur.
"3. He will, through correspondence, with the various fournisseurs
of the metropolis, provide them with viands, fruit, wine, &c.,
sending to Paris, if need be, where he has a regular correspondence
with Messrs. Chevet.
"4. He has a list of dexterous table-waiters (all answering to the
name of John for fear of mistakes, the butler's name to be settled
according to pleasure), and would strongly recommend that the
servants of the house should be locked in the back-kitchen or
servants' hall during the time the dinner takes place.
"5. He will receive and examine all the accounts of the
fournisseurs,--of course pledging his honor as a gentleman not to
receive one shilling of paltry gratification from the tradesmen he
employs, but to see that the bills are more moderate, and their
goods of better quality, than they would provide to any person of
less experience than himself.
"6. His fee for superintending a dinner will be five guineas: and
The Agent entreats his clients to trust ENTIRELY to him and his
subordinates for the arrangement of the repast,--NOT TO THINK of
inserting dishes of their own invention, or producing wine from
their own cellars, as he engages to have it brought in the best
order, and fit for immediate drinking. Should the Amphitryon,
however, desire some particular dish or wine, he must consult The
Agent in the first case by writing, in the second, by sending a
sample to The Agent's chambers. For it is manifest that the whole
complexion of a dinner may be altered by the insertion of a single
dish; and, therefore, parties will do well to mention their wishes
on the first interview with The Agent. He cannot be called upon to
recompose his bill of fare, except at great risk to the ensemble of
the dinner and enormous inconvenience to himself.
"7. The Agent will be at home for consultation from ten o'clock
until two, earlier if gentlemen who are engaged at early hours in
the City desire to have an interview: and be it remembered, that a
PERSONAL INTERVIEW is always the best: for it is greatly necessary
to know not only the number but the character of the guests whom
the Amphitryon proposes to entertain,--whether they are fond of any
particular wine or dish, what is their state of health, rank,
style, profession, &c.
8. At two o'clock, he will commence his rounds; for as the
metropolis is wide, it is clear that he must be early in the field
in some districts. From 2 to 3 he will be in Russell Square and
the neighborhood; 3 to 3 3/4, Harley Street, Portland Place,
Cavendish Square, and the environs; 3 3/4 to 4 1/4, Portman Square,
Gloucester Place, Baker Street, &c.; 4 1/4 to 5, the new district
about Hyde Park Terrace; 5 to 5 3/4, St. John's Wood and the
Regent's Park. He will be in Grosvenor Square by 6, and in
Belgrave Square, Pimlico, and its vicinity, by 7. Parties there
are requested not to dine until 8 o'clock; and The Agent, once for
all, peremptorily announces that he will NOT go to the palace,
where it is utterly impossible to serve a good dinner."
"Every Monday evening during the season the Gastronomic Agent
proposes to give a series of trial-dinners, to which the principal
gormands of the metropolis, and a few of The Agent's most
respectable clients, will be invited. Covers will be laid for TEN
at nine o'clock precisely. And as The Agent does not propose to
exact a single shilling of profit from their bills, and as his
recommendation will be of infinite value to them, the tradesmen he
employs will furnish the weekly dinner gratis. Cooks will attend
(who have acknowledged characters) upon the same terms. To save
trouble, a book will be kept where butchers, poulterers,
fishmongers, &c. may inscribe their names in order, taking it by
turns to supply the trial-table. Wine-merchants will naturally
compete every week promiscuously, sending what they consider their
best samples, and leaving with the hall-porter tickets of the
prices. Confectionery to be done out of the house. Fruiterers,
market-men, as butchers and poulterers. The Agent's maitre-d'hotel
will give a receipt to each individual for the articles he
produces; and let all remember that The Agent is a VERY KEEN JUDGE,
and woe betide those who serve him or his clients ill!
"GEORGE GORMAND GOBBLETON.
"CARLTON GARDENS, June 10, 1842."
Here I have sketched out the heads of such an address as I conceive
a gastronomic agent might put forth; and appeal pretty confidently
to the British public regarding its merits and my own discovery.
If this be not a profession--a new one--a feasible one--a lucrative
one,--I don't know what is. Say that a man attends but fifteen
dinners daily, that is seventy-five guineas, or five hundred and
fifty pounds weekly, or fourteen thousand three hundred pounds for
a season of six months: and how many of our younger sons have such
a capital even? Let, then, some unemployed gentleman with the
requisite qualifications come forward. It will not be necessary
that he should have done all that is stated in the prospectus; but,
at any rate, let him SAY he has: there can't be much harm in an
innocent fib of that sort; for the gastronomic agent must be a sort
of dinner-pope, whose opinions cannot be supposed to err.
And as he really will be an excellent judge of eating and drinking,
and will bring his whole mind to bear upon the question, and will
speedily acquire an experience which no person out of the
profession can possibly have; and as, moreover, he will be an
honorable man, not practising upon his client in any way, or
demanding sixpence beyond his just fee, the world will gain vastly
by the coming forward of such a person,--gain in good dinners, and
absolutely save money: for what is five guineas for a dinner of
sixteen? The sum may be gaspille by a cook-wench, or by one of
those abominable before-named pastry-cooks with their green trays.
If any man take up the business, he will invite me, of course, to
the Monday dinners. Or does ingratitude go so far as that a man
should forget the author of his good fortune? I believe it does.
Turn we away from the sickening theme!
And now, having concluded my professions, how shall I express my
obligations to the discriminating press of this country for the
unanimous applause which hailed my first appearance? It is the
more wonderful, as I pledge my sacred word, I never wrote a
document before much longer than a laundress's bill, or the
acceptance of an invitation to dinner. But enough of this egotism:
thanks for praise conferred sound like vanity; gratitude is hard to
speak of, and at present it swells the full heart of
GEORGE SAVAGE FITZ-BOODLE.