Obrazy na stronie

qualifying himself for the Seraglio, that he might find means to carry off a picture of the Grand Signior's chief mistress.

The general dishonesty of Connoisseurs is indeed so well known, that the strictest precaution is taken to guard against it. Medals are secured under lock and key, pictures screwed to the walls, and books chained to the shelves; yet cabinets, galleries, and libraries are continually plundered. Many of the maimed statues at Rome perhaps owe their present ruinous condition to the depredations made on them by Virtuosos: the head of Henry the Fifth, in Wesminster abbey was in all probability stolen by a Connoisseur; and I know one who has at different times pilfered a great part of queen Catherine's bones, and hopes in a little while to be master of the whole skeleton. This gentleman has been detected in so many little thefts, that he has for several years past been refused admittance into the Museums of the curious; and he is lately gone abroad with a design upon the ancient Greek manuscripts discovered at Herculane


It may seem surprising, that these gentlemen should have been hitherto suffered to escape unpunished for their repeated thefts; and that a Virtuoso, who robs you of an unic of inestimable value, should even glory in the action, while a poor dog, who picks your pocket of six-pence, shall be hanged for it. What a shocking disgrace would be brought upon taste, should we ever see the dying speech, confession, and behaviour of a Connoisseur, related in the account of Malefactors by the Ordinary of Newgate! Such an accident would doubtless bring the study of Virtu into still more contempt among the ignorant, when they found that it only brought a man to the gallows; as the country fellow, when he saw an attorney stand in the pillory for forgery, shook his head and cried, "ay, this comes of your writing and reading." It were

perhaps worthy the considerations of the legislature to devise some punishment for these offenders which should bear some analogy with their crimes: and as common malefactors are delivered to the surgeons to be anatomized, I would propose, that a Connoisseur should be made into a mummy, and preserved in the hall of the Royal Society, for the terror and admiration of his brethren.

I shall conclude this paper with the relation of a circumstance, which fell within my own knowledge when I was abroad, and in which I declined a glorious opportunity of signalizing myself as a Connoisseur. While I was at Rome, a young physician of our party, who was eaten up with Virtu, made a serious proposal to us of breaking into one of the churches by night, and taking away a famous piece of painting over the altar. As I had not quite taste enough to come at once into his scheme, I could not help objecting to him, that it was a robbery. Poh,' says he, it is a most exquisite picture !'.... Ay, but it is not only a robbery, but sacrilege.'....' Oh it is a most charming piece !'....Zounds, doctor, but if we should be taken, we shall all be broke upon the wheel............... 'Then' said he, we shall die Martyrs.'



Poscentes vario multum diversa palato.

How very ill our different tastes agree;
This will have beef, and that a fricassee.


I HAVE selected the following letters from a great number, which I have lately been favoured with from unknown correspondents; and as they both relate nearly to the same subject, I shall without further preface submit them to the public.


WHEN you was got into White's, I was in hopes that you would not have confined yourself merely to the gaming-table, but have given us an account of the entertainment at their ordinaries. A bill of fare from thence would have been full as diverting to your readers, as the laws of the game, or a list of their bets. These gentlemen, we are told, are no less adepts in the science of eating than of gaming; and as Hoyle has reduced the latter into a new and complete system, I could wish that their cook, (who to be sure is a Frenchman) would also oblige the world by a treatise on the art and mystery of sauces.

Indeed, Mr. Town, it surprises me, that you have so long neglected to make some, reflections on the diet of this great city. Dr. Martin Lister, who was universally allowed to be a great Connoisseur, and published several learned treaties upon cockle shells, did not think it beneath him to comment on the works of Apicius Cælius, who had collected together many valuable receipts in cookery, as practised by the Romans. If you would preserve your papers from the indignity of covering breasts of veal, or wrapping up cutlets a la Maintenon, I would advise you to lard

them now and then with the ragouts of Heliogabalus,: or a parallel between our modern soups and the Lacædemonian black broth. Your works might then be universally read, from the mistress in the parlour down to the cookmaid and scullion.

It is absolutely necessary for people of all tempers, complexions, persuasions, habits, and stations of life, however they may differ in other particulars, to concur in the grand article of eating. And as the humours of the body arise from the food we take in, the dispositions of the mind seem to bear an equal resemblance to our places of refreshment. You have already taken a review of our several coffee-houses; and I wish you would proceed to delineate the different characters, that are to be found in our taverns and chop-houses. A friend of mine always judges of a man of taste and fashion, by asking, who is his perukemaker or his taylor? Upon the same principles, when I would form a just opinion of any man's temper and inclinations, I always enquire, where does he dine?

The difference between the taverns near St. James's, and those about the 'Change, consists, not so much in the costliness as the substance of their viands. The round-bellied alderman, who breathes the foggy air of the city, requires a more solid diet than the light kickshews of our meagre persons of quality. My lord, or Sir John, after having whiled away an hour or two at the parliament-house, drives to the Star and Garter to regale on Macaroni, or piddle with an Ortolan; while the merchant, who has plodded all the morning in the Alley, sits down to a turtle-feast at the Crown or the King's Arms, and crams himself with Calipash and Calipee. As the city taverns are appropriated to men of business, who drive bargains for thousands over their morning's gill, the taverns about the court are generally filled with an insipid race of mortals, who have nothing to do.

Among these you may see most of our young men of fashion, and young officers of the guards, who meet at these places to shew the elegance of their taste by the expensiveness of their dinner; and many an ensign, with scarce any income but his commission, prides himself on keeping the best company; and often throws down more than a week's pay for his reckoning; though at other times it obliges him, with several of his brethren upon half pay, to dine with duke Humphry in St. James's park.

The taverns about the purlieus of Covent-Garden are dedicated to Venus, as well as Ceres and Liber; and you may frequently see the jolly mess-mates of both sexes go in and come out in couples, like the clean and unclean beasts in Noah's ark. These houses are equally indebted for their support, to the cook, and that worthy personage, whom they have dignified with the title of Pimp. These gentlemen contrive to play into each other's hands. The first by his soups and rich sauces prepares the way for the occupation of the other; who having reduced the patient by a proper exercise of his art, returns him back again to go through the same regimen as before. We may therefore suppose, that the culinary arts are no less studied here than at White's or Pontac's. True geniuses in eating will continually strike out new improvements: but I dare say, neither Braund nor Lebeck ever made up a more extraordinary dish, than I once remember at the Castle. Some bloods being in company with a celebrated fille de joye, one of them pulled off her shoe, and in excess of gallantry filled it with Champagne, and drank it off to her health. In this delicious draught he was immediately pledged by the rest, and then, to carry the compliment still further, he ordered the shoe itself to be dressed and served up for supper. The cook set himself seriously to work upon it: he pulled the upper part (which was of damask) into fine shreds, and tossed it up in

[blocks in formation]
« PoprzedniaDalej »