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Say, hast thou wak?d my wild harp's mournful strings,
p. 166. The reader will be pleased to know that the daughter recovered, and the wishes of the fond mother were realized. These slight specimens from a work, the primary charm of which is the gradual knowledge which it gives of a very estimable character, can have no effect if they do not excite a desire to read the volumes. The observations of Mrs. Grant, whether on books or manners, are usually judicious ; and we are much mistaken, if she will not have more or less of a friend in every reader of her letters.
FROM THE EDINBURGH REVIEW. The new Practice of Cookery, Pastry, Baking and Preserving, being the Country
Housewife's best friend. By Mrs. Hudson and Mrs. Donat, present and late Housekeepers and Cooks to Mrs. Buchan Hepburn, of Smeaton, and published by her Per
mission. pp. 242. 8vo. Culina Famulatrix Medicinæ; or, Receipts in modern Cookery, with a Medical Com
mentary, written by Ignotus, and revised by A. Hunter, M. D. F. R S. L. & E. The second Edition. York. pp. 268. 8vo.
IT seems to have been a complaint familiar in the mouths of our ancestors, and which we have too often seen cause to reecho in the present day, “ That God sends good meat, but the devil sends cooks.” The irritability, the obstinacy, and the perfidy of the present culinary race, indeed, obviously demonstrate their ascent from regions even hotter than those which they oce cupy upon earth ; and, while the direct attacks of the arch enemy are oppo. sed and counteracted by the clergy, who may be considered as the regular forces to whom our defence is intrusted, it is with pleasure we see a disposition, in the learned and experienced among the laity, to volunteer against the hordes of greasy Cossacks whom he detaches to those quarters, as marauders upon our daily patience and our annual income.
In first entering the field upon this occasion, we had some difficulty to settle the rank of these auxilaries amongst themselves, or, to drop the metaphor, we were at a loss, after considering the high claims to attention preferred by both publications, to which we ought to give the precedence in our critique. It is true, Mesdames Hudson and Donat prefer a bold claim to the grateful recollection of those who have regaled on their dainties. “ It becomes them
Rot," as they are modestly pleased to express it, "to judge of their own merit; but with honest confidence they appeal to a numerous list of subscribers, who have eat and judged of their works.” In this passage there is some ambiguity. If, by this intimation, it is meant that the subscribers actually eat the volume to which they subscribed, we, the Reviewers, will frankly tell Mrs. Hudson and Mrs. Donat, that, notwithstanding the evangelical authority which may be quoted for this literary diet, we cannot bring our stomachs to submit to it; especially, as, in one sense, we are already obliged to devour many more works than we are well able to digest. On the other hand, if the judgment referred to was formed from actually partaking of the dishes analysed in this volume, we only want the opportunity, happily enjoyed by these subscribers, conscientiously to join in their verdict. Upon the slightest intimation, the long coach shall convey our critical fraternity to the hospitable mansion where these fair dames have presided, and do preside over the good things of the earth; and then-fiat experimentum !
By the same rule, although Ignotus resides at rather too great a distance for an inroad of this nature, yet an actual experiment might be usefully made on a Yorkshire pie, transmitted by the mail or wagon. And upon this fair system of practical knowledge did we propose to have decided the merits of these candidates for culinary renown, till we recollected the unlucky termination of a course of lectures on the art of cookery in this city, which was abruptly broken off by the indignant professor, in consequence of a hun. gry student having eat up a principal specimen, as it circulated through the class for the admiration, but not the consumption of the audience. Deprived, therefore, of this most agreeable mode of exercising our critical sagacity, we choose to arrange the precedence of these rival works upon the gallant principle of place aux dames ; and we are convinced, that Ignotus and nis editor, although the latter be M. D. F. R. S. L. & E. will, with their usual good humour, give the front rank to the “ present and late Housekeepers and Cooks to rs. Buchan Hepburn of Smeaton."
The prefatory advertisement to this book is too interesting to be suppressed. It shows at once the deep learning of the ladies by whom it was written ; their honest sense of the dignity of their vocation ; and their laudable zeal for its being conducted on the true principles of the British constitution, as well as upon those of sound, experimental philosophy.
The late Dr. Black, professor of chymistry in the university of Edinburgh, has in. structed and enlightened the world by his philosophical, ingenious, and patient resear. ches in that science, which, somewhere in his works, he has defined to be, “the effect of heat and mixture upon bodies.”
This definition applies as directly to the cook as to the chymist. His kitchen is his school; his boilers, his digesters ; his stoves, and not forgetting his cradle-spit, correspond to the crucible, the alembick, the retort, and the other apparatus of the chymist; and both are equally applied to prove the effect of heat and mixture upon bodies. It must be admitted, at the same time, that the range or kingdom of the bodies they severally operate upon, are wonderfully different. The chymist gropes below ground, and in the dark, through the mineral kingdom ; while the cook operates in the light, and above board, upon the animal and the vegetable world.
The judges, also, who are to decide upon the result of their several experiments, are not less different and opposite, than the subjects they have operated up n. The chymist lays his experiments, stuffed, generally, with mathematical demonstrations, or the more abstruse calculations of the minus and plus of algebra, before some Royal Society, composed of a few meagre philosophers, “with spectacles on’s nose;" wi ile the judges the cook appeals to, are all the jolly bons vivants in the Imperial Kingdom; and his compounds are drawn from every thing that is delicate and high-fia jured in the animal and in the vegetable world; and, without any other demonstration than what his larding and his sauces give, he appeals directly to the sound and nice palate of his nugerous judges.
The editors of the following culinary experiments do not pretend to rank with the ingenious and the philosophick Dr. Black, Lavoisier, or other eminent chymists of the modern school. As, however, they are professed cooks, the natural attachment and vanity of metier may perhaps allow them to say, without offence, that they do hold the “ Art of Cookery' to be not the least useful branch of the great and comprehensive sci. ence of cn, nisury; and, baving already avowed themselves professed cooks, they will not tro le their readers with a minute detail of the interesting incidents of their lives, as too generally is the practice of modern authors ; such as, where they were severally born ; where educated and initiated in the mysteries of cookery. Suffice it to say, that they have each, successively, and for years, officiated as cook and housekeeper in the kitchen of Mrs. Buchan Hepburn, of Smeaton, who has kindly allowed them, for their owii benefit, to publish the following receipts, which they have practised and performed tiere. It becomes not them io boast of their own merit; but, with honest confi. dence, they appeal to a numerous list of subscribers who have eat and judged of their works.
They have subjoined many valuable receipts in housekeeping, for curing beef, for making of hans and bacon, for the dairy and pastry, baking, and the best receipt for artificiai yeast, which can be made and used the same day, and does not make the bread sour; all of which they have practised at Smeaton with wonderfuil success. In short, they now offer to the world, not a cobweb theory of cookery, such as the firmsy constitution-mongers of France have spun for these 12 or 15 years pust out of their distempered bruins, to deceive and ruin that miserable people. No! here facts only are narrated; and by a cor. rect attention to the directions given, the cook, whether male or female, may rest assu. red of meeting the approbation of the nicest and most delicate palate ; and will prove particularly useful for those who reside in the country. The different receipts for making the India currie powder and pellow, are taken from the best practice of their na. tive country.
From this advertisement, much extraordinary information may be derived. We have already noticed, that there is great room to believe that the subscribers, to testify their approbation of the contents, actually eat the book, like the man who, in his zealous applause of roast beef, devoured the spit from which it had been taken: but this is not all. We are informed, in point of historical fact, that the various legislators of France have, for these twelve or fifteen years past, been busily engaged in digesting systems of conkery. And, truly, tnough this is mentioned in rather derogating terms, on account, apparently, of their bad success, we consider the fact to be, on the whole, a discovery in ti.eir favour; since, for our own parts, we never suspected them to be so usefully or innocently employed It is a fact of subordinate importance, but nevertheless somewhat curious, that the whole Royal Society make use of one pair of spectacles, placed on the nose, doubtless, of the president. We have long observed an unvaried coincidence in the views and pur. suits of this learned body, and are happy to be able to trace it to a cause equally unsuspected and satisfactory.
As to the receipts which follow this curious and instructive preface, they are distinctly expressed ; and from the well known hospitality and elegance of the family i.. which they were composed, we have no doubt they will be found admirable. We must observe, however, that they are arranged in ra. ther a miscellaneous order; for after a receipt to make " a half-peck bun," we pass abruptly to another which begins : “ The slaked lime must be well sifted and steeped in a pit,” &c &c. and again: “Take two shovels full of coarse wa. ter sand, one aitto of hamper slag well sifted, one ditto powdered brick dust," &c. Now, although we are specially directed that the former mixture shall be wrought into "thin porridge” and the latter made neither“ too fat nor 100 poor," yet, we are somewhat inclined to doubt, whether any management or attention in the preparation, could render them (igestible by human stomachs. or, indeed, whether they can be strictly said io belong to the arts of cookery, pastry, baking, or preserving, unless the ladies are of opinion with the Copper Captain, that “a piece of bultered wall is excellent." Other rc
ceipts occur, in which “ an ounce of white arsenick," and the expressed juice of the deadly nightshade,” are the chief ingredients. These we were, at first glance, inclined to suppose borrowed from the French systems already mentioned ; perhaps the original recipe for a restorative cordial à l'hopital, or a fricandeau à Toussaint,-if, indeed, the patriotick composers did not design them for the regale of the emperour himself on his long announced visit.
The very errata of this work evince the care and deep science of the com. pilers. Some corrections refer to the ingredients; and it will be prudent to attend to them specially, as the errour, according to the phrase of the civilians, is sometimes in substantialibus. Thus, we have “ for linen, read lemon;" “for chicken, read onion ;" " for pepper read paper.” Others regard accessories; as, “after raspberries [in a receipt for making jam) add together with two pounds and a half raw sugar;"or," for mix it all with the foregoing ingre. dients, read and mix them with a mutchkin and a half of brandy.” Others refer to proportion; as," for pint and a half, read bit ;” and, “ for half a, read three thirds.” This last correction appeared to us to conceal some ne and abstract doctrine in fractions, adopted, perhaps, from the facetious Costard; for ladies acquainted with philosophy cannot be ignorant of Shakspeare. • Biron. Three times three is nine. Costard. Not so, Sir, under correction, I hope it is not so. Biron. By Jove, I always took three threes for nine. Costard. O Lord, Sir, it were a pity you should get your living by reckoning, Sir.”—
Upon the whole, besides the receipts for dressed dishes, which it is not in the power of every housewife to place on her board, this little work contains many useful instructions concerning the poultry yard and dairy, which afford the cheapest and most wholesome regale to a country family.
The work of Ignotus, being more systematick and classical, claims a graver and more elaborate discussion. And, in the first place, we have to remark, that whereas all other books of cookery contain domestick receipts for media cine, promiscuously inserted amongst those for food, Ignotus, with the assistance, we presume, of his learned editor, has accompanied the description of each savoury mess, with a medical commentary on its use and abuse; an invitation to partake, or a caution to shun it. A suspicious person, considering the profession of the editor, inight here be tempted to exclaim :
Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes ; thinking, perhaps, that such a connexion may subsist betwixt a doctor and a disease, as betwixt a sportsman and his game, since, although the business of each is the destruction of individuals, both must be presumed to take great care to encourage the breed. But we will cheerfully acquit Ignotus of any premeditated design against our health; for, although his plentiful table, stocked with the dainties described in his work, may occasionally have converted a guest into a patient, we are sure it could not be with the felonious purpose of indemnifying himself for the expense of the entertainment. For this we appeal to the following liberal sentiment, appended to an excellent receipt for peas-soup.
This is a good set-off against high seasoned dishes. An occasional abstinence that does not allow the stomach to be quite empty at any one time, is a measure highly salutary, and, for religious purposes, is perhaps preferable to long fasting; a practice, medically to be condemned. An honest physician who, regardless of his fees, can view with pleasure the healthy state of a family where he has been received with kindness, will be happy in the recommendation of a practice that is calculated to preserve the general health of his friends. But, to the disgrace of a profession, other. wise useful and honourable, there are some men who, like the savages upon a rocky coast, view an epidemical disease as a God-send.” p. 113-114.
At the same time, while we do justice to the liberality of the views of Ignotus, we can by no means acquit him of leading his readers into temptation. It is hardly enough to say to an epicure, in the words of Cato : “ Your death and life, your bane and antidote are both before you.” Describing a rich dish, and then stigmatizing it as unwholesome, is only calling for the water engine after you have set the house on fire. Our irst parents eat, when death was denounced as the inevitable consequence; and their descendants, with undegenerated courage, and a full consciousness of their danger, are ready to eat themselves into gout, and drink themselves into palsy. To add to the weight of his remonstrances, Ignotus has called in the assistance of Archeus, the genius of the stomach, a personification by which Van Helmont and others expressed the digestive power. Lest the unlearned reader should suppose Archeus, whose authority is so often referred to, to be the name of a French bon vivant, or a Hungarian professor, Ignotus gives us the following account of his person and office.
Van Helmont gave the name of Archeus to a spirit that he supposed existed in the body, for the purpose of regulating and keeping in order the innumerable glands, ducts, and vessels ; and though this spirit visits every part, his chief post is at the upper orifice of the stomach, where he acts the part of a customhouse officer, allowing nothing to pass unexamined that, by the law of nature, has the appearance of being contraband. This part of his duty being only required during meal-times, the remaining part of the twenty-four hours (for he never sleeps) is employed in rubbing, scrubbing, and repairing the waste of the body occasioned by the continual friction of the fluids against the sides of the containing vessels. For this last purpose, and an important one it is, he is supposed to select from the chyle such particles as he may stand in need of; but as he may sometimes be in want of one kind more than of another, he very judiciously obtains it, by bringing on a longing for a particular kind of food. For example ; when the internal coat of the intestines is abraded by a diarrhæa or dysentery, a longing is brought on for fried tripe with melted butter, as containing the greatest quantity of materials proper for the repair of bowels so disordered. To this circumstance, modern physicians do not sufficiently attend, neither are they sufficiently awake to the necessity of prescribing a diet for persons in health, whose chyle should be of a nature for supplying Archeus with general materials, without compelling him to call for them. The folly, therefore, of keeping to one kind of diet, whether high or low, is abundantly evident, as, in that case, Archieus must sometimes be overstocked with materials that he may have no occasion for, and be in want of such as his office may stand in need of. And here it will be necessary to remark, for the information of medical men, that a microscopical examination of the chyle of different men, made after sudden deaths, has proved, to a demonstration, that the chyle of the human body contains different shaped particles, round, oval, long, square, angular, kidney-shaped, heart-shaped, &c. varying according to the food taken in. In consequence of this important discovery, the practitioner has only to direct such food as may contain the particles that Archeus may stand in need of. For example: Are the kidneys diseased? Then prescribe stews and broths, made of ox, deer, and sheep's kidneys. Asthmas require dishes prepared from the lungs of sheep, deer, calves, hares, and lambs. Are the intestines diseased? Then prescribe tripe, boiled, fried, or fricasseed. When this practice has become general, Archeus will be enabled to remove every disease incident to the human body, by the assistance of the cook only. And, as all persons, from the palace to the cottage, will receive the benefit of my discovery, I shall expect a parliamentary reward, at least equal to what was given to Mrs. Stevens, Dr. Jenner, and Dr. Smyth. On the last revision of the college dispensatory, among other things of less moment, such as ordering fomentations to be made with distilled water, the name of Archeus was changed into Anima Medica, as more expressive of a Muid Servant of all Work. With men of deep researches, I will not dispute the propriety of the alteration, as I conceive that such a violence coulů not be done but after serious investigation. p. 119. 122.
This extract may give the reader some idea of the lively manner in which Ignotus has handled his subject. In fact, the whole book is very entertaining, and excites no small degree of interest, especially if read about an hour before dinner. The medical remarks are excellent, although