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Another reason against serving dinners à la Russe is, that those costly services of gold and silver plate, which nearly every good family in England possesses, are not displayed under the new fashion, which, like crinoline, will have its long reign, and ultimately pass away.

Dinner, according to Mr. Kirwan, is not only an important consideration to those who study health and temper, but also to those to whom the best method of getting through business is a matter of importance.

Our great moralist, Johnson, would never have accomplished a tithe of what he has done for his generation and posterity, had he not sensibly given much more attention to what suited his palate and his appetite than the great mass of mankind. The Doctor laughed at those who affected not to care for dinner, and asserted that from having long thought on the subject, he could write a better cookery book than had ever appeared in his day, because it would be written on philosophical principles. The late Sydney Smith, too, one of the ablest and wittiest men of our own generation, laid great stress on the importance of dinner to the proper performance of our most serious duties and functions; and there can be no doubt that the Canon of St. Paul's had reason on his side. Every sensible and thoughtful man is, in truth, aware how much better he is able to speak, or to write, or take his part in conversation and debate after a satisfactory meal, which pleased his palate, and suited and satisfied his appetite, than after a cold, a comfortless, or an unrelished dinner. The result can be explained on purely medical and physiological grounds, and need not be further laboured in a work of this kind.

Each country and capital has its mode and season for giving dinners; but there can be no doubt whatever that the best dinners are given in London. English dinners present now-a-days, with their fish, boiled and roasted joints, flanked by a double row of side-dishes, substantial solidity, combined with the gracefulness, lightness, and science of French cookery, and display a combination as rare, as nutritious, and as desirable as delightful. The attendance is generally good, and the display of glass, crystal, and plate, much greater, and better kept, than in any other country and capital in the world.

We say this despite of Mr. Kirwan's Gallic tendencies. The cookery may, certainly, not even be equal to that of the finer cuisine bourgeoise of Paris, but it is a rather strange thing to find a feature of praise in the fact that at a French dinner everything is eaten up. Some might opine at such a clearance that either the supply was not equal to the demand, or that the appetites of the guests exceeded the generosity of the host. We should really, with all due deference to Mr. Kirwan, consider such a conclusion to a repast as highly inglorious.

The professional and learned classes at Paris, as well as the class of superior traders, all feast at a cuisine, which, for its science, its relishing and appetising qualities, greatly surpasses ours. In moderate houses in Paris there is far less pretension than there is among us. For instance, an eminent lawyer, doctor, or publisher, will give you at a small friendly dinner of four or six, a good soup, a good fish plain or dressed, a good roti, and a couple of side dishes, all of which are excellent in their way, with a salmi of game and a couple of entremets, quite perfect of their kind, and this at an expense of little more than one half of what an English dinner costs. There is on the table plenty for every guest; but the beauty of such dinners is, that nearly every morsel is eaten up. There are a few good dishes well cooked, and everybody relishes his portion. The wines, liqueurs, and coffee, are all good.

To come, however, to the practical part of the relative duties of "Host and Guest," we have these summed up by the author in a few sentences, which should be printed in gold. After remarking upon what he calls "grand dinners," or "set dinners," and recommending that, with men of moderate fortune, a first-rate man cook should be introduced for the occasion, or some renowned undertaker or entrepreneur of dinners, such as Gunter, Staples, Bathe and Breach, or others, should be contracted with, he goes on to say:

Why, however, it will be asked, should persons of a couple or three thousand a year give so pretentious and costly a dinner? Because every one in England tries to ape the class two or three degrees above him in point of rank and fortune, in style of living, and manner of receiving his friends. Thus it is that a plain gentleman of moderate fortune, or a professional man making a couple of thousands a year, having dined with a peer of 50,000l. a year in Grosvenorsquare or Belgravia, seeks, when he himself next gives a dinner, to imitate the style of the marquis, earl, or lord-lieutenant of a county with whom he has come into social contact. The attempt is a great mistake, and generally a failure; for unless there be a unity and completeness, an ensemble in such a feast, it is a misadventure. In a party of twenty at one of these great houses there are from a dozen to fifteen servants, exclusive of the butler and underbutler, waiting at table, and where is the man of three thousand or six thousand a year who could afford such a retinue of liveried lackeys! The keep, liveries, beer-money, and wages of a dozen livery servants of this kind, would amount to from 1600%. to 20007. a year alone. Is it not, therefore, folly for gentlemen of small means, or for struggling professional men, to seek to vie with, by aping, these magnates? Let the great brewers, the great bankers, the great merchants, and the great railway contractors and millionnaires, vie with them if it please them, but let men of mind and brain not attempt it. Even in the case of millionnaires, the essay at rivalry is rarely successful. There is ostentation without ease, elegance, good breeding, or good taste, and the parvenu too often appears in all his disagreeable hideousness and self-sufficiency. It were far better if men of moderate fortune would attempt less. The success of a dinner does not depend in the least on two soups, two fishes, two removes, and eight entrées, but on having sufficient on table the best of its kind, and thoroughly well dressed. Better far have one first-rate soup and one good fish, such as turbot or salmon, than a multiplicity of dishes, unless you have good cooks and a retinue of servants, and all the accessories of a first-rate establishment. It is within the power of every gentleman of fair means to give a good soup, a good fish, a couple of removes, and four entrées at the first course, and a couple of small roasts, a couple of removes, and a few entremets at the second course, and what can any reasonable man want in addition? If the dinner be composed exclusively of English, let the remove be a haunch or saddle of mutton, a roast turkey and ham, a braized leg of mutton, a fillet or a sirloin of beef, and surely there is enough to create "a soul under the ribs of death,” with the entrées of lamb, mutton, and veal cutlets, with fillets of pheasants, vol au vents blanquette, of sweetbreads, and such like. In April, May, June, and July, fricassées of chickens, leverets, pigeons, fillets of rabbits, with quails, ducklings, turkey poults, and guinea-fowls, may be served for entrées and second courses; while in August there is venison, grouse, and wheatears. In September, October, November and December, there are partridges, grouse, blackcock, golden plover, snipe, woodcock, wild-duck, hare, and pheasants; while in the two last months of November and December, ox-tail, mulligatawney, mock-turtle, and giblet soups may do frequent duty, without turbot, crimped cod, haddock, and brill for fish. For entrées in the winter months there may be pork cutlets, quenelles, mutton cutlets, rabbit curries, &c.

I am now speaking, of course, of dinners of some pretension; but there are

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every day given in England those quiet little family dinners of six or eight persons, which are the perfection of social life.

It is said that the number present at these dinners should not be less than the graces, nor more than the muses. There is a good deal of truth in this. Conversation cannot be general, or quite unrestrained, where the company exceeds eight or ten. In a party of sixteen or twenty, you are forced to converse with your neighbours on either side, or with the gentleman opposite to you. The master of a feast should take care in selecting his guests, whether in a large or in a small party-but more particularly in a small party-that they should be people of analogous tastes. In most cases it would not very well answer to place a Puritan side by side with a High Churchman, or a peace-at-any-price man next an engineering officer, earnest in the pursuit of his profession. An allopathist should not be united en petit comité with a homoeopathist, nor a whig of the old school with a violent radical. The great object is to pair amiable, pleasant, and agreeable men, who have travelled much and lived in the world, and pleasant and agreeable women. A good talker at a dinner-table is a great acquisition, but good listeners are not less essential.

But your good talker should be an urbane and polite man, not bumptious and underbred. Barristers and travelled physicians are generally excellent company, though the former not seldom monopolise too much of the conversation, and give it occasionally a shoppy air. If the object of dining be to secure the greatest quantity of health and enjoyment, such results are more likely to be attained at small than at those set and formal dinners, where people are keptto use the language of the late Mr. Walker-in "stately durance." The essence of a good dinner, as the author of the "Original" sensibly remarks, is "that it should be without ceremony, and that you should have what you want when you want it." This you cannot have at a ceremonial and formal London dinner, where you are encumbered with help, and are not allowed to do anything for yourself. At small every-day dinners, you may have everything upon the table that is wanted at the time; thus, for salmon you would have lobster, or parsley and butter, or cockle sauce, as you might prefer, with Cayenne, chili vinegar, sliced cucumber, &c. The comfort of this is great, as the guests pass the sauces at once and instantaneously to each other. At great dinners this is never done. Everything is handed round by a file of liveried servants, who are continually changing the courses and taking up and laying down dishes, to the discomfort of the guests. Yet it is this dull, comfortless, stately, and ostentatious formality that every one is striving at.

"State," as Mr. Walker observes, "without the machinery of state, is of all states the worst ;" and it is detestable to see men with a couple of thousands a year, and a couple of men servants, and an English female cook, imitating the style of living of men of thirty thousand a year, with a dozen male servants. I would not have it inferred that a large income and a first-rate man cook are indispensable to the giving of good dinners. There are now several Schools of Cookery in London, from some of which one can obtain regularly educated female cooks, and it is quite possible, with small establishments and small fortunes, to give comfortable and even elegant dinners, in which the English style shall be diversified by the French. But in these small establishments too much should not be attempted. Everything savouring of too much state and overdisplay should be discarded. The dishes should be choice, but limited in number, and the wines more remarkable for their excellence than their variety. It is the exquisite quality of a dinner or a wine that pleases us, not the number of dishes, nor the number of vintages. The late Earl of Dudley was wont to say, “That a good soup, a small turbot, a neck of venison, and ducklings with green peas, or chicken with asparagus, or an apricot tart, was a dinner for an emperor!" and, to my thinking, it was far too good for most emperors past and present.

This is sound good practical advice, and it places a good dinner à la portée de tout le monde. There are some further observations, however,

with regard to guests, which, the host having done his part of the duty, are by no means to be disregarded:

In asking people to dinner, you should put to yourself the question, “Why do I ask them ?" and, unless the answer be satisfactory, they are not likely to contribute much to the agreeability and sociality of the entertainment. They may be ornamental; it may be necessary, in a give-and-take sense, to have them in return for a dinner already long received and digested; but, unless they are sensible, social, unaffected, and clever men, they are not likely to contribute much to the hilarity of the entertainment. You may ask a man because he is a bon vivant, because he is a raconteur, because he talks brilliantly and eloquently, because he is a wit, because he is a distinguished traveller, poet, historian, or orator, or because he is a good-natured popular man, a "bon enfant," or, what used to be called, a "jolly good fellow." But do not ask any, however much above the average, who is a prig, who is pretentious, who is disputatious, or who is underbred. Never introduce to your table men who have not the feelings, habits, manners, and education of gentlemen-I had almost said, the birth of a gentleman; but it must be remembered that nature now and again produces some magnificent specimens of what somebody has called "God Almighty's gentlemen." But these are the exceptions, not the rule; for it will generally be found that men of gentle birth are also men of gentle breeding. The only two positively offensive and ill-bred men I ever encountered in society were men of some ability, who had probably never entered the house of a gentleman to dinner till they were four or five-and-twenty. In these instances, the want of early training, and culture in manners and les convenances, had never been supplied. The presence of men of this stamp is destructive to good fellowship. They are social pests, and should be avoided comme la gale.

All great men have their weak points, and Mr. Kirwan has a decided inkling for bachelor dinners, which reflects sadly upon his gallantry:

I have not said a word of bachelors' dinners; though, of all dinners in the world, they are the pleasantest, from the laisser aller and laissez faire style which prevails at them. At bachelors' parties, the age, disposition, and amusing qualities of the guests are more considered than at regular set dinners. Bachelors look for the idem velle and the idem nolle when they play the Amphitryon, and, in consequence, they succeed. Another reason of the success of bachelors' entertainments arises from the fact that the dishes are few and simple; and as the dinner is generally given in a small house or chambers, the kitchen is not too far removed from the eating parlour. Everything comes up "screeching hot," as they say in Ireland, and not lukewarm or soddened, as too often happens at great dinners. Centrepieces, epergnes, and dormants do not generally figure at bachelors' dinners, and there is an absence of form and ceremony which gives zest. Ladies in general love ceremony and ornaments, and the accessories of epergnes, flowers, and perfumes.




Book the Fourth.



LAW's conversion by the Abbé Tencin, who afterwards became a cardinal, gave rise to the following pasquil :

Fi de ton zèle séraphique,
Malheureux Abbé de Tencin;
Depuis que Law est Catholique,
Tout le royaume est capucin.

The event was celebrated by a grand entertainment given by the Duc de Bourbon, at which the Regent and the whole of the court were present.

Among the many distinguished guests assembled on this occasion was the British ambassador, the Earl of Stair; and in the course of the evening his lordship found an opportunity of saying a few words in private to the Regent.

"Monseigneur," he began, "I am sure you would regret that anything should occur to disturb the good understanding at present subsisting between the court of my royal master and that of your highness."

"Your excellency is quite right," rejoined the Regent. "I should greatly regret it. But I see no chance of our friendly relations being interrupted. To what do you allude?"

"I will speak frankly," replied Lord Stair. "It is generally understood that Mr. Law's conversion, which has taken place this day, and which we are here met to celebrate, is a preliminary step to his elevation to the office of comptroller-general of finance.”

"Suppose it to be so, what then?" replied the Regent, coldly. "I have only to remark, monseigneur, that the appointment could not be agreeable to my royal master, because Mr. Law's predilections are known to be favourable to the fallen dynasty. Indeed, I have proof that letters have passed between him and the Chevalier de Saint George."

"Your excellency's information is correct," said the Regent,

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