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the subject and characters of their dramas; the quickness of their audience requiring.only a certain stock of material to set the mental faculties at work, and a glowing imagination soon supplying the rest. The writers of the middle and the new comedy followed in the same track as the tragedians; and the house of Atreus or of Laius was scarcely more sure of affording matter for the tragic muse, than the cook was of figuring in the composition of the two later schools of Grecian comedy. As the Athenians, from their levelling disposition and their love of scandal, reserved a dash of the disdainful, even for those who most commanded their respect, the lords of the kitchen, grateful as they must have been upon the whole to persons of such discerning appetites, did not command unqualified approbation. They were reproached as being particularly addicted to scoffing; as recherchés in their language, as indulging in new terms, as curiously minute in points of history, and as resembling in their ambiguity of speech more a Sphinx than a man. The cook vindicated his art from these trifling aspersions. He discriminated nicely between the coquus and the mere obsonifex: leaving the latter to arrange the materiel, to cut and slay, to blow the fire, and occasionally to mix the ingredients of a sauce, he reserved to himself the higher branches of the profession,—the knowledge of time and place—the nice discrimination between host and guest-the seasons for purchasing and the articles to be purchased. The critical moment which the fortunate invention of time-pieces enables the modern professor to observe so accurately, was no doubt a branch of the art on which he particularly prided himself; and if he could not always command success in this point, allowances must be made for the inefficient discoveries of the day. To execute all this with precision and propriety, among a people like the Athenians,--appétits de la première classe,—required certain gifts of nature which it would be taxing the powers of our language to endeavour to describe. An acute palate—a tongue with large capabilities--an ear quick and ready, and a penetrating coup-d’æil were among the first and most essential requisites. But the cook who aspired to the higher honours of his profession did not leave all to nature. He made great inroads into various branches of science, and among other acquirements thought necessary to enhance these rich gifts of nature, he numbered painting, astronomy, architecture, strategics, geometry and medicine. But his favourite pursuit, as we have before hinted, was philosophy. What particular branch he patronised, the dramatists, who state the fact, have neglected to specify; we shall take upon ourselves to supply the deficiency.
He belonged, then, exclusively to the Ionian school; maintaining sometimes with Thales, that water is the first principle of
things, things, and sometimes arguing with Hippasus and Heraclitus, that things differ from each other solely in proportion to their participation of caloric. If the atomic system' ever commanded his attention, its faultiness became most palpable to him when he saw one of his best dishes in the hands of a bad carver. The opinion of Aristotle then came home to him, that the error of Democritus arose from thinking that, because a body might be divided any where, it might therefore be divided every where. He admitted of accedents or adjuncts * (ouußeBnxota) in cookery and philosophy; and, directing ourselves to modern ideas, he explained the term to mean, that oysters ought always to be washed down with vin de Chablis, and that a young rabbit is worth nothing, unless eaten en terrine et à l'eau-de-vie. As a disciple of the lonian school, he was naturally opposed to the Italian philosophy, to Plato, and to Pythagoras. He laughed, therefore, at general ideas' and immutable essences'; he troubled himself little about ' numbers,' but as they applied to the proportion of guests for whom he had to provide; and in the formation of an • omelet soufflé,' he cared little to know whether there was in his mind a form internal of the said omelet, corresponding to the form external, to which external it served as an exemplar or pattern: all this he considered with Aristotle as empty sound and poetical metaphor.' In treating of his art, he was happy enough to borrow the animated language of the Stagirite when describing the theologic or first philosophy; like him he spoke of a science so much above the reach of humanity, that if the gods were capable of envy, it ought to draw down the divine displeasure on the cultivators of it. But he viewed with jealousy the Aristotelian doctrine, that the mind is after a sort all things; and he was in short nothing more nor less than a gross materialist. Though the operations of his furnace and his bellows led him occasionally to coincide with the correcter metaphysicians in applying to the thinking principle some appellation synonymous with spiritus or aveuuce, or in likening it to a spark of fire, or some other of the most impalpable and mysterious modifications of matter,' yet we take upon ourselves to say that thoughts of this kind were, with him, angelvisits, few and far between. The opinions, belonging two thousand years ago to the philosophical cooks of antiquity, were those since advocated by Diderot, Condorcet and Darwin, that sensation is the only source of all our ideas—that ideas are material things
Aristot. in Topicis, lib. i. c. 8. The nature of the Greek language did not permit the ancient cook to make the same signal mistake as modern philosophers have done by terming the word accidents. The cook lost thereby two things equally acceptable to his countrymen, a pun and an excuse; but he gained considerably in propriety of language as well as in common sense. See Dr. Gillies's excellent Analysis of Aristotle's Works.
and that no idea can be annexed to the word mind, but that of matter in the most subtile and attenuated form which imagination can lend to it. Taking these opinions for his general guides, and for his more particular one the opinion maintained by Condillac, that all the faculties and operations of the mind are only sensations transformed, the Greek cook proceeded, as we learn from the dramatists, who have attended much more to his practical than his theoretical philosophy, to adapt edibles to the passions, the ages and the pursuits of his guests : under him dishes frequently became a masked satire, and the arrangement of the table formed a concealed lecture of pathology. The lover, the tax-gatherer and the common philosopher were easily apprised of their respective defects; but the consummation of his art must have consisted in hitting, through an appropriate dish, the philosopher, who advocated the doctrine of infinitesimal or evanescent entities, in opposition to what is commonly understood by the word matter. When people could thus eat their way to self-knowledge, the modern novel became wholly unnecessary: accordingly nothing of the kind is to be found in the writings of antiquity. We could add much more; but, happy that writer who allows his reader to rise with a satisfied air, and to say to himself— But he has not made the most of his subject.' We suggest then, finally, that the Athenian cook forestalled the Stoics in their notable opinion, that the Cardinal Virtues are animals, and that his · Philosophy of Life' far surpassed that of Sir Charles Morgan.
Knowledge being in all cases the slow accumulation of succeeding ages, the gastronomic science had not sprung into maturity more speedily than others. It became him, therefore, who aspired
approfondir le grand art de la gueule'-to imbue his mind with the volumes containing its mysteries.
Good, good, Sibynna !
Silting and weighing and digesting all. But while the aspiring cook diligently attended to the practices and records of former ages, dry study was not allowed to cramp his genius and powers of invention. Nullius in verba jurare' was a maxim as predominant in the culinary art as in philosophy. The ipse dixit of Archestratus himself did not pass unquestioned for cookery had no bounds, and thus far' was scouted as language utterly unsuited to the infinity of the art.
The cook has been considered hitherto in his secular capacity; but in fact, his profession was twofold; and the parish-clerk of facetious memory had not more right to mix himself up with the religion of his country, than the person, of whom we are now: treating, to take his place among the priesthood of Athens. All the mechanical parts of the sacrificial rites were entrusted to him; and that this was no unimportant function may be evinced from the earnest language in which Olympias writes to her son, Alexander, then engaged in his grand Asiatic enterprize, upon the subject of a person of this description whom she had sent to him at his own request. As the epistle possesses a right royal brevity, we insert a version of it, without troubling ourselves much about. the difficulties of the commentators. You will please to accept at my hands of a cook; his name Pelignas. He is well versed in all the modes of sacrifice usual in your own country; he is also acquainted with those practised in the Mysteries, and the festivals of Bacchus, and with such as take place before the commencement of the Olympic games. You will, therefore, pay him every attention, and be cautious of any neglect. Let me hear from you at your earliest leisure.'
That fit and able persons might never be wanting in this branch of the profession, there appears to have been a particular tribe at Athens, enrolled into a sort of collegiate body, for the sake of preserving the knowledge of these important functions. And here indeed lay the strong hold of the cook, when he wished to ward. off the blows of the comic writer. Not content to remind the scoffer that not merely the sacred heralds, but even the princes and kings of Homer had formerly assisted in this pious office, he proceeded to explain to him, that cannibalism was put an end to by the profession which he presumed to jeer; and that it was a heaven-born cook, who by the lucky suggestion that an animal roasted with fire might be as palatable as the flesh of a fellow-creature, first led to a change in the prime article of human food. The common rites of his country were referred to for a proof of this; it being clear to the cook, that the use of salt in ordinary life and the abstinence from it in the entrails offered to the gods, were traditional practices, referable to this important revolution in human tastes. The progress of the art was then gradually traced to the scoffer from the primeval dish of tripe to the introduction of those masked* dainties, in which the
Greeks * The nicer taste of modern time has very justly exploded the • Entrées Masquées.
Greeks so much excelled; and he was made finally to acquiesce, that from these inventions proceeded the assembling of men into collective bodies, the erection of towns and the whole progress of civilized life.
We scarcely know how to excuse ourselves for entering into these ridiculous details ; but they describe national manners, and if the polished Athenians could be amused by the hour with listening to such language, we may, perbaps, be excused in claiming for it a momentary smile. Having once got a dramatis persona of this cast into his hand, the comic poet served him up far more continually to his audience than any dish presented by the cook himself to his guests; and from the Athenian love of feasting, a poetical Lubberland gradually erected itself, of the delights of which the common Athenians appear to have become insatiable hearers. In this ideal kingdom, nature was literally one great feast, and the very elements acted but as humble appendices to the kitchen. Rain fell in potherbs, snow descended in the form of cheese-cakes, and the ground, in place of dew, covered itself with a sort of petit pain. In that blessed age, the characteristic of men was, that they were all fat, and that in stature they were giants.
Having discussed more largely than we intended the merits of the Greek cook, we feel little disposition to enter into a minute investigation of his sauces (nououata).* One, however, must not be left unmentioned. The hypotrimma was a favourite Athenian sauce. What its exact ingredients were the commentators dispute, as they do about most other articles of antiquity; but that some of a very sharp and pungent quality, such as cummin, mustard, horse-radish, &c. entered into it, there can be no doubt. The great comic poet has accordingly made a very happy use of it. When the leader of his Female Radicals has properly tutoredt her
To serve up a fowl in the shape of a cutlet, and to metamorphose rabbits into lobsters, is now properly left to the small cooks, who mistake industry for intellect and patience for genius. Such practices are considered to disgrace a superior artist as much as puns and plays of word derogate from the character of a man of real wit.
* The Parisian sauces, if we remember rightly, exceed four-score: from a passage in Aristotle, (in Ethicis, lib. ix c. 10.) we are led to infer that the number of Athenian sauces fell far short of this; or, at all events, that the Athenians were more sparing in the consumption of them. The great comic poet, who has noticed more important changes in Athenian society, bas also condescended to record a revolution which took place in its sauces.--Arist. in Avibus, 532.
+ Not to betray their sex by their language or gestures is of course among the most prominent of her instructions. Hence the leader of the female chorus, in the following extract, addresses part of her troop by masculine names, as Draces, &c.
Leader of the 1st Semi-Chorus. 'Tis the time for debate and high councils of state, honour'd gentlemen hasteu along, (Ladies fair, I should say, but that term for a day / must wholly be banish'd the tongue.)