Imatges de pàgina
PDF
EPUB

He well remember de pain he got from dat vinestock in de abdomenpauvre bête !

Professor. Not amiss. I know where that came from, Egrappé; but we have here some exquisite Burgundy, right Pomard, Push it about, remember the Spanish- wine kept spoils, or “kept all night, it is not worth a mite"- vino trasnochado no vale un cornado.

Egrappé. De true Hispaniole-tank you, Sare; dis vine have excellent bouquet-dis be good, de veritable Cote d'or.

Dean. Excellent, indeed. I love the classics; but I also love your modern country wine, Monsieur, better than the wine of imagination. Yours is the land of the vine, after all. I honour it for its wine and its excellent cookery too. I am only sorry yours is not the true religion. Were it so, I should esteem you all as brethren.

Egrappé. I am not sorry, Sare, about your religion at all, and I do call your countrymen my broders.

Professor. Excellent wine, indeed—it might make a clown speak Latin.

Captain. Are you serious, Professor-I will drink nothing else, then, - I want to learn Latin.

Professor. No, no, my friend, I was thinking of good old Chaucer, who says :

“And when that he well drunken had the win,

There would be spoken no word but Latin." Dean. Noble wine!-it should be drunk at Queen's College out of the horn.* It is worthy a college wassail of the olden time.

Professor. There, Mr. Dean, I differ with you, I think it would drink best out of a glass, thin as a cobweb, with a hair of crystal or a gossamer thread for a stem. All such ethereal wine should be accompanied by ethereal conversation; we should discuss Ariels, sylphs, sunbeams, the weaving garments of rainbows, balloons, stars, while reposing upon roses fanned by Zephyrs, listening to soft music. All should be airiness and spirituality. With port we may discuss a London fog in November very well; but with such wine as this, it would be rank heresy to every oinographical sensation and precept.

Doctor. By Galen, that's good. I'll buy some glasses thin as soap bubbles—that's poetical, and in good keeping, Mr. Professor.

Professor. Such wine fills one to the sensorium with hospitalityone could make happy and cheerful the most vinegar faced rascal that ever hoarded his yellow dirt in 'Change Alley. I say make cheerful, not inebriate. I had a dream once, but it was “all a dream," I had drunk a few glasses of most nectarean Volpay, and dozing in my chair I had a vision of Agrigentum in the days of its glory, where all the citizens had “ red cherubinnes faces." There I saw such festivity, such hospitality, eating as if the citizens had not an hour to live, drinking as if Etna was in their stomachs, dancing as if they were mocking the ocean tempest with their heads. Old Plato was looking on in medi

* They have a noted horn at Queen's some centuries old, out of which they drink upon important occasions. What Oxford man does not know Queen's College Horn ?

tative soberness, but even he would laugh out loud at intervals. Over all was the blue Sicilian sky, spotless as the robe of innocence, The thin air of the elevated spot made me feel buoyant as a feather. The gout was gone. The noble temples, now melancholy ruins, stood out in all their majesty and grandeur, backed by the purest of seas and skies. Around them were the garlanded beauties of Greece, fit for the goddesses of her poets; youths of noble mien, warriors, and priests were there, dancing, banquetting, or looking on. All were excited ; all seemed to be in some region of the midway air. I was invited by a sandalled brunette, with eyes dark as death, and a smile like a burst of spring sunshine, to join the dance of the citizens, being a stranger. I felt my heart beat quick, my spirits rise, my muscles swell, my limbs miraculously endowed with pristine vigour; the agility of my youth had returned, the morning of life come back upon me, - I made a step in the dance

Egrappé. Vell, Professor, vy stop?

Professor. Nature fails me—she sinks at the recollection !-I made one step in the dance, and crash!

I was broad awake, a basin of gruel which had been just placed before me had fallen on the floor, and I was in my dressing gown, mortality upon me again, and Bacchanalian Agrigentum where it was, and as it was before, or now, or in the time of the “ first bald Cæsar," for me.

Doctor. You paid dear for your whistle, then, as Franklin said, and got in exchange for your vision a stomach as empty as an emetic would have left it. My ideas of antiquity never make me rob my stomach.

Egrappé. Dat I do believe, Sare, but say no more of de physic. Dis Pomard is de better of all de physic in de vorld. O it be de « vine of forty girths," de strong elastic vine dat must have forty hoops to gird de barrel, it kick so to get out. “O de fragrant odor of vine ! how much more sparkling, warming, cheering, celestial, and delicious it is than tea!”

Professor. The Gaul waxes as eloquent as Massillon or Saurin in their sermons. Wine has made him let out his love for wine. “El vino no trae trages ni de pono ni de lino;" wine lays all bare, and keeps no secrets. This is a maxim in oinography, as old as Noah and the deluge. Who knows whether the science of wine making may not be antediluvian or even pre-adamitish ?

Egrappé. You are de Sancho of vine proverb, Mr. Professor. I should like for to know if dere be von vine in de moon-if de man in de moon be a vinedresser. I wish I had von telescope dat voud tell.

Dean. An odd fancy, Monsieur Egrappé.

Egrappé. Vy, if dere be not, it prove my country better den de moon, dat be all, Mr. Dean; and den you nor I no live dere where no vine grow-dat no lie, Sare!

Professor. Dr. Percy tells us, in one of the old ballads he has preserved, that

“ The man in the moon drinks claret,

Eats powdered beef, turnip, and carrot,
But a cup of good Malaga sack,

Will fire the bush at his back!"
This seems relevant to the subject.

Doctor. The Germans, whose hock is superlative, say they have seen fortifications in the moon. Is that likely to be true, think you, Mr. Professor ?

Professor, Fudge, worse than Kant's transcendentalisms ! See fortifications in the moon !--no, nor twentyfications either, with the best glasses they have, and a tube as long again as the water pipes of Oxford-street.

Seymour. I find, Doctor, you do not understand taking observations, or you would hardly have been so moonstricken as to think of seeing a ten-gun battery there. I had rather take your taste in wine.

Professor. There, Captain, you come down supernaculum -the Doctor knows better the difference between acetous fermentation and barrel qualification-" the cask his study, tasting is his book." I will answer for it he beats the wine-tasters of Cervantes.

Seymour. Who were they, Professor? Nibcheese pursers, I will swear.

Professor. They were pursers of La Mancha, then, men so well versed in tasting wine, that if a sample were presented to them out of a hogshead, they knew at once the growth, quality, and endurance. One tasted the wine with the tip of the tongue, the other only put it to his nose. The first said the wine tasted of iron, the second that it had a twang of goat's leather. The owner protested the pipe was clean, and the contents upmixed with any thing that could give the taste of iron or smell of goat's leather. The tasters stuck to their judgment. The wine was sold, and when the pipe was emptied and came to be cleaned, they found in it a small key, to which a very little bit of leather was attached !

Dean. Excellent! How they would have detected the cause of the superior flavour of the wine in the cask, which Captain Marryat speaks of in his “ Tales of a Pacha,” as containing a dead cooper, when they came to clean it after the wine was drunk off.

Egrappé. Fi donc, Professor! you make me waste de Pomard from my gorge-dat badinage have too much of de haut gout for de table of dinnare.

Dean. To return to Cervantes ; some one was praising Jervis's Don Quixotte the other day, at Smollet's expense, for the way in which Sancho Panza expresses his love of wine, as there rendered. The apostrophe is really in Smollet, “ Ah the whoreson? how Catholic it is !”

Seymour. What a rascally papist ! · Dean. No, no, Captain ; " catholic” means here “ loving,” nothing more-it has no reference to the faith that is opposed to our Church.

Egrappé. I am sorry, Mr. Dean, you speak so little times, you tell us much what is good.

Seymour. Much more, my dear John Crappo, by and by, after our friend's courage is screwed up; he will be ready for a forlorn hope.

Professor. Right; our friend is a great wag of a grave ruddy

* Super naculum, or down upon the nail.

countenance, and a most excellent understanding, when, as a pious divine of the olden time has it,

- "in arce cerebri Bacchus dominatur," or Bacchus becomes “liis bosom's lord.”

Doctor. Bishops and deacons improved much since the apostolic times. Then deacons were forbidden to use much wine, (oivos módus,) and the bishops were not permitted to sit over it, (tápouvoi,) which passage dignitaries since, as old Mapes proves, do not construe exclusively. They will not allow that in the matter of abstaining from wine, " a saint iu crape is twice a saint in lawn," and

Dean. Spare my feelings, Doctor, as Lord Ellenborough said to Hone. Let us not argue so nice a point ; for if you beat me in argument I lose a heavy stake; besides, there is the precedent of “ a little wine for the stomach's sake;"-now this is clear, that the quantity which will be a cordial for one stomach will be a very little in another that nature has fitted with a thicker lining

Doctor. It was merely a gentle allusion to the early and forgotten customs of the church, Mr. Dean,-a reference to Timothy—a clearing up of the text as it referred to recent six hour soakings.

Professor. Well, well, “ Mihi est prepositum in taberna mori,"* does seem an innovation in the mouth even of an Oxford saint. By the by, that reminds me of a stanza I met with in a newspaper some years ago, which I suspect to be Leigh Hunt's; it also refers to Mapes most quaintly and ingeniously, or to some pillar alike of oinographical and clerical orthodoxy

“Mysterious and prophetic truths

I never could unfold 'em,
Without a flagon of good ale

And a slice of cold ham.” Seymour. That's the fellow for my chaplain when I have a firstrate; he is a person of the right trim; a man of this sort should dine in my cabin three times a week, and be excused service on Sundays.

Professor. Enough on such a subject, “ Hal, if thou lovest me." We must not annoy the feelings of our excellent friend, who is worthy, from his knowledge, of having on his tomb the Bishop of Avila's epitaph :

“Hic stupor est mundi, qui scibile discutit omnes.”+ Doctor. That might not refer to his reading on wines; it might only be a compliment; I should like to know whether his opinions on the wines of the Cæsars were tenable; whether he had formed just inferences from the truths respecting them handed down so sacredly by the poets of antiquity.

Professor. Fill my glass with wine of the nineteenth century. Pitch and rosin drugged the old wines, and a hundred other substances to stimulate the stomach. One glass must have been a dose for a modern. Even the Persians to this day drug and mix their wine to produce ebriety more speedily. Shame to the land of Hafiz, and the rich grape of Kismish!

*“I desire to end my days in a tavern, drinking."-Mapes. † Here lies the world's wonder, one who knew everything.

Doctor. I don't know that, Sir, Homer

Professor. Solomon, as I have before said, is thought by some to have written the Iliad and Odyssey-by some divers into antiquity, too — and if so, the wine there described must have been a Hebrew medley after all. Ulysses used to lock up his wine from his household, perhaps with one of Bramah's patent locks! There is this in favour of the theory,—that Solomon was more likely to have seen a lock than Homer. The Chinese might have had locks, then, and the ships from Ophir brought them to the Hebrew king. Now, if there were ever a hero called Ulysses

Doctor. Sir, Sir, you doubt, Sir! Sir, I would have you to

Professor. Hear me first, and strike afterwards, Doctor. If there were ever a hero called Ulysses out of the imagination of the noble old Meonides, giving away Solomon, Doctor, as the theory concerning him so affects you, that same Ulysses must have been very like a North American Indian, without his honest boldness, his scorn of cunning. Homer's heroes killed their own pigs, and knew of no cooking but plain roast. Both are much alike in their knowledge of the culinary and useful arts, and in the quantity, variety, and taste displayed in their mansions, goods and chattels. Aboriginal Jonathan, too, has the advantage in loftiness of character. Tecumseh or Logan need not dread comparison with Ulysses. I do not think Solomon wrote the Odyssey, because Ulysses has but one wife, and Solomon had a thousand, unless, being so encumbered, he was describing a Utopia of his imagination. Ulysses could trust his rib with a secret, in the knowledge where he kept his hoards of sweet wine.* I imagine dry wine and rosin powder were a later invention.

Doctor. Positively, Sir, you have no respect for antiquity, and you are hypercritical. Time changes the qualities of things. It is evident the ancients grew better wine than ours from high vines, while we are constrained to train our degenerate crops near the ground. We cannot make wine from such noble vines now, because time has exhausted the solar heat, and the virtues of a decaying world,- the ancients were much nearer the creation.

Professor. I am an unbeliever still, Doctor. I think the sun as warm as it was in the days of Hesiod. I believe that the dry wines of the Romans particularly were of very poor quality, from being grown on vines too wild and overloaded ; and then all the trash flung into them originated at first in their efforts to make them keep. Pitch, assafoetida, sea-water, rosin, tar, bitumen, myrrh, aloes, gums, pepper, poppies, wormwood, spikenard, milk, chalk, salt, cassia, cypress, bitter almonds, smoking, boiling, baking, and stewing, were at first preservations or disguises of the real wine, to make it keep a dozen or two of years. Let us contrast this gallimaufry with the rich

* See the Odyssey of Homer.

« AnteriorContinua »