Skip to main content

Full text of "Eating-Songs"

See other formats


Early Journal Content on JSTOR, Free to Anyone in the World 

This article is one of nearly 500,000 scholarly works digitized and made freely available to everyone in 
the world by JSTOR. 

Known as the Early Journal Content, this set of works include research articles, news, letters, and other 
writings published in more than 200 of the oldest leading academic journals. The works date from the 
mid-seventeenth to the early twentieth centuries. 

We encourage people to read and share the Early Journal Content openly and to tell others that this 
resource exists. People may post this content online or redistribute in any way for non-commercial 

Read more about Early Journal Content at 
journal-content . 

JSTOR is a digital library of academic journals, books, and primary source objects. JSTOR helps people 
discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content through a powerful research and teaching 
platform, and preserves this content for future generations. JSTOR is part of ITHAKA, a not-for-profit 
organization that also includes Ithaka S+R and Portico. For more information about JSTOR, please 




Enti Singing CTlass Circular. 

MAY 1st, 1854. 

iKustc tit this ilumber. 



The Prayer in " Mose," Composed by Rossini. 


Br Leihh Hunt. 

In proceeding to make the remarks we spoke 
of on a subject strangely found wanting in the 
annals of festivity, the author of these articles 
takes the opportunity of observing, that although 
what he has hitherto written in the Musical 
Times has had no directly musical title, he trusts 
that a certain link of feeling with the art has been 
visible in all of it ; and that he is regularly under- 
stood to be addressing himself to musical readers. 
Links of many such kinds exist among all the 
arts, and with every genial, nay, with every moral 
and philosophical exercise of the understanding ; 
and no true critic or composer needs to be told, 
that the more the perception of this truth is dif- 
fused, the more good is done to the powers and 
enjoyments of all parties concerned. The very 
word Music proclaims the universality of its 
spirit; for it comes not from the name of the 
goddess who specially presided over it, but from 
that of the whole body of the Nine — the Muses 
in general. Poetry in particular claims so obvious 
a portion in it, that it may be said you cannot 
quote a verse without quoting music ; and we 
never do quote one without a sense of the mu- 
sical man's concern in its structure and effect. 
Besides, in all meetings of the lovers of the art, 
allowance must be made for the liberty and re- 
freshment of free breathing " between the acts •" 
and it is observable that no set of companions 
more freely avail themselves of it, to the indul- 
gence of all sorts of pleasantry; so that even in 
what might seem pure divergencies from the sub- 
ject we would fain be understood as acting with 
a reference to musical enjoyment. In short, as 
hteelc cautions his readers in the Tatler against 

thinking him " dull" at any time, having, he°says~ 
■ " design in it," so we ' " 
these contributions to 
cal paper that if ever we are supposed to be 
writing with no reference at all to the subject of 

KTca e e ho 1S T dant ChanC6 - rea der ^ better 
take caie how he says so ; for our intention at 

that moment is to be particularly harmonious 

Plent of^i^ 11 ^ ° f l0Ve - S °i s in the ™ld; 
plenty of dnnkmg- Son gs ; too many war-songs 

on such occasions a '< design m it," so we beg it 
steal 6 .™! ^l 00 ^ 11 these c ^tributions to a mu 

(except at this particular moment) ; Venice and 
Naples have boat-songs, and England has sea- 
songs ; but notwithstanding the universal attrac- 
tiveness of the subject, there is no class of com- 
positions called eating-songs. The only express 
things of the kind, as far as we are aware, with 
the exception of the Can of Cream from Devon 
(if that is to be called a song), are a bantering 
parody of the love-song, " Gently touch the war- 
bling lyre," which was set to a charming strain 
from Geminiani ;* the good old round, " There 
lyes a Pudding in the Fire," which is a simple 
announcement of the pudding's being ready ; and 
our illustrious old friend, " Oh the Roast Beef of 
old England," which, excellent as it is, is rather 
a national than a gastronomical song. Eating ia 
of course often alluded to, in a passing way, by 
the poets, and this with more or less gusto, as it 
may happen ; and here and there may be found 
among them something expressly on the subject 
— such as King's Art of Cookery, his receipts 
for making pies and puddings, Gay's Receipt for 
Stewing Veal, and Swift's Cries for the sellers 
of fish and vegetables. But jovial as the eaters 
of dinners may be, and much as they talk about 
what they eat, they never sing about it. We have 
after-dinner songs by hundreds, but (with the ex- 
ception above noticed) not one on the subject of 
dinner itself— not one in honor and glorification 
of what is emphatically called the Table. " The 
Table," thus definitely distinguished, does not 
mean the table on which we write, or the table 
round which we converse, or the table at which 
even we drink,— but the table at which we eat. 
We have even an express set of pleasures, which 
exclusively take their name from it — the " plea- 
sures of the table ;" and very heartily are such 
pleasures partaken ; often with actual passion. 
Ladies themselves go so far as to have terms of 
affection and endearment for the dishes : say they 
are " fond" of veal ; that they "love" pork ; and 
that such and such a piece of beef is " beautiful." 
And yet these avowed, manifest, universal, loving, 
enthusiastic, and deeply-devoured pleasures are 
the only pleasures of which nobody sings. We 
speak of them with all the rapture and devotion 
of which prose is capable, but the prose is never 
moved enough to rise into song. 
How is this ? 

We take the reason to be, that the rapture is 
always prospective or simultaneous, but never 
looks back, and could not very well sing if it did. 
It must clear its throat, and restore itself to a state 
of activity, with the wine ; and by that time it 

has discovered that it is a rapture no longer, 

has no longer any wings,— never had any but 
those of the goose or duck, and so cannot be 
borne away except by the wine's help, to which 
accordingly, it transfers its gratitude. The feaster 

This Glee shall be ineluded with the music of No. 124, May 15. 



discerns, or instinctively feels, that whatever plea- 
sures may attend the necessity of eating, they are 
all, like the necessity itself, of sheer animal de- 
scription — able to be taken to their utmost with- 
out one particle of sentiment ; for the moment 
you bring in that, eating, as eating, becomes com- 
paratively of little consequence. You are content 
with half the luxuries which you had before ; are 
willing to share and share alike ; to piece out 
your dinner with bread and cheese ; and to sing, 
not of the salmon and lobster-sauce, but of the 
pleasures of love and wine, nay, of temperance 
itself — of friendship and content. With wine you 
are " elevated ;" with turtle you sink down— 
feel, perhaps, even a difficulty in getting up— 
are more willing to sleep than to sing. 

" How pale each worshipful and reverend guest 
Rise from a clergy or a city feast ! 
What life in all that ample body, say? 
What heavenly particle inspires the clay? 
The soul subsides, and wickedly inclines 
To seem but mortal, e'en in sound divines. 

Not that right hearty good feeding is to be 
thought ill of, where appetite calls for it, and 
health and activity are not injured. On the con- 
trary, it is heartily to be approved, nay, respected, 
as an indication that all else is right in the treat- 
ment of the body. The " intellectual" man, so 
called, who affects to despise eating because he 
has a " delicate," that is to say, in all probability, 
a foolish and enfeebled digestion, only shows that 
he is not so intellectual as he fancies himself. 
Besides, there are intellectual as well as bodily 
debaucheries : brandy-drinkings of over-reading 
and writing, which may stimulate the head too 
much, as the others do the stomach ; and the man 
who indulges in them has no more right to scorn 
his brother debauchees of the body, than they 
have to scorn him — nay, not so much ; for his 
books ought to have taught him better. Every 
natural pleasure is to be respected, in proportion 
as it is healthily and sociably taken ; and one 
pleasure, so taken, fits us for another. Music 
recreates us for meditation. Walks invigorate 
studies. The bird sings best that has his proper 
amount of food. Human singers are not the 
most fitted to sing just after meals ; but it may 
be observed that the best of them are generally 
plump and in good condition. Every pleasurable 
art tends naturally to every other kind of plea- 
sure, and in reason it is to be allowed a good 
share of it ; though by the same rule it is to be 
warned against a like tendency to excess. For 
body can suffocate mind : the brightest light may 
be drowned in what feeds it. Handel, who grew 
too fat with good eating, was probably tempted 
to do so, first by a musician's natural tendency to 
the pleasurable, and then by nervous excitement, 
and the hope of allaying the excitement, or en- 
abling it to support itself; but a terrible fit of 

illness, attacking mind as well as body, forced the 
great composer back into moderation. Rossini 
(so report says) has become " a sight" from the 
same cause ; so at least it is believed, though fat 
is not always an indication of intemperance. 
A tendency to it may arise from health itself, or 
from a natural fitness in the body for being easily 
nourished. Great feeders are sometimes thin, 
and poor ones corpulent. But the author of the 
Barber of Seville is not likely to be an asoetic. 
He can write, however, grand as well as gay 
things ; and therefore we hope will take thought, 
and not need the warning of his predecessors. 
Paesiello has written a Barber of Seville also, 
very gay and delightful, and he was not too fat. 
He seems to have been rather slender than other- 
wise. Mozart too was always little in person, 
every way ; though from his highly pleasurable 
tendencies in other respects, we are not to suppose 
him insensible to the merits of sweets and 
savouries — and in his letters he often draws his 
metaphors from the table. Jomelli was very fat ; 
but for one Jomelli or Rossini we take it that 
there have been twenty musicians of ordinary di- 
mensions. Beethoven was of moderate size. So 
was Haydn. And there seems reason to believe, 
from portraits, and other circumstances, that Co- 
relli, Sacchini, Allegri, Pergolese, Palestrina, were 
all men who, however good their bodily condition, 
were unencumbered with flesh. 

It has been the same with the poets, themselves 
pleasurable men and lovers of music. It is not 
a little curious, that, with the exception of Ben 
Jonson (and he did not speak gravely about it so 
often), the poet in our own country who has 
written with the greatest gusto on the subject of 
eating, is Milton. He omits none of the pleasures 
of the palate, great or small. In his Latin poems, 
when young, he speaks of the pears and chestnuts 
which he used to roast at the fire with his friend 
Diodati. Junkets and other " country-messes" 
are not forgotten in his Allegro, The simple 
Temptation in the Wilderness, " Command that 
these stones be made bread " (which was quite 
sufficient for a hunger that had fasted " forty 
days"), is turned, in Paradise Regained, with 
more poetry than propriety, into the set out of 
a great feast, containing every delicacy in and out 
of season. The very " names " of the viands, 
he says, were "exquisite." And in Paradise 
Lost, Eve is not only described as being skilful 
in paradisaical cookery (" tempering dulcet 
creams"), but the angel Raphael is invited to 
dinner, and helped by his entertainers to a series 
of tid-bits and contrasted relishes ; — 

" Taste after taste, upheld with kindliest change." 

Nay, fire not having been necessary to the cook- 
eries of Eden, the poet, calling to mind how often 
he had been prevented from going to his chop by 



unthinking visitors, congratulates the blissful 
party on its having 

" No fear lest dinner cool ! " 

Milton however did not grow burly with eating 
and drinking, like jovial Ben. He took more care 
of his delicate person ; never passing the bounds 
of an elegant epicureanism. At the same time 
the great poet shewed so deep a sense of the at- 
tention worth bestowing upon his diet, and of the 
possible dignity, nay, divineness of the pleasure 
of feeding, that, during the above blissful dinners 
in the fifth book of Paradise Lost, he enters into 
an elaborate argument to shew the probability of 
there being eating and drinking in heaven itself ; 
which is what few persons, we suspect, ever cared 
to think about, when they hoped to go there — 
unless it was the poor, hungry Arabs in the desert, 
to whom Mahomet justly thought it an attraction. 

Homer speaks about eating with the natural 
healthy appetite of a soldier ; Horace, in a style 
between philosopher and epicure, the latter cha- 
racter prevailing in his round little person ; Thom- 
son, with poetic luxury ; Boileau, with exquisite 
banter; Pope, with banter also, but you may see 
that he was fond of it. In the poems of Lady 
Mary Wortley Montague, is a love-song, addressed 
to Congreve, whioh is as much about eating as 
love, and little to the purpose of either. She 
talks of lovers meeting over •' champagne and 
chicken, at last." That is her climax of the 
passion. If this song was ever sung, the words 
" champagne and chicken" must have sounded 
ridiculous. Eating can never he properly sung 
of, except in jest ; and the jest, even then, is apt 
to be dull. The best part of it lies in the turn 
given to the music ; and the best music, jesting 
or serious, ever bestowed on the subjeot, or 
written in connexion with it, is that of the old 
Street Cries of London, some of which, as many 
persons may remember of their own knowledge, 
are truly beautiful ; though the "familiarity which 
breeds contempt" (with the contemptible) may 
have hindered them from being thought so. In- 
deed, in all probability, they were the composition, 
however short as well as sweet, of the greatest 
old English masters of the catoh and glee school, 
Purcell among them. Some were notoriously 
harmonized by those masters; and all most likely 
originated with real musicians. It is a pity they 
were abolished. The cries of Cherries and Prim- 
roses were, to the ear, what sunshine is to the 
eye : that of Hot Cross Buns might have been 
tolerated by the most sceptical ears ; and we have 
heard one of Shrimps and Prawns, in winter-time, 
from an old itinerant vender of fish ("Shrimps 
as large as Prawns," was the cry), which, for the 
manlinass and fine turn of its melody, would not 
have disgraced the lips of Lablache. There was 
not only "air" in it;— there was Horn .—the 
sound of the stormy wind from the coast. 

If eating-songs could have been written, as 
good as those announcements of eatables, we 
should assuredly have had them from the pens 
of the like musicians ; but, as we have before 
intimated, it is easier to hail a dish in prospect, 
than to sing of it at any other time. 

To the Editor of the "Musical Times." 

Sib, — I had the pleasure sometime ago, to state through 
your journal, that by filling a large windometer with air, 
by the bellows inside my organ, I had procured a supply 
of wind for 15 or 20 minutes for my chamber organ of 
7 stops in the great organ and 5 in the swell. Since then 
I have been wishful to obtain a continuous supply, so as 
to prevent the necessity of any blowing by hand whatever. 
I am happy to say that I have succeeded beyond my 
most sanguine expectations. The plan has been in opera- 
tion more than 12 months, and I can play just as long as 
I feel inclined without any other trouble as to supplying 
the organ with wind, than by pulling out a draw stop. 
The plau is this — in the basement story, near the wind- 
ometor, I have placed a small water wheel, 7 feet 10 in. 
high, the buckets 8 inches wide ; this turns an iron shaft, 
on which there are three cranks, 2£ inches sweep, divided 
equally on the shaft ; these cranks are connected by a 
rod to three small feeders, and each feeder makes 22 
strokes per minute, and as one and a portion of another, is 
always going up or down, a constant stream of air. is 
secured, without the unsteady motion of a large feeder. 
The feeders are connected with the windometer by a 
trunk, and another trunk through the floor connects the 
windometer with the organ. The water is supplied from 
the cistern on the house by a lead pide, f in. wide. I was 
surprised at the small quantity of water which I found 
adequate to turn the wheel and to work the feeders. The 
size of the pipe, of the water-wheel, and indeed, of the 
whole affair, was an experiment ; and as I had nothing to 
guide me, I had to risk its adaptation, and to prepare to 
make any alterations dictated by experience ; it is singu- 
lar that I have not had one to make in the arrangements, 
with one exception, and that simply in the regulation of 
the water valve. I have placed a water tap. about two- 
thirds up the wheel, which has a f top or handle, about 
12 inches long ; to one end of the handle the draw stop 
wire is attached, and to the other a cord which runs over 
a pulley, at the end of which is a weight ; when I draw 
the stop it opens the tap, and is held there by a common 
catoh, and when the windometer is filled, it acts in rising 
upon a lever, to the end of which a cord is attached, which 
is continued to the catch ; by this means, when the 
windometer is full, it liberates the catoh and the weight 
closes the tap instantly. If the wind is nearly exhausted, 
I have only to pull out the draw stop and the wheel 
again commences to refill. This gives me a continuous 
supply for any length of time, as the cistern is supplied 
by the town's water pipes, and 1 have made a separate 
arrangement for this work. In the country, where there 
is a very small stream of water, or where water could be 
obtained from a reservoir at a higher level, there would 
of course be no difficulty or expense in adopting this plan. 

We find, to our surprise, that the organ actually keeps 
in tune longer than formerly. Messrs. Kirtland and Jar- 
dine, of this town, have constructed the feeders, as well 
as windometer, and have done the leather work so well 
that it stands the damp arising in the winter from a base- 
ment story, where usually there is not any fire. 

Lately, the Steam Engine has been adopted for this 
same object for large organs ; the expense of such a plan