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- Nothing to Eat - 4/7 -


More lovely perhaps than our own country seat-- I never could see, in the light of free grace What pleasure they have there with nothing to eat.

With nothing to wear, if the climate is suiting, We might get along I am sure pretty well; No washing and starching and crimping and fluting, No muslin and laces and trouble of dressing, they tell, E'er troubles the women, or bothers the men, Who soon grow accustomed, as people do here, To fashions prevailing, and things that they ken; To dresses fore-shortened where bosoms appear; To bonnets that show but a rose in the wearing; To dresses that sweep like a besom the street; To dresses so gauzy the hoops through are seen; To shoes quite as gauzy to cover the feet; But watch how a man here goes raving and swearing, At wife and all hands, if they've nothing to eat!

Mrs. Merdle Discourseth of Things Earthly.

No matter how costly or flimsy her dresses, The angel you honor with your kind attentions; No matter how foolish her wardrobe inventions, You love her, or say so, from slipper to tresses; But, presto! you call her the greatest of sinners, Though smiling, she treats you to badly cooked dinners; Which proves where the seat is of men's best affections, With which 'pon their honor they extol us as wives, And treat us at dinner with sagest reflections, Of beauty, and duty we owe all our lives To you, noble lords, of this mundane creation; Which, judging from some things they tell us, Was made for the creatures of this trading nation, Who make it a business to buy us and sell us, Like 'Erie,' or 'Central,' or other such stocks; With care, when they bid for a very 'Miss Nancy,' That she's of a stock that the brokers call 'fancy,' Or else has a pocket 'chuck full of the rocks'-- The rocks that are wrecking each day of their sailing, More fortunes than ever in ocean were swallowed; Where 'ventures' of marriage their victims impaling With mammon and mis'ry together have wallowed.

Mrs. Merdle Discourseth of Things Eatable.

Now Colonel, to husband you need not be winking, While wiping the soup with a smile from your lips; I know just as well as he does how you're thinking The soup is as tasteless as though made of chips.

You need not deny it, and swear that no better Concocted was ever in London or Paris; Remember the praises you gave in your letter Of cooking and eating you wrote to Miss Harris.

Now, Colonel, don't offer a word more to flatter-- The soup may be so-so, but wait for the meat; And after you've seen the last dish, plate, or platter, You'll own then, I'm certain, we've nothing to eat-- That is compared, as described to Miss Harris, With all the best tables you eat at in Paris.

Mrs. Merdle Ordereth the Second Course.

Come, John, Jane, and Susan, the soup take away, And bring in the turbot, the sheep's head and bass; And have you got lobster and salad to-day? And see that the celery's all right in the glass.

Now fish--Colonel Dinewell, which fish will you try? And how shall I dress it to suit your nice taste? For sauce to the fish is as love to the sigh, Imperfect, it's worthless, and both prove a waste.

Mrs. Merdle Discourseth of Hygiene and Fish Sauce.

But this is concocted by rules so complete; Though piquant, is healthy and easy digested; And if you will note it as slowly we eat, The contents I'll give for our friends interested.

Imprimus: in fish stock, an onion we stew, And anchovy essence two spoonfuls we add; With butter, horse-radish, and lemons a few; Mushrooms, too, in ketchup is not very bad; And pickle of walnuts with onions chopped fine, To which there is added some old sherry wine.

My doctor, so queer, when I suffer distress, Inquires what I've latterly foolishly eaten, And swears that to swallow this 'horrible mess,' Would entitle a dog like a dog to be beaten.

But la! such a doctor knows nothing of women's complaints, And talks Latin nonsense about 'regular diet;' And thinks that us mortals--should live more like saints, On moonshine and nonsense of a heavenly quiet.

He says that a woman of my plaint complaining, If she was a woman at all half discreet, Would shudder to think every day she is maiming Her stomach with trash, and such stuff as we eat!

Mrs. Merdle Describeth her Doctor.

But he's an old fogy, you may know by this sign-- He don't smoke tobacco, drink lager or wine; And swears that rich gravy, roast pork or chop, Would kill a big ostrich, if stuffed in his crop.

He told me one day 'bout the pain in my feet, 'I see what 't is ails you--you've nothing to eat!'

Provoking, absurd, foolish hint that my health Was injured by eating what station and wealth And fashion give right for my sex to enjoy In spite of the doctors we choose to employ.

Mrs. Merdle Discourseth again on Dinner.

But you are not eating, and I fear that the fish, Or else 't is the gravy's not done to your wish.

You're starving while waiting for something to eat-- Thank fortune I told you how poorly we live-- I hope John now will give us a piece of roast meat, Or else such a dinner you'd never forgive.

Why yes, Merdle, look, there is beef on that dish-- Jane Hill, don't you see, there's a plate here to shift-- That John is now bringing--'t is all he can lift-- And Colonel, that turkey, you know 't is my wish-- You know that Excelsior's your motto in carving-- As nothing more now we shall have on the table "We'll eat and give thanks this day that we're able To keep our poor bodies entirely from starving.

Now Susan's this all that you've been able to pick up? Oh, no! there's a ham, and it's done to a turn So nice, that the nose of a Jew needn't stick up; And a tongue--well, a tongue I never could spurn; It's nice while the wine at our leisure we sip; And good with a cracker in wine we can dip.

[Illustration: "MY APPETITE'S NONE OF THE BEST AND SO I MUST PAMPER THE DELICATE THING. AND TICKLE A FANCY THAT'S VERY CAPRICIOUS WITH BITS OF A TURKEY, THE BREAST OR THE WING. WITH KIRF VERY TENDER AND GRAVY DELICIOUS."]

Mrs. Merdle Accepteth of a slight Dinner, suitable for a Woman suffering with Dyspepsia.

Some turkey? why yes--the least mite will suffice; A side bone and dressing and bit of the breast; The tip of the rump--that's it--and one o' the fli's-- In spite of the doctor: my appetite's none of the best, And so I must pamper the delicate thing, And tickle a fancy that's very capricious With bits of a turkey, the breast or the wing, With beef very tender, and gravy delicious.

Some beef now? I thank you, not any at present; I'll nibble a little at what I have got, And wish for a duck, or a grouse, or a pheasant, Though none of them come for a wish, in the pot.

Mrs. Merdle Discourseth of Wishes and her Sufferings.

'If wishes were horses'--I've heard when a girl-- 'If wishes were horses, the beggars would ride'-- If wishes were pheasants, I'd wish with a skirl Till cooked ones came flying and sat by my side.

A fig, then, for doctors, their tinctures and drugs; Good eating would cure me, with plenty of game;


Nothing to Eat - 4/7

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