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- Nothing to Eat - 5/7 -


And as for pill boxes, and bottles, and jugs, I wouldn't know one, when I saw it, by name.

Oh, dear! such a load now my stomach oppresses, While eating these trifles, attempting to dine-- I'm sure 'taint the turkey--it must be my dresses-- And if so 't will ease them to sip sherry wine.

'Tis sad, though, to be such a sad invalid-- Dear me, Colonel Dinewell, you've done eating meat-- Your doctor, like mine, I hope hasn't forbid, That you shouldn't have, as I do, so little to eat. Ah! well then, I see, though I've hardly begun, The meats and the solids must go right away; So bring in the pudding, if Susan's got one, Which will for a while one's appetite stay.

Mrs. Merdle Discourseth of Pudding.

A pudding! why yes, as I live, too, it's plum; So plain, Susan makes them on purpose for me I never refuse, when the plum puddings come, To finish my dinner, if finished 't can be On things unsubstantial, like puddings and pies, So made up of suet, and currants, and flour, Like this one before us, to get up the size, And stirred up and beaten with eggs by the hour, With bread crumbs, and citron, and small piece of mace; With nutmeg, and cinnamon, and sugar, and milk, And" currants, and raisins, and spices so race, And what else I know not of things of that ilk.

The whole after cooking six hours at the least, When thus well compounded with delicate skill, With wine sauce is eaten, to finish the feast, And suits the digestion of ladies quite ill, Who suffer as I do, from having bad cooks, And very weak stomachs, and food that near kills 'em; And then such a sight of bad rules in the books From contents to finis, to cure one that fills 'em.

[Illustration: "FOR NOTHING TO CURE WITH IS USED BUT COLD WATER: AND WHAT WITH THE BATHING AND WASHING AND SCRUBBING--"]

There's one of all others so much recommended To cure every ill of old Eve's every daughter, With nothing or next to't, for medicine expended, For nothing to cure with is used but cold water.

And what with the bathing, and washing, and scrubbing; The packing, and sweating, and using the sheet; The shower bath, and douche bath, and all sorts of rubbing; And literally nothing but brown bread to eat, No wonder the patient accepts of the lure, To escape such a ducking, acknowledged a cure.

But Lord, what a skein I have made of my yarn, While Susan's arranging and changing the plates, And running all round old Robin Hood's barn, Like puzzles at school that we made on our slates; But talking of puzzles, no one that we made, While playing the fool we played as a trade, When childhood and folly joined hands at the schools, Could equal the pranks of these cold-water fools.

Yes, yes, Mr. Merdle, I knew by the smelling The pudding was ready, without any telling; So Colonel, I'll help you a delicate slice-- For nothing, I'm sure, like a dinner you've eaten-- And afterwards follow with jelly and ice, So pleasant while waiting to cool off the heat on; And then with a syllabub, comfit, or cream, Our dessert of almonds and raisins we'll nibble, Till coffee comes in to revive with it's steam, When cakes in its fragrance we'll leisurely dibble.

I'm sure after all it's a terrible bore To labor so hard as we do for our victuals; I envy the women that beg at the door, Or hire out for wages to handle your kettles, And wash, bake, and iron, and do nothing but cooking, So rugged and healthy, and often good looking: The doctor has told me except when they're mothers, They never take tincture, or rhubarb, or pill, And swears the profession if there were no others, Their patients would use up, and starve out and kill.

I'm sure I don't see how that makes them exempt From all sorts of sickness and woman's complaints, With nothing to hinder if appetite tempt From eating or drinking as happy as saints.

Oh Lord, now, this pudding so delicate made, And gravy I'm sure with nothing that's rich in, That one of those women who beg as a trade, The whole in one stomach could leisurely pitch in, Is now in my own so terribly painful in feeling, Its calls for relief are most loudly appealing.

Mrs. Merdle Discourseth of the necessity of good Wine and other Matters.

So while we are eating the fruits of the vine, Don't let us forget such a health giving juice, As Champagne, or Sherbet, or other good wine, Nor sin by neglecting its 'temperate use.'

Now Sherbet, my husband extols to the skies, With me though, my stomach is weak and won't bear it: And Sherry, though sometimes affecting my eyes, A bottle with pleasure we'll open and share it.

Ha, ha, well-a-day--what a queer world to live in, If one were contented on little to dine, We need not be longing another to be in, Where women, they tell us, exist without wine; Where husbands are happy and women content; Where dresses, though gauzy, are fit for the street; Where no one is wretched with purses unbent, With nothing to wear and nothing to eat.

Where women no longer are treated la Turk, Where husbands descended from Saxon or Norman, For women when sickly are willing to work, And not long for Utah and pleasures la Mormon-- Where men freely marry and live with their wives, And not live as you do, mon Colonel, so single.

Such wretched and dinnerless bachelor lives; You don't know the pleasure there is in the tingle Of ears pricked by lectures, la curtain, au Caudle, Or noise of young Dinewells beginning to toddle; While plodding all day with your paper and quills, And copy, and proof sheets, and work for the printer, Pray what do you know of the housekeeper's bills, And other such 'pleasures of hope' for the winter?

You men, selfish creatures, think all of the care Of living and keeping yourselves in existence, Is due to your own daily labor, and share, From breakfast to dinner of business persistance; While woman is either a plaything or drudge, According to station of wealth or position, Which men help along with a word or a nudge To heaven high up or low down to perdition.

But what was I saying of a world free from care, Of eating and drinking and dresses to wear?

Where women by husbands are never tormented, And never asked money where husbands dissented? And never see others, their rivals, in fashion ahead, And never have doctors--a woman's great dread-- And nothing, I hope, like my own indigestion, To torment and starve them, as this one does me, And keep them from sipping--forgive the suggestion-- The nectar etherial they drink for their tea.

Mrs. Merdle Suggesteth that Dinner being finished, the Gentlement will Smoke. In the meantime, she Discourseth.

"Now Merdle--now Colonel--I know you are waiting. And thinking my talking to eating's a bar, Still hoping, by tasting, my appetite sating, Will give you the license to smoke a cigar.

[Illustration: "WILL GIVE YOU THE LICENSE TO SMOKE A CIGAR"]

Well then, I've done now, and hope too you've dined, As well as down town where you dine for a shilling, At Taylor's, or Thompson's, or one of the kind, Where mortals are flocking each day for their filling; Or else at the Astor where bachelors quarter, Where port holes for windows give light to the room, Far out of the region of Eve's every daughter, So high they are stuck up away toward the moon.

Though as for the 'stuck up' no walls built of brick, Or granite, or marble, or dirty red sand, Could stick up a man who himself's but a stick, An inch above where he would naturally stand.

To witness the truth of this final assertion, I call you to witness the sticks at the door, Where they make it a daily, a 'manly' diversion, To ogle each woman, and sometimes do more, Who passes the hotel that's named by a saint, Where boorish bad manners give room for complaint.

Where idlers and loafers, with gamblers a few, Make up for the nonce the St. Nicholas crew.


Nothing to Eat - 5/7

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