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“Eat, eat, eat the burnt pig, father; only taste; O Lord !” — with such like barbarous ejaculations, cramming all the while as if he would choke.
Ho-ti trembled in every joint while he grasped the abominable thing, wavering whether he should not put his son to death for an unnatural young monster, when the crackling scorching his fingers, as it had done his son's, and applying the same remedy to them, he in bis turn tasted some of its flavor, which, make what sour mouths he would for a pretence, proved not altogether displeasing to him. In conclusion (for the manuscript here is a little tedious), both father and son fairly set down to the mess, and never left off till they had despatched all that remained of the litter.
Bo-bo was strictly enjoined not to let the secret escape, for the neighbors would certainly have stoned them for a couple of abominable wretches, who could think of improving upon the good meat which God had sent them. Nevertheless, strange stories got about. It was observed that Ho-ti's cottage was burnt down now more frequently than ever. Nothing but fires from this time forward. Some would break out in broad day, others in the night time. As often as the sow farrowed, so sure was the house of Ho-ti to be in a blaze ; and Ho-ti himself, which was the more remarkable, instead of chastising his son, seemed to grow more indulgent to him than ever. At length they were watched, the terrible mystery discovered, and father and son summoned to take their trial at Pekin, then an inconsiderable assize town. Evidence was given, the obnoxious food itself produced in court, and verdict about to be pronounced, when the foreman of the jury begged that some of the burnt pig, of which the culprits stood accused, might be handed into the box. He handled it, and they all handled it; and burning their fingers, as Bo-bo and his father had done before them, and nature prompting to each of them the same remedy, against the face of all the facts, and the clearest charge which judge had ever given, — to the surprise of the whole court, townsfolk, strangers, reporters, and all present, - without leaving the box, or any manner of consultation whatever, they brought in a simultaneous verdict of Not Guilty.
The judge, who was a shrewd fellow, winked at the manifest iniquity of the decision; and when the court was dismissed, went privily, and bought up all the pigs that could be had for love or money. In a few days his Lordship's town-house was observed to be on fire. The thing took wing, and now there was nothing to be seen but fire in every direction. Fuel and pigs grew enormously
dear all over the district. The insurance offices one and all shut up shop. People built slighter and slighter every day, until it was feared that the very science of architecture would in no long time be lost to the world. Thus this custom of firing houses continued, till in process of time, says my manuscript, a sage arose, like our Locke, who made a discovery, that the flesh of swine, or indeed of any other animal, might be cooked (burnt, as they called it) without the necessity of consuming a whole house to dress it. Then first began the rude form of a gridiron. Roasting by the string or spit came in a century or two later ; I forget in whose dynasty. By such slow degrees, concludes the manuscript, do the most useful, and seemingly the most obvious, arts make their way among mankind.
Without placing too implicit faith in the account above given, it must be agreed, that if a worthy pretext for so dangerous an experiment as setting houses on fire (especially in these days) could be assigned in favor of any culinary object, that pretext and excuse might be found in Roast Pig.
Of all the delicacies in the whole mundus edibilis, I will maintain it to be the most delicate - princeps obsoniorum.
I speak not of your grown porkers, – things between pig and pork, — those hobbydehoys, — but a young and tender suckling, – under a moon old, - guiltless as yet of the sty, — with no original speck of the amor immunditiæ, the hereditary failing of the first parent, yet manifest — his voice as yet not broken, but something between a childish treble and a grumble — the mild forerunner, or præludium, of a grunt.
He must be roasted. I am not ignorant that our ancestors ate them seethed, or boiled — but what a sacrifice of the exterior tegument!
There is no flavor comparable, I will contend, to that of the crisp, tawny, well-watched, not over-roasted, crackling, as it is well called, the very teeth are invited to their share of the pleasure at this banquet in overcoming the coy, brittle resistance, — with the adhesive oleaginous — 0, call it not fat! but an indefinable sweetness growing up to it, - the tender blossoming of fat, — fat cropped in the bud, — taken in the shoot, --- in the first innocence, — the cream and quintessence of the child-pig's yet pure food, — the lean, no lean, but a kind of animal manna, -or, rather, fat and lean (if it must be so) so blended and running into each other, that both together make but one ambrosian result, or common substance.
Behold him while he is “doing" - it seemeth rather a refreshing
warmth, than a scorching heat, that he is so passive to. How equably he twirleth round the string! Now he is just done. To see the extreme sensibility of that tender age ! he hath wept out his pretty eyes — radiant jellies - shooting stars.
See him in the dish, his second cradle, how meek he lieth !wouldst thou have had this innocent grow up to the grossness and indocility which too often accompany maturer swinehood ? Ten to one he would have proved a glutton, a sloven, an obstinate, disagreeable animal, wallowing in all manner of filthy conversation : from these sins he is happily snatched away; his memory is odoriferous; no clown curseth, while his stomach half rejecteth, the rank bacon ; no coal-heaver bolteth him in reeking sausages; he hath a fair sepulchre in the grateful stomach of the judicious epicure, and for such a tomb might be content to die.
He is the best of sapors. Pine-apple is great. She is, indeed, almost too transcendent — a delight, if not sinful, yet so like to sinning that really a tender conscienced person would do well to pause ; too ravishing for mortal taste, she woundeth and excoriateth the lips that approach her; she is a pleasure bordering on pain from the fierceness and insanity of her relish ; but she stoppeth at the palate; she meddleth not with the appetite; and the coarsest hunger might barter her consistently for a mutton-chop.
Pig, let me speak his praise is no less provocative of the appetite than he is satisfactory to the criticalness of the censorious palate. The strong man may batten on him, and the weakling refuseth not his mild juices.
Unlike to mankind's mixed characters, a bundle of virtues and vices, inexplicably intertwisted, and not to be unravelled without hazard, he is – good throughout. No part of him is better or worse than another. He helpeth, as far as his little means extend, all around. He is the least envious of banquets. He is all neighbor's fare.
I am one of those who freely and ungrudgingly impart a share of the good things of this life which fall to their lot (few as mine are in this kind) to a friend. I protest I take as great an interest in my friend's pleasures, his relishes, and proper satisfactions, as in mine
“Presents," I often say, “endear Absents.” Hares, pheasants, partridges, snipes, barn-door chickens (those “tame villatic fowl"), capons, plovers, brawn, barrels of oysters, I dispense as freely as I receive them. I love to taste them, as it were, upon the tongue of my friend. But a stop must be put somewhere. One would not, like Lear, “give everything." I make my stand upon
pig. Methinks it is an ingratitude to the Giver of all good flavors to extra-domiciliate, or send out of the house, slightingly (under pretext of friendship, or I know not what), a blessing so particularly adapted, predestined, I may say, to my individual palate. It argues an insensibility.
I remember a touch of conscience in this kind at school. My good old aunt, who never parted from me at the end of a holiday without stuffing a sweetmeat, or some nice thing, into my pocket, had dismissed me one evening with a smoking plum-cake fresh from the oven. In my way to school (it was over London bridge) a grayheaded old beggar saluted me (I have no doubt, at this time of day, that he was a counterfeit). I had no pence to console him with, and, in the vanity of self-denial, and the very coxcombry of charity, school-boy-like, I made him a present of — the whole cake! I walked on a little, buoyed up, as one is on such occasions, with a sweet soothing of self-satisfaction ; but, before I had got to the end of the bridge, my better feelings returned, and I burst into tears, thinking how ungrateful I had been to my good aunt, to go and give her good gift away to a stranger that I had never seen before, and who might be a bad man for aught I knew; and then I thought of the pleasure my aunt would be taking in thinking that I – I myself, and not another — would eat her nice cake, - and what should I say to her the next time I saw her ? — how naughty I was to part
with her pretty present !- and the odor of that spicy cake came back upon my recollection, and the pleasure and the curiosity I had taken in seeing her make it, and her joy when she sent it to the oven, and how disappointed she would feel that I had never had a bit of it in my mouth at last, - and I blamed my impertinent spirit of almsgiving and out-of-place hypocrisy of goodness; and, above all
, I wished never to see the face again of that insidious, good-for-nothing, old gray impostor.
His sauce should be considered. Decidedly, a few bread-crumbs, done up with his liver and brains, and a dash of mild sage.
But banish, dear Mrs. Cook, I beseech you, the whole onion tribe. Barbecue your whole hogs to your palate, steep them in shallots, stuff them out with plantations of the rank and guilty garlic ; you cannot poison them, or make them stronger than they are ; but consider, he is a weakling - a flower.
IN A LETTER TO B. F., ESQ,, AT SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES.
MY DEAR F.: When I think how welcome the sight of a letter from the world where you were born must be to you in that strange one to which you have been transplanted, I feel some compunctious visitings at my long silence; but, indeed, it is no easy effort to set about a correspondence at our distance. The weary world of waters between us oppresses the imagination. It is difficult to conceive how a scrawl of mine should ever stretch across it. It is a sort of presumption to expect that one's thoughts should live so far. It is like writing for posterity, and reminds me of one of Mrs. Rowe's superscriptions — “Alcander to Strephon in the Shades.” Cowley's Post
Angel is no more than would be expedient in such an intercourse. • One drops a packet at Lombard Street, and in twenty-four hours a
friend in Cumberland gets it as fresh as if it came in ice. It is only like whispering through a long trumpet. But suppose a tube let down from the moon, with yourself at one end, and the man at
it would be some balk to the spirit of conversation if you knew that the dialogue exchanged with that interesting theosophist would take two or three revolutions of a higher luminary in its passage. Yet, for aught I know, you may be some parasangs niglier that primitive idea — Plato's man than we in England here have the honor to reckon ourselves.
Espistolary matter usually compriseth three topics — news, sentiment, and puns. In the latter I include all non-serious subjects, or subjects serious in themselves, but treated after my fashion, nonseriously. And first, for news. In them the most desirable circumstance, I suppose, is, that they shall be true. But what security can I have that what I now send you for truth shall not, before you get it , unaccountably turn into a lie? For instance, our mutual friend P. is at this present writing — my Now -- in good health, and enjoys a fair share of worldly reputation. You are glad to hear it. This is natural and friendly. But at this present reading - your Now — he may possibly be in the Bench, or going to be hanged, which in reason ought to abate something of your transport (i. e., at hearing he was well
, &c.), or at least considerably to modify it. I am going to the play this evening, to have a laugh with Munden. .. You naturally lick your lips, and envy me my felicity. Think but a moment, and you will correct the hateful emotion. Why, it is Sunday