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Chambers (from Sir Francis Bacon’s “New Atlantis,” 1626)

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Sir Francis Bacon
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Sir Francis Bacon's "The New Atlantis" is a utopian novel about a mythical land called Bensalem, the inhabitants live happily with the sciences. "The New Atlantis" was published in 1627, the year after the Sir Francis Bacon's death. In "The New Atlantis," Bacon focuses on the duty of the state toward science, and his projections for state-sponsored research anticipate many advances in medicine and surgery, meteorology, and machinery. Although "The New Atlantis" is only a part of his plan for an ideal commonwealth, this work does represent Bacon's ideological beliefs. The inhabitants of Bensalem represent the ideal qualities of Bacon the statesman: generosity and enlightenment, dignity and splendor, piety and public spirit. These were the ideal qualities which Bacon wanted to see in 17th century England.

The chambers were handsome and cheerful chambers, and furnished civilly. Then he led us to a long gallery, like a dorture, where he showed us all along the one side (for the other side was but wall and window,) seventeen cells, very neat ones, having partitions of cedar wood. Which gallery, and cells, being in all forty, (many more than we needed,) were instituted as an infirmary for sick persons. And he told us withal, that as any of our sick waxed well, he might be removed from his cell, to a chamber: for which purpose, there were set forth ten spare chambers, besides the number we spake of before.

This done, he brought us back to the parlor, and lifting up his cane a little, (as they do when they give any charge or command) said to us: “Ye are to know, that the custom of the land requires, that after this day, and tomorrow, (which we give you for removing of your people from your ship,) you are to keep within doors for three days. But let it not trouble you, nor do not think yourselves restrained, but rather left to your rest and ease. You shall want nothing, and there are six of our people appointed to attend you, for any business you may have abroad.”

Sir Francis Bacon: The New Atlantis, 1626

The Feast

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At dinner today, at Mr.—, the second dish consisted of thin slices of two sorts of fish, literally raw. It seemed to be regarded as a rare delicacy, but I could not stretch my politeness enough to do justice to it. The dinner, otherwise, was excellent. You know the old man who made the ‘Bubbles from the Brunens,’ feelingly describes his consternation at the never-ending courses of a German public table; but he does not mention two-thirds of the dishes I have tasted at a single sitting. The feast commences, all the world over, with soup; then comes the dry soup-meat, ‘which a Grosvenor Square cat would not touch with his whiskers!’ but which is nevertheless rendered quite palatable by a highly seasoned gravy; the, cutlets, omelets, and messes of various sorts; followed by poultry, wild fowls, beef, etc.; fifthly, pudding, which with us is a sign that the meat is disposed of; but lo! ‘sixthly and lastly’ comes a huge quarter of veal, roast chickens, young lobsters, salad, etc.; seventhly, tarts and confectionary; ‘and, to conclude, a dessert of prunes, grapes, peaches, cakes, etc., the whole capped by sundery nibbles at a fair, round cheese, or peradventure, as today, with coffee, in Lilliputian cupts, which I took for baby’s play-things. Verily, one has a chance of finding something to his taste in this variety.

Random Passages, No. 6, 1837

Domestic

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Her first business is to fortify herself with a cup of café noir, and then trip it to mass. Her devotions over, she returns to partake of what we should call breakfast, but what is in reality just the ‘collation’ (colazione,) as Italians name it; made up as it mainly is of bread, cheap wine, and whatever fruit is procurable. This sumptuous meal finished, she sets her domestic, either man or woman, to making the lodgers’ beds, (fancy a hulking, bewhiskered, white-aproned wretch making your bed, good reader, and thus recognize that it is by no means all poetry, this sojourning in foreign lands,) and like any solid Mistress Jones or Brown, of our latitude, hies forth to market. But if she goes to market, like Mrs. Brown or Jones, she does not, by a very great deal, purchase marketing like unto that of those ladies; for first, she wends to the baker’s, for a loaf or two of bread; then to the oil merchant’s, for a cruse or measure of oil; then to the wine merchant’s, for sundry bottles of a white and red mouldy cider, that is conventionally known as wine; then to the most dirty and picturesque Piazza Navona, for a few carrots, a cabbage or two, some broccoli, a little lettuce, a tiny joint or knuckle of meat, and haply a handful of snails, and a pint of chickens’ heads, all which are in one way or other got to the place of their destination; the breat, meat, and vegetables to do duty after their several capacities as soup and salad, the perchance ventured upon snails, and chicken occiputs, to be stewed, and served as side dishes, the wine to wash down the banquet withal; and the oil to serve as salad dressing, and likewise food for certain household lamps…

Notes of Womankind Abroad, 1861

Baronet (from “Editor’s Table,” 1848)

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The Baronet himself, although he does not exactly sanction the proceedings on this occasion, must have not infrequently seen kindred specimens of ‘Irish hospitality;’ for we find him occasionally sitting over his toddy until he began to perceive a much larger company than the room really contained, and the lights more than doubled without any actual increase of their numbers. Still he seems to fancy that even this occasional rollicking is more manly than the course pursued by the ‘bloods’ of the present day; ‘mincing their fish and tidbits; amalgamating their ounce of salad on a silver saucer; employing six sauces to coax one appetite; burning up the palate to make its enjoyments the more exquisite; sipping their acid claret, lisping out for the scented waiter and paying him the price of a feast for the modicum of a Lilliputian, and the pay of a captain for the attendance of a blackguard;’ all this the baronet records as a fair set-off against the less habitual and venial follies of ‘old-school gentlemen.’

Editor’s Table, 1848

A dessert without cheese (from Carl Benson’s “Table Aesthetics,” 1848)

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Carl Benson
food
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A dessert without cheese is like a belle who has lost an eye. Various nations employ cheese in very various ways. The Italian takes it in soup, and with the national minestra of macaroni or vermicelli it is a great improvement; but with any other kind of soup, detestable. The Frenchman serves it at the other end of his dinner, among the fruit and the bon-bons. The Englishman eats it—often accompanied by salad—between the meats and the pastry; and with a very large number of Englishmen it supplies the place of pastry or dessert altogether; cheese being to John Bull what pie is to Brother Jonathan. With us ‘crackers and cheese’ are the ordinary tavern and steamboat lunch, and you may also see the traveling public devouring much cheese at tea, along with smoked beef, cake and preserves—awful catachresis of eatables! I saw with my own eyes a man do this who was then in the legislature, and has since gone abroad on a diplomatic mission. I hope he will learn better in Europe.

Carl Benson, Table Aesthetics, 1848

The French Gigots

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Next come some remarks on the appetite, and the danger of disobeying its calls. To illustrate this, there is a most awful story, which I cannot detail in cold blood. That any man, however high a public functionary he might be, should leave his company four hours and a half in the agonies of hunger and expectation while he was at a public council, seems a pitch of depravity incredible even in a Frenchman; and that the company should have waited out the infliction without pillaging his house, or setting fire to it, or even adopting the extremely lenient course of walking off and dining elsewhere, seems an equally praeter-Gallic observance of these convenances which form the French moral code. Afterward we have some anecdotes of great appetites, derived from the author’s personal observation; among others one of a curé, who used to consume in his mid-day meal a capon and a leg of mutton, not to mention the trifling accessories of soup, salad and cheese. It must be remembered, however, that the French gigots are decidedly diminutive, and not to be named in comparison with the legs which English clowns eat for wagers.

Table Aesthetics, 1848

Carving (from Carl Benson’s article, “Table Aesthetics,” 1848)

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Cover-TableAestheticsI mention carving particularly, being every day painfully reminded of the defects of my early education in this point. It is a natural consequence of the system practiced at most of our colleges of cramming the students into an uncomfortable hall, and feeding them on the coarsest fare, that they should contract a pernicious and not easily eradicated habit of scarifying and mangling dishes without care or decency. On this theme alone a treatise might be written. Bad fare naturally and inevitably induces a disrespect for the table and a neglect of  proprieties.

Carl Benson, Table Aesthetics, 1848

Fourteen Edifices

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The remainder of the fourteen edifices do not differ materially from those described; while some of them, as may be imagined, have suffered much from the effects of time, and are now crumbling amid the sea of ruins. Why, indeed, these have baffled the effects of untold ages, and come down to us as trophies of human art, while far and near is only to be seen a general wreck of matter, it is impossible to say. The probability that they were erected and used for sacred purposes, may afford us reasonable grounds for the inference, that they were either more securely built, or that, if the causes which depopulated this vast city, arose from the ravages of a victorious enemy, their hallowed character preserved them from the hand of the spoiler. Time, and the researches of the anxious antiquarian, may disclose the causes which stripped the city of its splendor, and of its innumerable inhabitants; a circumstance much to be desired by the curious and the learned.

Studies of Language: Greek, 1833

Buildings (from “American Antiquities,” 1837)

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Two other buildings, examined, have the same architectural character, and are divided in a similar manner, the bas-reliefs only being different. In one of these, and under the stone pavement of an oratory, were found the same flint, lance, conical pyramids, heart, and jars; and in another was also found articles of the same character, which, with various bas reliefs, etc., were removed. It has been thought, from some similarity in the workmanship of these fragments of art to those of the Phoenicians, Greeks, and Romans, that they were derived from the people of those nations. The same analogous character has been remarked in the various specimens of art found elsewhere in this once renowned city, as we shall have occasion to show, in speaking of the stupendous aqueducts, fortifications, etc., to be seen in various other parts of this once populous place.

American Antiquities, 1837

Cadmus (from “Studies of Language: Greek,” 1833)

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The coming of these illustrious strangers, was, however, the first dawn of civilization in Greece; which was, in less than a century afterwards, to receive a still greater boon—the introduction of letters, by Cadmus: i.e. the Eastern, or Red man. Cadmus was the leader of the Edomites, who were driven from their country, by David, king of Israel, in his career of victory over the Canaanitish nations. Cadmus brought only fifteen characters; answering in name and number to the old Hebrew and Latin alphabets. The majority of the seven letters, subsequently added to the Hebrew alphabet, slowly found the way, after their first-born brethren; and were, in course of time, incorporated into the Greek; making, together with those invented by some unknown genius, about the war of Troy, and those invented by Simonides, about the Persian invasion, the twenty-four; of which the Greek languages was ultimately composed.

Studies of Language: Greek, 1833