BOOK I. CONTAINING AS MUCH OF THE BIRTH OF THE FOUNDLING AS IS NECESSARY OR PROPER TO ACQUAINT THE READER WITH IN THE BEGINNING OF THIS HISTORY.
1. Chapter i. The introduction to the work, or bill of fare to the feast.
An objection may perhaps be apprehended from the more delicate, that
this dish is too common and vulgar; for what else is the subject of
all the romances, novels, plays, and poems, with which the stalls
abound? Many exquisite viands might be rejected by the epicure, if it
was a sufficient cause for his contemning of them as common and
vulgar, that something was to be found in the most paltry alleys under
the same name. In reality, true nature is as difficult to be met with
in authors, as the Bayonne ham, or Bologna sausage, is to be found in
But the whole, to continue the same metaphor, consists in the cookery
of the author; for, as Mr Pope tells us--
"True wit is nature to advantage drest;
What oft was thought, but ne'er so well exprest."
The same animal which hath the honour to have some part of his flesh
eaten at the table of a duke, may perhaps be degraded in another part,
and some of his limbs gibbeted, as it were, in the vilest stall in
town. Where, then, lies the difference between the food of the
nobleman and the porter, if both are at dinner on the same ox or calf,
but in the seasoning, the dressing, the garnishing, and the setting
forth? Hence the one provokes and incites the most languid appetite,
and the other turns and palls that which is the sharpest and keenest.
In like manner, the excellence of the mental entertainment consists
less in the subject than in the author's skill in well dressing it up.
How pleased, therefore, will the reader be to find that we have, in
the following work, adhered closely to one of the highest principles
of the best cook which the present age, or perhaps that of
Heliogabalus, hath produced. This great man, as is well known to all
lovers of polite eating, begins at first by setting plain things
before his hungry guests, rising afterwards by degrees as their
stomachs may be supposed to decrease, to the very quintessence of
sauce and spices. In like manner, we shall represent human nature at
first to the keen appetite of our reader, in that more plain and
simple manner in which it is found in the country, and shall hereafter
hash and ragoo it with all the high French and Italian seasoning of
affectation and vice which courts and cities afford. By these means,
we doubt not but our reader may be rendered desirous to read on for
ever, as the great person just above-mentioned is supposed to have
made some persons eat.