Good and Honest Reader,
I have just today discovered a small piece of history that I had read some time ago and thought I’d quite lost once more, but thankfully I found it again. It is just a beautiful shadow of old England only a few decades before the industrial revolution began to change the country. It’s not much more than a remark upon a personal food favourite of the author; and the story of it goes like this:
In 1759 there was a new magazine founded by several people who thought that the wealth of miscellaneous writing coming from amateur and upcoming writers needed somewhere to be publicised. Their vision was ‘Royal magazine; or, Gentleman’s monthly companion’, and between 1759 and 1771 it was printed once a month and quickly became a very popular literary magazine.
It was to that same magazine that a young man wrote a letter in June 1762; he was travelling in Norfolk and had settled one night at a small inn, a building long since demolished and tumbled out of history, at this inn he composed his letter to the Royal Magazine, and saved forever a small piece of anonymous English poetry. His letter read as such:
Travelling very lately through Norfolk, on the window of an inn, in a frequented village there, amongst many other, I saw the following verses, which, upon enquiry, I found were wrote extempore by a young rider, from London, a few weeks before, after regaling on his subject (alone) as the landlord declared, for three succeeding meals. As I thought they did not speak the product of an ordinary scribbler, I copied them, verbatim; and judging they might not be disagreeable to many besides, I beg your indulging them with a place in your universal entertainer, which will greatly oblige,
The verses that he recorded appeared later in the June edition of the Royal Magazine, and with a wonderful vigour so carefully applied through flourishing heroic lines, it records the wonders of a good meal:
The Norfolk Dumpling
From themes impertinent, the thick-scrall’d pane
At length a respite craves. — The jest obscene,
Acrostick’s fulsome note, or slander’s sting,
Alike I hate — detest — Be it my wish,
In grateful lines, justly to celebrate
A Norfolk Dumpling’s praise; — Belov’d repast!
With extasy I name thee! Had thy bard
Poetic fancy equal to his appetite,
On Fame’s high pinnacle thoud’st stand rever’d
For charms unequall’d! Whilst the modern epicure,
Whose rav’nous maw threats ev’ry element
For food exotic, with depopulation,
Should linger as he read. Not in the dish
Of far-fetch’d delicacies, such as grac’d
A loyal city’s table, when presided
Britannia’s darling Princes, could be found
A Gusto half so noble, half so fine,
As this, when from the bubbling cavern’s mouth
Comes reeking, straight in dripping-pan immerg’d
From goose, or duck, or leg of pork produc’d,
The savoury show’r imbibes! Oh, could I paint thee
In different vestments clad! When at Meridian
Joan waits her faithful messmate, how thou’rt seen
Majestically rob’d! Whilst round thy throne
Molosses rolls his salutary tide
Luxuriant! — Nor in estimation less
Art held, when wallowing in the golden flood
Of pease and bacon soup!….
—Here bait, my pen!
Lest like thy poet thou grow’st faint describing
What taste alone can prove! — Be Norfolk then
For Dumplings, Nogg, and Plenty ever fam’d!
Until next time, dear reader.