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a subject they have never been taught to
regard as worthy of their attention: rather,
indeed, as one to be avoided; for it is never
discussed otherwise than apologetically, with
a simpering sort of jocularity, or as something
which it is 'low' to know anything about.
When a certain diplomatist was reminded
that his mother had been a cook, he did not
deny the fact; but assured the company,
'upon his honour, that she was a very bad one.'
People in the best society do not hesitate to
bore others with their ailments, and talk
about cures and physic; but conversation
respecting preventionwhich is better than
cureand wholesomely prepared food is

Young ladies of the leisure classes are
educated to become uncommonly acute critics of
all that pertains to personal blandishment.
They keep an uncompromisingly tight hand
over their milliners and ladies' maids. They
can tell to a thread when a flounce is too
narrow or a tuck too deep. They are taught
to a shade what colours suit their respective
complexions, and to a hair how their coiffure
ought to be arranged. Woe unto the seamstress
or handmaiden who sins in these
matters! But her 'good plain cook'when
a damsel is promoted to wedlock, and owns one
passes unreproached for the most heinous
offences. Badly seasoned and ill assimilated
soup; fish, without any fault of the fishmonger,
soft and flabby; meat rapidly roasted before
fierce fires- burnt outside and raw within;
poultry rendered by the same process tempting
to the eye, till dissection reveals red and
uncooked joints! These crimes, from their
frequency and the ignorance of ' the lady of the
house,' remain unpunished. Whereupon, husbands,
tired of their Barmecide feastswhich
disappoint the taste more because they have
often a promising look to the eyeprefer
better fare at their clubs; and escape the Scylla
of bad digestion, to be wrecked on the
Charybdis of domestic discord. All this is owing
to the wife's culinary ignorance, and to your
' Good Plain Cooks.'

We do not say that the daughters of the
wealthy and well-to-do should be submitted
to regular kitchen apprenticeships, and taught
the details of cookery, any more than that
they should learn to make shoes or to fit and
sew dresses. But it is desirable that they
should acquire principlessuch principles as
would enable them to apply prompt correction
to the errors of their hired cooks. It
is no very bold assertion that were such a
knowing and judicious supervision generally
exercised, the stomach diseases, under which
half our nation is said to groan, would be
materially abated.

Let us take a step or two lower in the
ladder of English life, where circumstances
oblige the Good Plain Cook and the wife to be
one and the same person. Many a respectable
clerk, and many a small farmer, is doomed
from one year's end to another to a wearying
disproportion of cold, dry, uncomfortable
dinners, because his wife's knowledge of
cookery takes no wider range than that
which pertains to the roasted, boiled, and fried.
Thousands of artisans and labourers are
deprived of half the actual nutriment of food, and
of all the legitimate pleasures of the table,
because their better halvesthough good plain
cooks, in the ordinary acceptation of the term
are in utter darkness as to economising, and
rendering palatable the daily sustenance of
their families. ' If we could see,' says a writer
before quoted, 'by the help of an Asmodeus
what is going on at the dinner-hour of the
humbler of the middle class, what a spectacle
of discomfort, waste, ill-temper, and consequent
ill-conduct, it would be! The man
quarrels with his wife because there is nothing
he can eat, and he generally makes up in drink
for the deficiencies in the article of food. Gin
is the consolation to the spirits and the
resource to the baulked appetite. There is thus
not only the direct waste of food and detriment
to health, but the farther consequent waste of
the use of spirits, with its injury to the habits
and the health. On the other hand, people
who eat well drink moderately; the satisfaction
of appetite with relish dispensing with
recourse to stimulants. Good-humour, too,
and good health follow a good meal, and by a
good meal we mean anything, however simple,
well dressed in its way. A rich man may live
very expensively and very ill, and a poor one
very frugally but very well, if it be his good
fortune to have a good cook in his wife or his
servant; and a ministering angel a good cook
is, either in the one capacity or the other, not
only to those in humble circumstances, but to
many above them of the class served by what
are self-termed professed cooks, which is too
frequently an affair of profession purely, and
who are to be distinguished from plain cooks
only in this, that they require larger wages for
spoiling food, and spoil much more in quantity,
and many other articles to boot.'

Great would be the advantage to the
community, if cookery were made a branch of
female education. To the poor, the gain
would be incalculable. ' Amongst the prizes
which the Bountifuls of both sexes are fond
of bestowing in the country,' we again quote
the Examiner, 'we should like to see some
offered for the best-boiled potato, the best-
grilled mutton-chop, and the best-seasoned
hotch-potch soup or broth. In writing of a
well-boiled potato, we are aware that we
shall incur the contempt of many for attaching
importance to a thing they suppose to be
so common; but the fact is, that their
contempt arises, as is often the origin of contempt,
from their ignorance, there not being one person
in ten thousand who has ever seen and
tasted that great rarity awell-boiled potato.'

This is scarcely an exaggeration. The
importance attached to the point by the highest
gastronomic authorities, is shown by what
took place, some years since, at the meeting