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midst of plenty and in the enjoyment of
a moderate income, I am starving. I weigh
every day, and find myself wanting; and,
when I complain, I am told, "There is no
pleasing me, nohow; there was Mr. Snipetoast,
as good a," &c. &c. She has given me a warning,
has Betsy Jane. Shall I give her another
next Monday as ever is ?

I give her £10 a year, and tea and sugar, and
yet I find myself becoming a living skeleton. I
have long seen through some of my friends, and
the time has come that they will see through
me. Many of my friends are in the same position
as I am with their plain cooks. I advertised for
a plain cook, but I never expected such a very
plain cook: such a Salisbury-plain cook as this.

Then she is so aggravating: she never
confesses that a thing is spoiledno, not if the dish
runs crimson, or the chop is a rattling cinder.
She turns it on me, and says I asked for it
underdone or overdone; or that I would have it up
directly I came in from the City; or came home
half an hour too late; or that the kitchen
clock was too slow or had stopped; or that the
smoke-jack was enough to spoil anything.
Oh, she is aggravating! For instance, if I send
down an egg to be done a little more, she keeps
it down half an hour to punish me, then brings
it up with an austere and reproving face, hard
as alabaster. If I ask for a made dish, she does
not pretend to kickshaws, and all "them fizamagigs;"
and if I want coffee suddenly, the fire is
always gone down, or she is sorry she hadn't
known it before she screwed the grate back.

In vain I try to explain to her the first elements
of the chemistry of cooking. She fries everything,
and prefers that greasy, unwholesome,
soaking mode of cooking to the racy, chastened
gridiron, that gives to a chop such a healthy
flavour; she prefers baking, with its sodden
steaming, to juicy roasting; and, when she
boils, she boils things so fast that they are
hard, yet underdone; she has no
forethought; she puts things down to roast too late,
and then hurries them too much; she leaves
the pot on the hob when it should be on the
fire; and she boils at a jumping, pot-lid-shaking
canter, when she should simmer with a gentle,
bubbling gurgle. In fact, musically speaking, she
takes a joint at vivace when it should be allegro,
and at {2/4} when it should be 6/8. In fact, Betsy Jane
has no sense of the dignity of her art; no
appreciation of the poetry of her craft; no knowledge of
the solemnity of her mission as the soother and
nourisher of the human mind through the
human stomach. She is always hot and
cross (cooking affects the liver and so spoils the
temper); and is, in a word, a big-headed,
irrational, insensate, miserable hireling, who
turns potatoes into yellow tallow, meat into
coke, and bread into soluble lead. I look on
her as a perverter of the gifts of Providence,
and, therefore, as an ally of Apollyon himself. The
effect of fire on solids or fluids, the law of boiling,
the nature of imprisoned juice, the science
of condiment, are as unknown to my plain cook
as the pleasures of dancing are to a hippopotamus,
or the joys of pedestrianism to the great
sea serpent. She never thinks; she did not
take my wages to think; she is only a walking
plate-warmer, a portable ladle, a human cruet-
stand; she would never kill herself, like the
famous Vatel, because the woodcocks did not
come in time for my dinner party.

Our plain cook is the cause, too, of
quarrels between me and Mrs. P. Mrs. P.
manages Betsy Jane badly. She haggles at
her, and rates her, and speaks at her in cutting
side winds that make your flesh creep, and make
our plain cook baste the meat with a quick, fierce
vindictiveness, as if she were roasting Mrs. P.
herself for a cannibal feast of plain cooks. She
hints dreadful things of missus's "temper," and
tells her twice a week to suit herself that day

"And now for your remedy for all this?"
blurts in my irritable friend Outer, of
Paperbuildings. It is simply this: build an Oxford
for cooks; let M.A. degrees be given in omelets,
and B.A.s for boiling potatoes. Our minds are
taken care of at Cambridge, why should not our
bodies be cared for at a cooks' Oxford.

Seriously, why indeed? Why could not all our
workhouses have steam kitchens, where one
experienced cook presided, and taught a certain
number of the younger girls destined for service,
to whom she could give certificates when they
had attained sufficient skill to work alone?
Why could not our hospitals and great charities
apply to such places for cooks, and why could
not lectures on the elements of the chemistry
of cooking be occasionally delivered to these
handmaids of Vesta by our St. John's Wood

In the same way every village school might
have its cooking class, which might be turned
to a source of profit, by making it a cheap
public oven for the poor. There could be
monthly examinations, at which certificates
could be given for those who were really fit
for service. These schools would discover much
latent cooking genius, and soon drive all
uncertificated and worthless destroyers of digestion
out of the service market.

Then no more should we hear my wife's
continual exclamation:

"My dear, in these days it's impossible to
find a cook who knows her business!"


IT is possible that the cardinal virtues have
been more frequently talked about than
practised; whether the same be the case with the
cardinal vices, is a question of considerable
delicacy. There are people who venture to say that
such is not the case, and have written books
to prove it. Cardo is ancient Latin for the
hinge of a gate, and cardinalis, thence derived,
for "belonging to a hinge," also "chief," or
"principal," as cardinales venti, tlie cardinal
winds. Cardinalis, in modern Latin, is a
cardinal in the Church of Rome; a dignity which
began about the time of Gregory the Great.