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The Epicure and the Physician

Illustration 098

The Epicure and the Physician

Two  hundred years ago, or more,

An heir possess'd a miser's store;

Rejoiced to find his father dead,

Till then on thrifty viands fed;

Unnumber'd dishes crown'd his board,

With each unwholesome trifle stored.

He ate—and long'd to eat again,

But sigh'd for appetite in vain:

His food, though dress'd a thousand ways,

Had lost its late accustom'd praise;

He relish'd nothing—sickly grew—

Yet long'd to taste of something new.

It chanced in this disastrous case,

One morn betimes he join'd the chase:

Swift o'er the plain the hunters fly,

Each echoing out a joyous cry;

A forest next before them lay;

He, left behind, mistook his way,

And long alone bewildered rode,

He found a peasant's poor abode;

But fasting kept, from six to four,

Felt hunger, long unfelt before;

The friendly swain this want supplied,

And Joan some eggs and bacon fried.

Not dainty now, the squire in haste

Fell to, and praised their savory taste;

Nay, said his meal had such a gout

He ne'er in tarts and olios knew.

Rejoiced to think he'd found a dish,

That crown'd his long unanswer'd wish,

With gold his thankful host he paid,

Who guides him back from whence he stray'd;

But ere they part, so well he dined,

His rustic host the squire enjoin'd

To send him home next day a stock

Of those same eggs and charming hock.

He hoped this dish of savory meat

Would prove that still 'twas bliss to eat;

But, ah! he found, like all the rest,

These eggs were tasteless things at best;

The bacon not a dog would touch,

So rank—he never tasted such!

He sent express to fetch the clown,

And thus address'd him with a frown:

"These eggs, this bacon, that you sent,

For Christian food were never meant;

As soon I'll think the moon's a cheese,

As those you dress'd the same with these.

Little I thought"—"Sir," says the peasant,

"I'm glad your worship is so pleasant:

You joke, I'm sure: for I can swear,

The same the fowls that laid them are!

And know as well that all the bacon

From one the self-same flitch was taken:

The air, indeed, about our green

Is known to make the stomach keen."

"Is that the case?" the squire replied;

"That air shall be directly tried."

He gave command—a house he hired,

And down he goes with hope inspired,

And takes his cooks—a favorite train;

But still they ply their art in vain.

Perhaps 'twas riding did the feat:

He rides,—but still he cannot eat.

At last a friend, to physic bred,

Perceived his case, and thus he said:

"Be ruled by me, you soon shall eat,

With hearty gust, the plainest meat;

A pint of milk each rising morn,

Procure from cow of sable horn;

Shake in three drops of morning dew

From twig of ever-verdant yew;

It must by your own hand be done,

Your face turn'd westward from the sun.

With this, ere half an hour is past,

Well crumb'd with biscuit, break your fast;

Which done, from food (or all is vain)

For twice three hours and one abstain—

Then dine on one substantial dish,

If plainly dress'd, of flesh or fish."

Grave look'd the doctor as he spake—

The squire concludes th' advice to take,

And, cheated into temperance, found

The bliss his former luxury drown'd.

Illustration 102