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use the word merely to mark the time of day. In that most humorous appeal of Persius-" Cur quis non prandeat, hoc est ?" "Is this a sufficient reason for losing one's prandium ?" He was obliged to say prandium, because no exhibitions ever could cause a man to lose his cana, since none were displayed at a time of day when any body in Rome would have attended. Just as, in alluding to a Parliamentary speech notoriously delivered at midnight, an English satirist must have said, is this a speech to furnish an argument for leaving one's bed?-not as what stood foremost in his regard, but as the only thing that could be lost at the time of night. On this principle, also, viz. by going back to the military origin of prandium, we gain the interpretation of all the peculiarities attached to it: viz.-1, its early hour-2, its being taken in a standing posture-3, in the open air-4, the humble quality of its materials-bread and biscuit, (the main articles of military fare.) In all these circumstances of the meal, we read, most legibly written, the exotic and military character of the meal.
Thus we have brought down our Roman friend to noonday, or even one hour later than noon, and to this moment the poor man has had nothing to eat. For, supposing him to be not impransus, and supposing him jentasse beside; yet it is evident, (we hope,) that neither one nor the other means more than what it was often called, viz. Bennioμos, or, in plain English, a mouthful. How long do we intend to keep him waiting? Reader, he will dine at three, or (supposing dinner put off to the latest) at four. Dinner was never known to be later than the tenth hour in Rome, which in summer would be past five; but for a far greater proportion of days would be near four in Rome, except for one or two of the Emperors, whom the mere business attached to their unhappy station kept sometimes dinnerless till six. And so entirely was a Roman the creature of ceremony, that a na
tional mourning would probably have been celebrated, and the "sad augurs" would have been called in to expiate the prodigy, had the general dinner lingered beyond four.
But, meantime, what has our friend been about since perhaps six or seven in the morning? After paying his little homage to his patronus, in what way has he fought with the great enemy Time since then? Why, reader, this illustrates one of the most interesting features in the Roman character. The Roman was the idlest of men. "Man and boy," he was " an idler in the land." He called himself and his pals" rerum dominos, gentemque togatam; "the gentry that wore the toga. Yes, and a pretty affair that "toga" was. Just figure to yourself, reader, the picture of a hardworking man, with horny hands like our hedgers, ditchers, weavers, porters, &c., setting to work on the high-road in that vast sweeping toga, filling with a strong gale like the mainsail of a frigate. Conceive the roars with which this magnificent figure would be received into the bosom of a poor-house detachment sent out to attack the stones on some new line of road, or a fatigue party of dustmen sent upon secret service. Had there been nothing left as a memorial of the Romans but that one relic-their immeasurable toga,* -we should have known that they were born and bred to idleness. In fact, except in war the Roman never did any thing at all but sun himself. Ut se apricaret was the final cause of peace in his opinion; in literal truth, that he might make an apricot of himself. The public rations at all times supported the poorest inhabitant of Rome if he were a citizen. Hence it was that Hadrian was so astonished with the spectacle of Alexandria, " civitas opulenta, fæcunda, in quâ nemo vivat otiosus." Here first he saw the spectacle of a vast city, second only to Rome, where every man had something to do; " podagrosi quod agant habent; habent cæci quod faciant; ne chiragrici" (those with gout in the fingers) apud eos otiosi vivunt.”
**"Immeasurable toga." It is very true that in the time of Augustus the toga had disappeared amongst the lowest plebs, and greatly Augustus was shocked at that spectacle. It is a very curious fact in itself, especially as expounding the main cause of the civil wars. Mere poverty, and the absence of bribery from Rome, whilst all popular competition for offices drooped, can alone explain this remarkable revolution of dress.
No poor-rates levied upon the rest of the world for the benefit of their own paupers were there distributed gratis. The prodigious spectacle (so it seemed to Hadrian) was exhibited in Alexandria, of all men earning their bread in the sweat of their brow. In Rome only, (and at one time in some of the Grecian states,) it was the very meaning of citizen that he could vote and be idle.
In these circumstances, where the whole sum of life's duties amounted to voting, all the business a man could have was to attend the public assemblies, electioneering, or factious. These, and any judicial trial (public or private) that might happen to interest him for the persons concerned, or for the questions, amused him through the morning; that is, from eight till one. He might also extract some diversion from the columnæ, or pillars of certain porticoes to which they pasted advertisements. These affiches must have been numerous; for all the girls in Rome who lost a trinket, or a pet bird, or a lapdog, took this mode of angling in the great ocean of the public for the missing articles.
But all this time we take for granted that there were no shows in a course of exhibition, either the dreadful ones of the amphitheatre, or the bloodless ones of the circus. If there were, then that became the business of all Romans; and it was a business which would have occupied him from daylight until the light began to fail. Here we see another effect from the scarcity of artificial light amongst the ancients. These magnificent shows went on by daylight. But how in comparably greater would have been the splendour by lamp-light! What a gigantic conception! Eighty thousand human faces all revealed under one blaze of lamp-light! Lord Bacon saw the mighty advantage of candle light for the pomps and glories of this world. But the poverty of the earth was the ultimate cause that the Pagan shows proceeded by day. Not that the mas
ters of the world, who rained Arabian odours and perfumed waters of the most costly description from a thousand fountains, simply to cool the summer heats, would have regarded the expense of light; cedar and other odorous woods burning upon vast altars, together with every variety of fragrant torch, would have created light enough to shed a new day over the distant Adriatic.
However, as there are no public spectacles, we will suppose, and the courts or political meetings, (if not closed altogether by superstition,) would at any rate be closed in the ordinary course by twelve or one o'clock, nothing remains for him to do, before returning home, except perhaps to attend the palæstra, or some public recitation of a poem written by a friend, but in any case to attend the public baths. For these the time varied; and many people have thought it tyrannical in some of the Cæsars that they imposed restraints on the time open for the baths; some, for instance, would not suffer them to open at all before two, and in any case, if you were later than four or five in summer, you would have to pay a fine which most effectually cleaned out the baths of all raff, since it was a sum that John Quires could not have produced to save his life. But it should be considered that the Emperor was the steward of the public resources for maintaining the baths in fuel, oil, attendance, repairs. We are prepared to show on a fitting occasion, that every fourth person* amongst the citizens bathed daily, and non-citizens, of course, paid an extra sum. Now the population of Rome was far larger than has ever been hinted at except by Lipsius. But certain it is, that during the long peace of the first Cæsars, and after the annonaria provisio, (that great pledge of popularity to a Roman prince,) had been increased by the corn tribute from the Nile, the Roman population took an immense lurch ahead. The subsequent increase of baths, whilst no
*That boys in the Prætexta did not bathe in the public baths, is certain; and most unquestionably that is the meaning of the expression in Juvenal so much disputed—“ Nisi qui nondum are lavantur." By as he means the ahenum, a common name for the public bath, which was made of copper; in our navy," the coppers" is a name for the boilers. Nobody believes in such tales except children," is the meaning. This one exclusion cut off three-eighths of the Roman males,
old ones were neglected, proves that decisively. And as citizenship expanded by means of the easy terms on which it could be had, so did the bathers multiply. The population of Rome in the century after Augustus, was far greater than during that era; and this, still acting as a vortex to the rest of the world, may have been one great motive with Constantine for "transferring" the capital eastwards; in reality, for breaking up one monster capital into two of more manageable dimensions. Two o'clock was often the earliest hour at which the public baths were opened. But in Martial's time a man could go without blushing (salva fronte) at eleven, though even then two o'clock was the meridian hour for the great uproar of splashing, and swimming, and "larking" in the endless baths of endless Rome.
And now, at last, bathing finished, and the exercises of the palæstra, at half-past two, or three, our friend finds his way home-not again to leave it for that day. He is now a new man; refreshed, oiled with perfumes, his dust washed off by hot water, and ready for enjoyment. These were the things that determined the time for dinner. Had there been no other proof that cœna was the Roman dinner, this is an ample one. Now first the Roman was fit for dinner, in a condition of luxurious ease; business over that day's load of anxiety laid aside-his cuticle, as he delighted to talk, cleansed and polished-nothing more to do or to think of until the next morning he might now go and dine; and get drunk with a safe conscience. Besides, if he does not get dinner now, when will he get it? For most demonstrably he has taken nothing yet which comes near in value to that basin of soup which many of ourselves take at the Roman hour of bathing. No we have kept our man fasting as yet. It is to be hoped that something is coming at last.
It does come :- -Dinner, the great meal of "cœna;" the meal sacred to hospitality and genial pleasure, comes now to fill up the rest of the day, until light fails altogether.
Many people are of opinion that the Romans only understood what the capabilities of dinner were. It is certain that they were the first great people that discovered the true secret and meaning of dinner, the great office
NO. CCXC, VOL. XLVI,
which it fulfils, and which we in England are now so generally acting on. Barbarous nations, and none were, in that respect, more barbarous than our own ancestors, made this capital blunder: The brutes, if you asked them what was the use of dinner, what it was meant for, stared at you and replied, as a horse would reply if you put the same question about his provender, that it was to give him strength for finishing his work! Therefore, if you point your telescope back to antiquity about twelve or one o'clock in the daytime, you will descry our most worthy ancestors all eating for their very lives, eating as dogs eat; viz. in bodily fear that some other dog will come and take their dinner away. What swelling of the veins in the temples! (see Boswell's natural history of Dr Johnson at dinner ;) what intense and rapid deglutition! what odious clatter of knives and plates! what silence of the human voice! what gravity! what fury in the libidinous eyes with which they contemplate the dishes! Positively it was an indecent spectacle to see Dr Johnson at dinner. But, above all, what maniacal haste and hurry, as if the fiend were waiting with red-hot pincers to lay hold of the hindmost!
Oh, reader, do you recognise in this abominable picture your respected ancestors and ours? Excuse us for saying-" what monsters!" We have a right to call our own ancestors monsters; and, if so, we must have the same right over yours. For Dr Southey has shown plainly in the "Doctor," that every man having four grand parents in the second stage of ascent, (each of whom having four, therefore,) sixteen in the third, and so on, long before you get to the Conquest, every man and woman then living in England will be wanted to make up the sum of my separate ancestors; consequently, you must take your ancestors out of the very same fund, or (if you are too proud for that) you must go without ancestors. So that, your ancestors being clearly mine, I have a right in law to call the whole "kit" of them monsters. Quod erat demonstrandum. Really and upon our honour, it makes one, for the moment, ashamed of one's descent; one would wish to disinherit one's-self backwards, and (as Sheridan says in the Rivals) to "cut the connexion." Wordsworth has an admirable picture in Peter Bell of "a snug party 3 G
in a parlour," removed into limbus patrum for their offences in the flesh :"Cramming, as they on earth were cramm'd;
All sipping wine, all sipping tea;
All silent, and all d-d."
How well does that one word describe those venerable ancestral dinners"all silent!" Contrast this infernal silence of voice and fury of eye with the "risus amabilis," the festivity, the social kindness, the music, the wine, the "dulcis insania," of a Roman "cœna." We mentioned four tests for determining what meal is, and what is not, dinner: we may now add a fifth, viz. the spirit of festal joy and elegant enjoyment, of anxiety laid aside, and of honourable social pleasure put on like a marriage garment.
And what caused the difference between our ancestors and the Romans? Simply this-the error of interposing dinner in the middle of business, thus courting all the breezes of angry feeling that may happen to blow from the business yet to come, instead of finishing, absolutely closing, the account with this world's troubles before you sit down. That unhappy interpolation ruined all. Dinner was an ugly little parenthesis between two still uglier clauses of a tee-totally ugly sentence. Whereas with us, their enlightened posterity, to whom they have the honour to be ancestors, dinner is a great reaction. There lies our conception of the matter. It grew out of the very excess of the evil. When business was moderate, dinner was allowed to divide and bisect it. When it swelled into that vast strife and agony, as one may call it, that boils along the tortured streets of modern London or other capitals, men began to see the necessity of an adequate counterforce to push against this overwhelming torrent, and thus maintain the equilibrium. Were it not for the soft relief of a six o'clock dinner, the gentle manner succeeding to the boisterous hubbub of the day, the soft glowing lights, the wine, the intellectual conversation, life in London is now come to such a pass that in two years all nerves would sink before it. But for this periodic reaction, the modern business which draws so cruelly on the brain, and so little on the hands, would overthrow that
organ in all but those of coarse organization. Dinner it is, meaning by dinner the whole complexity of attendant circumstances, which saves the modern brain-working men from going mad.
This revolution as to dinner was the greatest in virtue and value ever accomplished. In fact, those are always the most operative revolutions which are brought about through social or domestic changes. A nation must be barbarous, neither could it have much intellectual business, which dined in the morning. They could not be at ease in the morning. So much must be granted: every day has its separate quantum, its dose (as the doctrinists of rent phrase it) of anxiety, that could not be digested so soon as noon. No man will say
it. He, therefore, who dined at noon, was willing to sit down squalid as he was, with his dress unchanged, his cares not washed off. And what follows from that? Why, that to him, to such a canine or cynical specimen of the genus homo, dinner existed only as a physical event, a mere animal relief, a mere carnal enjoyment. For what, we demand, did this fleshly creature differ from the carrion crow, or the kite, or the vulture, or the cormorant? A French judge in an action upon a wager, laid it down in law, that man only had abouche, all other animals had a gueule : only with regard to the horse, in consideration of his beauty, nobility, use, and in honour of the respect with which man regarded him, by the courtesy of Christendom, he might be allowed to have a bouche, and his reproach of brutality, if not taken away, might thus be hidden. But surely, of the rabid animal who is caught dining at noon-day, the homo ferus, who affronts the meridian sun like Thyestes and Atreus, by his inhuman meals, we are, by parity of reason, entitled to say, that he has a "maw," (so has Milton's Death,) but nothing resembling stomach. And to this vile man a philosopher would say—" Go away, sir, and come back to me two or three centuries hence, when you have learned to be a reasonable creature, and to make that physico-intellectual thing out of dinner which it was meant to be, and is capable of becoming." In Henry VII.'s time the court dined at eleven in the forenoon. But even that hour was considered so shockingly
late in the French court, that Louis XII. actually had his grey hairs brought down with sorrow to the grave, by changing his regular hour of halfpast nine for eleven, in gallantry to his young English bride.* He fell a vic. tim to late hours in the forenoon. In Cromwell's time they dined at one P.M. One century and a half had carried them on by two hours. Doubtless, old cooks and scullions wondered what the world would come to next. Our French neighbours were in the same predicament. But they far surpassed us in veneration for the meal. They actually dated from it. Dinner constituted the great era of the day. L'apres diner is almost the sole date which you find in Cardinal De Retz's memoirs of the Fronde. Dinner was their Hegira-dinner was their line in traversing the ocean ofday: they crossed the equator when they dined. Our English revolution came next; it made some little difference, we have heard people say, in Church and State; but its great effects were perceived in dinner. People now dined at two. So dined Addison for his last thirty years; so dined Pope, who was coeval with the revolution through his entire life. Precisely as the rebellion of 1745 arose, did people (but observe, very great people) advance to four P.M. Philosophers, who watch the "semina rerum," and the first symptoms of change, had perceived this alteration singing in the upper air like a coming storm some little time before. About the year 1740, Pope complains to a friend of Lady Suffolk's dining so late as four. Young people may bear those things, he observes; but as to himself, now turned of fifty, if such doings went on, if Lady Suffolk would adopt such strange hours, he must really absent himself from Marble Hill. Lady Suffolk had a right to please herself: he himself loved her. But if she would persist, all which remained for a decayed poet was respectfully to "cut his stick, and retire." Whether
Pope ever put up with four o'clock dinners again, we have vainly sought to fathom. Some things advance continuously, like a flood or a fire, which always make an end of A, eat and digest it, before they go on to B. Other things advance per saltum-they do not silently cancer their way onwards, but lie as still as a snake after they have made some notable conquest, then when unobserved they make themselves up "for mischief," and take a flying bound onwards. Thus advanced dinner, and by these fits got into the territory of evening. And ever as it made a motion onwards, it found the nation more civilized (else the change would not have been effected,) and raised them to a still higher civilisation. The next relay on that line of road, the next repeating frigate, is Cowper in his poem on Conversation. He speaks of four o'clock as still the elegant hour for dinner-the hour for the lautiores and the lepidi homines. Now this was written about 170, or a little earlier; perhaps, therefore, just one generation after Pope's Lady Suffolk. But then Cowper was living amongst the rural gentry, not in high life; yet, again, Cowper was nearly connected by blood with the eminent Whig house of Cowper, and acknowledged as a kinsman, About twenty-five years after this, we may take Oxford as a good exponent of the national advance. As a magnificent body of “foundations," endowed by kings, and resorted to by the flower of the national youth, Oxford is always ele. gant and even splendid in her habits. Yet on the other hand, as a grave seat of learning, and feeling the weight of her position in the commonwealth, she is slow to move; she is inert as she should be, having the functions of resistance assigned to her against the popular instinct of movement. Now, in Oxford, about 1804-5, there was a general move in the dinner hour. Those colleges who dined at three, of which there were still several, now dined at four: those who had
* "His young English bride :"-The case of an old man, or one reputed old, marrying a very girlish wife, is always too much for the gravity of history; and, rather than lose the joke, the historian prudently disguises the age, which after all, was little above fifty. And the very persons who insist on the late dinner as the proxi mate cause of death, elsewhere insinuate something else, not so decorously expressed. It is odd that this amiable prince, so memorable as having been a martyr to late dining at eleven A.M., was the same person who is so equally memorable for the noble answer about a King of France not remembering the wrongs of a Duke of Orleans,