January 14, 2011

Cocktail Talk: The Eustace Diamonds

People who know me, know that I dig the Trollope (the Anthony Trollope, that is, and not some other author trying to ride the coattails of his last name—and not the trollops this time, though I don’t have anything against a hooker with a heart of gold). I have pretty much (I’m missing one) the complete Trollope collection of novels and sometimes think I could subside on a reading diet of Trollope, Dickens, and Mosley (and maybe a couple pocket books for balance). Especially fine, and worth reading and re-reading, are the Palliser novels, where he takes on a combination of politics and upper crust foibles in the age when everyone had a ladies maid, had tongues sharp as Wustofs, and wore really puffy outfits. The Eustace Diamonds is the third of six Palliser novels, and while not my fav of the bunch is pretty darn fine. Especially fine is this quote where the drink of choice is Negus, the party hit of the late middle 1800s.

‘My dear, Mr. ‘Oward’ he said, ‘this is a pleasure. This is a pleasure. This is a pleasure.’

‘What is it to be?’ asked Gager.

‘Well;–ay, what? Shall I say a little port wine Negus, with the nutmeg in it rather strong?’ This suggestion he made to a young lady from the bar, who had followed him into the room. The Negus was brought and paid for by Gager, who then requested that they might be left their undisturbed for five minutes.

That’s not the only quote, though, cause on the very same page is this gem:

‘Six penn’orth of brandy,–warm if you please, my dear,’ said the pseudo-Howard, as he strolled easily into an inner room, with which he seemed to be quite familiar. He seated himself in an old-fashioned wooden arm-chair, gazed up at the gas lamp, and stirred his liquor slowly.


–Anthony Trollope, The Eustace Diamonds

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