March 20, 2018
I have had a pretty punch-bowl-sized number of Charles Dickens Cocktail Talk posts
. Which, if you mull it over for even a minute, makes a bunch of sense, as Dickens remains one of the top ten drinking writers, with his love of pubs, hot drinks, punches, and folks that hang around when and where those things are consumed. Dombey and Son
(I think his sixth book) isn’t as roundly known as some of the others, or as roundly made into TV movies (though I wish an amazing version would happen – c’mon BBC!), but is I think one of my favs. Maybe because I just recently re-read it after leaving my old copy somewhere along my travels and finally got a new one. Or maybe because Dickens’ take on pride, money, and gender is so compelling as he winds our emotions through a story of a company, a family, and some really funny seafaring fellas. It was (for reasons I won’t touch on here, in case you haven’t read it) one of his more shocking books for the audience of his time, too. If you’ve missed it, hopefully the brief notes just typed by me get you to pick it up. But if they don’t work, I’m going to try a couple sweet Cocktail Talk posts with some direct quotes sure to hook you – and maybe make you thirsty.
There was another thing that Paul observed. Mr Feeder, after imbibing several custard-cups of negus, began to enjoy himself. The dancing in general was ceremonious, and the music rather solemn – a little like church music in fact – but after the custard-cups, Mr Feeder told Mr Toots that he was going to throw a little spirit into the thing. After that, Mr Feeder not only began to dance as if he meant dancing and nothing else, but secretly to stimulate the music to perform wild tunes. Further, he became particular in his attentions to the ladies; and dancing with Miss Blimber, whispered to her – whispered to her!
— Charles Dickens, Dombey and Son
June 25, 2012
Barchester Towers (which has had a Cocktail Talk entry already) is of course the best known book by Anthony Trollope. Well, at least I believe it is. You can disagree if you’d like–I won’t hoot about it if you have a different favorite or think another of his remarkable novels has more reknown. If you don’t know who Anthony Trollope is, then, well, I don’t think you’re human. Heck, I’ve written a whole slew of Anthony Trollope posts, so you should at least know him through this here blog (and if you don’t, well, I’m not going to hoot, but I am going to wonder what it is, exactly, that’s wrong with you). But that’s as much as I’m gonna stew about it, cause instead I want to get to this little quote that I love so well, cause it is a quote from one of the greatest authors containing a shout out to another great author (if you don’t know who the second is after reading the below quote, then really, go back to watching bad TV). Many authors (like many people in general–outside of rap stars, who give shout outs to tons of contemporaries, often) are afraid of this type of behavior. Not my man Trollope, though. So, check this out, and think about how giving props to those who may, actually, be in the same game as you isn’t a bad thing.
The bishop did it, and a very pleasant day indeed he spent at Ullathorne. And when he got home, he had a glass of hot Negus in his wife’s sitting-room and read the last number of the Little Dorritt of the day with great inward satisfaction.
–Anthony Trollope, Barchester Towers
March 12, 2012
You know, I like to think I know my mid-1850 literature. And thereabouts. I mean, Dickens and I are tighter than Cher’s pants. And Trollope and I are close as two beers in a six-pack. But up until very recently when I came across it in a big pile of books at the Library Book Sale, I’d never heard of Mr.Sponge’s Sporting Tour, or its author R.S. Surtees. I’m going to guess he didn’t hang that much with the earlier authors, as he seems a bit more, um, sporting, in that English kind of way (think foxes and horses and billiards). The book follows the Pickwick Papers in a sort-of romping adventure style, tracking its main very sponge-y character as he hunts with the hounds and, well, sponges off of people. At first, you think, this Mr. Sponge is too spongey (hah! Can I really say that?), but then I, at least, just started wondering why I was slaving every 8 to 5:30 instead of just selling horses and abusing lame-o’s hospitality. Heck, I may end up doing that yet.
Spigot presently appeared with a massive silver salvar, bearing tumblers, sugar, lemon, nutmeg, and other implements of negus. ‘Will you join me in a little wine-and-water?’ asked Jawleyford, pointing to the apparatus and bottle ends,’ or will you have a fresh bottle?—plenty in the cellar,’ added he, with a flourish of his hand, through he kept looking steadily at the negus tray. ‘Oh–why–I’m afraid–I doubt–I think I should hardly be able to do justice to a bottle single-handed,’ replied Sponge. ‘Then have negus,’ said Jawleyford; ‘you’ll find it very refreshing; medical men recommend it after violent exercise in preference to wine.
–Cocktail Talk, R.S. Surtees, Mr. Sponge’s Sporting Tour
January 14, 2011
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