The Philosopher as a cook
To Sir Gilbert Elliot, Edinburgh
16th October 1769
. . . I have been settled here two Months, and am here Body & Soul without casting the least Thought of Regret to London, or even to Paris. I think it improbable that I shall ever in my Life cross the Tweed, except perhaps a jaunt to the North of England, for Health or Amusement. I live still, and must for a twelvemonth, in my old House in James’s Court, which is very cheerful, and even elegant, but too small to display my great Talent for Cookery, the Science to which I intend to addict the remaining Years of my Life: I have just now lying on the Table before me a recipe for making soupe a la reine, copy’d by my own hand. For Beef and Cabbage (a charming dish), and old Mutton and old Claret, no body excels me. I make also Sheep head Broth in a manner that Mr. Keith Speaks of it for eight days after, and the Duc de Niverois would bind himself Apprentice to me Lass to learn it. I have already sent a Challenge to David Moncrief. You will see, that in a twelvemonth he will take to writing of History, the Field I have deserted. For as to the giving of Dinners, he can Now have no farther Pretensions. I should have made a very bad use of my Adobe in Paris`, if I could not get better of a mere provincial like him. All my Friends encourage me in this Ambition; as thinking it will redound very much to my Honour.
I am delighted to see the daily and hourly Progress of Madness and Folly and Wickedness in England. The Consummation of these Qualities are the true ingredients for making a fine Narrative in History; especially if followed by some signal and ruinous Convulsion, as I hope will soon be the Case with that pernicious People. He must be a very bad cook indeed, that cannot make a palatable dish from the whole. You see in my Reflexions and Allusions I still mix my old and the new Profession together.
I am Dear Sir Gilbert.
Your most obedient humble servant.
Recourse to America
To Benjamin Franklin, Edinburgh
7th February 1772
I was very glad to hear of your safe Arrival in London, after being expos’d to as many Perils, as St Paul, by Land and by Water. Though to no Perils among false Brethren, For the good Wishes of your Brother Philosophers in this place attend you heartily and sincerely, together with much Regret that your business wou’d not allow you to pass more time among them.
Brother Lind expects to see you soon, before he takes his little Trip round the World. You have heard, no doubt, of that Project: The Circumstance of the Affair could not be more honourable for him, no could the Honour be conferd onone who deserve it more. I really believe with the French Author, of whom you have favoured me with an Extract, that the Circumstance of my being a Scotchman has been a considerable Objection to me; So factious is this Country! I expected, in entering on my literacy course, that all the Christians, all the Whigs, and all the Tories should be my Enemies; But it is hard that all the English, Irish and Welsh should also be against me. The Scotch, Likewise, cannot be much my Friends, as no man is a Prophet in his own Country. However, it is some Consolation that I can bear up my Head under all this Prejudice.
I fancy that I must have recourse to America for Justice. You told me I think,
ref: Letters from a Scottish Postbag – Eight centuries of Scottish Letters by the Scottish Saltire Society