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Henry Masterman Mist Diaries and Prisoners Pie Magazine

Diaries of Heny Masterman Mist and a copy of Prisoners’ Pie, the Ruhleben Camp magazine. Learn more.

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BC Archives MS-2570

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A Rhapsody on Gravy.

'Tis of Thee I would write: in Thy praise set I my poor pen to paper: 'tis to glorify Thine existence that I in mellow phrase would portray Thy quality, oh Great, oh Glorious Gravy!

Not to be confounded art Thou with Thy poor cosmopolitan half-brother, Sauce. Say, Thou Rich, Brown one! For, see! and mark well! What is Sauce? Nought, but an "olla podrida", a medley, a pinch of flour, a few flavourings, a wherewithal to tickle the jaded palate of the Fool; in short, the Epitome of Gastronomical Hypocrisy the Whited Sepulchre hiding the bleaching bones of Dyspepsia. Fie on thee. Sauce! I will have none of thee! Out on thee, and paddled thine own canoe.+

But come, Gentle Gravy! Thou, and Thou alone art the true Source -- yea, the Source of Good-Temper, the Source of Humour which is the Sauce giving Flavour of Life.

Gravy, Thou art a Democrat, serving alike Prince and Peasant, Peer and Proletarian; sprinkling Man-kind at large with Thy favours. The cravat of Dr. Johnson knew and loved Thee; old Time has not obliterated the Dew of Thy Presence from the waistcoat of simple Hodge, supping with slavering relish Thy generous juices from the broad-bladed knife. Oliver Wendell Holmes had surely called Thee "The Democrat of the Dinner Table"

Oh smiling Gravy! We saw Thee, what time our Sire, plunging the bi-pronged fork into the well-browned mutton-haunch, caused the same to shrill in luscious succulence: out from the crevices welled forth Thy kindly stream, spiriting like water from the school-boy's syringe, to lodge in nut-brown splashes upon the snowy front of Uncle Porkins; to find a resting place upon the matronly bosom of Aunt Martha; whereat the infant son of the house was [justly?] moved to mirth, and choked himself with the piece of bread he was at the moment in the act to swallow, and was carried forth with visage empurpled. And upon the morrow the laundress, the cleaner, and the family lawyer all found enployment. And there was much joy -- and wailing, and gnashing of teeth . . . .

It was left to Charles Dickens to give Thee Thy first slight meed of recognition. "Lives there a man with soul so dead" who can read unmoved the account of Mrs. Todgers -- that genial landlady -- and her woes? Who in his time has not voiced the plaint of her lodgers? Not enough Gravy! Not enough of a good thing! Not enough of Thee . . . of Thee, whom I, even as the Poor Man his Ewe Lamb, have carried in my bosom, reposing upon the soft napkin specially prepared for Thy reception . . . . rest Thee, good Gravy upon Thy bed of Irish damask, until the house parlourmaid shall claim Thy couch,

+More accurately, "boat".

BC Archives, MS-2570 Box 1 File 6 / MIST, Henry Masterman / Ruhleben magazine, Prisoners’ Pie, 1916.

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