Yes, time has flewn.
It’s August 16. The Season is underway.
In pre-industrial Britain, wild birds graced many a table. Seagulls, vultures, small songbirds, ducks and geese were all carved with “earnestness of purpose”.
Readers of the anonymously-written book, The Perfect Gentleman, or Etiquette and Eloquence, learned plenty of fowl verbs.
Carving as science. And manners. If you used the wrong term in relation to carving the bird, it was considered to be an unpardonable affront to etiquette.
You rear a goose, fract a chicken,
sauce a capon, unbrace a mallard,
dismember a heron,
disfigure a peacock, display a crane,
untach a curlew,
unjoin a bittern, allay a pheasant, wing a quail, and mince a plover.
The world was my oyster but I used the wrong fork.
Oscar Wilde was firmly committed to the pursuit of pleasures in posh circles, but unlike our anonymous writer, felt some things were too important to be taken seriously.
Wilde wrote a play, The Vital Importance of Being Earnest, A Trivial Comedy for Serious People. The comedy of manners was a wild success. As was the movie, hundreds of years later, starring the devotion-worthy Colin Firth.
I wonder if Wilde read The Perfect Gentleman. If he did, he probably skipped this chapter. His take on the English country gentleman and the hunt? The unspeakable in full pursuit of the uneatable.