Monday, March 12, 2012

Nothing like a skullful of ocean brine!

Ah, spring is here! For those who wish to celebrate in a slightly more unusual way, take these tips from Theophile Gautier:

 "It is true that we did not possess Newstead Abbey, with its long, shadowy cloisters, its swans gliding about on the silvery waters in the light of the moon, nor the lovely young sinners,fair, dark, or red-haired, but we could certainly secure a skull, and Gerard de Nerval undertook to do so, his father, a retired army surgeon, having quite a fine anatomical collection.

 The skull itself was that of a drum-major, killed at the battle of the Moskowa, and not that of a girl who had died of consumption, so Gerard told us. He further informed us that he had mounted it as a cup by means of a drawer handle fastened by a nut and screw-bolt. The skull was filled with wine, and handed round, each man putting it to his lips with more or less well-concealed repugnance.

"Waiter," cried one of the neophytes, endowed with excessive zeal, "fetch us brine from the ocean!"

 "What for, my boy?" asked Jules Vabre.

"Is it not told of Han d'Islande [in Victor Hugo's gothic novel] that 'he drank the briny waters in the skulls of the dead '? Well, I mean to do as he did, and to drink his health. Nothing can be more Romanticist!" "

 Or more unsanitary.

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