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a web of many textures

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Regarding oysters, these delightful esculents enter so
largely into the comforts and happinesses of life, that a
word in their praise may not be amiss. No entertainment
is complete without oysters. Men bet oysters;
women dote upon oysters; children cry for oysters.
Before the softening influence of oysters, human austerity


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bends, and kindness irradiates features before dark
with clouds. Their odor is grateful to the nostrils as
the odor of virtue is to the inward sense; we inhale
the steamy and savory effluence from the kitchen as a
harbinger of pleasant tastes; fancy burns in anticipation
of fancy roasts, or indulges in stupendous imaginings
of stews, and poesy winds its shell — an oyster-shell
— in sounding the praise of oysters. Ruddy
Margaret, as she bears the tureen to the table, the epicurean
censer, steaming with holy incense to the deity
of appetite, becomes invested with new interest. She
looks, maugre her “Cork-red” cheeks, angelic amid the
misty vapors of an oyster-stew. We draw around the
board, happy in gustatory anticipations, never to be
disappointed, and uncover (the oyster-dish) in reverence
for the occasion, a meet grace before oysters. And
participation does not pall, like other pleasures; — we
ponder, and dream, and poetize, over our bowl, as the
ancients did over their bowl of wine, and are as loth
to leave it. But there is no poison in this bowl; no
fiend lurking therein to set the brain on fire; no brawls
waiting upon it, or frenzy, or headache. Wordsworth's
love of oysters was remarkable; and all who are familiar
with his writings will recall the following:

Thy history, my oyster, who may tell —
Thy antecedents, and thy hopes and loves?
In oozy mud thou mak'st thy humble bed,
Subject to rakes that dare its fold invade,
To drag thee from thy home, a sacrifice
Unto the predatory maw of man,
Long thirsting for the blood of all thy kind.
Delicious bivalve! how my heart expands
As I thy many beauties contemplate!
The cruel knife has rent thee from thy shell
— Ah! what shall pay such most inhuman rent? —
Not unresisting, and, as on the plate


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Thou liest, quivering, drowned in saline tears,
Thou seem'st a fitting subject for the muse.
The throb of pity tuggeth at my heart,
As thus I view thee hapless, hopeless, lie
A love beyond all words absorbs my soul.
Yes, thou art lovely, and for thee e'en now
May some lone oyster pine in lands afar,
Where Old Virginia hides its teeming beds
Beneath the Chesapeake's translucent tides!
'Tis thus I 'll hide thee, O my tender one,
And, plunging thee beneath this acid wave,
With pepper intermixed, and salt preädded,
I poise thee gently on my waiting fork,
Gaze for an instant on thy pleasing shape,
Then ope my mouth awaiting for the prize —
And then a gulp — a sigh — and all is done.