The Italian Cook and the English Maid
Excerpted from a letter of Elizabeth Barrett Browning in Florence to her sister Henrietta in England (between 1846 and 1859)
From beef-steak pies up to fricassees Alessandro is a master.
And from bread and butter puddings to boiled apple-dumplings,
An artist. Only — he doesn’t like Wilson to interfere.
She declares that he repeats so many times a day:
“I’ve been to Paris — I’ve been to London —
I have been to Germany — I must Know.”
Also he offends her by being of opinion that:
“London is by far the most immoral place in the world.”
(He was there for a month once.)
And when she talks of the domestic happiness enjoyed in England.
He shakes his head disputatiously, and bids her
“Not to take her ideas of English domestic life from the
Signor and Signora — who were quite exceptions —
He never saw anything like their way of
Living together certainly, though
“He had been to Paris, and been in London, and been in Germany —
No, the Signor was an angel, and there was the truth of it —
Yes the Signora was rather an angel too — she never spent
Two thousand scudi on her dress, as he had seen women do —
So the Signor might well be fond of the Signora —
But still for a Signor to be always sitting with his
Wife in that way, was most extraordinary and
“He had been to Paris, and been to London” and so on ‘da capo’-
So poor Wilson’s head goes round she declares, and she
Leaves the field of battle from absolute exhaustion.