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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

To Mrs. Paige, In Praise of an Inimitable Dish

By Daniel Webster (1782–1852)

[From The Private Correspondence of Daniel Webster. Edited by Fletcher Webster. 1856.]

DEAR MRS. PAIGE,—I sit down to write a letter, partly diplomatic and partly historical. The subject is Tripe,—T. R. I. P. E. Your husband remembers Mrs. Hayman, who was Mrs. Blake’s cook. Excelling others in all else, she excelled herself in a dish of tripe. I do not know that her general genius exceeded that of Monica McCarty; but in this production she was more exact, more artistical; she gave to the article, not only a certain goût, which gratified the most fastidious, but an expression also, an air of haut ton, as it lay presented on the table, that assured one that he saw before him something from the hand of a master.

Tradition, it is said, occasionally hands down the practical arts with more precision and fidelity than they can be transmitted by books, from generation to generation; and I have thought it likely that your Lydia may have caught the tact of preparing this inimitable dish. I entertain this opinion on two grounds: first, because I have been acquainted with very respectable efforts of hers, in that line; second, because she knows Mr. Paige’s admirable connoisseurship, and can determine, by her quick eye, when the dish comes down from the table, whether the contents have met his approbation.

For these reasons, and others, upon which it is not necessary for the undersigned to enlarge, he is desirous of obtaining Lydia’s receipt for a dish of tripe, for the dinner-table. Mrs. Hayman’s is before my eyes. Unscathed by the frying-pan, it was white as snow; it was disposed in squares, or in parallelograms, of the size of a small sheet of ladies’ note paper; it was tender as jelly; beside it stood the tureen of melted butter, a dish of mealy potatoes, and the vinegar cruet. Can this spectacle be exhibited in the Vine Cottage, on Louisiana Avenue, in the City of Washington?

Yours truly, always,

P. S. Tripe; the Etymon is the Greek word [Greek], to “turn, to wind,” from its involutions, not the same as “Tripod,” which means “having three feet;” nor the same as trip, which is from the Latin, “tripudiare,” to strike the feet upon the ground; sometimes to stumble sometimes to go nimbly; to “trip it on the light fantastic toe.”

WASHINGTON, 29 December, 1850.