Home  »  The World’s Wit and Humor  »  Mr. Woodhouse’s Idea of Supper

The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

Jane Austen (1775–1817)

Mr. Woodhouse’s Idea of Supper

From “Emma”

MR. WOODHOUSE was fond of society in his own way. He liked very much to have his friends come to see him, but his horror of late hours and large dinner parties made him unfit for any acquaintance but such as would visit him at his own terms. At little suppers given at his house his feelings were in sad warfare. He loved to have the cloth laid, because it had been the fashion of his youth, but his conviction of suppers being very unwholesome, made him rather sorry to see anything put on it; and while his hospitality would have welcomed his visitors to everything, his care for their health made him grieve that they would eat.

Such another small basin of thin gruel as his own was all that he could, with thorough self-approbation, recommend; though he might constrain himself, while the ladies were comfortably clearing the nicer things, to say:

“Mrs. Bates, let me propose your venturing on one of these eggs. An egg boiled very soft is not unwholesome. Leslie understands boiling an egg better than anybody. I would not recommend an egg boiled by anybody else, but you need not be afraid; they are very small, you see—one of our small eggs will not hurt you. Miss Bates, let Emma help you to a little bit of tart—a very little bit. Ours are all apple tarts. You need not be afraid of unwholesome preserves here. I do not advise the custard. Mrs. Goddard, what say you to half a glass of wine? A small half-glass, put into a tumbler of water? I do not think it could disagree with you.”