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The Works of Edgar Allan Poe Raven Edition Volume 5


page 1 of 8 | Table of Contents

Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe

_ Quand un bon vin meuble mon estomac, Je suis plus savant que Balzac - Plus sage que Pibrac ; Mon brass seul faisant l'attaque De la nation Coseaque, La mettroit au sac ; De Charon je passerois le lac, En dormant dans son bac ; J'irois au fier Eac, Sans que mon cœur fit tic ni tac, Présenter du tabac. French Vaudeville_

THAT Pierre Bon-Bon was a _restaurateur_ of uncommon qualifications, no man who, during the reign of ---, frequented the little Câfé in the cul-de-sac Le Febvre at Rouen, will, I imagine, feel himself at liberty to dispute. That Pierre Bon-Bon was, in an equal degree, skilled in the philosophy of that period is, I presume, still more especially undeniable. His _patés à la fois_ were beyond doubt immaculate; but what pen can do justice to his essays _sur la Nature_ - his thoughts sur _l'Ame_ - his observations _sur l'Esprit ?_ If his _omelettes_ - if his _fricandeaux_ were inestimable, what _littérateur_ of that day would not have given twice as much for an "_Idée de Bon-Bon_" as for all the trash of "_Idées_" of all the rest of the _savants ?_ Bon-Bon had ransacked libraries which no other man had ransacked - had more than any other would have entertained a notion of reading- had understood more than any other would have conceived the possibility of understanding; and although, while he flourished, there were not wanting some authors at Rouen to assert "that his _dicta_ evinced neither the purity of the Academy, nor the depth of the Lyceum" - although, mark me, his doctrines were by no means very generally comprehended, still it did not follow that they were difficult of comprehension. It was, I think, on account of their self-evidency that many persons were led to consider them abstruse. It is to Bon-Bon - but let this go no farther - it is to Bon-Bon that Kant himself is mainly indebted for his metaphysics. The former was indeed not a Platonist, nor strictly speaking an Aristotelian - nor did he, like the modern Leibnitz, waste those precious hours which might be employed in the invention of a _fricasée_ or, _facili gradu_, the analysis of a sensation, in frivolous attempts at reconciling the obstinate oils and waters of ethical discussion. Not at all. Bon-Bon was Ionic - Bon-Bon was equally Italic. He reasoned _à priori_ - He reasoned also _à posteriori_. His ideas were innate - or otherwise. He believed in George of Trebizonde - He believed in Bossarion [Bessarion]. Bon-Bon was emphatically a - Bon-Bonist.

I have spoken of the philosopher in his capacity of _restaurateur_. I would not, however, have any friend of mine imagine that, in fulfilling his hereditary duties in that line, our hero wanted a proper estimation of their dignity and importance. Far from it. It was impossible to say in which branch of his profession he took the greater pride. In his opinion the powers of the intellect held intimate connection with the capabilities of the stomach. I am not sure, indeed, that he greatly disagreed with the Chinese, who held that the soul lies in the abdomen. The Greeks at all events were right, he thought, who employed the same words for the mind and the diaphragm. {*1) By this I do not mean to insinuate a charge of gluttony, or indeed any other serious charge to the prejudice of the metaphysician. If Pierre Bon-Bon had his failings - and what great man has not a thousand? - if Pierre Bon-Bon, I say, had his failings, they were failings of very little importance - faults indeed which, in other tempers, have often been looked upon rather in the light of virtues. As regards one of these foibles, I should not even have mentioned it in this history but for the remarkable prominency - the extreme _alto relievo_ - in which it jutted out from the plane of his general disposition. He could never let slip an opportunity of making a bargain.