Goldsmith’s “Retaliation” left unfinished at his death, alludes to dining “en piquenique” with mentioning the word. Motivated for being slighted by his friends, Goldsmith decided to get even at the dinner table.
Attempting to get even with slights endured from erstwhile friends, Goldsmith invites them to a dinner party to which each brings a contribution that is also a characteristic of each personality. Without summarizing the entire poem, the menu is extensive and includes, Venison, Tongue Wild Fowl, Lamb, Capon, Anchovy, Sweetbread, Pudding, Salad, Gooseberry Fool
Goldsmith begins with a reference to Paul Scarron, the French satirist reputed to have dined in the picnic-style at his Parisian home in the 1740s. The presumption is that Scarron was hard up and could not otherwise entertain Perhaps it was true. So, Goldsmith begins,
Of old, when Scarron his companions invited,
Each guest brought his dish, and the feast was united;|
If our landlord supplies us with beef, and with fish,
Let each guest bring himself, and he brings the best dish
Our Dean shall be venison, just fresh from the plains;
Our Burke shall be tongue, with a garnish of brains;
Our Will shall be wild fowl, of excellent flavour,
Our Cumberland’s sweet-bread its place shall obtain,
And Douglas is pudding, substantial and plain:
Our Garrick’s a salad, for in him we see
Oil, vinegar, sugar, and saltness agree:
That Ridge is an anchovy, and Reynolds is lamb;
That Hickey’s a capon, and by the same rule,
Magnanimous Goldsmith, a gooseberry fool:
At a dinner so various, at such a repast,
Who’d not be a glutton, and stick to the last:
Here, waiter, more wine, let me sit while I’m able,
“Till all my companions sink under the table;
Then with chaos and blunders encircling my head,
Let me ponder, and tell what I think of the dead.
See Oliver Goldsmith, Retaliation; a poem (London: G. Kearsley, 1774); http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/etext02/cpwog10.txt. Also, Goldsmith’s The Vicar of Wakefield discussed elsewhere in PicnicWit.org.