Abbildungen der Seite

the way to the banqueting hall. During dinner the bands play some popular waltzes, marches, overtures, and quadrilles ; the repast is excellent, and served on an entire service of gold plate; the attendance is wonderful. The absence of bustle or confusion in so numerous a party is marvellous; to use a homely adage, there seems to be "a place for everything, and everything in its place." The soup, fish, entrees, &c., are handed round in a state of caloric that is quite surprising. The sideboards literally groan (as the newspapers term it), under the weight of home and foreign luxuries, game and trufHe pies, pasties, boars' heads, Russian tongues, caviare, sardines, <fec. The wine, of the highest order, is handed round plentifully during dinner, as the Court do not patronise the old English fashion of sitting long after dinner. At nine o'clock grace is said, and the Lord Steward then gives " The Queen." All stand up, except her Majesty, who gracefully bows her acknowledgments. "God save the Queen" is then played by the united bands; the official Toast-master again rises, and gives "His Royal Highness Prince Albert;" the company standing, and the bands playing the "Coburg March." In about twenty minutes her Majesty rises, and, supported by her august mother and the other ladies, proceeds to the drawing-room. The Prince again takes his seat, and in less than half an hour joins her Majesty. The manner in which the Ascot dinner is served reflects the greatest credit upon the different heads of the departments. Everything is conducted as well as if there were only a dozen people present; there is no hurry, (as often seen in private houses,) to remove the dishes before the proper time, no unnecessary delay, every dish is presented in due course; the wine and "cup-" bearers never flag, and the chief artist, is everywhere about the room, suggesting some of his excellent dishes, and paying all attention to the guests. Talk of dining with Louis the Eighteenth at the Tuileries, with Louis Philippe at the Palais Royale, with the present King of Holland, at the Hague, with the crowned heads at the Imperial Palace at Vienna, during the Congress—splendid as were these feasts,—for comfort and solid magnificence none come up to the royal dinners of old England.

From the Palace we proceed to the residence of the first magistrate of the City of London, the Mansion House, and the scene of his inauguration, Guildhall. The ninth of November dinner at the latter is a fine sight, and to those who get to the Lord Mayor's table, the fare is very good ; but the diner-out ought to confine himself to turtle-soup, fish, poultry, or joint. The entrees cannot be desirable, from the time that they are of necessity on the table. One custom we abominate—viz., the loving cup; and if some spirited Lord Mayor, and there are many men of metal and spirit among the Court of Aldermen, would allow the contents of the loving cup to be poured into the guests' glasses, he would deserve a public testimonial. What would a person say if a waiter at an inn placed on the table a glass out of which any one had drunk? Here you have a cup that hundreds have drank from. It is all very well in love ballads to talk of" sipping sweets," and leaving "kisses on the goblet: " but in true home private life the idea is not at all an agreeable one. The large and small dinners at the Mansion House deserve notice ; the former are a decided improvement upon the Gog and Magog feasts, and the latter are extremely agreeable. The Ministerial and Speaker's dinners vary according to the givers of them. They are generally good; perhaps the wine is not always what might be expected.

One of the best dinners on record was one given by the late truly popular and lamented Earl of Erroll, then Lord Steward, on the occasion of Her Majesty's birthday. It took place at Grillon's hotel; and the cooking, wine, and waiting were "without reproach." The entrees, as should always be the case, were few, but very good.

Without wishing to particularise any great dinners given during the London season, it may suffice to give a brief account of the average of the best mounted houses. You order your carriage, which lands you within five minutes of the appointed hour at your host's door, and after passing through the hall lined with servants in and out of livery, you are ushered into the presence-room. About ten minutes after, dinner is announced, and your hat is taken from you as you descend the stairs to enter the drawing-room. To enter the drawing-room without your hat is a solecism, except perhaps in what Theodore Hook used to term the wild uninhabited parts of London. A delicate soup and turtle are handed round, nothing on the tables except flowers andpreserved fruits in old Dresden baskets, a bill of fare placed next to every person, a turbot with lobster and Dutch sauces, carved by an able domestic, on the side-board, and a portion of red mullet with Cardinal sauce are offered to each guest; cucumber and the essential cruet-stands bringing up the rear. The "flying dishes," as the modern cooks call the oyster or marrow pates, follow the fish. The entrees are carried round, a supreme de volaille aux trufes, a sweetbread au jus, lamb cutlets, with asparagus, peas, a fricandeau a I'oseille; carefully avoid what are called flank dishes, which, if placed on the table, are usually cold, and are quite unnecessary; either venison, roast saddle of mutton, or stewed beef a la jardiniere, are then produced, the accessories being salad, beetroot, vegetables, French and English mustard. A Turkey poult, duckling, or green goose, commences the second course, peas and asparagus following in their course; plovers' eggs in aspic jelly, a mayonaise of fowl succeed; a macedoine of fruit, meranges a la crime, a inarasquino jelly, and a chocolate cream, form the sweets. Sardines, salad,

beetroot, celery, anchovy, and plain butter and cheese, for those who are gothic enough to eat it. Two ices, cherry-water, and pine-apple cream, with the fruit of the season, furnish the dessert. Two servants or more, according to the number of the party, must attend exclusively to the wine; sherry, Madeira, and champagne, must ever be flowing during dinner. Coffee, hot and strong, ought always to be served in the dining-room with liqueurs; if it be carried up stairs, it gets cold, and the chances are ten to one some awkward person upsets a portion of the aromatic beverage into the lap of a lady; besides, it is unfair to ask a butler and his myrmidons with the trays to steer through a crowded drawing-room, amidst chairs, ottomans, fauteuils, screens, and tables, with gentlemen lounging in every direction. From this large and boring dinner, let us turn to the perfection of all, a party of six, eight, or ten, at a bachelor's snuggery, A private note, instead of the formal printed card, has been sent out, naming eight, railway time, and at that hour to a minute the guests are seated, the host having led the way. Turtle from the Adelphi or Waterloo hotels, Liverpool, a Severn, or Wpod Mill salmon, caught in the morning, a vol au vent, Maintenon cutlets, poularde, duckling, green peas, jelly, and cream, from the main part of the dinner, while a leg of cold lamb, pate de Strasburg, a Spanish ham, dressed crab, or a lobster salad, are on the sideboard for those

« ZurückWeiter »