Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

walk upon.

.

No dinner-giver in the United States, from Cape Cod to Cape Flattery, need henceforward plead ignorance in excuse for want of hospitality; he has here the whole mystery, from soup to Constantia. Mr. Colman adds, par parenthèse, that he “ never heard

any

discussion about the character of wines" (no host was ever yet known to praise his own claret) “excepting that I have been repeatedly asked what wine we usually drank in America.” Mr. Colman does not say what answer he made to this oftrepeated inquiry, but we presume it must have been “sherry-cobbler!"

From the solemnity of these dinner-pictures our traveller breaks off with an anecdote of the Queen, which, as we have never met with it before, or anything like it, we accordingly quote :

The other day when the Queen was embarking at Brighton (which she never did yet] the usual carpet was not laid upon the wharf [there being no wharf at Brighton]; and the mayor and aldermen (there being no such functionaries in the place] pulled off their scarlet robes of office and laid them down for the royal lady to

The caricaturists now have them drawn up in full array, with asses' ears.

Asses' ears are proverbially long ones, and so must those have been that listened to this story; but such of course were not Mr. Colman’s.

The next place of note at which we discover our agricultural friend, is Earl Fitzwilliam's. Here he was perfectly in clover, and our only wonder is that its effect upon him was not such as might have befallen one of his own cows.

I arrived about six, and after a short walk with my noble host, the dressingbell rung (rang], and I was shown at once to my chamber. This chamber is a large and superb room, called the blue room, because papered with elegant blue satin paper, and the bed and the windows hung with superb blue silk curtains. My portmanteau had already been carried there, and the straps untied for opening; a large coal fire was blazing ; candles were burning on the table ; and water and everything else necessary for ablution and comfort. There was, likewise, what is always to be found in an English house, a writing-table, letter-paper, note-paper, new pens, ink, sealing-wax, and wax taper; and a letter-box is kept in the house, and notice given to the guests always at what lour the post will leave. Precisely at seven o'clock, after being fully dressed, I met in the drawing-room the family for dinner.

A few minutes after seven, dinner was announced, and the ladies were assigned to the different gentlemen. I had the honour of a companion to wait upon at dinner, who proved a most intelligent and agreeable person, and though of high rank, without ostentation. The hall in which we dined was magnificent, and splendidly lighted ; the company [Mr. Colman included] extremely brilliant ; about twelve persons at table, and eleven men-servants, some in livery, and others in plain gentlemanly apparel, but all most neat and elegant.

After coffee we assembled for prayers in the chapel; the ladies into the gallery, the gentlemen on the lower floor, into some elevated side-pews. Thirty or forty servants were in their places when we went in. All kneel, and as soon as evening service is read by the chaplain, we return to the drawingroom, and tea is served. Soon after ten o'clock the candles are brought in, and quietly placed upon the sideboard.

At eleven the ladies retire, and the gentlemen soon follow suit. I rise, myself, soon after six, and sit in my dressinggown. At eight, the servant brings your clothes, and announces the time for breakfast. Immediately after breakfast, &c., &c.— [a routine which we need not repeat.]

From Lord Fitzwilliam's, Mr. Colman goes to a clergyman's in Nottinghamshire ; and here, in writing to a friend, he desires him to give the reins to his imagination, in order to conceive his (Mr. Colman's) happiness.

Imagine an elegant dining-room, the table covered with the richest plate, and this plate filled with the richest viands which the culinary art, and the vintage, and the fruit-garden can supply ; imagine a horse at your disposal, a ser

vant at your command to anticipate every want; imagine an elegant bed-chamber ; a bright coal fire ; fresh water in busins, in goblets, in tubs ; napkins without stint, as white as snow ; a double muttress, a French bed, sheets of the finest linen, a canopy of the richest silk, a table portfolio, writing apparatus and stationery, allumettes, a night-lamp, candles and silver candlesticks, beautiful paintings, and exquisite statuary

We are forced to take breath; we are afraid even to face the “large party of ladies and gentlemen" whom he encountered vext day, “as elegant in dress and manners as you can meet with ;” still more so to trust ourselves in a room where there are “ never less than four menservants ; many times eight or ten, and in one case I counted eleven, eight of whom were in elegant livery, trimmed with silver and with silver epaulettes," &c., &c. Well might Mr. Colman exclaim to his friend, “What do you

think is to become of me?"

What became of him shortly afterwards was this: he paid a visit to Lord Yarborough, and was invited to go out hunting ;“ the very idea of which,” he says,

6 electrified me, and my blood still boils at the thought;" so, instead of hunting, he reserved himself for a few more noble mansions. He is quickly installed at the Duke of Portland's, at Welbeck Abbey, and here he was

“In pleased amazement wholly lost.” I had supposed I had seen, several times before, the summit of luxurious and elegant living, but this I confess went beyond what I had ever met with... .I asked when I retired, “ What time do you breakfast?” The duke replied, [says he] “ Just what time you please, from nine to twelve." I always came down at nine precisely, and found the duchess at her breakfast. About half past nine the duke would come in, and the ladies, one by one, soon after! At breakfast the side table would have on it cold ham, cold chicken, cold pheasant or partridge, which you ask for, or to which, as is most common, you get up and help yourself. On the breakfast-table were several kinds of the best bread possible, butter always fresh, made that morning, as I have always found at all these houses; and if you asked for coffee or chocolate, it would be brought to you in a silver coffeepot, and you helped yourself; if for tea, you would have a silver urn to each guest, heated by alcohol, placed by you, a small teapot, and a small caddy of black and green tea, to make for yourself, or the servant for you.

Then comes a description of what the luncheon consists of, and then a dinner at Welbeck Abbey; which last contains some good advice: that it may not be missed we have italicised it.

I have already told you the course at dinner, but at many houses there is always a bill of faremin this case written-I had almost said engraved-on the most elegant embossed and coloured paper, always in French, and passed round to the guests. Three days in succession we had different kinds of excellent fish, taken from ponds directly in the neighbourhood of the house, on the duke's own grounds. After dinner, we had, every day, peaches, nectarines, grapes, and pine-apples in abundance. There were six of us at dinner daily, and eleven servants, most of them in livery, [we think we see Mr. Colman counting them.] The livery here consists of light yellow shorts and waistcoat, with white cotton or silk stockings, and pumps, a long blue coat trimmed with silver lace and buttons, and silver epaulets on each shoulder, and white cravats; [as fine as Winifred Jenkins's “goulden bags and jackets,” with the advantage of there being something “cumfittable for to eat;”] those out of livery were in full suits of black ; and (continues Mr. Colman, hurried away from his subject by the recollection doubtless of what once happened to himself], if you meet the female servants of the upper class, you must take care not to mistake them for the ladies of the house, as there is little to distinguish them in point of elegance of dress.

To this interesting letter is appended a postscript, which, as is often

the case with postscripts, contains some of the most valuable information. It is thus stated :

P.S. I forgot to say, if you leave your chamber twenty times a day after using your basin, you would find it clean, and the pilcher replenished on your return; and that you cannot take your clothes off, but they are taken away, brushed, folded, pressed, and placed in the bureau; and at the dressing hour before dinner, you find your candles lighted, your clothes laid out, your shoes cleaned, and every thing arranged for your use. I never saw more attention. I can liardly conceive of more perfect housekeeping, for you scarcely see or hear anybody unless you ring a bell, when a servant suddenly appears before you, as if from the wainscoting.

If Mr. Colman be at all musical, the least he can do in requital of such unheard-of hospitality will be to get by heart and constantly sing (whenever he is requested to be vocal) the favourite old song of " My Friend and Pitcher." No one, we are persuaded, could do more justice either to his friend or to that most useful of utensils.

Mr. Colman seems to be of opinion that you can never have too much of a good thing; and hence no doubt his iteration (which we refrain from qualifying as Falstaff did) respecting the soap and towels and hot water which meet him at every turn when he is out visiting; to the same cause, we suppose, we are indebted for a repetition of the Raleigh story at Cambridge, where he went to see Prince Albert take his doctor's degree, the Queen also being present. "Carpets of crimson cloth were laid through all the passages and yards where the foot of majesty was to tread; and in one spot, where, by some mischance, the carpeting was deficient, the students pulled off their gowns and spread them for her to step on.It is a pity that Mr. Colman does not allude to royalty oftener in the course of his work, for we get a fresh version of this anecdote almost every time the Queen is introduced. He has done enough, however, in this way to convince his fellow-townsmen that somebody always takes off his coat for the Queen to tread upon whenever she appears in public.

For a moment now we are indulged with a glimpse of Mr. Colman in private life, when he is housekeeping on his own account. to be rather put out ("ryled," perhaps, is the more correct expression) at not being surrounded by the attentive domestics who are in the habit, like brownies, of starting out of the wainscot. He is in lodgings in London, where he

says:

" I have succeeded in getting such lodgings as are comfortable, with the exception of a dirty servant girl, who tends upon me, a maid of all work.Owing to the ministration of this dirty Hebe, Mr. Colman has, for once, an opportunity of showing how people dine who are not on visiting terms with grandees. He takes refuge in “one of the principal eating-houses in Piccadilly, where the cooking is good,” and where, on "a plate of roast-beef” and various vegetable adjuncts, he fares sumptuously for a shilling. He was driven to this by the combined influence of dirt and melancholy. “I have tried having dinner in my own room, but it is unsocial and attended with many inconveniences; and it is no saving of expense. It is positively melancholy to be eating my dinner alone" (after having been used to such first-rate company); "and often, when it is half-finished, I drop my knife and fork in silent amazement, and try if I cannot think of something besides home" (and his friend the Duke of Portland), " and wish myself anywhere but in this Robinson Crusoe cabin.” This letter ends with a jeremiad on the expensiveness of servants' fees, Mr. Colman evidently wishing that the printed directions of "a nobleman of high

He appears

rank” (see ante) were in general circulation amongst the race of chambermaids, waiters, porters, and coachmen.

From this sad theme, which is abruptly broken off-probably by an invitation,-he jumps again into the houses of the nobility," there being no happiness for him out of that charmed circle. He feels like Romeo,

“ There is no world without Verona's walls

But purgatory, torture, death itself.” He therefore goes to Goodwood, and the visit proves “ delightful,” the “ service at dinner” being “always silver or gold throughout,” and at breakfast every cup and saucer

“ differed in its pattern from another ; that is, one cup and saucer was different from another cup and saucer. This was delightful enough, but if Mr. Colman had invited a friend to breakfast with him while at his dirty lodgings, he might have witnessed the phenomenon of the odd cups and saucers without going so far as GoodwoodBut then there would have been no “lunch” to describe, “consisting of hot meats, games, pies, bread, cheese, butter, wines, and porter;" neither could he have been taken “under the care of the duchess," and shown the conservatory, the orangery, the pheasantry, and the dairy; nor have had “two most respectable gentlemen farmers” to wait for him, nor “a servant to open gates;” neither could he have astonished the family of Mr. Gorham, dwelling in “an excellent and elegant farm-house,” “ where Mrs. Gorham and one gentleman told me they were much obliged to me for asking for a cup of tea instead of wine, as they had never tried it before, and considered it a great discovery, of which they should avail themselves hereafter.”

For the next few months Mr. Colman passes his time in the most elevated regions of polite society; surprising us, however, in one respect, by his refusal to go to court, though repeatedly urged to do so by at least half the nobility, and though Lord Bathurst offered to lend him his shoebuckles, bag wig, and other articles of costume. This is a mystery which we are unable to explain ; and we leave it unsolved, to go with Mr. Colman to an evening party.

The dresses of the ladies, at their evening parties, are most splendid, and almost wholly of silk of a superior description. The refreshments are of a very simple character. .... Tea and cofiee are seldom handed round. Sometimes you find it in the ante-room, where you disrobe, and the servants hand it to you before you are announced in the drawing-room. You are announced always by the servant at the foot of the staircase to the servant at the head, and by the servant at the head to the company. It is very rare that you are introduced to any person on any occasion, either dinner or evening, unless you go to stay, or the party is small; but it is not leemed improper that you enter into conversation with your neighbours. The hair [whose hair ?] is generally dressed entirely plain, without jewels or flowers, frequently à la Madonna, but often with ringlets in front. Elderly ladies wear their gowns very low in front; young ladies wear their gowns rather high in front, but very low behind, so as to show the bust to advantage.

These are peculiarities of costume which Mr. Colman seems to have studied with some attention ; we therefore venture upon no opinion of our own, though we confess the last corollary puzzles us. But, criticise them as we may, we are glad to see the following admission :

The dress of the ladies here, in general society, is altogether more elegant than with us . . .,, and I must add, that a longer acquaintance convinces me that they are better educated than the majority of the same class amongst ourselves.

We have mentioned, we think, elsewhere that Mr. Colman has oppor

tunities which do not fall in the way of people generally. He never hears any one swear or quarrel in London; but, to make up for these deficiencies, he sometimes sees a great deal more than anybody else. He is speaking of the general fondness for flowers in this country, and says :

“ So strong is this passion, that you see persons of all conditions sticking flowers in their buttonholes, or wearing them in their hats." We confess, to our sorrow, that, except by the chimney-sweeps on May-day, we have never seen nosegays worn in hats, though it is the fashion with persons of all conditions” to place them there. We would give something to see one in the Duke of Wellington's hat, or in the Bishop of Exeter's.

Were we to follow Mr. Colman through all his peregrinations in England only, we should fill the magazine, instead of the remaining page allotted to this notice of his volumes. We shall, however, quote one or two more characteristic passages before we close the work. Of dress, he says:

To go to a dinner here, without being in full dress, would be a sad mistake. I have long since found out that; and though, in staying at a nobleman's or gentleman's house, he will often say to you “You need not dress much," I have found the only safe way is to be perfectly well dressed, for so always you are sure to find your host and his company. I came near, in one case, making a mistake in this matter which would have been mortifying. I had supposed myself invited to dine only with two or three gentlemen in London, and thought at first I would go without much alteration, having an impression that my host was living in bachelors' quarters. My good fortune, however, saved me, and I went as well prepared as I could be. I found, on going, one of the most elegant houses in London, and a brilliant party of ladies and gentlemen of the highest rank. The gentleman was the son of the Archbishop of York, and there I met the Rev. Sydney Smith, whom the Pennsylvanians love so well. My rule, therefore, is invariably to put myself daily in the best condition, humble on my part as it must be, to meet any and everybody. I like the practice. You may dress yourself as you please in the morning, wear the coarsest clothes and the thickest shoes-a checkered shirt and a tarpaulin cap [with a bunch of flowers in it], but at dinner, which is seldom before seven o'clock, every one appears full-dressed, which is, upon the whole, as much a matter of comfort and satisfaction to the individual himself, as it is of proper respect to the company whom you meet.

We wind up with an account of the manner in which Mr. Colman lived at Tredegar, the seat of Sir Charles Morgan, who began his hospitalities by giving his guest

a list of his house servants in the order of their rank," an act of kindness by which Mr. Colman and the American public have largely profited. It was thus he passed his time :

We breakfasted at ten o'clock, and dined at seven; for those who took lunch it was always on table at two. I had the mornings to myself, until twelve or one o'clock, without interruption; the servant-woman came into my chamber at halfpast six to make my fire, and the valet soon after to bring my clothes and shoes.

We had eight men-servants at dinner constantly, seven of them in livery, with their heads fully powdered; and one in black, looking like a grave old clergyman, who was the butler, who handed the wine and put every dish on the table. At table no one helps himself to anything—I had almost said, even if it is directly before him—but a servant always interferes. Even the person sitting at your side, does not hand his own plate to be helped. Water cups are placed by your side, and oftentimes with perfumed water, to wash your hands and lips after dinner; and these are taken away, and others are put on with the dessert. You are never urged to eat, and seldom asked what you will have, excepting by the servant. In most cases, an elegantly written bill of fare, sometimes on embossed silk paper, is passed quietly round the table, and you whisper to the servant, and tell him what you will have. The vegetables are never put upon the plate by the person who helps, but are always passed round by the servants. Each guest is of

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »