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Title: Society As I Have Found It
Author: McAllister, Ward
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                      SOCIETY AS I HAVE FOUND IT.

             [Illustration: very truly yours, handwritten:

                           Ward Mc Allister]


                         _As I Have Found It_


                            WARD McALLISTER

                               NEW YORK
                      CASSELL PUBLISHING COMPANY
                   104 & 106 FOURTH AVENUE, NEW YORK



                          BY WARD McALLISTER.

                        _All rights reserved._

                      THE MERSHON COMPANY PRESS,
                             RAHWAY, N. J.

     “This book is intended to be miscellaneous, with a noble disdain of
     regularity.”--_Obiter Dicta._

     “How then does a man, be he good or bad, big or little, make his
     Memoirs interesting? To say that the one thing needful is
     individuality, is not quite enough. To have an individuality is no
     sort of distinction, but to be able to make it felt in writing is
     not only distinction, but under favorable circumstances,
     immortality.”--_The Same._


One who reads this book through will have as rough a mental journey as
his physical nature would undergo in riding over a corduroy road in an
old stage-coach. It makes no pretension to either scholarship or elegant

W. McA.




My Family--My Mother an Angel of Beauty and Charity--My Father’s
Nobleness of Character--Building Bonfires on Paradise Rocks and flying
Kites from Purgatory with Uncle Sam Ward--My Brother the Lawyer,       3


My New York Life--A Penurious Aunt who fed me on Turkey--My First Fancy
Ball--Spending One Thousand Dollars for a Costume--The Schermerhorns
give a ball in Great Jones Street--Sticking a Man’s Calf and Drawing
Blood--A Craze for Dancing--I Study Law--Blackstone has a Rival in
lovely Southern Maidens--I go to San Francisco in ’50--Fees Paid in Gold
Dust--Eggs at $2--My First Housekeeping--A faux pas at a
Reception,                                                            13


Introduction to London Sports--A Dog Fight in the Suburbs--Sporting
Ladies--The Drawing of the Badger--My Host gets Gloriously Drunk--Visit
to Her Majesty’s Kitchen--Dinner with the Chef of Windsor Castle--I
taste Montilla Sherry for the First Time--“A Shilling to pay for the
Times,”                                                               31


A Winter in Florence and Rome--Cheap Living and Good Cooking--Walnut-fed
Turkeys--The Grand Duke of Tuscany’s Ball--An American Girl who Elbowed
the King--What a Ball Supper should be--Ball to the Archduke of
Tuscany--“The Duke of Pennsylvania”--Following the Hounds on the
Campagna--The American Minister Snubs American Gentlemen,             41


Summer in Baden-Baden--The Late Emperor William no Judge of Wine--My
Irish Doctor--His Horror of Water--How an American Girl tried to
Captivate Him--The Louisiana Judge--I win the Toss and get the Mule--The
Judge “fixes” his Pony--The “Pike Ballet,”                            55


Winter in Pau--I hire a perfect Villa for $800 a year--Luxury at Small
Cost--I Learn how to give Dinners--Fraternizing with the Bordeaux Wine
Merchants--The Judge’s Wild Scheme--I get him up a Dinner--General
Bosquet--The Pau Hunt--The Frenchmen wear beautiful Pink Coats, but
their Horses wont Jump--Only the General took the Ditch,              65


My Return to New York--Dinner to a well-known Millionaire--Visit of Lord
Frederick Cavendish, Hon. E. Ashley, and G. W. des Voeux to the United
States--I Entertain them at my Southern Home--My Father’s Old Friends
resent my Manner of Entertaining--Her Majesty’s Consul
disgruntled--Cedar Wash-tubs and Hot Sheets for my English
Guests--Shooting Snipe over the Rice Lands--Scouring the Country for
Pretty Girls,                                                         77


A Southern Deer Park--A Don Quixote Steed--We Hunt for Deer and Bag a
Turkey--Getting a Dinner by Force--The French Chef and the Colored Cook
Contrasted--One is Inspired, the Other follows Tradition--Making a Sauce
of Herbs and Cream--Shooting Ducks across the Moon--A Dawfuskie
Pic-nic,                                                              89


I Leave the South--A Typical British Naval Officer--An Officer of the
Household Troops--Early Newport Life--A Country Dinner--The Way I got up
Pic-nics--Farmers throw their Houses Open to Us--A Bride receives us in
her Bridal Array--My Newport Farm--My Southdowns and my Turkeys--What an
English Lady said of our Little Island--Newport a place to take Social
Root in,                                                             107


Society’s Leaders--A Lady whose Dinners were Exquisite and whose Wines
were Perfect--Her “Blue Room Parties”--Two Colonial Beauties--The
Introduction of the Chef--The Prince of Wales in New York--The Ball in
his Honor at the Academy of Music--The Fall of the Dancing
Platform--Grotesque Figures cut by the Dancers--The Prince dances
Well--Admirable Supper Arrangements--A Light Tea and a Big Appetite--The
Prince at West Point--I get a Snub from General Scott,               123


A Handsome, Courtly Man--A Turkey Chase--A Visit to Livingston Manor--An
Ideal Life--On Horseback from Staatsburg to New York--Village Inn
Dinners--I entertain a Fashionable Party at the Gibbons Mansion--An Old
House Rejuvenated--The Success of the Party--Country Life may be enjoyed
here as well as in England if one has the Money and the Inclination for
it--It means Hard Work for the Host, though,                         139


John Van Buren’s Dinner--I spend the Entire Day in getting my
Dress-coat--Lord Harrington criticises American Expressions--Contrast in
our way of Living in 1862 and 1890--In Social Union is Social
Strength--We band together for our Common Good--The organization of the
“Cotillion Dinners”--the “Smart” Set, and the “Solid” Set--A Defense of
Fashion,                                                             155


Cost of Cotillion Dinners--My delicate Position--The Début of a
Beautiful Blonde--Lord Roseberry’s mot--We have better Madeira than
England--I am dubbed “The Autocrat of Drawing-rooms”--A Grand Domino
Ball--Cruel Tricks of a fair Mask--An English Lady’s Maid takes a
Bath--The first Cotillion Dinners given at Newport--Out-of-Door
Feasting--Dancing in the Barn,                                       165


The first private Balls at Delmonico’s--A Nightingale who drove
Four-in-hand--Private Theatricals in a Stable--A Yachting Excursion
without wind and a Clam-bake under difficulties--A Poet describes the
Fiasco--Plates for foot-stools and parboiled Champagne for the
thirsty--The Silver, Gold, and Diamond Dinners--Giving Presents to
guests,                                                              181


The Four-in-hand Craze--Postilions and Outriders follow--A
Trotting-horse Courtship--Cost of Newport Picnics Then and Now--Driving
off a Bridge--An Accident that might have been Serious--A Dance at a
Tea-house--The Coachmen make a Raid on the Champagne--They are all
Intoxicated and Confusion reigns--A Dangerous Drive Home,            191


Grand Banquet to a Bride elect--She sat in a bank of Roses with
Fountains playing around her--An Anecdote of Almack’s--The way the Duke
of Wellington introduced my Father and Dominick Lynch to the Swells--I
determine to have an American Almack’s--The way the “Patriarchs’” was
founded--The One-man Power Abolished--Success of the Organization,   207


A Lady who has led Society for many years--A Grand Dame indeed--The
Patriarchs a great social Feature--Organizing the F. C. D. C.--Their
Rise and Fall--The Mother Goose Ball--My Encounters with socially
ambitious Workers--I try to Please all--The Famous “Swan Dinner”--It
cost $10,000--A Lake on the Dinner-table--The Swans have a mortal
Combat,                                                              221


How to introduce a young Girl into Society--I make the Daughter of a
Relative a reigning Belle--First Offers of Marriage generally the
Best--Wives should flirt with their Husbands--How to be
fashionable--“Nobs” and “Swells”--The Prince of Wales’s Aphorism--The
value of a pleasant Manner--How a Gentleman should dress--I might have
made a Fortune--Commodore Vanderbilt gives me a straight “Tip,”      239


Success in Entertaining--The Art of Dinner-giving--Selection of
Guests--A happy Mixture of Young Women and Dowagers--The latter more
appreciative of the Good Things--Interviewing the Chef--“Uncle Sam”
Ward’s Plan--Mock Turtle Soup a Delusion and a Snare--The Two Styles of
cooking Terrapin--Grasshopper-fed Turkeys--Sourbet should not be
flavored with Rum--Nesselrode the best of all the Ices,              255


Madeira the King of Wines--It took its Name from the Ship it came
in--Daniel Webster and “Butler 16”--How Philadelphians “fine” their
Wines--A Southern Wine Party--An Expert’s shrewd Guess--The Newton
Gordons--Prejudice against Malmsey--Madeira should be kept in the
Garret--Some famous Brands,                                          267


Brût Champagne--Another Revolution in treatment of this Wine--It must be
Old to be Good--’74 Champagne worth $8 a bottle in Paris--How to frappé
Champagne--The best Clarets--Even your Vin Ordinaire should be
Decanted--Sherries--Spaniards drink them from the Wood--I prefer this
way--The “famous Forsyth Sherry”--A Wine-cellar not a Necessity,     279


Assigning Guests at Dinner--The Boston fashion dying out--The approved
Manner--Going in to Dinner--Time to be spent at table--Table
Decoration--Too many Flowers in bad taste--Simplicity the best
style--Queen Victoria’s table--Her Dinner served at 8.15, but she eats
her best meal at 2 P.M.--Being late at Dinner a breach of good
Manners--A Dinner acceptance a sacred Obligation--A Visite de
digestion,                                                           291


Some practical Questions answered--Difference between Men and Women
Cooks--Swedish Women the cleanest and most economical--My Bills with a
Chef--My Bills with a Woman Cook--Hints on Marketing--I have done my own
Buying for forty years--Mme. Rothschild personally supervises her famous
Dinners--Menu of an old-fashioned Southern Dinner--Success of an
Impromptu Banquet,                                                   305


The “Banner Ball”--How to prepare a Ball-room Floor--A curious Costume
and a sharp Answer--The Turkish Ball--Indisposition of ladies to dance
at a Public Ball--The Yorktown Centennial Ball--Committees are
Ungrateful--My Experience in this Matter--I discover Mr. Blaine and
introduce Myself,                                                    323


A Famous Newport Ball--Exquisite effect produced by blocks of Ice and
Electric Lights--The Japanese room--Corners for “Flirtation couples”--A
superb Supper--Secretary Frelinghuysen in the Barber-shop--I meet
Attorney-General Brewster--A Remarkable Man--I entertain him at
Newport--A young Admirer gives him a Banquet in New York--Transformation
of the Banquet-hall into a Ball-room,                                335


New Era in New York Society--Extravagance of Living--Grand Fancy Dress
Ball in Fifth Avenue--I go as the Lover of Margaret de Valois--A great
Journalist at Newport--A British Officer rides into a Club House--The
great Journalist’s masked Ball--A mysterious Blue Domino--Breakfast at
Southwick’s Grove to the Duke of Beaufort--Picnic given President
Arthur--His hearty Enjoyment of it--Governor Morgan misjudges my “Open
Air Lunches”--The Pleasure of Country Frolics,                       349


I visit Washington as the guest of Attorney-General Brewster--A Dinner
at the White House--Amusing arrangement of Guests--The Winthrop
Statue--The memorable Winters of 1884-85--A Millionaire’s
House-warming--A London Ball in New York--A Modern Amy
Robsart--Transforming Delmonico’s entire place into a Ball-room--The New
Year’s Ball at the Metropolitan Opera House--Last Words,             367




     _My Family--My Mother an Angel of Beauty and Charity--My Father’s
     Nobleness of Character--Building Bonfires on Paradise Rocks and
     Flying Kites from Purgatory with Uncle Sam Ward--My Brother the
     Soldier--My Brother the Lawyer._

In 1820 my mother, a beautiful girl of eighteen years, was introduced
into New York society by her sister, Mrs. Samuel Ward, the wife of
Samuel Ward, the banker, of the firm of Prime, Ward & King. She was a
great belle in the days when Robert and Richard Ray and Prescott Hall
were of the _jeunesse dorée_ of this city. In my opinion, she was the
most beautiful, Murillo-like woman I have ever seen, and she was as good
as she was beautiful;--an angel in works of charity and sympathy for
her race. Charlotte Corday’s picture in the Louvre is a picture of my
mother. The likeness arose from the fact that her family were descended
on the maternal side from the Corday family of France. This also
accounts for all my family being, from time immemorial, good Democrats.
No one was too humble to be received and cared for and sympathized with
by my mother. Her pastime was by the bedside of hospital patients, and
in the schoolroom of her children. She followed the precepts of her
mother’s great-grandfather, the Rev. Gabriel Marion (grandfather of Gen.
Francis Marion) as expressed in his will to the following effect: “As to
the poor, I have always treated them as my brethren. My dear family
will, I know, follow my example.” It also contained this item: “I give
her, my wife, my new carriage and horses, that she may visit her friends
in comfort.” This ancestor came from Rochelle in a large ship chartered
for the Carolinas by several wealthy Huguenot families. The Hugers and
Trapiers and others came over in the same ship. He did not leave France
empty-handed, for on his arrival in Carolina he bought a plantation on
Goose Creek, near Charleston, where he was buried.

While a belle in this city her admirers were legion, until a young
Georgian, in the person of my father, stepped in, and secured the prize
and took her off to Savannah. He was fresh from Princeton College, cut
short in his college career by a large fire in Savannah (his native
city), which burnt it down, destroying my grandfather’s city property.
The old gentleman, when the fire occurred, refused to leave his
residence (now the Pulaski Hotel), and was taken forcibly from the
burning building in his chair. He then owned the valuable business
portion of the city, and at once went to work to rebuild. His relatives
would not assist him, and so he sent for his only son, then at college,
and got him to indorse all his notes, and in this way secured from the
banks the money he wanted for building purposes. He undertook too much,
and my father bore for one-third of his life a burden of debt then
incurred. Nothing daunted, he went to work at the bar and commenced life
with his beautiful, young Northern wife.

At that time, there was a great prejudice against Northern people. My
father’s mother never forgave my mother for being a Northern woman, and
when she died, though she knew her son was weighed down with his
father’s debts, insisted on his freeing all the negroes she owned and
left him by will, enjoining him to do this as her last dying request. It
is needless to say that he did it, and not only this, but became the
guardian of those people and helped and cared for them so long as he
lived. Being repeatedly Mayor of the City of Savannah, he was able to
protect them, and so devoted were the whole colored population to him,
that one Andrew Marshall, the clergyman of the largest colored church
in the city of Savannah, offered up prayers for him on every Sunday, as
is done in our Episcopal church for the President of the United States.
Blest with five sons and one daughter, struggling to maintain them by
his practice at the bar, this best of fathers sent his family North
every summer, with one or two exceptions, to Newport, R. I., which at
that time was really a Southern colony.

It was the fashion then at Newport to lease for the summer a farmer’s
house on the Island, and not live in the town. Well do I remember, with
my Uncle Sam Ward and Dr. Francis, of New York, and my father, building
bonfires on Paradise Rocks on the Fourth of July and flying kites from
Purgatory. The first relief to this hard-worked man was sending his
oldest son to West Point, where, I will here add, he did the family
great credit by becoming, being, and dying a noble soldier and
Christian. Fighting in both armies, one may say, though I believe he was
in active service only in the Mexican War, having graduated second in
his class at West Point and entered the Ordnance Corps; so in place of
fighting, he was making arms, casting cannon, etc. His pride lay in the
fact that he was a soldier. His last request was that the Secretary of
War should grant permission for his remains to be buried at West Point,
which request was granted. My second brother, Hall, grew up with the
poet Milton always under his arm. He was a great student. At the little
village of Springfield, Georgia, where my family had a country house,
and where we occasionally passed the summer in the piney woods, I
remember as a boy of fifteen years of age, reading the Declaration of
Independence on the Fourth of July from the pulpit of the village church
to the descendants of the old Salzburghers, who came over soon after
Oglethorpe, and it was before an audience of these piney woods farmers,
that, with this brother, at a meeting of our Debating Society in this
village, I discussed the question, “Which is the stronger passion, Love
or Ambition,” he advocating Ambition, I Love. I well remember going for
him, as follows: “If his motto be that of Hercules the Invincible, I
assume for mine that of his opponent, Venus the Victorious. With my
sling and stone I will enter this unequal combat and thus hope to slay
the great Goliath.” The twelve good and true men who heard the
discussion decided in my favor. To the end of his days this brother of
mine was guided and governed by this self-same ambition; it made him
what he became, a great lawyer, the lawyer of the Pacific coast; his
boast to me being that he had saved seventeen lives, never having lost a
murder case. I let ambition go, and through life and to the present
moment swear by my goddess Venus. This brother, after entering the
Georgia bar, started for a trip around the world. On reaching San
Francisco he heard of the discovery of gold, and Commodore Jones, then
in command of our Pacific Squadron, urged him to prosecute some sailors
who had thrown an officer overboard and deserted, and it was this which
caused him to settle down there to the practice of law.



     _My New York Life--A Penurious Aunt who Fed me on Turkey--My First
     Fancy Ball--Spending One Thousand Dollars for a Costume--The
     Schermerhorns give a Ball in Great Jones Street--Sticking a Man’s
     Calf and Drawing Blood--A Craze for Dancing--I Study
     Law--Blackstone has a Rival in Lovely Southern Maidens--I go to San
     Francisco in ’50--Fees Paid in Gold Dust--Eggs at $2--My First
     Housekeeping--A faux pas at a Reception._

I myself soon left Savannah for New York after Hall’s departure,
residing there in Tenth Street with an old maiden lady, my relative and
godmother, whom I always felt would endow me with all her worldly goods,
but who, I regret to say, preferred the Presbyterian church and the
Georgia Historical Society to myself, for between them she divided a
million. At that time Tenth Street was a fashionable street; our house
was a comfortable, ordinary one, but my ancient relative considered it a
palace, so that all her visitors were taken from garret to cellar to
view it. Occupying the front room in the third story, as I would hear
these visitors making for my room, I often had to scramble into the
bath-room or under the bed, to hide myself. Having a large fortune, my
relative, whom I called Aunt (but who was really only my father’s
cousin), was saving to meanness; her plantations in the South furnished
our table; turkeys came on in barrels. “It was turkey hot and turkey
cold, turkey tender, and turkey tough, until at grace one would exclaim,
‘I thank ye, Lord, we’ve had enough.’” As the supposed heir of my saving
godmother, the portals of New York society were easily open to me, and I
well remember my first fancy ball, given by Mrs. John C. Stevens in her
residence in College Place. A company of soldiers were called in to
drill on the waxed floors to perfect them for dancing. A legacy of a
thousand dollars paid me by the New York Life Insurance and Trust
Company I expended in a fancy dress, which I flattered myself was the
handsomest and richest at the ball. I danced the cotillion with a nun, a
strange costume for her to appear in, as “I wont be a nun” was engraved
on every expression of her face. She was at that day one of the
brightest and most charming young women in this city, and had a power of
fascination rarely equaled.

The next great social event that I recall was the great fancy ball given
by the Schermerhorns in their house on the corner of Great Jones Street
and Lafayette Place. All the guests were asked to appear in the costume
of the period of Louis XV. The house itself was furnished and decorated
in that style for this occasion. No pains or expense were spared. It was
intended to be the greatest _affaire de luxe_ New Yorkers had ever seen.
The men, as well as the women, vied with each other in getting up as
handsome costumes as were ever worn at that luxurious Court. The lace
and diamonds on the women astonished society. All the servants of the
house wore costumes, correct copies of those worn at that period. The
men in tights and silk stockings, for the first time in their lives,
became jealous of each other’s calves, and in one instance, a friend of
mine, on gazing at the superb development in this line of a guest,
doubted nature’s having bestowed such generous gifts on him; so, to
satisfy himself, he pricked his neighbor’s calf with his sword, actually
drawing blood, but the possessor of the fine limbs never winced; later
on he expressed forcibly his opinion of the assault. By not wincing the
impression that he had aided nature was confirmed.

These two balls were the greatest social events that had ever occurred
in this city. Even then subscription balls were the fashion. One of the
most brilliant was given at Delmonico’s on the corner of Beaver and
William streets (the old building in which the ball was given is now
being torn down). Saracco’s dancing-rooms were then much resorted to.
They became the rage, and every one was seized with a desire to perfect
himself in dancing.

Disgusted with book-keeping, I resolved to study law, and knowing that I
could not do much studying whilst flirting and going to balls and
dinners, I went South to my native city, took up the second volume of
Blackstone, committed it to memory, passed an examination, and was
admitted to the bar by one of our ex-ministers to Austria, then a judge.

Blackstone did not wholly absorb all my time that winter. I exercised my
memory in the morning and indulged my imagination of an afternoon,
breathing soft words to lovely Southern maidens, in the piney groves
which surround that charming city. From time immemorial they had always
given these on Valentine’s Eve a Valentine party. I was tempted to go to
the one given that year. And as I entered the house a basketful of
sealed envelopes was handed me, one of which I took; on breaking the
seal, I found on the card the name of a brilliant, charming young woman,
whom I then had a right to claim as my partner for the evening, but to
whom I must bend the knee, and express interest and devotion to her in a
species of poetical rhapsody. As all the young men were to go through
the same ordeal, it was less embarrassing. From the time of entering the
ball-room until the late hour at which supper was served, the guests in
the crowded rooms were laughing over the sight of each young man
dropping on one knee before his partner and presenting her with a
bouquet of flowers, and in low and tender words pouring out his soul in
poetry. When it came my turn, I secured a cushion and down I went, the
young woman laughing immoderately; but I, not in the least perturbed,
grasping my bouquet of flowers with one hand and placing my other hand
over my heart, looking into the depths of her lovely eyes, addressed to
her these words:

    “These flowers, dear lady, unto thee I bring,
       With hopes as timid as the dawning spring,
     Which oft repelled by many a chilling blast
       Still trusts its offerings may succeed at last.

     Receive thou, emblem of the rosy spring,
       Charmer of life, of every earthly thing,
     These flowers, which lovely as the tints of morn
       Yet ne’er can hope thy beauty to adorn.

     Oh, may they plead for one who never knew
       Perfection’s image till he met with you;
     Oh, may their fragrance to thy heart convey
       How much he would, but does not dare to say.”

In the mean time, while I was dancing and reciting poetry to beautiful
women, my generous brother was rapidly making money at the bar in San
Francisco, and urging my father and me to leave Georgia and go to him,
writing that he was making more money in two months’ practice than my
father received in a year. This to my conservative parent seemed
incredible; he shook his head, saying to me, “It is hard for an old tree
to take root in a new soil.” His friends of the Savannah bar ridiculed
his entertaining the notion of leaving Georgia, where his father had
been a Judge of the Superior Court of that State; he himself had been
United States District Attorney, for years had presided over the Georgia
Senate, had been nominated for Governor of the State, and for a lifetime
had been at the head of the Georgia bar. Always a Union man, opposing
Nullification, he was beloved by the people of his State, and his law
practice was then most lucrative. The idea of his pulling up stakes and
going to the outposts of civilization seemed absurd. He would not
entertain the thought; he laughed at my brother’s Arabian Nights stories
of his law firm in San Francisco making money at the rate of $100,000 a
year. But just here, my father’s purpose was suddenly shaken, by my
brother’s remitting to me a large amount of money in gold dust, and he,
my father, being then paid five thousand dollars by the Bank of the
State of Georgia for an argument made for them before the United States
Supreme Court at Washington. My gold dust was tangible evidence of my
brother’s success, and as continual dropping wears away a stone, so by
continual pleading I at last persuaded him to take me to California.
Mournfully he sold our old homestead and sadly closed up his Savannah
law office, and with me, on the 13th of May, 1850, left for San
Francisco, where in two years he made a comfortable fortune, retired
from practice and went to Europe. My brother Hall’s motto was, “Ten
millions or nothing.” He made himself, to my certain knowledge, two
comfortable fortunes. Grand speculations to double my father’s fortune
very soon made inroads in it, and the dear old gentleman to save a
remnant returned to this country. As he expressed himself to me,
“California must have a Circuit Judge of the United States. I will get
our Democratic Congress to pass a bill to this effect, and will myself
return to California as its United States Circuit Judge. I do not care
to return to the practice of law when I reach San Francisco, where, I
expect to find that, like the ‘fruit of the Dead Sea,’ my little
competency will turn into ashes at the touch. Being on the Bench, I
shall at least have a support”; all of which he carried out to the
letter, and he died devoted to the people of the State of California.

Imagine me then, a well-fed man, with always an appreciative appetite,
learning, on my arrival in San Francisco, that eggs, without which I
could not breakfast, cost $2 apiece, a fowl $8, a turkey $16. One week’s
mess bill for my breakfast and dinner alone was $225, and one visit to
my doctor cost me $50. Gloom settled upon me, until my noble parent
requested me to bring back to the office our first retainer (for I was
then a member of my father and brother’s law firm). It was $4000 in gold
ounces. I put it in a bag and lugged it to the office, and as I laid
them ounce by ounce on my father’s desk, he danced a pirouette, for he
was as jolly an old fellow as ever lived. I went to work at once in
earnest; it struck me that in that country it was “root, pig, or die.”

My first purchase was a desk, which combined the qualities of bed and
desk. How well I remember the rats playing hide-and-seek over me at
night, and over the large barrel of English Brown Stout that I invested
in and placed in the entry to console myself with. After six months’
hard work, I began to ease up, and feel rich. I built a small house for
myself, the front entry 4 × 4, the back entry the same, one dining-room
12 × 14, and one bedroom, same dimensions. My furniture, just from
Paris, was acajou and white and blue horsehair. My bed-quilt cost me
$250; it was a lovely Chinese floss silk shawl. An Indian chief, calling
to see me, found me in bed, and was so delighted with the blankets that
he seized hold of them and exclaimed, “_Quanto pesos?_” (How much did
they cost?)

My first row as a householder was with my neighbor, a Texan. I found my
yard fence, if put up, would close up the windows and front door of his
house. We had an interview. He, with strong adjectives, assured me that
he would blow out my brains if I put up that fence. I asked him in
reply, where he kept his private burying ground. All men then went armed
day and night. For two years I slept with a revolver under my pillow.
With a strong force of men the next day, I put up the fence, and the
Texan moved out and sold his lot. As our firm was then making $100,000 a
year, our senior partner, my father, asked me to entertain, for the
firm, our distinguished European clients, as he himself had not the time
to do so. His injunction to me was, “Be sure, my boy, that you always
invite nice people.” I had heard that my dear old father had on more
than one occasion gotten off a witticism on me as follows: Being told
how well his son kept house, he replied, “Yes, he keeps everything but
the Ten Commandments,” so I assured him if he would honor me with his
presence I would have to meet him every respectable woman in the city,
and I kept my word. Before we reached the turkey, my guests had so
thoroughly dined that when it appeared, the handsomest woman in the room
heaved a deep sigh and exclaimed, “Oh, that I might have some of it for
lunch to-morrow!” Such dinners as I then gave, I have never seen
surpassed anywhere. It is needless to say that my father was intensely
gratified. We had, tempted by exaggerated accounts of the gold fields,
French cooks who received $6000 a year as salary. The turkey, costly as
it was at $16, always came on table with its feathered tail intact, and
as eggs were so expensive, _omelette soufflée_ was always the dish at
dessert. Two years was the length of my stay in San Francisco.

On reaching New York in 1852, from California, I found great objection
made to my return there as a married man, and gracefully yielded to
circumstances. Though loath to give up my profession of the law, I was
forced to make this sacrifice; so the moment I concluded to give up
California and the legal profession, not wishing to be idle, I went to
Washington and applied to the President for the position of Secretary of
Legation in England. The Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia, and
California delegations urged me for this appointment; Mr. Buchanan was
going to England as Minister. He was a warm friend of my father’s, and,
when approached, expressed not only willingness but gratification at
having the son of an old friend as his Secretary of Legation, and I was
to have had the position. But just at this time, my father, who had
returned from Europe, wished to obtain from President Pierce the
appointment of Circuit Judge of the United States for the State of
California. He came to me and stated the case as follows: “My boy,” he
said, “the President says he cannot give two appointments to one family.
If you go to England as Buchanan’s Secretary, President Pierce cannot
make me Circuit Judge of California.” “Enough said,” I replied, “I yield
with pleasure. I will go abroad, but not in the diplomatic service.”
Passing the winter in Washington, I soon learned how to ingratiate
myself with the law-makers of our country. Good dinners and wine were
always effective. And as I had the friendship of the California, New
York and Southern delegations, I was dining out all the time, invited by
one man or other who had an axe to grind. On these occasions, there was
always a room prepared to receive a guest who had indulged too freely in
strong waters. Men then drank in good earnest, a striking contrast to
the days in which we now live, when really, at dinner, people only taste
wine, but do not drink it. I was then placed on the Committee of
Management for the Inaugural Ball, and did good service and learned much
from my Washington winter.

An amusing incident I must here relate. Quietly breakfasting and
chatting with a beautiful woman, then a bride, who had lived for years
in Washington as a widow, she asked me if I was going to Corcoran’s
ball that evening, and on my replying, “Yes, of course I was,” she
requested me to accompany her husband and self, which I did. On entering
Mr. Corcoran’s ball room with her on my arm, I noticed that the old
gentleman bowed very stiffly to us; however, I paid no attention to this
and went on dancing, and escorting through the rooms my fair partner,
from whom I had no sooner been separated than my host slapped me on the
shoulder with, “My dear young man, I know you did not know it, but the
lady you have just had on your arm is not only not a guest of mine, but
this morning I positively refused to send her an invitation to this
ball.” Fortunately I had brought letters to this distinguished man, so
seeing my annoyance, he patted me on the shoulder and said, “My boy,
this is not an unusual occurrence in this city; but let it be a warning
to you to take care hereafter whom you bring to a friend’s house.”



     _Introduction to London Sports--A Dog Fight in the
     Suburbs--Sporting Ladies--The Drawing of the Badger--My Host gets
     Gloriously Drunk--Visit to Her Majesty’s Kitchen--Dinner with the
     Chef of Windsor Castle--I taste Mantilla Sherry for the First
     Time--“A Shilling to Pay for the ‘Times.’”_

After my marriage I took up my residence in Newport, buying a farm on
Narragansett Bay and turning farmer in good earnest. I planted out
10,000 trees on that farm and then went to Europe to let them grow,
expecting a forest on my return, but I found only one of them struggling
for existence three years later. In London, I met a Californian, in with
all the sporting world, on intimate terms with the champion
prize-fighter of England, the Queen’s pages, Tattersall’s and others. He
suggested that if I would defray the expense, he would show me London as
no American had ever seen it. Agreeing to do this, I was taken to a
swell tailor in Regent Street, to put me, as he expressed it, “in proper
rig.” My first introduction to London life was dining out in the suburbs
to see a dog-fight, and sup at a Regent Street dry-goods merchant’s
residence. I was introduced as an American landed proprietor. Mine host,
I was told, spent twelve thousand pounds, i.e. $60,000 a year, on his
establishment. He was an enthusiast in his way, an old sport. The women
whom I was invited to meet looked like six-footers; the hall of the
house and the sitting-rooms were filled with stuffed bull-terriers,
prize dogs, that had done good service. We walked through beautifully
laid-out grounds to a miniature ornamental villa which contained a rat
pit, and there we saw a contest between what seemed to me a myriad of
rats and a bull-terrier. The latter’s work was expeditious. We
surrounded the pit, each one with his watch in hand timing the dog’s
work, which he easily accomplished in the allotted time, killing all the
rats, which called forth great applause. From this pit we went to
another, where we saw the drawing of the badger, a very amusing sight.
There was a long narrow box with a trap-door, by which the badger was
shut in; up went the door, in went the terrier; he seized the badger by
the ear and pulled him out of his box and around the pit, the badger
held back with all his might; should the dog fail to catch the badger by
the ear, the badger would kill him. Again, we assembled around a third
pit, to see a dog-fight, and saw fight after fight between these
bull-terriers, to me a disgusting sight, but the women shouted with
delight, and kept incessantly calling “Time, sir; time, sir!” Large bets
were made on the result. At midnight we went to supper. I sat next to
the champion prize-fighter of England, who informed me that a countryman
of mine had died in his arms after a prize-fight. Such drinking I never
saw before or since; the host, calling for bumper after bumper, insisted
on every one draining his glass. I skillfully threw my wine under the
table. The host and all the company were soon intoxicated. The footmen
in green and gold liveries never cracked a smile. The master, after a
bumper, would fall forward on the table, smashing everything. His butler
picked him up and replaced him in his chair. This was kept up until 3
A.M., when with pleasure I slipped out and was off in my hansom for

My visit to Windsor Castle, dining at the village inn with Her Majesty’s
_chef_, and the keeper of her jewel room, was interesting. I saw the
old, tall doorkeeper, with his long staff, sitting at the door of the
servants’ hall. I saw Her Majesty’s kitchen and the roasts for all
living in the castle,--at least twenty separate pieces turning on a
spit. Then I examined a large, hot, steel table on which any cooked
article being placed would stay hot as long as it remained there. The
_chef_ told me a German prince, when informed of its price, said it
would take all his yearly revenue to pay for it. Then I saw Her
Majesty’s jewel room; the walls wainscoted, as it were, with gold
plates; the large gold bowl, which looks like a small bath-tub, from
which the Prince of Wales was baptized, stood in the dining-room. I saw
Prince Albert and the Prince of Wales that morning shooting pheasants,
alongside of the Windsor Long Walk, and stood within a few yards of
them. I feel sure we ate, that day, at the inn, the pheasants that had
been shot by Prince Albert. I visited Her Majesty’s model farm, and
found that all the flax-seed cake for the cattle was imported from
America. The simple cognomen, American Landed Proprietor, was “open
sesame” to me everywhere, accompanied as I was by one of her Majesty’s
pages. In London, of an evening, we went to Evans’s, a sort of public
hall where one took beer and listened to comic songs. Jubber, a wine
merchant, kept the hotel where I lodged. As a celebrated London
physician was dining with me, I asked for the palest and most delicate
sherry to be found in London, regardless of cost, to be served that day,
at my dinner. He looked at me and smiled, seeing I was quite a young
man, saying, “If I give it to you, you will not drink it.” “Send me the
sherry,” I replied, “and you will see.” The result was I got a delicious
Montilla sherry and sent a butt of it to America. This was my first
acquaintance with Montilla sherry, the most delicate wine that I know
of, to be served from soup to dessert.

Before getting through with my sporting friend, after paying all his
expenses and remunerating him liberally for his services, as I was about
to cross the Channel, he came up to me and said, “Mc, I want you to lend
me some money.” I saw by his face he was in earnest, and thought that he
was about to make a demand for a large amount. So, equally serious, I
replied, “It is out of the question, my dear fellow; I am here in a
strange country with my family and have no money to lend.” He roared,
“Why, all I wanted was a shilling to pay for the _Times_,” which made me
feel very sheepish. That was the last I saw of him. When two years later
I returned to London, I found he had conscientiously paid no bills, and,
strange to relate, his hotel keeper and tailors seemed fully compensated
for the food and raiment they had furnished him, by his sending them a
few valueless colored plates of sporting scenes in this country.



     _A Winter in Florence and Rome--Cheap Living and Good
     Cooking--Walnut-fed Turkeys--The Grand Duke of Tuscany’s Ball--An
     American Girl who Elbowed the King--What a Ball Supper Should
     be--Ball to the Archduke of Tuscany--“The Duke of
     Pennsylvania”--Following the Hounds on the Campagna--The American
     Minister Snubs American Gentlemen._

I landed in France, not knowing how to speak the language, and only
remembering a few French words learned in childhood. It was the year of
the Paris Exposition of 1857; all the hotels were full. The Meurice
Hotel people sent me off to a neighboring house, where we lodged in the
ninth story. I saw the baptism of the Prince Imperial, and on that
occasion, and later on in Rome, at the Carnival, saw the handsomest
women I had yet seen in Europe. We then made for Florence, and there,
getting a most captivating little apartment, on the Arno, kept house,
and if it had not been for the terrible and incessant winds called the
_tramontana_ would probably have passed our days there. I had the most
admirable cook, and had never lived as well. Then the economy of the
thing; it cost nothing to live. I paid the fellow twenty-four pauls
($2.40) a day. For this sum he gave us breakfast and exquisite dinners.
For each extra guest, at dinner, I paid a few pauls; if I gave a dinner
party he hired for me as handsome a service of silver plate as I have
ever seen. His whole kitchen seemed to consist of half a dozen pots and
pans, and everything was cooked by charcoal.

His manner of roasting a turkey was indeed novel; he placed his bird on
a spit, put it in an iron pot, covered it with hot coals top and bottom,
and then kept turning the spit incessantly and basting the bird. Such a
perfect roast I have never before or since eaten. I shall speak later on
of the Newport turkey and the Southern barnyard-fed turkey, but they are
not a circumstance to the Florentine walnut-fed turkey. In Florence, at
the markets, all turkeys and fowls were cut up and sold, not as a whole,
but piece by piece. For instance, you saw on the marble slabs the
breasts of chickens, the wings of chickens, the legs of chickens; the
same with turkeys. To get an entire bird, you had to order him ahead, so
that a few days before Christmas, as we came home from our drive, we
found a superb turkey strutting through the drawing-room, the largest
creature I had ever seen, weighing twenty-five pounds. When he was
served, the walnuts he had eaten could be seen all over his back in
large, round yellow spots of fat. As he came on the table, he was indeed
a sight to behold; the skin, as it were, mahogany color and crisp, his
flesh partaking of the flavor of the walnut, would have satisfied

At that period I worshipped doctors; my theory then was that you owed
your existence to them, that they kept you in the world, and not to
have a doctor within call was to place yourself in danger of immediate
and sudden death; so the first man I cultivated in Florence was the
English doctor. He came to see me every day; it was indeed a luxury; his
fee was two dollars. We became great friends, and as he was the Court
physician, he got me invitations to all the balls. The Grand Duke of
Tuscany, then the richest sovereign in Europe, gave a ball every
fortnight at the Pitti Palace. It was said that the Italians lived on
chestnuts and air between these suppers, and, like the bear, laid in
such a supply of food at them as comfortably to carry them through from
one entertainment to the other. Certainly such feasting I had never
before seen. The number of rooms thrown open really confused one, it was
hard not to lose one’s way. All the guests were assembled, and grouped
in the form of a circle, in the largest of these salons, when the grand
ducal party entered. The minister of each foreign country stood at the
head of his little band of countrymen and countrywomen who were to be
presented. The Grand Duke, Archduke, and suite passed from group to
group. The presentation over, the ball began in earnest. All waited
until the Archduke started in the dance, and as he waltzed by you, you
followed. When he stopped dancing, all stopped.

I remember, at one of these balls, dancing with an American girl, a
strikingly handsome woman, a great Stonington belle. As we waltzed by
the King of Bavaria, I felt a hand placed on my shoulder, and a voice
exclaimed, “_Mais, Monsieur, c’est le roi_”; I stopped at once, and
hastily inquired of my fair partner, “What is it?” She replied, “I did
it, I was determined to do it. As I passed the King I punched him in the
ribs with my elbow. Now I am satisfied.” I rushed up to the King and
Grand Chamberlain, saying, “_Mille pardons, mille pardons_,” and the
affair passed over, but I soon disposed of the young woman and never
“attempted her again.” The diamonds the women wore amazed me. You see
nothing in this country like the tiaras of diamonds I saw at this ball;
tiara after tiara, the whole head blazing with diamonds, and yet there
was but little beauty.

It was here that I first learned what a ball supper should be, and what
were the proper mural decorations for a ball-room and the halls opening
into it. The supper system was perfect. In one salon, large tables for
coffee, tea, chocolate, and cakes. In another, tables covered simply
with ices and other light refreshments, _foie gras_, sandwiches, etc. In
the grand supper room, the whole of the wall of one side of the room,
from floor almost to ceiling, was covered with shelves, on which every
imaginable dish was placed, hot and cold. The table in front of these
shelves was lined with servants in livery, and simply loaded with empty
plates and napkins to serve the supper on. The favorite and most prized
dishes at all these suppers was cold sturgeon (a fish we never eat), and
the most prized fruit the hot-house pineapple, with all its leaves, and
to the eye seemingly growing. Opposite the supper table, in another part
of the room, the wines were served, all by themselves, and there was, it
appears to me, every wine grown in any quarter of the globe. Everything
was abundant and lavish, and the whole affair was most imposing.

That winter the Archduke of Tuscany married one of the princesses of
Bavaria, and the Austrian Minister gave them a ball, which I attended.
The effect produced in approaching his palace, all the streets
illuminated by immense flaring torches attached to the house, was grand.
The ball-room was superb. From the ceiling hung, not one or two, but
literally fifty or more chandeliers of glass, with long prisms dangling
from them. The women were not handsome, but what most struck me was the
freshness of their toilets. They all looked new, as if made for the
occasion; not so elaborate, but so fresh and light and delicate. I
noticed that the royal party supped in a room by themselves, always
attended by their host.

As I was strolling through the rooms, my host, the Austrian Minister,
approached me and said, “I see I have another American as a guest
to-night, and he is decorated. Will you kindly tell me what his
decoration is?” “I really do not know,” I replied; “I will present
myself to him and ask.”

We approached my countryman together, and, after a few words, the
minister most courteously put the question to him. He drew himself up
and said, “Sir, my country is a Republic; if it had been a Monarchy, I
would have been the Duke of Pennsylvania. The Order I wear is that of
The Cincinnati.” The minister, deeply impressed, withdrew, and I
intensely enjoyed the little scene.

After the great works of art, what most impressed me in Florence were
the immense, orderly crowds seen on all public occasions, a living mass
of humanity, as far as the eye could see. No jostling or shoving, but
human beings filling up every inch of space between the carriage wheels,
as our horses, on a walk, dragged our carriage through them.

The most charming spot on earth for the last of winter and the spring
months is the city of Rome. We went there under most favorable
circumstances. A kind friend had leased an apartment for us in the Via
Gregoriana, and we found Rome full of the _crême de la crême_ of New
York society. In Nazzari we had another Delmonico, and we kept dining
and wining each other daily. Here I made intimacies that have lasted me
through life. I followed the hounds on the Campagna, and was amused at
the nonchalance of the young Italian swells as they would attempt a high
Campagna fence, tumble off invariably, remount, and go at it again. They
were a handsome set of men, as plucky as they were handsome. I myself
found “discretion the better part of valor,” and would quietly take to
the road when I met a formidable jump, but I lived on horseback and
enjoyed every hour. Though carrying letters to our American Minister,
then resident at Rome, I gave his legation a wide berth, as I had heard
that our distinguished Representative was in the habit of inviting
Italians to meet Italians and Americans to meet only Americans at his
house; when asked his reason for this, he replied: “I have the greatest
admiration for my countrymen: they are enterprising, money getting, in
fact, a wonderful nation, but there is not a gentleman among them.”
Hearing this, I resolved he should get no chance to meet me and pass on
my merits.

Several of our handsomest New York women were then having their busts
sculptured in marble; as you saw them first in the clay you found them
more attractive. Gibson for the first time colored his Venus; it added
warmth to it, and I thought improved it.

The blessing of the multitude by the Pope from the balcony of St.
Peter’s, under a canopy, with the emblematic peacock feathers held on
either side of him, the illumination of St. Peter’s, and the fireworks
at Easter were most impressive. But I shall attempt no description of
Rome. Nowhere in the world can you see such a display.



     _Summer in Baden-Baden--The Late Emperor William no Judge of
     Wine--My Irish Doctor--His Horror of Water--How an American Girl
     Tried to Captivate Him--The Louisiana Judge--I Win the Toss and Get
     the Mule--The Judge “fixes” his Pony--The “Pike Ballet.”_

We passed our summer at Baden-Baden and literally lived there in the
open air. Opposite to my apartment, Prince Furstenburg of Vienna had his
hotel: from him and his suite I learned how to spend the summer months.
At early dawn they were out in the saddle for a canter; at ten they went
for a drive down the Allée Lichtenthal and through shady woods, nowhere
seen as at Baden-Baden. They would stop and breakfast in the open air at
twelve noon, again drive in the afternoon, and dine at the Kursaal at
six. They kept at least twenty-five horses. We dined daily within a
table or two of the then Prince of Prussia, afterwards the Emperor
William, whom I soon discovered was no judge of wine, as I drank the
best and he was evidently indifferent to it. When you see a man sip his
wine and linger over it, that evidences his appreciation of it; but when
you see him gulp it down, as the Prince did his, you see that he is no
connoisseur. But I must say here, I had an intense admiration for him.
His habit of walking two hours under the trees of the Allée Lichtenthal
was also mine, and it was with pleasure I bowed most respectfully to him
day by day.

Being anxious to cross every Alpine pass, I found a distinguished
physician who lived at Pau, France, on account of his health, and had
there the practice of the place during the winter months, and who was,
necessarily, idle in summer, as Pau was then deserted. Still believing
in doctors, I engaged him to travel with me for two months as my
physician. I agreed to give him a bottle of 1848 Latour for his dinner
daily, pay his expenses, and to give him a medical fee such as I saw fit
at the end of our trip. He was indeed a man among men. All I can say is
that when we parted and I handed him his fee, the tears came into his
eyes; he grasped my hands, swearing eternal friendship. This doctor made
a new man of me. “Throw physic to the dogs,” was his motto; “you will
never die: you will in the end have to be shot to get you out of the
world; air and exercise is all you want: eat slowly and do not deluge
yourself with water at dinner.” Of water he had a holy horror. “Drink
what good wine you wish and let water alone.” As I had the luxury of a
private physician, a friend from Louisiana suggested joining my party
with his two young daughters. My Irish doctor was the most sensitive of
men. One day I found he could eat no breakfast. I sympathized with him
and asked him the cause. He replied, “My dear boy, the habits of your
American women. I came down to the breakfast room this morning and
there I found the oldest of the Judge’s daughters with her back hair
down and the younger one combing it. This settled me.” I assured him
this was not the national custom with American women. The young woman
was simply trying to captivate him by her lovely, long, flowing tresses.
The doctor was a character. On another occasion a Frenchman lighted a
cigar in our railway compartment. The Doctor detested cigar smoke, and
as there was a large sign in the car, in French, forbidding smoking, he
touched the Frenchman and pointed to the sign. The Frenchman simply
smiled blandly. The train stopping, the conductor opened our door, when
the Frenchman quietly slipped two francs into his hands, saying in
French, “Of course I can smoke here, that sign is obsolete, is it not?”
The conductor replied, “Oh, yes,” and on we went. My Irishman got up and
commenced taking his coat off. “What are you going to do?” exclaimed the
Frenchman. “Why, throw you out of that window if you do not at once
throw that cigar away.” There was no mistaking the Doctor’s meaning, so
the cigar went out and the Frenchman staid in.

My traveling Louisiana friend had a charming way of suggesting each
morning, as we paid our hotel bills, that we should toss up a five-franc
piece and decide, by heads and tails, who was to pay the bill. I did
this once or twice, when I found, as he always won and I lost, it was a
losing business for me; but on another occasion was forced into the
plan. To ascend the mountain at Lugano, three wretched beasts were
brought us by the Italian boys to mount for the ascent. The Judge
insisted on tossing up a five-franc piece for choice of animals. I was
compelled to give in and accede to his suggestion, and by great good
luck won first choice. My friend, the Judge, forbade the Doctor advising
me as to the animal I should take, as he knew him to be a good judge of
horses. There was a feeble, worthless horse that literally could carry
no one; his back all raw; a vicious mule who bit and kicked, and a stone
blind pony that would not go. With my experience of mules in the South,
knowing what sure-footed creatures they were, I chose the mule, had him
blindfolded, mounted him, and off I went. After waiting an hour on the
summit, the Judge appeared, coat and hat gone, and swearing terribly
that he would prosecute the canton for his treatment, and horsewhip the
Italian boys. He had let the horse go, and footed it. I soon slipped
away on my mule, letting the irate Louisianian and the Irishman settle
it, on top of the mountain, how they were to have satisfaction out of
the government for permitting such beasts to be imposed upon travelers.
I was two-thirds down the mountain when I looked behind me and heard the
most terrible shouts, and saw the Irishman clinging to the pony, over
whom he had lost all control, and the Judge hanging on by the pony’s
tail, all coming down at a terrific pace. The pony was at first gentle,
but it appears would not go beyond a walk. The Judge hung on to his tail
to guide himself down the mountain, and finding he would not go fast
enough to suit them, he assured the Irishman he would fix him, and
immediately stuck his penknife into the beast’s tail. “Fix him,” he did,
for the creature was so terrified he dashed off at a break-neck pace,
and the Judge, not wishing to be left alone on the mountain, had to hang
on by the tail and be dragged along at lightning speed. These beasts
alone knew the way down; once parted from them, they were lost, for the
Italian boys who had furnished them had long since fled from the Judge’s
wrath. The Judge and the Doctor forbade my paying the hotel bill, and I
had to do it surreptitiously.

My doctor (who was a victim to rheumatism) called my attention to the
fact that on the summit of every Alpine pass we crossed, after all other
vegetation ceased, the aconite plant grew, showing nature had provided
there a remedy for the disease which the severity of the climate
developed in man. My Irish friend, living far from the sea, had a
passion for all fish but pike, which he detested, and which was daily
served to us wherever we went; finally, reaching Berlin, he insisted on
having sea fish. It was promised us, but, lo and behold! when dinner was
served, in came the pike, with the apology that no other fish could then
be had in the city. After dinner we went to the opera, and there, in the
ballet (superbly done as it was), were at least one hundred pike dancing
on the stage, which so upset my friend that he seized his hat in a rage
and left the house.



     _Winter in Pau--I Hire a Perfect Villa for $800 a year--Luxury at
     Small Cost--I Learn How to Give Dinners--Fraternizing with the
     Bordeaux Wine Merchants--The Judge’s Wild Scheme--I Get Him up a
     Dinner--General Bosquet--The Pau Hunt--The Frenchmen Wear Beautiful
     Pink Coats but their Horses Wont Jump--Only the General Took the

After you have been a little while in Europe you are seized with a
desire to have a house of your own, to enjoy home comforts. Your loss of
individuality comes over you. In Paris you feel particularly lost, and
as this feeling increased on me I resolved to go to Pau, take a house,
and winter there. The Duchess of Hamilton had abandoned the idea of
passing the winter in Pau, so that many lovely residences were seeking
tenants. For eight hundred dollars a year I hired a beautiful villa,
looking on the Pyrénées, directly opposite the _Pic du Midi d’Ossau_,
with lovely grounds filled with camelia bushes, and I then felt that I
had all a man could desire,--a perfect home made to one’s hand, a
climate where the wind never blows hard enough, even in winter, to stir
a leaf on the trees, the best cooks in the world, and where people
appeared to live but to eat well and sleep. A country of beautiful
women; the peasantry a mixture of Spanish and French blood; the climate
so soft and genial as to take away all harshness or roughness from their
faces--rich Titian-like women, with fine coloring and superb
figures--what more could man desire? I was, I may say, a pioneer
American there.

A member of a distinguished New York family, who had been our Secretary
of Legation at Madrid, had preceded me; he had a lovely English wife,
was the master of the hounds, and gave me a cordial reception. I lived
there two winters, with a luxury I have never since enjoyed, and
literally for nothing, comparing one’s expenses there to living in New
York. The desire to entertain took possession of me and I gratified it;
such dinners and such wines! I ran down to Bordeaux, made friends with
all the wine fraternity there, tasted and criticised, and wormed myself
into the good graces of the owners of those enormous Bordeaux _caves_,
learned there for the first time what claret was, and how impossible it
was to drink out of Bordeaux, what a Bordeaux connoisseur would call a
perfect wine. There I learned how to give dinners; to esteem and value
the _Coq de Bruyère_ of the Pyrénées and the _Pie de Mars_ (squab

Pau was filled with sick English people. I was one of the few sound men
physically in the place. I dashed into society with a vim. My Louisiana
friend, the Judge, followed me there, and I had my hands full in
establishing him socially. Shrewd, and immensely clever, he came to me
one day and said, “My friend, I am going to make a name for myself in
this place; wait and you will see.” Some little distance from Pau,
there was a large tract of worthless land, utterly valueless, called
_Les Landes_. Shepherds on stilts tended a few sheep on it. The judge at
once had an interview with the Prêfet of the Basses Pyrénées (an officer
similar to the governor of one of our States), and assured him of the
feasibility of reclaiming all this land and making fine cotton fields of
it. This scheme, wonderful to relate, was seized upon with avidity by
the Prêfet, and my friend, the Judge, was asked to submit his views.
This was all he wanted. Of course he never perfected his plans for such
work. The Prêfet, however, was at once his friend and admirer, and he
was made the distinguished and sought-after stranger of that winter. He
then came to me to get up a dinner for him, to be given to his newly
acquired friend, which he charged me to make the most brilliant and
superb dinner ever given in that place. I well remember his order to the
florist; “Furnish me for my table such a display of flowers as you would
provide for your Emperor; spare no expense.” I telegraphed to Paris and
exhausted all my resources to give him what he wished. When his guests
were all assembled in his _salon_, my friend could not remember who was
to take in who to dinner; so with great coolness he walked over to me,
and to distract the attention of his assembled guests, said, in a loud
voice, “Your horses, I am told, have run away, upset your carriage, and
killed the coachman.” Instantly the French people sprang up, exclaiming,
“What! what is it! is it possible!” while the Judge, in a low voice,
whispered, “Tell me quick who is to take in Madame J., and who goes in
with Count B.?” I told him, when he quietly said, “All made up, my boy,
let them believe it.” The dinner was a success, such a success that I
resolved to give a ball myself on the arrival from Paris of one of our
New York merchant princes, to whom I was much indebted.

The French papers gave a glowing account of this ball, and I was fairly
launched into the French society of the Basses Pyrénées. It is hard to
convince an old business man, who has had large experience and amassed a
fortune, that any one can do anything in his line better than himself.
Therefore, when I gave my merchant prince exquisite Bordeaux wines that
I knew were incomparable, and extolled them, he quietly replied:

“Why, my young friend, these wines are all from the house of Barton &
Guestier. Now, you must know, that the house of Johnson can alone
furnish what I class as the best clarets. I have for forty years been in
correspondence with that house, and will guarantee to produce here in
Pau, from them, clarets and sauternes better than any your house of
Barton & Guestier can send you.” I took him up at once, and the wager
was a fine dinner of twenty covers. All I had to do was to write the
above statement to Mr. Guestier, who at once sent me his own butler to
serve the wines, and sent with him a “Haut Brion” and a Chateau Latour
of 1848. As he termed it, _mise en bouteille tout à fait speciale hors
de ligne_, whose smoothness, bouquet, and flavor surpassed anything I
had ever dreamt of tasting. My merchant prince with his Johnson wines
was beaten out of sight, and so mortified was he that the day after the
dinner he sent me as a present all the wines Johnson had sent him.

The hunt was then really the feature of Pau life, for those who could
not follow in the saddle would, after attending the meet, take to the
roads and see the best of the run. General Bosquet, returning then to
Pau, his native city, was fêted by both French and English. He had so
distinguished himself in the Crimean War that all regarded him as a
great hero. The English particularly wanted to express their admiration
of him, so they asked him to appear with his friends at the next Meet,
and follow in the hunt, promising him rare sport and a good run after a
bagged fox. To do him honor, the French, to a man, ordered new hunting
suits, all of them turned out in “pink,” and being in force made indeed
a great show.

My Irish doctor was by my side, in great good humor, and a wicked
twinkle in his eye. Turning to me he said:

“You will soon see some fun; not one of these Frenchmen can take that
jump; it is a _rasper_. Not a man of them will clear that bank and

I smiled at this, and felt that to the end of time it would always be
English against French. It was cruel; but men should not pretend to ride
after hounds when they cannot take the jumps.

“Look at those chaps,” he said, “in spotless pink; not a man among them
who can jump a horse to any purpose.”

They were the nobility of the Basses Pyrénées, a splendid, gallant set
of fellows; all prepared “to do or die.” The master of the hounds raised
his hat, the fox was turned out of the bag; he was given ten minutes’
law; then the huntsman with his pack dashed away, clearing both bank and
ditch. It was the severest jump they could find in any part of that
country, purposely chosen for that reason. My doctor’s little Irish boy,
a lad of sixteen years, went at it, and cleared it at a bound. I saw the
master of the hunt (an American, a splendid looking fellow, superbly
mounted, and a beautiful rider), with General Bosquet at his side, turn
to the General (who was riding one of his horses), and shout:

“General, dash the spurs into her; lift her head a bit, and follow me.”

The General did not hesitate; he plunged the spurs into the beast,
dashed ahead, and cleared bank and ditch. All his friends followed him.
Forward they went, but only for a few rods, when every horse, as if
shot, came to a full stop, planted his forefeet in front of him, and
neither whip nor spur could budge him. None would take the jump; every
Frenchman’s face became ashey pale, and I really felt sorry for them.
Not a Frenchman, with the exception of the General, took that jump.
After this, the mere mention of fox hunting would set the Frenchmen
wild. It was cruel, but it was sport.

_Moral_: Men should not attempt to do what is not in them.

Passing two winters at Pau and the summers at Baden-Baden, keeping four
horses at the former place, following the hounds at least once a week,
giving all through the winter from one to two dinners a week, with an
English housekeeper, and living as well as I could possibly live, with
the cost of my ball included, I did not spend half the amount in living
that I am compelled to in New York. The ball cost me but eight hundred



     _My Return to New York--Dinner to a Well-known Millionaire--Visit
     of Lord Frederick Cavendish, Hon. E. Ashley, and G. W. des Voeux to
     the United States--I Entertain Them at My Southern Home--My
     Father’s Old Friends Resent my Manner of Entertaining--Her
     Majesty’s Consul disgruntled--Cedar Wash-tubs and Hot Sheets for my
     English Guests--Shooting Snipe over the Rice Lands--Scouring the
     Country for Pretty Girls._

Called home by the stupidity of an agent, who was unable to treat with
my old friend, Commodore Vanderbilt, for an extension of his lease of
our dock property, most unwillingly we left our dear old Pau, with all
its charming associations, and returned to New York.

I have always had a great fondness for men older than myself. Always
preferring to associate with my superiors than my inferiors in
intellect, and hence when brought in contact with one of America’s
noblest and most cultivated men (withal, the then richest man in the
United States, if not in the world), by his son-in-law, with whom I had
formed a close intimacy abroad, I sought his society, and he, in turn,
appeared at least to enjoy mine. Dining with him constantly, I suggested
that he should dine with me; to which he readily assented. So I went to
Cranston, my landlord of the New York Hotel, and put him to his trumps
to give me a suitable dinner. His hotel was then crowded, and I had
actually to take down a bedstead and improvise a dining-room. Cranston
was one of those hotel-keepers who worked as much for glory as for
money. He gave us simply a perfect dinner, and my dear old friend and
his wife enjoyed it. I remember his saying to me, “My young friend, if
you go on giving such dinners as these you need have no fear of planting
yourself in this city.” I here give the menu of this dinner:


Les Huitres, salées.

Le Potage de Consommé de Volaille, à la Royale.

Le Basse rayée, grillée, Sauce Remoulade.

Les Pommes de Terre, à la Lyonnaise.

La Mayonnaise de Homard, decorée à la gélée.

Le Filet de Bœuf, piqué, rôti, aux champignons.

Les Cailles, truffées, à la Financière.
Les Côtelettes d’Agneau, à la Soubise.
Les Tomates, à l’Americaine.
Les Petits Pois, à la Française.

Canvas-back Ducks, roasted.
Le Celeri, au jus.

Les Huitres, grillées, à la Ste. Augustine.

Le Pouding de Cabinet.
La Gélée, au rhum.
Les Méringues, à la Chantilly.

Les Glaces de Crême, à la Portugaise.
Les Quatre Mendiants.
Les Fruits.
Le Café, etc.

_L’Hôtel New York_,
_Mercredi, le 5 Janvier, 1859_.

Just at this time three charming men visited New York and were fêted by
my little circle of friends. They were Lord Frederick Cavendish, Hon.
Evelyn Ashley, and G. W. des Voeux, now Governor of Hong Kong; three of
the brightest spirits I had ever met, and without the slightest
pretension; in fact, just what the real English gentleman always
is,--the first gentleman in the world. Fearing a cold winter, and a
friend who was going off on a foreign mission offering me his furnished
house in Savannah, with all his servants, etc., I took it on a lease and
proposed leaving for my native city in January. Finding my English
friends also going South, I invited them to pass a month with me in my
Southern home. All my European purchases, my china, glass, and
bric-à-brac, I did not even unbale in New York, but shipped them
directly to Savannah. Before leaving I took the precaution to order my
marketing from old Waite of Amity Street (the then famous butcher), to
be sent to me weekly, and started my new Southern household.

I naturally prided myself, on appearing in my native city, in putting my
best foot foremost, and entertaining as well as I knew how, or, rather,
in giving to my Southern friends, the benefit of my European education
in the way of dinner giving. I found this, at first, instead of
gratifying my father’s friends rather piqued them; they said--“Heydey!
here is a young fellow coming out here to show us how to live. Why, his
father did not pretend to do this. Let us let him severely alone,” which
for a time they did. I took up the young fry, who let their elders very
soon know that I had certainly learned something and that Mc’s dinners
were bound to be a feature in Savannah. Then the old patriarch of the
place relented and asked me to a grand dinner.

The papers had announced the intended visit to Savannah of the son of
the Duke of Devonshire, and the son of the Earl of Shaftesbury.
Southern people then worshipped the English nobility. They prided
themselves on retaining all the old English habits and customs, and of
being descendants of the greatest nation of the world,--excepting their
own. The host at the dinner announced the coming of these distinguished
men, and wondered who in Savannah would have the honor of entertaining
them. The British Consul then spoke up, he was a great character there,
giving the finest dinners, and being an authority on wine, i.e. Madeira,
“Her Majesty’s Consul will have the honor.” I secretly smiled, as I knew
they were coming to me, and I expected them the next day. This same good
old Consul had ignored me, hearing I had had the audacity to give at my
table _filet de bœuf aux truffes et champignons_. I returned home
feeling sure that these young noblemen would be but a few hours under my
roof before Her Majesty’s Consul would give me the honor of a visit. In
fact, my guests had not been with me an hour when my old friend, the
Consul, rushed up my front steps. Meeting me at the door he threw his
arms around my neck, exclaiming, “My dear boy, I was in love with your
mother thirty years ago; you are her image; carry me to your noble
guests.” Ever after I had the respect and esteem of this dear old man,
who, for Savannah, was rich as Crœsus, and before all things esteemed
and valued a good dinner and a fine glass of Madeira. My _filets de
bœuf_, and the scions of noble English houses placed me in the front
social rank in that little, aristocratic town, and brought forth from
one of its oldest inhabitants the exclamation, “My dear boy, your aunts,
the Telfairs, could give breakfasts, but you, you can give dinners.”

Knowing the Englishmen’s habits, I gave to each one of them, on their
arrival, enormous cedar wash-tubs and hot sheets for their morning
ablutions; then a good breakfast, after which we drove to the river and
had my brother-in-law’s ten-oared boat, called “The Rice Bird,” all the
oarsmen in yachting rig, myself at the tiller, and the darkeys, knowing
they would all have tobacco, or money, pulled for dear life from the
start to the finish, giving us their plantation songs. The leader
improvised his song, the others only singing in chorus. On these
occasions, the colored people would give you in song all the annoyances
they were subjected to, and the current events of plantation life,
bringing in much of and about their “Massa” and his family, as follows:
“Massa Ward marry our little Miss Sara, bring big buckra to Savannah,
gwine to be good times, my boys, pull boys, pull, over Jordan!” Reaching
the plantations, of which there were three, Fairlawn, Argyle, and
Shaftesbury, well equipped with admirable dogs (for my brother-in-law
was a great sportsman), we would shoot snipe over the rice lands until 2
P.M., then lunch elaborately in his plantation house, and row back in
the cool of the afternoon, dining at 8 o’clock, and having as my guests
every pretty girl within a hundred miles and more of the city. The
flowers, particularly the rose called the Cloth of Gold, and the black
rose, I was most prodigal with. I had given a fee to the clerk of the
market to scour the country for game and delicacies, so our dinners were
excellent, and the old Southern habit of sitting over Madeira until the
small hours was adopted, and was, with the bright minds I had brought
together, most enjoyable.



     _A Southern Deer Park--A Don Quixote Steed--We Hunt for Deer and
     Bag a Turkey--Getting a Dinner by Force--The French Chef and the
     Colored Cook Contrasted--One is Inspired, the Other Follows
     Tradition--Making a Sauce of Herbs and Cream--Shooting Ducks Across
     the Moon--A Dawfuskie Pic-nic._

In a small place, life is monotonous if you do not in some way break up
this monotony. I bethought me of a friend who lived some distance from
Savannah, who had a deer park, was a sportsman, and was also the soul of
hospitality. His pride lay in his family and his surroundings; so I
wrote to him as follows: “My dear friend, I have no baronial mansion; I
am a wanderer on the face of the earth, while you possess what I most
covet, an ancestral home and a great domain. Will you then invite my
guests and me to pay you a visit and give us a chance at your deer?”
Back came the invitation: “Come to me at once with your noble friends.
I and my whole county will receive them and do them honor.” The next
morning, by ten, we were at the railway station. Before leaving the
carriage I saw a distinguished General, a sort of Dalgetty of a man, who
preferred to fight than eat, pacing up and down the railway platform. A
ruffled shirt, not spotless, a fierce air, an enormous false diamond
pin, as big as a crown piece, in the center of his ruffled shirt bosom,
with a thin gold chain attached to it and to his waistcoat, to prevent
its loss. He at once approached me and exclaimed, “By Jove! by Jove! Mc,
introduce me to your noble friends.” The introduction made, he
accompanied us to the train, and in turn presented us to a large crowd
assembled to see what Southern people were so proud of, “thoroughbreds,”
as he called them. I repeatedly heard him exclaim, “No jackass stock
here, sir; all thoroughbreds! I could tell ’em in the dark.” On rolled
the train, and we soon reached our destination, and were no sooner out
of the cars than we were enveloped by a myriad of sand flies. You could
cut them with a knife, as it were. My friend, a six-footer, stepped up
to my guests and was presented. He then addressed them as follows: “Will
your lordships ride or drive?”

In the mean while, his coachman, a seedy old darkey, in a white hat at
least ten years old, fly specked to such an extent that its original
color was lost, in shabby, old, well-worn clothes, seized me by the coat
tail, exclaiming, “Massa Ward, show me the ‘big buckras.’” After
pointing them out, we all pressed through the crowd to the wagon and
horses, two marsh tackeys, with their manes and tails so full of burrs,
and so netted together, as to form a solid mass; stirrup leathers pieced
with clothes lines, and no evidence of either of the animals having ever
seen or been touched by a curry-comb. “Don Quixote, by Jove!” exclaimed
the heir of the Shaftesburys, and vaulted into the saddle, while the
representative of the house of Devonshire and myself took our seats in
the open wagon. At this point, our hospitable host called the attention
of his lordship to his horses and gave him their pedigree. One was
sixteen hands high, had a bob tail, and high action; the other was a
little pony of fourteen hands, with an ambling gait. Not giving any sign
of moving, our host held forth as follows: “Your lordship, so well bred
are these horses that if they are not properly caparisoned, nothing
human could stir them; they will plant their feet in the soil and
neither whip nor spur would budge them. You see how well my boy keeps
their harnesses.” By this time I was convulsed. Cavendish, I saw, was
laughing inwardly, but suppressed it. The straw in one collar was
bulging out, one turret was gone, and a piece of rope lengthened one of
the traces. Truly, it had seen better days. If he calls that a fitting
harness for his horses, what am I to expect in the way of a house and
deer park? However, my fears were allayed. The house was a charming old
Southern plantation house, and the owner of it, the embodiment of
hospitality. When the cloth was removed at dinner, I trembled. For my
dear old father had always told me that on his circuit (annually made by
the Savannah lawyers) he always avoided this house, for in it one could
never find so much as a glass of whiskey. What then was my surprise, to
have placed before us a superb bottle of sherry, since world-renowned,
i.e. in this country; and a matchless Madeira, which he claimed he had
inherited from his father, to be opened at the marriage of his sister.

The next morning, at the very break of day fixed for our deer hunt, the
negro boys commenced tooting horns. As soon as I could see, I looked out
of my windows and there saw four old lean, lank dogs, lifeless looking
creatures, and four marsh tackeys, decorated, front and rear, with an
abundance of burrs. Off we went, as sorry a looking company as one’s eye
had ever seen, with a crowd of half-naked children following the
procession. We were out eight hours, went through swamp after swamp, our
tackeys up to their fetlocks in mud, and sorry a deer did we see. One
wild turkey flew over us, which my host’s colored huntsman killed, the
only man in the party who could shoot at all.

Returning to Savannah, we went after quail. One morning, being some
fourteen miles from the city, we felt famished, having provided no lunch
basket. I asked a friend, who was shooting with us and acting as our
guide, if there was a white man’s house within a mile or two where we
could get a biscuit. He replied, “No, not one.”

I pressed the matter, saying, “We must have a bite of something,” and
urged him to think again. He reflected, and then said, as if to himself,
“Oh, no use to go there, we will get nothing.” I took him up at once.

“What do you refer to,” I said. “Oh,” he replied, “there is a white man
who lives within a mile of us, but he is the meanest creature that
lives and will have nothing to give us.”

“Who is he?” I exclaimed. He gave me his name. “What,” said I, “Mr.
Jones, who goes to Newport every summer?” “The same,” said he; “do you
know him?”

“Know him?” I answered, “why, man, I know no one else. He has for years
asked me to visit his plantation. He lives like a prince. I saw him at a
great fête at Ochre Point, Newport, several years ago. He turned up his
nose at everything there, saying to me, ‘Why, my dear fellow, these
people don’t know how to live. This fête is nothing to what I can do, at
my place. Why, sir, I have so much silver I dare not keep it in my
house. The vaults of the State Bank of Georgia are filled with my
silver. This fête may be well enough here, but come to me at the South,
come to my plantation, and I will show you what a fête is. I will show
you how to live.’” My friend listened to all this with astonishment.

“Well,” said he, “I have nothing to say. That is ‘big’ talk. Go on to
your friend’s place and see what you will find.” On we moved, four as
hungry men as you could well see. We reached the plantation, on which we
found a one-story log cabin, with a front piazza, one large center room,
and two shed rooms. There was a small yard, inclosed with pine palings
to keep out the pigs, who were ranging about and ineffectually trying to
gain an entrance. We entered the house, and, seeing an old colored man,
my Southern friend opened on the old darkey with: “Where is your

“In Savannah, sir.”

“When does he dine?”

“At six o’clock, sir.”

“What have you got for his dinner, old man?”

“Pea pie.”

“Is that all that he has for his dinner?”

“Yes, sir.”

“What is pea pie?” I asked.

“Cow peas and bacon,” was the answer.

With this, my Southern friend stepped to the back door of the house,
asked the old man to point him out a fat turkey. The old darkey did
this, saying,

“There’s one, sir, but, Lord help me, Massa, don’t kill him.”

The protest came too late. Up to the shoulder went the gun, and down
fell the turkey. Now, turning to the old darkey, he said:

“Old man, pick that turkey and roast him, and tell your Massa four big
buckra men are coming to dine with him to-day, at six o’clock.” We got
some corn-bread from the kitchen and went off shooting. A few minutes
before six, we returned, and heard indeed a racket in that old cabin.
The “Massa” was there, as we saw by the buggy, standing in the front
yard; the horse browsing a few feet off, the harness in the buggy, and
the master shouting out, “You tell me white men came here, kill my
turkey, tell you to cook him, and you don’t know them? Who in the devil
can they be?” No sooner had he got this out, when I appeared on the
scene. Up went his arms in astonishment.

“Why, Mc., is this you? Glad to see you and your friends.”

Down we sat at his table, and had a dinner of small rice, pea pie, and
roast turkey, washed down by a bottle of fine old Madeira, which he
called “the blood of his ancestors.” I looked in vain for a side-board
to put silver on, or any evidence of any past fête having been given on
the premises. Our host was a thoroughly local man; one of those men who,
when in Paris, would say, “I’m going to town,” when he proposed
returning to Savannah, which, at that time, was to him the metropolis of
America. This gentleman then, like others in the South, cultivated the
belief that they alone lived well, and that there was no such thing as
good society in New York or other Northern cities; that New Yorkers and
Northern people were simply a lot of tradespeople, having no
antecedents, springing up like the mushroom, who did not know how to
live, and who, when they gave dinners to their friends, ordered them
from a neighboring restaurant.

At a large dinner in Savannah, given to an ex-Mayor of New York, one of
the best dinner-givers in that city made the foregoing statement, and
the ex-Mayor actually called upon me to substantiate it, declaring it
had always been his practice thus to supply his table, when he invited a
dozen or more people to dinner. So far from this being the case, I then
and there assured my Southern friends that no people in the world lived
better than New Yorkers, so far as creature comforts were concerned. I
have tested the capacity of the Southern cook alongside of the French
_chef_; I had them together, cooking what we call a “Saratoga Lake
Dinner” at Newport, a dinner for sixty people; serving alone Spanish
mackerel, Saratoga potatoes, soft shell crabs, woodcock, chicken
partridges, and lettuce salad. Both were great artists in their way, but
the _chef_ came off very much the victor. I doubted then, and I doubt
now, if the dinners in London are better than our New York dinners,
given by one of the innumerable good dinner-givers. Our material is
better in New York, and our cooks are equally as good as those in
England. The sauces of the French cuisine are its feature, while there
is not a single sauce in African or Southern cooking. The French get the
essence and flavor out of fowl, and discard the huge joints. Take for
instance, soup; give a colored cook a shin of beef and a bunch of
carrots and turnips, and of this he makes a soup. A Frenchman, to give
you a _consommé royale_, requires a knuckle of veal, a shin of beef, two
fat fowls, and every vegetable known to man. The materials are more than
double the expense, but then you have a delicacy of flavor, and a
sifting out of everything that is coarse and gross. The _chef_ is an
educated, cultivated artist. The colored cook, such as nature made him,
possessing withal a wonderful natural taste, and the art of making
things savory, i.e. taste good. His cookery book is tradition. French
_chefs_ have their inspirations, are in every way almost as much
inspired as writers. To illustrate this: when Henry IV. was fighting in
the Pyrénées, he told his French cook to give him a new sauce. The reply
was, “Where are the materials for it, your Majesty? I have nothing here
but herbs and cream.” “Then make a sauce from them,” was the King’s
answer. The _chef_ did this, and produced one of the best sauces in the
French cuisine, known as _sauce Bearnaise_.

Having exhausted quail and snipe shooting and made a failure at deer
hunting, we went on the banks of the rice plantations at night, to shoot
wild ducks, as they crossed the moon. Whilst whiling away the time,
waiting for ducks, we talked over England and America. Lord Frederick
Cavendish assured me that if I were then living in England, I could not
there lead a pleasanter life than I was then leading. He liked
everything at the South, the hospitality of the people, and their simple
contentment and satisfaction with their surroundings. On these three
places there were then six hundred slaves; the net income of these
estates was $40,000 a year. They would have easily brought half a
million. When the Civil War terminated, my brother-in-law was offered
$100,000 for them; by the war he had lost all his slaves. To-day the
estates would scarcely bring $30,000, showing the change in values
caused by the Civil War.

I was then able to show my guests a Savannah picnic, which is an
institution peculiar to the place. Leaving the city in a river steamer
our party consisting of one hundred people, after a little over an
hour’s sail we reached an island in the Atlantic Ocean, known as
Dawfuskie, a beautiful spot on which stood a charming residence, with
five acres of roses surrounding the house. The heads of families
carried, each of them, huge baskets containing their dinner, and a full
table service, wine, etc., for say, ten or a dozen people. On our
arrival, all formed into groups under the trees, a cloth was laid on the
ground, dishes, plates and glasses arranged on it, and the champagne at
once _frapped_ in small hand pails. There was then a dance in the open
air, on a platform, and in the afternoon, with cushions as seats for the
ladies, these improvised dinner-tables were filled. Each had its
separate hostess; all was harmony and pleasure. As night approached, the
people re-embarked on the steamer and returned home by moonlight.



     _I Leave the South--A Typical British Naval Officer--An Officer of
     the Household Troops--Early Newport Life--A Country Dinner--The Way
     I got up Picnics--Farmers Throw their Houses Open to Us--A Bride
     Receives us in her Bridal Array--My Newport Farm--My Southdowns and
     my Turkeys--What an English Lady said of our Little Island--Newport
     a place to Take Social Root in._

My English friends bidding me farewell, soon after, I gave up my
Savannah house and made Newport my permanent home, for I spent nine
months of the year there, with a winter trip to the West Indies. I must
not omit to mention here that while passing the winter at Nassau, N. P.,
I made the acquaintance of a most polished, elegant, and courtly man, a
captain in the British Navy, who entertained me as one can only be
entertained on a British man-of-war, giving me Devonshire cream and
every luxury, and all as well served as though it had been ashore.
Meeting him repeatedly at dinner at the house of the Governor of the
Bahamas, he suggested that as it was a most difficult thing to board the
steamship that was to take us to New York, she never crossing the bar,
he would himself, in his own gig, take us out to that vessel when we
left the island.

I had forgotten this kind promise, but on the day fixed for our
departure (it then blowing a gale, one of those terrible “northers” of
the West Indies), I received a note from this gallant captain, telling
me that his boat’s crew had already crossed the bar, boarded our
steamer, and learnt the precise spot where she would lie in the
afternoon when she would take on her passengers. In vain did I protest
against his undertaking this dangerous piece of work. Do it he would;
and taking the tiller himself, we were safely rowed in his gig, twelve
miles, and boarded the vessel.

I afterwards learned that while he was going from his vessel in full
evening dress, with his white gloves carefully buttoned (for he was
called the dandy of the English Navy), he sprang overboard and saved one
of his men from drowning.

On our reaching the deck of the steamer, I was struck with the
obsequiousness of the steamer’s captain to the naval officer, (she was,
by the way, a Cunarder). My friend, the captain, then introduced me to
one of his countrymen, saying to me, simply, “You will find him a nice
fellow.” He turned out to be one of the most distinguished young men in
England, an officer of the Household Troops, a most fascinating man, who
had been to Jamaica to look after his father’s estates there. I
introduced him to my friends in New York, and in return for the
hospitality extended to him then, heard later that he, on receiving
letters of introduction from me, had paid marked attention to the
bearers of the letters. I relate this as an evidence that Englishmen do
reciprocate attentions received in this country.

Newport was now at its best. The most charming people of the country had
formed a select little community there; the society was small, and all
were included in the gaieties and festivities. Those were the days that
made Newport what it was then and is now, the most enjoyable and
luxurious little island in America. The farmers of the island even
seemed to catch the infection, and they were as much interested in the
success of our picnics and country dinners, as we were ourselves. They
threw open their houses to us, and never heeded the invasion, on a
bright sunshiny day, of a party of fifty people, who took possession of
their dining-room, in fact of their whole house, and frolicked in it to
their heart’s content. To be sure, I had often to pacify a farmer when a
liveried groom robbed his hen roost, but as he knew that this
fashionable horde paid their way, he was easily soothed. I always then
remarked that in Newport, at that time, you could have driven a
four-in-hand of camels or giraffes, and the residents of the island
would have smiled and found it quite the thing. The charm of the place
then was the simple way of entertaining; there were no large balls; all
the dancing and dining was done by daylight, and in the country. I did
not hesitate to ask the very _crême de la crême_ of New York society to
lunch and dine at my farm, or to a fishing party on the rocks. My little
farm dinners gained such a reputation that my friends would say to me:
“Now, remember, leave me out of your ceremonious dinners as you choose,
but always include me in those given at your farm, or I’ll never forgive
you.” But to convey any idea of our country parties, one must in detail
give the method of getting them up: Riding on the Avenue on a lovely
summer’s day, I would be stopped by a beautiful woman, in gorgeous
array, looking so fascinating that if she were to ask you to attempt the
impossible, you would at least make the effort. She would open on me as
follows: “My dear friend, we are all dying for a picnic. Can’t you get
one up for us?”

“Why, my dear lady,” I would answer, “you have dinners every day, and
charming dinners too; what more do you want?”

“Oh, they’re not picnics. Any one can give dinners,” she would reply;
“what we want is one of your picnics. Now, my dear friend, do get one

This was enough to fire me, and set me going. So I reply:

“I will do your bidding. Fix on the day at once, and tell me what is the
best dish your cook makes.”

Out comes my memorandum book, and I write: “Monday, 1 P.M., meet at
Narragansett Avenue, bring _filet de bœuf piqué_,” and with a bow am
off in my little wagon, and dash on, to waylay the next cottager, stop
every carriage known to contain friends, and ask them, one and all, to
join our country party, and assign to each of them the providing of a
certain dish and a bottle of champagne. Meeting young men, I charge them
to take a bottle of champagne, and a pound of grapes, or order from the
confectioner’s a quart of ice cream to be sent to me. My pony is put on
its mettle; I keep going the entire day getting recruits; I engage my
music and servants, and a carpenter to put down a dancing platform, and
the florist to adorn it, and that evening I go over in detail the whole
affair, map it out as a general would a battle, omitting nothing, not
even a salt spoon; see to it that I have men on the road to direct my
party to the farm, and bid the farmer put himself and family, and the
whole farm, in holiday attire.

On one occasion, as my farmer had just taken unto himself a bride, a
young and pretty woman, I found that at mid-day, to receive my guests,
she had dressed herself in bridal array; she was _décolleté_, and seemed
quite prepared to sing the old ballad of “Coming thro’ the rye”; but as
her husband was a stalwart young fellow, and extremely jealous, I
advised the young men in the party to confine their attentions to their
own little circle and let Priscilla, the Puritan, alone.

When I first began giving picnics at my farm, I literally had no stock
of my own. I felt that it would never do to have a gathering of the
brightest and cleverest people in the country at my place with the
pastures empty, neither a cow nor a sheep; so my Yankee wit came to my
assistance. I at once hired an entire flock of Southdown sheep, and two
yoke of cattle, and several cows from the neighboring farm, for half a
day, to be turned into my pasture lots, to give the place an animated
look. I well remember some of my knowing guests, being amateur farmers,

“Well, it is astonishing! Mc has but fifty acres, and here he is,
keeping a splendid flock of Southdowns, two yoke of cattle, to say
nothing of his cows!”

I would smile and say:

“My friend I am not a fancy farmer, like yourself; I farm for profit.”

At that time, I was out of pocket from three to four thousand dollars a
year by my farm, but must here add, for my justification, that finding
amateur farming an expensive luxury, I looked the matter squarely in the
face, watched carefully the Yankee farmers around me, and satisfied
myself that they knew more about the business than I did, and at once
followed in their footsteps, placed my farm on shares, paying nothing
out for labor, myself paying the running expenses, and dividing the
profits with my farmer. Instead of losing three or four thousand dollars
a year by my farm, it then paid me, and continues to pay me seven to
eight hundred dollars a year clear of all expenses. We sell off of fifty
acres of land, having seventeen additional acres of pasturage, over
three thousand dollars of produce each year. I sell fifty Southdown
lambs during the months of April and May, at the rate of eight to ten
dollars each, to obtain which orders are sent to me in advance, and my
winter turkeys have become as famous as my Southdown lambs. The farm is
now a profit instead of a loss. I bought this place in 1853; if I had
bought the same amount of land south of Newport, instead of north of the
town, it would have been worth a fortune to-day.

To return to our picnic. The anxiety as to what the weather would be,
was always my first annoyance, for of course these country parties hinge
on the weather. After making all your preparations, everything ready for
the start, then to look out of your window in the morning, as I have
often done, and see the rain coming down in torrents, is far from making
you feel cheerful. But, as a rule, I have been most fortunate in my
weather. We would meet at Narragansett Avenue at 1 P.M., and all drive
out together. On reaching the picnic grounds, I had an army of
skirmishers, in the way of servants, thrown out, to take from each
carriage its contribution to the country dinner. The band would strike
up, and off the whole party would fly in the waltz, while I was
directing the icing of the champagne, and arranging the tables; all done
with marvelous celerity. Then came my hour of triumph, when, without
giving the slightest signal (fearing some one might forestall me, and
take off the prize), I would dash in among the dancers, secure our
society queen, and lead with her the way to the banquet. Now began the
fun in good earnest. The clever men of the party would assert their
claims to the best dishes, proud of the efforts of their cook, loud in
their praise of their own game pie, which most probably was brought out
by some third party, too modest to assert and push his claim. Beauty was
there to look upon, and wit to enliven the feast. The wittiest of men
was then in his element, and I only wish I dared quote here his
brilliant sallies. The beauty of the land was also there, and all
feeling that they were on a frolic, they threw hauteur, ceremonial, and
grand company manners aside, and, in place, assumed a spirit of simple
enjoyment. Toasts were given and drunk, then a stroll in pairs, for a
little interchange of sentiment, and then the whole party made for the
dancing platform, and a cotillon of one hour and a half was danced, till
sunset. As at a “Meet,” the arrivals and departures were a feature of
the day. Four-in-hands, tandems, and the swellest of Newport turn-outs
rolled by you. At these entertainments you formed lifetime intimacies
with the most cultivated and charming men and women of this country.

These little parties were then, and are now, the stepping-stones to our
best New York society. People who have been for years in mourning and
thus lost sight of, or who having passed their lives abroad and were
forgotten, were again seen, admired, and liked, and at once brought into
society’s fold. Now, do not for a moment imagine that all were
indiscriminately asked to these little fêtes. On the contrary, if you
were not of the inner circle, and were a new-comer, it took the combined
efforts of all your friends’ backing and pushing to procure an
invitation for you. For years, whole families sat on the stool of
probation, awaiting trial and acceptance, and many were then rejected,
but once received, you were put on an intimate footing with all. To
acquire such intimacy in a great city like New York would have taken you
a lifetime. A fashionable woman of title from England remarked to me
that we were one hundred years behind London, for our best society was
so small, every one in it had an individuality. This, to her, was
charming, “for,” said she, “one could have no such individuality in
London.” It was accorded only to the highest titled people in all
England, while here any one in society would have every movement
chronicled. Your “_personnel_,” she added, “is daily discussed, your
equipage is the subject of talk, as well as your house and household.”
Another Londoner said to me, “This Newport is no place for a man without
fortune.” There is no spot in the world where people are more _en
evidence_. It is worth while to do a thing well there, for you have
people who appreciate your work, and it tells and pays. It is the place
of all others to take social root in.



     _Society’s Leaders--A Lady whose Dinners were Exquisite and whose
     Wines were Perfect--Her “Blue Room Parties”--Two Colonial
     Beauties--The Introduction of the Chef--The Prince of Wales in New
     York--The Ball in his Honor at the Academy of Music--The Fall of
     the Dancing Platform--Grotesque Figures cut by the Dancers--The
     Prince Dances Well--Admirable Supper Arrangements--A Light Tea and
     a Big Appetite--The Prince at West Point--I get a Snub from General

Society must have its leader or leaders. It has always had them, and
will continue to have them. Their sway is more or less absolute. When I
came to New York as a boy, forty years ago, there were two ladies who
were skillful leaders and whose ability and social power the fashionable
world acknowledged. They gave the handsomest balls and dinners given in
this city, and had at them all the brilliant people of that period.
Their suppers, given by old Peter Van Dyke, were famous. Living in two
adjoining houses which communicated, they had superb rooms for
entertaining. These were the days when Isaac Brown, sexton of Grace
Church, was, in his line, a great character. His memory was something
remarkable. He knew all and everything about everybody, knew always
every one’s residence, was good-nature itself, and cracked his jokes and
had a word for every one who passed into the ball-room. You would hear
him _sotto voce_ remarking upon men as they passed: “Old family, good
old stock,” or “He’s a new man; he had better mind his p’s and q’s, or I
will trip him up. Ah, here’s a fellow who intends to dance his way into
society. Here comes a handsome boy, the women are crazy about him,” etc.

A year or two later, during my absence in Europe and at the South, a
lady living in Washington Place found herself filling a very conspicuous
place in the matter of social entertainment by the departure of her
husband’s relatives, who had been society’s leaders, for a prolonged
stay in Europe. A woman of charming manners, possessing eminently the
talent of social leadership, she took up and easily carried on society
as represented by the “smart” set. For from six to seven years she gave
brilliant entertainments; her dinners were exquisite; her wines perfect;
her husband’s Madeiras are still famous. At that time, her small dances
were most carefully chosen; they were the acme of exclusiveness. On this
she prided herself. She also arranged and controlled for two years (the
winters of 1870 and 1871) small subscription balls at Delmonico’s,
Fourteenth Street, in his “blue rooms.” They were confined to the young
men and maidens, with the exception, perhaps, of a dozen of the young
married couples; a few elderly married ladies were invited as matrons.
These dances were known and became famous as the “Blue Room parties.”
There were three hundred subscribers to them. Having a large fortune,
she was able to gratify her taste in entertaining. Her manners were
charming, and she was a most pleasing conversationalist. Her
brother-in-law was one of the founders of the Patriarchs, and at a later
period her two sons-in-law also joined them, though the younger of the
two, the husband of her accomplished and beautiful daughter, has lived
abroad for many years, but is still numbered among the brilliant members
of our society. It was during the winter of 1871 that a ball was given
in these same rooms to Prince Arthur, when on his visit here. On this
occasion, the Prince danced with the daughter of my old friend, the
Major, who, in air and distinction, was unrivaled in this country.

About this time two beautiful, brilliant women came to the front. They
were both descended from old Colonial families. They had beauty and
wealth, and were eminently fitted to lead society. A new era then came
in; old fashions passed away, new ones replaced them. The French _chef_
then literally, for the first time, made his appearance, and artistic
dinners replaced the old-fashioned, solid repasts of the earlier period.
We imported European habits and customs rapidly. Women were not
satisfied with their old _modistes_, but must needs send to Paris for
everything. The husband of one of these ladies had a great taste for
society, and also a great knowledge of all relating to it. His delight
was to see his beautiful young wife worshipped by everybody, which she
was, and she soon became, in every sense, the prominent leader. All
admired her, and we, the young men of that period, loved her as much as
we dared. All did homage to her, and certainly she was deserving of it,
for she had every charm, and never seemed to over-appreciate herself, or
recognize that as Nature had lavished so much on her, and man had laid
wealth at her feet, she was, in every sense, society’s queen. She was a
woman _sans aucune prétention_. When you entered her house, her
reassuring smile, her exquisitely gracious and unpretending manner of
receiving, placed you at your ease and made you feel welcome. She had
the power that all women should strive to obtain, the power of attaching
men to her, and keeping them attached; calling forth a loyalty of
devotion such as one imagines one yields to a sovereign, whose subjects
are only too happy to be subjects. In the way of entertaining, the
husband stood alone. He had a handsome house and a beautiful picture
gallery (which served as his ball-room), the best _chef_ in the city,
and entertained royally.

I well remember being asked by a member of my family, “Why are you so
eager to go to this leader’s house?” My reply always was, “Because I
enjoy such refined and cultivated entertainments. It improves and
elevates one.” From him, I literally took my first lesson in the art of
giving good dinners. I heard his criticisms, and well remember asking
old Monnot, the keeper of the New York Hotel:

“Who do you think has the best cook in this city?”

“Why, of course, the husband of your leader of fashion, for the simple
reason that he makes his cook give him a good dinner every day.”

       *       *       *       *       *

Just at this time all New York aroused, and put on their holiday attire
at the coming of the Prince of Wales. A grand ball at the Academy of
Music was given him. Our best people, the smart set, the slow set, all
sets, took a hand in it, and the endeavor was to make it so brilliant
and beautiful that it would always be remembered by those present as one
of the events of their lives.

My invitation to the ball read as follows:


     _Invite Mr. Ward McAllister to a Ball to be given by the Citizens
     of New York to the_


     _At the Academy of Music, on Friday Evening, the twelfth of
     October, 1860, at nine o’clock_.


_M. B. Field_,

The ball was to be opened by a _Quadrille d’Honneur_. Governor and Mrs.
Morgan, Mr. Bancroft the historian, and Mrs. Bancroft, Colonel and Mrs.
Abraham Van Buren, with others, were to dance in it. Mrs. Morgan had
forgotten all she had learned of dancing in early childhood, so she at
once took dancing lessons. Fernando Wood was then Mayor of New York. The
great event of the evening was to be the opening quadrille, and the rush
to be near it was so great that the floor gave way and in tumbled the
whole centre of the stage. I stood up in the first tier, getting a good
view of the catastrophe. The Duke of Newcastle, with the Prince, who, as
it happened, was advancing to the centre of the stage, followed by all
who were to dance in the quadrille, at once retired with the Prince to
the reception room, while Mr. Renwick, the architect, and a gang of
carpenters got to work to floor over the chasm. I well remember the
enormous form of old Isaac Brown, sexton of Grace Church, rushing
around and encouraging the workmen. A report had been spread that the
Duke would not allow the Prince to again appear on the stage.

In the mean while, the whole royal party were conversing in groups in
the reception room. The Prince had been led into a corner of the room by
the Mayor’s daughter, when the Duke, feeling the young lady had had
fully her share of his Royal Highness, was about to interrupt them, when
our distinguished magistrate implored him not to do so. “Oh, Duke,” he
exclaimed, “let the young people alone, they are enjoying themselves.”
The stage made safe, the quadrille was danced, to the amusement of the
assembled people. The old-fashioned curtseys, the pigeon-wings, and
genuflexions only known to our ancestors were gone through with dignity
and repose. Mrs. Van Buren, who had presided over the White House during
Martin Van Buren’s presidency, has repeatedly since discussed this
quadrille with me, declaring she was again and again on the point of
laughing at the grotesque figures cut by the dancers.

“But, my dear sir,” she said, “I did not permit my dignity and repose to
be at all ruffled; I think I went through the trying ordeal well; but
why, why will not our people learn to dance!” A waltz immediately
followed the quadrille; the Prince, a remarkably handsome young man,
with blue eyes and light hair, a most agreeable countenance, and a
gracious manner, danced with Miss Fish, Miss Mason, Miss Fannie Butler,
and others, and danced well. I followed him with a fair partner, doing
all I could to enlarge the dancing circle. He danced incessantly until
supper, the arrangements for which were admirable.

One entered the supper room by one stage door and left it by another; a
horseshoe table ran around the entire room,--behind it stood an army of
servants, elbow to elbow, all in livery. At one end of the room was a
raised dais, where the royal party supped. At each stage door a
prominent citizen stood guard; the moment the supper room was full, no
one else was admitted. As fifty would go out, fifty would come in. I
remember on my attempting to get in through one of these doors,
stealthily, the vigilant eye of John Jacob Astor met mine. He bid me
wait my turn. Nothing could have been more successful, or better done.
The house was packed to repletion. Now, all was the Prince. The city
rang with his name; all desired to catch a glimpse of him. His own
people could not have offered him greater homage.

A friend of mine at Barrytown telegraphed me to come to him and pass
Sunday, and on Monday go with him to West Point to a breakfast to be
given by Colonel Delafield, the Commandant of the Point, to the Prince
of Wales. It was in the fall of the year, when the Hudson was at its
best, clothed in its autumnal tints. I was enraptured on looking out of
my window on Sunday morning at the scene that lay before me, with the
river, like a tiny thread away below, gracefully flowing through a
wilderness of foliage, the flock of Southdown sheep on my friend’s lawn,
the picturesque little stone chapel adjoining his place, all in full
view, and the great masses of autumn leaves raked in huge piles. Going
to church in the morning, I proposed to myself a ten-mile walk in the
afternoon to get an appetite for what I felt sure would be my friend’s
best effort in the way of a dinner, as he well knew I loved the “flesh
pots of Egypt.” Fully equipped for my walk, the butler entered my room
and announced luncheon. I declined the meal. Again he appeared, stating
that the family insisted on my lunching with them, as on Sunday it was
always a most substantial repast.

My host now appeared to enforce the request. I protested. “My dear
fellow, I can dine but once in twenty-four hours; dinner to me is an
event; luncheon is fatal to dinner--takes off the edge of your
appetite, and then you are unfit to do it justice.”

“Have it as you will,” he replied, and off I went. Returning, I donned
my dress suit, and feeling as hungry as a hound, went to the
drawing-room to await dinner. Seven came, half after seven, and still no
announcement of that meal. I felt an inward sinking. At eight the butler
announced “Tea is served.”

“Good heavens!” I muttered to myself; “I have lost dinner,” and woefully
went in to tea. I can drink tea at my breakfast, but that suffices; I
can never touch it a second time in twenty-four hours. I think my host
took in the situation, and to intensify my suffering, walked over to me,
tapping me on the back, exclaiming:

“My dear boy, in this house we never dine on Sunday.”

“Why in the plague, then,” I thought, “did you ask me up here on a fast
day? However,” I said to myself, “I will make it up on bread and
butter.” In we went to tea, and a tea indeed it was; what the French
would call a “_Souper dinatoire_,” the English, a “high tea,” a
combination of a heavy lunch, a breakfast, and tea. No hot dishes; but
every cold delicacy you could dream of; a sort of “whipping the devil
around the stump.” No dinner, a gorgeous feast at tea.

Down the river the next morning we went to West Point, every moment
enjoyable, and reached the Commandant’s house. As General Scott was
presenting Colonel Delafield’s guests to the Prince I approached the
General, asking him to present me to his Royal Highness. A giant as he
was in height, he bent down his head to me, and asked sharply, “What
name, sir?” I gave him my name, but at the sound of “Mc,” not thinking
it distinguished enough, he quietly said, “Pass on, sir,” and I
subsequently was presented by the Duke of Newcastle.



     _A Handsome, Courtly Man--A Turkey Chase--A Visit to Livingston
     Manor--An Ideal Life--On Horseback from Staatsburg to New
     York--Village Inn Dinners--I Entertain a Fashionable Party at the
     Gibbons Mansion--An Old House Rejuvenated--The Success of the
     Party--Country Life may be Enjoyed Here as well as in England if
     one has the Money and the Inclination for it--It means Hard Work
     for the Host, though._

All my life I had been taught to have a sort of reverence for the name
of Livingston, and to feel that Livingston Manor was a species of
palatial residence, that one must see certainly once in one’s lifetime.
The opportunity offered itself, and I seized upon it. The owner of the
upper Manor jokingly suggested our forming a party to go there, and take
possession of his house in October, and see the lovely autumn foliage.
By acclamation, it was resolved that the project be carried out, and I
went to work, spurring up my old friend, the owner of the Manor, to
prepare for us. As an important feature and member of this party, I must
here give a slight sketch of one of the handsomest, most fascinating,
most polished and courteous gentlemen of that or any other period. We
will here call him the Major; amiability itself, a man both sexes could
fall in love with. I loved him dearly, and when I lost him I felt much
of the charm of life had departed with him. At all these country
parties, he was always first and foremost. My rapidity of thought and
action always annoyed him. “My dear fellow,” he would say, “for heaven’s
sake, go slow; you tear through the streets as if at some one’s bidding.
A gentleman should stroll leisurely, casting his eyes in the shop
windows, as if in search of amusement, while you go at a killing pace,
as if on business bent. The man of fashion should have no business.”
Again, he had a holy horror of familiar garments. “My dear boy,” he
would smile and say, “when will you discard that old coat? I am so
familiar with it, I am fatigued at the sight of it.”

On one subject we were always in accord--our admiration for women. My
eye was quicker than his, and I often took advantage of it. I would say,
“Major, did you see that beauty? By Jove, a most delicious creature!”

“Who? Where?” he would exclaim.

“Why, man,” I replied, “she has passed you; you have lost her.”

“Lost her! How could you let that happen? Why, why did you not sooner
call my attention to her?”

Apropos of the Major, I must tell a good story at his expense:

As my farm parties were always gotten up at a day’s notice, I was often
in straits to provide the dishes, for all that was wanting to complete
the feast I furnished myself. A boned turkey, on one occasion, was
absolutely necessary. The day was a holiday. I must at once place it in
the cook’s hands. The shops were all shut, so I suggested to the Major
that he drive out with me to my farm and procure one. When we reached
the place, farmer and family, we found, had gone off visiting; there was
no one there. I took in the situation at a glance.

“Major,” I said, “there, in that field, is a gobbler; that turkey you
and I have got to catch, if it takes us all night to get him. Positively
I shall not leave the place without him.” He looked aghast. There he
was, in Poole’s clothes, the best dressed man in America! This he always
was. On this point, a friend once got this off on him. As he was
entering his club, with another well-dressed man of leisure, this
gentleman exclaimed, “Behold them! like the lilies of the field, they
toil not, neither do they spin, yet Solomon in all his glory was not
arrayed like one of these.” Clothes, or no clothes, in pursuit of the
turkey we went. Over fences, under fences, in barnyards and through
fields, at a full run, the perspiration pouring down the cheeks of the
dear old Major, and I screaming encouragement to him. “Try it again,
Major! head him off! now you have him!”

Finally, after an hour’s chase, we got the bird, when, throwing off his
coat, straightening himself up and throwing his arms akimbo, he
exclaimed, “Well, Mc, the profession of a gentleman has fallen very low
when it takes him to chasing turkeys.”

“My dear fellow,” I replied, “the great Chancellor Livingston once said,
‘a gentleman can do anything; he can clean his own boots, but he should
do it well.’”

To return to our excursion.

The party to go up the North River to the Manor Livingston, and ride
back to New York, was at once formed. My first discussion with the Major
was as to the propriety of taking a valet, he insisting it was
indispensable, that every college boy in England, on three hundred
pounds a year, had his valet. I contended that they were nuisances, and
it was not the habit to indulge in them here. Besides this, our host
would have his hands full in caring for us, and would feel we were
imposing on him if each of us took a man servant. This settled it. The
Major and I were to travel together and meet the party at Staatsburg.
Let me here say that people of the world put up with the annoyance of
travel better than any other class of people.

The glorious morning that we left the cars at Poughkeepsie, and mounted
our horses, I shall never forget. That lovely ride, from Poughkeepsie to
Staatsburg, under that superb row of old trees, put me in mind of the
Long Walk at Windsor; it is equally as handsome. We speculated on the
way as to what we were to expect. “If he has no _chef_, I leave in
twenty-four hours,” exclaimed my friend. I assured him we might feel
secure of finding artistic cooking and of having a very jolly good time.
Instead of a palace, I found a fine, old-fashioned country-house, very
draughty, but beautifully placed amid magnificent forest trees. My first
exploit was to set fire to the carpet in my room by building a huge
fire in my grate, to try and keep warm. As the Major put it, “My dear
boy, burn yourself up if you will, but kindly remember you endanger all
our lives.”

At eleven every morning we were all in the saddle, and went off for a
ride of some twenty miles, lunching at some fine house or other. It was
English life to perfection, and most enjoyable. Hyde Park, with two
superbly kept places, and its little village church on a Sunday, carried
you back to England, and it seemed then to me that you there found the
perfection of country life.

It was whilst dining in one of these old baronial mansions, that I
conceived the idea of transporting the whole party to my late
father-in-law’s place at Madison, New Jersey, and giving them myself, in
his old residence, another country entertainment. After inviting them, I
began to realize what I had undertaken. The house itself was all one
could wish, built of brick, and nearly as large as the White House in
Washington. But it had been shut up and unoccupied for years; however, I
was in for it and I resolved, in spite of all difficulties, to carry it
through successfully. After a week at the Manor, our whole party of some
dozen ladies and gentlemen mounted our horses, and rode down to New
York, sending the servants ahead by rail, to engage apartments, have our
rooms ready, and dinner prepared for us at the village inns where we
were to sleep. It was amusing to see the gentlemen in dress coats and
white cravats, and the ladies in their handsome toilets, sitting down in
a village inn to ham and eggs and boiled chicken and cabbage; but, as we
had always sent on the wine, and had the best of servants to look after
everything, we enjoyed these inn dinners very much. Not a murmur from
any of the ladies of any discomfort; they found everything charming and
amusing. So day by day we rode, chatting away and enjoying each other’s
society, and at night, after a cosy little meal, we were all only too
glad to seek the arms of Morpheus.

When I returned to my family at Newport and informed them of what I had
done, that I had invited a dozen of the most _difficile_, fastidious
people of Newport to pass ten days with us in New Jersey, at my
brother-in-law’s then unoccupied and shut-up residence, there was but
one exclamation, “You are crazy! How could you think of such a thing!
How are you to care for all these people in that old deserted house?”
All they said did not discourage me. I determined to show my friends
that, though the Gibbons mansion was not a Manor house, it was deserving
of the name, and was, at that date, one of the handsomest, largest, most
substantial, and well-built residences at the North. When the Civil War
broke out, my brother-in-law requested me to make it my home.

I give in detail all I did to successfully entertain my friends for ten
days in this old family house, as it may instruct others how to act in
a similar case. In London, during the season, one hires a house for a
few days to give a ball in, and there are many very superb large houses
used there in this way every year. Telegraphing at once to the agent who
had charge of this house to put an army of scrubbing-women in it, and
have it cleaned from cellar to garret, I next went into the wholesale
business of kerosene and lamps. In the country particularly there is
nothing like an illumination _à giorno_ at night. I hunted up an
experienced _chef_, got my servants, and then made _menus_ for ten
dinners, lunches, and breakfasts, as my guests were asked for a certain
length of time; engaged a country band of music for the evenings,
telegraphed to Baltimore for my canvasbacks, arranged for my fish,
vegetables, and flowers to be sent up by train daily from New York,
purchased myself every article of food that I would require to make up
these _menus_, gave orders for my ices, bonbons, and cakes, everything
that must be fresh to be good, to come to me by express; sent up my
wines, but no Madeira, as I knew there was enough of that wine in the
wine cellars of that old house to float a frigate; looked after my
stabling, and found we could stable twenty horses in a fine brick
stable, and house all the drags and vehicles. The conservatories were
full of orange and lemon trees. The house itself, architecturally, was a
duplicate of the White House in Washington, and almost as large. It had
a superb marble hall, 20 × 45, leading to a dining-room, 36 × 25. The
house was built in 1836, of brick, in a forest of trees, with the three
farms surrounding it really forming part of the grounds, containing a
thousand acres of land. The house and grounds cost in 1836 over
$150,000. All I had to do, then, was to reanimate the interior and take
from hidden recesses the fine old family china, and the vast quantity of
silver accumulated in the family for three generations. My wife’s
grandfather had been a distinguished lawyer; being wealthy, he had some
of his lawyer’s fees which were paid in Spanish dollars, melted into
plate. I only wish it had been my good fortune to have secured some of
those old grand silver salvers.

Before a guest arrived, everything on and about the place had life and
animation. To all my guests the house was a surprise, for it had never
before been shown to fashionable people. As on the North River, we
passed the days in the saddle, and driving four-in-hands, lunched with
many distinguished people, at their distant country places, and lived
for those ten days as thoroughly an English life as one would have lived
at a country house in England. I had invited young men to come down from
New York every evening to join us at dinner, and even the fastidious and
exacting Major, I think, was satisfied with everything. The success of
this party evidenced that a country house can be made as perfect and
enjoyable here as in any other country, provided you will take the
trouble and bear the expense. Now, Newport life is wholly and entirely a
contrast to all this, for the charm of that place is its society. You do
not bring it there, but find it there, and it takes care of itself, and
comes to you when you wish it; thus you are relieved of the care of
providing daily for a large company, to do which is well enough in
England, where you inherit your servants with your fortune, while here,
to have things properly done, be you who you may, you must give them
your time and attention. This country party I gave in November, 1862.



     _John Van Buren’s Dinner--I spend the Entire Day in getting my
     Dress-Coat--Lord Hartington criticises American
     Expressions--Contrast in our Way of Living in 1862 and 1890--In
     Social Union is Social Strength--We band Together for our Common
     Good--The Organisation of the “Cotillion Dinners”--The “Smart” Set,
     and the “Solid” Set--A Defense of Fashion._

Meeting John Van Buren as I left the cars in Jersey City to cross the
ferry to New York, he insisted on my dining with him that day at the
Union Club, to meet Lord Hartington, and his brother, Lord Edward
Cavendish, to whom he was giving a large dinner. I declined, as I had no
dress-suit in the city, but he would not take no for an answer.

“My dear man,” he said, “it will be an event in your life to meet these
distinguished men. Jump in the first train, return to your country home,
and get your dress-coat. By all means you must not miss my dinner.” As
I knew Lord Frederick Cavendish so well, I really wanted to meet his
brothers, and as no one could send me my spike-tail coat as they call it
at the South, I took a way train and consumed the entire day getting the
necessary outfit, and returning with it to the city. To compensate me
for my day’s work, Van Buren put me next to Lord Hartington. Chatting
with him, I asked him what he had seen in our habits, manners, and
speech that struck him as odd. At first he avoided making any criticism,
but finally he laughingly replied, “The way you all have of saying ‘Yes,
sir,’ or ‘No, sir.’ We never do this in England; it is used thus only by
servants.” James Brady, a great chum of our host’s, being at the dinner,
kept up an incessant fire at Van Buren, who retaliated with, “My dear
Lord Hartington, pay no attention to what my friend Brady says; all I
can say of him is that he is a man who passes one half his time in
defending criminals and the other half in assailing patriots, such as
myself.” I was well repaid for all the trouble I had taken to attend
this dinner.

At this time there were not more than one or two men in New York who
spent, in living and entertaining, over sixty thousand dollars a year.
There were not half a dozen _chefs_ in private families in this city.
Compare those days to these, and see how easily one or two men of
fortune could then control, lead, and carry on society, receive or shut
out people at their pleasure. If distinguished strangers failed to bring
letters to them, they were shut out from everything. Again, if, though
charming people, others were not in accord with those powers, they could
be passed over and left out of society. All this many of us saw, and saw
how it worked, and we resolved to band together the respectable element
of the city, and by this union make such strength that no individual
could withstand us. The motto, we felt, must be _nous nous soutenons_.
This motto we then assumed, and we hold it to this day, and have found
that the good and wise men of this community could always control
society. This they have done and are still doing. Our first step then in
carrying out these views was to arrange for a series of “cotillion

I must here explain, that behind what I call the “smart set” in society,
there always stood the old, solid, substantial, and respected people.
Families who held great social power as far back as the birth of this
country, who were looked up to by society, and who always could, when
they so wished, come forward and exercise their power, when, for one
reason or another, they would take no active part, joining in it
quietly, but not conspicuously. Ordinarily, they preferred, like the
gods, to sit upon Olympus. I remember a lady, the head of one of these
families, stating to me that she had lived longer in New York society
than any other person. This point, however, was not yielded or allowed
to go undisputed, for the daughter of a rival house contended that
_her_ family had been longer in New York society than any other family,
and though she had heard the assertion, as I gave it, she would not
admit its correctness. What I intend to convey is that the heads of
these families, feeling secure in their position, knowing that they had
great power when they chose to exercise it, took no leading part in
society’s daily routine. They gave handsome dinners, and perhaps, once a
year, a fine ball. I know of one or two families who have scrupulously
all their lives avoided display, anything that could make fashionable
people of them, holding their own, esteemed and respected, and when they
threw open their doors to society, all made a rush to enter. To this
day, if one of these old families, even one of its remotest branches,
gives a day reception, you will find the street in which they live
blockaded with equipages.

For years we have literally had but one _salon_ in this city--a
gathering in the evening of all the brilliant and cultivated people,
both young and old, embracing the distinguished strangers. A most
polished and cultivated Bostonian, a brilliant woman, was the first, in
my day, to receive in this way weekly. During her life she held this
_salon_, both here, and all through the summer in Newport. “The robe of
Elijah fell upon Elisha” in an extremely talented woman of the world,
who has most successfully held, and now holds, this _salon_, on the
first day of every week during the winter, and at Newport in summer.

The mistake made by the world at large is that fashionable people are
selfish, frivolous, and indifferent to the welfare of their
fellow-creatures; all of which is a popular error, arising simply from a
want of knowledge of the true state of things. The elegancies of
fashionable life nourish and benefit art and artists; they cause the
expenditure of money and its distribution; and they really prevent our
people and country from settling down into a humdrum rut and becoming
merely a money-making and money-saving people, with nothing to brighten
up and enliven life; they foster all the fine arts; but for fashion what
would become of them? They bring to the front merit of every kind; seek
it in the remotest corners, where it modestly shrinks from observation,
and force it into notice; adorn their houses with works of art, and
themselves with all the taste and novelty they can find in any quarter
of the globe, calling forth talent and ingenuity. Fashionable people
cultivate and refine themselves, for fashion demands this of them.
Progress is fashion’s watchword; it never stands still; it always
advances, it values and appreciates beauty in woman and talent and
genius in man. It is certainly always most charitable; it surrounds
itself with the elegancies of life; it soars, it never crawls. I know
the general belief is that all fashionable people are hollow and
heartless. My experience is quite the contrary. I have found as warm,
sympathetic, loving hearts in the garb of fashion as out of it. A
thorough acquaintance with the world enables them to distinguish the
wheat from the chaff, so that all the good work they do is done with
knowledge and effect. The world could not dispense with it. Fashion
selects its own votaries. You will see certain members of a family born
to it, as it were, others of the same family with none of its
attributes. You can give no explanation of this; “One is taken, the
other left.” Such and such a man or woman are cited as having been
always fashionable. The talent of and for society develops itself just
as does the talent for art.



     _Cost of Cotillion Dinners--My delicate Position--The Début of a
     Beautiful Blonde--Lord Roseberry’s mot--We have better Madeira than
     England--I am dubbed “The Autocrat of Drawing-rooms”--A Grand
     Domino Ball--Cruel Trick of a fair Mask--An English Lady’s Maid
     takes a Bath--The first Cotillion Dinners given at
     Newport--Out-of-Door Feasting--Dancing in the Barn._

But to return to our Cotillion Dinners. A friend thought they were
impracticable on account of the expense, but I had remembered talking to
the proprietor of the famous Restaurant Phillipe in Paris, as to the
cost of a dinner, he assuring me that its cost depended entirely on what
he called _les primeurs_, i.e. things out of season, and said that he
could give me, for a napoleon a head, an excellent dinner, if I would
leave out _les primeurs_. Including them, the same dinner would cost
three napoleons. “I can give you, for instance,” he said, “a _filet de
bœuf aux ceps_ at half the cost of a _filet aux truffes_, and so on,
through the dinner, can reduce the expense.” Submitting all this to my
friend Delmonico, I suggested a similar inexpensive dinner, and figured
the whole expense down until I reduced the cost of a cotillion dinner
for seventy-five or a hundred people to ten dollars each person, music
and every expense included. Calling on my friends, they seconded me, and
we then had a winter of successful cotillion dinners. It was no easy
task, however. How I was beset by the men to give them the women of
their choice to take in to dinner! and in turn by the ladies not to
inflict on them an uncongenial partner. The largest of these dinners,
consisting of over a hundred people, we gave at Delmonico’s, corner of
Fifth Avenue and Fourteenth Street, in the large ball-room. The table
was in the shape of a horseshoe. I stood at the door of the _salon_,
naming to each man the lady he was to take in to dinner, and well
remember one of them positively refusing to accept and take in a lady
assigned to him; and she, just entering, heard the dispute, and, in
consequence, would never again attend one of these dinners. Sitting at
the head of the table, with the two young and beautiful women who were
then the _grandes dames_ of that time, one on either side of me, we had
opposite to us, on the other side of the narrow, horseshoe table, a
young blonde bride, who had just entered society. I well remember the
criticisms these grand ladies made of and about her. The one, turning to
me, said, “And this is your lovely blonde, the handsomest blonde in
America!” The other, the best judge of her sex that I have ever seen,
then cast her horoscope, saying, “I consider her as beautiful a blonde
as I have ever seen. That woman, be assured, will have a brilliant
career. Such women are rare.” These words were prophetic, for that
beautiful bride, crossing the ocean in her husband’s yacht, wholly and
solely by her beauty gained for her husband and herself a brilliant
position in London society. Turning to me, the lady who had made this
remark asked me how she herself looked. I replied, “Like Venus rising
from the sea.” My serenity was here disturbed by finding that one of the
ladies, disliking her next neighbor, as soon as she discovered by the
card who it was, had quietly made an exchange of cards, depriving a
young gallant of the seat he most coveted, and for which he had long and
earnestly prayed. Of course, I was called to explain, and quiet the
disturbed waters. The gentleman was furious, and threatened dire
destruction to the culprit. I took in the situation, and protected the
fair lady by sacrificing the waiter. After the ladies left the table, at
these dinners, the gentlemen were given time to smoke a cigar and take
their coffee. On this occasion, the Earl of Roseberry was a guest.
Whilst smoking and commenting on the dinner, he said to me, “You
Americans have made a mistake; your emblematic bird should have been a
canvasback, not an eagle.”

It was either to this distinguished man or the Earl of Cork, at one of
these after-dinner conversations, that I held forth on the treatment of
venison, asserting that here, we always serve the _saddle_ of venison,
whilst in England they give the _haunch_. And when they send it off to a
friend, they box it up in a long narrow box, much resembling a coffin.
The reason for this was given me,--that their dinners were larger than
ours, and there was not enough on a saddle for an English dinner. Again,
I called attention to the fact that here we eat the tenderloin steak,
there they eat the rump steak, which we give to our servants. The reason
for this, I was told, was that they killed their cattle younger than we
killed ours, and did not work those intended for beef. On Madeira, I
stated, “we had them,” for, I said, “You have none to liken unto ours”;
though later on, at another dinner, when I made this assertion, the
Duke of Beaufort took me up on this point, and insisted upon it that in
many of the old country houses in England they had excellent Madeira.

The following anonymous lines on this dinner were sent to me the day

    There ne’er was seen so fair a sight
    As at Delmonico’s last night;
    When feathers, flowers, gems, and lace
    Adorned each lovely form and face;
    A garden of all thorns bereft,
    The outside world behind them left.
    They sat in order, as if “Burke”
    Had sent a message by his clerk.
    And by whose magic wand is this
    All conjured up? the height of bliss.
    ’Tis he who now before you looms,--
    The Autocrat of Drawing Rooms.

One of the events of this winter was a grand domino ball, the largest
ever given here. Our Civil War was then raging; a distinguished nobleman
appeared at that ball with his friend, a member of Parliament. Before he
could enter the ball-room, a domino stepped up to him and had an
encounter of words with him. “Are you as brave as you look?” she asked;
“will you do a woman’s bidding? I challenge you to grant me my request!”
“What is it?” he asked. “Allow me to pin on this badge?” “Certainly,”
was the gallant reply. As he passed through the rooms, it was seen that
he was wearing a Secession badge. It was thought to be an intended
affront to Northern people, and was immediately resented. His friend,
the member of Parliament, hearing of it, at once went up to him and
removed the badge. Many felt that this distinguished man was simply the
victim of a cruel, mischievous, and silly woman.

The following summer, as I had been so hospitably entertained in Nassau,
at Government House, I invited my old friend, the Governor of the
Bahamas, to pay me a visit at Newport. On a beautiful summer afternoon,
I drove up to the Brevoort House, and there I found him literally
surrounded by all his worldly goods, his entire household, with all
their effects. It took two immense stages and a huge baggage wagon to
convey them to the Fall River boat. Imagine this party coming from an
island where it was a daily struggle to procure food, viewing the
sumptuous supper-tables of these magnificent steamers (which certainly
made a great impression on them, for it caused them to be loud in their
expressions of astonishment and admiration). Reaching Newport at 2 A.M.,
on attempting to go ashore, I found His Excellency had lost all his
tickets. Our sharp Yankee captain took no stock in people who did such
things; so out came the Englishman’s pocket-book to pay again for the
entire party, the dear old gentleman declaring it was his fault, and he
ought to be made to pay for such carelessness. It did not take me long
to convince our captain that we were not sharpers; that we had paid our
passages, and we must needs be allowed to go ashore.

I was determined to evidence to my guests that they had reached the land
of plenty, and before they had been with me a week, the Governor
declared, with a sigh, “That he detested the sight of food.” I put him
through a course of vapor baths, and galloped him daily. On one
occasion, we visited the beach together, when the surf was full of
people. We saw an enormously tall, Rubens-like woman, clad in a clinging
garment of calico, exhilarated by the bath, jumping up and down, and in
her ecstasy throwing her arms up over her head. “Who is the creature?”
he exclaimed. “Is this allowed here! Why, man, you should not tolerate
it a moment!” I gave one look at the female, and then, convulsed with
laughter, seized his arm, exclaiming, “It is your wife’s English maid!”
If I had given him an electric shock, he could not have sprung out of
the wagon quicker. Rushing to the water’s edge, he shouted, “Down with
you! down with you, this instant, you crazy jade! how dare you disgrace
me in this way!” The poor girl, one could see, felt innocent of all
wrong, but quitted the water at lightning speed when she saw the crowd
the Governor had drawn around him.

The first Cotillion Dinner ever given at Newport, I gave at my Bayside
Farm. I chose a night when the moon would be at the full, and invited
guests enough to make up a cotillion. We dined in the open air at 6
P.M., in the garden adjoining the farm-house, having the gable end of
the house to protect us from the southerly sea breeze. In this way we
avoided flies, the pest of Newport. In the house itself we could not
have kept them from the table, while in the open air even a gentle
breeze, hardly perceptible, rids you of them entirely. The farm-house
kitchen was then near at hand for use. You sat on closely cut turf, and
with the little garden filled with beautiful standing plants, the
eastern side of the farm-house covered with vines, laden with pumpkins,
melons, and cucumbers, all giving a mixture of bright color against a
green background, with the whole farm lying before you, and beyond it
the bay and the distant ocean, dotted over with sailing craft, the sun,
sinking behind the Narragansett hills, bathing the Newport shore in
golden light, giving you, as John Van Buren then said to me, “As much of
the sea as you ever get from the deck of a yacht.” Add to this, the
exquisite toilets which our women wear on such occasions, a table laden
with every delicacy, and all in the merriest of moods, and you have a
picture of enjoyment that no shut-in ball-room could present. No
“pent-up Utica” then confined our powers. Men and women enjoyed a
freedom that their rural surroundings permitted, and, like the lambs
gambolling in the fields next them, they frisked about, and thus did
away with much of the stiff conventionality pertaining to a city

On this little farm I had a cellar for claret and a farm-house attic for
Madeira, where the cold Rhode Island winters have done much to preserve
for me wines of seventy and eighty years of age. On this occasion, I
remember giving them Amory of 1811 (one of the greatest of Boston
Madeiras), and I saw the men hold it up to the light to see its
beautiful amber color, inhale its bouquet, and quaff it down “with
tender eyes bent on them.”

A marked feature of all my farm dinners was _Dindonneaux à la Toulouse_,
and _à la Bordelaise_ (chicken turkeys). In past days, turkeys were
thought to be only fine on and after Thanksgiving Day in November, but I
learnt from the French that the turkey _poult_ with _quenelle de
volaille_, with either a white or dark sauce, was the way to enjoy the
Rhode Island turkey. I think they were first served in this way on my
farm in Newport. Now they are thus cooked and accepted by all as the
summer delicacy.

After dinner we strolled off in couples to the shore (a beach
three-quarters of a mile in length), or sat under the group of trees
looking on the beautiful bay.

My brother, Colonel McAllister, had exercised his engineering skill in
fitting up my barn with every kind and sort of light. He improvised a
chandelier for the center of it, adorned the horse and cattle stalls
with vines and greens, fitted them up with seats for my guests (all
nicely graveled), and put a band of music in the hay-loft, with the
middle part of the barn floored over for dancing. We had a scene that
Teniers has so often painted. We danced away late into the night, then
had a glorious moonlight to drive home by.

I must not omit to mention one feature of these parties. It was the
“Yacht Club rum punch,” made from old Plantation rum, placed in huge
bowls, with an immense block of ice in each bowl, the melting ice being
the only liquid added to the rum, except occasionally when I would pour
a bottle of champagne in, which did it no injury.



     _The first private Balls at Delmonico’s--A Nightingale who drove
     Four-in-hand--Private Theatricals in a Stable--A Yachting Excursion
     without wind and a Clam-bake under difficulties--A Poet describes
     the Fiasco--Plates for foot-stools and parboiled Champagne for the
     thirsty--The Silver, Gold, and Diamond Dinners--Giving presents to

Let us now return to New York and its gaieties. The Assemblies were
always given at Delmonico’s in Fourteenth Street, the best people in the
city chosen as a committee of management, and under the patronage of
ladies of established position. They were large balls, and embraced all
who were in what may be termed General Society. They were very
enjoyable. A distinguished banker, the head of one of our old families,
then gave the first _private_ ball at Delmonico’s to introduce his
daughters to society. It was superb. The Delmonico rooms were admirably
adapted for such an entertainment. There were at least eight hundred
people present, and the host brought from his well-filled cellar his
best Madeira and Hock. His was the pioneer private ball at this house.
Being a success, it then became the fashion to give private balls at
Delmonico’s, and certainly one could not have found better rooms for
such a purpose. One of the grandest and handsomest fancy balls ever
given here was given in these rooms a little later. Absent at the South,
I did not attend it. Then came in an era of great extravagance and

A beautiful woman, who was a nightingale in song, gave a fancy ball. It
was brilliantly successful, and brought its leader to the front, and
gave her a large following. It made her, with the personal attractions
she possessed, the belle of that winter. Among other accomplishments,
she drove four horses beautifully. I remember during the summer passing
her on Bellevue Avenue as she sat perched up on the box-seat of a drag,
driving four fine horses, handling the ribbons with a grace and ease
that was admirable. All paid court to her. She won the hearts of both
men and women.

At this time a man of great energy and pluck loomed up, and attracted,
in fact absorbed to a great extent, the attention of society. Full of
energy and enterprise, and supplied with abundant means, he did a great
deal for New York, much that will live after him. He created Jerome
Park; and not only created it, but got society into it. He made it the
Goodwood of America, and caused society to take an interest in it. He
opened that park most brilliantly, and, by his energy and perseverance,
rendered it for years a most enjoyable place for all New Yorkers.
Admiring the beautiful cantatrice, he proposed to her to turn his
luxurious stables into a theatre, and ask the fashionable world to come
and see her act “for sweet charity’s sake,”--to raise funds for the sick
and wounded soldiers. In doing this, he assured her that she would
literally bring the fashionable world to her feet to petition and sue
for tickets of admission to this theatre. And so it proved. All flocked
to see this accomplished woman act. The work of this energetic man was
admirably done. He made a gem of his stable. I can but compare it to a
little royal theatre. As you entered you were received by liveried
servants, and by them conducted to your seat, where you found yourself
surrounded by a most brilliant assemblage; and on the stage, as amateur
actresses, supporting the fair singer, the fashionable beauties of that
day. This was not the least of this generous man’s performances. Being
an admirable four-in-hand driver, he at once revived the spirit for
driving four horses. He turned out daily with his drag or coach loaded
with beautiful women, and drove to every desirable little country inn in
and about the city, where one could dine at all well, crossing ferries,
and driving up Broadway with the ease and skill of a veteran whip, which
he was. His projects were, if anything, too grand. He lavished money on
all these things; his conceptions were good, but, like many great minds,
at times he was too unmindful of detail. On one occasion, at Newport, he
came to me, and told me he had mapped out a country _fête_, asked my
advice about getting it up, but failed to take it, and then brought
about his first _fiasco_. He asked the _beau monde_ to embark on the
yachts then lying in the harbor, and go with him to Stone Bridge to a
dance and clambake. All the yachtsmen placed their yachts at his
disposal. At 12 M., all Newport, i.e. the fashion of the place, was on
these yachts. At the prow of the boats he had placed his champagne. Down
came the broiling sun, and a dead calm fell upon the waters. Tugs were
called in to tow the yachts. Orders had been given that not a biscuit or
glass of wine was to be served to any of the party on these boats, that
we might reach the feast at the Bridge with sharp appetites. The sun
went down, and the night set in before we landed. We were then taken to
an orchard, the high grass a foot deep all wet, and saw before us great
plates of stewed soft clams and corn that had been cooked and ready for
us at 2 P.M. The women put their plates on the grass, and their feet in
them, so at least to have a dry footing. The champagne was parboiled,
the company enveloped in darkness, and famished, so that all pronounced
this kind of clambake picnic a species of _fête_ not to be indulged in
knowingly a second time. The great wit of the day, his boon companion,
called it “The Melancholy Fête.” The following anonymous lines on this
clambake were sent me:


    Clams, clams, clams,
      Will always be thrown in my teeth.
    Clams, clams, clams!
      I’ll be crowned with a chowder wreath.

    Bread and pickles and corn,
      Corn and pickles and bread.
    Whenever I sleep huge ghosts appear
      With _clam_orous mouths to be fed.

    Oh, women, with appetites strong!
      Oh, girls, who I thought lived on air!
    I did not mean to leave you so long
      With nothing to eat, I declare.

    Clams, clams, clams!
      I have nothing but clams on the brain.
    I’m sure all my life, and after my death
      I’ll be roasted and roasted again.

    Oh, tugs, why could you not pull?
      Oh, winds, why would you not blow?
    I’m sure I did all that man could do
      That my clambake shouldn’t be slow.

Not in the least discouraged by this failure, returning to New York, he
planned three dinners to be given by himself and two of his friends, to
be the three handsomest dinners ever given in this city. Lorenzo
Delmonico exclaimed, “What are the people coming to! Here, three
gentlemen come to me and order three dinners, and each one charges me to
make his dinner the best of the three. I am given an unlimited order,
‘Charge what you will, but make my dinner the best.’” Delmonico then
said to me, “I told my cook to call them the Silver, Gold, and Diamond
dinners, and have novelties at them all.” I attended these three
dinners. Among other dishes, we had canvasback duck, cut up and made
into an _aspic de canvasback_, and again, string beans, with truffles,
cold, as a salad, and truffled ice cream; the last dish, strange to say,
very good. At one dinner, on opening her napkin, each fair lady guest
found a gold bracelet with the monogram of Jerome Park in chased gold in
the centre. Now it must be remembered that this habit of giving ladies
presents at dinners did not originate in this city. Before my day, the
wealthy William Gaston, a bachelor, gave superb dinners in Savannah,
Ga., and there, always placed at each lady’s plate a beautiful Spanish
fan of such value that they are preserved by the grandchildren of those
ladies, and are proudly exhibited to this day.



     _The Four-in-Hand Craze--Postilions and Outriders Follow--A
     Trotting-Horse Courtship--Cost of Newport Picnics Then and
     Now--Driving off a Bridge--An Accident that might have been
     Serious--A Dance at a Tea-house--The Coachmen make a Raid on the
     Champagne--They are all Intoxicated and Confusion Reigns--A
     Dangerous Drive Home._

It seemed at this time, that the ingenuity of man was put to the test to
invent some new species of entertainment. The winter in New York being
so gay, people were in the vein for frolic and amusement, and feeling
rich, as the currency was inflated, prices of everything going up,
Newport had a full and rushing season. The craze was for drags or
coaches. My old friend, the Major, was not to be outdone, so he brought
out four spanking bays; and again, an old bachelor friend of mine, a man
of large fortune, but the quietest of men, I found one fine summer
morning seated on the box seat of a drag, and tooling four fine
roadsters. But this did not satisfy the swells. Soon came two out-riders
on postilion saddles, following the drag; and again, several pairs of
fine horses ridden by postilions _à la demi d’Aumont_. A turnout then
for a picnic was indeed an event. In those days, a beautiful spot on the
water, called “The Glen,” was often selected for these country parties.
It was a romantic little nook, about seven miles from Newport, on what
is called the East Passage, which opens on the Atlantic Ocean.

A young friend of mine, then paying court to a brilliant young woman,
came to me for advice. He wanted to impress the object of his
attentions, and proposed to do so by hiring two of the fastest trotting
horses in Rhode Island, and driving the young lady out behind them to
the “Glen” picnic. His argument was, that it was more American than any
of your tandem or four-in-hands, or postilion riding; that the pace he
should go at would be terrific, and he would guarantee to do the seven
miles within twenty minutes. He was what we call a thorough
trotting-horse man; much in love; worshipped horses; disliked style in
them, going in for speed alone. I tried to dissuade him.

“It will never do,” I said; “it is not the fashion; the lady you drive
out will be beautifully dressed, and you will cover her with dust;
besides, the pace will alarm her.”

“Never fear that, my man,” he answered. “The girl has grit; she will go
through anything. She is none of your milk-and-water misses; I can’t go
too fast for her.”

“Have it as you will, then,” I said; and off he went to Providence to
secure, through influence, these two wonderfully speedy trotters.

We were all grouped beautifully at the Glen, when, all of a sudden, we
heard something descending the hill at a terrific pace; it was
impossible to make out what it was, as it was completely hidden by a
cloud of dust. Down it came, with lightning speed, and when it got
opposite to the Major and me, we heard a loud “Whoa, my boys, whoa!” and
the vehicle came to a stop. The occupants, a man and woman, were so
covered with mud and dust that you could barely distinguish the one from
the other. I ran up to the side of the wagon, saw a red, indignant face,
and an outstretched hand imploring me to take her out. Seizing my arm,
she sprang from the wagon, exclaiming, “The horrid creature! I never
wish to lay eyes on him again,” and then she burst into tears. Her whole
light, exquisite dress was totally ruined, and she a sight to behold.
Turning to him, I saw a glow of triumph in his face; his watch was in
his hand. “I did it, by Jove! I did it, and ten seconds to spare!--they
are tearers!”

I quietly replied, “They are indeed tearers, they have torn your
business into shreds.”

“Fudge, man!” he said; “she wont mind it; she was a bit scared, to be
sure; but she hung on to my arm, and we came through all right.” He then
sought his victim. I soon saw by his dejected manner that she had given
him the mitten, and, as I passed him, slowly walking his horses home, I
philosophized to this extent: “Trotting horses and fashion do not

Our next great day-time frolic was at Bristol Ferry. There we had a
large country hotel which we took possession of. We got the best dinner
giver then in Newport to lend us his _chef_, and I took my own colored
cook, a native of Baltimore, who had, at the Maryland Ducking Club,
gained a reputation for cooking game, ducks, etc. We determined, on this
occasion, to have a trial of artistic skill between a creole woman cook,
the best of her class, and the best _chef_ we had in this country. We
were to have sixty at dinner; dishes confined to Spanish mackerel,
soft-shell crabs, woodcock, and chicken partridges. It is needless to
say, the Frenchman came off victorious, though my creole cook contended
that the French _chef_ would not eat his own cooked dishes, but devoured
her soft-shell crabs.

On this occasion we had a grand turnout of drags, postilions _à la demi
d’Aumont_, and tandems. I led the cotillion myself, dancing in the large
drawing-room of the inn; and it all went so charmingly that it was late
into the night when we left the place. It was as dark as Erebus. We had
eleven miles to drive, and I saw that some of our four-in-hand drivers
felt a little squeamish. My old bachelor friend had in his drag a
precious cargo. On the box-seat with him sat our nightingale, and I had
in my four-seated open wagon our queen of society and a famous Baltimore
belle. “Is the road straight or crooked?” I was asked, on all sides.
Having danced myself nearly to death, and being well fortified with
champagne, I found it straight as an arrow, as I was then oblivious to
its crooks and turns. Off we all started up the hill at a canter. I
remember my friend, the Major, shouting to me, “The devil take the
hindmost,” and the admonition to him of his old family coachman, who
accompanied him that day, “Be careful, sir, the road is not as straight
as it might be.” Driving along at a spanking pace, the horses fresh, the
ladies jubilant, I as happy as a lord,--there was a scream, then
another, then a plunge, and a splash of water. Dark as it was, standing
up in my wagon, I shouted, “By Jove! he has driven off the bridge,”--and
off the bridge he was, drag upset and four horses mired in mud and
water. One young fellow, in the excitement of the moment, sprang to the
side of my wagon, and tried to wrench off one of my lamps. How then I
admired the plucky, cool little woman at my side! She never lost her
presence of mind for a second; gave directions quietly and effectively,
and soon brought order out of chaos. From a jolly, festive procession,
we were turned into a sad, melancholy species of funeral cortège. The
ladies were picked out of the wreck, and placed in the different drags
and wagons, and we wended on our way at a walk, ten dreary miles to
Newport. One brilliant youth of the Diplomatic Corps, as we passed a
farm-house, making it just out in the dark, was asked to procure for our
invalids a glass of water. He rushed to the house, banging against the
door, and shouting, “House, house, house, wont you hear, wont you hear?”
The old farmer poked his head out of the window, answering him, “Why,
man, the house can’t talk! what do you want here at this time of night?
I know who you are, you are some of McAllister’s picnickers. I saw you
go by this morning. I s’pose you want milk, but you wont get a drop

As picnics, country dinners, and breakfasts were then Newport’s
feature, they took the place of balls, all the dancing and much of the
dining being done in the open air. I would here say that as every family
took to these parties their butler, and carried out the wines and all
the dishes, their cost in money was insignificant. We would pay
twenty-five dollars for the farm or grove to which we went for the day.
Twenty-five dollars for the country band, as much for the hire of
silver, linen, crockery, etc., and ten dollars for a horse, wagon and
man to take everything out, making the entire outlay in money on each
occasion eighty-five to a hundred dollars. A picnic dinner and dance at
my farm, furnishing everything myself, no outside contributions, for
fifty or sixty people, would cost me then three hundred dollars,
everything included. What a difference to the present time! I got up one
of these country dances and luncheons summer before last at my farm,
where, under a pretty grove of trees, I had built a dancing platform
from which you can throw a biscuit into the beautiful waters of
Narragansett Bay. Lending the farm to the party, every one bringing a
dish, hiring the servants and music, cost us in money eight hundred and
six dollars and eighty-four cents. There were 140 people present. The
railroad running through the farm, the train stopped on the place itself
within a few rods of the group of trees. Leaving Newport at 2 P.M., in
six minutes we are on the place, and at a quarter of five the train
returned to us, thus ridding ourselves of coachmen and grooms, finding
them all at the railway station when we reached Newport on our return at
5 P.M., to take us for our usual afternoon drive.

But to return to the past. When Newport was in its glory, and outshone
itself, the young men of that day resolved to give me a lesson in
picnic-giving. What they had done well in and about New York, they felt
they could do equally well in Newport, so they sent to the city for
Delmonico with all his staff, and invited all Newport to a dance and
country dinner at a large teahouse some six miles from Newport,
adjoining Oaklands, the then Gibbs farm, later on the property of Mr.
August Belmont, and now belonging to Mr. Cornelius Vanderbilt, being his
model farm, one of the loveliest spots on Newport Island. Delmonico took
possession of this huge barrack of a house, and to work his waiters went
to arrange in the large, old dining-room his beautiful collation, which
was all brought from New York. The entire party were dancing the
cotillion in the front parlor of the house, and grouped on its front
piazzas. As 5 P.M. approached, an irresistible desire, an inward craving
for food, became apparent. Committeemen were beset with the question,
when are we going to have the collation? They rushed off to hurry up
things, and then one by one reappeared with blanched faces, and an
unmistakable anxious, troubled look. Finally they came to me with, “My
dear fellow, what is to be done? Come and see for yourself.” Dragging
me into the dining-room and pantries of the hotel I there indeed saw a
sight to behold. All the coachmen and grooms had made a foray on the
abundant supplies, tumbled Delmonico’s French waiters into the cellar of
the hotel, and locked them up; then, taking possession of the
dining-room, held high carnival. Every mouthful of solid food was eaten
up, and all the champagne drunk; the ices, jellies, and confectionery
they left untouched. As I viewed the scene, I recalled Virgil’s
description of a wreck, “_Apparent rari in gurgite nantes_.” Every
coachman and groom was intoxicated, and, as the whole party at once took
flight to secure dinner at home, the scene on the road beggared
description. The coachmen swayed to and fro like the pendulum of a
clock; the postilions of the _demi d’Aumonts_ hung on by the manes of
their horses, when they lost their equilibrium. The women, as usual,
behaved admirably. As one said to me, “My man is beastly intoxicated,
but I shall appear not to notice it. The horses are gentle, they will go
of themselves.” My old friend, the Major, at once held a council of war,
and it was suggested that all turn in and thrash the fellows soundly,
but prudence dictated that at that work man was as good as master, that
the result might be doubtful; so all dolefully got away in the best
manner possible. The Major thus harangued his old family coachman:
“Richard, I am astonished at you; the other men’s rascally conduct does
not surprise me, but you, an old family servant, to so disgrace
yourself, shocks me.” The reply was, “I own up, Major, but indade, I am
a weak craythur.”



     _Grand Banquet to a Bride-elect--She sat in a bank of Roses with
     Fountains playing around her--An Anecdote of Almack’s--The way the
     Duke of Wellington introduced my Father and Dominick Lynch to the
     Swells--I determine to have an American Almacks’--The way the
     “Patriarchs’” was founded--The One-man Power Abolished--Success of
     the Organization._

The two young women of the most distinguished bearing in my day in this
country were, in my opinion, the one the daughter of our ex-Secretary of
State and ex-Governor, the other the daughter of my friend, the Major.
They both looked as born of noble race, and were always, when they
appeared, the centre of attraction. When the engagement of the Major’s
daughter was announced, one of her admirers asked me to go with him to
Charles Delmonico, as he was desirous of giving this fair lady a
Banquet, to commemorate the initial step she had taken in woman’s
career. In the words of the poet, she was then

    “A thought matured, but not uttered,
    A conception warm and glowing, not yet embodied.”

Now, all was to expand into noble womanhood, and she must needs put away
childish things and bid a sweet farewell to all who had worshipped at
her shrine. This worshipper wanted to make this an occasion in her life,
as well as his; so with Delmonico’s genius we were to conceive a banquet
for this fair maid, at which, like a Queen of May, she was to sit in a
bower of roses. And this she literally did, placed there by her host, a
scion of one of New York’s oldest families, whose family was interwoven
with the Livingstons, and by marriage closely connected with the great
Robert Fulton. It was the first of these lavish and gorgeous
entertainments, known as Banquets. Fifty-eight guests dining in
Delmonico’s large ball-room; the immense oval table filling the whole
room, and covered with masses of exquisite flowers. There were three
fountains, one in the centre, and the others at each end of the table,
throwing up a gentle spray of water, but always so planned that nothing
on the table in any way impeded the sight; one from all sides of it
could see over these beautiful flower-beds and through the spray. A
cotillion followed the dinner, and then back all returned to the
dining-room and supped as the early dawn crept on us.

Close association at a small watering-place naturally produces jars.
People cannot always agree. When you become very rich and powerful, and
people pay you court, it follows in many cases that you become exacting
and domineering. It soon became evident that people of moderate means,
who had no social power to boast of, must needs be set aside and crowded
out if the one-man power, or even the united power of two or three
colossally rich men, controlled society. One reflected that that would
not work. The homage we pay to a society leader must come from the
esteem and admiration which is felt for him, but must not be exacted or
forced. It occurred then to me, that if one in any way got out with the
powers that be, his position might become critical, and he so forced out
of the way as to really lose his social footing. Where then was the
remedy for all this? How avoid this contingency? On reflection I reached
this conclusion, that in a country like ours there was always strength
in union; that to blend together the solid, respectable element of any
community for any project, was to create a power that would carry to
success almost any enterprise; therefore, returning to New York for the
winter, I looked around society and invoked the aid of the then quiet
representative men of this city, to help me form an association for the
purpose of giving our winter balls.

As a child, I had often listened with great interest to my father’s
account of his visit to London, with Dominick Lynch, the greatest swell
and beau that New York had ever known. He would describe his going with
this friend to Almack’s, finding themselves in a brilliant assemblage
of people, knowing no one, and no one deigning to notice them; Lynch,
turning to my father, exclaimed: “Well, my friend, geese indeed were we
to thrust ourselves in here where we are evidently not wanted.” He had
hardly finished the sentence, when the Duke of Wellington (to whom they
had brought letters, and who had sent them tickets to Almack’s) entered,
looked around, and, seeing them, at once approached them, took each by
the arm, and walked them twice up and down the room; then, pleading an
engagement, said “good-night” and left. Their countenances fell as he
rapidly left the room, but the door had barely closed on him, when all
crowded around them, and in a few minutes they were presented to every
one of note, and had a charming evening. He described to us how Almack’s
originated,--all by the banding together of powerful women of influence
for the purpose of getting up these balls, and in this way making them
the greatest social events of London society.

Remembering all this, I resolved in 1872 to establish in New York an
American Almack’s, taking men instead of women, being careful to select
only the leading representative men of the city, who had the right to
create and lead society. I knew all would depend upon our making a
proper selection.

There is one rule in life I invariably carry out--never to rely wholly
on my own judgment, but to get the advice of others, weigh it well and
satisfy myself of its correctness, and then act on it. I went in this
city to those who could make the best analysis of men; who knew their
past as well as their present, and could foresee their future. In this
way, I made up an Executive Committee of three gentlemen, who daily met
at my house, and we went to work in earnest to make a list of those we
should ask to join in the undertaking. One of this Committee, a very
bright, clever man, hit upon the name of Patriarchs for the
Association, which was at once adopted, and then, after some discussion,
we limited the number of Patriarchs to twenty-five, and that each
Patriarch, for his subscription, should have the right of inviting to
each ball four ladies and five gentlemen, including himself and family;
that all distinguished strangers, up to fifty, should be asked; and then
established the rules governing the giving of these balls--all of which,
with some slight modifications, have been carried out to the letter to
this day. The following gentlemen were then asked to become
“Patriarchs,” and at once joined the little band:


The object we had in view was to make these balls thoroughly
representative; to embrace the old Colonial New Yorkers, our adopted
citizens, and men whose ability and integrity had won the esteem of the
community, and who formed an important element in society. We wanted the
money power, but not in any way to be controlled by it. Patriarchs were
chosen solely for their fitness; on each of them promising to invite to
each ball only such people as would do credit to the ball. We then
resolved that the responsibility of inviting each batch of nine guests
should rest upon the shoulders of the Patriarch who invited them, and
that if any objectionable element was introduced, it was the
Management’s duty to at once let it be known by whom such objectionable
party was invited, and to notify the Patriarch so offending, that he had
done us an injury, and pray him to be more circumspect. He then stood
before the community as a sponsor of his guest, and all society, knowing
the offense he had committed, would so upbraid him, that he would go
and sin no more. We knew then, and we know now, that the whole secret of
the success of these Patriarch Balls lay in making them select; in
making them the most brilliant balls of each winter; in making it
extremely difficult to obtain an invitation to them, and to make such
invitations of great value; to make them the stepping-stone to the best
New York society, that one might be sure that any one repeatedly invited
to them had a secure social position, and to make them the best managed,
the best looked-after balls given in this city. I soon became as much
interested in them as if I were giving them in my own house; their
success I felt was my success, and their failure, my failure; and be
assured, this identifying oneself with any undertaking is the secret of
its success. One should never say, “Oh, it is a subscription ball; I’m
not responsible for it.” It must always be said, “I must be more careful
in doing this for others, than in doing it for myself.” Nothing must be
kept in view but the great result to be reached, i.e. the success of the
entertainment, the pleasure of the whole. When petitioned to curtail the
expense, lower the subscription, our reply has always been, “We cannot
do it if it endangers the success of the balls. While we give them, let
us make them the great social events in New York society; make our
suppers the best that can be given in this city; decorate our rooms as
lavishly as good taste permits, spare no expense to make them a credit
to ourselves and to the great city in which they are given.”

The social life of a great part of our community, in my opinion, hinges
on this and similar organizations, for it and they are organized social
power, capable of giving a passport to society to all worthy of it. We
thought it would not be wise to allow a handful of men having royal
fortunes to have a sovereign’s prerogative, i.e. to say whom society
shall receive, and whom society shall shut out. We thought it better to
try and place such power in the hands of representative men, the choice
falling on them solely because of their worth, respectability, and



     _A Lady who has led Society for many Years--A Grand Dame
     indeed--The Patriarchs a great social Feature--Organizing the F. C.
     D. C.--Their Rise and Fall--The Mother Goose Ball--My Encounters
     with socially ambitious Workers--I try to Please all--The Famous
     “Swan Dinner”--It cost $10,000--A Lake on the Dinner-table--The
     Swans have a mortal Combat._

As a rule, in this city, heads of families came to the front, and took
an active part in society when they wished to introduce their daughters
into it.

The first Patriarch Balls were given in the winters of 1872 and 1873. At
this period, a great personage (representing a silent power that had
always been recognized and felt in this community, so long as I
remember, by not only fashionable people, but by the solid old quiet
element as well) had daughters to introduce into society, which brought
her prominently forward and caused her at once to take a leading
position. She possessed great administrative power, and it was soon put
to good use and felt by society. I then, for the first time, was brought
in contact with this _grande dame_, and at once recognized her ability,
and felt that she would become society’s leader, and that she was
admirably qualified for the position.

It was not long before circumstances forced her to assume the
leadership, which she did, and which she has held with marked ability
ever since, having all the qualities necessary,--good judgment and a
great power of analysis of men and women, a thorough knowledge of all
their surroundings, a just appreciation of the rights of others, and,
coming herself from an old Colonial family, a good appreciation of the
value of ancestry; always keeping it near her, and bringing it in, in
all social matters, but also understanding the importance and power of
the new element; recognizing it, and fairly and generously awarding to
it a prominent place. Having a great fortune, she had the ability to
conceive and carry out social projects; and this she has done, always
with success, ever ready to recognize ability and worth, and give to it
advice and assistance. Above all things, a true and loyal friend in
sunshine or shower. Deeply interested in the welfare of this city, she
lent herself to any undertaking she felt worthy of her support, and once
promising it her aid, she could be always relied on and always found
most willing to advance its interests. With such a friend, we felt the
Patriarchs had an additional social strength that would give them the
solidity and lasting powers which they have shown they possess. Whenever
we required advice and assistance on or about them, we went to her, and
always found ourselves rewarded in so doing by receiving suggestions
that were invaluable. Quick to criticise any defect of lighting or
ornamentation, or arrangement, she was not backward in chiding the
management for it, and in this way made these balls what they were in
the past, what they are in the present, and what we hope they may be in
the future.

The Patriarchs, from their very birth, became a great social feature.
You could but read the list of those who gave these balls, to see at a
glance that they embraced not only the smart set, but the old
Knickerbocker families as well; and that they would, from the very
nature of the case, representing the best society of this great
commercial city, have to grow and enlarge. Applications to be made
Patriarchs poured in from all sides; every influence was brought to bear
to secure a place in this little band, and the pressure was so great
that we feared the struggle would be too fierce and engender too much
rancor and bad feeling, and that this might of itself destroy them. The
argument against them, the one most strongly urged, was that they were
overturning all old customs; that New Yorkers had been in the habit of
taking an active part in society only when they had daughters to bring
out, _lancée-ing_ their daughters, and they themselves taking a back
seat. But that here in this new association, the married women took a
more prominent place than the young girls; _they_ were the belles of the
balls, and not the young girls. This was Europeanizing New York too

Hearing all this, and fearing we would grow unpopular, to satisfy the
public we at once got up a new association, wholly for the young girls,
and called it The Family Circle Dancing Class. Its name would in itself
explain what it was, a small gathering of people in a very small and
intimate way, so that unless one was in close intimacy with those
getting up these dances, they would have no possible claim to be
included in them. Any number of small subscription parties had been
formed, such as “The Ancient and Honorables,” “The New and Notables,”
“The Mysterious,” and “The Fortnightlies.” All had been most enjoyable,
but short-lived. The F. C. D. C’s. were to be, in fact, “Junior
Patriarchs,” under the same management, and were to be cherished and
nourished by the same organization. They were given at first in six
private houses. The first was held at Mr. William Butler Duncan’s; the
second at Mr. Ward McAllister’s; the third at Mr. De Lancey Kane’s; the
fourth at Mr. William Astor’s; the fifth at Mr. George Henry Warren’s,
and the sixth at Mr. Lewis Colford Jones’s. I gave mine in my house in
West Nineteenth Street, and then saw what it was to turn a house inside
out for a ball, and how contracted everything must necessarily be in a
twenty-five foot house, to receive guests in it, give them a _salle de
danse_ and a supper room, and then concluded that we must go in most
cases to a good-sized ball-room to give an enjoyable dance.

From the first, these dances were very popular. They gave the Patriarch
balls the relief they required, and were rapidly growing in favor and
threatened in the end to become formidable rivals of the Patriarchs. The
same pains were taken in getting them up, as were given to the
Patriarchs. We had them but for one season in private houses, and then
gave them at Dodworth’s, now Delmonico’s. Later on, when this house
changed hands and became Delmonico’s, we gave them all there, with the
exception of one winter when we gave them in the foyers of the
Metropolitan Opera House. We made the subscription to them an individual
subscription, each lady and gentleman subscribing $12.00 for the three
balls. One of them at Delmonico’s we made a “Mother Goose” Ball. It was
a species of fancy dress ball, powdered hair being _de rigueur_ for all
ladies who did not wear fancy costumes, and the feature of the occasion
was the “Mother Goose” Quadrille, which had been planned and prepared
with much skill and taste. This Quadrille was made up of sixteen
couples and was danced at eleven o’clock. As those who danced in it
passed you as they marched from the hall into the ball-room, you found
it a beautiful sight truly. Many of the men wore pink. Some of the
characters were droll indeed. Among others, “Tom, Tom, the Piper’s son,”
with his traditional pig; “A man in the moon, who had come down too
soon”; one lady as “Twinkle, twinkle, little star”; “Mother Hubbard,” in
an artistic costume of scarlet chintz; “Mary, Mary, quite contrary”;
“Little Bo-Peep,” “The Maid in the garden hanging out the clothes,”
“Punch and Judy”; “Oranges and Lemons”; while M. de Talleyrand appeared
as a _mignon_ of Henry the Second. “Mother Goose” herself was also
there. The feature of the evening was the singing of the nursery rhymes.
The second was the “Pinafore” Quadrille introducing the music of that
operetta. All the men who danced in it were in sailor’s dress. Then
followed a Hunting Quadrille, in which every man wore a scarlet coat.

I little knew what I was undertaking when I started these F. C. D. C.
Balls. From the giving of the first of these dances, out of a private
house, to the time of my giving them up, I had no peace either at home
or abroad. I was assailed on all sides, became in a sense a diplomat,
committed myself to nothing, promised much and performed as little as
possible. I saw at once the rock on which we must split: that the
pressure would be so great to get in, no one could resist it; that our
parties must become too general, and that in the end the smart set would
give up going to them. I knew that when this occurred, they were doomed;
but I fought for their existence manfully, and if I could here narrate
all I went through to keep these small parties select, I would fill a
volume. My mornings were given up to being interviewed of and about
them; mothers would call at my house, entirely unknown to me, the sole
words of introduction being, “Kind sir, I have a daughter.” These words
were cabalistic; I would spring up, bow to the ground, and reply: “My
dear madam, say no more, you have my sympathy; we are in accord; no
introduction is necessary; you have a daughter, and want her to go to
the F. C. D. C’s. I will do all in my power to accomplish this for you;
but my dear lady, please understand, that in all matters concerning
these little dances I must consult the powers that be. I am their humble
servant; I must take orders from them.” All of which was a figure of
speech on my part. “May I ask if you know any one in this great city,
and whom do you know? for to propitiate the powers that be, I must be
able to give them some account of your daughter.” This was enough to set
my fair visitor off. The family always went back to King John, and in
some instances to William the Conqueror. “My dear madam,” I would reply,
“does it not satisfy any one to come into existence with the birth of
one’s country? In my opinion, four generations of gentlemen make as good
and true a gentleman as forty. I know my English brethren will not agree
with me in this, but, in spite of them, it is my belief.” With disdain,
my fair visitor would reply, “You are easily satisfied, sir.” And so on,
from day to day, these interviews would go on; all were Huguenots,
Pilgrims, or Puritans. I would sometimes call one a Pilgrim in place of
a Puritan, and by this would uncork the vials of wrath. If they had ever
lived south of Mason and Dixon’s line, their ancestor was always a near
relative of Washington, or a Fairfax, or of the “first families of
Virginia.” Others were more frank, and claimed no ancestry, but simply
wished to know “how the thing was to be done.” When our list was full,
all comers were told this, but this did not stop them. I was then daily
solicited and prayed to give them the first vacancy. I did the best in
my power, found out who people were, and if it was possible asked them
to join.

The little dances were most successful. Year by year they improved. They
were handsomer each season. We were not content with the small buffet in
the upper ball-room at Delmonico’s, but supped, as did the Patriarchs,
in the large room on Fifth Avenue and Twenty-sixth Street, and literally
had equally as good suppers, leaving out terrapin and canvasback. But
when the ladies organized Assembly Balls, we then thought that there
would perhaps be too many subscription balls, and the F. C. D. C. was
given up.

At this time, when the F. C. D. C.’s were in high favor, I received the
following amusing anonymous lines of and about them:

    He does not reign in Russia cold,
      Nor yet in far Cathay,
    But o’er this town he’s come to hold
      An undisputed sway.

    When in their might the ladies rose,
      “To put the Despot down,”
    As blandly as Ah Sin, he goes
      His way without a frown.

    Alas! though he’s but one alone,
      He’s one too many still--
    He’s fought the fight, he’s held his own,
      And to the end he will.

   --_From a Lady after the Ball of 25th February, 1884._

Just at this time a man of wealth, who had accumulated a fortune here,
resolved to give New Yorkers a sensation; to give them a banquet which
should exceed in luxury and expense anything before seen in this
country. As he expressed it, “I knew it would be a folly, a piece of
unheard-of extravagance, but as the United States Government had just
refunded me $10,000, exacted from me for duties upon importations
(which, being excessive, I had petitioned to be returned me, and had
quite unexpectedly received this sum back), I resolved to appropriate it
to giving a banquet that would always be remembered.” Accordingly, he
went to Charles Delmonico, who in turn went to his _cuisine classique_
to see how they could possibly spend this sum on this feast. Success
crowned their efforts. The sum in such skillful hands soon melted away,
and a banquet was given of such beauty and magnificence, that even New
Yorkers, accustomed as they were to every species of novel expenditure,
were astonished at its lavishness, its luxury. The banquet was given at
Delmonico’s, in Fourteenth Street. There were seventy-two guests in the
large ball-room, looking on Fifth Avenue. The table covered the whole
length and breadth of the room, only leaving a passageway for the
waiters to pass around it. It was a long extended oval table, and every
inch of it was covered with flowers, excepting a space in the centre,
left for a lake, and a border around the table for the plates. This lake
was indeed a work of art; it was an oval pond, thirty feet in length, by
nearly the width of the table, inclosed by a delicate golden wire
network, reaching from table to ceiling, making the whole one grand
cage; four superb swans, brought from Prospect Park, swam in it,
surrounded by high banks of flowers of every species and variety, which
prevented them from splashing the water on the table. There were hills
and dale; the modest little violet carpeting the valleys, and other
bolder sorts climbing up and covering the tops of those miniature
mountains. Then, all around the inclosure, and in fact above the entire
table, hung little golden cages, with fine songsters, who filled the
room with their melody, occasionally interrupted by the splashing of the
waters of the lake by the swans, and the cooing of these noble birds,
and at one time by a fierce combat between these stately, graceful,
gliding white creatures. The surface of the whole table, by clever art,
was one unbroken series of undulations, rising and falling like the
billows of the sea, but all clothed and carpeted with every form of
blossom. It seemed like the abode of fairies; and when surrounding this
fairyland with lovely young American womanhood, you had indeed an
unequaled scene of enchantment. But this was not to be alone a feast for
the eye; all that art could do, all that the cleverest men could devise
to spread before the guests, such a feast as the gods should enjoy, was
done, and so well done that all present felt, in the way of feasting,
that man could do no more! The wines were perfect. Blue seal
Johannisberg flowed like water. Incomparable ’48 claret, superb
Burgundies, and amber-colored Madeira, all were there to add to the
intoxicating delight of the scene. Then, soft music stole over one’s
senses; lovely women’s eyes sparkled with delight at the beauty of their
surroundings, and I felt that the fair being who sat next to me would
have graced Alexander’s feast

    “Sitting by my side,
     Like a lovely Eastern bride,
     In flower of youth and beauty’s pride.”



     _How to introduce a young Girl into Society--I make the Daughter of
     a Relative a reigning Belle--First Offers of Marriage generally the
     Best--Wives should flirt with their Husbands--How to be
     fashionable--“Nobs” and “Swells”--The Prince of Wales’s
     Aphorism--The value of a pleasant Manner--How a Gentleman should
     dress--I might have made a Fortune--Commodore Vanderbilt gives me a
     straight “Tip.”_

I would now make some suggestions as to the proper way of introducing a
young girl into New York society, particularly if she is not well
supported by an old family connection. It is cruel to take a girl to a
ball where she knows no one,

    “And to subject her to
     The fashionable stare of twenty score
     Of well-bred persons, called the world.”

Had I charged a fee for every consultation with anxious mothers on this
subject, I would be a rich man. I well remember a near relative of mine
once writing me from Paris, as follows: “I consign my wife and daughter
to your care. They will spend the winter in New York; at once give them
a ball at Delmonico’s, and draw on me for the outlay.” I replied, “My
dear fellow, how many people do you know in this city whom you could
invite to a ball? The funds you send me will be used, but not in giving
a ball.” The girl being a beauty, all the rest was easy enough. I gave
her theatre party after theatre party, followed by charming little
suppers, asked to them the _jeunesse dorée_ of the day; took her
repeatedly to the opera, and saw that she was there always surrounded by
admirers; incessantly talked of her fascinations; assured my young
friends that she was endowed with a fortune equal to the mines of Ophir,
that she danced like a dream, and possessed all the graces, a sunbeam
across one’s path; then saw to it that she had a prominent place in
every cotillion, and a fitting partner; showed her whom to smile upon,
and on whom to frown; gave her the _entrée_ to all the nice houses;
criticised severely her toilet until it became perfect; daily met her on
the Avenue with the most charming man in town, who by one pretext or
another I turned over to her; made her the constant subject of
conversation; insisted upon it that she was to be the belle of the
coming winter; advised her parents that she should have her first season
at Bar Harbor, where she could learn to flirt to her heart’s content,
and vie with other girls. Her second summer, when she was older, I
suggested her passing at Newport, where she should have a pair of
ponies, a pretty trap, with a well-gotten-up groom, and Worth to dress
her. Here I hinted that much must depend on her father’s purse, as to
her wardrobe. As a friend of mine once said to me, “Your pace is
charming, but can you keep it up?” I also advised keeping the young girl
well in hand and not letting her give offense to the powers that be; to
see to it that she was not the first to arrive and the last to leave a
ball, and further, that nothing was more winning in a girl than a
pleasant bow and a gracious smile given to either young or old. The
fashion now for women is to hold themselves erect. The modern manner of
shaking hands I do not like, but yet it is adopted. Being interested in
the girl’s success, I further impressed upon her the importance of
making herself agreeable to older people, remembering that much of her
enjoyment would be derived from them. If asked to dance a cotillion, let
it be conditional that no bouquet be sent her; to be cautious how she
refused the first offers of marriage made her, as they were generally
the best.

A word, just here, to the newly married. It works well to have the man
more in love with you than you are with him. My advice to all young
married women is to keep up flirting with their husbands as much after
marriage as before; to make themselves as attractive to their husbands
after their marriage as they were when they captivated them; not to
neglect their toilet, but rather improve it; to be as coquettish and coy
after they are bound together as before, when no ties held them. The
more they are appreciated by the world, the more will their husbands
value them. In fashionable life, conspicuous jealousy is a mistake. A
woman is bound to take and hold a high social position. In this way she
advances and strengthens her husband. How many women we see who have
benefited their husbands, and secured for them these advantages.

A young girl should be treated like a bride when she makes her _débût_
into society. Her relatives should rally around her and give her
entertainments to welcome her into the world which she is to adorn. It
is in excessive bad taste for such relatives to in any way refer to the
cost of these dinners, balls, etc. Every one in society knows how to
estimate such things. Again, at such dinners, it is not in good taste
to load your table with _bonbonnières_ and other articles intended to be
taken away by your guests. This reminds me of a dear old lady, who, when
I dined with her, always insisted on my putting in my dress coat pocket
a large hothouse peach, which never reached home in a perfect state.

The launching of a beautiful young girl into society is one thing; it is
another to place her family on a good, sound social footing. You can
launch them into the social sea, but can they float? “Manners maketh
man,” is an old proverb. These they certainly must possess. There is no
society in the world as generous as New York society is; “friend,
parent, neighbor, all it will embrace,” but once embraced they must have
the power of sustaining themselves. The best quality for them to possess
is modesty in asserting their claims; letting people seek them rather
than attempting to rush too quickly to the front. The Prince of Wales,
on a charming American young woman expressing her surprise at the
cordial reception given her by London society, replied, “My dear lady,
there are certain people who are bound to come to the front and stay
there; you are one of them.” It requires not only money, but brains,
and, above all, infinite tact; possessing the three, your success is
assured. If taken by the hand by a person in society you are at once led
into the charmed circle, and then your own correct perceptions of what
should or should not be done must do the rest. As a philosophical friend
once said to me, “A gentleman can always walk, but he cannot afford to
have a shabby equipage.” Another philosopher soliloquized as follows:
“The first evidence of wealth is your equipage.” By the way, his
definition of aristocracy in America was, the possession of hereditary

If you want to be fashionable, be always in the company of fashionable
people. As an old beau suggested to me, If you see a fossil of a man,
shabbily dressed, relying solely on his pedigree, dating back to time
immemorial, who has the aspirations of a duke and the fortunes of a
footman, do not cut him; it is better to cross the street and avoid
meeting him. It is well to be in with the nobs who are born to their
position, but the support of the swells is more advantageous, for
society is sustained and carried on by the swells, the nobs looking
quietly on and accepting the position, feeling they are there by divine
right; but they do not make fashionable society, or carry it on. A nob
can be a swell if he chooses, i.e. if he will spend the money; but for
his social existence this is unnecessary. A nob is like a
poet,--_nascitur non fit_; not so a swell,--he creates himself.

The value of a pleasant manner it is impossible to estimate. It is like
sunshine, it gladdens; you feel it and are at once attracted to the
person without knowing why. When you entertain, do it in an easy,
natural way, as if it was an everyday occurrence, not the event of your
life; but do it well. Learn how to do it; never be ashamed to learn. The
American people have a _greater_ power of “catching hold,” and adapting
themselves to new surroundings than any other people in the world. A
distinguished diplomatist once said to me, “The best wife for a Diplomat
is an American; for take her to any quarter of the globe and she adapts
herself to the place and people.”

If women should cultivate pleasant manners, should not men do the same?
Are not manners as important to men as to women? The word “gentleman”
may have its derivation from gentle descent, but my understanding of a
gentleman has always been that he is a person free from arrogance, and
anything like self-assertion; considerate of the feelings of others; so
satisfied and secure in his own position, that he is always
unpretentious, feeling he could not do an ungentlemanly act; as
courteous and kind in manner to his inferiors as to his equals. The best
bred men I have ever met have always been the least pretentious. Natural
and simple in manner, modest in apparel, never wearing anything too
_voyant_, or conspicuous; but always so well dressed that you could
never discover what made them so,--the good, quiet taste of the whole
producing the result.

Here, all men are more or less in business. We hardly have a class who
are not. They are, of necessity, daily brought in contact with all sorts
and conditions of men, and in self-defense oftentimes have to acquire
and adopt an abrupt, a brusque manner of address, which, as a rule, they
generally leave in their offices when they quit them. If they do not,
they certainly should. When such rough manners become by practice a
second nature, they unfit one to go into society. It pays well for young
and old to cultivate politeness and courtesy. Nothing is gained by
trying roughly to elbow yourself into society, and push your way through
into the inner circle; for when such a one has reached it, he will find
its atmosphere uncongenial and be only too glad to escape from it.

A short time ago, a handsome, well-dressed Englishman, well up in all
matters pertaining to society, went with me to my tailor to see me try
on a dress coat. I was struck with his criticisms. Standing before a
glass, he said, “You must never be able to see the tails of your dress
coat; if you do, discard the coat.” Again, he advised one’s always
wearing a hat that was the fashion, losing sight of the becoming, but
always following the fashion. “At a glance,” he said, “I can tell a man
from the provinces, simply by his hat.” If you are stout, never wear a
white waistcoat, or a conspicuous watch-chain. Never call attention by
them to what you should try to conceal. In going to the opera, if you
go to an opera box with ladies, you should wear white or light French
gray gloves. Otherwise, gloves are not worn. A _boutonnière_ of white
hyacinths or white pinks on dress coats is much worn, both to balls and
the opera. My English friend was very much struck with the fact that
American women all sat on the left side of the carriage, the opposite
side from what they do in England. “Ladies,” he said, “should always sit
behind their coachman, but the desire to see and be seen prompts them
here to take the other side. In this city some half a dozen ladies show
their knowledge of conventionalities and take the proper seat.”

I think the great secret of life is to be contented with the position to
which it has pleased God to call you. Living myself in a modest, though
comfortable little house in Twenty-first Street in this city, a Wall
Street banker honored me with a visit, and exclaimed against my

“What!” said he, “are you contented to live in this modest little house?
Why, man, this will never do! The first thing you must have is a fine
house. I will see that you get it. All that you have to do is to let me
buy ten thousand shares of stock for you at the opening of the Board; by
three I can sell it, and I will then send you a check for the profit of
the transaction, which will not be less than ten thousand dollars! Do it
for you? Of course I will, with pleasure. You will run no risk; if there
is a loss I will bear it.”

I thanked my friend, assured him I was wholly and absolutely contented,
and must respectfully decline his offer. A similar offer was made to me
by my old friend, Commodore Vanderbilt, in his house in Washington
Place. I was a great admirer of this grand old man, and he was very fond
of me. He had taken me over his stables, and was then showing me his
parlors and statuary, and kept all the time calling me “his boy.” I
turned to him and said, “Commodore, you will be as great a railroad
king, as you were once an ocean king, and as you call me your boy, why
don’t you make my fortune?” He thought a moment, and then said, slapping
me on the back, “Mc, sell everything you have and put it in Harlem
stock; it is now twenty-four; you will make more money than you will
know how to take care of.” If I had followed his advice, I would now
have been indeed a millionaire.

One word more here about the Commodore. He then turned to me and said,
“Mc, look at that bust,”--a bust of himself, by Powers. “What do you
think Powers said of that head?”

“What did he say?” I replied.

“He said, ‘It is a finer head than Webster’s!’”



     _Success in Entertaining--The Art of Dinner-giving--Selection of
     Guests--A happy Mixture of Young Women and Dowagers--The latter
     more Appreciative of the Good Things--Interviewing the Chef--“Uncle
     Sam” Ward’s Plan--Mock Turtle Soup a Delusion and a Snare--The Two
     Styles of cooking Terrapin--Grasshopper-fed Turkeys--Sourbet should
     not be flavored with Rum--Nesselrode the best of all the Ices._

    “We may live without love,--what is passion but pining?
     But where is the man who can live without dining?”--
                                 Owen Meredith.

The first object to be aimed at is to make your dinners so charming and
agreeable that invitations to them are eagerly sought for, and to let
all feel that it is a great privilege to dine at your house, where they
are sure they will meet only those whom they wish to meet. You cannot
instruct people by a book how to entertain, though Aristotle is said to
have applied _his_ talents to a compilation of a code of laws for the
table. Success in entertaining is accomplished by magnetism and tact,
which combined constitute social genius. It is the ladder to social
success. If successfully done, it naturally creates jealousy. I have
known a family who for years outdid every one in giving exquisite
dinners--(this was when this city was a small community)--driven to
Europe and passing the rest of their days there on finding a neighbor
outdoing them. I myself once lost a charming friend by giving a better
soup than he did. His wife rushed home from my house, and in despair,
throwing up her hands to her husband, exclaimed, “Oh! what a soup!” I
related this to my cousin, the distinguished _gourmet_, who laughingly
said: “Why did you not at once invite them to pork and beans?”

The highest cultivation in social manners enables a person to conceal
from the world his real feelings. He can go through any annoyance as if
it were a pleasure; go to a rival’s house as if to a dear friend’s;
“Smile and smile, yet murder while he smiles.” A great compliment once
paid me in Newport was the speech of an old public waiter, who had grown
gray in the service, when to a _confrère_ he exclaimed: “In this house,
my friend, you meet none but quality.”

In planning a dinner the question is not to whom you owe dinners, but
who is most desirable. The success of the dinner depends as much upon
the company as the cook. Discordant elements--people invited
alphabetically, or to pay off debts--are fatal. Of course, I speak of
ladies’ dinners. And here, great tact must be used in bringing together
young womanhood and the dowagers. A dinner wholly made up of young
people is generally stupid. You require the experienced woman of the
world, who has at her fingers’ ends the history of past, present, and
future. Critical, scandalous, with keen and ready wit, appreciating the
dinner and wine at their worth. Ladies in beautiful toilets are
necessary to the elegance of a dinner, as a most exquisitely arranged
table is only a solemn affair surrounded by black coats. I make it a
rule never to attend such dismal feasts, listening to prepared
witticisms and “twice-told tales.” So much for your guests.

The next step is an interview with your _chef_, if you have one, or
_cordon bleu_, whom you must arouse to fever heat by working on his
ambition and vanity. You must impress upon him that this particular
dinner will give him fame and lead to fortune. My distinguished cousin,
who enjoyed the reputation of being one of the most finished _gourmets_
in this country, when he reached this point, would bury his head in his
hands and (seemingly to the _chef_) rack his brain seeking inspiration,
fearing lest the fatal mistake should occur of letting two white or
brown sauces follow each other in succession; or truffles appear twice
in that dinner. The distress that his countenance wore as he repeatedly
looked up at the _chef_, as if for advice and assistance, would have its
intended effect on the culinary artist, and _his_ brain would at once
act in sympathy.

The first battle is over the soup, and here there is a vast difference
of opinion. In this country, where our servants are oftentimes
unskilled, and have a charming habit of occasionally giving ladies a
soup shower bath, I invariably discard two soups, and insist to the
protesting _chef_ that there shall be but one. Of course, if there are
two, the one is light, the other heavy. Fortunately for the period in
which we live, our great French artists have invented the _Tortue
claire_; which takes the place of our forefathers’ Mock Turtle soup,
with forcemeat balls, well spiced, requiring an ostrich’s digestion to
survive it. We have this, then, as our soup. The _chef_ here exclaims,
“Monsieur must know that all _petites bouchées_ must, of necessity, be
made of chicken.” We ask for a novelty, and his great genius suggests,
under pressure, _mousse aux jambon_, which is attractive to the eye,
and, if well made, at once establishes the reputation of the artist,
satisfies the guests that they are in able hands, and allays their fears
for their dinner.

There is but one season of the year when salmon should be served hot at
a choice repast; that is in the spring and early summer, and even then
it is too satisfying, not sufficiently delicate. The man who gives
salmon during the winter, I care not what sauce he serves with it, does
an injury to himself and his guests. Terrapin is with us as national a
dish as canvasback, and at the choicest dinners is often a substitute
for fish. It is a shellfish, and an admirable change from the oft
repeated _filet de sole_ or _filet de bass_. At the South, terrapin
soup, with plenty of eggs in it, was a dish for the gods, and a standard
dinner party dish in days when a Charleston and Savannah dinner was an
event to live for. But no Frenchman ever made this soup. It requires
the native born culinary genius of the African.

Now when we mention the word terrapin, we approach a very delicate
subject, involving a rivalry between two great cities; a subject that
has been agitated for thirty years or more, and is still agitated, i.e.
the proper way of cooking terrapin. The Baltimoreans contending that the
black stew, the chafing dish system, simply adding to the terrapin salt,
pepper, and Madeira, produce the best dish; while the Philadelphians
contend that by fresh butter and cream they secure greater results. The
one is known as the Baltimore black stew; the other, as the Trenton
stew, this manner of cooking terrapin originating in an old eating club
in Trenton, N. J. I must say I agree with the Philadelphians.

And now, leaving the fish, we come to the _pièce de resistance_ of the
dinner, called the _relévé_. No Frenchman will ever willingly cook a
ladies’ dinner and give anything coarser or heavier than a _filet de
bœuf_. He will do it, if he has to, of course, but he will think you
a barbarian if you order him to do it. I eschew the mushroom and confine
myself to the truffle in the treatment of the _filet_. I oftentimes have
a _filet à la mœlle de bœuf_, or _à la jardinière_. In the fall of
the year, turkey _poults à la Bordelaise_, or _à la Toulouse_, or a
saddle of Southdown mutton or lamb, are a good substitute. Let me here
say that the American turkey, as found on Newport Island, all its
feathers being jet black and its diet grasshoppers, is exceptionally

Now for the _entrées_. In a dinner of twelve or fourteen, one or two hot
_entrées_ and one cold is sufficient. If you use the truffle with the
_filet_, making a black sauce, you must follow it with a white sauce, as
a _riz de veau à la Toulouse_, or a _suprême de volaille_; then a
_chaud-froid_, say of _pâté de foie gras en Bellevue_, which simply
means _pâté de foie gras_ incased in jelly. Then a hot vegetable, as
artichokes, sauce _Barigoule_, or _Italienne_, or asparagus, sauce
_Hollandaise_. Then your _sorbet_, known in France as _la surprise_, as
it is an ice, and produces on the mind the effect that the dinner is
finished, when the grandest dish of the dinner makes its appearance in
the shape of the roast canvasbacks, woodcock, snipe, or truffled capons,
with salad.

I must be permitted a few words of and about this _sorbet_. It should
never be flavored with rum. A true Parisian _sorbet_ is simply “_punch à
la Toscane_,” flavored with _Maraschino_ or bitter almonds; in other
words, a homœopathic dose of prussic acid. Then the _sorbet_ is a
digestive, and is intended as such. _Granit_, or water ice, flavored
with rum, is universally given here. Instead of aiding digestion, it
impedes it, and may be dangerous.

A Russian salad is a pleasing novelty at times, and is more attractive
if it comes in the shape of a _Macedoine de legumes_, Camembert cheese,
with a biscuit, with which you serve your Burgundy, your old Port, or
your Johannisberg, the only place in the dinner where you can introduce
this latter wine. A genuine Johannisberg, I may say here, by way of
parenthesis, is rare in this country, for if obtained at the Chateau, it
is comparatively a dry wine; if it is, as I have often seen it, still
lusciously sweet after having been here twenty years or more, you may be
sure it is not a genuine Chateau wine.

The French always give a hot pudding, as pudding _suedoise_, or a
_croute au Madère_, or _ananas_, but I always omit this dish to shorten
the dinner. Then come your ices. The fashion now is to make them very
ornamental, a _cornucopia_ for instance, but I prefer a _pouding
Nesselrode_, the best of all the ices if good cream is used.



     _Madeira the King of Wines--It took its Name from the Ship it came
     in--Daniel Webster and “Butler 16”--How Philadelphians “fine” their
     Wines--A Southern Wine Party--An Expert’s shrewd Guess--The Newton
     Gordons--Prejudice against Malmsey--Madeira should be kept in the
     Garret--Some famous Brands._

Having had your champagne from the fish to the roast, your _vin
ordinaire_ through the dinner, your Burgundy or Johannisberg, or fine
old Tokay (quite equal to any Johannisberg), with the cheese, your best
claret with the roast, then after the ladies have had their fruit and
have left the table, comes on the king of wines, your Madeira; a
national wine, a wine only well matured at the South, and a wine whose
history is as old as is that of our country. I may here say, that
Madeira imparts a vitality that no other wine can give. After drinking
it, it acts as a soporific, but the next day you feel ten years younger
and stronger for it. I have known a man, whose dinners were so famous by
reason of his being always able to give at them a faultless Madeira,
disappear with his wine. When his wine gave out, he collapsed. When
asked, “Where is Mr. Jones?” the ready answer was always given, “He went
out with his ‘Rapid’ Madeira.”

Families prided themselves on their Madeira. It became an heirloom (as
Tokay now is, in Austria). Like the elephant, it seemed to live over
three score years and ten. The fine Madeiras were fine when they reached
this country. Age improved them, and made them the poetry of wine. They
became the color of amber and retained all their original flavor. But it
is an error to suppose that age ever improved a poor Madeira. If it came
here poor and sweet, it remained poor and sweet, and never lost its
sweetness, even at seventy or eighty years, while the famous Madeiras,
dating as far back as 1791, if they have been properly cared for, are
perfect to this day. We should value wine like women, for maturity, not

These wines took their names generally from the ships in which they came
over. There is no more sensitive wine to climatic influences. A delicate
Madeira, taken only a few blocks on a cold, raw day, is not fit to
drink; and again, you might as well give a man champagne out of a horse
bucket, as to give him a Madeira in a thick sherry or claret glass, or a
heavy cut glass. The American pipe-stem is the only glass in which
Madeira should be given, and when thus given, is, as one of our
distinguished men once said, “The only liquid he ever called wine.” This
ought to be given as was done by the Father of the Roman Lucullus, who
never saw more than a single cup of the Phanean wine served at one time
at his father’s table.

A friend of mine once gave the proprietor of the Astor House, for
courtesies extended to him, a dozen of his finest Madeira. He had the
curiosity years after to ask his host of the Astor what became of this
wine. He replied, “Daniel Webster came to my house, and I opened a
bottle of it for him, and he remained in the house until he had drunk up
every drop of it.” This was the famous “Butler 16.”

As in painting there are the Murillo and Correggio schools, the light
ethereal conceptions of womanhood, as against the rich Titian coloring;
so in Madeira, there is the full, round, strong, rich wine, liked by
some in preference to the light, delicate, straw-colored, rain-water
wines. Philadelphians first took to this character of wine. They
judiciously “fined” their wine, and produced simply a perfect
Madeira,--to be likened to the best Johannisberg, and naturally so, it
having similar qualities, as it is well known that the Sercial Madeira,
the “king pin” of all Madeiras, was raised from a Rhine grape taken to
the Island of Madeira. And here let me say, that “fining,” by using only
the white of a perfectly fresh egg and Spanish clay, is proper and
judicious, but milk is ruinous. The eggs in Spain are famous, and are
thus used.

In Savannah and Charleston, from 1800 up to our Civil War, afternoon
wine parties were the custom. You were asked to come and taste Madeira,
at 5 P.M., _after your dinner_. The hour of dining in these cities was
then always 3 P.M. The mahogany table, which reflected your face, was
set with finger bowls, with four pipe-stem glasses in each bowl, olives,
parched ground nuts and almonds, and half a dozen bottles of Madeira.
There you sat, tasted and commented on these wines for an hour or more.
On one occasion, a gentleman, not having any wine handy, mixed half
“Catherine Banks” and half “Rapid.” On tasting the mixture, a great
wine expert said if he could believe his host capable of mixing a wine,
he would say it was “half Catherine Banks and half Rapid.” This was
after fifteen men had said they could not name the Madeira.

A distinguished stranger having received an invitation to one of these
wine parties from the British Consul, replied, “Thanks, I must decline,
for where I dine I take my wine.”

The oldest and largest shippers of Madeira were the Newton Gordons, who
sent the finest Madeiras to Charleston and Savannah. From 1791 to 1805,
their firm was Newton Gordon, Murdock, & Scott. One hundred and ten
years ago, they sent five hundred pipes of Madeira in one shipment to
Savannah. These wines sent there were the finest Sercials, Buals, and
Malmseys. All those wines were known as extra Madeiras. The highest
priced wine, a Manigult Heyward wine, I knew forty years ago; it was
ninety years old--perfect, full flavored, and of good color and

In Charleston and Savannah from 1780 to 1840, almost every gentleman
ordered a pipe of wine from Madeira. I know of a man who has kept this
up for half a century.

There is a common prejudice against Malmsey, as being a lady’s wine, and
sweet; when very old, no Madeira can beat it. I have now in my cellar an
“All Saints” wine, named after the famous Savannah Quoit Club, imported
in 1791; a perfect wine, of exquisite flavor. My wife’s grandfather
imported two pipes of Madeira every year, and my father-in-law continued
to do this as long as he lived. When he died he had, as I am told, the
largest private cellar of Madeira in the United States. All his wines
were Newton Gordons. He made the fatal mistake of hermetically sealing
them in glass gallon bottles, with ground glass stoppers, keeping them
in his cellar; keeping them from light and air, preventing the wine from
breathing, as it were. It has taken years for them to recover from this

Madeira should be kept in the garret. A piece of a corn cob is often a
good cork for it. Light and air do not injure it; drawing it off from
its lees occasionally, makes it more delicate, but, if done too often,
the wine may spoil, as its lees support and nourish it.

The great New York Madeiras, famous when landed and still famous, were
“The Marsh and Benson, 1809,” “The Coles Madeira,” “The Stuyvesant,”
“The Clark,” and “The Eliza.” In Philadelphia, “The Butler, 16.” In
Boston, “The Kirby,” the “Amory 1800,” and “1811,” “The Otis.” In
Baltimore, “The Marshall,” the “Meredith,” or “Great Unknown,” “The
Holmes Demijohn,” “The Mob,” “The Colt.” In Charleston, “The Rutledge,”
“The Hurricane,” “The Earthquake,” “The Maid,” “The Tradd-street.” In
Savannah, “The All Saints” (1791), “The Catherine Banks,” “The Louisa
Cecilia” (1818), “The Rapid” 1817, and “The Widow.”



     _Brût Champagne--Another Revolution in treatment of this Wine--It
     must be Old to be good--’74 Champagne worth $8 a bottle in
     Paris--How to frappé Champagne--The best Clarets--Even your Vin
     Ordinaire should be Decanted--Sherries--Spaniards drink them from
     the Wood--I prefer this way--The “famous Forsyth Sherry”--A
     Wine-cellar not a Necessity._

The fashionable world here have accepted the _Brût_ champagne, and avoid
all other kinds; ladies even more than men. But another revolution is to
occur in this country in the next five years in the treatment of this
wine. We will soon follow the example of our English brethren and never
drink it until it is from eight to ten years old.

A year or two ago one of the most fashionable men in London asked me to
assist him in ordering a dinner at Delmonico’s. When we came to ordering
the wines, he exclaimed against the champagne. “What!” said he, “drink a
champagne of 1880. Why, it is too absurd!” I told him it was that or
nothing, for we were far behind them in England, drinking new champagnes
and having no old ones.

The idea is prevalent that champagne will not keep in this climate.
After a few years one will always order his supply from abroad yearly,
keeping his champagne at his London wine merchant’s or at the vineyard.
To evidence the improvement in champagne by age, I can only cite that
the champagne of 1874 has sold in London at auction for $7 a bottle, and
now in Paris and London you pay $8 a bottle for a ’74 wine at a
restaurant, and $6 for an 1880 wine; at the vineyard itself $45 a dozen,
and hard to obtain at this price. If you once drink one of these old
champagnes you will never again drink a fresh wine. In England they now
drink no Madeira; it is never served. At their dinners they pride
themselves on giving 1874 champagne. If they can give this wine, with a
Golden Sherry and a fine glass of Port, they are satisfied.

It will be well to remember that champagnes are now known to
_connoisseurs_ by their vintage. Wines of some vintages do not keep at
all. In keeping champagnes, keep only, or order kept for you, the
champagnes of the best vintages. Of course, there is much risk in
keeping any champagne; but what all strive for, is to possess something
that no one else has; that is not purchasable, I mean, in any quantity,
and this now is 1874 champagne.

To properly _frappé_ champagne, put in the pail small pieces of ice,
then a layer of rock salt, alternating these layers until the tub is
full. Put the bottle in the tub; be careful to keep the neck of the
bottle free from the ice, for the quantity of wine in the neck of the
bottle being small, it would be acted upon by the ice first. If
possible, turn the bottle every five minutes. In twenty-five minutes
from the time it is put in the tub, it should be in perfect condition,
and should be served immediately. What I mean by perfect condition is,
that when the wine is poured from the bottle, it should contain little
flakes of ice; that is a real _frappé_.

It is often a mistake to _frappé_, for it takes both flavor and body
from the wine, and none but a very rich, fruity wine should ever be
_frappéd_. My theory is that for ordinary cooling of wine, it is not
necessary to use salt, unless you are in a hurry. The salt intensifies
the cold and makes it act more quickly. You get a speedier result. I
should simply use above formula, omitting the salt. Champagne should not
be left in a refrigerator for several hours before being served, as it
takes away its freshness. In serving it, for one who likes it cold, the
wine should be cooled sufficiently to form a bead on the outside of the
glass into which it is poured. It is pretty, and the perfection of

In regard to champagne of excellent years, we begin with 1857, as there
were no first-rate vintages of this wine between 1846 and 1857. The
great years were: 1834, 1846, 1857, 1858, 1861, 1862, 1865, 1868, 1870,
1872, and 1874, the last exceptionally fine and keeping well; 1878,
1880, and 1884, fine wines; 1885 is fair, but not to be classed with the
1884. The Romans noted the years of the celebrated growths of their
wines, marked them on their wine vessels, when Rome was a Republic, with
the Consul’s name, which indicated the vintage. A celebrated vintage was
that of the year 632, when Opimius was Consul. It was in high esteem a
century afterwards.

In clarets, we also make a mistake; we cling to them when by age they
become too thin and watery. One fills up one’s wine cellar with claret,
and then tenaciously holds it, until it frequently loses the fine
characteristics of a first-class wine. The clarets of 1854 promised very
great things, but were certainly a failure in Latour, and in some of
the other wines of that year; 1857, 1858, 1881, some were good. The
claret of 1865 was an extravagant wine, but developed a good deal of
acidity, and is not to-day held in very high esteem, but I have tasted
some perfect of that year. 1868 promised much, but has not turned out as
good as was expected. 1869 sold at very low prices, but has become the
best wine of very recent years. 1870 was a very big, full-bodied wine;
it is now very good. Of 1871, some of them are excellent (as Haut Brion,
Lafitte, Latour). The 1874’s were very good, Latour the best; 1875 was
very good; 1877, quite good; 1878, very good; 1879, only moderate; 1880,
light and delicate, quite good; 1881, big wines, very promising; 1884
promised well, and 1887 promised to be great wines. I do not think it is
easy to be certain of Bordeaux wines until they have been in bottles
some years. A wine which while in the wood may be excellent, may not
ripen the right sort of way in bottles and prove disappointing. Decant
all your clarets before serving them, even your _vin ordinaire_. If at a
dinner you give both Burgundy and claret, give your finest claret with
the roast, your Burgundy with the cheese. Stand up both wines the
morning of the dinner, and in decanting, hold the decanter in your left
hand, and let the wine first pour against the inside of the neck of the
decanter, so as to break its fall. With Burgundy, the Clos Vougeots have
run out. The insect has destroyed them. The Chambertins or Romanée
Conti, when you give them to those who can appreciate fine wines, have a
telling effect.

Table sherries should be decanted and put in the refrigerator one hour
before dinner. Personally, as a table sherry I prefer to drink the new,
light, delicate sherries, as they come from Spain, directly from the
wood, before they are darkened by being kept in glass, and before all
the water, that is always in them, has disappeared. This is the taste of
the Spanish people themselves. They drink them from the wood.

There is no need of having a large cellar of wine in this country, for
we Americans are such Arabs, that we are never contented to stay quietly
at home and enjoy our country, and our own perfect climate. No sooner
have we built a charming residence, including a wine cellar, than we
must needs dash off to Europe, to see what the Prince of Wales is doing,
so that literally a New Yorker does not live in his New York residence,
at most, more than four or five months in the year. In the other seven
or eight, his servants have ample time to leisurely drink up the wine in
his cellar, bottle by bottle; therefore, I advise against laying in any
large supply of wine. Your wine merchant will always supply you with all
wines excepting _old clarets_; these you must have a stock of; and, as
servants do not take to claret, you are comparatively safe in hoarding
up a good lot of it. Your old champagnes you can order from London, i.e.
a winter’s supply, every year, for as they say it will not keep in this
climate, you must do so to get it of any age. When sherry becomes old
and has been kept some time in glass, they then drink it in Spain as a

If you cannot get hold of the best, the very best and finest old
Madeira, give up that wine and take to sherry. I have seen sherry that
could not be distinguished from Madeira by experts. Again, I have seen a
superb sherry bring a hundred dollars a dozen. The most perfect sherry I
ever drank was the “Forsyth sherry,” given to Vice-President Forsyth by
the Queen of Spain, when he was the American Minister at her Court. I
give during dinner a light, delicate, dry Montilla sherry. At dessert,
with and after fruit, a fine Amontillado.



     _Assigning Guests at Dinner--The Boston fashion dying out--The
     approved Manner--Going in to Dinner--Time to be spent at
     table--Table Decoration--Too many flowers in bad taste--Simplicity
     the best style--Queen Victoria’s table--Her Dinner served at 8:15,
     but she eats her best meal at_ 2 P.M.--_Being late at Dinner a
     breach of good Manners--A Dinner acceptance a sacred Obligation--A
     Visite de digestion._

The Boston fashion adopted here for years, of one’s finding, on entering
the house in which he was to dine, a small envelope on a silver salver
in which was inclosed a card bearing on it the name of the lady assigned
to him to take in to dinner, though still in use, is, however, going out
of fashion. We are returning to the old habit of assigning the guests in
the drawing-room.

In going in to dinner, there is but one rule to be observed. The lady of
the house in almost every case goes in last, all her guests preceding
her, with this exception, that if the President of the United States
dines with you, or Royalty, he takes in the lady of the house, preceding
all of the guests. When no ladies are present, the host should ask the
most distinguished guest, or the person to whom the dinner is given, to
lead the way in to dinner, and he should follow all the guests. The
cards on the plates indicate his place to each one. By gesture alone,
the host directs his guests to the dining-room, saying aloud to the most
distinguished guest, “Will you kindly take the seat on my right?”

The placing of your guests at table requires an intimate knowledge of
society. It is only by constant association that you can know who are
congenial. If you are assigned to one you are indifferent to, your only
hope lies in your next neighbor; and with this hope and fear you enter
the dining-room, not knowing who that will be. At the table conversation
should be crisp; it is in bad taste to absorb it all. Macaulay, at a
dinner, would so monopolize it that the great wit, Sydney Smith, said he
did not distinguish between monologue and dialogue.

When the President of the United States goes to a dinner, all the guests
must be assembled; they stand in a horseshoe circle around the _salon_;
the President enters; when the lady of the house approaches him, he
gives her his arm, and they lead the way to the dining-room, the
President sitting in the host’s place, with his hostess on his right. On
arriving at the house where he is to dine, if the guests are not all
assembled, he remains in his carriage until he is notified that they are
all present. No one can rise to leave the table until the President
himself rises. If he happens to be deeply interested in some fair
neighbor, and takes no note of time, the patience of the company is
sadly tried.

On entering a _salon_ and finding yourself surrounded by noted or
fashionable people, you are naturally flattered at being included; if
the people are unnoted, you are annoyed. The surprise to me is that in
this city our cleverest men and politicians do not oftener seek society
and become its brilliant ornaments, as in England and on the Continent
of Europe. Disraeli, Mr. Gladstone, Lord Palmerston, all were in society
and were great diners out. In fact, all the distinguished men of Europe
make part and parcel of society; whilst here, they shirk it as if it
were beneath their dignity. They should know that there is no power like
the social power; it makes and unmakes. The proverb is that, “The way to
a man’s heart is through the stomach.”

Now as to the length of a good dinner. Napoleon the Third insisted on
being served in three-quarters of an hour. As usual here we run from one
extreme to another. One of our most fashionable women boasted to me that
she had dined out the day before, and the time consumed from the hour
she left her house, until her return home, was but one hour and forty
minutes. This is absurd. A lover of the flesh pots of Egypt grumbled to
me that his plate was snatched away from him by the servant before he
could half get through the appetizing morsel on it. This state of things
has been brought about by stately, handsome dinners, spun out to too
great length. One hour and a half at the table is long enough.

A word about the decoration of the table. In this we are now again
running from one extreme to the other. A few years ago, the florist took
possession of the table, and made a flower garden of it, regardless of
cost. Now, at the best dinners, you see perhaps in the centre of the
table one handsome basket of flowers; no _bouquets de corsage_ or
_boutonnières_; the table set with austere simplicity; a few silver
dishes with bonbons and _compotiers_ of fruit, that is all. Now,
nothing decorates a dinner table as flowers do, and of these I think the
_Gloire de Paris_ roses, the Rothschild rose, and Captain Chrystie’s the
most effective. A better result is produced by having all of one kind of
flower, be it roses, or tulips, or carnations.

It is now the fashion to have the most superb embroidered table-cloths
from Paris, in themselves costing nearly a year’s income. But it is to
be remembered that thirty years ago we imported from England the fashion
of placing in the centre of the table a handsome piece of square scarlet
satin, on which to place the silver. At the dinner the eye should have a
feast as well as the palate. A beautifully laid table is very effective.
I have seen Her Majesty’s table at Windsor Castle all ready for her. I
have heard her footmen, in green and gold, re-echo from hall to kitchen
the note that “dinner is served,” and then I was told to go; but I saw
all I wanted to see. Her six footmen placed their hands on the little
velvet Bishop’s cap, which covered the lion and the unicorn in frosted
gold on the cover of her six _entrée_ dishes; as dinner was announced,
this velvet cap was removed. The keeper of her jewel room has a large
book of lithographs of just the pieces of gold plate that are to
decorate Her Majesty’s table on different occasions, all regulated by
the rank of her guest. Her Majesty, in the time of Prince Albert, dined
at 8:15. Her head _chef_ informed me then that her real dinner was eaten
at 2 P.M., with the Prince of Wales, and it was for this he exercised
his talent. At eight and a quarter she took but soup and fish.

It is to be borne in mind that a host or hostess cannot be too courteous
or gracious to their guests; and again, that guests in being late at
dinner oftentimes commit a breach of politeness. Apropos of this, whilst
in Paris one of our Ministers to the French Court related to me the
following anecdote, illustrating true French politeness. His daughter
arrived late at the dinner of a high personage. When her father
remonstrated, she replied, “Did you not see that one of the family
arrived after us?” The next day our Minister heard that the Duchess,
with whom he had dined, had sent her daughter out of the room to come in
after them, to relieve them of any embarrassment at being late.

Another point has had some discussion. At a large dinner, where the only
lady is the hostess, should she rise and receive each guest? This is
still a vexed question. Again, at a large dinner of men, is it incumbent
on every one present to rise on the entrance of each guest? On one
occasion I failed myself to do this, not thinking it necessary. The
distinguished man who entered said afterwards that I had “slighted him.”
It was certainly unintentional. In a small room, if all get up, it must
create confusion.

If you intend to decline an invitation to dinner, do so at as early a
date as possible. A dinner invitation, once accepted, is a sacred
obligation. If you die before the dinner takes place, your executor must
attend the dinner. (This is not to be taken literally, but to illustrate
the obligation.) The person to whom the dinner is given takes in the
hostess, if she is present, going in first with her; that is, if it is
only men (no ladies present but the hostess). Should there be ladies, he
still takes in the hostess, but then follows all the guests; going in
with the hostess after all the guests. The only exception to this rule
is where the President of the United States, or Royalty dines with you.

In England, in the note of invitation to dinner, you are never asked _to
meet any one_ but Royalty. The distinction of rank makes the reason for
this obvious. If Royalty dines with you, at the top of the note of
invitation, in the left hand corner, it is written: “To meet His Royal
Highness,” or other Royalty. Our custom is otherwise. It is to invite
you to meet Mr. Robinson, or Mrs. Robinson, or Mr. and Mrs. Robinson.
This is accepted and approved by all in this country, for in this way
you are privileged to invite, at a day’s notice, any number of guests;
for one sees it is to meet a stranger, temporarily here; a sufficient
reason for so short a notice to a large dinner; besides which you have
it in your power to pay the stranger or strangers a compliment in a
pointed way, by making them or him the honored guest of that dinner.

If you propose accepting, your note of acceptance should be sent the day
after the invitation has been received. After dining at a ladies’ dinner
it is obligatory that you leave your card at the house where you have
dined, either the next day or within a day or two. This is called, by
the French, a _visite de digestion_. In England, this custom is dying
out, for men have not the time to do it.

I would here compare society to a series of intersecting circles; each
one is a circle of its own, and they all unite in making what is known
as general society. Meeting people at a large ball is no evidence of
their being received in the smaller circles. What the French call the
_petit comité_ of good society is the inmost circle of all, but,
naturally, it is confined to a very few. Meeting a person constantly at
dinner, at the most exclusive houses, should be sufficient evidence to
you that he or she is received everywhere, and if you find people
persistently excluded from the best houses at dinners, you may be
satisfied that there is some good reason for it.

When you introduce a man into the sanctuary of your own family, it is
supposed by a fiction to be the greatest compliment you can pay him; but
do not be misled by this, for there is nothing more trying to the guest
than to be the one outsider. A friend of mine invariably refuses such
invitations. “Why,” said he, “my dinner at home is sufficiently good; I
am called out with my wife,--both of us compelled to don our best
attire, order the carriage, and go to see and be with, whom? A family
whose members are not particularly interesting to us.” Men with whom you
are only on a business footing you should dine at your Club, and not
inflict them on your family.



     _Some practical Questions answered--Difference between Men and
     Women Cooks--Swedish Women the cleanest and most economical--My
     bills with a Chef--My bills with a Woman Cook--Hints on
     Marketing--I have done my own Buying for forty years--Mme.
     Rothschild personally supervises her famous Dinners--Menu of an
     old-fashioned Southern Dinner--Success of an Impromptu Banquet._

Twenty years ago there were not over three _chefs_ in private families
in this city. It is now the exception not to find a man of fashion
keeping a first-class _chef_ or a famous _cordon bleu_. In the last six
years Swedish women cooks have come over here, and are excellent, and by
some supposed to be better than _chefs_. No woman, in my opinion, can
give as finished a dinner as a man. There is always a something in the
dinner which has escaped her. It is like German and Italian
opera,--there is a finish to the Italian that the Germans can never get.
But Swedish cooks deserve special mention; they are really
wonderful--cleanliness itself. That is where the French _chef_ fails. He
must have scullions tracking his very footsteps to keep things clean,
while the Swedish woman does her work without making dirt. These women
get nearly as large wages as the men,--sixty dollars a month and a
scullion maid. What a contrast to living in France! I had the best
_chef_ in Pau in 1856 for twenty-five dollars, and the scullion received
three dollars a month.

The question is often asked, What is the difference in expense to a
household between a _chef_ or a woman cook? This question is only
learned by experience, which teaches me that with a woman, my butcher’s
bill would be $250 to $275 a month; with a _chef_, $450 to $500.
Grocer’s bill, with woman cook, say, $75; with a _chef_, $125. This does
not include entertaining. For a dinner of twelve or fourteen one’s
marketing is easily sixty dollars, without the _foie gras_ or fruit. An
A1 _chef_’s wages is $100 a month; he takes ten per cent. commission on
the butcher, grocer, baker, and milkman’s bill. If he does not get it
directly, he gets it indirectly. In other words, besides his wages, he
counts on these commissions. I speak now of the ablest and best; others
not quite so capable take five per cent.

Always remember that the Frenchman is a creature of impulses, and works
for two things, glory and money. An everyday dinner wearies him, but a
dinner _privé_, a special dinner, oh, this calls forth his talent, which
shows that the custom some have of calling in and employing a _chef_ to
cook them a special dinner is correct. If you do not keep a _chef_ out
of respect for your purse or your health, it is a good plan to know of
an “artist” whom you can employ on special occasions, with the express
agreement that he submits the list of what he wants, and lets you make
the purchases, for these gentry like to make a little _economie_, which
always benefits themselves, and such _economie_ gives you poor material
for him to work upon, instead of good.

How often have I heard a hostess boast, “I never give any attention to
the details of my dinner, I simply tell my butler how many people we are
to have.” In nine cases out of ten this is apparent in the dinner.
Madame Rothschild, who has always given the best dinners in Paris,
personally supervises everything. The great Duchess of Sutherland, the
Queen’s friend, when she entertained, inspected every arrangement
personally herself. I daily comment to my cook on the performance of the
previous day. No one, especially in this country, can accomplish great
results without giving time and attention to these details. No French
cook will take any interest in his work unless he receives praise and
criticism; but above all things, you must know how to criticise. If he
finds you are able to appreciate his work when good, and condemn it when
bad, he improves, and gives you something of value.

Now let us treat of dinners as given before the introduction of _chefs_,
and still preferred by the majority of people.

The best talent with poor material may give a fair dinner, but if the
material is poor, the dinner will evidence it. For forty years I have
always marketed myself and secured the respect of my butcher, letting
him know that I knew as much if not more than he did.

In selecting your shin of beef, remember that a fresh shin is always the
best for soup. In choosing fish, look at their gills, which should be a
bright red.

See your _filet_ cut with the fat well marbled, cut from young beef.
Sweetbreads come in pairs; one fine, one inferior. Pay an extra price,
and get your butcher to cut them apart and give you only the two large
heart breads, leaving to him the two thin throat breads to sell at a
reduced price.

In poultry there are two kinds of fat, yellow and white. Fowls fed on
rice have white fat; those on corn meal, yellow fat. By the feet of the
bird, you can tell its age.

The black and red feathered fowls are always preferred. Never take a
gray feathered bird.

Look at the head of the canvasback and the redhead; see them together,
and then you will readily see the birds to pick, i.e. the canvasback.
Weigh in your hand each snipe or woodcock; the weight will tell you if
the bird is fat and plump.

In buying terrapin, look at each one, and see if they are the simon-pure
diamond back Chesapeakes.

In choosing your saddle of mutton, take the short-legged ones, the meat
coming well down the leg, nearly reaching the foot; a short, thick,
stubby little tail; must have the look of the pure Southdown, with
black legs and feet.

Of hothouse grapes, I find the large white grapes the best, Muscats of

Parch and grind your coffee the day you drink it. Always buy green

Never use the small _timbales_ of _pâté de foie gras_, generally given
one to each guest. Always have an entire _foie gras_, be it large or
small, for in this way you are apt to get old _foie gras_ thus worked

Always buy your _foie gras_ from an A1 house, never from the butcher or

I here give as a recollection of the past the

               Menu of an Old-fashioned Southern Dinner.

          Terrapin Soup and Oyster Soup, Or Mock Turtle Soup,
               Soft Shell Or Cylindrical Nose Turtle.[a]

         Boiled Fresh Water Trout (Known With Us at the North
                               As Chub).

                 Shad Stuffed and Baked (We Broil It).
             Boiled Turkey, Oyster Sauce. a Roast Peahen.
                         Boiled Southern Ham.
         Escalloped Oysters. Maccaroni With Cheese. Prawn Pie.
                        Crabs Stuffed in Shell.
                   Roast Ducks. a Haunch of Venison.

          Plum Pudding. Mince Pies. Trifle. Floating Island.
                          Blanc Mange. Jelly.
                              Ice Cream.

 [A] This turtle is only found in the ditches of the rice fields,
 and is the most valued delicacy of the South. It is too delicate to
 transport to the North. I have made several attempts to do this, but
 invariably failed, the turtle dying before it could reach New York.
 Its shell is gelatinous, all of which is used in the soup. It is only
 caught in July and August, and even then it is very rare, and brings a
 high price.

On repeatedly visiting the West Indies, I found that two of the best
Carolina and Georgia dishes, supposed always to have emanated from the
African brain, were imported from these islands, and really had not even
their origin there, but were brought from Bordeaux to the West Indies,
and thence were carried to the South. I refer to the _Crab à la Creole_,
and _Les Aubergines farcies à la Bordelaise_.

After the great revolution, when the Africans of Hayti drove from the
island their former masters, good French cooking came with them to
Baltimore, and other parts of the South. In talking of Southern dishes,
I must not forget the Southern barnyard-fed turkey. They were fattened
on small rice and were very fine. In discussing Southern dinners, I
cannot omit making mention of the old Southern butler, quite an
institution; devoted to his master, and taking as much pride in the
family as the family took in itself. Among Southern household servants
(all colored people), the man bore two names as well as the woman. The
one he answered to as servant, the other was his title. Whenever, as a
boy, I wanted particularly to gratify my father’s old butler, I would
give him his title, which was “Major Brown.” He was commonly called Nat.
I remember, on one occasion, a guest at my father’s table asking Major
Brown to hand him the rice, whilst he was eating fish. The old
gray-haired butler drew himself up with great dignity, and replied,
“Massa, we don’t eat rice with fish in this house.”

Some features of the everyday Southern dinner were _pilau_, i.e. boiled
chickens on a bed of rice, with a large piece of bacon between the
chickens; “Hoppin John,” that is, cowpeas with bacon; okra soup, a
staple dish; shrimp and prawn pie; crab salad; pompey head (a stuffed
_filet_ of veal); roast quail and snipe, and, during the winter, shad
daily, boiled, broiled and baked.

As there is reciprocity in everything, if you dine with others, they, in
turn, must dine with you. Passing several winters at Nassau, N.P., I
dined twice a week, regularly, with the Governor of the Bahamas. I
suggested to him the propriety of my giving him a dinner. He smiled, and

“My dear fellow, I represent Her Majesty; I cannot, in this town, dine
out of my own house.”

“Egad!” said I, “then dine with me in the country!”

“That will do,” he replied; “but how will you, as a stranger, get up a
dinner in this land, where it is a daily struggle to get food?”

“Leave that to me,” I said. The Governor’s accepting this invitation,
recalled a story my father oft related, which caused me some anxiety as
to the expense of my undertaking. A distinguished man with whom he was
associated at the bar was sent as our Minister to Russia; when he
returned home, my father interviewed him as to his Russian experience.
He said, that after being repeatedly entertained by the royal family, he
felt that it was incumbent on him, in turn, to entertain them himself;
so he approached the Emperor’s grand Chamberlain and expressed this
wish, who at once accepted an invitation to breakfast for the whole
Imperial family. “McAllister,” he said, “I gave that breakfast; I was
charmed with its success, but my dear man, it took my entire fortune to
pay for it. I have been a poor man ever since.”

Having this party on hand, I went to the _chef_ of the hotel,
interviewed him, found he had been at one time the head cook of the New
York Hotel in this city; so I felt safe in his hands. I went to work and
made out a list of all the French dishes that could be successfully
rechaufféd. Such as _côtelettes de mouton en papillotte_, _vol au vent à
la financière_, _boudins de volaille à la Richelieu_, _timbales de riz
de veau_, _et quenelle de volaille_; a boiled Yorkshire ham, easily
heated over, to cook which properly it must be simmered from six to
seven hours until you can turn the bone; then lay it aside twelve hours
to cool; then put it in an oven, and constantly baste it with a pint of
cider. It must be served hot, even after being cut. The oftener it is
placed in the oven and heated the better it becomes. Thus cooked, they
have been by one of my friends hermetically sealed in a tin case and
sent to several distinguished men in England, who have found them a
great delicacy.

I then hired for the day for $20 a shut-up country place; got plenty of
English bunting, quantities of flowers; saw that my champagne was of the
best and well _frappéd_; made a speech to the waiters and cook, urging
them to show these Britishers what the Yankee could do when put to his
stumps; and then with a long cavalcade of cooks, waiters, pots, and
pans, heading the procession myself, went off to my orange-grove
retreat, some five miles from Nassau, made my men work like beavers, and
awaited the arrival of my sixty English guests, who were coming to see
the American _fiasco_ in the way of a country dinner and _fête_. In they
came, and great was their surprise when they beheld a table for sixty
people, _pièces montés_ of confectionery, flowers, wines all nicely
decanted, and a really good French dinner, at once served to them. I
only relate this to show that where there is a will there is a way, and
that you can so work upon a French cook’s vanity that he will, on a
spurt like this, outdo himself.

Marvelous to relate, the _chef_ positively refused to be recompensed.

“No, sir,” he replied; “I am well off; I wish no pay. Monsieur has
appreciated my efforts. Monsieur knows when things are well done. He has
made a great success. All the darkies on this island could not have
cooked that dinner. I am satisfied.”

I was so pleased with the fellow, that when he broke down in health he
came to me, and I had him as my cook two Newport summers. I kept him
alive by giving him old Jamaica rum and milk fresh from the cow, taken
before his breakfast,--an old Southern remedy for consumption.

Some of his remarks on Nassau are worthy of repeating. I said to him,
“_Chef_, why don’t they raise vegetables on this fruitful island? Why
bring them all from New York?”

“Monsieur,” he replied, “here you sow your seed at night, by midnight it
is ripe and fit to cook; by morning it has gone to seed. The same way
with sheep. You bring a flock of sheep here, with fine fleeces of wool;
in a few months they are goats, and not wool enough on them to plug your



     _The “Banner Ball”--How to prepare a Ball-room Floor--A curious
     Costume and a sharp Answer--The Turkish Ball--Indisposition of
     ladies to dance at a Public Ball--The Yorktown Centennial
     Ball--Committees are Ungrateful--My Experience in this Matter--I
     discover Mr. Blaine and introduce Myself._

In 1876, asked by a committee of eighty-two ladies to act as Manager of
a ball they were getting up at Chickering Hall, in aid of the
“Centennial Union,” to be called the “Banner Ball,” I accepted their
flattering invitation to lead so fair a band of patriots.

On examining the premises, I found that on a new floor they had put a
heavy coat of varnish; there was nothing _then_ to be done but to
sprinkle it thickly with corn meal, and then sweep it off, and renew the
dressing from time to time. It is well to say here that if a floor is
too slippery (which it often is, if hard wood is used and it is new),
there is nothing to be done but to sprinkle it with powdered
pumice-stone, sweeping it off before dancing on it; and again, if it is
not slippery enough, then, as above, give it repeated doses of corn
meal, and the roughest floor is soon put in good condition to dance on.

The opening quadrille of this ball was very effective. We formed in the
second story of the Hall. I led the way to the ball-room with the
“fairest of the fair,” the daughter of one of the most distinguished men
in this country (who had not only been Governor of this State, but
Secretary of State of the United States). We were surrounded by a noble
throng of old New Yorkers, all eager to view the opening quadrille. The
ladies were in Colonial costumes, representing Lady Washington and the
ladies of her court. As I walked through the crowded rooms, having on my
arm one of our brilliant society women, “a flower which was not quite a
flower, yet was no more a bud,” we met approaching us a lady in indeed
gorgeous apparel--so gorgeous, that the lady on my arm at once accosted
her with, “Good gracious, my dear Mrs. B----, what have you got on? Let
me look at you.” Her head was a mass of the most superb ostrich plumes,
Prince of Wales feathers, which towered above her, and as she advanced
would bend gracefully forward, nodding to you, as it were, to approach
and do her honor. Her dress, neck, and shoulders were ablaze with jewels
and precious stones, and in her hand she carried an old Spanish fan,
such as a queen might envy. The following reply to the query came from
this royal dame: “What have I got on? Why, Madame, I had a grandmother!”
“Had you, indeed! Then, if that was her garb, she must have been
Pocahontas, or the Empress of Morocco!” The war of words beginning to be
a little sharp, I pressed on, only to meet another famous lady, whose
birthplace was Philadelphia, and who had had no end of grandmothers. She
wore a superb dress of scarlet and gold, tight-fitting, such as was worn
during the Empire. Another young woman wore her great-grandmother’s
dress, pink and brown striped brocade, cut like Martha Washington’s
dress in the Republican Court, in which her great grandmother figured.
The wife of a prominent jurist, a remarkably handsome woman, with a
grand presence and a noble carriage, representing Lady Washington, wore,
to all eyes, the most attractive costume there.

During the winter of 1877, a Southern woman of warm sympathies, great
taste, and natural ability, having married a young man of colossal
fortune, was urged to take in hand the cause of the wounded Christians
in the Russian-Turkish War, and raise funds to send to their relief. To
do this, she formed the “Society of the Crescent and the Cross,” and a
ball was given under her auspices at the Academy of Music, remembered
in society as the “Turkish Ball.”

This lady did me the honor of making me the Chairman of the Floor
Committee of that ball. Consulting with her, we selected the members of
the opening quadrille, and took good care to choose the most brilliant
women in this city. My partner was one of the greatest belles New York
has ever had, a woman of such air and distinction, such beauty of face
and charm of manner, as we read of, but rarely see.

Our quadrille, formed on the stage of this large opera house, with the
guests of the ball filling the galleries and looking down on it, was no
sooner over than I found we were in this dilemma: Our little quadrille
was left in full possession of the vast auditorium, and the question
was, how to get the people to leave the boxes and come down to us. It
was not in any way a full ball, and as the ladies who had danced in the
quadrille at once retired to their boxes, they left me, as it were,
sole occupant of the dancing floor. However, I rushed around and here
and there collected dancing men, and succeeded in getting a respectable
number on the floor, and infused spirit into the dancing.

The trouble in such cases is the indisposition of ladies to dance at a
public ball, other than in an opening quadrille. The ball, however, went
merrily on to a late hour.

A few years later, I was asked to be one of the Floor Committee of the
ball to be given to the distinguished French and German officers who
came over to join in our celebration of the Centennial of the Battle of
Yorktown. This was the invitation:

     _Office of the French Reception Commission, Room 7, Fifth Avenue
     Hotel, New York, 28th October, 1881._

     _Dear Sir:_

     _The Commissioners appointed by the Governor of the State to extend
     its courtesies to the guests of the Nation, request that you will
     act as one of the Floor Committee on the occasion of the Ball to
     be given at the Metropolitan Casino, on the evening of November 7._

     _An immediate answer will oblige_,

_Yours very respectfully_,

_Chairman of the Ball Committee_.

     _To Ward McAllister, Esq._

Experience had taught me never to go on a committee in any social matter
unless the committee was formed by myself, or made up of personal
friends on whom I could rely, and who would second and support me in my
work; for I well knew that it requires hard head-work and hand-work to
carry through to success any social project. Sometimes it happens--it
has often happened to me--that you have men on a committee with you who
are wofully ignorant of the work they have undertaken to superintend,
who in one breath tell you “I know nothing about this business,” and in
the next criticise, discuss, and deluge you with useless and worthless
suggestions, and then, when they find they themselves can do nothing
turn the whole matter over to you and tell you to “go ahead.” You do go
ahead and do their work, and then, when they find it is effectual, and
they see your efforts will be crowned with success, they quietly come in
and appropriate the credit of it.

However, on this occasion I agreed to act, as my duties were confined to
forming the opening quadrille, and taking charge of the dancing. Picture
to yourself a huge hall, one mass of human beings awaiting the opening
of the ball, impatient of delay, anxious to dash off into the waltz,
tempted by the inspiriting strains coming from a perfect band of one
hundred well-trained musicians. Then, at one end of this vast hall, a
stage filled with ladies in brilliant costumes, and foreign officers all
in uniform; the Governor of the State, the Mayor of the City, and the
chairmen of the various Yorktown committees; then your humble servant as
one of the Floor Committee, flitting from one group to another,
instructing each of them what they were to do. The position was indeed
droll. I stood behind the Governor, who was to all outward appearances
conversing with General Boulanger, but was literally squeezing my hand
and asking me what he was to do. One distinguished German general
promptly said, “I go it blind! I will simply do what the others do.”
These were the forces I had to marshal and put through a quadrille. I
dodged from one to the other and called out the figures, and breathed a
sigh of relief when the dance was concluded.

Looking around the galleries and scanning all the distinguished people,
my eye lit upon a wonderfully bright and intelligent face. Inwardly I
said, “There is a man among men. Who can it be?” My curiosity was so
aroused that I went into his box, introduced myself to him as one of the
Floor Committee, and said, “I have never seen you before; I know you are
a distinguished man. Pray who are you?” Laughingly, he replied, “I am
James G. Blaine.” “Well,” I said, “my instincts have not failed me this
time. I have heard and read of you for years. Now I see your genius in
your face.” Beauty in woman, genius in man, happily I never fail to

The invitation to this ball was as follows:

     [Coat of Arms of the State of New York.]


     _The Commissioners appointed by the State of New York request the
     honor of your presence to meet the Guests of the Nation at the
     Metropolitan Casino on the evening of Monday, November 7, at ten

     _New York, 19th of October, 1881._

Some of the distinguished guests of the Nation were M. Max Outrey,
Ministre Plenipotentiare de la France aux Etats-Unis, M. le Marquis de
Rochambeau, General Boulanger, le Comte de Beaumont, and le Comte de
Corcelle, representing the Lafayettes, and Colonel A. von Steuben,
representing the family of Major-General von Steuben.



     _A Famous Newport Ball--Exquisite effect produced by blocks of Ice
     and Electric Lights--The Japanese room--Corners for “Flirtation
     couples”--A superb Supper--Secretary Frelinghuysen in the
     Barber-shop--I meet Attorney-General Brewster--A Remarkable Man--I
     entertain him at Newport--A young Admirer gives him a Banquet in
     New York--Transformation of the Banquet-hall into a Ball-room._

The next great event in the fashionable world was a Newport ball. A lady
who had married a man of cultivation and taste, a member of one of New
York’s oldest families, who had inherited from her father an enormous
fortune, was at once seized with the ambition to take and hold a
brilliant social position, to gratify which she built one of the
handsomest houses in this city, importing interiors from Europe for it,
and such old Spanish tapestries as had never before been introduced into
New York; after which she went to Newport, and bought a beautiful villa
on Bellevue Avenue, and there gave, in the grounds of that villa, the
handsomest ball that had ever been given there. The villa itself was
only used to receive and sup the guests in, for a huge tent, capable of
holding fifteen hundred people, had been spread over the entire villa
grounds, and in it was built a platform for dancing. The approaches to
this tent were admirably designed, and produced a great effect. On
entering the villa itself, you were received by the hostess, and then
directed by liveried servants to the two improvised _salons_ of the
tent. The one you first entered was the Japanese room, adorned by every
conceivable kind of old Japanese objects of art, couches, hangings of
embroideries, cunning cane houses, all illuminated with Japanese
lanterns, and the ceiling canopied with Japanese stuffs, producing, with
its soft reddish light, a charming effect; then, behind tables
scattered in different parts of the room, stood Japanese boys in
costume, serving fragrant tea. Every possible couch, lounge, and
easy-chair was there to invite you to sit and indulge yourself in ease
and repose.

Leaving this ante-room, you entered still another _salon_, adorned with
modern and Parisian furniture, but furnished with cunningly devised
corners and nooks for “flirtation couples”; and from this you were
ushered into the gorgeous ball-room itself,--an immense open tent, whose
ceiling and sides were composed of broad stripes of white and scarlet
bunting; then, for the first time at a ball in this country, the
electric light was introduced, with brilliant effect. Two grottos of
immense blocks of ice stood on either side of the ball-room, and a
powerful jet of light was thrown through each of them, causing the ice
to resemble the prisms of an illuminated cavern, and fairly to dazzle
one with their coloring. Then as the blocks of ice would melt, they
would tumble over each other in charming glacier-like confusion, giving
you winter in the lap of summer; for every species of plant stood around
this immense floor, as a flowering border, creeping quite up to these
little improvised glaciers. The light was thrown and spread by these two
powerful jets, sufficiently strong to give a brilliant illumination to
the ball-room. The only criticism possible was, that it made deep

All Newport was present to give brilliancy to the scene. Everything was
to be European, so one supped at small tables as at a ball in Paris, all
through the night. Supper was ready at the opening of the ball, and also
as complete and as well served at the finish, by daylight. Newport had
never seen before, and has never since seen, anything as dazzling and
brilliant, as well conceived, and as well carried out, in every detail.

Desirous of obtaining an office from the administration of President
Arthur, I went to Washington with letters to the President and his
Attorney-General. On my arrival, depositing my luggage in my room at
Willard’s, I descended to the modest little barber-shop of that hotel,
and there, in the hands of a colored barber, I saw our distinguished
Secretary of State, the Hon. Frederick T. Frelinghuysen, who, on
catching sight of me, exclaimed:

“Halloa, my friend! what brings you here?” He had for years been my
lawyer in New Jersey.

I replied: “I want an office.”

“Well, what office?”

I told him what I wanted.

“I hope you do not expect me to get it for you!” he exclaimed.

“Not exactly,” I answered. “My man is the Attorney-General, and I want
you to tell me where I can find him.”

“Find him! why, that’s easy enough; there is not another such man in
Washington. Where do you dine?”

“Here in this house, at seven.”

“He dines here at the same hour. All you have to do is to look about you
then, and when you see an old-fashioned, courtly gentleman of the
Benjamin Franklin style, you will see Brewster,” said Mr. Frelinghuysen.

While quietly taking my soup, I saw an apparition! In walked a stately,
handsome woman, by her side an old-fashioned, courtly gentleman, in a
black velvet sack coat, ruffled shirt, and ruffled wristbands,
accompanied by a small boy, evidently their son. “There he is,” I said
to myself. Now, I make it a rule never to disturb any one until they
have taken off the edge of their appetite. I stealthily viewed the man
on whom my hopes hinged. Remarkable to look at he was. A thoroughly
well-dressed man, with the unmistakable air of a gentleman and a man of
culture. As he spoke he gesticulated, and even with his family, he
seemingly kept up the liveliest of conversations. No sooner had he
reached his coffee, than I reached him. In five minutes I was as much at
home with him as if I had known him for five years.

“Well, my dear sir,” he said, “what made you go first to Frelinghuysen?
Why did you not come at once to me? I know all about you; my friends are
your friends. I know what you want. The office you wish, I will see that
you get. Our good President will sanction what I do. The office is
yours. Say no more about it.” From that hour this glorious old man and
myself were sworn friends; I was here simply carrying out the axiom to
keep one’s friendships in repair; and, as he had done so much for me, I
resolved, in turn, to do all I could for him, and I know I made the
evening of his life, at least, one of pleasurable and quiet enjoyment.
He came to me that summer at Newport, and the life he there led among
fashionable people seemed to be a new awakening to him of cultivated and
refined enjoyment. He found himself among people there who appreciated
his well-stored mind and his great learning. He was the brightest and
best conversationalist I have ever met with. His memory was marvelous;
every little incident of everyday life would bring forth some poetical
illustrations from his mental storehouse.

At a large dinner I gave him, to which I had invited General Hancock and
one of the Judges of the Supreme Court of the United States, the
question of precedence presented itself. I sent in the Judge before the
General, and being criticised for this, I appealed to the General
himself. “In Washington,” he said, “I have been sent in to dinner on
many occasions before our Supreme Court Judges, and again on other
occasions they have preceded me. There is no fixed rule; but I am
inclined to think I have precedence.”

During this summer, a young friend of mine was so charmed with the
Attorney-General, that he advised with me about giving him an
exceptionally handsome entertainment. This idea took shape the following
winter, when he came and asked me to assist him in getting up for him a
superb banquet at Delmonico’s. He wanted the brilliant people of society
to be invited to it, and no pains or expense to be spared to make it the
affair of the winter. I felt that our distinguished citizen, the
ex-Secretary of State and ex-Governor, who had so long held political as
well as social power, and his wife, should be asked to preside over it,
and thus expressed myself to him, and was requested to ask them to do
so. I presented myself to this most affable and courtly lady in her
sunshiny drawing-room on Second Avenue, and proffered my request. She
graciously accepted the invitation, saying she well knew the gentleman
and his family as old New Yorkers; and to preside over a dinner given to
her old friend, Mr. Brewster, would really give her the greatest

Great care was taken in the selection of the guests. New York sent to
this feast the brilliant men and women of that day, and the feast was
worthy of them. The “I” table (shape of letter I) was literally a garden
of superb roses; a border of heartsease, the width of one’s hand,
encircled it, and was most artistic. Delmonico’s ball-room, where we
dined, had never been so elaborately decorated. The mural decorations
were superb; placques of lilies of the valley, of tulips, and of azaleas
adorned the walls; and the dinner itself was pronounced the best effort
of Delmonico’s _chefs_. What added much to the general effect was on
leaving the table for a short half-hour to find the same dining-room,
in that short space of time, converted into a brilliant ball-room, all
full of the guests of the Patriarchs, and a ball under full headway.



     _New Era in New York Society--Extravagance of Living--Grand Fancy
     Dress Ball in Fifth Avenue--I go as the Lover of Margaret de
     Valois--A Great Journalist at Newport--A British Officer rides into
     a Club House--The great Journalist’s masked Ball--A mysterious Blue
     Domino--Breakfast at Southwick’s Grove to the Duke of
     Beaufort--Picnic given President Arthur--His hearty Enjoyment of
     it--Governor Morgan misjudges my “Open Air Lunches.”--The Pleasure
     of Country Frolics._

We here reach a period when New York society turned over a new leaf. Up
to this time, for one to be worth a million of dollars was to be rated
as a man of fortune, but now, bygones must be bygones. New York’s ideas
as to values, when fortune was named, leaped boldly up to ten millions,
fifty millions, one hundred millions, and the necessities and luxuries
followed suit. One was no longer content with a dinner of a dozen or
more, to be served by a couple of servants. Fashion demanded that you be
received in the hall of the house in which you were to dine, by from
five to six servants, who, with the butler, were to serve the repast.
The butler, on such occasions, to do alone the head-work, and under him
he had these men in livery to serve the dinner, he to guide and direct
them. Soft strains of music were introduced between the courses, and in
some houses gold replaced silver in the way of plate, and everything
that skill and art could suggest was added to make the dinners not a
vulgar display, but a great gastronomic effort, evidencing the
possession by the host of both money and taste.

The butler from getting a salary of $40 a month received then from $60
to $75 a month. The second man jumped up from $20 to $35 and $40, and
the extra men, at the dinner of a dozen people or more, would cost $24.
Then the orchids, being the most costly of all flowers, were introduced
in profusion. The canvasback, that we could buy at $2.50 a pair, went
up to $8 a pair; the terrapin were $4 apiece. Our forefathers would have
been staggered at the cost of the hospitality of these days.

Lady Mandeville came over to us at this epoch, and at once a superb
fancy ball was announced by one of our fashionable rich men. Every
artist in the city was set to work to design novel costumes--to produce
something in the way of a fancy dress that would make its wearer live
ever after in history. Determining not to be outdone, I went to a fair
dowager, who was up in all things; asked for and followed her advice.
“Mapleson is your man. Put yourself in his hands,” said she; so off I
went to him, and there I found myself, not only in his hands, but under
the inspection of a fine pair of female eyes, who sat by his side and
essayed to prompt him as to what my dress should be.

“Why, man alive!” said she, “don’t you see he is a Huguenot all over,
an admirer of our sex. Put him in the guise of some woman’s lover.”

“By Jove, you are right, my fair songster!” said Mapleson. “I’ll make
him the lover of Marguerite de Valois, who was guillotined at thirty-six
because he loved ‘not wisely, but too well.’ Pray, what is your age?”

“Young enough, my dear sir, to suit your purpose. Go ahead, and make of
me what you will,” I replied.

“Have you a good pair of legs?”

“Aye, that I have! But at times they are a little groggy. Covering they
must have.”

“Ah, my boy, we will fix you. Buckskin will do your business. With
tights of white chamois and silk hose, you can defy cold.” So into the
business I went; and when my good friend the Attorney-General came into
my room, and saw two sturdy fellows on either side of me holding up a
pair of leather trunks, I on a step-ladder, one mass of powder,
descending into them, an operation consuming an hour, he exclaimed,
“Why, my good sir, your pride should be in your legs, not your head!”

“At present,” I said, “it certainly is.”

The six quadrilles were really the event of the ball, consisting of “The
Hobby-horse Quadrille,” the men who danced in it being dressed in
“pink,” and the ladies wearing red hunting-coats and white satin skirts,
all of the period of Louis XIV. In the “Mother Goose Quadrille” were
“Jack and Jill,” “Little Red Riding-Hood,” “Bo-Peep,” “Goody Two-Shoes,”
“Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary,” and “My Pretty Maid.” The “Opera Bouffe
Quadrille” was most successful; but of all of them, “The Star
Quadrille,” containing the youth and beauty of the city, was the most
brilliant. The ladies in it were arrayed as twin stars, in four
different colors, yellow, blue, mauve, and white. Above the forehead of
each lady, in her hair, was worn an electric light, giving a fairy and
elf-like appearance to each of them. “The Dresden Quadrille,” in which
the ladies wore white satin, with powdered hair, and the gentlemen white
satin knee breeches and powdered wigs, with the Dresden mark, crossed
swords, on each of them, was effective. The hostess appeared as a
Venetian Princess, with a superb jeweled peacock in her hair. The host
was the Duke de Guise for that evening. The host’s eldest brother wore a
costume of Louis XVI. His wife appeared as “The Electric Light,” in
white satin, trimmed with diamonds, and her head one blaze of diamonds.
The most remarkable costume, and one spoken of to this day, was that of
a cat; the dress being of cats’ tails and white cats’ heads, and a bell
with “Puss” on it in large letters. A distinguished beauty, dressed as a
Phœnix, adorned with diamonds and rubies, was superb, and the
Capuchin Monk, with hood and sandals, inimitable; but to name the most
striking would be to name all.

The great social revolution that had occurred in New York this winter,
like most revolutionary waves, reached Newport. Our distinguished New
York journalist then made Newport his summer home, buying the fine
granite house that for years had been first known as “The Middleton
Mansion,” afterwards the “Sidney Brooks residence,” and filling it with
distinguished Europeans. His activity and energy gave new life to the

One fine summer morning, one of his guests, an officer in the English
army, a bright spirit and admirable horseman, riding on his polo pony up
to the Newport Reading-room, where all the fossils of the place, the
nobs, and the swells daily gossiped, he was challenged to ride the pony
into the hall of this revered old club, and being bantered to do it, he
actually did ride the pony across the narrow piazza, and into the hall
of the club itself. This was enough to set Newport agog. What sacrilege!
an Englishman to ride in upon us, not respecting the sanctity of the
place! It aroused the old patriots, who were members of that
Institution, with the spirit of ’76, and a summary note was sent to the
great journalist, withdrawing the invitation the club had previously
given his guest. The latter, in turn, felt aggrieved, and retaliated
with this result: Building for Newport a superb Casino, embracing a
club, a ball-room, and a restaurant, opposite his own residence. All
this evidencing that agitation of any kind is as beneficial in social
circles, as to the atmosphere we breathe.

Then our journalist conceived and gave a handsome domino ball. All the
ladies in domino, much after the pattern of the one previously given by
the Duchess de Dino, and in many respects resembling it, having a huge
tent spread behind the house, and all the rooms on the first floor
converted into a series of charming supper-rooms, each table decorated
most elaborately with beautiful flowers; as handsome a ball as one
could give. I took the wife of the Attorney-General to it in domino,
who, after her life in Washington, was amazed at the beauty of the
scene. The grounds, which were very handsome, were all, even the plants
themselves, illuminated with electric lights--that is, streams of
electric light were cunningly thrown under the plants, giving an
illumination _à giorno_, and producing the most beautiful effect.

At this ball there appeared a Blue Domino that set all the men wild.
Coming to the ball in her own carriage (her servants she felt she could
trust not to betray her) she dashed into the merry throng, and gliding
from one to the other whispered airy nothings into men’s ears. But they
contained enough to excite the most intense curiosity as to who she was.
She was the belle of the evening; she became bold and daring at times,
attacking men of and about the inmost secrets of their hearts, so as to
alarm them, and when she had worked them all up to a fever heat, she
came to me to take her to the door that she might make good her escape.
A dozen men barricaded the way, but with the rapidity of a deer she
dashed through them, reached the sidewalk, and her footman literally
threw her into the carriage. Her coachman, well drilled, dashed off at a
furious rate, and to this day no one has ever found out who the fair
creature was.

The next social event after this grand ball was a large breakfast the
great journalist gave for the Duke of Beaufort, at Southwick’s Grove. We
all sat at tables under the trees, and we had what the French so aptly
term a _déjeuner dinatoire_. At it the Duke was most eloquent in his
wonderful description of a fishing exploit he had had that morning;
rising at 2 A.M., and driving to “Black Rock,” he groped his way to the
farthest point, and had the satisfaction of hooking an enormous bass.
In his own words, “As I saw him on the crest of the wave, I knew I had
him, and then my sport began.”

Hearing that President Arthur would visit Newport, as I felt greatly in
his debt I resolved to do my share in making his visit pleasant and
agreeable. He was to be the guest of Governor Morgan, whom I at once
buttonholed and to him gave the above views. I found, like all these
great political magnates, that he preferred to have the President to
himself, and rather threw cold water on my attempting anything in my
humble way at entertaining him. “Why, my dear sir,” he replied, “the
President will not go to one of your country picnics. It is preposterous
to think of getting up such a rural thing for him. I shall, of course,
dine him and give him a fête, and have already sent to New York for my

“Sent for your Madeira!” I exclaimed. “Why, my dear Governor, it will
not be fit to drink when it reaches you.”

“Why not?” he asked.

“Because it will be so shaken up, it will be like tasting bad drugs.
Madeira of any age, if once moved, cannot be tasted until it has had at
least a month’s repose. President Arthur is a good judge of Madeira, and
he would not drink your wine.”

“Well, what am I to do?” said he.

“Why, my dear Governor, I will myself carry to your house for him a
couple of bottles of my very best Madeira.” This I did, sitting in the
middle of the carriage, one bottle in each hand (it having been first
carefully decanted), and into the Governor’s parlor I was ushered, and
then placed my offering before the President, telling him that I well
knew he loved women, as well as song and wine; prayed him to honor me
with his presence at a Newport picnic, promising to cull a bouquet of
such exotics as are only grown in a Newport hothouse. The invitation he
at once accepted, much, I thought, to the chagrin of the Governor, who,
accompanying me to his front door, said:

“My dear sir, one must remember that he is the President of the United
States, ruling over sixty millions of people. He is here as my guest,
and now to go off and dine on Sunday with a leader of fashion, and then
to follow this up by attending one of your open-air lunches, seems to me
not right.” (I must here say in his defense, that the Governor had never
been to one of my “open-air lunches,” and knew not of what he spoke.)

I then resolved to make this picnic worthy of our great ruler, and at
once invited to it a beautiful woman, one who might have been selected
for a Madonna. This is the first time I have made mention of her; she
possessed that richness of nature you only see in Southern climes; one
of the most beautiful women in America. She promised to go to this
country party, and bring her court with her.

I selected the loveliest spot on Newport Island, known as “The Balch
Place,” near “The Paradise and Purgatory Rocks,” for this fête. The
Atlantic Ocean, calm and unruffled, lay before us; all the noise it made
was the gentle ripple of the waves as they kissed the rocky shore.
Giving the President our great beauty, he led the way to the collation,
partaken of at little tables under the sparse trees that the rough
winter barely permitted to live, and then we had a merry dance on the
green, on an excellent platform fringed with plants.

At a subsequent breakfast, I was intensely gratified to have the
President say to me, before the whole company, “McAllister, you did
indeed redeem your promise. The beauty of the women at your picnic, the
beauty of the place, and its admirable arrangement--made it the
pleasantest party I have had at Newport,”--and this was said before my
friend the Governor. Grand, elaborate entertainments are ofttimes not as
enjoyable as country frolics.



     _I visit Washington as the guest of Attorney-General Brewster--A
     Dinner at the White House--Amusing arrangement of Guests--The
     Winthrop Statue--The memorable Winters of 1884-85--A Millionaire’s
     House-warming--A London Ball in New York--A Modern Amy
     Robsart--Transforming Delmonico’s entire place into a
     Ball-room--The New Year’s Ball at the Metropolitan Opera
     House--Last Words._

The following winter my friend Attorney-General Brewster invited me to
Washington to pass a fortnight with him, and I then got a glimpse of
modern life in that city. I enjoyed my visit, but found the people
slower of action than we are in New York; for instance, it took my kind
host fully a week to consider over and map out a dinner for me. Then,
just as I was leaving, the President asked me to dine with him. I was
informed that it was imperative that I should cancel other engagements
and remain over to accept his invitation.

The arrangement of the guests at this dinner was to me amusing. Reaching
the White House, I was separated from the ladies I brought, and could
not in any way find them again to enter the drawing-room with them, but
was ushered into it from a side door, and there joined the gentlemen,
who stood in line on one side of the room, while from an opposite door
the ladies entered the same room, and formed in line, as it were,
opposite the men. When all were assembled, the President himself
entered, bowed to his guests, and offered his arm to one of the ladies,
and led the way in to dinner.

The view from the dining-room into the conservatories, displaying the
finest collection of white azaleas I have ever seen, was most effective.
The dinner was good, and well served; the President most gracious.
Turning to me, he said, “Why, your friend Winthrop is not himself
to-day. What is the matter with him?” I replied, “My dear Mr. President,
he has been up to the Capitol, and seen his ancestor in white marble,
and found his nose was shockingly dirty. This annoyed and mortified
him.” The President replied, “Really, well, this is too bad! This matter
shall at once have my attention. That nose shall be wiped to-morrow!”

The winters of 1884 and 1885 will long be remembered by New York society
people, for three of the largest, handsomest, and most successful balls
ever given in this city have made them memorable. The heir to probably
the largest fortune ever left to one man in this country, then threw
open the doors of his palatial residence and generously invited all who
were in any way entitled to an invitation, to come and view his superb
house, and join in the dance which was to inaugurate its completion.

As I went up the beautiful stairs and passed along the gallery, looking
down on a hall such as few palaces contain, with a long train of
handsomely dressed women passing me on their way down to the reception
room, it put me in mind of a scene I well remembered at the Hôtel de
Ville, in Paris, at a ball given by the Emperor Napoleon III. to the
King of Sardinia. It looked royal, and was most impressive. Our host
stood in the centre of his hall, giving to all a warm welcome. Passing
him we entered his _grand salon_, where his wife received us. The room
itself, Oriental, and as Eastern and luxurious in its own peculiar style
as one could create it. From this _salon_, we entered a novel Japanese
room, and then the fine dining-room of the house, with its marvelous
ceiling, painted by one of the best modern French artists. The picture
galleries were the ball and supper rooms. The cotillion was danced in
the farthest of the two galleries, the ladies seated in double and
triple lines on improvised seats, as if they were sitting on a long
extended dais all around the room. The effect was dazzling and
brilliant. All supped well, for when supper was announced little tables
were placed like magic through the rooms; and New Yorkers had what they
well knew how to appreciate--an elaborate, well-served repast; champagne
in abundance, and of the best, and in perfect condition. In my opinion,
it was one of the handsomest, most profuse, liberal, and brilliant balls
ever given in this country.

The next great flutter in New York’s fashionable world was the
announcement of a grand entertainment to be given, embracing all the
features of a London ball, which, though a novelty here, had for years
been done in London; that was to build an addition to one’s house, to be
used but for one night, and to be made large enough to comfortably hold,
with the house, one thousand or twelve hundred people. There was plenty
of energy and talent to carry this out, and reproduce here what
Londoners have always been so proud of--their ability to double the
capacity of their city houses by utilizing their yards, covering them
with a temporary structure, to be used as a supper or ball room. A young
man of an old Long Island family had married a beautiful girl, a young
woman such as Walter Scott would have taken to impersonate his character
of Amy Robsart, who, besides this natural and _naïve_ style of beauty,
possessed great administrative ability, and withal much taste, a great
amount of energy, and a fortune large enough to carry through any
enterprise she conceived. Both of them were devoted to society, and to
each other. Passing their summers abroad, and seeing what vast
conceptions society there undertook, and successfully carried out, they
resolved to repeat here what they had seen on the other side of the
water. In Marcotte they had a great ally, a man of wonderful taste and
ability; planning out the work themselves, with his skillful hand to
execute it, they certainly built up in a night, as it were, a superb
banqueting hall, complete and elaborately finished as if a part of the
house itself; a solid structure, with no appearance of its being
temporary or run up for the occasion. Throwing two houses into one, and
descending from them into this vast banqueting hall by a wide flight of
stairs, you had, to all appearances, a grand palatial residence, whose
rooms the largest crowd could roam through with freedom and perfect
comfort. The houses themselves were so handsomely decorated in the
period of Louis XIV., that it required cultivated taste to add floral
decorations to such rooms; but it was done, and admirably done, and was
a remarkable feature of this superb ball. Garlands of the delicate _La
France_ roses were festooned on the walls, and over and around the doors
and windows, producing a charming effect. There were two cotillions
danced in separate rooms. The approach from the street to the houses was
admirable; the pavement was inclosed the entire length of both,
carpeted, and brilliantly lighted with innumerable jets of gas--a ball
long to be remembered!

What then was there left for one to do in the way of entertaining to
give society anything new and novel? This duty was then imposed on me.
These pages bear evidence that I am blessed with memory, but imagination
was then what I required to conceive and carry out some new enterprise
in the way of a subscription New Year’s ball, to surpass anything I had
ever before given.

The most difficult rooms to decorate are those at Delmonico’s; but this
establishment is unequaled in London or Paris in that it gives under its
roof incomparable balls, banquets, and dinners. So we resolved that
talent, taste, and money should be expended in an effort to design and
give there a superb ball. The house had the advantage of having a large
square room, all that was required for a dance of three to four hundred
people. On this occasion we were to have seven hundred, and for so
large a number we had to provide two _salles de danse_. The upper supper
room we turned into a conservatory. Its ceilings were low, but covering
them with creeping plants, making around the entire room a dado of banks
of flowers and the walls themselves decorated with plaques of roses,
introducing the electric light and throwing its jets through all the
foliage, we had an improvised bower of flowers and plants that tempted
all to wander through, if not to linger in it in admiration of the
artistic skill which produced such a result. One room we converted, with
Vantine’s assistance, into a perfect Japanese interior. Once in it, we
felt transported to that country. Here were served tea and Japanese
confections, and over all shone the electric light with charming effect.
The _salon_ known as the Red Room had its walls decorated with sheaves
of wheat, in which nestled bunches of _Marechale Neil_ roses, the
background of scarlet bringing these decorations out strikingly. This,
with a new floor, was converted into a _salle de danse_. The large hall
into which all these rooms opened was superb, for on all sides of it,
from floor to ceiling, were hung the finest Gobelin tapestries of
fabulous value. To obtain their use we had to telegraph to Paris, and
were required to insure them for a large sum. Servants in light plush
livery, pumps, and silk stockings, with powdered hair, stood on either
side to direct the guests. Having the whole house, we supped in both
restaurant and café, and as we had given an unlimited order had an
elaborate and exquisite supper.

For a small ball of seven hundred people, I have always felt, and still
feel, that this New Year’s Ball, as given at Delmonico’s, was in every
sense of the word the handsomest, most complete, and most successful
thing of the kind that I have ever attempted in New York City, and I
find I am not alone in this opinion. It was as much a feast for the eye
as the elaborate supper was for the palate, being complete in every
detail, luxurious in adornment, as to its rooms--and epicurean in its

New York society had now become so large that it seemed necessary to
solve at once what, to us, has long been a problem, i.e. where we could
bring general society together in one large dancing-room; for though you
may have a dozen rooms thrown open, you will always find that all rush
to the room where there is dancing. Where then could we get a room where
all could at one and the same time be on the floor? It occurred to me
that the Metropolitan Opera House had, in its stage and auditorium, such
a room, and if we could only divest it of its characteristics, it would
be what we wanted.

Satisfying ourselves that we could accomplish this, we formed a
Committee of Three and entered on this new enterprise. Artists, who have
with ability painted small pictures, may venture on larger canvas. We
had succeeded in giving balls of seven hundred and four hundred people.
Why not have a similar success on a larger scale? Had our ideas been
properly carried out, this ball would have been twice the success it
was. The defects were evident, but when seen it was too late to remedy
them. The artificial ceiling, cleverly planned to shut out the
galleries, was not completed, the electric lights were not shaded as
they should have been, and the music stands, ordered by the authorities
to be elevated, were unsightly, and marred the brilliant effect we had
studied to produce. All else received more praise than criticism.

The four most striking points of this ball were, first, the reception of
over twelve hundred people as at a private house by three of our most
brilliant and accomplished society ladies; again, what may be termed the
_Quadrille d’Honneur_ of that ball, which was the different sets of the
Sir Roger de Coverly, danced by the most distinguished ladies of this
city, the “nobs” and the “swells” on this occasion uniting; the supping
of over twelve hundred people at one time at small tables, and the
cotillion ably led by one of our distinguished State Senators, a man in
himself representing family, wealth, and political position.

The Sir Roger de Coverly was danced in the auditorium and on the stage,
and before its completion a blast from the _cornet à piston_ was sounded
by direction of the Management, when at once the three members of the
Executive Committee sought the three lady patronesses who had so
graciously received for them the guests of this large ball, and had the
honor of taking them in to supper. A special table in the centre of the
supper room, elaborately decorated with flowers, was arranged for them,
and the handsome and courteous gentleman who so royally dispenses
hospitality both at his house in town and at his ocean villa in Newport
(the handsomest country residence in the United States), at once sought
one of America’s loveliest, most beautiful, and most graceful daughters,
a charming representative of an old Colonial family, and doubly a New
Yorker, representing the historic families of Livingston and Ludlow.
Another member of the Committee, a descendant of one of our oldest
families, whose ancestor was a distinguished General in the Revolution,
had the fortune to have on his arm a most superbly dressed woman, whose
tiara of diamonds could well have graced a Queen’s brow--whose beauty I
have before alluded to when comparing her to Amy Robsart. I had the
honor of leading the way with our leader of society, whom Worth had
adorned with a robe of such magnificence that it attracted and held the
attention of the whole assembly. Her jewels were resplendent--in
themselves a King’s ransom; and placing her on my right, at the supper
table, I had on my left the beautiful woman who had won the hearts of
the American nation.

Before leaving this ball, I must mete out due praise to the man who
could so successfully care for so large a number of people at supper at
one time, and give credit to the good and effective work done by the
three hundred well-trained, liveried servants scattered through the
house, understanding their work and performing it admirably. This ball
was given as a New Year’s Ball on the 2d of January, 1890.

And now, in concluding this book, I beg to say that I have simply
discussed society as I have found it, and only such entertainments of
which I have been part and parcel.


[Illustration: _In America the residence is always in the right

[Illustration: _In England, if any residence is engraved on a card, it
is in the left corner._]

[Illustration: _In France, no lady’s residence is now put on a card._]















[Illustration: P. P. C.: Pour prendre congé. Translated into English: To
take leave.]

















[Illustration: _Going out of Mourning._]

[Illustration: _Lighter Mourning for Brothers and Sisters._]

[Illustration: _Mourning used in this country for Nearest Relatives._]

[Illustration: _Mourning._]

[Illustration: _Second Mourning._]

[Illustration: _Mourning--Husband and Wife._]

[Illustration: _Mourning--Children._]

[Illustration: _For Children._]

[Illustration: _For Brother and Sister._]

[Illustration: MOURNING CARDS.

_For Relatives._]

[Illustration: _For Husband and Wife. Father and Mother.

Mourning as deep as this is rarely used in this country. This is a
French card._]


The originals of the following form of invitations, etc., are on a
double note sheet, size 6-7/8 by 9, folded once to 4-1/2 inches wide by
6-7/8 inches long. The material is a medium rough cream-laid linen
paper, with water mark.

When address and crest are used on notes, they are done in a bright red;
the crest being embossed.

Envelopes used are of same material as note sheet, of a size to take the
note folded once in centre.




_Mr. and Mrs._-----------------------




_Dear Johnson_:

_It will give me pleasure to dine with you on Friday next at 8 o’clock.
Pray present me most kindly to Mrs. Johnson, and believe me_,

_Faithfully yours,
J. J. Murray._

_Union Club,
Monday, 18 April._




_Dear Mrs. Forsyth_:

_I am so very sorry I cannot have the pleasure of dining with you on the
12th to meet Mr. Waring, as I am going out of town on Wednesday to be
absent a week._

_With kindest regards, believe me,
Yrs. sincerely,
S. T. Oliphant._




_Mr. & Mrs. Chamberlain
request the pleasure of
Mr. & Mrs. Robinson’s
company at dinner on Tuesday, September
the eleventh, at eight o’clock._

_August 21st._




_Mr. & Mrs Robinson
have much pleasure in accepting
Mr. & Mrs. Chamberlain’s
kind invitation to dinner on Tuesday,
September the eleventh, at eight o’clock._

_August 22._



_Dear Mr. Murray_:

_It will give me great pleasure to dine with you on Friday next, April
12th, at eight o’clock._

_Yours truly,
J. J. Murray._



_Fair View,
R. I._

_Mrs. Marcy
regrets that as she is leaving Newport
on Monday, she is unable to accept
Mr. and Mrs. Clinch’s
kind invitation for the 16th._

_12th August._



_My dear Mrs. Forster_:

_Will you and Mr. Forster give us the pleasure of your company at
dinner, on Tuesday, September the eleventh, at half after seven

_Sincerely yours,
Caroline Russell._

_September third._



_My dear Mrs. Russell_:

_Mr. Forster & I have much pleasure in accepting your kind invitation to
dinner on Tuesday, September the eleventh, at half after seven o’clock._

_Believe me, sincerely yours,
Frances Forster._

_September third._



_My dear Mr. Russell_:

_Mr. Forster and I regret extremely that a previous engagement prevents
our accepting your very kind invitation for Tuesday, September the

_Believe me, sincerely yours,
Frances Forster._

_September third._



_Mr. & The Honble Mrs. Coleman
have much pleasure in accepting
Mr. & Mrs. Renshaw’s
kind invitation for Friday, Aug. 16th,
at 7.30._


_Aug. 9th._




_Mr. & Mrs. Williamson
regret that owing to a previous engagement
they are unable to accept
Mr. & Mrs. Montgomery’s
kind invitation to dinner for Saturday,
eleventh of January, at eight o’clock._

_December 24th._




_Mrs. & Mrs. Robinson
accept with pleasure
Mr. & Mrs. Chamberlain’s
kind invitation to dinner on Tuesday,
September eleventh, at eight o’clock._

_August 22._




_Mr. & Mrs. Blair
regret that a previous engagement
prevents them from accepting
Mr. & Mrs. Robinson’s
kind invitation to dinner on Friday, 12th

_29th July._




_Mr. & Mrs. Screven
accept with pleasure
Mr. & Mrs. Blair’s
very kind invitation to dinner for Friday
next at eight o’clock._

_April 8th._




_Mr. & Mrs. Davis
regret extremely that a previous engagement
prevents their accepting
Mr. & Mrs. Wilson’s
kind invitation to dinner for Monday,
September 16th._




_Mr. E. Berkley
accepts with pleasure
Mr. & Mrs. White’s
invitation to dinner on Monday, 16th
September, at 8 o’clock._

_13 September._




_Mr. & Mrs. Van Buren
request the pleasure of
Mr. & Mrs. Catlin’s
company at dinner on Saturday, the 11th,
at eight o’clock._

_Dec. 23rd._


_On an engraved card._

_To meet Mrs. _____

_Address note to Mrs. ____ or Mr. and Mrs. _____]


_This should be engraved on note paper._]


_On an engraved card. The best taste._]


_On an engraved card._]


_On an engraved card._]


_On an engraved card._]


_On an engraved card._]


_On an engraved card._]


_On an engraved card._]


_On an engraved card._]


_On an engraved card._]


_Engraved an note paper._]


_Engraved on note paper._]


_Engraved on note paper._]










_Engraved on note paper._]


_Engraved on note paper._]





N. Y.]


[Illustration: A PARIS MENU, 1890


_Consommé Renaissance_
_Turbot sauces Hollandaise et Nantua_
_Selle de Chézelles aux Épinards_
_Pain de Lièvre à la Française_
_Petites Timbales à la Palbem_
_Faisan truffé sauce Chasseur_
_Cardons à la Savoyarde_
_Glace Parisienne_
_Gâteau Viennois_

_This menu is printed on parchment--size, 5-1/4 × 7-1/8 inches--with
border in silver._]

[Illustration: A PARIS MENU, 1890.

_The border of original is done in silver._]

[Illustration: A PARIS MENU, 1890.

Diner du 8 Fébrier

Consommé Royal
Croustades Dieppoise
Filet de Bœuf Renaissance
Timbale de Suprêmes de Volailles
Cuissot de Chevreuil sauce poivrade
Salmis de Faisans at Perdrix
Dinde à la Périgueux
Foie gras à la Française
Salade de Laitue
Pointes d’Asperges veloutée
Glace Maltaise

_Printed on a card 3-1/2 × 6-1/2, with mottled border in gold._]

[Illustration: A PARIS MENU.

_The original is printed on parchment, ornament done in gold._]

[Illustration: A PARIS MENU, 1890.

_Original done on white parchment, ornament in gold and black._]

[Illustration: A NEW YORK MENU.

_This card has bevelled and gold edges, the ornamentation being embossed
in old gold._]

[Illustration: A NEWPORT MENU.

_Border done in gold._]

[Illustration: A NEWPORT MENU.

_Border done in gold, wines in red._]



_The original of this Menu is done in gold._]


_Heavy white card all done in gold._]



The originals of the following forms of invitations, etc., are on a
double note sheet, size 6-7/8 by 9, folded once to 4-1/2 inches wide by
6-7/8 inches long. The material is a medium rough cream-laid linen
paper, with water mark.

When address and crest are used on notes, they are done in a bright red;
the crest being embossed.

Envelopes used are of same material as note sheet, of a size to take the
note folded once in centre.


_Mrs._ ____


_Mr and Mrs._ ____




_Dear Robinson:_

_I accept with pleasure your kind invitation to dinner for Monday, April
first, at eight o clock._

_Very truly yours,_

_Ward McAllister._

_March fifteenth._



_Dear Robinson:_

_I regret extremely that a previous engagement to dinner for Monday,
April first, deprives me of the pleasure of accepting your kind

_Ward McAllister._

_March twenty-fifth._


_Dear Robinson:_

_I have much pleasure in accepting your kind invitation to dinner for
Monday, April first, at eight o’clock._

_Very truly yours,_

_Arthur Forster._

_March fifteenth._


_____ Fifth Avenue._

_My dear Mr. McAllister:_

_I am very sorry that I have an engagement for that evening, and am
deprived of the pleasure of seeing the Kendals and taking supper with

_Sincerely yours,
Julia Meredith._

_Saturday, April second._



_My dear Mrs. Erskine:_

_I accept with pleasure your kind invitation to join you at the Opera in
your Box on Monday evening, first of April. Thanks for the ticket._

_Very truly yours,
Ward McAllister._

_March twenty-ninth._



_Mr. Ward McAllister requests the pleasure of_

_Mr. James Carr’s_

_company at dinner on Monday, April first, at half after seven o’clock._

     _March fifteenth._



_My dear Mrs. Meredith:_

_Will you go with us to the Theatre on Monday evening next to see “The
Kendals,” and afterwards to supper at Delmonico’s._

_We will stop for you at a quarter before eight o’clock._

_Very truly yours,
Ward McAllister._

_Friday, April first._



_Mr. Ward McAllister regrets extremely that a previous engagement
deprives him of the pleasure of accepting_

_Mr. and Mrs. Erskine’s polite invitation to dinner for Thursday, March

     _March seventh._


*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Society As I Have Found It" ***

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