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twenty-three gold dishes of the richest design. The whole of the gold and silver plate belonging to the City companies was used at this feast, and probably on no occasion, either before or since, has any table been so gorgeously and expensively furnished. And yet there was a lingering touch of barbarism about the feast; for while gold and silver and precious stones were heaped upon the tables in reckless profusion, some of the gold plates were flanked by steel forks!
In former times, civic hospitalities, though magnificent enough, were somewhat rough and rude. The era of refinement may be said to date from the erection of the present Mansion House in 1740. Previous to that date the Lord Mayors dispensed their hospitality out of doors at the Guildhall and other places, where, their feasts being of a public character, the restraints of private society were not always scrupulously observed. But when the Mansion House was built and furnished, the chief magistrate held state in his own palace, and much of his hospitality began to assume a private and domestic character.
The Mansion House, where so many elegant entertainments are now given, is indeed worthy to be called a palace. Blocked in as it is among a mass of business houses in the very thick of the City, the building, in its outward aspect, gives no idea of the magnificence of the apartments within.
first stone of the building was laid in 1739, and the whole was completed and furnished in the mayoralty of Sir Crisp Gascoigne, who was the first Lord Mayor who resided in it. The style of the interior is Italian, with a lofty court in the centre, leading to the various state apartments, two of the principal being known as the Venetian Parlour and the Egyptian Hall. The latter is one of the finest apartments, as regards its proportions and strictly classical style, to be found in all Europe. It was called the Egyptian Hall because in its construction it exactly corresponds with the Egyptian Hall described by Vitruvius. The whole cost of building and fur
nishing the Mansion House was 80,000l.
The elegance of Mansion House hospitalities of late years has done much to remove from the City magnates the old reproach of being a corporation of mere turtle and champagne guzzlers; and this improvement in civic manners has culminated this year in the reign of Lord Mayor Phillips, in a degree of dignified refinement which places the Mansion House on the same footing with the royal palace of the sovereign. Courtly etiquette is strictly observed at the Mansion House, and yet with a hearty affability which puts every one at his ease. The title of Merchant Prince has been well realized in Lord Mayor Phillips, at once in the magnificence of his entertainments and in his manners. As a speaker, the present Lord Mayor has held his own even by the side of the orators of Parliament, and in conjunction with the accomplished Lady Mayoress and their daughter, Mrs. Barnet, he has been able to give a welcome to distinguished foreigners in all the languages known to polite society. One of the most pleasing Mansion House entertainments of the present season was a juvenile ball given on the 21st of May. Like the fine old English gentleman, Lord Mayor Phillips,
'While he feasted all the great,
He ne'er forgot the small.'
The Egyptian Hall never presented a more charming appearance than on this occasion, when it was filled almost exclusively with chubby-faced schoolboys and sylphlike maidens of from seven to blushing fifteen. There were nearly 900 of them altogether, sons and daughters of the citizens; and the Lord Mayor, the Lady Mayoress, and Mrs. Barnet were goodnatured enough to stand in the court for nearly three hours-one or other being always present to give each individual guest a reception. The arrival of the juveniles at the grand entrance attracted a great crowd of spectators, who, though condemned to stand outside in the rain, were in a position to witness one of the most
picturesque features of this entertainment. It rained in torrents; and notwithstanding that an awning had been thrown over the balcony, the steps were puddled with water. This rendered it necessary that all the little fairies in white satin shoes should be lifted from their carriages and carried up the steps. This gallant duty was voluntarily performed by some big, goodnatured members of the City police force, against whose rough blue uniforms the dainty finery of the fairies stood out with striking effect. This scene would have made a capital picture, but it would require colour-the colour of the paint-box-to bring out the full force of the contrast. So our artist has chosen to depict the grand staircase as it appeared about half-past nine o'clock, when the juveniles were streaming up to
supper. There were nearly 900 guests, and the supper-room held only 220; so when the room was full, a bar was placed across the door, and the crowd upon the stairs had to wait their turn. In this way, following the rule of the street traffic, the whole of the guests passed on to supper in a continuous stream, and to the very last, by an almost magical arrangement of the servants, a fresh bottle of champagne, a fresh dish of fowl, lobster salad, &c., instantly replaced the wine and dishes that had been consumed.
It was a gracious thing in the Lady Mayoress to give the juvenile cits an opportunity of sharing in the hospitalities of the Mansion House, and her juvenile ball will long be remembered as one of the most elegant and graceful entertainments ever given in the City.
Three hundred thousand letters come,
I deck my desk with fancy's forms,
When, lo! one day a voice informs,
'Tis the address I first survey,
The office calls me long her own,
'Dear sir, your relatives you shun,
Be kind enough to bring your gun,
A little nearer are my bags,
My leave obtained, I rush insane
As fast as able for a cane,
And then I rush to Moses.
The shopman lavishes on me
'You're in the nick of time to see
'Tile me no tiles-some dulcet vest
Next fetch a coat of male,
Like other swells wear when they're drest,
Whereby there hangs a tail.'
'The coat for you is twelve and three,
And splendidly it sits;
The vest and trousers leave to me,
I guarantee they fits.'
Behind his ear he sticks a pen,
And then selects me togs,
Designed by Fate to please the men,
In time for dinner next I set
Full sail for Lemon Peel;
Some whisper, 'He does look a gent,'
When rustling step and closing door
And men say all they thought before,
Soon, when Sir Lemon's weary guest
Next morn I hear with pretty frown
'You must not go and hit the brown,
Entranced I stand, how queer I feel,
Oh! let me kneel to Miss O'Neill,
But then they lead me such a dance,
Soon shouts the keeper, 'Now's your chance,
I stare five minutes ere I blaze,
To kill her is my aim;
But what-as William Shakspeare says'What is there in a name?'
'Well done!' the keeper bland observes,
A snub such love as mine deserves,
As we come in, I long to dine,
Oh! how I wish that she was mine,
Oh, bliss! 'tis I who take her down,
She talks so kindly through the fish,
I hardly taste a single dish,
I am in such a flurry!
When, gone the apples, gone the cheese,
The ladies go away;
She says, 'I am a prisoner, please;
Do you make any stay?'
Later we dance; the giddy whiz
Does leave me nearly dead;
I think the second time it is
That she has turned my head!
But 'midst that whiz and 'midst that whirr, I tell her all I feel;
I whisper that I'd live for her,
Or die for Miss O'Neill!