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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

Thomas Hood (1799–1845)

The Remains of a Lost Banquet

From “Tylney Hall”

BY common consent the company all hastened toward the fallen marquee, and clearing away the canvas, they beheld the turf variously strewed, exactly as if Time—that edax rerum—had made a miscellaneous meal which had disagreed with him.

In the middle the tables lay on their sides with their legs stretched out like dead horses, and the bruised covers, and knives and forks, were scattered about like battered helmets and masterless weapons after a skirmish of cavalry. The table-cloths were dappled with the purple blood of the grape; and the eatables and drinkables scattered, battered, spattered, shattered, and tattered, all round about, presented a spectacle equally whimsical and piteous. The following are but a few of the objects which the Hon. Mr. Danvers beheld when he looked on:

Item.A huge cold round of beef, surrounded by the froth of a trifle, like an island “begirt with foam,” with a pigeon perched on the top instead of a cormorant.

Item.A large lobster, roosting on the branch of an épergne.

Item.A roast duck, seemingly fast asleep, with a cream cheese for a mattress and a cucumber for a bolster.

Item.Brawn, in an ample writing-paper ruff, well sprinkled with claret, reminding the spectator irresistibly of the neck of King Charles the First.

Item.Tipsy-cake, appropriately under the table.

Item.A puddle of cold punch, and a neat’s tongue apparently licking it up.

Item.A noble ham, brilliantly powdered with broken glass.

Item.A boiled rabbit smothered in custard.

Item.A lump of blancmange dyed purple.

Item.A shoal of prawns in an ocean of lemonade.

Item.A very fine boiled turkey in a harlequin suit of lobster salad.

Item.A ship of sugar-candy, high and dry on a fillet of veal.

Item.A “hedge-hog” sitting on a “hen’s nest.” Vide “Mrs. Glasse’s Cookery” for the confectionery devices.

Item.A “floating island,” as a new constellation, amongst “the moon and stars in jelly.” See Mrs. Glasse again.

Item.A large pound crab, sitting upright against a table, and nursing a chicken between its claws.

Item.A collard eel, uncoiled, and threatening like a boa-constrictor to swallow a fowl.

Item.A Madeira pond, in a dish cover, with a duck drowned in it.

Item.A pig’s face, with a snout smelling at a bunch of artificial flowers.

Item.A leg of lamb, as yellow as the leg of a boy at Christ’s Hospital, thanks to the mustard-pot.

Item.A tongue all over “flummery.”

Item.An immense macédoine of all the fruits of the season, jumbled together in jam, jelly, and cream.

Such were some of the objects, interspersed with Serpentines of sherry, Peerless Pools of port, and New Rivers of Madeira, that saluted the eyes of the expectant guests, thus untimely reduced to the feast of reason and the flow of soul. The unfortunate hostess appeared ready to drop on the spot; but, according to Major Oakley’s theory, she refrained from fainting among so many broken bottles. Twigg stood with the very aspect and attitude of a baker’s journeyman we once saw, just after a stumble which had pitched five rice puddings, two custard ditto, a gooseberry pie, a currant tart, and two dozen cheesecakes into a reservoir of M’Adams’s broth from flints. The swamping of his collation on the ait in the Thames was a retail concern to this enormous wreck. His eyebrows worked, his eyes rolled, his lips quivered with inaudible curses, and his fingers twitched, as if eager to be doing something, but waiting for orders from the will. He was divided, in truth, between a dozen rival impulses, suggesting to him, all at once, to murder the cow, to thrash Pompey, to quarrel with his wife, to disinherit his son, to discharge the cooks, to order everybody’s carriage, to send Matilda back to boarding-school, to go to bed suddenly ill, to run away God knew where, to hang himself on the pear-tree, to drown himself in the fish-pond, to burn the marquee, to turn infidel and deny a Providence, to get dead drunk.