Manners and customs of ye Englyshe/A Drawvnge Room Day. Saynte Iames hys Streets.

Illustrated by Richard Doyle

Manners and Customs of ye Englyshe in 1849. No. 4.

A Drawynge Room Day. Saynte Iames hys Streete.


A Drawvnge Room Day. Saynte Iames hys Streets.

[Thursday, March 29th, 1849.]

TO see the Nobility and Gentry, and other great Company, go to the Queen's Drawing-Room, with a Friend to St. James's Street, where did ſtand in front of Boodle's Club-Houſe in the Rain, which was heavy, and ſpoiled my Paris Hat, coſt me twelve Shillings. But the Sight of the Show was al mod worth the Damage; for the Red and Blue Uniforms of the Army and Navy Officers, with their Orders on their Breads, and their Cocked Hats and Plumes in their Laps, and the Ladies of Quality in their Silks and Satins of all Manner of Colours, and their Hair crowned with Oſtrich Feathers, and ſparkling with Pearls and Diamonds, did much delight me to behold. I do not remember that, when I was a Boy, I was ever more taken with a Pageant at Bartholomew Fair. Though I wiſh I could have had as good a View of the Gentlefolks within the Carriages as I had of the Lackeys outſide, who, with their vupcrcilious Airs, and their Jackanapes Garb, did divert me more than ever. I do continually marvel at the enormous Calves of thoſe Varlets, for which one might almoſt think they were reared, like a ſort of Cattle. Indeed, I mould have believed that their Stockings were ſtuffed, if I had not ſeen one of them wince when a Horſe chanced to lay hold of his leg. It did more and more amaze me to obſerve how high they carried their Notes, eſpecially as moſt of them had Poſies in their Boſoms; whereas they looked as though, inſtead, there were ſome unſavoury Odour beneath their Noſtrils. But much as the Servants reſembled Zanies and Harlequins, yet did some of their Masters look not much better; being dressed in a Court Suit, which methinks do make a Gentleman seem a sort of embroidered Quaker. I do greatly wonder why the ugliest Apparel of any Date in English History should be pitched upon for the Court Dress. But the splendid Carriages painted with Coats of Arms, and the stately caparisoned Horses, did make a rare Show; and among them mighty droll to mark the Hack Cabs that were not suffered to enter at the Palace Gate; so the Fares had to alight and walk on Foot the Rest of the Way to the Drawing-Room: and so into the Presence of Her Majesty in dirty Boots: which, now I bethink me, was not seemly; the rather as many of them are Half Pay Officers, and other poor but loyal Subjects, who could afford no better than a Cab. But good Lack! it did most tickle me to view the Sheriff's Coach, which for Magnificence did exceed the Fairy's Chariot in the Opera-Play of Cinderella; and great Sport it was to hear and see the little rascal Boys shout and clap their Hands as it went by. Also it did give me extreme Amusement to notice the gimcrack Equipages and bearded Visages, and Playhouse Attire of the different Foreign Ambassadors; of whom I think the Turkish was the most grand. It did make me laugh not a little to see the Police with their Truncheons, keeping order among the Vagabonds, till one did tell me to move on, which did vex me. Then there were the Guards, in full Uniform on Horseback, with their Helmets on their Heads and their Swords drawn, about one under each Lamp Post, mounting Guard, very warlike to look upon, and I believe this is the heaviest Part of their Duty. What with the blazing Uniforms and glittering Jewels, and illuminated Coaches, and the Laughter I was moved to by the motley Footmen and Foreigners, my Eyes were dazzled and my Head did somewhat ache; moreover, some pretty faces I did gaze upon did put my Heart in a Flutter, which did not think fit to mention to my Wife. Methinks how fine it would be to ride in State to Court, if it were not so chargeable, and I should much delight in the Honour and Glory of the Thing, but should not at all like the Expense. A Drawing-Room doth altogether eclipse the Lord Mayor's Show; although it do seem but a Toy and gilt Gingerbread Affair, and an empty, childish Display, like the Babies' Game of King and Queen; but then it hath certainly this Advantage, that it do much good to Trade.