I have another “On This Day” story for you today folks. It is also a Mark Twain story, so it is double the fun. So, without further ado, let me begin ….
On this day in 1881 was held the First Annual Festival of the New England Society of Pennsylvania. One hundred and fifty gentlemen (no ladies of course) sat down to a fine feast inspired with enthusiasm if not historical accuracy by the events of 1620. The banquet was reported in detail in the Philadelphia Press the following day:-
NEW ENGLAND'S SONS.
FIRST FESTIVAL OF PENNSYLVANIA'S
A Notable Dinner at the Continental Hotel --
Addresses by President Rollins, Senator Frye,
Gov. Hoyt, President Hopkins, and Mark Twain.
The main dining-room of the Continental Hotel presented a beautiful and picturesque scene last night on the occasion of the First Annual Festival of the New England Society of Pennsylvania. The society was formed a few weeks since by residents of this city who are natives of or descendants from good old Puritan stock. The object of the association is good-fellowship and the honoring of a worthy ancestry, of which all the sons of New England are justly proud. The day fixed for the annual festival, the 22nd of December, is "Forefathers' Day," the anniversary of the landing of the Pilgrim Fathers. The society determined to make their first festival a notable one, and to that end invited many notable descendants of the Eastern States, who showed their appreciation by attending in person. The dinner hour was fixed last evening at six o'clock, and notwithstanding the stormy weather, the members and guests began to arrive promptly on time. They were ushered into Parlor C, where the president of the society, E.A. Rollins, and Gov. Hoyt, a vice-president, held an informal reception. Never was there seen a more solid and respectable gathering of business men, leaders of the bench and bar, newspaper editors and proprietors, clergymen and college professors, all gathered to do honor to their native section of country. The tall form of President Hopkins, of Williams College, was seen in the throng as he conversed with Admiral George H. Preble. Senator Frye, of Maine, stood chatting with Governor Hoyt. Mark Twain stood in one corner uttering drolleries which caused his auditors to guffaw in a manner highly reprehensible in staid and sober citizens. John Welsh conversed with Frederick Fraley, and Rev. H. Clay Trumbull, secretary of the society, darted hither and thither, arranging things generally for the event.
THE GENTLEMEN PRESENT
At seven o'clock the line was formed, and headed by President E.A. Rollins and Professor Hopkins, of Williams College, the members and guests proceeded to the dining-room. President Rollins took his seat at the centre of the north table. On his right were Professor Hopkins, Professor Daniel E. Goodwin, D.D., LL. D., one of the society's vice-presidents; John Welsh, Rear-Admiral Geo. H. Preble, Frederick Fraley, Henry Winsor, Clayton McMichael, James L. Claghorn, Calvin Wells, of Pittsburg; Charles Emory Smith, of THE PRESS, and Rev. H. Clay Trumbull, secretary. On his left were Senator W.P. Frye, of Maine; Governor Hoyt, Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain), Lieutenant Thackara, U.S.N.; Rev. W.N. McVickar, Judge Allison, Rev. George Dana, Boardman Chaplain, and Clarence H. Clark, treasurer of the society.
Among the other prominent persons seated at the tables were E. Dunbar Lockwood, who talked reform with Amos R. Little. H.W. Pitkin and other members of the Committee of One Hundred; Rev. Charles G. Amos, the noted Unitarian clergyman; Francis D. Lewis, A.G. Heaton. The Reading Railroad was represented by President Frank S. Bond, Secretary Kinsley, Receiver Stephen A. Caldwell, directors George F. Tyler, E.W. Clark, and the company attorneys, Samuel Dickson, Judge Asbhel Green, of New Jersey, the McCalmont brothers' counsel also chatted with the party. Some of the others were: A.C. Hetherington, General McCartney, E.P. Borda, George Russell, H.W. Bartol, B.H. Atwood, N.P. Storey, Joseph P. Mumford, Dr. H.M. Howe, John P. Thayer, Sidney Tyler, Dr. Forrest, E.W. Clark and B.B. Comegys, the bankers, Chas. M. Jackson, C.A. Kingsbury, J.C. Collins, T.B. Merrick, Frank O. Allen, G.A. Bigelow, C.E. Morgan, Jr., Walter McMichael, Nelson F. Evans, C.F. Richardson, G. Cornish, John Welsh Dulles, C.H. Brush, Robert N. Wilson, Walter H. Tilden, Charles P. Turner, Dr. J.F. Stone, and J.E. Graff. Altogether one hundred and fifty gentlemen sat down.
THE BANQUETTING ROOM.
The room was elegantly and most appropriately decorated. The chandeliers were festooned with smilax. Hanging-baskets were suspended along the walls and before the windows. At the eastern end of the room were stately palms, graceful camelias and rare plants perfuming the air with fragrance. A magnificent design composed of immortelles in red, yellow and purple, was prominent at this end of the hall. It bore in large letters the inscription:
Along the north end of the hall a long table was ranged, at which the officers and distinguished guests were seated as given above. Extending transversely from this were several other long tables, around which were placed the members.
Beside each plate lay a toast list, printed on hand-made paper of the style of two centuries ago. There was also a menu of the most artistic and original design. It was printed in chocolate-colored ink, and bore on the first page a representation of the Mayflower making her perilous voyage, with the Pilgrim Fathers on board. On the last page was a portrait of John Alden's Priscilla, one of whose descendants was present at the festival. The bill of fare was printed in antique type, and was as follows:
THE FIRST ANNUAL FESTIVAL
THE NEW ENGLAND SOCIETY
Thursday Eveninge, December 22, 1881.
YE LISTE OF DISHES FOR YE FESTIVAL.
Oysters from Chasepack Bay in their Shells.
Green Turtle Soupe.
Boyled Salmon with Sauce of Shrimps.
*Pates a la Reine.
Fillet of Beef Garnyshed with Mushrooms.
Roaste Turkey from Cape Cod, with Cranberries.
Potatoes. Strynge Beans. Pease.
Pork and Beans. Stewed Terrapin.
Canvas-back Duck. Partridge.
Lettuce Salading Dressed in Oyle.
Puddings with Plumbs.
Mince Pie. Pumpkin Pie.
Frozen Sweete Thynges, also Jellies and Cakes.
Several Sorts of Nuts and Fruits.
*Lyttle Pies such as the Queen of France doth love.
Pâtes à la Reine were a staple at nineteenth century banquets, and I have chosen them as the feature dish for the day. I give you the recipe from Cookery for English households, by a French lady (London, 1864):-
Petits pâtes à la reine.
Line twelve small moulds about as large as an apple with a pate brisée (see No. 516), and fill up the inside with the fillets of a fowl, cut in small dice, and warmed up in a bechamelle (see No. 46, page 25); place a very thin piece of puff paste, like No. 515 page 209, over the plates, and set them in a moderate oven. They require about ten minutes' baking.
Observation.—It is easy to see that many different petits plates may be made in following the rules given above. If any meat remains, it may be cut in dice and warmed up in a thick sauce (see any of the sauces given in Chapter IV.), then put inside a mould, like Petits pâte's a la reine, No. 519. Salmon, trout, lobster, cray fish, shrimps, turbot, pike, oysters, calf's brains, sweetbreads, &c. &c. may be cooked a la poulette (see No. 323, page 129), or in a bechamelle (see No. 46, page 25), and put inside petits pates; only be careful to remember that whenever you put sauce inside it should be thick, and be careful to use only pate brisee, like No. 516. If you used puff paste all the sauce would run through.
You may use preserves inside, and in that case use puff paste; it will then be an entremets.
If anything but sweets is put inside petits plates, serve them as entrees.