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I have eaten in Carolina. There were many French dishes, and exquisite wines, I presume, by the praises bestowed on them ; but I have been so little accustomed to drink wine, that I could not discern the difference between sherry and rare old Burgundy or Madeira. Comment on the quality of the wine seems to form the chief topic after the removal of the cloth and during the dessert, at which, by the way, no pastry is countenanced. Icecreams, maccaroons, preserves, and various cakes are placed on the table, which are removed for almonds raisins, pecan nuts, apples, pears, etc. Candles were introduced before the ladies left the table; and the gentlemen continued half an hour longer to drink a social glass.
“ Meantime Mrs. Madison insisted on my playing on her elegant grand piano a waltz for Miss Smith and Miss Magruder to dance, the figure of which she instructed them in. By this time the gentlemen came in, and we adjourned to the tea-room, and here, in the most delightful manner imaginable, I shared with Miss Smith, who is remarkably intelligent, the pleasure of Mrs. Madison's conversation on books, men, and manners, literature in general, and many special branches of knowledge. I never spent a more rational or pleasing half hour than that which preceded our return home. On paying our compliments at parting we were politely and particularly invited to attend the levee the next evening.
“I would describe the dignified appearance of Mrs. Madison, but I could not do her justice. 'T is not her form, 't is not her face, it is the woman altogether I should wish you to see. She wears a crimson cap that almost hides her forehead, but which becomes her extremely, and reminds one of a crown from its brilliant appearance contrasted with the white satin folds and her jet black curls ; but her demeanor is so far removed from the hauteur generally attendant on royalty, that your fancy can carry the resemblance no further than the head dress.
Mr. Madison had no leisure for the ladies, every moment of his time is engrossed by the crowd of male visitors.” On one
occasion several hundred ladies and gentlemen-our annalist among them--were invited to a fête on board the Constellation, Captain Stewart, -a frigate famous for her great beauty and size.
This, of all the sights I ever witnessed,” she says was the most interesting, grand, and novel. William, Joseph, R., and I went together, and as the vessel lay in the stream off the point, there were several beautiful little yachts to convey the guests to the scene of festivity. On reaching the deck we were ushered immediately under the awning, composed of many flags, and found ourselves in the presence of hundreds of ladies and gentlemen. The effect was astonishing. Every color of the rainbow, every form and fashion, nature and art, ransacked to furnish gay and suitable habiliments for the belles, who, with the beaux in their court dresses, were gayly dancing to the inspiring strains of a magnificent band. The ladies had assumed youth and beauty in their persons, taste and splendor in their dress, thousands of dollars having been expended by dashing fair ones in preparation of this fête. .. . At the upper end of the quarter-deck sat Mrs. Madison, to whom we all paid our respects, and then participated in the conversation and amusements with our friends, among whom were Mrs. Monroe, Mrs. Gallatin, etc. I did not dance (though it was not for want of asking), being totally unacquainted with the present style of cotillons, which were danced in the interstices, that is, on a space of four feet square. There was more opportunity to display agility than grace, as an iron ring, coil of rope, or gun-carriage would prostrate a beau or belle.”
A number of gentlemen were introduced to her, among them the gallant Captain Hull and Lieutenant Morris, who “so nobly fought the foe” on board the Constitution.
"We naturally, in imagination," she continues, " frame the figure of any character of celebrity ; and I must confess to being considerably disenchanted in my fancied hero's appearance. A little sturdy, fat-looking fellow, with a pair of good black eyes, but not 'like Mars to threaten or command.' I should never have suspected the gallant Captain Hull and the jolly little man to be one and the same person.
Lieutenant Morris has a more interesting appearance; is pale and thin. ... The banquet consisted of every delicacy that the District could produce -claret, Burgundy, and every vintage that could be wished for by connoisseurs. .. We rose from table at dark, and returned home with an interest in the fate of every brave sailor on board. . . . It is customary (here) to breakfast at nine o'clock, dine at four, and drink tea at eight. . .. I am more surprised at the method of taking tea here than at any other meal. In private families if you step in of an evening, they give you tea, and crackers, and cold bread, and, if by invitation,--unless the party is very splendid you have a few sweet cakes -maccaroons from the confectioners. This is the extent. Once I saw a ceremony of preserves at tea ; but the deficiency is made up by the style at dinner, with extravagant wines, etc. Pastry and puddings going out of date and wine and ice-creams coming in does not suit
my taste, and I confess to preferring Raleigh hospitality. I have not even heard of warm bread at breakfast. ... On Tuesday last was the grand naval ball given in honor of Captains Hull, Morris, and Stewart. The assembly was crowded with more than the usual portion of the youth and beauty of the city, and was the scene of an unprecedented event—two British flags unfurled and hung as trophies in an American assembly by American sailors-10 Triumphe."
The party rode through the brightly illuminated city, and on entering the assembly room, "heard such a loud noise and huzzahing below, and such running and confusion as I cannot describe. Lieutenant Hamilton had arrived with the flags. My first dancing essay was checked, every man deserting his partner, and in a few moments those who hoped the news to be true were gratified by ocular evidence of its certainty... Young Hamilton appeared, preceded by General Cushing, Hull, Morris, his father, and many old naval and field officers, and in a moment was encircled in the arms of his mother and sisters. I cried excessively, and could not check my tears, at which I was considerably abashed, but on looking around I recovered in the conviction that I was far from being singular."
We have also in the letters an entertaining account of Mr. Gallatin's first ball:
The assembly was more numerous more select, more elegant, than I have yet seen in the city, ladies of fifty years of age were decked with lace and ribbons, wreaths of roses and gold leaves in the false hair, wreaths of jassamine across their bosoms, and no kerchiefs. Do you remember a frontispiece to one of the plays in the British theatre, Bridget in the 'Chapter of Accidents'? I can only think of this picture in beholding such incongruity of dress ; while that of young girls is equally incompatible with general propriety. ... dame Bonaparte is a model of fashion, and many of our belles strive to imitate her ... but without equal éclat, as Madame Bonaparte has certainly the most transcendently beautiful back and shoulders that ever were seen. ... It is the fashion for most of the ladies a little advanced in age to rouge and pearl, which is spoken of with as much sang froid as putting on their bonnets. Mrs. Monroe paints very much and has besides an appearance of youth which would induce a stranger to suppose her age to be thirty : in lieu of which she introduces them to her granddaughter, eighteen or nineteen years old, and to her own daughter, Mrs. Hay of Richmond. Mrs. Madison is said to rouge ; but not evident to my eyes, and I do not think it true, as I am well assured I saw her color come and go at the naval ball, when the Macedonian flag was presented to her by young Hamilton.
But I have digressed from the entertainment. I am sure not ten minutes elapsed without refreshments being handed : ist, coffee, tea, all kinds of toasts and warm cakes ; 2d, ice-creams ; 3d, lemonade, punch, burgundy, claret, curacoa, champagne ; 4th, bonbons, cakes of all sorts and sizes ; 5th, apples and oranges ; 6th, confectionery ; 7th, nuts, almonds, raisins; 8th, set supper, composed of tempting solid dishes, meats, savory pastries garnished with lemon ; 9th, drinkables of every species ; ioth, boiling chocolate. The most profuse ball ever given in Washington. . . . Young Swartwout, who was so unfortunately entangled in Burr's web, was introduced to me, and I like him much."