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THE TURKISH BALL., Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle, Volume VIII, Issue 404, 1 December 1849
THE TURKISH BALL.
[In the absence of arrirala, and any hewk of importance political or wciat, we harft deemed that the following amusing ■ketch of a ball given by the Turkish Ambaiiador, on the 30th of May lait, might be found interesting. We are indebted for it to the Liverpool Albion.] Of all the revolutions of this revolutionary age, assuredly the most utterly topsyturvical of the old notions of things is, a ball given by a Turk — not a renegade Turk, nor a private Turk mind; but the Ambassador from the Grand Turk, the Vice-Gerant of the " Son of the Sun and Grandfather of the Moon/ representative of the lord of the Sublime Porte, Commander of the Faithful, the Sultan himself. One can hardly realise the idea, as the Americans say, any how ; for there's no getting out of one's head the "Arabian Nights," and Mary Wortley Montague, and the "Veiled Prophet," and v Don Juan,'* and Hester Stanhope, and all the rest of the ladies and gentlemen who have been so long telling us about the Turks being polked to death by dromedaries, and she Turks getting the sack for merely looking at, or being even suspected of wishing to look at, each other. With whom the design originated, whether with the^ Grand Seignor, Abdul-Medjid, at the Golden Horn, Stamboul, or with his Ambassador, Mehmed Pacha, No. 1, Bryanstone-square, London, is known only to these personages. Probably the real author was M. Zobrab, First Attache* to the Embassy, who has been sufficiently long in this country to fancy (especially as he has got married here) that a Mussulman only increases his claims upon Heaven by making the acquaintance of the angels of earth — in horsehair petticoats. Be this as it may, the Osmanli anomaly of a ball was resolved upon about six weeks ago, and went off in such Christian-like fashion, that another was given on Wednesday, the 30th May, and it is to that we have now to draw attention, as the only one witnessed by the writer. To begin with the beginning, so as to give the reader as correct an idea as possible of the scene, it is necessary to premise, that Mehmed Pacha, like a sensible fellow as he is, " opened the ball " with a dinner to nearly all the foreign representatives in London. This banquet, which, it is needless to say, abounded with all the delicacies of the season, and a good many out of season too, was served under the special supervision of that Talleyrand of gastronomic ministration, the renowned Gunter (Tom, for fear of mistake), in propria persona. Now you have been hearing of Gunters all your life, and so has your father before you; and of course you would lik? to know how they do this sort of thing. Well, you shall, for there couldn't be a more legitimate occasion than the present for imparting the necessary particulars. You suppose, no doubt, that Guntera are mere pastrycooks in a rather extensive way of business — Fisks, on a somewhat enlarged scale. Heaven compassionate your provincial lollipoposity and greenhornry ! The Gunters, sir, are merchants — merchants in the sense in which the word is used in Exchange-buildings and Fenwick-street ; and their transactions in lozenges occasionally discomfit all Mincing-lane, while their ditto in preserved ginger and similar condiments affect the revenues of all the Spice Islands. There is not an Indian agent in London who wouldn't cash at eight the check of Gunter and Company of Calcutta for any number of thousands ; and the autograph of Tom Gunter, the Gunter of Gunters, of Berkeleysquare, is an open sesame to any banker's strong box within twenty miles of St. Paul's. It is now upwards of 130 years ago since Negri, A sort of Soyer of the time, and, like the great artiste of the Reform, a highly-educated and accomplished man (only as little as Lord John Russell and twice as fat as Hudson used to be), Acquired a vast repute among the aristocracy for his skill and taste in confectionery, and laid the foundation of the superstructure since raised to such a height by the family of his apprentice and successor, old James Gunter, father of Robert Gunter, who, with bis cousin John, for many years carried on the business, from which they lately retired with a princely fortune, and now livA,at Chelsea, where they have built quite a townjTnuch of it being occupied in graperies, vineries, forcing-houses, &c, as they continue to rear fruit on a scale probably unexampled in England. When a nobleman, or fashionable commoner, resolves on giving an entertaintment of any particular splendour, the first thing he does is to send for Gunter. There are probably not more than half-a-dozen — certainly not a dozen —mansions in London whose internal resources enable them to dispense with his services, one of those mansions being Holdernesse-house, Lord Londonderry's, as alluded to in our Gossip of to-day. Of the capabilities of Gunter to supply any demand you may judge from the fact of his providing seventy different dinners, dejeuners, wedding- breakfasts, and routs on one and the same day, the week before last, in various parts of the metropolis and country, and that without producing any unwonted pressure at head- quarters. In giving a rout, for instance, his plan is, not to count heads, and charge so much for every individual entering the refreshment-room or sitting down to the supper-table. But to estimate that two-thirds of the invitations sent out will yield visitors, and make his bill accordingly. Thus, 900 cards are issued, and he charges for (500 people. Sometimes the whole 900 come; sometimes not 300— he computes according to the average results of the season, and is in no way guided by a consideration of the gain or loss on any individual entertainment. When his lithographed plans of the tables, &c, is approved of, his people take possession at a given hour and leave at a given hour, and are supreme while they remain* He provides everything, and it is unnecessary to say that that word in
his vocabulary really means what it ought to do, superabundance and elegance being the dominant characteristics of all his performances. Plate, china, linen, lights, cards (invitations), music, and all similar appurtenances, from the waxing of the floors to the relaying of the carpets, are almost always included in his ensemble j and for these his tariff varies from seven shillings to half-a-guinea per head, according to the peculiar requirements of the occasion ; so that a host or hostess may determine the price of their hospitality to a shilling beforehand. With dinners the scale is much more on the sliding principle, and varies from two to five guineas, according to what the host requires, and what he may wish to supply himself, as dessert, wines, or what not. Taking this Turkish dinner as an instance, the price was three guineas each, about twenty-five sitting down. This did not include wine; not that his excellency interdicted that anti-Mahomedan auxiliary to the enjoyment of his Giaour guests. On the contrary he gave the " infidel dogs " some vinous rarities that must have astonished their misbelieving throats considerably:— Cyprus that probably lay in the cellars of the Knights of Malta when Solyman stormed Valetta ; tokay, seized, mayhap, at the seige of Belgrade; sheraaz, the SaracaU#- may have carried from Granada; lachryma christi that Cervantes perhaps shared when he lost his hand at Lepanto against the Soldan, and wrote " Don Quixote" with the stump; Samian, which probably set the pirates of the Archipelago prancing the Phyrric to some tune of the " Isles of Greece" a handful of centuries ago; and Syracuse which, if not quite as old as Archimedes, has still had abundance of antiquity screwed into it. These were a few of the " expressions of the grape" which our Islamite, disrearding the Father Mathewish injunctions of the Koran, unbottled for the regalement of the Frankish plenipols; and accordingly Gunter drew it mild upon the Pacha in the L.S.D. line. Bearing in mind what an appetite foreigners have for fruit, that cherries were two-and-twenty shillings per pound, peaches £3 10s. a dozen, and the rest of -the Pomonary in the same ratio, three guineas a head was reasonable enough. The viands were partly English substantialities and French kickshaws, with a dash of our old friend Haroun Alraschid's dietary, by way of Oriental flat our: — " The dinner made about a hundred dishes ; Lamb and pistachio nuts— in short, all meats, And saffron soups, and sweetbreads ; and the fishes Were of the finest that e'er flounced in nets, Drest to a Sybarite* most pamper'd wishes." The Turks didn't put their fingers in the pies, but came to the point of the fork like regular old blades, as if they had been schoolfellows with Copperfield's Mr. Brooks, of Sheffield. To be sure the Moslems had no great difficulty in fingering the Western feeding tools, inasmuch as the banquet was served a la Russe, so called because first introduced into this country by Baron Brunow, the Czar's ambassador, and now in vogue, with occasional exceptions, in all first-class circles here. It consists, as many of your readers are aware, in the joints, &c, being all carved in an adjoining apartment, and then carried rapidly round to the guests, each of whom, having a carte beside him, knows what is coming and in what order, and is accordingly prepared at the proper moment to partake or decline what is proffered, soiyps only being served in the dining-room^frdttt side tables. This mode, when properly carried out by plenty of disciplined attendants, has many advantages over the old method, one being that nearly all the oppressive odour of the culinary exhalations is got rid of, nothing remaining before you for any length of time but fruits and flowers in the plateaux, jellies, ornamental pastry, and the like. Well ; let us suppose the dinner over at last, and "Mocha's berry, from Arabia pure, in small gold cups of filagree passed round." The Pacha rises, and having said " Allah Bishmalla !" or something of tb a sort, that sounds uncommonly Irish, proceeds, at the head of his guests, along a passage fitted up like a tent, into the Divan, an apartment similarly fashioned, a fountain in the middle, ottomans around, and against the sides a multitude of amber and jewel mouthed pipes of every calibre of bowl and longitude of stem were arranged, presenting the attractions of "sublime tobacco" in their, most captivating aspect. Kielmansegge, the Hanoverian Minister, and who is as long as his name though he has got one short leg, seized a fumigacious machine about the size of the B team- tube of a Birkenhead ferry-boat, and blew a cloud dense enough to make Muspratt's chimney turn green with envy. Rehausen, the Swede, had a turn up at this same game ; and so had the Bavarian Minister, Cetto — the worthy who got our precious Lord Chamberlain last year, the " Right Hon. Earl Spencer, than whom it would be hard to find one denser", to stop Mr. Keeley in a Haymarket farce that made fun of old King Tomnoddy, his master, and Lola Monies, who seems to have taken the veil, she lives so demurely. Moncorvo, the Portuguese, and a degenerate enough looking specimen of his degenerate country he is, (his wife being rather worse if possible,) likewise puffed away as if he were qualifying to write advertising paragraphs in a Liverpool newspaper ; while the Turk himself did the European with a modest cigar. These were all that inhaled the weed. None others smoked. Sir E- Cust got the Prussian, Che- 1 valier Bunsen, (ought to be pronounced Bouncing, sometimes) up in a corner; and from the earnestness with which he clung to bis buttonbole, was no doubt entertaining him with a disquisition of sub- soiling and top-dressing as practised at Leasowe Castle, in the Palatinate
county famous for Welsh rabbits and grinning cats. On a couch in the middle of the Divan on the right hand were seated the two most remarkable, and most remarkable looking men present, after the Pacha himself, namely, Bancroft, the American, and Brunow, the Russian Minister. They conversed together with great seeming cordiality the chief part of the sitting, and in English too, the Baron, like all his travelled countrymen, being a great linguist, though, by the by, he is German born. He is a man of noble stature and commanding port, becoming his stars and crosses well, or they him, (for it is all the same in sense, whatever it is in grammer,) and looking as benevolent as one of Van Amburg's tigers after breakfast. That he is as wide awake a disciple of Beelzebub as any between this and Archangel is pretty clear from his management of Old Nick in these sulphur and brimstone days f aria", indeed, he seems as unsophisticated as if tbeconsideration of diplomacy was to him knout — a tickling pun, assuredly. He bears an excellent private character for charity and all the domestic amiabilities, and his wife no less so during their long stay here, her daughter, (by a former husband,) Mad'lle Olga de Lech ult, fully sharing her mother's reputation on that score. An individual stamped more thoroughly with the impress of a gentleman was not to be found either in the ambassadorial .circle below, or the vast general circle above stairs, than Bancroft. In his plain and rather Quakerish cut black coat, ribbonless and starless as he was, without even as much as a diamond shirt stud, he failed not to draw much more of the attention of the observant spectator than any of his glittering fellow professionals around him. Apparently about three or four and forty, tall, well formed, with a somewhat scholastic expression of face, lie has all the polish of the courtier without any forfeiture of the simplicity of the republican ; and there is this to be said of him, which can be said scarcely of a Plantagenet amongst vs — he stands the ordeal of a white cravat. Any man who can put a calamity of that sort round his throat without looking like a billiard marker, a tapster, or a country parson, is fit to shake hands with my Lord Devon, who not only, like Disraeli, looks upon the Normans as upstarts, but upon Charlemagne as a mushroom, a la gent of Newby-park and Albert-gate. There's a compliment to go out to the Yankees by to-day' 6 Hibernia ! They'll swallow a seaserpent as long as Barward's Mississippi before they produce the equal of it; but if they want a first-rate subject to try their hand upon let them begin with your correspondent. The remaining half-dozen diplomates were standing or Bitting in pairs tetea tete, or joining in occasional general conversation in French, in which all the Turks of the Embassy are seemingly perfect proficients, several of them also speaking English, Zohrab, the first attache', being almost as accomplished as a native in our tongue, and interpreting it to the Ambassador, who knows only French. We cannot now dwell on the personal peculiarities of the remaining Ministers. The Brazilian Marquis de Lisboa, as some of your readers know, apropos to the Ocean Monarch, is stout, short, and very dark ; and they will be sorry to learn that he has of late been very ill, bearing traces of his indisposition still conspicuously about him. The Netherlands man, Schemmelpenninck, (what a name for a child cutting its teeth !) is a Maypoliah sort of personage, but his stature is somewhat diminished by contrast with that of Madame, who generally accompanies him wherever he goes, there being, however, no ladies at the Turk's dinner, and, it need not be said, none (at present) in the smoke room. The French Charge d' Affairs, M. De Montherot, appears to give himself tremendous airs (in which his wife also zealously assists on their joint account,) now that Admiral Cecileis away, and he is likely to play the great man on a small scale for some short time to come. Van de Weyer-^-every one knows little Van de Weyer, the Belgian Envoy — is always welcome at places of this sort, because he aloo always brings his wife — one of the very prettiest, if not one of the most decidedly beautiful women of the day, though not far short of forty, and with daughters almost her own counterpart. Instead of waiting till we get among the ladies up stairs, we may as well now say here that Madame is a blonde, very like Alboni in the "face, which is a trifle flatter than that of the contralto, and a good deal like her in person also, only smaller, and not so remarkably roundaboutish — a much more respectable-look-ing word than fat; and as for embonpoint, why leave that to the Manchester journalists. Madame beams all over with the buoyant good nature she so practically exemplifies in the multitudinous family of which she is the ornament and del-ght. It is probably well known in Liverpool to those whom these matters concern, (and if it isn't it shall be now), that the lady is the daughter of Mr. Joshua Batee, a partner in a house you may occasionally have heard of— one Baring Brothers and Company, whose signature across a five-and-twenty shillings stamp would cure at least one individual of your acquintance of any longings after California for the future. And now let us 6ay something of a good husband — an insipid sort of animal, we all know, and generally a spoon, which is probably the reason be is made a handle of when laid hold of; but there are exceptions, and here's one. " And who is he — the blue-eyed northern child ", before us, between two maids as fair as Scot's Minna and Brenda Troil, to seek no more elaborate a parallel ? That, sir, is Reventlow, the Dane — as fine a spirited fellow as ever sailed up the Thames since the day Canute took his footbath of historic celebrity. When
he (not Canute, but the other fellow-country-man of Hamlet,) was accredited here, he was invited to St. James's, as a thing of course. Well, and he went, as a thing of course too, you remark? No, sir, he didn't. And why not? His wife wasn't invited. Wherefore? Because she had been his cook. The biood of the Erics and the Harolds in his veins fired at the insult, and he wanted to call out Aberdeen to harpoons, or otter-javelin?, or whatever it is i they fight duels with in the Baltic where bullets are unfashionable. However, being dissuaded from this, he called for his credentials, and vowed there should be national, if not personal satisfaction for the indignity offered his spouse, whose claims to respect, judged by any standard, he would maintain in every form. Aberdeen drew in the horns of his John Bull fastidiousness; consulted the Herald College people, and the Master of the Ceremonies, and (so runs the story), a much higher individual. ttJthen turned out, or was made to do so, that the Countess Reventlow had been a governess, not a cook in her husband's family, the amende was made ; she went to court, and has continued to do so since; as have also her two daughters, the two beauties I have alluded to, and than whom there were few more charming at this assembly, viz., the Countess Hilda and the Countess Malvina Reventlow, the latter of whom galloped at a rate which seemed to give the Turk an idea that she was possessed by the spirit of twenty thousand dancing dervishes. About ten o'clock the solcons on the first floor were thrown open, the ladies began to arrive, and the Mussulman prepared to receive them. Now don't go to eipect that his Excelleritry is a " middle-aged man of solemn port, shawled to the nose and bearded to the eyes ", with turbaned head and clothes bags for his unpronounceables. On the contrary, he is scarcely thirty, as handsome a fellow as any between this and himself, (a five mile segment of the great metropolis), and as completely au fait at all the little elegancies of the English beau mm.de as though he were going to bring out a new edition of " Hint 6on Etiquette " for the use of the Osmanlies. His dress has little of the Turkish, or even the Asiatic in it : it was rather that of a Polish lancer, a resemblance further heightened by bis wearing the Fez cap, which is the chief of the late tailorly reforms in Constantinople. Perhaps the only thing really oriental about him was a round bunch of jewels, about the size of a thumping potato, (when there were such things), under his neck. It was an order of some sort of course, St. Sophia, or whoever be the Bosphoruß in personation of chivalry ; but it was rich enough to have put Aladdin out of conceit with the brilliants of the enchanted garden. His double bow on the presentation of each lady was of the most elaborate, yet at the same time becoming nature, the only drawback about it being that after you had witnessed it for three mortal hours, you had no doubt that he must be tolerable well acquainted with lumbago next morning. Zohrab, who is also a fine, handsome, Greekish-looking man, about his own age, stood beside him, and officiated in the presentation business with elegance and address. The Pacha received his visitors first on one side and then on the other of the outer draw-ing-room, but at last he bad to receive them on the stairs, for every nook of the principal apartments was crammed to repletion. Only fancy about a dozen Turks jammed almost to jelly in a throng of women, the sight of whom would fill the ghosts of all the Caliphs of Bagdad with envy and lamentations that no such houris were in the world in Bluebeard* days. At first the Eastern aspect of the room, "the velvet tapestry hangings thick with damask flowers of silk inlaid, and soft Persian sentences in lilac letters, embroidered delicately over with" blue," [vide Byron's description of Lambro's house, for a whole bill of exact particulars], attracted much attention; but presently the crowd became too great for anything to be seen but itself. You may judge when you are told that the Lady Augusta Gordon Hallyburton, radiant in diamonds, with her daughters, the two Misses Erskine, (exceedingly pretty and no less coquettish), accounted themselves fortunate to get under the > stairs leading to the room people were trying to pretend to dance in ! The Duke of Devon* shire, splendiferous in his George and Garter, crept behind a flower stand with very considerable difficulty; and the flaxen-haired, roundfaced Princess Mary of Baden (now Marchioness of Douglas) was reduced to still greater extremities. I And this is pleasure— fashionable pleasurepleasure in the real tip- top circles — an out-and-out West End rout ? Did you ever seen Radley's turtle- tank at the Adelphi Hotel?—half-a-dozen of the unfortunate creatures tumbled into a space not half large enough for one, with their unhappy heads blobbing up and down, gasping for breath, neither in the water nor out of it, and looking just what they are known to be, neither fish, flesh, nor fowl. Well keep that picture in your mind's eye, and you'll have a tolerable idea of such a fdte as we have been talking of— the real object of everybody's anxiety, host and guest, being the density of the crowd, for unless the pressure be right up to (he suffocation point, the whole thing is voted tame and spiritless, and nobody feels otherwise than swindled out of their expected antidote for ennui, the providing and obtaining of which is alone the end and aim of these gatherings.
There are 65,000 owners of real estate in Upper Canada, and they hold 8,613,591 acres, or about 133 acres each on the average. Ten days per annum is the average sickneis of human life.
THE TURKISH BALL., Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle, Volume VIII, Issue 404, 1 December 1849
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