The Poetical Works of Thomas Hood, by Thomas Hood

A Public Dinner.

“Sit down and fall to, said the Barmecide.”

Arabian Nights.

At seven you just nick it,

Give card — get wine ticket;

Walk round through the Babel,

From table to table,

To find — a hard matter —

Your name in a platter;

Your wish was to sit by

Your friend Mr. Whitby,

But stewards’ assistance

Has placed you at distance,

And, thanks to arrangers,

You sit amongst strangers,

But too late for mending;

Twelve sticks come attending

A stick of a Chairman,

A little dark spare man,

With bald, shining nob,

‘Mid committee swell-mob;

In short, a short figure —

You thought the Duke bigger.

Then silence is wanted,

Non Nobis is chanted;

Then Chairman reads letter,

The Duke’s a regretter,

A promise to break it,

But chair, he can’t take it;

Is grieved to be from us,

But sends friend Sir Thomas,

And what is far better,

A cheque in the letter.

Hear! hear! and a clatter,

And there ends the matter.

Now soups come and fish in,

And C—— brings a dish in;

Then rages the battle,

Knives clatter, forks rattle,

Steel forks with black handles,

Under fifty wax candles;

Your soup-plate is soon full,

You sip just a spoonful.

Mr. Roe will be grateful

To send him a plateful;

And then comes the waiter,

“Must trouble for tater”;

And then you drink wine off

With somebody — nine off;

Bucellas made handy,

With Cape and bad Brandy,

Of East India Sherry,

That’s very hot — very!

You help Mr. Myrtle,

Then find your mock-turtle

Went off while you lingered,

With waiter light-fingered.

To make up for gammon,

You order some salmon,

Which comes to your fauces,

With boats without sauces.

You then make a cut on

Some lamb big as mutton;

And ask for some grass too,

But that you must pass too;

It served the first twenty,

But toast there is plenty.

Then, while lamb gets coldish,

A goose that is oldish —

At carving not clever —

You’re begged to dissever,

And when you thus treat it,

Find no one will eat it.

So, hungry as glutton,

You turn to your mutton,

But — no sight for laughter —

The soup it’s gone after.

Mr. Green then is very

Disposed to take Sherry;

And then Mr. Nappy

Will feel very happy;

And then Mr. Conner

Requests the same honor;

Mr. Clark, when at leisure,

Will really feel pleasure;

Then waiter leans over

To take off a cover

From fowls, which all beg of,

A wing or a leg of;

And while they all peck bone,

You take to a neck-bone,

But even your hunger

Declares for a younger.

A fresh plate you call for,

But vainly you bawl for;

Now taste disapproves it,

No waiter removes it.

Still hope, newly budding,

Relies on a pudding;

But critics each minute

Set fancy agin it —

“That’s queer Vermicelli.”

“I say, Vizetelly,

There’s glue in that jelly.”

“Tarts bad altogether;

That crust’s made of leather.”

“Some custard, friend Vesey?”

“No — batter made easy.”

“Some cheese, Mr. Foster?”

“— Don’t like single Glo’ster.”

Meanwhile, to top table,

Like fox in the fable,

You see silver dishes,

With those little fishes,

The whitebait delicious,

Borne past you officious;

And hear rather plainish

A sound that’s champagnish,

And glimpse certain bottles

Made long in the throttles;

And sniff — very pleasant!

Grouse, partridge, and pheasant.

And see mounds of ices

For patrons and vices,

Pine-apple, and bunches

Of grapes for sweet munches,

And fruits of all virtue

That really desert you;

You’ve nuts, but not crack ones,

Half empty and black ones;

With oranges, sallow —

They can’t be called yellow —

Some pippins well-wrinkled,

And plums almond-sprinkled;

Some rout cakes, and so on,

Then with business to go on:

Long speeches are stutter’d,

And toasts are well butter’d,

While dames in the gallery,

All dressed in fallallery,

Look on at the mummery,

And listen to flummery.

Hip, hip! and huzzaing,

And singing and saying,

Glees, catches, orations,

And lists of donations,

Hush! a song, Mr. Tinney —

“Mr. Benbow, one guinea;

Mr. Frederick Manual,

One guinea — and annual.”

Song — Jocky and Jenny,

“Mr. Markham, one guinea.”

“Have you all filled your glasses?”

Here’s a health to good lasses.

The subscription still skinny —

“Mr. Franklin — one guinea.”

Franklin looks like a ninny;

“Mr, Boreham, one guinea —

Mr. Blogg, Mr. Finney,

Mr. Tempest — one guinea,

Mr. Merrington — twenty,”

Rough music, in plenty.

Away toddles Chairman,

The little dark spare man,

Not sorry at ending,

With white sticks attending,

And some vain Tomnoddy

Votes in his own body

To fill the void seat up,

And get on his feet up,

To say, with voice squeaking,

“Unaccustomed to speaking.”

Which sends you off seeking

Your hat, number thirty —

No coach — very dirty.

So hungry and fever’d

Wet-footed, spoilt-beaver’d,

Eyes aching in socket,

Ten pounds out of pocket,

To Brook Street the Upper

You haste home to supper.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/h/hood/thomas/poetical-works/poem122.html

Last updated Friday, March 7, 2014 at 20:51