This section is from the book "Hill's Manual Of Social And Business Forms: A Guide To Correct Writing", by Thos. E. Hill. Also available from Amazon: Hill's Manual Of Social And Business Forms: The How-To-Do-Everything Book Of Victorian America.
BANQUETS are given in honor either of some noted occasion, or some distinguished foreigner or prominent citizen, generally by an organization or association of men. A committee of arrangements is appointed, which has the entire control and management of the affair, and which is subdivided into committees on invitation, finance, supper, etc., etc. Invitations, handsomely gotten up, are issued several days before the banquet is to come off, and read generally in this wise:
"The Chamber of Commerce of the city of---------request the pleasure of your presence at a banquet to be given at the---------House, on
Thursday evening, the 21st of December next, at 8 o'clock, in honor of the Centennial of American Independence. You are invited to respond to the toast, 'Our Pilgrim Fathers.'"
On the evening named the guest is expected to present his card of invitation (which he generally retains as a memento or souvenir), at the time and place named, when he is shown into a parlor or reception room, where he is received by the committee and introduced to such of the guests as he may be unacquainted with. Some little time having been spent in conversation, the guests are gradually marshalled, and at the signal from the head-waiter that the banquet is served, the guests are escorted by the committee to the hall, and, while the more prominent are conducted to the center-table, the others are ushered to seats at the tables on either hand, the reporters being favorably placed at a table of their own, or interpersed among the other guests. All are expected to stand opposite their respective places until a signal be given by the presiding officer, who, if a clergyman be present, generally requests him to ask a blessing.
Being seated, each guest finds before him a plate, with a napkin, on which rests a button-hole bouquet, a finger-bowl with its doiley, a goblet for water, and a variety of glasses for wines of different kinds, should wine be admitted, together with an elaborately gotten up menu, or bill
ON the occasion of a banquet, the hall is usually trimmed with decorations suitable for the event, and various methods are pursued in arranging the tables, the one here shown being a common one. Two long tables extend lengthwise of the room. At the end of these is a table across the end of the hall of fare. The bouquet he is expected to attach to his coat, and he is privileged to retain the menu as a souvenir of the occasion, if he desires so to do.
The guests being seated, the waiter immediately serves them through the various courses, from oysters to nuts and apples and cream or roman punch. Etiquette forbids that the guest shall eat heartily of any of the viands, or drink deeply of the wines which in some instances are served with each course. On no account should he ask that his plate or his glass be replenished, as this would mark him as vulgar. An exception to this rule may be made in the case of champagne, as this wine is not considered intoxicating, and it is generally served with the dessert. It is the wine in which the toasts are drank. After the various coursesare served, which usually requires from an hour to an hour and a half, the presiding officer raps to order, and in a short and pithy speech announces the object of the meeting, the purpose of the banquet, and, if it is in honor of an individual, proposes the health of such individual, whereupon the guests all rise, except the party toasted, drink t h e toast standing, and generally give cheers to the distinguished guest. Should the banquet be given in honor of an occasion, the chairman proposes as a toast, "The day we celebrate," which likewise is frequently drank standing. A series of toasts are then read, drank, and responded to by parties who have been invited to do so, and who are expected to prepare and deliver a short, witty and mirth provoking speech. Music follows each toast - if it has been provided - or a quartette of male voices is introduced; a good singer among the guests is frequently called upon to entertain his fellow-guests, and it is esteemed unkind for him to decline. After the regular toasts have been responded to, the chairman may call upon any individual in the company for remarks, until the hour for adjournment has arrived, when the musicians are called upon for "Auld Lang Syne," or "Home, Sweet Home," and the party is dispersed. Brief, appropriate banquet speeches follow on succeeding pages.
and situated upon a platform. The guests at this table occupy one side, the president being in the center, with the most honored guest at the right, and other guests and speakers upon each side. Thus the speaking is distinctly heard.
Speech of a Sentimentalist,
Gentlemen: With all my heart I respond to this toast! I assure you it inspires me like one of Miss Braddon's delightful love-stories. The ladies! Yes, I admire them greatly in the aggregate; I honor them in the abstract, and some of them I absolutely love!
" Why should I fear to own to all That beauty does my heart enthrall?"
Gentlemen, in proposing this toast you honor your manhood and every daughter of Eve; in responding to it I can only echo the sentiment of Sir Walter Scott:
"O woman, in our hours of ease, Uncertain, coy, and hard to please, And variable as the shade By the light quivering aspen made: When pain and anguish wring the brow, A ministering angel thou !"
Yes, my mother I Sacredly to her honored gray hairs I answer to this toast.
To my sister, my earliest playmate, beloved guide and helper in my infantile pilgrimage, I sacredly respond to this toast.
My sweetheart I What words can paint her beauty and her goodness? I wish her happiness, sleeping or waking !
My friend ! Truest of the true, faithful among the many that are untrue; always bright, tractable, hopeful and wise - I respond for her!
My cousin! poor child, she was older than I, but we loved each other in our childhood, and when she married unfortunately, and died of a broken heart, last year, she left me only the memory of her beautiful character to cherish forever.
My wife - that is to be !
"She's all my fancy painted her; She's lovely - she's divine!"
But the rest of that verse does not apply in my case, for she has surely promised to be mine! I hope for her good health and happiness !
Did I hear somebody whispering near me, "How about mother-in-law?" Gentlemen, excuse me if I stand up squarely before you, and defend that much-maligned relative. Fortunately I know whom she will be, and I tell you that should my wife and I, in the far future, marry our daughter (that is to be) to some heartless, dissipated fellow, I hope that he may find his mother-in-law a terror to his soul, and I'.ll back her up in it, you may believe. I tell you sons-in-law determine the mother-in-law question every time! Show me a man who respects himself and his wife as he ought, and proves himself an honorable gentleman on all occasions, and his mother-in-law will love him better, if possible, than his wife ever did. That's my mother-in-law. Gentlemen, I take pleasure in responding to the toast - The Ladies - all the ladies of our land !