Monday, April 13, 2009

Dinner was a formal occasion

"We had to be formally dressed, even wearing jewels, by exactly three o'clock, in time for dinner. We would go up to the drawing-room where, except on Fridays, we always found fifty guests ... 

... In those days, everyone with a decently dressed servant was waited on by him at table. There were no decanters or wine glasses on the table itself but, at big dinners, silver buckets were set on a sideboard with wines for the various courses. There were also stands of a dozen glasses and anyone wishing for a glass of one of the wines sent his servant to fetch it. The servant always stood behind his master's chair, holding a plate and cutlery ready for the next course. I had a servant of my own who also dressed my hair. He wore my livery which, since our braidings were exactly the same as those of the Bourbon liveries, had to be in red. The dark blue used by my family in England would have made our livery resemble that of the king, which was not allowed.

After dinner, which did not last longer than a hour, we returned to the drawing-room where there would be a gathering of members of the States come to drink coffee with us. Everyone remained standing and, after half-an-hour, my grandmother and I would go downstairs to our own apartments. Afterwards, we often went visiting, carried in sedan chairs, which were the only means of transportation used in Montpelier." 

Escape from the Terror: The Journal of Madame de la Tour du Pin. Folio Society, London 1979. 

1 comment:

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