THE REGENCY LIBRARY
A Grand Masquerade at Vauxhall
Reprinted from Sporting Magazine 1812 at 181-182
(This is part of a larger research packet available from Moonstone Research and Publications entitled “Vauxhall” see our Product page for more information)
A Grand Masquerade was given at this delightful place of entertainment on Monday, the 20th instant, which excited, in a very considerable degree, the curiosity and attention of the metropolis. Upwards of five thousand tickets were disposed of, but in consequence of the threatening appearance of the weather, not more than 2,500 people assembled, comprising the great body of the Nobility and Gentry remaining in London. The gardens were illuminated in the most splendid style and the walks at its extremity, having been partitioned off, the Promenade was confined to the square surrounding the orchestra. The effect was beyond description whimsical and entertaining. The promenade presented to the eye a sort of moving panorama, in which were assembled representations of every description of character of which imagination can form an idea, from the chimney sweeper to the Duke-from the inhabitant of the frozen regions of Siberia to the native of the more benign and salubrious climate of Italy. Here the Devil walked arm in arm with a Reverend Prelate,--there, Mercury, the tutelary God of Thieves, appeared in deep conversation with a Chief Justice—and, in a third quarter, a holy Friar might be observed playing his devoirs to the Cytherean Goddess. The greater proportion of the company however, as is customary on such occasions, were dressed in dominos, many of them extremely splendid. The prevalence of those habits was much to be regretted, as they are a sort of drawback on the general fund of mirth and good humour, to which every person should contribute his share; and from the lively sallies which occasionally escaped from these non-descripts, many of them professed sufficient ability to have supported characters very effectively.
In the early part of the evening, the lowering aspect of the heavens threatened to destroy the anticipated pleasure. But, after eleven o’clock, this fear subsided and all was bustle and vivacity. In different parts of the gardens, military and pandean bands were stationed and reels and country dances became the great source of attraction and amusement, not only to those engaged in them, but to the surrounding spectators, whose risible faculties were frequently excited by the singular combinations of characters which presented themselves. At one o’clock the supper bell rang and the boxes and apartments from which previous to that hour, the company had been excluded, were thrown open and a scene truly ludicrous was exhibited in the scramble that took place to procure a share in the rich viands which the Proprietor had provided most liberally. Dustmen and Dowagers, peers and plebeians, all rushed to the nearest table and fell to, sans ceremonie.
The supper was under the superintendence of Mr. Waud of New Bond Street and presented a profusion of delicacies of the season and consisted of:
150 dozen of fowls
150 dishes of lamb
200 tongues of hams
100 raised pies
200 savory cakes
250 dishes of pastry
400 quarts of ice creams
500 pottles of strawberries
300 cwt. Of cherries.
Besides a vast variety of other fruits, which formed the dessert. The wines were of the most rare vintage. After supper, due devotion having been paid to the jolly god, the company returned with increased spirits to the promenade. . . .