If some reform activists, such as the majority of those attending the planning meeting for the World Temperance Convention, prized one cause to the virtual exclusion of others, others espoused a host of changes. The vegetarian banquet held the evening after the conclusion of the Whole World's Temperance Convention is an example of the latter approach to reform. The 1840s and 1850s spawned a number of dietary movements of which the most well known was that of Sylvester Graham, inventor of the whole grain cracker that bears his name. Greeley's Tribune covered the banquet at length. The Times offered a much sparser account, while Bennett's Herald mocked everything about the dinner from the menu to the speakers to the price(s) of admission.
THE GREAT TEMPERANCE BANQUET
The Great Vegetarian Banquet, prepared by the members of the New York Vegetarian Society in honor of the Whole World's Temperance Convention, came off on Saturday evening at Metropolitan Hall.
The tables were tastefully decorated. There were accommodations for 500 guests. Upward of 300 persons were present. There were, also, at least 400 spectators in the gallery.
On the platform was a table for the orators and the invited guests, among whom we noticed Rev. P. H. Shaw, of Williamsburgh and lady, Rev. John Pierpont, Mrs. Lucy Stone, Dr. Harriet K. Hunt, Dr. C. H. De Wolf, Mrs. L. N. Fowler, Miss Emily Clarke, Mrs. Nichols, Mrs. Lydia N. Fowler, Mrs. Amelia Bloomer, Mrs. [sic] Susan B. Anthony, Dr. R. T. Trall and the Amphions. Mr. Greeley and Mrs. Francis D. Gage were appointed as presiding officers.
The banquet was announced for 6 o'clock. In consequence, however, of the novelty of the viands provided for the occasion, and the want of a sufficient staff of waiters, the company did not sit down to table until 7½.
The proceedings were commenced by the Amphions, who sung the subjoined Song of Grace in a most artistic manner:
Lo the world is rich is blessings,
Thankful all, His praise repeat,
Every herb and each tree yielding,
Seed and fruit, shall be our meat.
Nature's banquet, pure and peaceful,
Is a "feast of reason" too;
Every healthful sense delighting,
Ever changing, ever new.
Rev. Mr. Shaw offered up an appropriate prayer. He intreated that Heaven might strengthen us to resist temptations, in order that we might subject our appetites to the Divine Law.
The company then partook of the refreshments enumerated in the in the Bill of Fare, of which the following is a transcript:
|VEGETABLE SOUPS||VEGETABLES||PASTRY||FRUITS||COOKED FRUITS||RELISHES||BEVERAGE|
Farinacea Graham Bread
Mixed Fruit Cake
Wheat Meal Cake
Corn Blanc Mange
Moulded Wheaten Grits
Baked Sweet Potatoes
Stewed Cream Squashes
Mixed Fruit Pies
Fruited Ice Cream
Pure Cold Water
In consequence of the scarcity of attendants, very few of the vegetable eatables above enumerated reached the reporters' table. What was tasted did not deserve to be praised. We think that a better assortment might easily have been procured. Very many of the audience appeared to be disappointed with the material part of the Banquet. Graham bread is not a luxury,---the fruited bread was stale, and the peaches were of an inferior quality. Although, however, we cannot praise the provisions, we willingly mention that everything was done by the Managers to display them to the best advantage. Messrs. Clubb and Campbell, Mrs. Nicholson, Miss Wright, Mrs. Trall, the wife of the President of the Society, Miss Warwick, of Orange County, N.Y., Miss Anthony, of Rochester, N.Y., Miss Pellett, of Syracuse, Mrs. Anderson and Miss Holmes, of Kingston, Mass., were the Managers of the Festival.
Mr. Thos. Lloyd, after the majority of the audience had finished their repast, placed a number of bouquets on a table in front of the chairman's seat. In doing so, he was applauded. He thanked the audience; said that he was warmly in favor of the Cause of Vegetarianism; had expended much money in advancing its interests, and requested permission to recite a poem composed by a young lady, on being accused by a friend of being a maniac on the subject of Temperance.
He repeated several verses, was ironically applauded, and having finished, remarked that he would go and eat now. Before doing so, he wished to make one remark. Bennet-–editor of the anti-reform Herald] seemed to think that he (Mr. Lloyd) had brass enough in his face to make a kettle. Now, all the world
[p. 5]knew that if this was true he (Bennet) had sap enough in his head to fill it. (Great laughter.)
Rev. Mr. Ebaugh returned thanks.
The Amphions then came forward. As this (said one of them) is a joyous occasion, we propose to sing a joyous song—-a Temperance ditty. They then executed a piece, the words of which were entirely devoid of true humor, and in whose stanzas every rule of poetical composition was violated. Such anxillaries only retard the progress of Reform. They convince none and disgust many. Really our poetical friends should not permit ignorant amateurs to exercise their prerogative, but should, by writing admirable verses, drive mediocrity into the obscurity from which it never should emerge.
After the Amphions had concluded, Mr. Greeley arose and addressed the assembly. He spoke at considerable length in favor of temperance and dietetic reform; he wished that some practical steps should be taken to advance the cause. We complained of theaters, &c., but if we did not provide intellectual amusement for the People, they would never be reformed. Let us have a Vegetarian Hotel, to which a Vegetarian Restaurant should be attached, and he doubted not that it would be eminently successful. Dietetic reforms was the basis of all other reform. He proposed as a toast:
The divorce of Festivity from Alcohol; may it be speedy, thorough, and everlasting.
Dr. Jas C. Jackson, of the Glenhaven Water Cure Establishment, proposed-—"Total abstinence, Women's Rights, and Vegetarianism," coupled with a sentiment which, in consequence of the "noise and confusion" at the Reporter's desk, we did not hear.
He began by stating that on the two first subjects manifested in his sentiment, he did not intend to discourse. The trio were interwoven, and he was in favor of them all. He had advocated Total Abstinence. He believed in Women's Rights. He acknowledged the equality of the sexes, and always would while he had a wife and mother whom he ardently loved. He could now accompany them as equals in the streets, to other places of public resort, and to the Temple of the Living God. He hoped yet to accompany them to the polls. [Applause.]
What is vegetarianism? Why should we be believers and practiced advocates of it? To these questions he would confine himself. Vegetarianism he defined to be the disuse of flesh meats as human food, and the use in their place of vegetable food. That was the foundation principle of the vegetarian system. Vegetarians take the life of nothing to provide them with food. They kill not to eat. They maintained that under human culture the earth would provide all with sufficient nourishment without obliging man to kill creatures who hold their lives by tenure as sacred as that of their lord. By eating flesh, man brought down his nature to a level with the nature of the lower order of animals-—the tiger, for example, or other beasts of prey. [Our reporter lost the remainder of this argument by a young lady asking him if he would be kind enough to inform her, if vegetarians, by adhering to the opposite principle, did not bring their natures to a similar level-—to the level of the nature of an ass, for example, which eats no flesh, but is a strict vegetarian? She said that, like Rosa Dartle, she merely asked for information.]
The speaker said that in the United States scrofula was a household disease. How did it originate? We eat scrofula in the shape of sausages and pork steaks. This disease originated from eating unhealthy pork, and it was well known that in Cincinnati nine pigs out of every dozen killed exhibited diseased livers. So with oxen and with calves. We like flesh meat in proportion to its fatness-—that is, to its unhealthiness. He maintained, also, that flesh was not by far so strengthening as a vegetable diet. The popular notion to the contrary was a gross fallacy. He showed its injurious effect on the constitution of children, (at this part of his discourse a disturbance was occasioned by a lady in the gallery requesting the orator to be good enough to put her name down as a beef eater.] By eating animal food, man was prematurely developed—-the marriage relation was entered into before nature intended that it should be. Vegetarians possessed one quality which few fatherless possessed-—they could think clearly whenever they pleased, and stop thinking whenever they pleased, which was an invaluable power. By adhering to a vegetable diet the design of nature was answered; the Soul was the King of the body. The speaker was greatly applauded in concluding his address.
A gentleman whose name was not given made a few witty remarks. He alluded to the filthy practice of ladies taking snuff. He believed that Nature had not made the noses of females for snuff receptacles, because, if it had, they would have been turned upwards. [Laughter.]
To the next sentiment-—"The New York Women's Temperance Society"—-Mrs. Vaughn, its Representative to the Whole World's Temperance Convention, replied by rising a persplcuous history of the Association alluded to. She said that the women of New York were determined to have the Maine Liquor Law, and, what woman wills, she will have, depend on it. [Great applause.] She hoped that it would pass at the next session of the Legislature. She requested those who were willing to aid her Society in the movement to rise. One third of the guests and a number in the galleries arose. After some further remarks, the Amphions were called on to sing a song. They gave "The Stiff Cold Water Man."
The next sentiment was "In the New Dispensation when woman is physician there will arise a higher sphere of life than that based on champagne suppers."
Dr. Harriet Hunt, being called on, said she had very few words to say for she was very sleepy. [Laughter.] After making a few excellent remarks on the advantages of going to rest at an early hour, she said that the opening of women in connection with-—[Here the sentence being intricate and involved she stopped and good humoredly said, "you see, I'm very sleepy," which created much laughter.] What she meant to have said, she continued, was to corroborate the Chairman's remarks relative to dietetic reform underlying all social reformations.
Miss Emily Clarke next spoke fervently in favor of Temperance.
The next speaker was Mrs. Nichols, who spoke well and wittily; but, as she particularly and publicly desired the reporters to take no notes of her speech, we must refrain from publishing even a synopsis of it.
Mrs. Gage said that this was her second advent at a public dinner, but she hoped it would not be the last. She would go back to her own State, (Missouri) where they raised the best beef in the world, and would take this evening's bill of fare in her pocket, and proudly relate what she had seen at Metropolitan Hall. She confessed that she had not yet entirely given up the flesh-pots of Egypt; she was trying, as drinkers say, to taper off; but she would endeavor, by talking, at least to aid the Dietetal Reform. After some complimentary remarks on the Chairman, she continued her speech.
To the next sentiment, which affirmed that the palladium of the ballot box would never be safe until it was committed to the joint partnership of men and women, Rev. Mr. Pierpont was loudly called on to respond.
For a man who has spoken one evening too long.
To speak the next evening at all would be wrong..
And then seat down amid great laughter:
Mr. C. C. Burleigh begged to reply, and said:
A man who has spoken one evening too short,
If called the next evening, certainly or't.
A man in the audience here began to speak.
Mr. Lloyd rose, and addressing him, said:
If a man has nothing to say with his will,
I think that he'd better be still.
Mr, Booth, Editor of The Milwaukee Free Democrat, said that the enfranchisement of women would infuse a larger amount of moral element into politics than now existed. The reason why certain politicians so vehemently opposed Women's Rights, was, that if granted, their occupation could be gone. A far different class of their occupation would be appointed. In women the moral sentiments, as a general rule, were more largely developed than in men. Perhaps, in time they might become as bad as the men, but if they did he would move for an abolition of the human race. [Laughter.] He urged the women of New York to imitate the sisters in Michigan-—to go to the polis and canvass the Temperance votes. He concluded by proposing as a sentiment.
The Vegetarians of New York and the Vegetarians of Wisconsin--trade [?] for each other. If the growth of the former is equal to the growth of the latter, success will crown your exertions.
After another song from Mr. Clark, the meeting broke up.