r. Melmotte was attended both by Lord Alfred and his son. He was standing in front of the chair which had been arranged for the Emperor, with his hat on one side of his head, and he was very angry indeed. He had been given to understand when the dinner was first planned, that he was to sit opposite to his august guest;—by which he had conceived that he was to have a seat immediately in face of the Emperor of Emperors, of the Brother of the Sun, of the Celestial One himself. It was now explained to him that this could not be done. In face of the Emperor there must be a wide space, so that his Majesty might be able to look down the hall; and the royal princesses who sat next to the Emperor, and the royal princes who sat next to the princesses, must also be so indulged. And in this way Mr. Melmotte's own seat became really quite obscure. Lord Alfred was having a very bad time of it. "It's that fellow from 'The Herald' office did it, not me," he said, almost in a passion. "I don't know how people ought to sit. But that's the reason."
"I'm d—— if I'm going to be treated in this way in my own house," were the first words which the priest heard. And as Father Barham walked up the room and came close to the scene of action, unperceived by either of the Grendalls, Mr. Melmotte was trying, but trying in vain, to move his own seat nearer to Imperial Majesty. A bar had been put up of such a nature that Melmotte, sitting in the seat prepared for him, would absolutely be barred out from the centre of his own hall. [Chapter 61 — complete text of the chapter. Emphasis added]
- “And to think that all these people might be so happy, and easy, and friendly” (Thackeray)
- Herbert Spencer on the Folly of Victorian Formal Dinners
- Herbert Spencer on Social Satire
Last modified 19 November 2019