Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 23.djvu/362

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856 ^nuth&rn Historical Society Papers.

THE FORMAL OPENING.

One o'clock was the hour set for the mansion to be thrown open to the public, and the members of the Confederate Memorial Lite- rary Society were out early arranging articles of furniture, putting up decorations, and getting the various rooms of the building into readiness for the formal reception to commence. By 1 130 P. M. the visitors began to arrive in large numbers, and they fairly poured into the historic structure until 2:30, when the opening exercises com- menced. The ladies of the Memorial Literary Society were at their posts, the officers being on duty as a reception committee in the main hall, or the apartment assigned the "Solid South." In this hallway the guests were first made welcome, and, passing along, they were extended cordial reception in the rooms of the several States. Owing to the fact that a large crowd was expected to throng the building, only a few of the relics had been placed in the rooms. The apartments only contained the necessary furniture and decora- tions to make them look cosey and comfortable, and, at the same time, to allow sufficient space for the passing of spectators. On all sides were appropriate draperies and decorations of Confederate flags, and mantels were banked with ferns, palms, and cut-flowers 01 different kinds.

The dining-room, which has been given to Virginia, was utilized as a refreshment-room, and it was generously patronized. The ladies attended the table, serving the salads, oysters, and other delicacies.

There were present prominent gentlemen and ladies from Hanover, Chesterfield, New Kent, Goochland, and Henrico counties, besides the large contingent furnished by Richmond and Manchester.

During the afternoon hours a continuous stream of visitors taxed the efficiency of the policemen wisely stationed about the building, who managed the crowd so admirably, however, that at no time was there a crush or confusion. It was an agreeable study of several things, including the faithfulness of the Southern heart, that this same crowd furnished. Gravity was present to an unusual and deep degree on the faces, which suggested the general appreciation that Confederate relics are not the exponents of a tradition, but of a memory of very vital quality. To your correspondent this social tone, if we may so speak, was very remarkable and very beautiful. There were old men and women, and young ones; prominent and