Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 19.djvu/387

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.


Social Life in Richmond During the War. 381

not afford it. And at these starvation parties the young people of Richmond and the young army officers assembled and danced as brightly and as happily as though a supper worthy of Lucullus awaited them.

The ladies were simply dressed, many of them without jewelry, because the women of the South had given their jewelry to the Con- federate cause. Often on the occasion of these starvation parties some young southern girl would appear in an old gown belonging to her mother or grand-mother, or possibly a still more remote an- cestor, and the effect of the antique garment was very peculiar ; but no matter what was worn, no matter how peculiarly any one might be attired, no matter how bad the music, no matter how limited the host's or hostess's ability to entertain, everybody laughed, danced, and was happy, although the reports of the cannon often boomed in their ears, and all deprivation, all deficiencies were looked on as a sacrifice to the southern cause.

THE DRESS OF A GRANDMOTHER.

I remember going to starvation party during the war with a Miss M., a sister of Amelie Rives' s mother. She wore a dress belonging to her great-grandmother or grandmother, and she looked regally handsome in it. She was a young lady of rare beauty, and as tho- roughbred in every feature of her face or pose and line of her body as a reindeer, and with this old dress on she looked as though the portrait of some ancestor had stepped out of its frame.

Such spectacles were very common at our starvation parties. On one occasion I attended a starvation party at the residence of Mr. John Enders, an old and honored citizen of Richmond, and, of course, there was no supper. Among those present was Willie Allan, the second son of the gentleman, Mr. John Allan, who adopted Edgar Allan Poe, and gave him his middle name. About one o'clock in the morning he came to one other gentleman and myself, and asked us to go to his home just across the street, saying he thought he could give us some supper. Of course, we eagerly accepted his invitation and accompanied him to his house. He brought out a half dozen cold mutton chops and some bread, and we had what was to us a royal supper. I spent the night at the Allan home, and slept in the same room with Willie Allan. The next morning there was a tap on the door, and I heard the mother's gentle voice calling: " Willie, Willie." He answered, " Yes, mother; what is it?" And she re-