1899 Lord Lamington’s banquet

Charles Wallace Alexander Napier Cochrane-baillie 2nd Baron Lamington, Governor of Queensland 1896-1901

A satirical verse, titled Lamington’s Banquet, was published in The Worker. It detailed a formal banquet menu, fairly typical for the time, given by Lord Lamington, Governor of Queensland. The verse named a number of local politicians who dined royally on turtle soup, pigeons, turkey, truffles, and “livers of goose” (foie gras).

The verse read as follows:

Oysters on shell
To start with, and well—
Turtle soup, green and rich, and to flank it
Some prime lobster sauce —
We’re referring of course
To the menu of Lamington’s banquet.

Tom Glassey was there.
And Billings, to pair
With Griffith, and Bulcock the faker,
Oily Dickson, Sir Hugh,
And Charlie Fitz too;
With Jackson, as Labour pacemaker.

A pigeon compote,
With mushrooms, and note
There was sweetbreads of lamb a la toulouse,
With ham and champagne,
And for those who would fain
Turkey, truffles, and livers of goose.

Anchovies on toast,
And likewise some most
Delicious strawberries and cream,
Crisp dainty cheese straws,
And to further the cause,
A Federal ice pudding, ‘twould seem.

The toast of the Queen
In champagne we ween
Nothing else would-be half enough smart for it—
We’ll wait now until
They bring in the bill,
And request the poor public to part for it.

The Worker 7 October 1899

A formal banquet menu of the time would typically consist of many courses and was usually given in French. The banquet described in the verse took place in the lead-up to Federation, when the six Australian colonies united to form one nation – hence the reference to “A Federal ice pudding”.

“Oily” Dickson was Sir James Robert Dickson, the 13th premier of Queensland and a member of the first Federal ministry. He was a wealthy businessman and supported the importation of South Pacific islanders to work in Queensland’s canefields. This would not have endeared him to the local working man.

Robert Bulcock was a party organiser, temperance advocate and businessman of strongly conservative views. He was thought to be instrumental in organising the electoral rolls – “Bulcocking the rolls” – to benefit certain candidates, notably Sir Samuel Griffith who became Australia’s first Attorney General.

Thomas Glassey was a unionist who founded the National Party in Queensland and “Sir Hugh” was Sir Hugh Muir Nelson, Premier of Queensland from 1893 to 1898. It seems likely that “Charlie Fitz” was Charles Borromeo Fitzgerald, a Labor politician who was briefly Queensland’s Attorney General in 1899. George Jackson was a Labor parliamentarian and became Secretary for Mines and Public Works. Of “Billings” I can find no trace.

Lord Lamington lent his name to one of Australia’s most distinctive cake recipes which was most likely first prepared by the Government House chef.

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