After Jefferys' fall the spacious and imposing mansion, where the bon-vivants of the bar used to drink inordinately with the wits and buffoons of the London theatres, was occupied by Government; and there the Lords of the Admiralty had their offices until they moved to their quarters opposite Scotland Yard. Narcissus Luttrell's Diary contains the following entry: "April 23, 1690.
The little girls remind me of the undiscovered gaiety in every cell of life that these little "bon-vivants" know ever so well, and they remind me too that a meeting for worship must be made to reach these fierce-eyed nine- and ten-year-olds, and I pass on. I get up and open the draft in the coal stove.
It is a point of honor to produce the best; and as the clerks know, quite as well as their principals, where the best is to be found, and as the honor of their respective houses is to be sustained, it may well be imagined that all the bon-vivants on earth, were they to meet at one table, could hardly produce such a variety of fine old Madeira, as the clerks of Funchal then sip and descant upon.
No wonder the servants looked tired and overworked, though I fancy the luxury and good living downstairs was quite equal to that which elicited encomiums from bon-vivants and connoisseurs above.
This was not singular, because then no dinner was perfect in Albany unless there were thirteen courses and thirteen different kinds of wine, and the whole closed up with the famous Regency rum, which had been secured by Albany bon-vivants before the insurrection in the West Indies had stopped its manufacture.
But, as I said, the principal characteristic of the Dutch kitchen is abundance, not delicacy. The French, who are bon-vivants, find much to criticise. I remember a writer of certain Mémoires sur la Hollande who inveighs with lyrical fervor against the Dutch cuisine, saying, "What style of eating is this? They mix soup and beer, meat and comfits, and devour quantities of meat without bread."
The sight of that inevitable woman in her faded gown seated behind her dear friend in the opera-box, or occupying the back seat of the barouche, is always a wholesome and moral one to me, as jolly a reminder as that of the Death's-head which figured in the repasts of Egyptian bon-vivants, a strange sardonic memorial of Vanity Fair.
While waiting for their oysters, with which, when in season, French 'bon-vivants' usually commence their dinner, Lemercier looked round the salon with that air of inimitable, scrutinizing, superb impertinence which distinguishes the Parisian dandy.
He did not, as so many did in Jamaica, drink claret or punch at breakfast soon after sunrise. In a land where all were bon-vivants, where the lowest tradesmen drank wine after dinner, and rum, brandy and water, or sangaree in the forenoon, a somewhat lightsome view of table-virtues might have been expected of the young unmarried planter.