THAT highly-respected vegetable, the Potato, being now, it is hoped, thoroughly re-established in health, it was determined by a few leading members of the Vegetable Kingdom to offer a banquet to the worthy and convalescent root on his happy recovery. The arrangements for the dinner were on a scale of great liberality, and the guests included all the principal vegetables. The invitations had been carried out by an efficient corps of Scarlet Runners, and the Onion occupied the chair. He was supported on his right by the head of the Asparagus family, while Salad occupied a bowl at the other end of the table, and was dressed in his usual manner. The Potato, though just out of his bed, was looking remarkably well, and wore his jacket, there being nothing to mark his recent illness, except perhaps a little apparent blackness round one of his eyes. After the cloth had been removed,
The Onion got up to propose as a toast, the Potato, their much respected guest. (Immense cheering.) He, the Onion, had known the Potato from infancy; and though they had not always been associated in life, they had frequently met at the same table. They had sometimes braved together the same broils, and had found themselves often together in such a stew (he alluded to the Irish stew) as had brought them, for the time being, in to an alliance of the very closest kind. He, the Onion, was delighted to see the Potato once more restored to his place in society; for he, the Onion, could say without flattery that society had endeavoured to supply the place of the Potato in vain. (Hear, hear.) They had heard of Rice having been suggested to take the place of his honourable friend, but the suggestion was really ridiculous. Risum teneatis, amici, was all that he, the Onion, had to say to that. (Loud Laughter, in which all but the Melon joined). He, the Onion, would not detain them longer, but would conclude by proposing health, long life, and prosperity to the Potato.
The toast was received with enthusiasm by all but the Cucumber, whose coolness seemed to excite much disgust among his brother vegetables. The Onion had, in fact, affected many of those present to tears, and the Celery, who sat next to the Horseradish, hung down his head in an agony of sensibility. When the cheering had partially subsided, the Potato rose, but that was only a signal for renewed enthusiasm, and it was some minutes before silence was restored. At length the Potato proceeded nearly as follows:–
“Friends and fellow vegetables. It is with difficulty I express the feeling with which I have come here to-day. Having suffered for the last three or four years from a grievous disease, which seemed to threaten me with total dissolution; it is with intense satisfaction I find myself once more among you in the vigour of health. (Cheers.) I should be indeed insensible to kindness, were I to forget the anxious inquiries that have been made as to the state of my health, by those who have had me in esteem, and sometimes in a steam. (A laugh, in which all but the Melon joined.) I cannot boast of a long line of ancestors. I did not, like some of you, come in with the CONQUEROR, but I came in the train of civilisation amidst the memorable luggage of SIR WALTER RALEIGH, in company with my right honourable friend the Tobacco, who is not now present, but who often helps the philosopher to take a bird’s eye view of some of the finest subjects for reflection. (Immense cheering, and a nod of assent from the Turnip Top.)Though I may be a foreigner, I may justly say, that I have taken root in the soil, have come here in no enviable frame (loud cheering), I believe I have done as much good as any living vegetable; for, though almost always at the rich man’s table, I am seldom absent from the poor man’s humble board. (Tremendous applause.) But,” continued the Potato, “let me not get flowery, or mealy-mouthed, for there is something objectionable in each extreme. I have undergone many vicissitudes in the course of my existence. I have always served up, aye, and served out (a smile) in all sorts of ways. I have been roasted by some; I have been basted by others; and I have had my jacket rudely torn off my back by many who knew not the treatment I deserved. But this meeting, my friends, repays me for all. Excuse me if my eyes are watery. (Sensation.) I am not very thin-skinned; but I feel deeply penetrated by your kindness this day.
The Potato resumed his seat amid the most tumultuous cheering, which lasted for a considerable time.