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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 84 pages of information about Recollections of Calcutta for over Half a Century.

GOVERNMENT HOUSE.

It will doubtless be a matter of surprise to a good many people to hear of the change that has taken place in the venue of one of the principal functions of Government House.  When I first arrived here and for many years afterwards the usual annual levee was held at 4 o’clock in the afternoon.  There is also another very marked innovation in respect of the present procedure connected with presentations to His Excellency the Viceroy.  Formerly all that one had to do was to send in a card, in response to a notification issued by the military secretary in the papers, addressed to the “First Aide-de-Camp” in waiting, marked on the outside of the envelope “For the Levee,” which was then considered to be all that was necessary.

[Illustration:  Photo. by Johnston & Hoffmann Old view of Government Place, East, and Old Court House Street.]

[Illustration:  Photo. by Bourne & Shepherd Present view of Government House, showing Esplanade Mansions.]

On the day of the ceremony you took two cards with you, one of which you deposited on a tray in the vestibule of Government House, and the other you retained, and on approaching the military secretary in the throne room you handed it over to him, the same as you do with the official card with which each person is furnished at the present day.  In the event of your desiring to act as sponsor for a friend wishing to be presented, you enclosed in the same envelope, addressed to the aide-de-camp, a second card with his name inscribed thereon, stating the object for which it was forwarded, and he followed exactly the same formula as his introducer on entering the precincts of Government House.  It was considered indispensable as now that anyone making a presentation should personally attend the levee.  The condition of things has so much changed since those times and the European population so greatly increased with advancing years that it was considered advisable to make some modification in the then existing rules so as to meet the altered requirements of the present time.  I think the real meaning of the change is to be found in the belief that formerly existed in the minds of officials that every one who sent in his card for the levee in the old days was eligible for the entree to Government House.  The procedure in respect of State Drawing Rooms has also undergone a considerable modification in one particular.  Formerly gentlemen were allowed to accompany their lady friends as far as the big hall and wait for them there until they emerged from the throne room and escort them upstairs to the ball room.  This privilege was withdrawn very many years ago.

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