The Mischianza

Self-Portrait of Captain André Attired for the Mischianza, 1778

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QUICK FACTS
  • Mischianza is an Italian word that means medley or mixture. The British spell it Meschianza.
  • John André pens this intimate account for 17-year-old Peggy Chew — whom he had championed in the Mischianza joust — as a program booklet and souvenir of the event, as well as a remembrance of their relationship.
  • Handwritten and decorated with watercolor sketches, the manuscript serves to both commemorate the event and their friendship while André is posted in Philadelphia.
  • The manuscript remains with Peggy Chew and it stays in the family until her great-grandaughter, Sophie Howard Ward, publishes it in Century Magazine (Mar-1894).
CONTEXT
  • The Mischianza was an elaborate celebration and farewell for British General Sir William Howe, who had resigned his position as commander-in-chief. Beginning in the afternoon on Monday 18-May-1778, some 400 invited guests gathered at Knight’s Wharf, at the north-end of Philadelphia, and boarded festooned barges accompanied by musical bands that then traveled the Delaware River to a landing area south. They were greeted by a 17-gun salute from two British warships. This was followed by a procession to Walnut Grove, the large country estate of the late Joseph Wharton, where there was a mock tournament of knights in jousts, followed by a ball, fireworks, a banquet, and then more dancing until dawn.
  • Captain John André, who was in charge of entertainment for the troops wintering in Philadelphia (1777 - 78), planned the day, along with Captain John Montresor, the army’s chief engineer.
  • André, who was one of the most popular and admired of British soldiers, was an artist, a poet, and an actor; he spoke fluent French, Italian, and German.
  • Later in 1778, André was promoted to Major; in 1779 he took charge of British secret intelligence. Then on 2-Oct-1780 he was hung for his involvement in the defection of Benedict Arnold.

humbly inscribed to Miss Peggy Chew by Her most devoted Knight and Servant J.A. Knt. Bd. Re.

Philadelphia, June 2d, 1778

The Festival given in honour of Sr Wm Howe on the 18th of May and stiled the Misquianza began by a Regatta upon the Delaware; Four hundred persons were invited, for all of whom the most convenient Accommodations were provided in Galleys and Flat Boats: These were on the Occasion lined with Cloth, covered with Awnings, and dressed out with Colours and Streamers in full naval pomp.

The Embarkation took place at Knight's wharf at the upper end of the City at 4 oClock in the afternoon and the Weather was as favourable as the preparations were magnificent.

The Ferret Galley in which were several General Officers and Ladies led the Way. Three flat boats with Musick followed. The Hussar allotted to Sir William Howe rowed next and the Cornwallis with Gen: Knyphausen closed the rear. The Boats in three Divisions, one attached to each Galley swarmed around them.

The Gaudy Fleet, freighted with all that was distinguished by Rank Beauty and Gallantry was conveyed down the River, along the whole length of the City, whilst every Ship at the wharfs or in the Stream was decked in all her maritime Ornaments and covered with Spectators. Opposite to the Fanny (an Armed Ship of the Frigate Build) the whole lay on their Oars; The Fanny was from the water's edge to the Mast Head covered with Streamers and Ensigns.

The Shore now became doubly crowded with lookers on, full of Curiosity and admiration. The musick Boats drew somewhat nearer and the loyal and inspiring ode God save the King was played and Chorussed. After this Ceremony the Boats and Galleys proceeded on their way down the River and the Roebuck as they passed, firing a Royal Salute, The Musick, the number of Spectators & the Brilliancy of the gay tribe which peopled the River made the whole uncommonly solemn and striking.

The General and the whole Company who had attended the Regatta landed opposite Mr Whartons House at 6 oClock. Here the preparations had been made for the remaining amusements of the Evening. The House stands at about 600 yards from the Water, at the bottom of the Garden a Triumphal Arch was erected of the Doric Order decorated with military Emblems and Devices and inscribed

I bone ’quo Virtus tua te vocat I pedé fausto. 150 yards farther towards the water stood another Arch of the same Order but decorated with naval Ornaments. Its inscription on the Freeze was Laus illi debetur, et a me gratia major[.]”

[U]nder the military arch stood in Niches two Grenadiers, under the naval one two Sailors. The Ground between the last Edifice and the Delaware was the Spot fixed upon for the Carousel, and at the upper end near the naval Arch were erected two small Amphitheatres; the Approach to the Arch was between these. The Company was conducted to the lower end of the Carousel ground opposite the Center of the Arches and House, whilst Spectators not to be numbered darked the whole plain around: a very strong guard controuled their Curiosity and with the Colours of the Army waving at different intervals framed-in the Ground with martial uniformity and splendour.

The company having proceeded up the Center with some Order and Solemnity The Ladies were Seated on the Amphitheatres, those attached to Knights in the most conspicuous places.

The Ladies selected from the foremost in youth, beauty and fashion were habited in fancy dresses. They wore gauze Turbans spangled and edged with gold or Silver, on the right Side a veil of the same kind hung as low as the waist and the left side of the Turban was enriched with pearl and tassels of gold or Silver & crested with a feather. The dress was of the polonaise Kind and of white Silk with long sleeves, the Sashes which were worn round the waist and were tied with a large bow on the left side hung very low and were trimmed spangled and fringed according to the Colours of the Knight. The Ladies of the black Champions were on the right, those of the white on the left.

The combined Bands of musick of the Army having taken their Station behind the general and attendants, a very loud and animated march gave the Signal for beginning the Ceremony of the Carousel.

Seven white Knights on Horses of that Colour entered the Quadrangle from the left proceeded by a Herald and three Trumpets. Their device which the Herald bore on his Coat and with which the Trumpet banners were blazon’d was a white and red rose with their Stalks entwined. The motto was we droop when separate and the Knights stiled themselves Of the blended Rose.

Their dress was that worn in the time of Henry the 4th of France: The Vest was of white Sattin, the upper part of the Sleeves made very full but of pink confined within a row of straps of white sattin laced with Silver upon a black edging. The Trunk Hose were exceeding wide and of the same kind with the shoulder-part of the Sleeves. A large pink scarf fastened on the right shoulder with a white bow crossed the Breast and back and hung in an ample loose Knot with Silver fringes very low under the left hip, a pink and white Sword belt laced with black and Silver girded the waist. Pink bows with fringe were fastened to the Knees, and a wide buff leather boot hung carelessly round the ankles: The Hat of white sattin with a narrow brim and high crown, was turned up in front and enlivened by red white and black plumes, and the Hair tied with the Contrasted Colours of the dress hung in flowing curls up on the back. The Horses were caparisoned with the same Colours, with trimmings and bows hanging very low from either ham and tied round their Chest. The Esquires of which the chief Knights had two and the other Knights one were in a pink Spanish dress with white mantles and sashes: they wore high crowned pink hats with a white and a black feather and carried the lance and Shield of their Knight. The lance was fluted pink and white with a little banner of the same Colours, and the Shield was silvered and painted with the Knights device.

THE KNIGHTS WERE:

Knight.

Shield.

Motto.

Lady.

Chf Knt: LORD CATHCART, 17th Drns.
  Esqres: CAPT. HAZARD, 44th
  CAPT. BROUNLOW 57th

Cupid on a Lion

Surmounted by Love

Miss Achmuty

HBLE MR CATHCART 23rd
  Esq: CAPT: PETERS dsd

A Heart and Sword

Love & Honour

 

MR BYGRAVE 16th Dra.
  Esq: MR. NICHOLAS

Cupid tracing a Circle

Without End

Miss J: Craig

CAPTN ANDRÉ 26th
  Esq: MR. ANDRÉ 7th

Two game cocks fighting

No Rival

Miss P. Chew

CAPT: HORNECK, Guds
  Esq: MR. TALBOT 16th Drag:

A Burning Heart

Absence Cannot Extinguish It

Miss N. Redmond

CAPTN MATHEWS 41st
  Esq: MR HAMILTON 15th

A Winged Hear

Each Fair by Turns

Miss Bond

MR SLOPER, 17th Dra
  MR. BROWN, 15th

A Heart and Sword

[]Honour & the Fair[]

 

The Knights of the blended rose each preceeded by his Esquire passed singly at equal Intervals in procession round the Field and saluted the General and Ladies, being returned to their ground on the left, they drew up, the chief Knight a little advanced in front and the others equally divided on either Side, the Herald moved to the Center of the Area, three trumpets preceeding him, to summon attention. The first defiance was then pronounced in the following Words

The Knights of the Blended Rose, by me their Herald proclaim and assert, that the Ladies of the Blended Rose, excell in Wit, Beauty and every Accomplishment, those of the whole world, and, should any Knight, or Knights, be so hardy as to dispute or deny it, they are ready to enter the lists with them and maintain their assertions, by deeds of Arms, according to the laws of ancient Chivalry.

The Herald then approached the Company at the upper end of the Field and repeated the defiance and afterwards moving to the right, pronounced it with the same Solemnity on the opposite part of the Field to the White Knights.

Seven Black Knights now appeared within the Quadrangle. They were in black Sattin contrasted with orange and laced with gold according to the stile of dress of the White Knights; Their Horses were black and likewise ornamented with black and orange. The Esquires were in orange coloured silk with black mantles and Trimmings: They stiled themselves Knights of the Burning Mountain, and their Herald had that device on his Coat with the motto I burn forever.

THE KNIGHTS WERE:

Knight.

Shield.

Motto.

Lady.

Chief Knight, CAPTN WATSON Guds
  Esqrs: CAPT SCOTT 17th
 MR LYTTLETON 5th

A Heart and a Wreath of Laurel

Love and Glory

Miss Franks

MR UNDERWOOD 10th
  Esq: MR HAVERCAM

A Pelican Feeding Her Young

For Those I Love

Miss N. White

MR WINIARD 64th
  Esq: MR BOSCAWEN Guards

A Bay leaf

Unchang’d[]

Miss —

MR DELAVAL 4th
  Esq: CAPT THORNE 4th

A Heart aimed at by several Arrows and struck by one.

One only pierces me

Miss B. Bond

MONSR DE MONTLUIRANT Chasseurs
  Esq: CAPT: CAMPBELL 55th

A Sunflower turning to the Sun

Je vise a vous[]

Miss B. Redman

MR HOBART 7th
  Esq: MR BRISCOE

A Mariner’s Compass

To the Fairest

Miss S. Chew

MR OF BR TARLTON
  Esq: MR HART 46th.

A Light Dragoon

Swift, Vigilant & bold

Miss Smith

They shewed themselves to contend for the superior Worth of the Ladies of the burning Mountain and to disprove the Assertion of the White Knights in favour of their Ladies.

After having moved in procession round the Quadrangle, exchanged a Salute with their Antagonists, and paid their Compliment to the distinguished group of Spectators, they took their place opposite to the White Knights and their Herald was sent with the same ceremonies as that of the blended Rose, to defy the Knights of that device to make good their Assertion: Their defiance was nearly in the following words.—

The Knights of the Burning Mountain enter these lists not to contend with words, but to disprove by deeds of Arms the vainglorious assertions of the Knights of the blended Rose and to shew that the Ladies of the burning Mountn as far excel all others in Charms as the Knights themselves surpass all others in prowess[.]

On a parley being sounded the two Lines of Knights having sheathed their Swords, met midway, and the White Chief throwing down his glove in defiance towards his adversarys Feet, an Esquire from the Black took it up and returned it to him as accepting the Challenge. The Esquires now presented the Knights with their Shields and Lances, and the whole after saluting with the Lance, returned to resume their places.

The Signal for the Charge was next sounded when the Tilt took place with great rapidity and dexterity, each Knights Spear appearing to be shivered against his Antagonist, the Charge back again was immediate and with the pistol, which was fired in passing, the other pistol being produced, a third Charge was made; The Knights then drew their Swords and rode again at each other striking as they passed. The Whole now advanced against each other at once and closed, each Knight to his adversary, fighting hand to hand, and circling rounds to direct their blow, till on a Signal they desisted to admit of a Single Combat between the Chiefs. These whilst fighting furiously, were parted by the interposition of the Judges of the Field, who doubtless deemed the Ladies so fair and the Knights so brave that it wou’d have been impious to decide in favour of either.

The Knights of both colours thus reconciled by a happy compromise formed in one Line at the bottom of the Field, alternately a black and a white champion, and advanced in Line to salute the witnesses of their Feats, they then filed so as each to ride by his Opponent, and being preceeded by their Trumpets and Heralds and attended by their Esquires moved in procession to martial musick thro the first Arch, on the other side of which they formed themselves on either side the avenue leading to the next; The Company passed between them towards the house & were saluted by Each Knight as they came opposite to him.

The House was lighted and ornamented with much Brilliancy and Taste: a great number of looking glasses multiplied every object, These were festooned over with Flowers Knots and scarves of pink and green silk and the walls were decorated with ornamental paintings in Fresco in a very elegant Stile. The Ladies sat down to Tea whilst the Knights dismounted. The latter soon entered arm in arm and repaired to pay homage to their fair ones by whom they were each presented with a favour.

The ball now began: The Knights only and their Ladies standing up in the first dance; The second dance The Knights' Ladies danced with the Esquires. By this time it was about 9 oClock and quite dark and the Fireworks which were prepared in the garden and on the Arch next the House were announced. The Company distributed themselves at the windows and doors, and were entertained with an Exhibition which besides its real merit, had that of Novelty to recommend it to the greatest number. The Fireworks closed with a grand illumination of the Arch, on the summit of which was a figure of Fame, from whose Trumpet issued in Letters of fire “Tes Lauriers sont immortels”

The Ladies returned again to the Ball Room, and another dance had scarce been led down, when they were summoned to Supper; Thus was one pleasure ever substituted to another throughout this various evening, long before satiety could take place.

Behind and adjoining to the house a Saloon 180 feet long had been erected, it was arched with Framework and lined with Canvass painted and decorated in the manner of Scenes. A great number of Lustres hung from the roof along the whole length of the building, Looking Glasses, Chandeliers and Girandoles covered the Sides, the whole enlivened by garlands of flowers and festoons of Silk and Ribbon: At different intervals were large Niches for buffets and several doors render’d the attendance convenient. The Tables decked profusely and with a great deal of Taste, held 400 people. There was some Appearance of Enchantment on entering the Room, when such a perspective of Ornament and illumination caught the Eye unexpectedly, when at the upper End were discovered 24 negroes in blue and white Turbans and sashes with bright bracelets & Collars bowing profoundly together, as the company journeyed thro’ the prodigious length of the Saloon, and when the most pathetic musick was performed by a concealed band. Every one seemed to hesitate if they shoud proceed, whether the objects before them appeared sacred or whether they involuntarily stopped to gratify their Surprise.

After Supper the Herald by sound of Trumpet proclaimed the Kings Health and the Band of Musick played God save the King, which was chorused by all present. The Healths of the Commander in chief The Founders of the Feast, The Ladies of each Device were next drank — Very loud acclamations were given when the General and Admirals Healths were pronounced and persons who were near both, could perceive a generous Emotion, answer the undissembled Testimony of our Love and Admiration.

Freighted with new Strength and Spirits the whole repaired again to the Ballroom and day Light overtook them in all the festive Mirth with which a youthfull band coud be annimated.

[King] George was unswervingly loyal to people he trusted and ideas he believed to be true; and he behaved in ways that a modern psychologist might interpret as obsessive. As a young man he would, for example, eat virtually the same dinner every day of his adult life (bread, soup, beets or turnips, and mutton — varying only on Sundays, when he allowed himself roast beef). The regularity of his tastes bespoke a deeper hunger for order.

Fred Anderson
Crucible of War: The Seven Years’ War and the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1754 - 1766 (2000)