The first Pudding Play came off Friday evening, December 13, 1844, almost fifty years ago. We had no clubhouse then, and no place for our meetings, but held them in rotation at each other's rooms. The next was to be at mine, Hollis 11, and it occurred to me that it would be a taking novelty to get up a play, instead of the Alligator or Mock Trial, as usual.
I had see "Bombastes Furioso" played at the Tremont Theatre not long before . . . and I thought that would be about the right thing if we could manage it; so I took [classmate] Peter Augustus Porter into my confidence over a bowl of stewed oysters at old Snow's. He was enthusiastic at the idea, and we soon filled up the cast. . . .
Our wardrobe was primitive but effective.My general's coat for Bombastes I saw hanging at the door of one of the second-hand clothing stores that used to line Brattle street, as I was on my way one day to take the omnibus; and I rushed in, tried it on, and secured it, and took it in triumph home, done up in newspapers. With some brilliant yellow flannel I manufacture huge epaulets and gorgeous trimmings, and succeeded wonderfully with a chapeau and a wig of the finest tow. . . .
The King and Fusbos were equally busy and ingenious, as also were the courtiers and the army, and the results in costume were really stunning; and Distaffina, having taken some lady friend into his confidence, was rigged in a manner that was positively charming. Porter sketched a scene on some big sheets of brown paper . . . we rigged a curtain, . . . got in all the chairs that could be had in the entry, and before prayers on the eventful evening the theatre was declared complete.
As no one but the actors knew of the play, it was a great surprise to the Club on assembling to see my room transformed into such a beautiful theatre. The play went of splendidly, — Distaffina wore a low neck and short sleeve, and on her introducing a fancy dance, the applause almost shook old Hollis down. Another member of the Club lived in the rooms across the entry, and there we had the pudding after the play; the actors kept on their dresses, and poor Distaffina was nearly bothered to death by her admirers.
This was the first play performed by the Hasty Pudding Club.
"The First Pudding Play," by Lemuel Hayward, originally printed in The Harvard Graduates' Magazine, April of 1893.