LANDS OF THE SLAVE AND THE FREE:
Cuba, the United States, and Canada.
CAPTAIN THE HON. HENRY A. MURRAY, R.N.
"He gave us only over beast, fish, fowl, Dominion absolute; that right we hold By his donation; but man over man He made not lord."
"Gone, gone—sold and gone, To the rice-swamp, dank and lone; There no mother's eye is near them, There no mother's ear can hear them; Never, when the torturing lash Seams their backs with many a gash, Shall a mother's kindness bless them, Or a mother's arms caress them."
"LA CURIOSIDAD NUNCA SE ENFADA DE SABER."[A]
"Oh, give me liberty! For were even Paradise my prison, Still I would long to leap the crystal walls."
"A happy bit hame this arrld[*] warld wad be, If men, whan they're here, would make shift to agree, And ilk said to his neebor in cottage an' hall, 'Come, gie me your hand, we are brethren all.'"
[Transcribers note *: illegible]
TO NIF, NASUS, AND CO., THESE VOLUMES Are Dedicated AS A TOKEN OF THE SINCERE AND AFFECTIONATE REGARD OF THEIR OBEDIENT SERVANT,
HENRY A. MURRAY.
LONDON, JUNE 1ST, 1855.
SECOND AND CHEAP EDITION.
* * * * *
The encouragement of friends, and the opinions expressed by a large majority of those publications that considered the former edition worthy of notice, have induced me to cut out many passages which might possibly not interest the general reader, in order that I might send it forth to the public in a more cheap and popular form.
Writing upon such a subject as the United States, her constitution, and her institutions, there was necessarily some danger of a taint of political partisanship. I trust, however, I may he considered to have redeemed the pledge I made of writing "free from political bias," when I have found favour in the pages of two publications so opposite in their politics as the Westminster Review and the Press.
One weekly paper with pretensions to literary criticism (the Athenaeum, September 15, 1855) did me the honour of making me the object of its unmeasured censure; but, as I was forewarned that my success would interfere with the prospects of one of its contributors, I was prepared for its animadversions, though most certainly I did not anticipate the good fortune of a zeal so totally void of discretion, that the animus which guided the critic's pen should be too transparent to impose upon even a child.
Conceive a would-be critic, after various spasmodic efforts at severity, selecting from among many comprehensive measures suggested by me for the future emancipation, and for the present benefit, of the slave, the proposition of "a proper instrument for flogging, to be established by law," and that with the evident intention of throwing ridicule on the idea. If the critic were occasionally subject to the discipline of the various instruments used for the punishment of the negro, his instinct would soon teach him that which appears to be at present beyond the grasp of his intellect, viz., the difference between a cow-hide and a dog-whip; and if he knew anything of his own country, he could scarcely be ignorant that the instruments used for corporal punishment in army, navy, and prisons, are established by law or by a custom, as strong as law. But enough of this Athenian Reviewer, I offer for his reflection the old story, "Let her alone, poor thing; it amuses her, and does me no harm." The next time he tries to sling a stone, I hope he will not again crack his own skull in the clumsy endeavour.
"Ill nature blended-with cold blood Will make a critic sound and good. This useful lesson hence we learn, Bad wine to good sound vinegar will turn." OLD PAMPHLET.
I now launch my barque upon a wider ocean than before. The public must decide whether her sails shall flap listlessly against the masts, or swell before a stiff and prosperous breeze.
A CHAPTER GRATIS AND EXPLANATORY
FROM LONDON TO NEW YORK.
Preparations LIVERPOOL—Embarkation Scenes Scenes on Board CAPE RACE Pilot NEW YORK
Land of Stars and Stripes.
AT NEW YORK.
The First View Custom House Ferry Boat First Impressions Hospitality American Hotels Bar and Barbers Bridal Chamber Paddy Waiter Feeding System Streets and Buildings Portrait Hatter Advertisements Loafing in Broadway
Sights and Amusements.
AT NEW YORK.
Yacht Club and Dinner. Railway Society to LONG ISLAND Race Stand Trotting Match Metallic Coffin American Horse Hack Cabs and Drivers Omnibuses City Railway Cars Travelling Railway Cars Tickets for Luggage Locomotive Suggestions for Railway Companies
A Day on the North River.
FROM NEW YORK TO GENESEO.
Embark in Steamer on Hudson Passengers and Anecdotes Scenery of River ALBANY—Disembark A Hint for Travellers Population and Prosperity Railway through Town Professor of Soap CANANDAIGUA—Hospitality. Early Education Opposite System Drive across Country—Snake Fences and Scenery Churches—a Hint for the Highlands Cheap Bait—GENESEO
Absence of Animal Life—Early Rising View from the Terrace—Work of the Pioneer Farm and System, Wages, &c. A Drive—Family Scene LAKE CANESUS Plank road. Toll gates, &c. Scotch Pikeman
Stirring Scenes and Strange Sights.
FROM GENESEO TO NEW YORK.
A Drive to BATAVIA—Railway Warning Buffalo Railway Station and Yankee Cabby Prosperity and Contrast NIAGARA ROCHESTER A Live Bloomer Advantage proved by Contrast Reflections on Old Fashions Pleasant Night
Construction and Destruction.
AT NEW YORK.
Cutter Yacht, "Black Maria" Dinner on Board Toddy and Chowder Prosperity—Croton Aqueduct Destruction of Dogs Drive on the Bloomingdale Road A Storm
South and West.
FROM NEW YORK TO LOUISVILLE.
Ticket Station PHILADELPHIA—Convenience Luggage left behind BALTIMORE—MAXWELL POINT Canvas-back Ducks Tolling for Ducks Start by Rail—A Fix HARRISBURGH—The Whittling Colonel Start again. Pleasant Company Inclined Planes—Canal Boat Coaching Comfort PITTSBURG Railing through Forest, and Reflections CLEVELAND—Mud-walk To Sleep or not to Sleep CINCINNATI—Statistics and Education Porkopolis and Pigs A bloody Scene Ships at Marietta OHIO—Levee and Literature Embark on Steamer—Black Stewardess Ibrahim Pacha and Fat
Scenes Ashore and Afloat.
FROM LOUISVILLE TO ST. LOUIS.
Fabrication of the Republican Bonbon Wood Machinery A Nine-inside Coach Human Polecat Breakfast and Cigar versus Foetor Ferry Crossing—Travelling Beasts Old Bell's and Old Bell Cross Country Drive—Scenery The Mammoth Cave Old Bell and the Mail Pleasant Companions Rural Lavatory Fat Boy and Circus Intelligence LOUISVILLE and Advice Ohio—A Bet at the Bar A Dinner Scene and a Lady Dessert and Toothpicks Evening Recreation CAIRO—Its Prospects ST. LOUIS—Its Prosperity
FROM ST. LOUIS TO NEW ORLEANS.
MISSISSIPPI—Good-natured Weakness Mississippi v. Missouri Stale Anecdote revived Marriage Certificate Folly—Description of Steamer Inspection Farce described Corporal Punishment—Illustration Captain of Mizen Top v. White Nigger Scenery Mississippi—Good night Screecher & Burster—A Race Captain leaves us Bed—Alarm—Wreck Brutal Heartlessness River Wreckers NEW ORLEANS Wrecks, Causes and Remedies Anecdotes of Blood
FROM NEW ORLEANS TO HAVANA.
Situation and Bustle Cotton, Tobacco and Sugar Steamers, and Wages Streets, Hotels, &c A Friend in Need. Neighbourhood, Shell-road Society and Remarks Rough-and-Tumble—Lola Montez A Presbyterian Church The Gold Man Autocracy of the Police Law—Boys and Processions Duel Penalties—Stafford House Address Clubs Spanish Consul and Passport Parting Cadeau Pilot Dodge Purser Smith Sneezing Dangerous—Selecting a Companion HAVANA
The Queen of the Antilles.
Volante Lively Funeral A Light to a Cigar Evening Amusement Trip to MATANZAS—El Casero Slave Plantation Sugar Making Luxuriant Vegetation Punic Faith and Cuban Cruelty H.M.S. "Vestal" Bribery Admiralty Wisdom Cigars and Manufactory Population—Chinese Laws of Domicile—Police and Slavery Increase of Slaves and Produce Tobacco, Games, and Lotteries Cuban Jokes Sketch of Governors The Future of Cuba?
Change of Dynasty.
FROM CUBA TO BALTIMORE.
KEY POINT Vulgar Hebrew CHARLESTON, WASHINGTON Night and Morning Congress and Inauguration General Jackson and Changes Cabmen and City Shopman and Drinking Levees and Buildings BALTIMORE and Terrapin The Drama Progress—Fire Companies
Philadelphia and Richmond.
FROM BALTIMORE TO RICHMOND.
PHILADELPHIA and Hospitality. Streets—Mint Gerard College High School A Jail and a Cure for the Turbulent Lunatic Asylum NEW YORK and Embark A Wild Paddy CHARLESTON Arrival Hotel and Hospitality Climate and Buildings Commercial Prosperity Fire Companies Miniature WEST POINT (Vide Note) WILMINGTON Railway Accident PETERBOROUGH and my Hat RICHMOND Scenery and Prosperity Powhattan's Tree, an Episode A Lady Friend Fire and Folly Monkey Boy Gerymander Fire Company, Frolic and Reflections
From a River to a Race-course.
FROM RICHMOND TO NEW YORK.
Down the River WILLIAMSBURG. Old Palace A Governor and a Paddy The College Uncle Ben and his Inn Reflections SHIRLEY, Hospitality, &c. BEANDON, Hospitality, &c. Rural Election—A Cruise in a Calm Choral Warblers and Family Altar NORFOLK, Dockyard, &c. Slave Servants, a Hint to the Foreign Office Via BALTIMORE to PHILADELPHIA—A Confession. Race—Mac and Tac NEW YORK
Home of the Pilgrim Fathers.
FROM NEW YORK TO BOSTON.
Off by rail—Foxhunting Fire BOSTON. Buildings and Hospitality Neighbourhood and Names The Drama Spirit-rapping and Gulls
Teaching of Youth and a Model Jail.
Pilgrim Fathers Education—Expenditure—Regulations, &c. Phonetic System A Model Jail—Telegraph and Fire—Dockyard Water Supply, Prosperity, &c.
FROM BOSTON TO QUEBEC.
Railroad and Scenery MONTREAL, and a Welcome Face Gavazzi—Excitement—Mob, &c. QUEBEC and Neighbourhood Mrs. Paul and Miss Paddy Ferry-boat and Friends Rebellion Losses Bill Moral Courage and Administrative Ability evidenced and acknowledged Hint for Militia Canadian Government
A Trip to the Uttawa.
FROM QUEBEC TO TORONTO.
Mr. Hincks—Mr. Drummond—MONTREAL Up the OTTAWAY to LACHINE, ST. ANNE'S to BYTOWN and AYLMER The CHATS FALLS Canadian Highlanders Conflagration, Rafts, Lumberers, and Teetotallers The Struggle, the Goal, and the Return AYLMER Prosperity BYTOWN. Scenery and Advantages Slides for Lumber—Mr. Mackay Object of Councillor's Visit Drive across Country PRESCOTT and OGDENSBURG KINGSTON LAKE ONTARIO and a Nice Bed TORONTO
Colonial Education and Prosperity.
TORONTO. Population, Prosperity and Buildings The Normal School Education generally Canadian Prospects and Prosperity
A Cataract and a Celebration.
FROM TORONTO TO NEW YORK.
Embark in Steamer QUEENSTOWN & LEWISTOWN A Drive, a Bait, and a Lesson NIAGARA and Moonlight BATAVIA, GENESEO, and 4th July Hawking Carriages—ROCHESTER ALBANY—Hands and Sandwiches Dropped outside—NEW YORK
Education, Civil and Military.
NEW YORK AND WEST POINT.
Free Academy WEST POINT. Military Academy Anecdote, &c. NEW YORK
* * * * *
Here travelling ceases, and the remaining Chapters are devoted to the discussion of subjects which I trust may interest the reader.
Watery Highways and Metallic Intercourse.
Area of Lakes, and Tonnage thereon Mississippi—Produce borne and destroyed Mr. Douglas and Custom Houses A Great Party Doctrine Erie Canal—Barn-burners and Hunkers Railways—United States and England Telegraph Systems of Telegraph
America's Press and England's Censor.
Issues of the Press Wonderful Statistics Character of the Press Great Britain's Press Low Literature of America Barefaced Robbery—Northwood Specimen English Items Specimen The Author of English Items SUBJECTS EXTRACTED:— Relations with England Sixpenny Miracles Army Commissions—English Writers American Spitting Holy Places English Friends Original Sin English Manners English Church and Heraldry Devotion to Dinner Conclusion Subsequent Career of Mr. Ward—The Offence—The Scene and the Death Acquittal and Effects
The Institution of Slavery.
Original Guilt Northern Fanatics Irritation produced Northern Friendship questioned Grounds of Southerners' Objections to the Abolitionists English Abolitionists Mrs. Stowe's Ovation Treatment of Slaves Irresponsible Power and Public Opinion Sources of Opinion as to Treatment of Slaves—Law—Self-interest Christianity Habit Causes of Indignation Recrimination Evidence from Authors—Press and Canada Review of Progress of Slavery Slave Population and Value Question of Freedom
Hints for Master and Hopes for Slave.
PROPOSALS. Free Soil Fugitive Law Territory of Refuge TREATMENT DISCUSSED. Corporal Punishment Forfeiture and Testimony System for Ultimate Freedom The Blackest Feature in Slavery VISIONARY DEPUTATION Inveterate Slaveholder Touchy Slaveholder, and Swaggering Bully Clerical Slave Advocate Amiable Planter Recriminator Abolitionist and Intelligent Slaveholder A frightful Question Closing Observations Nebraska—The Christian and the Mussulman
Constitution of the United States.
Plan Proposed Government and Qualification for Office Elective Franchise Frequency of Elections Ballot Effects of Elections under the Ballot Remedy proposed John Randolph, Sydney Smith, and Clubs Payment of Members and its Effects Scene in Congress The Judiciary Exclusion of Cabinet from Seats Power of President Election of President Governors of States, and Power of Pardon Conclusion and Testimony of Bishop Hopkins
The Church, the School, and the Law.
Church Statistics American Episcopal Prayer-Book Methodist Episcopacy and Presbyterian Music What exists at Home Ismite Convention Education Statistics and College Expenses Pray read this—Law for Conveyance of Land
Inventions and Inveighings.
What is a Bay? Dr. King—Fulton and Steam Telegraph and American Modesty Reaping Machine Opinion of a Borderer American Ingenuity Fire-arms and Militia
The 4th July Mr. Douglas and Congress Miss Willard and John Mitchell Who are the Antipathists?
American Vanity American Sensitiveness American Morals Territory and Population Effect of Early Education Phases of Liberty Strikes Intelligence Energy 'Cuteness and Eggs Enterprise—Lord-hunting Hospitality—Political Parties Know-nothings The Future My Endeavour My Warning Lord Holland, Hope, and Farewell
EXTENT OF TELEGRAPH IN THE UNITED KINGDOM A SHORT SKETCH OF THE PROGRESS OF FIRE-ARMS
[Footnote A: "THE INQUIRING MIND WEARIES NOT IN THE PURSUIT OF KNOWLEDGE."
ANTONIO PEREZ. (Translation)]
EXPLANATORY LIST OF PLATES.
VIGNETTE OF THE ENTRANCE TO A COFFEE PLANTER'S RESIDENCE
CUTTER YACHT "MARIA"
The following are the dimensions referred to in the text as being on the original engraving:—
Tonnage by displacement 137 tons Length on deck 110 feet Breadth of beam 26-1/2 " Depth of hold 8-1/4 " Length of mast 91 " Length of boom 95 " Length of gaff 50 feet Length of jibboom 70 " Length of bowsprit on board 27 " Diameter of bowsprit 24 in. Diameter of boom 26 in.
MAP OF CROTON AQUEDUCT
This map is accurately copied from Mr. Schramke's scientific work, but the reader is requested to understand that the lines drawn at right angles over the whole of Manhattan Island represent what the city of New York is intended to be. At present its limits scarcely pass No. 1. Distributing Reservoir.
STEWARDESS OF THE "LADY FRANKLIN"
This print may possibly be a little exaggerated.
A MISSISSIPPI STEAMER
This print is raised out of all proportion, for the purpose of giving a better idea of the scenes on board, than the limits of the sheet would otherwise have permitted. If the cabin on the deck of the Hudson River steamer were raised upon pillars about 15 or 20 feet high, it would convey a tolerably accurate impression of the proper proportions.
THE NEW ST. CHARLES HOTEL, NEW ORLEANS
EL CASERO, OR THE PARISH HAWKER IN CUBA
THE GERARD COLLEGE, PHILADELPHIA
NORMAL SCHOOL, TORONTO
A great portion of the ground adjoining is now given up to agricultural experimental purposes.
HUDSON RIVER STEAMER, 1200 TONS
The dimensions are:—
Length 325 feet Breadth 38 " Depth of hold 11 " Width of cylinder. 5 ft. 10 in. Length of stroke. 14 feet Diameter of wheel. 40 "
MAP OF THE UNITED STATES
Gratis and Explanatory.
What is the use of a preface? Who wants a preface? Nay, more—what is a preface? Who can define it? That which it is most unlike is the mathematical myth called a point, which may be said to have neither length nor breadth, and consequently no existence; whereas a preface generally has extreme length, all the breadth the printer can give it, and an universal existence.
But if prefaces cannot be described with mathematical accuracy, they admit of classification with most unmathematical inaccuracy. First, you have a large class which may be called CLAIMERS. Ex.: One claims a certain degree of consideration, upon the ground that it is the author's first effort; a second claims indulgence, upon the ground of haste; a third claims attention, upon the ground of the magnitude and importance of the subject, &c. &c. Another large class may be termed MAKERS. Ex.: One makes an excuse for tediousness; a second makes an apology for delay; a third makes his endeavours plead for favourable reception, &c. Then again you have the INTERROGATOR, wherein a reader is found before the work is printed, convenient questions are put into his mouth, and ready replies are given, to which no rejoinder is permitted. This is very astute practice.—Then again there is the PUFFER AND CONDENSER, wherein, if matter be wanting in the work, a prefacial waggon is put before the chapteral pony, the former acting the part of pemican, or concentrated essence, the latter representing the liquid necessary for cooking it; the whole forming a potage au lecteur, known among professional men as "soldier's broth."
My own opinion on this important point is, that a book is nothing more nor less than a traveller; he is born in Fact or Fancy; he travels along a goose-quill; then takes a cruise to a printer's. On his return thence his health is discovered to be very bad; strong drastics are applied; he is gradually cooked up; and when convalescent, he puts on his Sunday clothes, and struts before the public. At this critical juncture up comes the typish master of the ceremonies, Mr. Preface, and commences introducing him to them; but knowing that both man and woman are essentially inquisitive, he follows the example of that ancient and shrewd traveller who, by way of saving time and trouble, opened his address to every stranger he accosted, in some such manner as the following:—"Sir, I am Mr. ——, the son of Mr. ——, by ——, his wife and my mother. I left —— two days ago. I have got —— in my carpet-bag. I am going to —— to see Mr. ——, and to try and purchase some ——." Then followed the simple question for which an answer was wanted, "Will you lend me half-a-crown?" "Tell me the road;" "Give me a pinch of snuff;" or "Buy my book," as the case might be. The stranger, gratified with his candour, became immediately prepossessed in his favour. I will endeavour to follow the example of that 'cute traveller, and forestall those questions which I imagine the reader—if there be one—might wish to ask.
1. Why do I select a subject on which so many abler pens have been frequently and lately employed?—Because it involves so many important questions, both socially and politically, in a field where the changes are scarcely less rapid than the ever-varying hues on the dying dolphin; and because the eyes of mankind, whether mental or visual, are as different as their physiognomies; and thus those who are interested in the subject are enabled to survey it from different points of view.
2. Do I belong to any of those homoeopathic communities called political parties?—I belong to none of them; I look upon all of them as so many drugs in a national apothecary's shop. All have their useful qualities, even the most poisonous; but they are frequently combined so injudiciously as to injure John Bull's health materially, especially as all have a strong phlebotomizing tendency, so much so, that I often see poor John in his prostration ready to cry out, "Throw Governments to the dogs—I'll none of them!" If in my writings I appear to show on some points a political bias, it is only an expression of those sentiments which my own common sense[B] and observation have led me to entertain on the subject under discussion, and for which I offer neither defence nor apology.
3. Am I an artist?—No; I am an author and a plagiarist. Every sketch in my book is taken from some other work, except the "Screecher," which is from the artistic pen of Lady G.M.; and the lovely form and features of the coloured sylph, for which I am indebted to my friend Mr. J.F.C.—You must not be too curious.—I consider myself justified in plagiarizing anything from anybody, if I conceive it will help to elucidate my subject or amuse my reader, provided always I have a reasonable ground for believing the source is one with which the general reader is not likely to be acquainted. But when I do steal, I have the honesty to confess it.
4. What is my book about?—It treats of an island, a confederacy and a colony; and contains events of travel, facts and thoughts concerning people, telegraphs, railroads, canals, steam, rivers, commercial prosperity, education, the Press, low literature, slavery, government, &c. &c.
5. What security can I offer for the pretensions advanced being made good?—None whatever. Who takes me, must take me, like a wife, "for better for worse," only he is requested to remember I possess three distinct advantages over that lady.—First, you can look inside me as well as out: Secondly, you can get me more easily and keep me more cheaply: Thirdly, if you quarrel with me, you can get a divorce in the fire-place or at the trunkmaker's, without going to the House of Lords.
I trust I have now satisfied all the legitimate demands of curiosity.
I will only further remark that in some of my observations upon, the United States, such as travelling and tables-d'hote, the reader must bear in mind that in a land of so-called equality, whenever that principle is carried out, no comparison can be drawn accurately between similar subjects in the Republic and in England.
The society conveyed in one carriage in the States embraces the first, second, and third-class passengers of Great Britain; and the society fed at their tables-d'hote contains all the varieties found in this country, from the pavilion to the pot-house. If we strike a mean between the extremes as the measure of comfort thus obtained, it is obvious, that in proportion as the traveller is accustomed to superior comforts in this country, so will he write disparagingly of their want in the States, whereas people of the opposite extreme will with equal truth laud their superior comforts. The middle man is never found, for every traveller either praises or censures. However unreasonable it might be to expect the same refinements in a Republic of "Equal rights," as those which exist in some of the countries of the Old World under a system more favourable to their development, it is not the less a traveller's duty to record his impressions faithfully, leaving it to the reader to draw his own conclusions.
It was suggested to me to read several works lately published, and treating of the United States; but as I was most anxious to avoid any of that bias which such reading would most probably have produced, I have strictly avoiding so doing, even at the risk of repeating what others may have said before.
I have nothing further to add in explanation.—The horses are to.—The coach is at the door.—Chapter one is getting in.—To all who are disposed to accompany me in my journey, I say—Welcome!
D 4, ALBANY, LONDON,
1st June, 1855.
[Footnote B: Perhaps "human instinct" might be a more modest expression.]
"Make ready ... Fire!" The Departure.
The preparations for the start of a traveller on a long journey are doubtless of every variety in quality and quantity, from the poor Arab, whose wife carries his house as well as all his goods—or perhaps I should rather say, from Sir Charles Napier of Scinde with his one flannel waistcoat and his piece of brown soap—up to the owners of the Dover waggon-looking "fourgon" who carry with them for a week's trip enough to last a century. My weakness, reader, is, I believe, a very common one, i.e., a desire to have everything, and yet carry scarce anything.
The difficulties of this arrangement are very perplexing to your servant, if you have one, as in my case. First you put out every conceivable article on the bed or floor, and then with an air of self-denial you say, "There, that will be enough;" and when you find an additional portmanteau lugged out, you ask with an air of astonishment (which may well astonish the servant), "What on earth are you going to do with that?" "To put your things into it, sir," is the very natural, reply; so, after a good deal of "Confound it, what a bore," &c., it ends in everything being again unpacked, a fresh lot thrown aside, and a new packing commenced; and believe me, reader, the oftener you repeat this discarding operation, the more pleasantly you will travel. I speak from experience, having, during my wanderings, lost everything by shipwreck, and thus been forced to pass through all the stages of quantity, till I once more burdened myself as unnecessarily as at starting.
It was a lovely September morning in 1852, when, having put my traps through the purging process twice, and still having enough for half-a-dozen people, I took my place in the early train from Euston-square for Liverpool, where I was soon housed in the Adelphi. A young American friend, who was going out in the same steamer on the following morning, proposed a little walk before the shades of evening closed in, as he had seen nothing of the city. Off we started, full of intentions never to be realized: I stepped into a cutler's shop to buy a knife; a nice-looking girl in the middle of her teens, placed one or two before me; I felt a nudge behind, and a voice whispered in my ear, "By George, what a pretty hand!" It was perfectly true; and so convinced was my friend of the fact, that he kept repeating it in my ear. When my purchase was completed, and the pretty hand retired, my friend exhibited symptoms of a strong internal struggle: it was too much for him. At last he burst out with, "Have you any scissors?"—Aside to me, "What a pretty little hand!"—Then came a demand for bodkins, then for needles, then for knives, lastly for thimbles, which my friend observed were too large, and begged might be tried on her taper fingers. He had become so enthusiastic, and his asides to me were so rapid, that I believe he would have bought anything which those dear little hands had touched.
Paterfamilias, who, while poring over his ledger, had evidently had his ears open, now became alarmed at the reduction that was going on in his stock, and consequently came forward to scrutinize the mysterious purchaser. I heard a voice muttering "Confound that old fellow!" as the dutiful daughter modestly gave place to papa; a Bank of England tenner passed from my friend's smallclothes to the cutler's small till, and a half-crown vice versa. When we got to the door it was pitch dark; and thus ended our lionizing of the public buildings of Liverpool.
On the way back to the hotel, as my companion was thinking aloud, I heard him alternately muttering in soft tones, "What a pretty hand," and then, in harsh and hasty tones, '"Confound," ... "crusty old fellow;" and reflecting thereon, I came to the conclusion that if the expressions indicated weakness, they indicated that pardonable civilizing weakness, susceptibility to the charms of beauty; and I consequently thought more kindly of my future fellow-traveller. In the evening we were joined by my brother and a young officer of the Household Brigade, who were to be fellow-passengers in our trip across the Atlantic.
Early morning witnessed a procession of hackney coaches, laden as though we were bent on permanent emigration. Arrived at the quay, a small, wretched-looking steamer was lying alongside, to receive us and our goods for transport to the leviathan lying in mid-channel, with her steam up ready for a start.
The operation of disposing of the passengers' luggage in this wretched little tea-kettle was amusing enough in its way. Everybody wanted everybody else's traps to be put down, below, and their own little this, and little that, kept up: one group, a man, wife, and child, particularly engaged my attention; the age of the child, independent of the dialogue, showed that the honeymoon was passed.
WIFE.—"Now, William, my dear, do keep that little box up!"
HUSBAND.—"Hi! there; keep that hat-box of mine up!" (Aside,) "Never mind your box, my dear, it wont hurt."
WIFE.—"Oh, William, there's my little cap-box going down! it will be broken, in pieces."
HUSBAND.—"Oh! don't be afraid, my dear, they'll take care of it. Stop, my man, that's my desk; give it me here," &c. &c.
The dialogue was brought to a sudden stop by the frantic yell of the juvenile pledge of their affections, whose years had not yet reached two figures; a compact little iron-bound box had fallen on his toe, and the poor little urchin's pilliloo, pilliloo, was pitiful. Mamma began hugging and kissing, while papa offered that handy consolation of, "Never mind, that's a good boy; don't cry." In the meantime, the Jacks had profited by the squall, and, when it ceased, the happy couple had the satisfaction of seeing all their precious boxes buried deep in the hold.
The stream of luggage having stopped, and the human cargo being all on board, we speedily cast off our lashings, and started: fortunately, it was fine weather, for, had there been rain, our ricketty tea-kettle would have afforded us no protection whatever. On reaching the leviathan, the passengers rushed up hastily, and, armed with walking-sticks or umbrellas, planted themselves like sentries on the deck. As the Jacks came tumbling up with the luggage, shouts of "Hi! that's mine," rent the air; and if Jack, in the hurry and confusion, did not attend to the cry, out would dart one or other with umbrella or stick, as the case might be, and harpoon him under the fifth rib; for, with a heavy burden on his head and shoulders, necessarily supported by both hands, defence was impossible. I must say, Jack took it all in good humour, and filing a bill "STOMACH v. RIBS," left it to Old Neptune to obtain restitution for injuries inflicted on his sons. I believe those who have once settled their accounts with that sea-deity are not more anxious to be brought into his court again, than those who have enjoyed the prolonged luxury of a suit in Chancery.
Everything must have an end; so, the mail agent arriving with his postal cargo, on goes the steam, and off goes the "Africa," Captain Harrison.
"Some wave the hand, and some begin to cry, Some take a weed, and nodding, say good-bye."
I am now fairly off for New York, with a brother and two friends; we have each pinned our card to the red table-cover in the saloon, to indicate our permanent positions at the festive board during the voyage. Unless there is some peculiarity in arrangement or circumstance, all voyages resemble each other so much, that I may well spare you the dullness of repetition. Stewards will occasionally upset a soup-plate, and it will sometimes fall inside the waistcoat of a "swell," who travelling for the first time, thinks it requisite to "get himself up" as if going to the Opera. People under the influence of some internal and irresistible agency, will occasionally spring from the table with an energy that is but too soon painfully exhausted, upsetting a few side dishes as their feet catch the corner of the cloth. Others will rise, and try to look dignified and composed, the hypocrisy whereof is unpleasantly revealed ere they reach the door of the saloon; others eat and drink with an ever-increasing vigour, which proves irresistibly the truth of the saying, "L'appetit vient en mangeant." Heads that walked erect, puffing cigars like human chimneys in the Mersey, hang listless and 'baccoless in the Channel (Mem., "Pride goes before a fall"). Ladies, whose rosy cheeks and bright eyes, dimmed with the parting tear, had, as they waved the last adieu, told of buoyant health and spirits, gather mysteriously to the sides of the vessel, ready for any emergency, or lie helpless in their berths, resigning themselves to the ubiquitous stewardess, indifferent even to death itself. Others, again, whose interiors have been casehardened by Old Neptune, patrol the deck, and, if the passengers are numerous, congratulate each other in the most heartless manner by the observation, "There'll be plenty of room in the saloon, if this jolly breeze continues!"
All these things are familiar to most travellers, suffice it, therefore, to say, that on the present occasion Old Neptune was in a good humour, "the jolly breeze" did not last long, nor was it ever very jolly. My American friend and the Household Brigade-man tried very hard to make out that they felt sick at first, but I believe I succeeded in convincing them that it was all imagination, for they both came steadily to meals, and between them and my brother, who has the appetite of a Pawnee when at sea, I found that a modest man like myself got but "monkey's allowance" of the champagne which I had prescribed as a medicine, erroneously imagining that those internal qualms usually produced by a sea voyage would have enabled me to enjoy the lion's share.
We saw nothing during the voyage but a few strange sail and a couple of icebergs, the latter very beautiful when seen in the distance, with the sea smooth as a mirror, and the sun's rays striking upon them. I felt very thankful the picture was not reversed; the idea of running your nose against an iceberg, in the middle of a dark night, with a heavy gale blowing and sea running, was anything but pleasant.
In due time we made Cape Race. I merely mention the fact for the purpose of observing that the captain, and others to whom I have spoken since, unanimously agree in condemning the position of the lighthouse; first, as not being placed on the point a vessel from Europe would make, inasmuch as that point is further north and east; and secondly, because vessels coasting northwards are not clear of danger if they trend away westward after passing the light. There may be some advantages to the immediate neighbourhood, but, for the general purposes of navigation, its position is a mistake, and has, on more than one occasion, been very nearly the cause of the wreck of one of our large steamers[C].
Early on the morning of the tenth day I heard voices outside my cabin saying, "Well, they've got the pilot on board," ergo, we must be nearing our haven. In the Channel at home you know a pilot by a foul-weather hat, a pea-coat, broad shoulders, and weather-beaten cheeks; here, the captain had told me that I could always know them by a polished beaver and a satin or silk waistcoat. When I got on deck, sure enough there was the beaver hat and the silk vest, but what struck me most, was the wearer, a slim youth, hardly out of his teens. In the distance, the New York pilot-boat, a build rendered famous by the achievements of the "America," at Cowes, lay on the water like a duck, with her canvas white as snow, and taut as a deal board. The perfect ease and nonchalance of the young pilot amused me immensely, and all went on smoothly enough till the shades of evening closed in upon us; at which time, entering the Narrows, the satin-vested youth felt himself quite nonplused, despite his taking off his beaver, and trying to scratch for knowledge; in short, had it not been for Captain Harrison, who is a first-rate seaman and navigator, as all who ever sail with him are ready to testify, we might have remained out all night: fortunately, his superior skill got us safe in, and no easy task I assure you is it, either to find the channel, or to thread your way through hosts of shipping, in one of these leviathan steamers.
I confess I formed a very low estimate of New York pilots, which was not heightened by one of the mates showing me an embossed card, with his address, which our pilot had presented to him, accompanied with an invitation to come to a soiree. As the mystery was subsequently solved, I had better give you the solution thereof at once, and not let the corps of New York pilots lie under the ban of condemnation in your minds as long as they did in mine. It turned out that the pert little youth was not an authorized pilot, but merely schooling for it; and that, when the steamer hove in sight, the true pilots were asleep, and he would not allow them to be called, but quietly slipped away in the boat, and came on board of us to try his 'prentice hand; the pilots of New York are, I believe, a most able and efficient body of men.
Here I am, reader, at New York, a new country, a new hemisphere, and pitch dark, save the lights reflected in the water from the town on either side. All of a sudden a single toll of a bell, then another, and from the lights in the windows you discover a large wooden house is adrift. On inquiry, you ascertain it is merely one of their mammoth ferry-boats; that is something to think of, so you go to bed at midnight, and dream what it will really look like in the morning.
[Footnote C: I believe another lighthouse is to be erected on the proper headland.]
The Land of Stars and Stripes.
The sun had aired the opening day before I appeared on deck. What a scene! There was scarce a zephyr to ripple the noble Hudson, or the glorious bay; the latter, land-locked save where lost in the distant ocean; the former skirted by the great Babylon of America on one side, and the lovely wooded banks of Hoboken on the other. The lofty western hills formed a sharp yet graceful bend in the stream, round which a fleet of small craft, with rakish hulls and snowy sails, were stealing quietly and softly, like black swans with white wings; the stillness and repose were only broken by the occasional trumpet blast of some giant high-pressure steamer, as she dashed past them with lightning speed. Suddenly a floating island appeared in the bend of the river; closer examination proved it to be a steamer, with from twenty to twenty-five large boats secured alongside, many of them laden at Buffalo, and coming by the Erie Canal to the ocean. Around me was shipping of every kind and clime; enormous ferry-boats radiating in all directions; forests of masts along the wharves; flags of every colour and nation flying; the dingy old storehouses of the wealthy Wall-street neighbourhood, and the lofty buildings of the newer parts of the town; everything had something novel in its character, but all was stamped with go-aheadism. This glorious panorama, seen through the bright medium of a rosy morn and a cloudless sky, has left an enjoyable impression which time can never efface. But although everything was strange, I could not feel myself abroad, so strong is the power of language.
Taking leave of our worthy and able skipper, we landed on the soil of the giant Republic at Jersey city, where the wharves, &c., of the Cunard line are established, they not having been able to procure sufficient space on the New York side. The first thing we ran our heads against was, of course, the Custom-house; but you must not imagine, gentle reader, that a Custom-house officer in America is that mysterious compound of detective police and high-bred ferret which you too often meet with in the Old World. He did not consider it requisite to tumble everything out on the floor, and put you to every possible inconvenience, by way of exhibiting his importance; satisfied on that point himself, he impressed you with it by simple courtesy, thus gaining respect where the pompous inquisitive type of the animal would have excited ill-will and contempt. Thank heaven, the increased inter-communication, consequent upon steam-power, has very much civilized that, until lately, barbarian portion of the European family; nor do I attempt to deny that the contiguity of the nations, and the far greater number of articles paying duty, facilitating and increasing smuggling, render a certain degree of ferretishness a little more requisite on the part of the operator, and a little more patience requisite on the part of the victim.
A very few minutes polished our party off, and found us on board of the ferry-boat; none of your little fiddling things, where a donkey-cart and an organ-boy can hardly find standing-room, but a good clear hundred-feet gangway, twelve or fourteen feet broad, on each side of the engine, and a covered cabin outside each gangway, extending half the length of the vessel; a platform accommodating itself to the rise and fall of the water, enables you to drive on board with perfect ease, while the little kind of basin into which you run on either side, being formed of strong piles fastened only at the bottom, yields to the vessel as she strikes, and entirely does away with any concussion. I may here add, that during my whole travels in the States, I found nothing more perfect in construction and arrangement than the ferries and their boats, the charges for which are most moderate, varying according to distances, and ranging from one halfpenny upwards.
It is difficult to say what struck me most forcibly on landing at New York; barring the universality of the Saxon tongue, I should have been puzzled to decide in what part of the world I was. The forest of masts, and bustle on the quays, reminded me of the great sea-port of Liverpool: but scarce had I left the quays, when the placards of business on the different stories reminded me of Edinburgh. A few minutes more, and I passed one of their large streets, justly called "Avenues," the rows of trees on each side reminding me of the Alamedas in the Spanish towns; but the confusion of my ideas was completed when the hackney coach was brought to a standstill, to allow a huge railway carriage to cross our bows, the said carriage being drawn by four horses, and capable of containing fifty people.
At last, with my brain in a whirl, I alighted at Putnam's hotel, where my kind friend, Mr. W. Duncan, had prepared rooms for our party; nor did his zeal in our behalf stop here, for he claimed the privilege of being the first to offer hospitality, and had already prepared a most excellent spread for us at the far-famed Cafe Delmonico, where we found everything of the best: oysters, varying from the "native" size up to the large American oyster, the size of a small leg of Welsh mutton—mind, I say a small leg—the latter wonderful to look at, and pleasant to the taste, though far inferior to the sweet little "native."
Here I saw for the first time a fish called "the sheep's head," which is unknown, I believe, on our side of the Atlantic. It derives its name from having teeth exactly like those of a sheep, and is a most excellent fish wherewith to console themselves for the want of the turbot, which is never seen in the American waters. Reader, I am not going to inflict upon you a bill of fare; I merely mention the giant oyster and the sheep's head, because they are peculiar to the country; and if nearly my first observations on America are gastronomic, it is not because I idolize my little interior, though I confess to having a strong predilection in favour of its being well supplied; but it is because during the whole time I was in the United States,—from my friend D., who thus welcomed me on my arrival, to Mr. R. Phelps, in whose house I lived like a tame cat previous to re-embarking for old England,—wherever I went I found hospitality a prominent feature in the American character.
Having enjoyed a very pleasant evening, and employed the night in sleeping off the fumes of sociability, I awoke, for the first time, in one of the splendid American hotels; and here, perhaps, it may be as well to say a few words about them, as their enormous size makes them almost a national peculiarity.
The largest hotel in New York, when I arrived, was the Metropolitan, in the centre of which is a theatre; since then, the St. Nicholas has been built, which is about a hundred yards square, five stories high, and will accommodate, when completed, about a thousand people. Generally speaking, a large hotel has a ladies' entrance on one side, which is quite indispensable, as the hall entrance is invariably filled with smokers; all the ground floor front, except this hall and a reading-room, is let out as shops: there are two dining-saloons, one of which is set apart for ladies and their friends, and to this the vagrant bachelor is not admitted, except he be acquainted with some of the ladies, or receive permission from the master of the house. The great entrance is liberally supplied with an abundance of chairs, benches, &c., and decorated with capacious spittoons, and a stove which glows red-hot in the winter. Newspapers, of the thinnest substance and the most microscopic type, and from every part of the Union, are scattered about in profusion; the human species of every kind may be seen variously occupied—groups talking, others roasting over the stove, many cracking peanuts, many more smoking, and making the pavement, by their united labours, an uncouth mosaic of expectoration and nutshells, varied occasionally with cigar ashes and discarded stumps. Here and there you see a pair of Wellington-booted legs dangling over the back of one chair, while the owner thereof is supporting his centre of gravity on another. One feature is common to them all—busy-ness; whether they are talking, or reading, or cracking nuts, a peculiar energy shows the mind is working. Further inside is the counter for the clerks who appoint the rooms to the travellers, as they enter their names in a book; on long stools close by is the corps of servants, while in full sight of all stands the "Annunciator," that invaluable specimen of American mechanical ingenuity, by which, if any bell is pulled in any room, one loud stroke is heard, and the number of the room disclosed, in which state it remains until replaced; so that if everybody had left the hall, the first person returning would see at once what bells had been rung during his absence, and the numbers of the rooms they belonged to. Why this admirable contrivance has not been introduced into this country, I cannot conceive.
The bar is one of the most—if not the most—important departments in the hotel; comparatively nothing is drunk at dinner, but the moment the meal is over, the bar becomes assailed by applicants; moreover, from morning to midnight, there is a continuous succession of customers; not merely the lodgers and their friends, but any parties passing along the street, who feel disposed, walk into the bar of any hotel, and get "a drink." The money taken at a popular bar in the course of a day is, I believe, perfectly fabulous.
Scarcely less important than the bar is the barber's shop. Nothing struck me more forcibly than an American under the razor or brush: in any and every other circumstance of life full of activity and energy, under the razor or brush he is the picture of indolence and helplessness. Indifferent usually to luxury, he here exhausts his ingenuity to obtain it; shrinking usually from the touch of a nigger as from the venomed tooth of a serpent, he here is seen resigning his nose to the digital custody of that sable operator, and placing his throat at his mercy, or revelling in titillary ecstasy from his manipulations with the hog's bristles;—all this he enjoys in a semi-recumbent position, obtained from an easy chair and a high stool, wherein he lies with a steadiness which courts prolongation—life-like, yet immoveable—suggesting the idea of an Egyptian corpse newly embalmed. Never shaving myself more than once a fortnight, and then requiring no soap and water, and having cut my own hair for nearly twenty years, I never thought of going through the experiment, which I have since regretted; for, many a time and oft have I stood, in wonder, gazing at this strange anomaly of character, and searching in vain for a first cause. The barber's shop at the St. Nicholas is the most luxurious in New York, and I believe every room has its own brush, glass, &c., similarly numbered in the shop.
The crowning peculiarity of the new hotels is "The Bridal Chamber;" the want of delicacy that suggested the idea is only equalled by the want of taste with which it is carried out. Fancy a modest girl, having said "Yes," and sealed the assertion in the solemn services of the Church, retiring to the bridal chamber of the St. Nicholas! In the first place, retiring to an hotel would appear to her a contradiction in terms; but what would be her feelings when she found the walls of her apartment furnished with fluted white silk and satin, and in the centre of the room a matrimonial couch, hung with white silk curtains, and blazing with a bright jet of gas from each bed-post! The doors of the sleeping-rooms are often fitted with a very ingenious lock, having a separate bolt and keyhole on each side, totally disconnected, and consequently, as they can only be opened from the same side they are fastened, no person, though possessed of a skeleton key, is able to enter. The ominous warning, "Lock your door at night," which is usually hung up, coupled with the promiscuous society frequently met in large hotels, renders it most advisable to use every precaution.
Many hotels have a Bible in each bed-room, the gift of some religious community in the city; those that I saw during my travels were most frequently from the Presbyterians.
Having given you some details of an American first-class hotel in a large city, you will perhaps be better able to realize the gigantic nature of these establishments when I tell you that in some of them, during the season, they consume, in one way and another, DAILY, from fifteen hundred to two thousand pounds of meats, and from forty-five to fifty pounds of tea, coffee, &c., and ice by the ton, and have a corps of one hundred and fifty servants of all kinds. Washing is done in the hotel with a rapidity little short of marvellous. You can get a shirt well washed, and ready to put on, in nearly the same space of time as an American usually passes under the barber's hands. The living at these hotels is profuse to a degree, but, generally speaking, most disagreeable: first, because the meal is devoured with a rapidity which a pack of fox-hounds, after a week's fast, might in vain attempt to rival; and, secondly, because it is impossible to serve up dinners for hundreds without nine-tenths thereof being cold. The best of the large hotels I dined at in New York, as regards cuisine, &c., was decidedly the New York Hotel; but by far the most comfortable was the one I lived in—Putnam's, Union-square—which was much smaller and quite new, besides being removed from the racket of Broadway.
The increased intercourse with this country is evidently producing a most improving effect in many of the necessary and unmentionable comforts of this civilized age, which you find to predominate chiefly in those cities that have most direct intercourse with us; but as you go further west, these comforts are most disagreeably deficient. One point in which the hotels fail universally is attendance; it is their misfortune, not their fault; for the moment a little money is realized by a servant, he sets up in some business, or migrates westward. The consequence is, that the field of service is left almost entirely to the Irish and the negro, and between the two—after nearly a year's experience thereof—I am puzzled to say in whose favour the balance is.
I remember poor Paddy, one morning, having answered the Household Brigade man's bell, was told to get some warm water. He went away, and forgot all about it. Of course, the bell rang again; and, on Paddy answering it, he was asked—
"Did I not tell you to get me some warm water?"
"You did, your honour."
"Then, why have you not brought it?"
"Can't tell, your honour."
"Well, go and get it at once."
Paddy left the room, and waited outside the door scratching his head. In about a quarter of an hour a knock was heard:—
Paddy's head appeared, and, with a most inquiring voice, he said—
"Is it warm water to dhrink you want, your honour?" Ex uno, &c.
Another inconvenience in their hotels is the necessity of either living at the public table, or going to the enormous expense of private rooms; the comfort of a quiet table to yourself in a coffee-room is quite unknown. There is no doubt that sitting down at a table-d'hote is a ready way to ascertain the manners, tone of conversation, and, partly, the habits of thought, of a nation, especially when, as in the United States, it is the habitual resort of everybody; but truth obliges me to confess that, after a very short experience of it, I found the old adage applicable, "A little of it goes a great way;" and I longed for the cleanliness, noiselessness, and comfort of an English coffee-room, though its table be not loaded with equal variety and profusion.
The American system is doubtless the best for the hotelkeeper, as there are manifest advantages in feeding masses at once, over feeding the same number in detail. A mess of twenty officers, on board a man-of-war, will live better on two pounds each a month than one individual could on three times that sum. It is the want of giving this difference due consideration which raises, from time to time, a crusade against the hotels at home, by instituting comparisons with those of the United States. If people want to have hotels as cheap as they are in America, they must use them as much, and submit to fixed hours and a mixture of every variety of cultivation of mind and cleanliness of person—which change is not likely, I trust, to take place in my day. It is a curious fact, that when the proprietor of the Adelphi, at Liverpool—in consequence of a remonstrance made by some American, gentlemen as to his charges—suggested to them that they should name their own hour and dine together, in which case his charges would be greatly diminished, they would not hear of such a thing, and wanted to know why they should be forced to dine either all together, or at one particular hour. An American gentleman, with whom I am acquainted, told me that, when he first came over to England, the feeling of solitude, while breakfasting alone, at his table in Morley's coffee-room, was quite overpowering. "Now," he added, "I look forward to my quiet breakfast and the paper every morning with the greatest pleasure, and only wonder how I can have lived so long, and been so utterly ignorant of such simple enjoyment." I have thought it better to make these observations thus early, although it must be obvious they are the results of my subsequent experience, and I feel I ought to apologize for their lengthiness.
There is comparatively little difficulty in finding your way about New York, or, indeed, most American towns, except it be in the old parts thereof, which are as full of twists, creeks, and names as our own. The newer part of the town is divided into avenues running nearly parallel with the Hudson; the streets cross them at right angles, and both are simply numbered; the masses of buildings which these sections form are very nearly uniform in area, and are termed blocks. The great place for lounging, or loafing, as they term it—is Broadway, which may be said to bisect New York longitudinally; the shops are very good, but, generally speaking, painfully alike, wearying the eye with sameness, when the novelty has worn off: the rivalry which exists as to the luxe of fitting up some of these shops is inconceivable.
I remember going into an ice-saloon, just before I embarked for England; the room on the ground-floor was one hundred and fifty feet long by forty broad; rows of pillars on each side were loaded to the most outrageous extent with carving and gilding, and the ceiling was to match; below that was another room, a little smaller, and rather less gaudy; both were crowded with the most tag-rag and bob-tail mixture of people.
The houses are built of brick, and generally have steps up to them, by which arrangement the area receives much more light; and many people with very fine large houses live almost exclusively in these basements, only using the other apartments for some swell party: the better class of houses, large hotels, and some of the shops, have their fronts faced with stone of a reddish brown, which has a warm and pleasant appearance. The famous "Astor House" is faced with granite, and the basement is of solid granite. The most remarkable among the new buildings is the magnificent store of Mr. Stewart—one of the largest, I believe, in the world: it has upwards of one hundred and fifty feet frontage on Broadway, and runs back nearly the same distance: is five stories high, besides the basement; its front is faced with white marble, and it contains nearly every marketable commodity except eatables. If you want anything, in New York, except a dinner, go to Stewart's, and it is ten to one you find it, and always of the newest kind and pattern; for this huge establishment clears out every year, and refills with everything of the newest and best. Goods are annually sold here to the amount of upwards of a million sterling—a sum which I should imagine was hardly exceeded by any establishment of a similar nature except Morison's in London, which, I believe, averages one and a half million. Some idea of the size of this store may be formed, from the fact that four hundred gas burners are required to light it up. Mr. Stewart, I was informed, was educated for a more intellectual career than the keeper of a store, on however grand a scale; but circumstances induced him to change his pursuits, and as he started with scarce any capital, the success which has attended him in business cannot but make one regret that the world has lost the benefit which might have been anticipated from the same energy and ability, if it had been applied to subjects of a higher class.
I will now offer a few observations on the state of the streets. The assertion has been made by some writer—I really know not who—that New York is one of the dirtiest places in the world. To this I must give a most unqualified denial. No person conversant with many of the large provincial towns in England and Scotland, can conscientiously "throw a very large stone" at New York; for though much is doing among us to improve and sweeten—chiefly, thanks to the scourge of epidemics—I fear that in too many places we are still on this point "living in glass houses." Doubtless, New York is infinitely dirtier than London, as London at present is far less clean than Paris has become under the rule of the Third Napoleon. I fully admit that it is not so clean as it should be, considering that the sum nominally spent on cleansing the streets amounts to very nearly sixty thousand pounds a year, a sum equal to one pound for every ten inhabitants; but the solution of this problem must be looked for in the system of election to the corporation offices, on which topic I propose to make a few observations in some future portion of these pages. While on the subject of streets, I cannot help remarking that it always struck me as very curious that so intelligent a people as the Americans never adopted the simple plan of using sweeping carts, which many of their countrymen must have seen working in London. If not thoroughly efficient, their ingenuity might have made them so; and, at all events, they effect a great saving of human labour. But there is a nuisance in the streets of New York, especially in the lower and business part of the town, which must be palpable to every visitor—I mean the obstructions on the pavement; and that, be it observed, in spite of laws passed for the prevention thereof, but rendered nugatory from maladministration. In many places, you will see a man occupying the whole pavement opposite his store with leviathan boxes and bales, for apparently an indefinite period, inasmuch as I have seen the same things occupying the same place day after day, and forcing every passer-by off the pavement. This information may console some of our own communities who are labouring under the gnawing and painful disease of a similar corrupt and inefficient administration.
Amid the variety of shops, the stranger cannot fail to be struck with the wonderful number of oyster-saloons stuck down on the basement, and daguerreotypists perched in the sky-line: their name is legion; everybody eats oysters, and everybody seems to take everybody else's portrait. To such an extent is this mania for delineating the 'human face divine' carried, that a hatter in Chatham-street has made no small profit by advertising that, in addition to supplying hats at the same price as his rivals, he will take the portrait of the purchaser, and fix it inside thereof gratis. This was too irresistible; so off I went, and, selecting my two dollar beaver on the ground-floor, walked up to a six foot square garret room, where the sun did its work as quick as light, after which the liberal artist, with that flattering propensity which belongs to the profession, threw in the roseate hues of youth by the aid of a little brick-dust. I handed him my dust in return, and walked away with myself on my head, where myself may still be daily seen, a travelled and travelling advertisement of Chatham-street enterprise.
Our American friends deal largely in newspaper puffs, and as some of them are amusing enough, I select the following as specimens of their "Moses and Son" style:—
ANOTHER DREADFUL ACCIDENT.—OH, MA! I MET WITH A DREADFUL ACCIDENT!—The other night, while dancing with cousin Frank, I dropped my Breastpin and Ear-Ring on the floor and broke them all to pieces—Never mind, my dear. Just take them to —— Jewellery Store. You can get them made as good as new again!
GRATIFYING NEWS.—We have just learned, with real pleasure, that the seedy young man who sprained his back whilst trying to "raise the wind" is fast recovering, in consequence of judiciously applying the Mustang Liniment. It is to be hoped he will soon be entirely cured, and that the next time he undertakes it, he will take an upright position, and not adopt the stooping posture. This precaution, we have no doubt, will ensure success.
This Liniment can be had of ——.
Even, marriage and death are not exempt from the fantastic advertising style.
On Friday, June 10, by the Rev. Mr. ——, after a severe and long-protracted courtship, which they bore with Christian fortitude and resignation, solely sustained and comforted, under all misgivings, by their sincere and confiding belief in the promise of a rich, and living inheritance in another state, Mr. —— to Miss ——, all of this city.
On April 4, of congestion of the brain, F—— E——, son of J—— and
M—— C. D——, aged fourteen months.
His remains were taken to G—— for interment yesterday.
List! heard you that angel say, As he waved his little wing, "Come, Freddy, come away, Learn of me a song to sing!"
The most gigantic advertiser—if the New York Daily Sun is to be trusted for information—is Professor Holloway, so well known in this country. According to that paper, he advertises in thirteen hundred papers in the United States, and has expended, in different parts of the world, the enormous sum of nearly half a million sterling, solely for that purpose.
But, reader, there are more interesting objects to dwell upon than these. If you will only "loaf" up and down Broadway on a fine afternoon, you will see some of the neatest feet, some of the prettiest hands, some of the brightest eyes, and some of the sweetest smiles the wildest beauty-dreamer ever beheld in his most rapturous visions; had they but good figures, they would excite envy on the Alamedas of Andalusia; in short, they are the veriest little ducks in the world, and dress with Parisian perfection. No wonder, then, reader, when I tell you that "loafing" up and down Broadway is a favourite occupation with the young men who have leisure hours to spare. So attractive did my young friend of the Household Brigade find it, that it was with difficulty he was ever induced to forego his daily pilgrimage. Alas! poor fellow, those days are gone—he has since been "caught," and another now claims his undivided adoration.
Sights and Amusements.
There is a very pleasant yacht club at New York, the festive assembly whereof is held at Hoboken. Having received a hospitable invite, I gladly availed myself of it, and, crossing the Hudson, a short walk brought me and my chaperon to the club-house—no palatial edifice, but a rustic cottage, with one large room and a kitchen attached, and beautifully situated a few yards from the water's edge, on the woody bank of Hoboken, and on one of the most graceful bends of the river. It commands a splendid view, while perfectly cozy in itself, and is, "par excellence," the place for a pic-nic. The property belongs to Commodore Stevens, who is well known to English yachting gentlemen, not only from his having "taken the shine out of them" at Cowes, but also for his amiability and hospitality.
On my arrival, I found a host of bachelors, and wedded men en garcon, ready to greet me with a hearty welcome. The room was very comfortable, but as unfurnished as those who like to smoke could desire; in fact, barring the table and its burden, the chairs and their occupiers, the remainder of the furniture consisted of models of all the yachts of the club. The only exception was that of the Commodore's triumphant "Black Maria," of which extraordinary vessel I purpose speaking more fully hereafter. One of the peculiar customs of the club is, that two members, whose capabilities are beyond dispute, are appointed, one to make the soup, called "chowder," the other the punch—or "toddy," as it is here termed,—both of these being excellent in their way, and different in many respects from any similar article at home. The proper recipe for the same shall be forthcoming when I give details of the "Black Maria."
Our party was a very jovial one, as I think parties generally are when composed of those who are much on the water. Such people naturally look upon a leak as very lubberly and unprofessional, and therefore scrupulously avoid letting in any water, supplying its place with something more cheery, under the enlivening influence whereof, those who would be puzzled to decide whether a hand-organ was playing "Hail, Columbia!" or "Pop goes the Weasel," lose all false modesty as to their musical powers, and become royally (I beg majesty's pardon) vocal. Choruses receive the additional charm of variety from each vocalist giving his tongue "universal suffrage" as to power, matter, and melody; everybody evinces a happy independence, and if, as the chorus is beginning, an unlucky wight finds his cigar just going out, he takes a few puffs to save the precious fire, and then starts off Derby pace to catch up his vocal colleagues, blending ten notes into one in his frantic chase.
To any one who delights in the opera, this description might suggest a slight idea of discord, but to one who has enjoyed a midshipman's berth it recals some of the cheeriest days of his life; as I heard the joyous shouts, I felt my grey lank hairs getting black and curly again (?). Do not imagine this merry scene was the produce of any excess; we were as sober as judges, though we felt their gravity would have been out of place; but when some choice spirit—and there was more than one such—with the soul of melody in him, took the field, we left him to make all the running himself, and smoked our cigars with increased vigour, shrouding him in the curling cloud to prevent any nervous hesitation.
Everything, however, must have an end, and as the hour for the last ferry-boat was fast approaching, the voice of melody was hushed in the hall, to echo through the groves of Hoboken and o'er the waters of the Hudson, as we strolled from the club-house to the ferry, and thence to bed.
Among other "lions" to be seen, my curiosity was excited by the news of a trotting match, to come off at Long Island: some friend was ever ready, so off we started for Brooklyn Ferry, whence we went by railway. In the olden time these races were as fashionable at New York as Ascot or Epsom are in England; all the elite of both sexes filled the stand, and the whole scene was lively and gay. Various circumstances, which all who know the turf are aware it is liable to, rendered gentlemen so disgusted with it at Long Island, that they discontinued sending horses to run, and gradually gave up going themselves, and it is now left all but entirely to the "rowdies,"—alias mob.
The railway carriage into which we got contained about forty of these worthies, all with cigars in their mouths, and exhibiting many strange varieties of features and costume. In the passage up and down the middle of the carriage; ragged juvenile vendors of lollipops and peanuts kept patrolling and crying out their respective goods, for which they found a ready market; suddenly another youth entered, and, dispensing a fly-leaf right and left as he passed along to each passenger, disappeared at the other door. At first, I took him for an itinerant advertiser of some Yankee "Moses and Son," or of some of those medicinal quacks who strive to rob youth by lies calculated to excite their fears. Judge my astonishment, then, when on looking at the paper, I found it was hymns he was distributing. A short ride brought us close to the course, and, as I alighted, there was the active distributor freely dispensing on every side, everybody accepting, many reading, but all hurrying on to the ground.
Having paid a good round sum as entrance to the stand, I was rather disappointed at nearly breaking my neck, when endeavouring to take advantage of my privilege, for my foot well-nigh went through a hole in the flooring. Never was anything more wretched-looking in this world. It was difficult to believe, that a few years back, this stand had been filled with magnates of the "upper ten thousand" and stars of beauty: there it was before me, with its broken benches, scarce a whole plank in the floor, and wherever there was one, it was covered with old cigar stumps, shells of peanuts, orange-peel, &c. When, however, I found that seven people constituted the number of spectators in the stand, its dilapidation was more easily explained, especially when I discovered that access, with a little activity, was easily obtainable at the sides gratis—a fact soon proved by the inroad of a few "rowdies," and the ubiquitous vendors of lollipops and peanuts, headed by the persevering distributor of hymns.
Let us turn now from the dreary stand to the scene below. The race-course is a two-mile distance, perfectly level, on a smooth and stoneless road, and forming a complete circle—light trotting waggons are driving about in the centre, taking it easy at sixteen miles an hour; outside are groups of "rowdies." making their hooks and looking out for greenhorns—an article not so readily found at Long Island as at Epsom.
The race is to be "under the saddle," and the long list of competitors which had been announced has dwindled down to the old and far-famed Lady Suffolk and the young and unfamed Tacony.
A stir among the "rowdies" is seen, followed by the appearance "on the boards" of Lady Suffolk. I gazed in wonder as I saw her—a small pony-looking animal—moving her legs as though they were in splints, and as if six miles an hour was far beyond her powers; soon after, Tacony came forward, the picture of a good bony post-horse, destitute of any beauty, but looking full of good stuff. The riders have no distinctive dress; a pair of Wellington boots are pulled on outside the trousers, sharp spurs are on the heels—rough and ready looking birds these. The winning-post is opposite the stand, the umpire is there with a deal board in his hand, a whack on the side of the stand "summons to horse," and another summons to "start." The start is from the distance-post, so as to let the horses get into the full swing of their pace by the time they reach the winning-post, when, if they are fairly up together, the cry "Off" is given; if it be not given, they try again. When speaking of the time in which the mile is completed, the fact of its commencing at full speed should always be borne in mind: sometimes false starts are made by one party, on purpose to try and irritate the temper of the adversary's horse; and in the same way, if a man feels he has full command of his own horse, he will yell like a wild Indian, as he nears his adversary, to make him "break up"—or go into a gallop; and, as they are all trained to speed more by voice than by spur, he very often succeeds, and of course the adversary loses much ground by pulling up into a trot again.
On the present occasion there was no false start; the echo of the second whack was still in the car as they reached the winning-post neck and neck. "Off" was the word, and away they went. It certainly was marvellous to see how dear old Lady Suffolk and her stiff legs flew round the course; one might have fancied she had been fed on lightning, so quick did she move them, but with wonderfully short steps. Tack, on the contrary, looked as if he had been dieted on India-rubber balls: every time he raised a hind leg it seemed to shoot his own length a-head of himself; if he could have made his steps as quick as the old lady, he might have done a mile in a minute nearly. Presently, Tacony breaks up, and, ere he pulls into a trot, a long gap is left. Shouts of "Lady Suffolk, Lady Suffolk wins!" rend the air; a few seconds more, and the giant strides of Tacony lessen the gap at every step: they reach the distance-post neck and neck; "Tacony wins!" is the cry, and true enough it is—by a length. Young blood beats old blood—India-rubber balls "whip" lightning. Time, five minutes.
The usual excitement and disputing follow, the usual time elapses—whack number one is heard, all ready—whack number two, on they come, snaffle bridles, pulling at their horses' mouths as though they would pull the bit right through to the tips of their tails. "Off" is the cry: away they go again; Tacony breaks up—again a gap, which huge strides speedily close up—again Tacony wins. Time, five minutes five seconds. All is over, rush to the cars, &c. Remarks:—first, the pace is at the rate of twenty-four miles an hour; second, the clear old lady, who was only beaten by a length, is long out of her teens; is it not wonderful, and is she not glorious in her defeat? Fancy Dowager Lady L—— taking a pedestrian fit, and running a race along Rotten Row with some "fast young man;" what would you say, if she clutched his coat-tail as he touched the winning-post? Truly, that dear old Lady Suffolk is a marvellous quadruped. Reader, as you do not care to go back again with the Rowdies and Co., we will suppose ourselves returned to New York, and I can only hope you have not been bored with your day's amusement.
Among the extraordinary fancies of this extraordinary race—who are ever panting for something new, even if it be a new territory—the most strange is the metallic coffin: the grave is no protection against their mania for novelty. In the windows of a shop in Broadway, this strange, and to my mind revolting, article may be seen, shaped like a mummy, fitting hermetically tight, and with a plate of glass to reveal the features of the inanimate inmate. I have certainly read of the disconsolate lover who, on the death of her who ungratefully refused to reciprocate his affection, disinterred her body by stealth, supplied himself with scanty provision, and embarking in a small boat, launched forth upon the wide waters, to watch her gradual decomposition till starvation found them one common grave. I also knew an officer, who, having stuffed an old and faithful dog, and placed him on the mantel-piece, when his only child died soon after, earnestly entreated a surgeon to stuff the child, that he might place it beside the faithful dog. Nevertheless, I cannot believe that such aberrations of human intellect are sufficiently frequent to make the Patent Metallic Coffin Company a popular or profitable affair.
An important feature in a populous town is the means of conveyance, which here, in addition to hack cabs and omnibuses, includes railway carriages. I would observe, once for all, that the horses of America, as a whole, may be classed as enduring, wiry, and active hacks. You do not see anything to compare with some of the beautiful nags that "Rotten Row" or Melton exhibits; but, on the other hand, you rarely see the lumbering, lolloping, heavy brutes so common in this country. Then, again, a horse in this country is groomed and turned out in a style which I never saw in America, and therefore shows to much greater advantage, in spite of the Yankee sometimes ornamenting his head with hairs from his tail; while on the other hand, though an Englishman considers a pair of nags that will go a mile in five minutes a great prize, no man in America who is a horse fancier would look at a pair that could not do the same distance in four; nor would he think them worth speaking about, if they could not do the distance in a very few seconds over three minutes. On one side of the water, pace is almost the only object; on the other side, shape and appearance are weighty matters.
The habits of the Americans being essentially gregarious, and business teaching the truism that a cent saved is a cent gained, hackney coaches are comparatively little used by the men; for it must be remembered that idlers in this country are an invisible minority of the community! The natural consequence is, that they are clean and expensive. The drivers are charmingly independent and undeniably free-and-easy birds, but not meaning to be uncivil. One of them showed his independence by asking two dollars one night for a three-mile drive home to the hotel. I inquired of the master, and found the proper charge was a dollar and a half; but, on my sending out the same, Jarvey was too proud to confess he was wrong, and, refusing the money, drove off—nor did I ever hear more of him.
Their free-and-easiness can never be better exemplified than in the old anecdote told of so many people, from an ex-prince of France, downward; viz., the prince having ordered a hack cab, was standing at the door of the hotel, smoking his cigar, and waiting for its arrival. When Cabby drove up, judging from the appearance of the prince that he was "the fare," he said, "Are you the chap that sent for a cab?" And, being answered with an affirmative smile, he said, "Well, get in; I guess I'm the gentleman that's to drive you."
The next means of conveyance to be spoken of is the omnibus. I was told by a friend who had made inquiries on the subject, that there were upwards of a thousand, and that they pay twenty-two per cent. They are infinitely better than ours, simply because they are broader: the most rotund embodiment of an alderman after a turtle-soup dinner, even if he had—to use the emphatic language of Mr. Weller—been "swellin' wisibly," could pass up the centre without inconvenience to the passengers on either side; and as a good dividend is a thing not to be despised, they do not employ a "cad" behind. The door shuts by a strap running along the roof, with a noose in the end, which Jehu puts on his foot. Any one wishing to alight pulls the strap; Jehu stops; and, poking his nose to a pigeon-hole place in the roof, takes the silver fare; and, slipping the noose, the door is open to the human "fare." Doubtless, this effects a very great saving, and, dispensing with a cad in this country might enable the fares to be lowered; but I question if there be not very many objections to our adopting the plan; and I should miss very much that personification of pertness and civility, with his inquisitive eye, and the eccentric and perpetual gyrations of his fore finger, which ever and anon stiffens in a skyward point, as though under the magic influence of some unseen electro-biologist whose decree had gone forth—"You can't move your finger, sir, you can't; no, you can't." I have only one grudge against the omnibuses in New York—and that is, their monopoly of Broadway, which would really have a very fine and imposing appearance were it not for them: they destroy all the effect, and you gradually begin to think it is the Strand grown wider, despite of the magnificent palaces, hotels, &c., which adorn it on each side.
The last means of conveyance to be mentioned is the railway carriage, which—the city being built on a perfect flat—is admirably adapted for locomotion. The rails are laid down in a broad avenue on each side of Broadway, and the cars are drawn by horses, some two, some four. Those that are used for the simple town business have only two horses, and will hold about twenty-four passengers; the others run from the lower end of the town to a place where the engine is waiting for them outside. The town railway-car may be called a long omnibus, low on the wheels, broad, airy, and clean inside, and, excessively convenient for getting in and out. There is a break at both ends, one under the charge of Jehu, the other under the charge of the guard; so that, though trotting along at a good pace, they are very easily stopped. When they get to the end of the journey, the horses change ends, thus avoiding the necessity of any turning, the space required for which would have made a great difference in the expense. For a busy, bustling city, on a flat, it is unquestionably by far the best conveyance, on account of carrying so many, and being so handy for ingress and egress.
There was a strong push made to get one laid down in Broadway, and corporation jobbery had nearly succeeded. For my own part, did I live in Broadway, if they would lay down a single line of rail, with shunters at intervals, to enable the cars to pass one another, and fix regular hours for running, I should infinitely prefer it to the unlimited army of omnibuses that now block up the street; but I fancy the interests of the latter are too deeply involved to be readily resigned.