Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The Englishwoman in America by Isabella Lucy Bird

Part 5 out of 6

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.8 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

strong arms will be attracted towards it.

The immense resources of the soil under cultivation have not yet been
developed; the settlers are prodigal of land, and a great portion of the
occupied territory, destined to bear the most luxuriant crops, is still in
bush. The magnificent districts adjoining Lake Huron, the Georgian Bay,
and Lake Simcoe, are only just being brought into notice; and of the
fertile valley of the Ottawa, which it is estimated would support a
population of nine millions, very little is known. Every circumstance that
can be brought forward combines to show that Upper Canada is destined to
become a great, a wealthy, and a prosperous country.

The census gives some interesting tables relating to the origins of the
inhabitants of Canada. I wish that I had space to present my readers with
the whole, instead of with this brief extract:--

_Canadians_, French origin 695,000
_Canadians_, English origin 651,000
England and Wales 93,000
Scotland 90,000
Ireland 227,000
United States 56,000
Germany 10,000

Besides these there are 8000 coloured persons and 14,000 Indians in
Canada, and emigrants from every civilised country in the world.

As far as regards the Church of England, Canada is divided into three
dioceses--Toronto, Montreal, and Quebec--with a prospect of the creation
of a fourth, that of Kingston. The clergy, whose duties are very arduous
and ill-requited, have been paid by the Society for Propagating the
Gospel, and out of the proceeds of the clergy reserves. The Society has,
in great measure, withdrawn its support, and recent legislative enactments
have a tendency to place the Church of England in Canada, to some extent,
on the voluntary system. The inhabitants of Canada are fully able to
support any form of worship to which they may choose to attach themselves.
Trinity College, at Toronto, is in close connexion with the Church of

The Roman Catholics have enormous endowments, including a great part of
the island of Montreal, and several valuable seigneuries. Very large sums
are also received by them from those who enter the convents, and for
baptisms, burials, and masses for the dead. The enslaving, enervating, and
retarding effects of Roman Catholicism are nowhere better seen than in
Lower Canada, where the priests exercise despotic authority. They have
numerous and wealthy conventual establishments, both at Quebec and
Montreal, and several Jesuit and other seminaries. The Irish emigrants
constitute the great body of Romanists in Upper Canada; in the Lower
Province there are more than 746,000 adherents to this faith.

The Presbyterians are a very respectable, influential, and important body
in Canada, bound firmly together by their uniformity of worship and
doctrine. Though an Episcopalian form of church government and a form of
worship are as obnoxious to them as at home, their opposition seldom
amounts to hostility. Generally speaking, they are very friendly in their
intercourse with the zealous and hard-working clergy of the Church of
England; and, indeed, the comparative absence of sectarian feeling, and
the way in which the ministers of all denominations act in harmonious
combination for the general good, is one of the most pleasing features
connected with religion in Canada.

In Upper Canada there are 1559 churches, for 952,000 adherents, being one
place of worship for every 612 inhabitants. Of these houses of worship,
226 belong to the Church of England, 135 to the Roman Catholics, 148 to
the Presbyterians, and 471 to the Methodists. In Lower Canada there are
610 churches, for 890,261 adherents, 746,000 of whom are Roman Catholics.
There is therefore in the Lower Province one place of worship for every
1459 inhabitants. These religious statistics furnish additional proof of
the progress of Upper Canada. The numbers adhering to the five most
important denominations are as follows, in round numbers:--

Roman Catholics 914,000
Episcopalians 268,000
Presbyterians 237,000
Methodists 183,000
Baptists 49,000

Beside these there are more than 20 sects, some of them holding the most
extravagant and fanatical tenets. In the Lower Province there are 45,000
persons belonging to the Church of England, 33,000 are Presbyterians, and
746,000 are Roman Catholics. With this vast number of Romanists in Canada,
it is not surprising that under the present system of representation,
which gives an equal number of representatives to each province,
irrespective of population, the Roman Catholics should exercise a very
powerful influence on the colonial Parliament. This influence is greatly
to be deplored, not less socially and politically than religiously. Popery
paralyses those countries under its dominion; and the stationary condition
of Lower Canada is mainly to be attributed to the successful efforts of
the priests to keep up that system of ignorance and terrorism, without
which their power could not continue to exist.

More importance is attached generally to education in Upper Canada than
might have been supposed from the extreme deficiencies of the first
settlers. A national system of education, on a most liberal scale, has
been organised by the Legislature, which presents in unfavourable contrast
the feeble and isolated efforts made for this object by private
benevolence in England. Acting on the principle that the first duty of
government is to provide for the education of its subjects, a uniform and
universal educational system has been put into force in Canada.

This system of public instruction is founded on the co-operation of the
Executive Government with the local municipalities. The members of these
corporations are elected by the freeholders and householders. The system,
therefore, is strictly popular and national, as the people voluntarily tax
themselves for its support, and, through their elected trustees, manage
the schools themselves. It is probable that the working of this plan may
exercise a beneficial influence on the minds of the people, in training
them to thought for their offspring, as regards their best interests. No
compulsion whatever is exercised by the Legislature over the proceedings
of the local municipalities; it merely offers a pecuniary grant, on the
condition of local exertion. The children of every class of the population
have equal access to these schools, and there is no compulsion upon the
religious faith of any. Religious minorities in school municipalities have
the alternative of separate schools, and attach considerable importance to
this provision. Although what we should term religious instruction is not
a part of the common school system, it is gratifying to know that both the
Bible and Testament are read in a very large majority of these schools,
and that the number where they are used is annually on the increase. They
are in Upper Canada 3127 common schools, about 1800 of which are free, or
partially free. The total amount available for school purposes in 1853
amounted to 199,674_l._, and magnificent sum, considering the youth and
comparatively thin population of the country. The total number of pupils
in the same year was 194,136. But though this number appears large, the
painful fact must also be stated, that there were 79,000 children
destitute of the blessings of education of any kind. The whole number of
teachers at the same period was 3539, of whom 885 were Methodists, 850
were Presbyterians, 629 were Episcopalians, 351 were Roman Catholics, and
194 belonged to the Baptist persuasion. The inspection of schools, which
is severe and systematic, is conducted by local superintendents appointed
by the different municipalities. There is a Board of Public Instruction in
each county for the examination and licensing of teachers; the standard of
their qualifications is fixed by provincial authority. At the head of the
whole are a Council of Public Instruction and a Chief Commissioner of
Schools, both appointed by the Crown. There are several colleges, very
much on the system of the Scotch Universities, including Trinity College
at Toronto, in connection with the Church of England, and Knox's College,
a Presbyterian theological seminary. There are also medical colleges, both
in Upper and Lower Canada, and a chair of agriculture has been established
in University College, Toronto. From these statements it will be seen
that, from the ample provision made, a good education can be obtained at a
very small cost. There are in Lower Canada upwards of 1100 schools.

Every town, and I believe I may with truth write every village, has its
daily and weekly papers, advocating all shades of political opinion. The
press in Canada is the medium through which the people receive, first by
telegraphic despatch, and later in full, every item of English
intelligence brought by the bi-weekly mails. Taking the newspapers as a
whole, they are far more gentlemanly in their tone than those of the
neighbouring republic, and perhaps are not more abusive and personal than
_some_ of our English provincial papers. There is, however, very great
room for improvement, and no doubt, as the national palate becomes
improved by education, the morsels presented to it will be more choice.
Quebec, Montreal, and Toronto have each of them several daily papers, but,
as far as I am aware, no paper openly professes republican or
annexationist views, and some of the journals advocate in the strongest
manner an attachment to British institutions. The prices of these papers
vary from a penny to threepence each, and a workman would as soon think of
depriving himself of his breakfast as of his morning journal. It is stated
that thousands of the subscribers to the newspapers are so illiterate as
to depend upon their children for a knowledge of their contents. At
present few people, comparatively speaking, are more than half educated.
The knowledge of this fact lowers the tone of the press, and circumscribes
both authors and speakers, as any allusions to history or general
literature would be very imperfectly, if at all, understood.

The merchants and lawyers of Canada have, if of British extraction,
generally received a sound and useful education, which, together with the
admirable way in which they keep pace with the politics and literature of
Europe, enables them to pass very creditably in any society. There are
very good book-stores in Canada, particularly at Toronto, where the best
English works are to be purchased for little more than half the price
which is paid for them at home, and these are largely read by the educated
Canadians, who frequently possess excellent libraries. Cheap American
novels, often of a very objectionable tendency, are largely circulated
among the lower classes; but to provide them with literature of a better
character, large libraries have been formed by local efforts, assisted by
government grants. Canada as yet possesses no literature of her own, and
the literary man is surrounded by difficulties. Independently of the heavy
task of addressing himself to uneducated minds, unable to appreciate depth
of thought and beauty of language, it is not likely that, where the
absorbing passion is the acquisition of wealth, much encouragement would
be given to the struggles of native talent.

Canada, young as she is, has made great progress in the mechanical arts,
and some of her machinery and productions make a very creditable show at
the Paris Exhibition; but it must be borne in mind that this is due to the
government, rather than to the enterprise of private exhibitors.

Taken altogether, there is perhaps no country in the world so prosperous
or so favoured as Canada, after giving full weight to the disadvantages
which she possesses, in a large Roman Catholic population, an unsettled
state of society, and a mixed and imperfectly educated people. It is the
freest land under the sun, acknowledging neither a despotic sovereign nor
a tyrant populace; life and property are alike secure--liberty has not yet
degenerated into lawlessness--the constitution combines the advantages of
the monarchical and republican forms of government--the Legislative
Assembly, to a great extent, represents the people--religious toleration
is enjoyed in the fullest degree--taxation and debt, which cripple the
energies and excite the disaffection of older communities, are unfelt--the
slave flying from bondage in the south knows no sense of liberty or
security till he finds both on the banks of the St. Lawrence, under the
shadow of the British flag. Free from the curse of slavery, Canada has
started untrammelled in the race of nations, and her progress already bids
fair to outstrip in rapidity that of her older and gigantic neighbour.

Labour is what she requires, and as if to meet that requirement,
circumstances have directed the attention of emigrants towards her--the
young, the enterprising, and the vigorous, are daily leaving the wasted
shores of Scotland and Ireland for her fertile soil, where the laws of
England shall still protect them, and her flag shall still wave over them.
Large numbers of persons are now leaving the north-east of Scotland for
Canada, and these are among the most valuable of the emigrants who seek
her shores. They carry with them the high moral sense, the integrity, and
the loyalty which characterise them at home; and in many cases more than
this--the religious principle, and the "godliness which has promise of the
life which now is, and of that which is to come."

Taken as a _whole_, the inhabitants of both provinces are attached to
England and England's rule; they receive the news of our reverses with
sorrow, and our victories create a burst of enthusiasm from the shores of
the St. Lawrence to those of Lake Superior. As might be expected, the
Anglo-French alliance is extremely popular: to show the sympathy of
Canada, the Legislature made the munificent grant of 20,000_l._ to be
divided between the Patriotic Funds of both nations, and every township
and village has contributed to swell a further sum of 30,000_l._ to be
applied to the same object. The imperial garrisons in Canada have recently
been considerably diminished, and with perfect safety; the efforts of
agitators to produce disaffection have signally failed; and it is stated
by those best acquainted with the temper of the people, that Canada will
not become a separate country, except by England's voluntary act.

At present every obstacle to her further development seems to be removed--
her constitution has been remodelled within the last few years on an
enlarged and liberal basis--her religious endowments have just been placed
on a permanent footing--all the points likely to cause a rupture with the
United States have been amicably settled--and important commercial
advantages have been obtained: the sun of prosperity shines upon her from
the Gulf of St. Lawrence to the distant shores of the Ottawa and the
Western Lakes. She requires only for the future the blessing of God, so
freely accorded to the nations which honour Him, to make her great and
powerful. The future of nations, as of individuals, is mercifully veiled
in mystery; we can trace the rise and progress of empires, but we know not
the time when they shall droop and decay--when the wealthy and populous
cities of the Present shall be numbered with the Nineveh and Babylon of
the Past. It may be that in future years our mighty nation shall go the
way of all that have been before it; but whether the wise decrees of
Providence doom it to flourish or decline, we can still look with
confident hope to this noble colony in the New World, believing that on
her enlightened and happy shores, under the influence of beneficent
institutions and of a scriptural faith, the Anglo-Saxon race may renew the
vigour of its youth, and realise in time to come the brightest hopes which
have ever been formed of England in the New World.


Preliminary remarks on re-entering the States--Americanisms--A little
slang--Liquoring up--Eccentricities in dress--A 'cute chap down east--
Conversation on eating--A Kentucky gal--Lake Champlain--Delaval's--A noisy
serenade--Albany--Beauties of the Hudson--The Empire City.

It has been truly observed that a reliable book on the United States yet
remains to be written. The writer of such a volume must neither be a
tourist nor a temporary resident. He must spend years, in the different
States, nicely estimating the different characteristics of each, as well
as the broadly-marked shades of difference between East, West, and South.
He must trace the effect of Republican principles upon the various races
which form this vast community; and, while analysing the prosperity of the
country, he must carefully distinguish between the real, the fictitious,
and the speculative. In England we speak of America as "_Brother
Jonathan_" in the singular number, without any fraternal feeling however,
and consider it as one nation, possessing uniform distinguishing
characteristics. I saw _less_ difference between Edinburgh and Boston,
than between Boston and Chicago; the dark-haired Celts of the west of
Scotland, and the stirring artisans of our manufacturing cities, have more
in common than the descendants of the Puritans in New England, and the
reckless, lawless inhabitants of the newly-settled territories west of the
Mississippi. It must not be forgotten that the thirty-two States of which
the Union is composed, may be considered in some degree as separate
countries, each possessing its governor and assembly, and framing, to a
considerable extent, its own laws. Beyond the voice which each State
possesses in the Congress and Senate at Washington, there is apparently
little to bind this vast community together; there is no national form of
religion, or state endowed church; Unitarianism may be the prevailing
faith in one State. Presbyterianism in another, and Universalism in a
third; while between the Northern and Southern States there is as wide a
difference as between England and Russia--a difference stamped on the very
soil itself, and which, in the opinion of some, threatens a disseverance
of the Union.

Other causes also produce highly distinctive features in the inhabitants.
In the long-settled districts bordering upon the Atlantic, all the
accompaniments and appliances of civilisation may be met with, and a
comparatively stationary, refined, and intellectual condition of society.
Travel for forty hours to the westward, and everything is in a transition
state: there are rough roads and unfinished railroads; foundations of
cities laid in soil scarcely cleared from the forest; splendid hotels
within sound of the hunter's rifle and the lumberer's axe; while the
elements of society are more chaotic than the features of the country.
Every year a tide of emigration rolls westward, not from Europe only, but
from the crowded eastern cities, forming a tangled web of races, manners,
and religions which the hasty observer cannot attempt to disentangle. Yet
there are many external features of uniformity which the traveller cannot
fail to lay hold of, and which go under the general name of Americanisms.
These are peculiarities of dress, manners, and phraseology, and, to some
extent, of opinion, and may be partly produced by the locomotive life
which the American leads, and the way in which all classes are brought
into contact in travelling. These peculiarities are not to be found among
the highest or the highly-educated classes, but they force themselves upon
the tourist to a remarkable, and frequently to a repulsive, extent; and it
is safer for him to narrate facts and comment upon externals, though in
doing so he presents a very partial and superficial view of the people,
than to present his readers with general inferences drawn from partial
premises, or with conclusions based upon imperfect, and often erroneous,

An entire revolution had been effected in my way of looking at things
since I landed on the shores of the New World. I had ceased to look for
vestiges of the past, or for relics of ancient magnificence, and, in place
of these, I now contemplated vast resources in a state of progressive and
almost feverish development, and, having become accustomed to a general
absence of the picturesque, had learned to look at the practical and the
utilitarian with a high degree of interest and pleasure. The change from
the lethargy and feudalism of Lower Canada and the gaiety of Quebec, to
the activity of the New England population, was very startling. It was not
less so from the _reposeful_ manners and gentlemanly appearance of the
English Canadians, and the vivacity and politeness of the French, to
Yankee dress, twang, and peculiarities.

These appeared, as the Americans say, in "full blast," during the few
hours which I spent on Lake Champlain. There were about a hundred
passengers, including a sprinkling of the fair sex. The amusements were
story-telling, whittling, and smoking. Fully half the stories told began
with, "There was a 'cute 'coon down east," and the burden of nearly all
was some clever act of cheating, "sucking a greenhorn," as the phrase is.
There were occasional anecdotes of "bustings-up" on the southern rivers,
"making tracks" from importunate creditors, of practical jokes, and
glaring impositions. There was a great deal of "liquoring-up" going on the
whole time. The best story-teller was repeatedly called upon to "liquor
some," which was accordingly done by copious draughts of "gin-sling," but
at last he declared he was a "gone 'coon, fairly stumped," by which he
meant to express that he was tired and could do no more. This assertion
was met by encouragements to "pile on," upon which the individual declared
that he "couldn't get his steam up, he was tired some." This word _some_
is synonymous in its use with our word _rather_, or its Yankee equivalent
"_kinder_." On this occasion some one applied it to the boat, which he
declared was "almighty dirty, and shaky some"--a great libel, by the way.
The dress of these individuals somewhat amused me. The prevailing costumes
of the gentlemen were straw hats, black dress coats remarkably shiny,
tight pantaloons, and pumps. These were worn by the sallow narrators of
the tales of successful roguery. There were a very few hardy western men,
habited in scarlet flannel shirts, and trowsers tucked into high boots,
their garments supported by stout leathern belts, with dependent bowie-
knives; these told "yarns" of adventures, and dangers from Indians,
something in the style of Colonel Crockett.

The ladies wore their satin or kid shoes of various colours, of which the
mud had made woeful havoc. The stories, which called forth the applause of
the company in exact proportion to the barefaced roguery and utter want of
principle displayed in each, would not have been worth listening to, had
it not been from the extraordinary vernacular in which they were clothed,
and the racy and emphatic manner of the narrators. Some of these voted
three legs of their chairs superfluous, and balanced themselves on the
fourth; while others hooked their feet on the top of the windows, and
balanced themselves on the back legs of their chairs, in a position
strongly suggestive of hanging by the heels. One of the stories which
excited the most amusement reads very tamely divested of the slang and
manner of the story-teller.

A "'cute chap down east" had a "2-50" black mare (one which could perform
a mile in two minutes fifty seconds), and, being about to "make tracks,"
he sold her to a gentleman for 350 dollars. In the night he stole her, cut
her tail, painted her legs white, gave her a "blaze" on her face, sold her
for 100 dollars, and decamped, sending a note to the first purchaser
acquainting him with the particulars of the transaction. "'Cute chap
that;" "A wide-awake feller;" "That coon had cut his eye-teeth;" "A smart
sell that;" were the comments made on this roguish transaction, all the
sympathy of the listeners being on the side of the rogue.

The stories related by Barnum of the tricks and impositions practised by
himself and others are a fair sample, so far as roguery goes, of those
which are to be heard in hotels, steamboats, and cars. I have heard men
openly boast, before a miscellaneous company, of acts of dishonesty which
in England would have procured transportation for them. Mammon is the idol
which the people worship; the one desire is the acquisition of money; the
most nefarious trickery and bold dishonesty are invested with a spurious
dignity if they act as aids to the attainment of this object. Children
from their earliest years imbibe the idea that sin is sin--_only when
found out_.

The breakfast bell rang, and a general rush took place, and I was left
alone with two young ladies who had just become acquainted, and were
resolutely bent upon finding out each other's likes and dislikes, with the
intention of vowing an eternal friendship. A gentleman who looked as if he
had come out of a ball-room came up, and with a profusion of bows
addressed them, or the prettiest of them, thus:--"Miss, it's feeding time,
I guess; what will you eat?" "You're very polite; what's the ticket?"
"Chicken and corn-fixings, and pork with onion-fixings." "Well, I'm hungry
some; I'll have some pig and fixings." The swain retired, and brought a
profusion of viands, which elicited the remark, "Well, I guess that's
substantial, anyhow." The young ladies' appetites seemed to be very good,
for I heard the observation, "Well, you eat considerable; you're in full
blast, I guess." "Guess I am: its all-fired cold, and I have been an
everlastin long time off my feed." A long undertoned conversation followed
this interchange of civilities, when I heard the lady say in rather
elevated tones, "You're trying to rile me some; you're piling it on a
trifle too high." "Well, I did want to put up your dander. Do tell now,
where was you raised?" "In Kentucky." "I could have guessed that; whenever
I sees a splenderiferous gal, a kinder gentle goer, and high stepper, I
says to myself, That gal's from old Kentuck, and no mistake."

This couple carried on a long conversation in the same style of graceful
badinage; but I have given enough of it.

Lake Champlain is extremely pretty, though it is on rather too large a
scale to please an English eye, being about 150 miles long. The shores are
gentle slopes, wooded and cultivated, with the Green Mountains of Vermont
in the background. There was not a ripple on the water, and the morning
was so warm and showery, that I could have believed it to be an April day
had not the leafless trees told another tale. Whatever the boasted
beauties of Lake Champlain were, they veiled themselves from English eyes
in a thick fog, through which we steamed at half-speed, with a dismal fog-
bell incessantly tolling.

I landed at Burlington, a thriving modern town, prettily situated below
some wooded hills, on a bay, the margin of which is pure white sand, Here,
as at nearly every town, great and small, in the United States, there was
an excellent hotel. No people have such confidence in the future as the
Americans. You frequently find a splendid hotel surrounded by a few
clapboard houses, and may feel inclined to smile at the incongruity. The
builder looks into futurity, and sees that in two years a thriving city
will need hotel accommodation; and seldom is he wrong. The American is a
gregarious animal, and it is not impossible that an hotel, with a _table-
d'hote_, may act as a magnet. Here I joined Mr. and Mrs. Alderson, and
travelled with them to Albany, through Vermont and New York. The country
was hilly, and more suited for sheep-farming than for corn. Water-
privileges were abundant in the shape of picturesque torrents, and
numerous mills turned their capabilities to profitable account. Our
companions were rather of a low description, many of them Germans, and
desperate tobacco-chewers. The whole floor of the car was covered with
streams of tobacco-juice, apple-cores, grape-skins, and chestnut-husks.

We crossed the Hudson River, and spent the night at Delaval's, at Albany.
The great peculiarity of this most comfortable hotel is, that the fifty
waiters are Irish girls, neatly and simply dressed. They are under a
coloured manager, and their civility and alacrity made me wonder that the
highly-paid services of male waiters were not more frequently dispensed
with. The railway ran along the street in which the hotel is situated.
From my bedroom window I looked down into the funnel of a locomotive, and
all night long was serenaded with screams, ringing of bells, and cries of
"All aboard" and "Go ahead."

Albany, the capital of the State of New York, is one of the prettiest
towns in the Union. The slope on which it is built faces the Hudson, and
is crowned by a large state-house, the place of meeting for the
legislature of the Empire State. The Americans repudiate the
"centralization" principle, and for wise reasons, of which the Irish form
a considerable number, they almost invariably locate the government of
each state, not at the most important or populous town, but at some
inconsiderable place, where the learned legislators are not in danger of
having their embarrassments increased by deliberating under the coercion
of a turbulent urban population. Albany has several public buildings, and
a number of conspicuous churches, and is a very thriving place. The
traffic on the river between it and New York is enormous. There is a
perpetual stream of small vessels up and down. The Empire City receives
its daily supplies of vegetables, meat, butter, and eggs from its
neighbourhood. The Erie and Champlain canals here meet the Hudson, and
through the former the produce of the teeming West pours to the Atlantic.
The traffic is carried on in small sailing sloops and steamers. Sometimes
a little screw-vessel of fifteen or twenty tons may be seen to hurry,
puffing and panting, up to a large vessel and drag it down to the sea; but
generally one paddle-tug takes six vessels down, four being towed behind
and one or two lashed on either side. As both steamers and sloops are
painted white, and the sails are perfectly dazzling in their purity, and
twenty, thirty, and forty of these flotillas may be seen in the course of
a morning, the Hudson river presents a very animated and unique
appearance. It is said that everybody loses a portmanteau at Albany: I was
more fortunate, and left it without having experienced the slightest

On the other side of the ferry a very undignified scramble takes place for
the seats on the right side of the cars, as the scenery for 130 miles is
perfectly magnificent. "Go ahead" rapidly succeeded "All aboard," and we
whizzed along this most extraordinary line of railway, so prolific in
accidents that, when people leave New York by it, their friends frequently
request them to notify their safe arrival at their destination. It runs
along the very verge of the river, below a steep cliff, but often is
supported just above the surface of the water upon a wooden platform.
Guide-books inform us that the trains which run on this line, and the
steamers which ply on the Hudson, are equally unsafe, the former from
collisions and "upsets," the latter from "bustings-up;" but most people
prefer the boats, from the advantage of seeing both sides of the river.

The sun of a November morning had just risen as I left Albany, and in a
short time beamed upon swelling hills, green savannahs, and waving woods
fringing the margin of the Hudson. At Coxsackie the river expands into a
small lake, and the majestic Catsgill Mountains rise abruptly from the
western side. The scenery among these mountains is very grand and varied.
Its silence and rugged sublimity recall the Old World: it has rocky
pinnacles and desert passes, inaccessible eminences and yawning chasms.
The world might grow populous at the feet of the Catsgills, but it would
leave them untouched and unprofaned in their stern majesty. From this
point for a hundred miles the eyes of the traveller are perfectly steeped
in beauty, which, gathering and increasing, culminates at West Point, a
lofty eminence jutting upon a lake apparently without any outlet. The
spurs of mountain ranges which meet here project in precipices from five
to fifteen hundred feet in height; trees find a place for their roots in
every rift among the rocks; festoons of clematis and wild-vine hang in
graceful drapery from base to summit, and the dark mountain shadows loom
over the lake-like expanse below. The hand wearies of writing of the
loveliness of this river. I saw it on a perfect day. The Indian summer
lingered, as though unwilling that the chilly blasts of winter should
blight the loveliness of this beauteous scene. The gloom of autumn was not
there, but its glories were on every leaf and twig. The bright scarlet of
the maple vied with the brilliant berries of the rowan, and from among the
tendrils of the creepers, which were waving in the sighs of the west wind,
peeped forth the deep crimson of the sumach. There were very few signs of
cultivation; the banks of the Hudson are barren in all but beauty. The
river is a succession of small wild lakes, connected by narrow reaches,
bound for ever between abrupt precipices. There are lakes more beauteous
than Loch Katrine, softer in their features than Loch Achray, though like
both, or like the waters which glitter beneath the blue sky of Italy.
Along their margins the woods hung in scarlet and gold--high above towered
the purple peaks--the blue waters flashed back the rays of a sun shining
from an unclouded sky--the air was warm like June--and I think the
sunbeams of that day scarcely shone upon a fairer scene. At mid-day the
Highlands of Hudson were left behind--the mountains melted into hills--the
river expanded into a noble stream about a mile in width--the scarlet
woods, the silvery lakes, and the majestic Catsgills faded away in the
distance; and with a whoop, and a roar, and a clatter, the cars entered
into, and proceeded at slackened speed down, a long street called Tenth
Avenue, among carts, children, and pigs.

True enough, we were in New York, the western receptacle not only of the
traveller and the energetic merchant, but of the destitute, the
friendless, the vagabond, and in short of all the outpourings of Europe,
who here form a conglomerate mass of evil, making America responsible for
their vices and their crimes. Yet the usual signs of approach to an
enormous city were awanting--dwarfed trees, market-gardens, cockney
arbours, in which citizens smoke their pipes in the evening, and imagine
themselves in Arcadia, rows of small houses, and a murky canopy of smoke.
We had steamed down Tenth Avenue for two or three miles, when we came to a
standstill where several streets met. The train was taken to pieces, and
to each car four horses or mules were attached, which took us for some
distance into the very heart of the town, racing apparently with omnibuses
and carriages, till at last we were deposited in Chambers Street, not in a
station, or even under cover, be it observed. My baggage, or "plunder" as
it is termed, had been previously disposed of, but, while waiting with my
head disagreeably near to a horse's nose, I saw people making distracted
attempts, and futile ones as it appeared, to preserve their effects from
the clutches of numerous porters, many of them probably thieves. To judge
from appearances, many people would mourn the loss of their portmanteaus
that night.

New York deserves the name applied to Washington, "the city of magnificent
distances." I drove in a hack for three miles to my destination, along
crowded, handsome streets, but I believe that I only traversed a third
part of the city.

It possesses the features of many different lands, but it has
characteristics peculiarly its own; and as with its suburbs it may almost
bear the name of the "million-peopled city," and as its growing influence
and importance have earned it the name of the Empire City, I need not
apologise for dwelling at some length upon it in the succeeding chapter.


Position of New York--Externals of the city--Conveyances--
Maladministration--The stores--The hotels--Curiosities of the hospital--
Ragged schools--The bad book--Monster schools--Amusements and oyster
saloons--Monstrosities--A restaurant--Dwelling-houses--Equipages--Palaces
--Dress--Figures--Manners--Education--Domestic habits--The ladies--The
gentlemen--Society--Receptions--Anti-English feeling--Autographs--The
"Buckram Englishman."

New York, from its position, population, influence, and commerce, is
worthy to be considered the metropolis of the New World. The situation of
it is very advantageous. It is built upon Manhattan Island, which is about
thirteen miles in length by two in breadth. It has the narrowest portion
of Long Island Sound, called East River, on its east side; the Hudson,
called the North River, environs it in another direction; while these two
are connected by a narrow strait, principally artificial, denominated the
Harlem River. This insular position of the city is by no means
intelligible to the stranger, but it is obvious from the top of any
elevated building. The dense part of New York already covers a large
portion of the island; and as it _daily_ extends northward, the whole
extent of insulated ground is divided into lots, and mapped out into

But, not content with covering the island, which, when Hendrick Hudson
first discovered it, abounded with red men, who fished along its banks and
guided their bark canoes over the surrounding waters, New York, under the
names of Brooklyn, Williamsburgh, and four or five others, has spread
itself on Long Island, Staten Island, and the banks of the Hudson.
Brooklyn, on Long Island, which occupies the same position with regard to
New York that Lambeth and Southwark do to London, contains a population of
100,000 souls. Brooklyn, Williamsburgh, Hoboken, and Jersey City are the
residences of a very large portion of the merchants of New York, who have
deserted the old or Dutch part of the town, which is consequently merely
an aggregate of offices. Floating platforms, moved by steam, with space in
the middle part for twelve or fourteen carriages and horses, and luxurious
covered apartments, heated with steam-pipes on either side, ply to and fro
every five minutes at the small charge of one halfpenny a passenger, and
the time occupied in crossing the ferries is often less than that of the
detention on Westminster Bridge. Besides these large places, Staten Island
and Long Island are covered with villa residences. Including these towns,
which are in reality part of this vast city, New York contains a
population of very nearly a million! Broadway, which is one of the most
remarkable streets in the world, being at once the Corso, Toledo, Regent
Street, and Princes Street of New York, runs along the centre of the city,
and is crossed at right angles by innumerable streets, which run down to
the water at each side. It would appear as if the inventive genius of the
people had been exhausted, for, after borrowing designations for their
streets from every part of the world, among which some of the old Dutch
names figure most refreshingly, they have adopted the novel plan of
numbering them. Thus there are ten "Avenues," which run from north to
south, and these are crossed by streets numbered First Street, Second
Street, and so on. I believe that the skeletons of one hundred and fifty
numbered streets are in existence. The southern part of the town still
contains a few of the old Dutch houses, and there are some substantial
red-brick villas in the vicinity, inhabited by the descendants of the old
Dutch families, who are remarkably exclusive in their habits.

New York is decidedly a very handsome city. The wooden houses have nearly
all disappeared, together with those of an antiquated or incongruous
appearance; and the new streets are very regularly and substantially built
of brown stone or dark brick. The brick building in New York is remarkably
beautiful. The windows are large, and of plate-glass, and the whole
external finish of the houses is in a splendid but chaste style, never to
be met with in street-architecture in England. As the houses in the city
are almost universally heated by air warmed by a subterranean stove, very
few chimneys are required, and these are seldom visible above the stone
parapets which conceal the roofs. Anthracite coal is almost universally
used, so there is an absence of that murky, yellow canopy which disfigures
English towns. The atmosphere is remarkably dry, so that even white marble
edifices, of which there are several in the town, suffer but little from
the effects of climate.

Broadway is well paved, and many of the numbered streets are not to be
complained of in this respect, but a great part of the city is
indescribably dirty, though it is stated that the expense of cleaning it
exceeds 250,000 dollars per annum. Its immense length necessitates an
enormous number of conveyances; and in order to obviate the obstruction to
traffic which would have been caused by providing omnibus accommodation
equal to the demand, the authorities have consented to a most alarming
inroad upon several of the principal streets. The stranger sees with
surprise that double lines of rails are laid along the roadways; and while
driving quietly in a carriage, he hears the sound of a warning bell, and
presently a railway-car, holding thirty persons, and drawn by two or four
horses, comes thundering down the street. These rail-cars run every few
minutes, and the fares are very low. For very sufficient reasons, Broadway
is not thus encroached upon; and a journey from one end to the other of
this marvellous street is a work of time and difficulty. Pack the traffic
of the Strand and Cheapside into Oxford Street, and still you will not
have an idea of the crush in Broadway. There are streams of scarlet and
yellow omnibuses racing in the more open parts, and locking each other's
wheels in the narrower--there are helpless females deposited in the middle
of a sea of slippery mud, condemned to run a gauntlet between cart-wheels
and horses' hoofs--there are loaded stages hastening to and from the huge
hotels--carts and waggons laden with merchandise--and "Young Americans"
driving fast-trotting horses, edging in and out among the crowd--wheels
are locked, horses tumble down, and persons pressed for time are
distracted. Occasionally, the whole traffic of the street comes to a dead-
lock, in consequence of some obstruction or crowd, there being no
policeman at hand with his incessant command, "_Move on_!"

The hackney-carriages of New York are very handsome, and, being drawn by
two horses, have the appearance of private equipages; but woe to the
stranger who trusts to the inviting announcement that the fare is a dollar
within a certain circle. Bad as London cabmen are, one would welcome the
sight of one of them. The New York hackmen are licensed plunderers,
against whose extortions there is neither remedy nor appeal. They are
generally Irish, and cheat people with unblushing audacity. The omnibus or
stage accommodation is plentiful and excellent. A person soon becomes
accustomed to, and enjoys, the occasional excitement of locked wheels or a
race, and these vehicles are roomy and clean. They are sixteen inches
wider than our own omnibuses, and carry a number of passengers certainly
within their capabilities, and the fares are fixed and very low, 6-1/2
cents for any distance. They have windows to the sides and front, and the
spaces between are painted with very tolerably-executed landscapes. There
is no conductor; the driver opens and closes the door with a strap, and
the money is handed to him through a little hole in the roof. The lady
passengers invariably give the money to a gentleman for this purpose, and
no rule of etiquette is more rigidly enforced than for him to obey the
request to do so, generally consisting in a haughty wave of the hand. The
thousand acts of attention which gentlemen, by rigid usage, are compelled
to tender to ladies, are received by them without the slightest
acknowledgment, either by word or gesture. To so great an extent is this
_nonchalance_ carried on the part of the females, that two or three
newspapers have seriously taken up the subject, and advise the gentlemen
to withdraw from the performance of such unrequited attentions.

Strangers frequently doubt whether New York possesses a police; the doubt
is very justifiable, for these guardians of the public peace are seldom
forthcoming when they are wanted. They are accessible to bribes, and will
investigate into crime when liberally rewarded; but probably in no city in
the civilised world is life so fearfully insecure. The practice of
carrying concealed arms, in the shape of stilettoes for attack, and
swordsticks for defence, if illegal, is perfectly common; desperate
reprobates, called "Rowdies," infest the lower part of the town; and
terrible outrages and murderous assaults are matters of such nightly
occurrence as to be thought hardly worthy of notice, even in those prints
which minister to man's depraved taste for the horrible. [Footnote: The
state of New York has improved. Mr. Fernando Wood, who was elected Mayor
in November, 1854, has issued stringent regulations for the maintenance of
order. A better police-force has been organised, and many of the notorious
"Rowdies" and other bad characters have been shut up on Blackwell's
Island. His tenure of office has just expired, and it is much to be feared
that the mob, which exercises an undue influence upon the municipal
elections, has not chosen a successor who will interfere with its

No language can be too strongly expressive of censure upon the disgraceful
condition of New York. The evil may be distinctly traced to the wretched
system of politics which prevails at the election of the municipal
officers, who are often literally chosen from the lowest of the people,
and are venal and corrupt in the highest degree.

During my visit to New York a candidate for one of these offices stabbed a
policeman, who died of the wound. If I might judge from the tone of the
public prints, and from conversations on the subject, public feeling was
not much outraged by the act itself, but it was a convenient stalking-
horse for the other side, and the policeman's funeral procession, which
went down Broadway, was nearly a mile in length.

The principal stores are situated in Broadway; and although they attempt
very little in the way of window display, the interiors are spacious, and
arranged with the greatest taste. An American store is generally a very
extensive apartment, handsomely decorated, the roof frequently supported
on marble pillars. The owner or clerk is seen seated by his goods,
absorbed in the morning paper--probably balancing himself on one leg of
his chair, with a spittoon by his side. He deigns to answer your
inquiries, but, in place of the pertinacious perseverance with which an
English shop man displays his wares, it seems a matter of perfect
indifference to the American whether you purchase or no. The drapers' and
mercers' shops, which go by the name of "dry goods" stores, are filled
with the costliest productions of the world. The silks from the looms of
France are to be seen side by side with the productions of Persia and
India, and all at an advance of fully two-thirds on English prices. The
"fancy goods" stores are among the most attractive lounges of the city.
Here Paris figures to such an extent, that it was said at the time when
difficulties with France were apprehended, in consequence of the Soule
affair, that "Louis Napoleon might as well fire cannon-balls into the
Palais Royal as declare war with America." Some of the bronzes in these
stores are of exquisite workmanship, and costly china from Sevres and
Dresden feasts the eyes of the lovers of beauty in this branch of art.

The American ladies wear very costly jewellery, but I was perfectly amazed
at the prices of some of the articles displayed. I saw a diamond bracelet
containing one brilliant of prodigious size and lustre. The price was
25,000 dollars, or 5000_l._ On inquiring who would purchase such a thing,
the clerk replied, "I guess some southerner will buy it for his wife."

One of the sights with which the New York people astonish English visitors
is Stewart's dry-goods store in Broadway, an immense square building of
white marble, six stories high, with a frontage of 300 feet. The business
done in it is stated to be above 1,500,000_l._ per annum. There are 400
people employed at this establishment, which has even a telegraph office
on the premises, where a clerk is for ever flashing dollars and cents
along the trembling wires. There were lace collars 40 guineas each, and
flounces of Valenciennes lace, half a yard deep, at 120 guineas a flounce.
The damasks and brocades for curtains and chairs were at almost fabulous
prices. Few gentlemen, the clerk observed, give less than 3_l._ per yard
for these articles. The most costly are purchased by the hotels. I saw
some brocade embroidered in gold to the thickness of half an inch, some of
which had been supplied to the St. Nicholas Hotel at 9_l._ per yard! There
were stockings from a penny to a guinea a pair, and carpetings from 1_s._
8_d._ to 22_s._ a yard. Besides six stories above ground, there were large
light rooms under the building, and under Broadway itself, echoing with
the roll of its 10,000 vehicles.

The hotels are among the sights of New York. The principal are the Astor
House (which has a world-wide reputation), the Metropolitan, and the St.
Nicholas, all in Broadway. Prescott House and Irving House also afford
accommodation on a very large scale. The entrances to these hotels
invariably attract the eye of the stranger. Groups of extraordinary-
looking human beings are always lounging on the door-steps, smoking,
whittling, and reading newspapers. There are southerners sighing for their
sunny homes, smoking Havana cigars; western men, with that dashing free-
and-easy air which renders them unmistakeable; Englishmen, shrouded in
exclusiveness, who look on all their neighbours as so many barbarian
intruders on their privacy; and people of all nations, whom business has
drawn to the American metropolis.

The Metropolitan Hotel is the most imposing in appearance. It is a block
of building with a frontage of 300 feet, and is six stories high. I
believe that it can accommodate 1300 people. The St. Nicholas is the most
superb in its decorations; it is a magnificent building of white marble,
and can accommodate 1000 visitors. Everything in this edifice is on a
style of princely magnificence. The grand entrance opens into a very fine
hall with a marble floor, and this is surrounded with settees covered with
the skins of wild animals. The parlours are gorgeous in the extreme, and
there are two superb dining-rooms to contain 600 people each. The curtains
and sofa-covers in some of the parlours cost 5_l._ per yard, and, as has
been previously named, one room is furnished with gold brocade purchased
at 9_l._ per yard. About 100 married couples reside permanently at the St.
Nicholas; it does not, however, bear the very best reputation, as it is
said to be the resort of a large number of professed gamblers. Large as
these hotels are, they are nothing to a monster establishment at Cape May,
a fashionable summer resort in New Jersey. The capacities of this
building, the Mount Vernon Hotel, though stated on the best authority, can
scarcely be credited--it is said to make up 3000 beds!

Owing to the high rates of house-rent and the difficulty of procuring
servants, together with the exorbitant wages which they require, many
married couples, and even families, reside permanently at the hotels.
Living constantly in public, without opportunity for holding family
intercourse, and being without either home cares or home pleasures,
nomade, restless, pleasure-seeking habits are induced, which have led
strangers to charge the Americans with being destitute of home life. That
such is the case to some extent is not to be denied; but this want is by
no means generally observed. I have met with family circles in the New
World as united and affectionate as those in the Old, not only in country
districts, but in the metropolis itself; and in New England there is
probably as much of what may be termed patriarchal life as anywhere in

The public charities of New York are on a gigantic scale. The New York
Hospital, a fine stone building with some large trees in front, situated
in Broadway, was one which pleased me as much as any. Two of the
physicians kindly took me over the whole building, and explained all the
arrangements. I believe that the hospital contains 650 beds, and it is
generally full, being not only the receptacle for the numerous accident
cases which are of daily occurrence in New York, but for those of a large
district besides, which are conveniently brought in by railroad. We first
went into the recent-accident room, where the unhappy beings who were
recently hurt or operated upon were lying. Some of them were the most
piteous objects I ever witnessed, and the medical men, under the
impression that I was deeply interested in surgery, took pains to exhibit
all the horrors. There were a good many of the usual classes of
accidents,--broken limbs and mangled frames. There was one poor little boy
of twelve years old, whose arms had been torn to pieces by machinery; one
of them had been amputated on the previous day, and, while the medical men
displayed the stump, they remarked that the other must be taken off on the
next day. The poor boy groaned with a more than childish expression of
agony on his pale features, probably at the thought of the life of
helplessness before him. A young Irishman had been crushed by a railway
car, and one of his legs had been amputated a few hours previously. As the
surgeon altered the bandages he was laughing and joking, and had been
singing ever since the operation--a remarkable instance of Paddy's
unfailing lightheartedness.

But, besides these ordinary accidents, there were some very characteristic
of New York and of a New York election. In one ward there were several men
who had been stabbed the night before, two of whom were mortally wounded.
There were two men, scarcely retaining the appearance of human beings, who
had been fearfully burned and injured by the explosion of an infernal
machine. All trace of human features had departed; it seemed hardly
credible that such blackened, distorted, and mangled frames could contain
human souls. There were others who had received musket-shot wounds during
the election, and numbers of broken heads, and wounds from knives. It was
sad to know that so much of the suffering to be seen in that hospital was
the result of furious religious animosities, and of the unrestrained
lawlessness of human violence.

There was one man who had been so nearly crushed to pieces, that it seemed
marvellous that the mangled frame could still retain its vitality. One leg
was broken in three places, and the flesh torn off from the knee to the
foot; both arms and several ribs were also broken. We went into one of the
female wards, where sixteen broken legs were being successfully treated,
and I could not but admire a very simple contrivance which remedies the
contraction which often succeeds broken limbs, and produces permanent
lameness. Two long straps of plaister were glued from above the knee to
the ankle, and were then fixed to a wooden bar, with a screw and handle,
so that the tension could be regulated at pleasure. The medical men, in
remarking upon this, observed that in England we were very slow to adopt
any American improvements in surgery or medicine.

There were many things in this hospital which might be imitated in England
with great advantage to the patients. Each ward was clean, sweet, and
airy; and the system of heating and ventilation is very superior. The
heating and ventilating apparatus, instead of sending forth alternate
blasts of hot and cold air, keeps up a uniform and easily regulated
temperature. A draught of cold air is continually forced through a large
apparatus of steam-pipes, and, as it becomes vitiated in the rooms above,
passes out through ventilators placed just below the ceiling. Our next
visit was to the laundry, where two men, three women, and, last but not
least, a steam-engine of 45-horse power, were perpetually engaged in
washing the soiled linen of the hospital. The large and rapidly-moving
cylinder which churns the linen is a common part of a steam laundry, but
the wringing machine is one of the most beautiful practical applications
of a principle in natural philosophy that I ever saw. It consists of a
large perforated cylinder, open at the top, with a case in the centre.
This cylinder performs from 400 to 700 revolutions in a minute, and, by
the power of the centrifugal force thus produced, the linen is impelled so
violently against the sides, that the moisture is forced through the
perforations, when the linen is left nearly dry.

Strange as it may appear to those who associate America with plenty and
comfort, there is a very large class of persons at New York living in a
state of squalid and abject poverty; and in order that the children
belonging to it may receive some education, it has been found necessary by
the benevolent to supplement the common school system with ragged or
industrial schools. In order not to wound the pride of parents who are not
too proud to receive a gratuitous education for their offspring, these
establishments are not called Ragged Schools, but "Boys' Meetings," and
"Girls' Meetings." I visited two of these, the first in Tompkin Square.
There were about 100 children in the school, and nearly all of them were
Irish Roman Catholics. They receive a good elementary education, and
answered the questions addressed to them with correctness and alacrity.
The Bible, of course, is not read, but the pupils learn a Scripture
catechism, and paraphrased versions of Scripture incidents. One day,
during the absence of the teacher, one of the pupils was looking into an
English Bible, and another addressed her with the words, "You wicked girl,
you know the priest says that you are never to open that bad book; I will
never walk with you again." The child, on going home, told her mother, and
she said that she did not think it could be such a bad book, as the ladies
who were so kind to them read it. The child said that it was a beautiful
book, and persuaded her mother to borrow a Bible from a neighbour; she
read it, and became a Protestant. These children earn their clothing by a
certain number of good marks, but most of them were shoeless. Each child
is obliged to take a bath on the establishment once a-week. Their answers
in geography and history were extremely good. In the afternoon the elder
girls are employed in tailoring and dressmaking, and receive so much work
that this branch of the school is self-supporting.

I visited another industrial school, in a very bad part of the town,
adjoining the Bowery, where the parents are of the very worst description,
and their offspring are vicious and unmanageable. I think that I never saw
vice and crime so legibly stamped upon the countenances of children as
upon those in this school. The teachers find it extremely difficult to
preserve discipline at all; and the pilfering habits of the pupils are
almost incorrigible. They each receive a pint of excellent soup and an
unlimited quantity of bread for dinner; but they are discontented and

The common school system will be enlarged upon in a succeeding chapter;
but I cannot forbear noticing one school which I visited, It was a lofty,
four-storied building of red brick, with considerable architectural
pretensions. It was faced with brown stone, and had a very handsome
entrance-hall and staircase. The people of New York vie with each other in
their hospitality to strangers, and in showing them the objects of
interest within their city in the very best manner; and it was under the
auspices of Dr. Wells, one of the commissioners of education, that I saw
this admirable school, or rather educational institution. On inquiring the
reason of the extraordinary height of the balustrades, I was told that
some weeks previously, as the boys were hurriedly leaving school, forty of
them had been pushed over the staircase, out of which number nearly the
whole were killed!

In the girls' room about 900 girls between the ages of eight and eighteen
were assembled. They were the children of persons in every class in the
city except the very wealthiest and the poorest. All these girls were well
dressed, some of them tasteful, others fantastic, in their appearance.
There was a great deal of beauty among the elder pupils; I only regretted
that the bright bloom which many possessed should be so evanescent. The
rich luxuriant hair, often of a beautiful auburn hue, was a peculiarity
which could not be overlooked. There were about ten female teachers, the
principal of whom played some lively airs upon the piano, during which
time the pupils marched steadily in from various class-rooms, and took
their seats at handsome mahogany desks, which accommodated two each. No
expense had been spared in the fittings of the apartment; the
commissioners of education are evidently of opinion that the young do not
acquire knowledge the more speedily from being placed on comfortless
benches, without any means of resting their weak and tired frames.

Each desk contained a drawer or cupboard; and to encourage those habits of
order and self-reliance to which so much weight is attached in the States,
each pupil is made responsible for the preservation and security of her
books and all implements of education. The business of the day commenced
by the whole number of girls reverently repeating the Lord's Prayer,
which, in addressing God as "Our Father," proclaims the common bond of
brotherhood which unites the whole human race. The sound of 900 youthful
voices solemnly addressing their Creator was very beautiful and
impressive. A chapter from the Bible, read aloud by the teacher, followed,
and a hymn beautifully sung, when the pupils filed off as before to the
sound of music. We next went to the elementary room, appropriated to
infants, who are not sent to the higher school till their proficiency
reaches the standard required.

The infant system does not appear to differ materially from ours, except
that it is of a more intellectual nature. In this room 1300 children
joined in singing a hymn. In the boys' rooms about 1000 boys were
receiving instruction under about 12 specimens of "Young America." The
restless, the almost fearful energy of the teachers surprised me, and the
alacrity of the boys in answering questions. In the algebra-room questions
involving the most difficult calculation on the part of the pupils were
answered sometimes even before the teacher had worked them out himself.

Altogether, I was delighted with this school and with the earnestness
displayed by both teachers and pupils. I was not so well pleased with the
manners of the instructors, particularly in the boys' school. There was a
boastfulness, an exaggeration, and a pedantry, which are by no means
necessary accompaniments of superior attainments. The pupils have a
disrespectful, familiar, and independent air, though I understood that the
punishments are more severe than are generally approved of in English
schools. The course of instruction is very complete. History is especially
attended to, with its bearing upon modern politics. The teachers receive
from 80_l._ to 300_l._ a year, and very high attainments are required.
Besides the common and industrial schools, there are means of education
provided for the juvenile portion of the very large foreign population of
New York, principally German. There are several schools held under the
basements of the churches, without any paid teachers. The ladies of New
York, to their honour be it said, undertake, unassisted, the education of
these children, a certain number being attached to every school. Each of
these ladies takes some hours of a day, and youth and beauty may be seen
perseveringly engaged in this arduous but useful task.

The spirit of practical benevolence which appears to permeate New York
society is one of its most pleasing features. It is not only that the
wealthy contribute large sums of money to charitable objects, but they
personally superintend their right distribution. No class is left
untouched by their benevolent efforts; wherever suffering and poverty are
found, the hand of Christianity or philanthropy is stretched out to
relieve them. The gulf which in most cities separates the rich from the
poor has been to some extent lessened in New York; for numbers of ladies
and gentlemen of education and affluence visit among the poor and vicious,
seeking to raise them to a better position.

If there are schools, emigrant hospitals, orphan asylums, and nursing
institutions, to mark the good sense and philanthropy of the people of New
York, so their love of amusement and recreation is strongly evidenced by
the numerous places where both may be procured. There is perhaps as much
pleasure-seeking as in Paris; the search after amusement is characterised
by the same restless energy which marks the pursuit after wealth; and if
the Americans have little time for enjoying themselves, they are resolved
that the opportunities for doing so shall be neither distant nor few.
Thus, Broadway and its neighbourhood contain more places of amusement than
perhaps any district of equal size in the world. These present variety
sufficient to embrace the tastes of the very heterogeneous population of
New York.

There are three large theatres; an opera-house of gigantic proportions,
which is annually graced by the highest vocal talent of Europe; Wood's
minstrels, and Christy's minstrels, where blacks perform in
unexceptionable style to unwearied audiences; and comic operas. There are
_al fresco_ entertainments, masquerades, concerts, restaurants, and oyster
saloons. Besides all these, and many more, New York contained in 1853 the
amazing number of 5980 taverns. The number of places where amusement is
combined with intellectual improvement is small, when compared with other
cities of the same population. There are however some very magnificent
reading-rooms and libraries.

The amount of oysters eaten in New York surprised me, although there was
an idea at the time of my visit that they produced the cholera, which
rather checked any extraordinary excesses in this curious fish. In the
business streets of New York the eyes are greeted continually with the
words "Oyster Saloon," painted in large letters on the basement story. If
the stranger's curiosity is sufficient to induce him to dive down a flight
of steps into a subterranean abode, at the first glance rather suggestive
of robbery, one favourite amusement of the people may be seen in
perfection. There is a counter at one side, where two or three persons,
frequently blacks, are busily engaged in opening oysters for their
customers, who swallow them with astonishing relish and rapidity. In a
room beyond, brightly lighted by gas, family groups are to be seen, seated
at round tables, and larger parties of friends, enjoying basins of stewed
oysters; while from some mysterious recess the process of cookery makes
itself distinctly audible. Some of these saloons are highly respectable,
while many are just the reverse. But the consumption of oysters is by no
means confined to the saloons; in private families an oyster supper is
frequently a nightly occurrence; the oysters are dressed in the parlour by
an ingenious and not inelegant apparatus. So great is the passion for this
luxury, that the consumption of it during the season is estimated at
3500_l._ a-day.

There are several restaurants in the city, on the model of those in the
Palais Royal. The most superb of these, _but not by any means the most
respectable_, is Taylor's, in Broadway. It combines Eastern magnificence
with Parisian taste, and strangers are always expected to visit it. It is
a room about 100 ft. in length, by 22 in height; the roof and cornices
richly carved and gilded, the walls ornamented by superb mirrors,
separated by white marble. The floor is of marble, and a row of fluted and
polished marble pillars runs down each side. It is a perfect blaze of
decoration. There is an alcove at one end of the apartment, filled with
orange-trees, and the air is kept refreshingly cool by a crystal fountain.
Any meal can be obtained here at any hour. On the day on which I visited
it, the one hundred marble tables which it contains were nearly all
occupied; a double row of equipages lined the street at the door; and two
or three hundred people, many of them without bonnets and fantastically
dressed, were regaling themselves upon ices and other elegancies in an
atmosphere redolent with the perfume of orange-flowers, and musical with
the sound of trickling water, and the melody of musical snuff-boxes. There
was a complete maze of fresco, mirrors, carving, gilding, and marble. A
dinner can be procured here at any hour of day or night, from one shilling
and sixpence up to half-a-guinea, and other meals in like proportion. As
we merely went to see the restaurant, we ordered ices, which were served
from large reservoirs, shining like polished silver. These were paid for
at the time, and we received tickets in return, which were taken by the
doorkeeper on coming out. It might be supposed that Republican simplicity
would scorn so much external display; but the places of public
entertainment vie in their splendour with the palaces of kings.

It was almost impossible for a stranger to leave New York without visiting
the American museum, the property of _Phineas Taylor Barnum_. The history
of this very remarkable man is now well known, even in England, where the
publication of his 'Autobiography' has been a nine days' wonder. It is
said that 60,000 copies were sold at New York in one day, so successful
has he been in keeping himself for ever before the public eye. It is
painful to see how far a man whose life has been spent in total disregard
of the principles of truth and integrity should have earned for himself
popularity and fame. His museum is situated in Broadway, near to the City
Hall, and is a gaudy building, denoted by huge paintings, multitudes of
flags, and a very noisy band. The museum contains many objects of real
interest, particularly to the naturalist and geologist, intermingled with
a great deal that is spurious and contemptible. But this museum is by no
means the attraction to this "Palace of Humbug."

There is a collection of horrors or monstrosities attached, which appears
to fascinate the vulgar gaze. The principal objects of attraction at this
time were, a dog with two legs, a cow with four horns, and a calf with six
legs--disgusting specimens of deformity, which ought to have been
destroyed, rather than preserved to gratify a morbid taste for the
horrible and erratic in nature. But while persons of the highest station
and education in England patronised an artful and miserable dwarf,
cleverly exhibited by a showman totally destitute of principle, it is not
surprising that the American people should delight in yet more hideous
exhibitions, under the same auspices.

The magnificence of the private dwellings of New York must not escape
mention, though I am compelled to withhold many details that would be
interesting, from a fear of "violating the rights of hospitality." The
squares, and many of the numbered streets, contain very superb houses of a
most pleasing uniformity of style. They are built either of brown stone,
or of dark red brick, durably pointed, and faced with stone. This style of
brick masonry is extremely tasteful and beautiful. Every house has an
entrance-porch with windows of stained glass, and double doors; the outer
one being only closed at night. The upper part of the inner door is made
of stained glass; the door-handles and bell-pulls are made of highly-
polished electro-plate; and a handsome flight of stone steps, with elegant
bronze balustrades, leads up to the porch. The entrance-halls are seldom
large, but the staircases, which are of stone, are invariably very
handsome. These houses are six stories high, and usually contain three
reception-rooms; a dining-room, small, and not striking in appearance in
any way, as dinner-parties are seldom given in New York; a small,
elegantly-furnished drawing-room, used as a family sitting-room, and for
the reception of morning visitors; and a magnificent reception-room,
furnished in the height of taste and elegance, for dancing, music, and
evening parties.

In London the bedrooms are generally inconvenient and uncomfortable, being
sacrificed to the reception-rooms; in New York this is not the case. The
bedrooms are large, lofty, and airy; and are furnished with all the
appurtenances which modern luxury has been able to devise. The profusion
of marble gives a very handsome and chaste appearance to these apartments.
There are bath-rooms generally on three floors, and hot and cold water are
laid on in every story. The houses are warmed by air heated from a furnace
at the basement; and though in addition open fires are sometimes adopted,
they are made of anthracite coal, which emits no smoke, and has rather the
appearance of heated metal than of fuel. Ornamental articles of Parisian
taste and Italian workmanship abound in these houses; and the mouldings,
cornices, and woodwork, are all beautifully executed. The doorways and
windows are very frequently of an arched form, which contributes to the
tasteful appearance of the houses. Every species of gaudy decoration is
strictly avoided; the paint is generally white, with gilt mouldings; and
the lofty rooms are either painted in panels, or hung with paper of a very
simple pattern.

The curtains and chair-covers are always of very rich damask, frequently
worth from two to three guineas a yard; but the richness of this, and of
the gold embroidery, is toned down by the dark hue of the walnut-wood
furniture. The carpets of the reception-rooms are generally of rich
Kidderminster, or velvet pile; an air of elegance and cleanliness pervades
these superb dwellings; they look the height of comfort. It must be
remembered that the foregoing is not a description of a dwelling here and
there, but of fifty or sixty streets, or of 4000 or 5000 houses, those
inhabited by merchants of average incomes, storekeepers not of the
wealthiest class, and lawyers. The number of servants kept in such
mansions as these would sound disproportionately small to an English ear.
Two or three female servants only are required. Breakfast is very early,
frequently at seven, seldom later than eight. The families of merchants in
business in the lower part of the city often dine at one, and the
gentlemen return to a combination of dinner with tea at six. It does not
appear that at home luxury in eating is much studied. It is not customary,
even among some of the wealthier inhabitants of New York, to indulge in
sumptuous equipages. "Hacks," with respectable-looking drivers and pairs
of horses, fill the place of private carriages, and look equally well.
Coachmen require high wages, and carriages are frequently injured by
collision with omnibuses; these are among the reasons given for the very
general use of hired vehicles.

The private equipages to be seen in New York, though roomy and
comfortable, are not elegant. They are almost invariably closed, with
glass sides and front, and are constructed with a view to keep out the
intense heat of the summer sun. The coachmen are generally blacks, and the
horses are stout animals, with cropped tails. The majority have broken
knees, owing to the great slipperiness of the pavements.

Altogether, the occupants of stages are the most secure of the numerous
travellers down Broadway. The driver, on his lofty box, has more control
over his horses, and, in case of collision, the weight of his vehicle
gives him an advantage; and there is a general inclination, on the part of
the conductors of carriages, to give these swiftly-moving vehicles "ample
room and verge enough." While threading the way through the intricate
labyrinth of waggons, stages, falling horses, and locked wheels, it is
highly unpleasant for the denizens of private carriages to find the end of
a pole through the back of the equipage, or to be addressed by the
coachman, "Massa, dat big waggon is pulling off my wheel."

Having given a brief description of the style of the ordinary dwellings of
the affluent, I will just glance at those of the very wealthy, of which
there are several in Fifth Avenue, and some of the squares, surpassing
anything I had hitherto witnessed in royal or ducal palaces at home. The
externals of some of these mansions in Fifth Avenue are like Apsley House,
and Stafford House, St. James's; being substantially built of brown stone.
At one house which I visited in----street, about the largest private
residence in the city, and one which is considered to combine the greatest
splendour with the greatest taste, we entered a spacious marble hall,
leading to a circular stone staircase of great width, the balustrades
being figures elaborately cast in bronze. Above this staircase was a lofty
dome, decorated with paintings in fresco of eastern scenes. There were
niches in the walls, some containing Italian statuary, and others small
jets of water pouring over artificial moss,

There were six or eight magnificent reception-rooms, furnished in various
styles--the Mediaeval, the Elizabethan, the Italian, the Persian, the
modern English, &c. There were fountains of fairy workmanship, pictures
from the old masters, statues from Italy, "_chefs-d'oeuvre_" of art;
porcelain from China and Sevres; damasks, cloth of gold, and bijoux from
the East; Gobelin tapestry, tables of malachite and agate, and "knick-
knacks" of every description. In the Mediaeval and Elizabethan apartments,
it did not appear to me that any anachronisms had been committed with
respect to the furniture and decorations. The light was subdued by passing
through windows of rich stained glass. I saw one table the value of which
might be about 2000 guineas. The ground was black marble, with a wreath of
flowers inlaid with very costly gems upon it. There were flowers or
bunches of fruit, of turquoise, carbuncles, rubies, topazes, and emeralds,
while the leaves were of malachite, cornelian, or agate. The effect
produced by this lavish employment of wealth was not very good. The
bedrooms were scarcely less magnificently furnished than the reception-
rooms; with chairs formed of stag-horns, tables inlaid with agates, and
hangings of Damascus cashmere, richly embossed with gold. There was
nothing gaudy, profuse, or prominent in the decorations or furniture;
everything had evidently been selected and arranged by a person of very
refined taste. Among the very beautiful works of art was a collection of
cameos, including some of Cellini's from the antique, which were really
entrancing to look upon.

Another mansion, which N. P. Willis justly describes as "a fairy palace of
taste and art," though not so extensive, was equally beautiful, and
possessed a large winter-garden. This was approached by passing through a
succession of very beautiful rooms, the walls of which were hung with
paintings which would have delighted a _connoisseur_. It was a glass
building with a high dome: a fine fountain was playing in the centre, and
round its marble basin were orange, palm, and myrtle trees, with others
from the tropics, some of them of considerable growth. Every part of the
floor that was not of polished white marble was thickly carpeted with
small green ferns. The _gleam_ of white marble statues, from among the
clumps of orange-trees and other shrubs, was particularly pretty; indeed,
the whole had a fairy-like appearance about it. Such mansions as these
were rather at variance with my ideas of republican simplicity; they
contained apartments which would have thrown into the shade the finest
rooms in Windsor Castle or Buckingham Palace. It is not the custom for
Americans to leave large fortunes to their children; their wealth is spent
in great measure in surrounding themselves with the beautiful and the
elegant in their splendid mansions; and it is probable that the adornments
which have been collected with so much expense and trouble will be
dispersed at the death of their present possessors.

I have often been asked, "How do the American ladies dress? Have they nice
figures? Do they wear much ornament? What are their manners like? Are they
highly educated? Are they domestic?" I will answer these questions as far
as I am capable of doing so.

In bygone times, the "good old times" of America perhaps, large patterns,
brilliant colours, exaggerated fashions, and redundant ornament, were all
adopted by the American ladies; and without just regard to the severity of
their climate, they patronised thin dresses, and yet thinner shoes; both
being, as has been since discovered, very prolific sources of ill health.
Frequent intercourse with Europe, and the gradual progress of good taste,
have altered this absurd style, and America, like England, is now content
to submit to the dictation of Paris in all matters of fashion. But though
Paris might dictate, it was found that American milliners had stubborn
wills of their own, so Parisian _modistes_ were imported along with
Parisian silks, ribands, and gloves. No dressmaker is now considered
orthodox who cannot show a prefix of _Madame_, and the rage for foreign
materials and workmanship of every kind is as ludicrous as in England.

Although the deception practised is very blameable, there is some comfort
in knowing that large numbers of the caps, bonnets, mantles, and other
articles of dress, which are marked ostentatiously with the name of some
_Rue_ in Paris, have never incurred the risks of an Atlantic voyage. But
however unworthy a devotion to fashion may be, it is very certain that the
ladies of New York dress beautifully, and in very good taste. Although it
is rather repugnant to one's feelings to behold costly silks and rich
brocades sweeping the pavements of Broadway, with more effect than is
produced by the dustmen, it is very certain that more beautiful
_toilettes_ are to be seen in this celebrated thoroughfare, in one
afternoon, than in Hyde Park in a week. As it is impossible to display the
productions of the millinery art in a close carriage in a crowd, Broadway
is the fashionable promenade; and the lightest French bonnets, the
handsomest mantles, and the richest flounced silk dresses, with _jupons_,
ribands, and laces to correspond, are there to be seen in the afternoon.
Evening attire is very much the same as in England, only that richer
materials are worn by the young. The harmony of colours appears to be a
subject studied to some purpose, and the style of dress is generally
adapted to the height, complexion, and figure of the wearer.

The figures of the American ladies in youth are very sylph-like and
elegant; and this appearance is obtained without the use of those
artificial constraints so justly to be condemned. They are almost too
slight for beauty, though this does not signify while they retain the
luxuriant wavy hair, brilliant complexion, elastic step, and gracefulness
of very early youth. But unfortunately a girl of twenty is too apt to look
faded and haggard; and a woman who with us would be in her bloom at
thirty, looks _passee_, wrinkled, and old. It is then that the sylph-like
form assumes an unpleasant angularity, suggestive of weariness and care.
It is remarkable, however, that ladies of recent English extraction, under
exactly the same circumstances, retain their good looks into middle life,
and advancing years produce _embonpoint_, instead of angularity. I was
very agreeably surprised with the beauty of the young ladies of New York;
there is something peculiarly graceful and fascinating in their personal

To judge from the costly articles of jewellery displayed in the stores, I
should have supposed that there was a great rage for ornament; but from
the reply I once received from a jeweller, on asking him who would
purchase a five-thousand-guinea diamond bracelet, "I guess some Southerner
will buy it for his wife," I believe that most of these articles find
their way to the South and West, where a less-cultivated taste may be
supposed to prevail. I saw very little jewellery worn, and that was
generally of a valuable but plain description. The young ladies appear to
have adopted the maxim, "Beauty when unadorned is adorned the most." They
study variety in ornament rather than profusion. "What are their manners
like?" is a difficult question to answer. That there is a great difference
between the manners of English and American ladies may be inferred from
some remarks made to me by the most superior woman whom I met in America,
and one who had been in English society in London. In naming a lady with
whom she was acquainted, and one who could scarcely be expected to be
deficient in affection towards herself, she said, "Her manners were
perfectly ladylike, but she seemed to talk merely because conversation was
a conventional requirement of society, and I cannot believe that she had
any heart." She added, "I did not blame her for this; it was merely the
result of an English education, which studiously banishes every appearance
of interest or emotion. Emotion is condemned as romantic and vulgar
sensibility, interest as enthusiasm."

The system which she reprehended is not followed at New York, and the
result is, not that the ladies "wear their hearts on their sleeves for
daws to peck at," but that they are unaffected, lively, and agreeable. The
_repose_ so studiously cultivated in England, and which is considered
perfect when it has become listlessness, apathy, and indifference, finds
no favour with our lively Transatlantic neighbours; consequently the
ladies are very _naive_ and lively, and their manners have the vivacity
without the frivolity of the French. They say themselves that they are not
so highly educated as the ladies of England. Admirable as the common
schools are, the seminaries for ladies, with one or two exceptions, are
very inferior to ours, and the early age at which the young ladies go into
society precludes them from completing a superior education; for it is
scarcely to be expected that, when their minds are filled with the desire
for conquest and the love of admiration, they will apply systematically to
remedy their deficiencies. And again, some of their own sex in the States
have so far stepped out of woman's proper sphere, that high attainments
are rather avoided by many from the ridicule which has been attached to
the unsuitable display of them in public. The young ladies are too apt to
consider their education completed when they are emancipated from school
restraints, while in fact only the basis of it has been laid. Music and
drawing are not much cultivated in the higher branches; and though many
speak the modern languages with fluency, natural philosophy and
arithmetic, which strengthen the mental powers, are rather neglected. Yet
who has ever missed the higher education which English ladies receive,
while in the society of the lively, attractive ladies of New York? Of
course there are exceptions, where active and superior minds become highly
cultivated by their own persevering exertions; but the aids offered by
ladies' schools are comparatively insignificant.

The ladies in the United States appeared to me to be extremely domestic.
However fond they may be of admiration as girls, after their early
marriages they become dutiful wives, and affectionate, devoted mothers.
And in a country where there are few faithful attached servants, far more
devolves upon the mother than English ladies have any idea of. Those
amusements which would withdraw her from home must be abandoned; however
fond she may be of travelling, she must abide in the nursery; and all
those little attentions which in England are turned over to the nurse must
be performed by herself, or under her superintending eye. She must be the
nurse of her children alike by day and by night, in sickness and in
health; and with the attention which American ladies pay to their
husbands, their married life is by no means an idle one. Under these
circumstances, the early fading of their bloom is not to be wondered at,
and I cannot but admire the manner in which many of them cheerfully
conform to years of anxiety and comparative seclusion, after the homage
and gaiety which seemed their natural atmosphere in their early youth.

Of the gentlemen it is less easy to speak. They are immersed in a whirl of
business, often of that speculative kind which demands a constant exercise
of intense thought. The short period which they can spend in the bosom of
their families must be an enjoyment and relaxation to them; therefore, in
the absence of any statements to the contrary, it is but right to suppose
that they are affectionate husbands and fathers. However actively the
gentlemen of New York are engaged in business pursuits, they travel, read
the papers, and often devote some time to general literature. They look
rather more pale and careworn than the English, as the uncertainties of
business are greater in a country where speculative transactions are
carried to such an exaggerated extent. They also indulge in eccentricities
of appearance in the shape of beards and imperials, not to speak of the
"goatee" and moustaches of various forms. With these exceptions, there is
nothing in appearance, manner, or phraseology to distinguish them from
gentlemen in the best English society, except perhaps that they evince
more interest and animation in their conversation.

The peculiar expressions which go under the name of Americanisms are never
heard in good society, and those disagreeable habits connected with
tobacco are equally unknown. I thought that the gentlemen were remarkably
free from mannerisms of any kind. I have frequently heard Americans speak
of the descriptions given by Dickens and Mrs. Trollope of the slang and
disagreeable practices to be met with in the States; and they never, on a
single occasion, denied their truthfulness, but said that these writers
mistook the perpetrators of these vulgarities for _gentlemen_. The
gentlemen are extremely deferential and attentive in their manners to
ladies, and are hardly, I think, treated with sufficient graciousness in
return. At New York a great many are actively engaged in philanthropic
pursuits. The quiescence of manner attained by English gentlemen, which
frequently approaches inanity, is seldom to be met with in America. The
exhilarating influences of the climate and the excitement of business have
a tendency to produce animation of manner, and force and earnestness of
expression. A great difference in these respects is apparent in gentlemen
from the southern States, who live in an enervating climate, and whose
pursuits are of a more tranquil nature. The dry, elastic atmosphere of the
northern States produces a restlessness which must either expend itself in
bodily or mental exertion or force of expression; from this probably arise
the frequent use of superlatives, and the exaggeration of language, which
the more phlegmatic English attribute to the Americans.

Since my return to England I have frequently been asked the question,
"What is society like in America?" This word _society_ is one of very
ambiguous meaning. It is used in England by the titled aristocracy to
distinguish themselves, their connexions, and those whose wealth or genius
has gained them admission into their circles. But every circle, every
city, and even every country neighbourhood, has what it pleases to term
"society;" and when the members of it say of an individual, "I never met
him in society," it ostracises him, no matter how estimable or agreeable
he may be. In England, to "society," in each of its grades, wealth is a
sure passport, as has been evidenced of late years by several very
notorious instances. Thus it is extremely difficult to answer the
question, "What is New York society like?" It certainly is not like that
which is associated in our minds with the localities May Fair and
Belgravia; neither can it be compared to the circles which form
parasitically round the millionaire; still less is it like the dulness of
country neighbourhoods. New York has its charmed circles also; a republic
admits of the greatest exclusiveness; and, in the highest circles of the
city, to say that a man is not in society, is to ostracise him as in
England. It must be stated that some of the most agreeable _salons_ of New
York are almost closed against foreigners. French, Germans, and Italians,
with imposing titles, have proved how unworthily they bear them; and this
feeling against strangers--I will not call it prejudice, for there are
sufficient grounds for it--is extended to the English, some of whom, I
regret to say, have violated the rights of hospitality in many different
ways. I have heard of such conduct on the part of my countrymen as left me
no room for surprise that many families, whose acquaintance would be most
agreeable, strictly guard their drawing-room from English intrusion. And,
besides this, there are those who have entered houses merely to caricature
their inmates, and have received hospitality only to ridicule the manner
in which it was exercised, while they have indulged in unamiable
personalities, and have not respected the sanctity of private life.

It was through an introduction given me by a valued English friend that I,
as an English stranger, was received with the kindest hospitality by some
of those who have been rendered thus exclusive by the bad taste and worse
conduct of foreigners. I feel, as I write, that any remarks I make on New
York society cannot be perfectly free from bias, owing to the overwhelming
kindness and glowing hospitality which I met with in that city. I found so
much to enjoy in society, and so much to interest and please everywhere,
that when I left New York it was with the wish that the few weeks which I
was able to spend there could have been prolonged into as many months.

But, to answer the question. The best society in New York would not suffer
by comparison in any way with the best society in England. It is not in
the upper classes of any nation that we must look for national
characteristics or peculiarities. Society throughout the civilized world
is, to a certain extent, cast in the same mould; the same laws of
etiquette prevail, and the same conventionalisms restrict in great measure
the display of any individual characteristics. Balls are doubtless the
same in "society" all over the world; a certain amount of black cloth, kid
gloves, white muslin, epaulettes if they can be procured, dancing, music,
and ices. Every one acknowledges that dinner-parties are equally dull in
London and Paris, in Calcutta and in New York, unless the next neighbour
happens to be peculiarly agreeable. Therefore, it is most probable that
balls and dinner-parties are in New York exactly the same as in other
places, except that the latter are less numerous, and are principally
confined to gentlemen. It is not, in fact, convenient to give dinner
parties in New York; there are not sufficient domestics to bear the
pressure of an emergency, and the pleasure is not considered worth the
trouble. If two or three people have sufficient value for the society of
the host and hostess to come in to an ordinary dinner, at an ordinary
hour, they are welcome. If turtle and venison were offered on such an
occasion, it would have the effect of repelling, rather than attracting,
the guests, and it would not have the effect of making them believe that
their host and hostess always lived on such luxurious viands.

As dinner-parties are neither deemed agreeable nor convenient, and as many
sensible people object to the late hours and general dissipation of mind
produced by balls and large dancing parties, a happy innovation upon old
customs has been made, and early evening receptions have been introduced.
Some of the most splendid mansions of New York, as well as the most
agreeable, are now thrown open weekly for the reception of visitors in a
social manner. These receptions differ from what are known by the same
name in London. The crowd in which people become wedged, in a vain attempt
to speak to the hostess, is as much as possible avoided; late hours are
abandoned; the guests, who usually arrive about eight, are careful to
disappear shortly after eleven, lest, Cinderella-like, the hostess should
vanish. Then, again, all the guests feel themselves on a perfect equality,
as people always ought to do who meet in the same room, on the invitation
of the same hostess. [Footnote: The Americans justly ridicule that species
of bad breeding which leads people at parties to draw back from others,
from a fear that their condescension should fall upon ground unconsecrated
by the dictatorial fiat of "society." An amusing instance of the effect of
this pride, which occurred in England, was related. Some years ago the
illustrious Baron Humboldt was invited to play the part of lion at the
house of a nobleman. A select circle of fashionables appeared, and among
the company a man very plainly dressed and not noticeable in appearance.
He spoke first to one person, and then to another: some drew themselves up
with a haughty stare; others answered in monosyllables; but all repulsed
the Baron; and it was not until late in the evening, after he had departed
early, disgusted with this ungracious reception, that these people knew
that by their conduct they had lost the advantage of the conversation of
one of the greatest men of the age.]

The lady of the house adopts the old but very sensible fashion of
introducing people to each other, which helps to prevent a good deal of
stiffness. As the rooms in the New York houses are generally large, people
sit, stand, or walk about as they feel inclined, or group themselves round
some one gifted with peculiar conversational powers. At all of these re-
unions there was a great deal of conversation worth listening to or
joining in, and, as a stranger, I had the advantage of being introduced to
every one who was considered worth knowing. Poets, historians, and men of
science are to be met with frequently at these receptions; but they do not
go as lions, but to please and be pleased; and such men as Longfellow,
Prescott, or Washington Irving may be seen mixing with the general throng
with so much _bonhommie_ and simplicity, that none would fancy that in
their own land they are the envy of their age, and sustain world-wide
reputations. The way in which literary lions are exhibited in England, as
essential to the _eclat_ of fashionable parties, is considered by the
Americans highly repugnant to good taste. I was very agreeably surprised
with the unaffected manners and extreme simplicity of men eminent in the
scientific and literary world.

These evening receptions are a very happy idea; for people, whose business
or inclinations would not permit them to meet in any other way, are thus
brought together without formality or expense. The conversation generally
turned on Europe, general literature, art, science, or the events of the
day. I must say that I never heard one remark that could be painful to an
English ear made, even in jest. There was none of that vulgar boastfulness
and detraction which is to be met with in less educated society. Most of
the gentlemen whom I met, and many of the ladies, had travelled in Europe,
and had brought back highly cultivated tastes in art, and cosmopolitan
ideas, which insensibly affect the circles in which they move.

All appeared to take a deep interest in the war, and in our success. I
heard our military movements in the Crimea criticised with some severity
by military men, some of whom have since left for the seat of war, to
watch our operations. The conclusion of the Vienna negociations appeared
to excite some surprise. "I had no idea," an officer observed to me, "that
public opinion was so strong in England as to be able to compel a minister
of such strong Russian proclivities as Lord Aberdeen to go to war with his
old friend Nicholas." The arrangements at Balaklava excited very general
condemnation; people were fond of quoting the saying attributed to a
Russian officer, "You have an army of _lions_ led by _asses_."

The Americans are always anxious to know what opinion a stranger has
formed of their country, and I would be asked thirty times on one evening,
"How do you like America?" Fortunately, the kindness which I met with
rendered it impossible for me to give any but a satisfactory reply.
English literature was a very general topic of conversation, and it is
most gratifying to find how our best English works are "familiar in their
mouths as household words." Some of the conversation on literature was of
a very brilliant order. I heard very little approximation to either wit or
humour, and _badinage_ is not cultivated, or excelled in, to the same
extent as in England.

On one occasion I was asked to exhibit a collection of autographs, and the
knowledge of English literature possessed by the Americans was shown by
the information they had respecting not only our well-known authors, but
those whose names have not an extended reputation even with us. Thus the
works of Maitland, Ritchie, Sewell, Browning, Howitt, and others seemed
perfectly familiar to them. The trembling signature of George III. excited
general interest from his connection with their own history, and I was not
a little amused to see how these republicans dwelt with respectful
attention on the decided characters of Queen Victoria. A very
characteristic letter of Lord Byron's was read aloud, and, in return for
the pleasure they had experienced, several kind individuals gave me
valuable autographs of their own _literati_ and statesmen. Letters written
by Washington descend as precious heirlooms in families, and so great is
the estimation in which this venerated patriot is held, that, with all the
desire to oblige a stranger which the Americans evince, I believe that I
could not have purchased a few lines in his handwriting with my whole

It would be difficult to give any idea of the extremely agreeable
character of these receptions. They seemed to me to be the most sensible
way of seeing society that I ever met with, and might be well worthy of
general imitation in England. When I saw how sixty or a hundred people
could be brought together without the inducements of dancing, music,
refreshments, or display of any kind; when I saw also how thoroughly they
enjoyed themselves, how some were introduced, and those who were not
entered into sprightly conversation without fear of lessening an imaginary
dignity, I more than ever regretted the icy coldness in which we wrap
ourselves. And yet, though we take such trouble to clothe ourselves in
this glacial dignity, nothing pleases us better than to go to other
countries and throw it off, and mix with our fellow men and women as
rational beings should, not as if we feared either to compromise ourselves
or to be repulsed by them. This national stiffness renders us the
laughing-stock of foreigners; and in a certain city in America no play was
ever more successful than the '_Buckram Englishman_,' which ridiculed and
caricatured our social peculiarities.

The usages of etiquette are much the same as in England, but people
appeared to be assisted in the enjoyment of society by them rather than
trammeled. Morning visiting is carried to a great extent, but people call
literally in the morning, before two o'clock oftener than after. On New
Year's Day, in observance of an old Dutch custom, the ladies remain at
home, and all the gentlemen of their acquaintance make a point of calling
upon them. Of course time will only allow of the interchange of the
compliments of the season, where so much social duty has to be performed
in one brief day, but this pleasant custom tends to keep up old
acquaintanceships and annihilate old feuds. It is gratifying to observe
that any known deviation from the rules of morality is punished with
exclusion from the houses of those who are considered the leaders of New
York society; it is also very pleasing to see that to the best circles in
New York wealth alone is not a passport. I have heard cards of invitation
to these receptions refused to foreigners bearing illustrious titles, and
to persons who have the reputation of being _millionaires_. At the same
time, I have met those of humble position and scanty means, who are
treated with distinction because of their talents or intellectual powers.
Yet I have never seen such a one patronised or treated as a lion; he is
not expected to do any homage, or pay any penalty, for his admission into
society. In these circles in New York we are spared the humiliating
spectacle of men of genius or intellect cringing and uneasy in the
presence of their patronising inferiors, whom birth or wealth may have
placed socially above them. Of course there is society in New York where
the vulgar influence of money is omnipotent, and extravagant display is
fashionable; it is of the best that I have been speaking.


The cemetery--Its beauties--The "Potter's Field"--The graves of children--
Monumental eccentricities--Arrival of emigrants--Their reception--Poor
dwellings--The dangerous class--The elections--The riots--Characteristics
of the streets--Journey to Boston--The sights of Boston--Longfellow--
Cambridge university.

It may seem a sudden transition from society to a cemetery, and yet it is
not an unnatural one, for many of the citizens of New York carry their
magnificence as far as possible to the grave with them, and pile their
wealth above their heads in superb mausoleums or costly statues. The _Pere
la Chaise_ of the city is the Greenwood Cemetery, near Brooklyn on Long
Island. I saw it on the finest and coldest of November days, when a
piercing east wind was denuding the trees of their last scarlet honours.
After encountering more than the usual crush in Broadway, for we were
rather more than an hour in driving three miles in a stage, we crossed the
Brooklyn Ferry in one of those palace ferry-boats, where the spacious
rooms for passengers are heated by steam-pipes, and the charge is only one
cent, or a fraction less than a halfpenny. It was a beautiful day; there
was not a cloud upon the sky; the waves of the Sound and of the North
River were crisped and foam-tipped, and dashed noisily upon the white
pebbly beach. Brooklyn, Jersey, and Hoboken rose from the water, with
their green fields and avenues of villas; white, smokeless steamers were
passing and repassing; large anchored ships tossed upon the waves; and New
York, that compound of trees, buildings, masts, and spires, rose in the
rear, without so much as a single cloud of smoke hovering over it.

A railway runs from Brooklyn to the cemetery, with the cars drawn by
horses, and the dead of New York are conveniently carried to this last
resting-place. The entrance is handsome, and the numerous walls and
carriage-drives are laid with fine gravel, and beautifully swept. We drove
to see the most interesting objects, and the coachman seemed to take a
peculiar pride in pointing them out. This noble burying-ground has some
prettily diversified hill and dale scenery, and is six miles round. The
timber is very fine, and throughout art has only been required as an
assistance to nature. To this cemetery most of the dead of New York are
carried, and after "life's fitful fever," in its most exaggerated form,
sleep in appropriate silence. Already several thousand dead have been
placed here in places of sepulture varying in appearance from the most
splendid and ornate to the simplest and most obscure. There are family
mausoleums, gloomy and sepulchral looking, in the Grecian style; family
burying-grounds neatly enclosed by iron or bronze railings, where white
marble crosses mark the graves; there are tombs with epitaphs, and tombs
with statues; there are simple cenotaphs and monumental slabs, and
nameless graves marked by numbers only.

One very remarkable feature of this cemetery is the "Potter's Field," a
plot containing several acres of ground, where strangers are buried. This
is already occupied to a great extent. The graves are placed in rows close
together, with numbers on a small iron plate to denote each. Here the
shipwrecked, the pestilence-stricken, the penniless, and friendless are
buried; and though such a spot cannot fail to provoke sad musings, the
people of New York do not suffer any appearances of neglect to accumulate
round the last resting-place of those who died unfriended and alone.
Another feature, not to be met with in England, strikes the stranger at
first with ludicrous images, though in reality it has more of the
pathetic. In one part of this cemetery there are several hundred graves of
children, and these, with most others of children of the poorer class,
have toys in glass cases placed upon them. There are playthings of many
kinds, woolly dogs and lambs, and little wooden houses, toys which must be
associated in the parents' minds with those who made their homes glad, but
who have gone into the grave before them. One cannot but think of the
bright eyes dim, the merry laugh and infantine prattle silent, the little
hands, once so active in playful mischief, stiff and cold; all brought so
to mind by the sight of those toys. There is a fearful amount of mortality
among children at New York, and in several instances four or five buried
in one grave told with mournful suggestiveness of the silence and
desolation of once happy hearths.

There are a few very remarkable and somewhat fantastic monuments. There is
a beautiful one in white marble to the memory of a sea-captain's wife,
with an exact likeness of himself, in the attitude of taking an
observation, on the top. An inscription to himself is likewise upon it,
leaving only the date of his death to be added. It is said that, when this
poor man returns from a voyage, he spends one whole day in the tomb,
lamenting his bereavement.

There is a superb monument, erected by a fireman's company to the memory
of one of their brethren, who lost his life while nobly rescuing an infant
from a burning dwelling. His statue is on the top, with an infant in his
arms, and the implements of his profession lie below. But by far the most
extraordinary, and certainly one of the lions of New York, is to a young
lady who was killed in coming home from a ball. The carriage-horses ran
away, she jumped out, and was crushed under the wheels. She stands under a
marble canopy supported by angels, and is represented in her ball-dress,
with a mantle thrown over it. This monument has numerous pillars and
representations of celestial beings, and is said to have cost about
6000_l._ Several of the marble mausoleums cost from 4000_l._ to 5000_l._
Yet all the powerful, the wealthy, and the poor have descended to the dust
from whence they sprung; and here, as everywhere else, nothing can
disguise the fact that man, the feeble sport of passion and infirmity, can
only claim for his inheritance at last the gloom of a silent grave, where
he must sleep with the dust of his fathers. I observed only one verse of
Scripture on a tombstone, and it contained the appropriate prayer, "_So
teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom_."

Having seen the emigrants bid adieu to the Old World, in the flurry of
grief, hope, and excitement, I was curious to see what difference a five-
weeks' voyage would have produced in them, and in what condition they
would land upon the shores of America. In a city where emigrants land at
the rate of a thousand a-day, I was not long of finding an opportunity. I
witnessed the debarkation upon the shore of the New World of between 600
and 700 English emigrants, who had just arrived from Liverpool. If they
looked tearful, flurried, and anxious when they left Liverpool, they
looked tearful, pallid, dirty, and squalid when they reached New York. The
necessary discomforts which such a number of persons must experience when
huddled together in a close, damp, and ill-ventilated steerage, with very
little change of clothing, and an allowance of water insufficient for the
purposes of cleanliness, had been increased in this instance by the
presence of cholera on board of the ship.

The wharfs at New York are necessarily dirty, and are a scene of
indescribable bustle from morning to night, with ships arriving and
sailing, ships loading and unloading, and emigrants pouring into the town
in an almost incessant stream. They look as if no existing power could
bring order out of such a chaos. In this crowd, on the shores of a strange
land, the emigrants found themselves. Many were deplorably emaciated,
others looked vacant and stupified. Some were ill, and some were
penniless; but poverty and sickness are among the best recommendations
which an emigrant can bring with him, for they place him under the
immediate notice of those estimable and overworked men, the Emigration
Commissioners, whose humanity is above all praise. These find him an
asylum in the Emigrants' Hospital, on Ward's Island, and despatch him from
thence in health, with advice and assistance for his future career. If he
be in health, and have a few dollars in his pocket, he becomes the
instantaneous prey of emigrant runners, sharpers, and keepers of
groggeries; but of this more will be said hereafter.

A great many of these immigrants were evidently from country districts,
and some from Ireland; there were a few Germans among them, and these
appeared the least affected by the discomforts of the voyage, and by the
novel and rather bewildering position in which they found themselves. They
probably would feel more at home on first landing at New York than any of
the others, for the lower part of the city is to a great extent inhabited
by Germans, and at that time there were about 2000 houses where their
favourite beverage, _lager-beer_, could be procured.

The goods and chattels of the Irish appeared to consist principally of
numerous red-haired, unruly children, and ragged-looking bundles tied
round with rope. The Germans were generally ruddy and stout, and took as
much care of their substantial-looking, well-corded, heavy chests as
though they contained gold. The English appeared pale and debilitated, and
sat helpless and weary-looking on their large blue boxes. Here they found
themselves in the chaotic confusion of this million-peopled city, not
knowing whither to betake themselves, and bewildered by cries of "Cheap
hacks!" "All aboard!" "Come to the cheapest house in all the world!" and
invitations of a similar description. There were lodging-touters of every
grade of dishonesty, and men with large placards were hurrying among the
crowd, offering "palace" steamboats and "lightning express" trains, to
whirl them at nominal rates to the Elysian Fields of the Far West. It is
stated that six-tenths of these emigrants are attacked by fever soon after
their arrival in the New World, but the provision for the sick is
commensurate with the wealth and benevolence of New York.

Before leaving the city I was desirous to see some of the dwellings of the
poor; I was therefore taken to what was termed a poor quarter. One house
which I visited was approached from an entry, and contained ten rooms,
which were let to different individuals and families. On the lowest floor
was an old Irish widow, who had a cataract in one eye, and, being without
any means of supporting herself, subsisted upon a small allowance made to
her by her son, who was a carter. She was clean, but poorly dressed, and
the room was scantily furnished. Except those who are rendered poor by
their idleness and vices, it might have been difficult to find a poorer
person in the city, I was told. Much sympathy was expressed for her, and
for those who, like her, lived in this poor quarter. Yet the room was
tolerably large, lofty, and airy, and had a window of the ordinary size of
those in English dwelling-houses. For this room she paid four dollars or
16_s._ per month, a very high rent. It was such a room as in London many a
respectable clerk, with an income of 150_l._ a year, would think himself
fortunate in possessing.

I could not enter into the feelings of the benevolent people of New York
when they sympathised with the denizens of this locality. I only wished
that these generous people could have seen the dens in which thousands of
our English poor live, with little light and less water, huddled together,
without respect to sex or numbers, in small, ill-ventilated rooms. Yet New
York has a district called the Five Points, fertile in crime, fever, and
misery, which would scarcely yield the palm for vice and squalor to St.
Giles's in London, or the Saltmarket in Glasgow. A collection of dwellings
called the Mud Huts, where many coloured people reside, is also an
unpleasing feature connected with the city. But with abundant employment,
high wages, and charities on a princely scale for those who from
accidental circumstances may occasionally require assistance, there is no
excuse for the squalid wretchedness in which a considerable number of
persons have chosen to sink themselves.

It is a fact that no Golden Age exists on the other side of the water;
that vice and crime have their penalties in America as well as in Europe;
and that some of the worst features of the Old World are reproduced in the
New. With all the desire that we may possess to take a sanguine view of
things, there is something peculiarly hopeless about the condition of this
class at New York, which in such a favourable state of society, and at
such an early period of American history, has sunk so very low. The
existence of a "dangerous class" at New York is now no longer denied. One
person in seven of the whole population came under the notice of the
authorities, either in the ranks of criminals or paupers, in 1852; and it
is stated that last year the numbers reached an alarming magnitude,
threatening danger to the peace of society. This is scarcely surprising
when we take into consideration the numbers of persons who land in this
city who have been expatriated for their vices, who are flying from the
vengeance of outraged law, or who expect in the New World to be able to do
evil without fear of punishment.

There are the idle and the visionary, who expect to eat without working;
penniless demagogues, unprincipled adventurers, and the renegade
outpourings of all Christendom; together with those who are enervated and
demoralised by sickness and evil associates on board ship. I could not
help thinking, as I saw many of the newly-arrived emigrants saunter
helplessly into the groggeries, that, after spending their money, they
would remain at New York, and help to swell the numbers of this class.
These people live by their wits, and lose the little they have in drink.
This life is worth very little to them; and in spite of Bible and Tract
societies, and church missions, they know very little of the life to come;
consequently they are ready for any mischief, and will imperil their
existence for a small bribe. Many or most of them are Irish Roman
Catholics, who, having obtained the franchise in many instances by making
false affidavits, consider themselves at liberty to use the club also.

I was at New York at the time of the elections, and those of 1854 were
attended with unusual excitement, owing to the red-hot strife between the
Irish Roman Catholics and the "Know-nothings." This society, established
with the object of changing the naturalisation laws, and curbing the power
of popery, had at this period obtained a very large share of the public
attention, as much from the mystery which attended it as from the
principles which it avowed. To the minds of all there was something
attractive in a secret organisation, unknown oaths, and nocturnal
meetings; and the success which had attended the efforts of the Know-
nothings in Massachusetts, and others of the States, led many to watch
with deep interest the result of the elections for the Empire State. Their
candidates were not elected, but the avowed contest between Protestantism
and Popery led to considerable loss of life. Very little notice of the
riots on this occasion has been taken by the English journalists, though
the local papers varied in their accounts of the numbers of killed and
wounded from 45 to 700! It was known that an _emeute_ was expected,
therefore I was not surprised, one evening early in November, to hear the
alarm-bells ringing in all directions throughout the city. It was stated
that a Know-nothing assemblage of about 10,000 persons had been held in
the Park, and that, in dispersing, they had been fired upon by some
Irishmen called the Brigade. This was the commencement of a sanguinary
struggle for the preservation of order. For three days a dropping fire of
musketry was continually to be heard in New York and Williamsburgh, and
reports of great loss of life on both sides were circulated. It was stated
that the hospital received 170 wounded men, and that many more were
carried off by their friends. The military were called out, and, as it was
five days before quiet was restored, it is to be supposed that many lives
were lost. I saw two dead bodies myself; and in one street or alley by the
Five Points, both the side walks and the roadway were slippery with blood.
Yet very little sensation was excited in the upper part of the town;
people went out and came in as usual; business was not interrupted; and to
questions upon the subject the reply was frequently made, "Oh, it's only
an election riot," showing how painfully common such disturbances had

There are many objects of interest in New York and its neighbourhood,
among others, the Croton aqueduct, a work worthy of a great people. It
cost about 5,000,000_l._ sterling, and by it about 60,000,000 gallons of
water are daily conveyed into the city. Then there are the prisons on
Blackwell's Island, the lunatic asylums, the orphan asylums, the docks,
and many other things; but I willingly leave these untouched, as they have
been described by other writers. In concluding this brief and incomplete
account of New York, I may be allowed to refer to the preface of this
work, and repeat that any descriptions which I have given of things or
society are merely "sketches," and, as such, are liable to the errors
which always attend upon hasty observation.

New York, with its novel, varied, and ever-changing features, is
calculated to leave a very marked impression on a stranger's mind. In one
part one can suppose it to be a negro town; in another, a German city;
while a strange dreamy resemblance to Liverpool pervades the whole. In it
there is little repose for the mind, and less for the eye, except on the
Sabbath-day, which is very well observed, considering the widely-differing
creeds and nationalities of the inhabitants. The streets are alive with
business, retail and wholesale, and present an aspect of universal bustle.
Flags are to be seen in every direction, the tall masts of ships appear
above the houses; large square pieces of calico, with names in scarlet or
black letters upon them, hang across the streets, to denote the
whereabouts of some popular candidate or "puffing" storekeeper; and hosts
of omnibuses, hacks, drays, and railway cars at full speed, ringing bells,
terrify unaccustomed foot-passengers. There are stores of the magnitude of
bazaars, "daguerrean galleries" by hundreds, crowded groggeries and
subterranean oyster-saloons, huge hotels, coffee-houses, and places of
amusement; while the pavements present men of every land and colour, red,
black, yellow, and white, in every variety of costume and beard, and
ladies, beautiful and ugly, richly dressed. Then there are mud huts, and
palatial residences, and streets of stately dwelling-houses, shaded by
avenues of ilanthus-trees; waggons discharging goods across the pavements;
shops above and cellars below; railway whistles and steamboat bells,
telegraph-wires, eight and ten to a post, all converging towards Wall
Street--the Lombard Street of New York; militia regiments in many-coloured
uniforms, marching in and out of the city all day; groups of emigrants
bewildered and amazed, emaciated with dysentery and sea-sickness, looking
in at the shop-windows; representatives of every nation under heaven,
speaking in all earth's Babel languages; and as if to render this
ceaseless pageant of business, gaiety, and change, as far removed from
monotony as possible, the quick toll of the fire alarm-bells may be daily
heard, and the huge engines, with their burnished equipments and well-
trained companies, may be seen to dash at full speed along the streets to
the scene of some brilliant conflagration. New York is calculated to
present as imposing an appearance to an Englishman as its antiquated
namesake does to an American, with its age, silence, stateliness, and

The Indian summer had come and gone, and bright frosty weather had
succeeded it, when I left this city, in which I had received kindness and
hospitality which I can never forget. Mr. Amy, the kind friend who had
first welcomed me to the States, was my travelling companion, and at his
house near Boston, in the midst of a happy family-circle, I spent the
short remnant of my time before returning to England.

We left New York just as the sun was setting, frosty and red, and ere we
had reached Newhaven it was one of the finest winter evenings that I had
ever seen. The moisture upon the windows of the cars froze into
innumerable fairy shapes; the crescent moon and a thousand stars shone
brilliantly from a deep blue sky; auroras flashed and meteors flamed, and,
as the fitful light glittered on many rushing gurgling streams, I had but
to remember how very beautiful New England was, to give form and
distinctness to the numerous shapes which we were hurrying past. I was
recalling the sunny south to mind, with its vineyards and magnolia groves,
and the many scenes of beauty that I had witnessed in America, with all
the genial kindness which I had experienced from many who but a few months
ago were strangers, when a tipsy Scotch fiddler broke in upon my reveries
by an attempt to play 'Yankee Doodle.' It is curious how such a thing can
instantly change the nature of the thoughts. I remembered speculations,
'cute notions, guesses, and calculations; "All aboard," and "Go ahead,"
and "Pile on, skipper;" sharp eager faces, diversities of beards,
duellists, pickpockets, and every species of adventurer.

Such recollections were not out of place in Connecticut, the centre and
soul of what we denominate _Yankeeism_. This state has one of the most
celebrated educational establishments in the States, Yale College at
Newhaven, or the City of Elms, famous for its toleration of an annual
fight between the citizens and the students, at a nocturnal _fete_ in
celebration of the burial of Euclid. The phraseology and some of the moral
characteristics of Connecticut are quite peculiar. It is remarkable for
learning, the useful arts, successful and energetic merchants and farmers;
the mythical Sam Slick, the prince of pedlars; and his living equal,
Barnum, the prince of showmen. A love of good order and a pervading
religious sentiment appear to accompany great simplicity of manners in its
rural population, though the Southerners, jealous of the virtues of these
New Englanders, charge upon them the manufacture of wooden nutmegs. This
state supplies the world with wooden clocks, for which the inhabitants of
our colonies appear to have a peculiar fancy, though at home they are
called "Yankee clocks what won't go." I have seen pedlars with curiously
constructed waggons toiling along even among the Canadian clearings, who
are stated to belong to a race "raised" in Connecticut. They are extremely
amusing individuals, and it is impossible to resist making an investment
in their goods, as their importunities are urged in such ludicrous
phraseology. The pedlar can accommodate you with everything, from a clock
or bible to a pennyworth of pins, and takes rags, rabbit and squirrel
skins, at two cents each, in payment. His knowledge of "soft sawder and
human natur" is as great as that of Sam Slick, his inimitable
representative; and many a shoeless Irish girl is induced to change a
dollar for some trumpery ornament, by his artful compliments to her
personal attractions. He seems at home everywhere; talks politics, guesses
your needs, cracks a joke, or condoles with you on your misfortunes with
an elongated face. He always contrives to drop in at dinner or tea time,
for which he always apologises, but in distant settlements the apologetic
formulary might be left alone, for the visit of the cosmopolitan pedlar is
ever welcome, even though he leaves you a few dollars poorer. There is
some fear of the extinction of the race, as railways are now bringing the
most distant localities within reach of resplendent stores with plate-
glass windows.

It wanted six hours to dawn when we reached Boston; and the ashes of an
extinguished fire in the cheerless waiting-room at the _depot_ gave an
idea of even greater cold than really existed. We drove through the silent
streets of Boston, and out into the country, in an open carriage, with the

Book of the day:
Facebook Google Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Pinterest