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these little agreeable circles began to be enlivened by the presence of certain acquaintances of the other gender, I was fain to pay Miss Arabella her wages, and solicit her not to trouble herself with our household affairs for the future.
Sitting in my study one day, a gentleman came in, and, bowing with great politeness, called me by name, and, in excellent English for a foreigner, claimed the honor of my acquaintance, handing me a letter at the same time. I shook him kindly by the hand, begged him to be seated, and on perusing the letter found out the gentleman had understood I was in want of a cook, and begged leave to offer his services in that capacity. On a second glance at him, I remembered to have seen him at the house of a friend who had lately sailed for London.
At length, however, by dint of the most unremitting perseverance, I succeeded in obtaining three servants upon whom I could rely. The best of cooks, the most unexceptionable of waiters, and a nurse who was like a mother to the children. They resided in my family five years, during which period the more I saw of them the more I valued them. And now, Messrs. Editors, I come to the object of this paper, which is to make public the ungenerous, I may add, the dishonorable conduct of several families, whom I really had hitherto respected and esteemed, and do yet in a certain degree, although circumstances have materially degraded them, or rather the master and mistress of them, in my estimation.
I had often boasted to my friends of my invaluable servants; and their reputation, indeed, was pretty well extended through the neighborhood. Many attempts had been made to seduce them from their allegiance to me; but, as I always treated them kindly, and gave them liberal wages, I am pleased to believe they felt bound to their situation both by interest and gratitude. The waiter, Phil, revealed the names of several who had thus tampered with him; inquiring what wages he was allowed in my family, how many hours he was compelled to work in the day, and what kind of labor was imposed upon him. They hinted that he ought to expect more; that his duties were too toilsome; and, in VOL. II.-18
short, plainly told him, that, if he would leave me and make a compact with them, they would insure him higher wages and less work. This is a species of downright robbery. I prefer that such dishonest meddlers in the affairs of private families should open my secretary, and help themselves to any reasonable sum of money. That action would not be any more of a deliberate and guilty swindle, and would put me to much less inconvenience. Phil has about him a sterling honesty, which binds him to me; beside which he has a native good sense which enables him to see when he is in an excellent place; or as he one day expressed it in his homely but not weak phraseology, he knew "which side his bread was buttered." The nurse has not been so faithful. She has been allured by a house in Broadway, a family of great wealth and fashion, and the offer of higher wages, and has left me without any assistance whatever. And the cook is probably at this moment up to her eyes in business in a private boarding house, where, I have reason to believe, she will discover that it is much more easy for her mistress to make promises than to keep them. I hope some of your readers will take the hint from this statement, which has nothing but truth and good intention to recommend it for publication. I think, however, that while a large portion of them derive more gratification from eloquent poetry and fanciful tales, or essays which embrace only lofty moral or metaphysical subjects, others would be pleased with your devoting a space of the Mirror to the correction of these little evils of practical life. To such as have been or may be guilty of the unneighborly conduct complained of here, I wish distinctly to state, that I look upon them as so many swindlers, who have the bad disposition of offenders against the law without their courage. It is my opinion, that after a perusal of my humble recital, whoever deludes a good servant, by covert promises, from his place in a decent family, would pick my pocket in any other way if he durst. He is a bad neighbor, an undutiful citizen, and I will stake my life, an unkind husband and an injudicious father. And if he do not actually break the law of his country, he violates other natural rules of courtesy and moral right, and richly deserves the anathema which Burns bestowed on the foes of Scotland's weal,-" a towmond toothache."
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NEW YORK is rather a charming little city, containing from one hundred to one hundred and fifty thousand inhabitants, mostly black. The streets are monopolized by these sons and daughters of Africa, who take the wall of you on all occasions; and it would be entirely useless, as well as extremely dangerous, to notice any insult which they may offer you, as they carry long daggers concealed in their bosoms, and use them, too, with utter impunity, under the very nose of the public authorities. Indeed, I once saw a little black boy carried to bridewell for stealing, and that very afternoon the whole negro male population turned out in a procession, consisting of twenty thousand, with banners, which bore the words, "Wilberforce Philanthropic Society.' From this, I presume, the boy's name was Wilberforce; at all events, the court of sessions (which by the way, is held in a little grocery store in William street, called Harmony Hall,) acquitted the culprit, in consequence of the sensation his imprisonment had produced. This took place in the month of August, and so great was the alarm, that immense numbers fled from the city, fearing another insurrection. Whole families departed at once. The steamboats (of which there are two tolerably good ones, one plying to Albany, the other to New Orleans on Long Island,) were every day crowded with trembling passengers, who sought refuge from the bloody and atrocious scenes which yearly disgrace_the_streets, and retired to Saratoga, Communipaw, Brooklyn in New Jersey, Charlestown in North Carolina, and Greenwich village on Lake George. Scarcely a night passes without the negroes setting two or three of the houses on fire, with the view of destroying the inhabitants. As the best mansions are made of light pine wood, it may be easily imagined that they are unusually combustible; but, fortunately
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the city of New York has really a most copious supply of water, which prevents much damage.
Their theatres are positively amusing, and I must say I laughed very heartily, although, to confess the truth, it was only at their tragedies and their operas. Park theatre was originally an old barn; its outside is disgraceful, and the interior more so. It has been burnt down fourteen times, probably by the religious party, which form the majority, and have now elected Jackson to the presidency. The establishment stands opposite the Roman Catholic cathedral, and is under the management of Messrs. Pierson and Drurie. I am indebted to my kind friend for many of these particulars. He knows that I am writing a book of travels, and although himself only an American, has kindly volunteered his services to collect materials for me, given me sketches of character and authentic anecdotes, and corrected, with the most scrupulous care, all my geographical and topographical illustrations, in which the reader may consequently repose the most implicit reliance. The theatres have, however, two or three tolerably decent performers. Mr. Barnes is the principal tragedian. I saw him one evening in Romeo to Mrs. Keppel's Juliet, and I must say, I thought his conception of the character rather good. He is quite small, with large melancholy eyes, and features expressive of tenderness and passion. Mrs. Keppel, as Juliet, was not sufficiently poetic, but was nevertheless pretty well. This was, however, afterward satisfactorily accounted for by the discovery that she was an English lady. I afterward saw Mr. Hilson in Young Norval. The greatest attraction they have, however, is Mr. Povey, a distinguished vocalist. He plays the prince, in Cinderella, and Masaniello quite delightfully; all the rest are not worth mentioning. A fellow by the name of H. Placide undertook to personate the Baron, but I was thoroughly disgusted. There are some peculiar customs prevailing among the audience here, which are apt to provoke a smile on the lips of a rational stranger. All their ladies dress in the most tasteless and extravagant style, and yet ay incontrovertible evidences of vulgarity, sitting on the banisters with their backs to the stage, between the acts, eating Carolina potatoes, and drinking ginger pop.
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This is done every night at the Park, and some goodsociety females smoke "long nines," in the boxes, with a degree of audacious ease and familiarity that is really shocking. The American theatre is a large wooden building in Green street, Third avenue, next door to the United States Bank. Richmond Hill is down town.
One thing which must strike all strangers of intelligence with astonishment, is the newspapers. There are three hundred daily papers printed in the city, and sixty weeklies. People never think of reading any thing else. Here are their poetry, their sermons, their lectures, their history, their music, their novels, all compressed within the limits of newspapers. It is strange that they are conducted by men who have been previously distinguished in other professions. Major Noah, of the American, was once consul at Paris. Mr. Leggett, of the Courier and Enquirer, was a commodore in the navy. Colonel King, and Alderman Charles Hoffman of the Journal of Commerce, Captain Sands and General Stone of the Gazette, Brother Jenks and Redwood Fisher of the Daily Advertiser, (noted Jacksonmen and poets,) and Colonel Morris of the Mirror, (the leading political journal,) are all old revolutionary heroes. It is supposed that the election of Jackson was entirely owing to the exertions of the Albion, and that gives it an overwhelming influence. Alderman Charles Hoffman is a very gifted and industrious young man. He edits the Railroad Banner of Truth, and the Journal of Commerce, and acts as district attorney; he is also a judge of the superior court, and besides, carries on an extensive auction business.