A Description of Men and Manners of
The Present Day,
Humorous Details of the Knickerbockers.
In Two Volumes.
America now can boast some pleasing themes,
Since her canals afford such silver streams;
That her fair daughters, whose enlightened minds
Cannot be flattered by the poet’s lines.
Printed for The Author.
Southern District of New-York, ss.
Be it remembered, That on the 1825-09-19nineteenth day of September, A. D. 1825, in the fiftieth year of the Independence of the United States of America, C.S. Van Winkle, of the said district, hath deposited in this office the title of a book, the right whereof he claims as proprietor, in the words following, to wit:Changing Scenes, containing a Description of Men and Manners of the present day, with Humourous Details of the Knickerbockers. In two volumes. By a Lady of New-York. America now can boast some pleasing themes, Since her canals afford such silver streams; That her fair daughters, whose enlightened minds Cannot be flattered by the poet’s lines.
In conformity to the act of Congress of the United States, entitled, An act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of maps, charts, and books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the time therein mentioned; and also, to an act, entitled, An act supplementary to an act, entitled, an act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of maps, charts, and books to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the times therein mentioned, and extending the benefits thereof to the arts of designing, engraving, and etching historical and other prints.
James Dill, Clerk of the Southern District of New-York.
To General La Fayette.
With all hearts expanded, America hails you to her shores.
When the recollection of your youthful days, which were solely devoted to assist in placing us in a situation to become one of the greatest nations on earth; when we are ready to acknowledge, with gratitude to you who has ventured in his declining years to visit us, who are now advancing in arts, sciences, agriculture and commerce, and every blessing a great nation can boast, may we now, worthy sir, hope that the remainder of your days may be spent amongst us, to enliven and direct. As a small tribute of respect, I dedicate a few pages for your perusal. Should a gloom arise in your mind at the thoughts of leaving your dear relatives, may you find in this small offering something to cause a smile, and relieve your anxiety: then will these pages, and the female writer of them, whose ancestors, though remote, drew their first breath in the same country that gave you existence, be highly gratified. That you may long enjoy health, and that the changing scenes which we must all meet with, may be agreeable, is the devout wish and fervent prayer of
Counsellor Blackbean, from Doctors’ Commons, London—his character contrasted with John Cornelius Covenhoven, from Long Island—his marvellous description of a large turnip, intended for the premium— Captain Collins, from Sautucket, with his pleasantness to Miss McNally.
It was in one of those moments, when the mind is at rest, and no unwelcome thoughts intrude upon our solitude—when it is delightful to regale the soul by the contemplations of past enjoyments, and compare them and trace their various and meandering influences, from the stately and gorgeous palace to the straw- thatched cottage, still finding the human heart invariably the same—sordid, avaricious, credulous.1* 1006 1(3)v 6
It was at such a moment, that I was just seated and gazing on the clouded hemisphere, when I was suddenly interrupted by a loud rap at the hall door. A disconsolate female presented herself, whose countenance indicated thought, humility and sincerity of manner; my mind at this moment seemed, happily, in somewhat of a sympathetic mood, and I received the stranger with a kind and hearty welcome. What unexpected event, my fair friend, has occasioned this journey over craggy rocks and roads almost impassible—some faithless vows or stubborn selfishness; or, mayhap, a callous obdurate heart, is the pitiable incentive. Speak, lovely stranger, and let the tear of sympathy bedew this cheek. It is not vain curiosity that prompts me to commiserate; it is a more heightened feeling—’tis the overflowing of a feeling heart. My mind presages that poverty, grief, or disappointment, conducted you here.
Ah, replied this afflicted stranger, your conjectures are not right; true, my face may show sorrow and disappointment, but I assure you, madam, the face is not always the indiex of the mind; in my peregrinations through 1007 1(4)r 7 life, I have often seen a face of pleasure, with a heart of pain: the sole object of my travelling, is fully to obtain what I fear that I never can posibly attain; it is a perfect knowledge of the human heart. I have ever, from my infancy, wished to be great; and my father observed in my youthful days that a description o f courts and grandeur gave me uncommon delight. I always read with an audable voice, and with elevated pleasure, whenever such scenes were presented to my raptured imagination. My family are decended from the Milesian race; pride and ambition prompted me to seek an asylum in America, where talents and industrious habits always succeed in obtaining a competency, if not actual wealth. Encouraged by the advices of my friends, I hastened to this hospitable shore, in pursuit of wealth. I had a taste for music; and on my passage I often indulged myself, and extremely gratified those around me. The captain of the ship seemed particularly delighted, although his manners, which I shall take the liberty to describe, were peculiarly uncouth, and nautical. His name was Collins; and I soon observed that he was a good man, active and intelligent, but 1008 1(4)v 8 no judge of music. He was born at Sautaucket, on Long Island: law, faw, me, he used to say, I could hear you sing if the vessel was on her beam ends; pray, where did you get your music, Miss? Sir, I used to sing at the Rotunda. They are all flats there, are they not? No, replied I, there are two sharps for one flat in their music. I wonder, replied the captain, how long it would take to learn the gamut? for then, I take it, that persons may improve themselves. I often tried when I was a boy, and my friends advised me to continue, as I would soon play Jenny Bang the Weaver, and Molly Put the Kettle on. O, sir, replied I, the bag-pipes are the best to begin with.
We had a boisterous passage, with only three female passengers. The ship was called the Belerophon. One of the ladies was a Miss Sipthorn, of Clontarf, the other a Dutch lady of the name of Vanderspiegle, and your humble servant, Angelica Mc Nally. And now I must crave your pardon for mentioning, for a moment, the doctor of our ship, whose conversation was rather physical; the 1009 1(5)r 9 aorta, the carotid arteries, the arteria asperia, and such like jargon, were his continual conversation. The captain asked me one day, was that French he spoke? I told him I thought it to be either Italian or Latin. His name was Orsi; he was very agreeable, and in order to amuse us, he sung the following fashionable air: Oh, say not woman’s love is boughtWith vain and empty treasure;Oh, say not woman’s heart is caughtBy every idle pleasure. &c. &c.
Miss Mc Nally requested that I would gratify her with a short account of my life, and the many Changing Scenes I had witnessed in others. I readily acquiesced, and began as follows:
I am descended from a respectable family in Antwerp, where economy and industry were indispensable, to secure the affections of my parents. In early life I was practised in the following rules, viz.—First, to adorn my person on Sunday, and grace the middle aisle of the church; to be very attentive to church discipline, and behave with religious decorum;1010 1(5)v 10 rum; to pay strict attention to the sermon, though I did not altogether understand it; to bring home the text to my parents, in order to show that I had been attentive; to gaze on the congregation slightly, and with hauteur and consequence, and, if possible, to fix my eyes on one who, perhaps, was seeking mine. In this happy state of things, how was my tender heart taken by the appearance of John Cornelius Covenhoven, a tall, majestic youth of florid countenance; he caught my admiring eye, and soon, very soon, he approached my father’s house, and, as it is the custom there, tenderly asked me for my company. Having a little vein of humour, in which I felt willing to indulge, I replied: I shall not withdraw from your presence till your conversation becomes painful.
My father had unhappily at that time a lawsuit depending, and was frequently visited by that class of people whose business it is to make crooked things appear straight. Among the number was Counsellor Blackbean, a man of great appearance, but who had the sly look of a reynard. He was of distinguished talents, but of no probity or honour; 1011 1(6)r 11 in fact, he had nothing to recommend him but the knowledge of the law, glossing the new constitution.
It was Whitsunday when the Counsellor met Mr. Covenhoven at my father’s house, where there were many different characters assembled. I viewed them all with a lynx eye, and contemplated their varied faces. John C.’s was sincerity and truth. In all he said, Counsellor Blackbean was all evasion, deceit, and hypocrisy.
The conversation turned on a variety of subjects, in which each of the company took a part. John C. talked of a large turnip raised on Long-Island near where the old tulip tree stood. iIf the Horticultural Society had it, he would get a silver pitcher for it.
I should endeavour with all my ingenuity, said Blackbean, to enter in a caveat, and prevent your getting the premium, by endeavouring to prove it a radish, merely to gratify my own ambition, and to convince the world that we only live for opposition.1012 1(6)v 12
My mother then entered the room, and the conversation turned on the state of the weather; she remarked, that by the almanac there would be an eclipse on the --05-31last of May, in the latitude of Jamaica. My father observed, that he thought from his feelings, which he deemed better than an almanac, that it would very soon rain; and the conversation then, as a natural consequence, turned on horticultural pursuits. My mother was truly one of the tender sex, gentle and kind in her demeanour, persuasive in her manner, and one who honoured her husband as Sarah did her Lord, by a cheerful and ready obedience to his commands. She was of the Drelincourt family. My father was born in Albermale county, Virginia; he was a justice of the quorum, and very unlike many of our present judicial officers, was much more desirous to make peace between enemies, than to exasperate or destroy the unity of friends. I have two sisters, women of fashion, and who have ventured into high life. Artemisia is tall and slender, elegantly formed to please. Arrabella is passionate, but possesses a good heart; her time is chiefly devoted to music, dancing, and the 1013 2(1)r 13 wild routine of company. I had one brother; he is gone to South America to engage himself under the brave Bolivar.
Now, my inquisitive stranger, said Miss M‘Nally, I should be pleased with a description of your life, which has not been embittered, I presume, by calamity.
Certainly not; I have never known sorrow: fortune’s smiles dawned on my infant years; and when left to my own discretion I discovered a propensity to travel—a desire to visit courts, and to view the manners of the great, was my determined resolution.
The first object of my desire was to visit England; and I took passage for Liverpool, where we arrived without the occurrence of any incident worth relating. Accompanied by a female friend, I left Liverpool in a stage to visit several of the cities and towns in the interior, in company with a variety of characters. The first was an inquisitive traveller, an author; he was so observant, that it was visible in his looks and words—you could not Vol. I. 2 1014 2(1)v 14 help noticing it—his pencil was ever ready— but the irritability of his temper when disturbed in his best reveries, excited much ridicule.
A Spanish gentleman from Estraxtremadura, named Sigoren Esperando Nevarro, and his cousin Don Diego, amused themselves snuffing and gazing on the cover of their box, which they said was made of the bark of a large tree that blew down on Long-Island; and Esperando had caused his sister’s picture to be taken on it. She was a lady far advanced in years, and illegally devested of property, she always thought her own, till the iron hand of despotism had seized and taken it from her. I thought I could not pay a greater respect to her memory than by causing her likeness to be painted on this box.
To show the world that riches and honors, youth and health all pass away, (and such changing scenes in life are certain) a new cathedral is now erected on the post where the aged tree stood.1015 2(2)r 15
We then travelled some miles, during which a perfect silence prevailed; nothing was heard but the driver’s whip. At length, as from a sleep, we all spake at once—what a fine day; delightful travelling; the birds in yonder grove seem to chant their soft feeble notes, in order to remind us not to murmur at the vicissitudes of this life, but cheerfully pass on as though no troubles assailed us.Near where we shall dine—prepare your appetites for England’s boast, roast beef and plumb pudding, Cheshire cheese and Whitbread’s ale—the desert will be pounds, shillings, and pence, to shake your pockets.
I am told in America, continued the driver, you draw checks for all your immediate wants; they say there is a bank there for every purpose under the sun: insurance offices for the lives of all living mortals; and there is a plan before the legislature in one of the states, I do not recollect its name, to insure the lives of lions, fish, wolves, and camels, which that country abounds with.1016 2(2)v 16
I was born in America, sir; I do not recollect any such public institution. I have heard of Eagle and Phœnix Banks, and their feathers are of the gayest plumage above all the feathered creation. I had a pleasant conversation, particularly with Miss Susannah Avery, a Portuguese young lady, who was travelling for her health; she had been much afflicted with a tinitus aurium, but was now in a convalescent state, and cheerfullly passed through the country. She was of low stature, nineteen years of age, with a large aqualine nose, black eyes, and prominent lips, her hair jet black. When we alighted from the stage each passenger directed his conversation to one that he supposed his equal; for there is in stages in general a mixed order of society. It is difficult to distinguish at this day people by their dress, as dress is so easily obtained; the only difference that can be discovered is when they speak; it is then the character and education are discovered. Some persons think it better not to sound all the letters in a word, and to misapply them when they speak; as, instead of arm, house they say harm, ouse, &c. &c. As to a Frenchman, he 1017 2(3)r 17 expresses himself with shrugging his shoulders and wrinkling his forehead; he talks fast, and whether understood or not, he cares not a sous; he delights in a volubility of speech, which certainly is fulsome. Then a pert young lady from Broadway school, talks of astronomy, chronology, theology, and a variety of subjects, pleasing to none but herself.
After travelling through Europe, I returned to America, my native home, and was much delighted with its improvements; and fixed my residence in Broadway, so as to have an opportunity of discerning different characters, and marking the predominate passions that actuate the human mind, in this splendid city of New-York, where wisdom guides the councils of the great, and industry fills the pockets of the deserving few, and enables them to build spacious houses for their abode on earth; and in due time perhaps will obtain a small corner in the new contemplated spot where frogs and reptiles enjoyed themselves formerly. But mourn not ye sons and daughters of Columbia, that you cannot, 2* 1018 2(3)v 18 when the cold hand of death seizes you, be deposited by your dearest friends; only pray to live until the new Westminster Abbey is built, and then you will perhaps be entombed with all the sages and brave men of this land, who are now quietly laid in many unfrequented parts of our beloved country waiting for elegies to be written in their praise, with inscriptions on their monuments. I am of opinion, Praises on tombs are trifles vainly spent,A man’s good name is his best monument.
I found on my return the benevolent inhabitants of my native city all engaged in making collections to aid the brave Greeks, and were very successful. The female mind felt particular sensation at the barbarous treatment of the Turks to this ancient people, who have, in former days, lived in splendour and magnificence. As a tribute of respect to them, there was a splendid military ball given by the gentlemen of distinction of the city. A description of the ladies and gentlemen that attended will be unnecessary.1019 2(4)r 19
The following poetic effusion is by a lady, a native of New-York:
On the Grand Military Ball, given 1824-01-08January 8th, 1824, in the aid of the Greeks.
Our bells and beaus united all
To celebrate the Grecian ball;
Which did outshine the comet’s blaze,
And caus’d the sons of Mars to gaze.
In female skill, who’ll share the fleece,
When welcom’d here the sons of Greece;
For true it is, you’ll always find,
Ambition fills the female mind.
In ancient days, and good old times,
The Romans call’d on the Sabines,
Made splendid feasts and drank, ’tis true,
Intent on beauty then in view.
Each snatch’d a fair, and took her home,
And thus was peopled ancient Rome;
The different banners, now in sight,
Did the female hearts delight.
Their rosy cheeks, and dress sublime,
Made them appear almost divine.
Our country now is all at peace,
Then welcome now ye sons of Greece—
For ye are all, both rich and gay,
Thrice welcome to America.
The activity and philanthropy of this country is astonishing; all hearts seem ready to expand at distress; and benevolence seems the grand order in council.
The first address from our tender pastors, when we assemble to worship, is the following:
A cup of cold water, given in the name of a disciple, shall not lose its reward. Then reflection seizes the mind, and all are electrified; and immediately determine to give, and not let their left hand know what their right hand doeth.
The inhabitants of this city have various amusements, and are so engaged in different 1021 2(5)r 21 pursuits, that passing along after a north-east storm we meet with many difficulties in crossing the streets; and then we wish to retire into the country, to wander where the tinkling rills amuse us. Oft have I contemplated on the sweets of retirement; the heart-felt pleasure that is enjoyed, when a person thinks he is forgotten by the world; none then can revile or condemn his past conduct. He can say, vain are all his empty pursuits. Rosy health only is desirable. He can repeat with the poet, For me health gushes from a thousand streams,From our own minds our satisfaction springs. The poet forcibly displays that all our wishes combine in the above situation. Next to health, prosperity and riches, honours and enjoyments are eagerly wished for by the present generation. Mankind now soar above trifling pursuits, or chemical chimeras; things are now understood in their true light; no false gleam dazzles the beholders.
Lord and lady Norberry have just arrived in New-York from Campeachy, in company 1022 2(5)v 22 with their intelligent niece, Miss Rosemary, cousin to Miss Serena Mayberry, who is now on a visit to Albany, the metropolis of this state, where the learned and eloquent all assemble to display their wisdom; and once a year petition for all their approaching wants.
Immediately on their arrival they had every respect paid to them that strangers of distinction are entitled to; not ringing of bells and firing of great guns, that is intended for such only who distinguished themselves in our late wars, which are now happily subsided. Miss Rosemary was immediately applied to by some missionaries, to accompany them to Otaheite, to instruct and civalize the natives, who are in rather a barbarous state. She condescendingly replied that such a task would afford her an inward satisfaction, and she should immediately consult those who had her welfare at heart in this state of her mind. Many of her friends called on her; she never consulted any but lord and lady Norberry, who readily acquiesed in such a laudable undertaking. Miss Serena Mayberry had lately, since her return from Albany, captivated 1023 2(6)r 23 the humourous doctor Darcy, and he was continually teazing her. One day he was accosted by his friend, who said, it is a fine day, Doctor. Ah, he replied, very fine to make tansy and balsam grow; but foggy mornings and easterly winds, with redundant rains, are my benefits A dense atmosphere always brings on tremors, agues, and all other inviting occasions to send for the doctor, who, at the first visit, if he cannot exactly discriminate what disorder his patient is attacked with, (for there is a great similarity in diseases) he must sit and appear, after the ceremony of feeling the pulse is over, quite mute. Silence in a physician is always a mark of great wisdom and skill. Lord and lady Norberry are retired characters, never mix in the gay world. Lord L. one day addressed himself to lady L. in the following style: What is your opinion of the present times, my dear, for you are a second Madam Rowland in knowledge. You certainly compliment me so highly and undeservedly that I dare not give my opinion. All I can aver is, that human nature is much depraved, all seem so aspiring. Those who formerly were content to furbelow1024 2(6)v 24 low dresses, that is, trail and flounce them, and contented themselves with admiring dresses made for other people to wear, now seek pleasure in more exalted pursuits; such as instructing those that know less that themselves; for there are, you know, none quite so ignorant but can teach a little, and so in the end aggrandize themselves; that is the great self- sufficiency which many of the present day evidently discover. I thank you, my dear, for your opinion and information; but, I assure you, I feel unhappy at the idea of our niece leaving us; what possible advantage will it be to herself? You certainly think that mankind of the present day act from interested motives; if so, why should she leave us, if I continue in the same mind I am at present, and have no children? She that is born in my house, the Scripture says, has a right to the inheritance. My dear, replied Lady Norberry, Rosemary wishes to be doing good; and it has such a religious appearance to teach sunday school, that it at once stamps the character. There goes a good girl, Miss Serena Mayberry; she called on us, and we all teazed her about Doctor 1025 3(1)r 25 Darcy. She made no reply; so I think she has consented to his wishes, soon after he came to pay us a friendly visit. I then enquired of him, what news, doctor, from the Greeks, Oh, (fine times he replied,) there is nothing but gayety and flattery, pomp and finery, flummery and plumb pudding, with beauty and simplicity. Here is a splendid ball on foot, and all tradesmen are to be there. Several ladies and gentlemen called on us this day, as Sol’s bright beams had been obscured for some days, and now appeared in bright effulgence to cheer unhappy mortals below. Among our visiters was Captain Bluster, and he kindly offered his best birth, in the cabin, to Miss Rosemary, as he sails to Oteheite on Sunday next. The news soon reached our friends, who came to take leave; among the number was our friend councellor Blackbean, who said he had just called at Miss Mayberry’s, where there were some characters who were all hilarity and good humour. Among the number was Doctor Narcotic, who smilingly said he had been at Doctor Darcy’s, where the bandages were all preparing, and a straight waistcoat was recommendedI. 3 1026 3(1)v 26 ed to him, as being much in use the present day—corsets and cosmetics appeared in view; conserves were preparing with carroway confits, which were to deck the table; the middle dish was to be vermicilli soup; the side dishes, arrowroot pudding with elderberry sauce. Miss Rosemary, when she took leave of lord and lady Norbury seemed much affected, and thus addressed them:
I was cast in nature’s mould for some exquisite purpose; to cheer some unknown heart that now is quiet and beats gently. I will now rise at early morn, and solace myself with the fragrant perfume that is diffused to all around, and there in sweet and melodious strains invoke the gods to hear my prayer; that is, when time has past over me a few more seasons, when I may hope to be blessed in adamantine chains with the heart I adore. Doctor Narcotic addressed her: I hope, Miss, that I shall speedily congratulate you on your return again to our healthy clime, where the pulse vibrates in great order, and the blood flows through the veins with rapid motion, and words of comfort are pleasingly conveyed by the voice to impatient lovers.1027 3(2)r 27
Miss Mayberry and Dr. Darcy, were dressed in the following style for their intended nuptials; a crimson pelisse trimmed with satin ribbons, a small Grecian bonnet turned up in front with two large white feathers tipped with silver, white kid shoes and Fayette gloves. The doctor’s dress was such as the faculty usually wear; Miss Mayberry made the following remarks to Tawdry, her maid, the morning previous to her marriage: I hope I have not too quickly, and without reflection, consented to make another happy, at the expense of my own thoughtlessness; what on earth will be the event I know not; but should I be fortunate, I know I will be thankful, for a single life is irksome.—No one to retail one’s misery to—no one to protect us. She sung the following song.
How hard is my lot—
Though little I have got
I freely would share with another.
For woman alone,
Still seeks for the bone,
That unites her for ever, and ever.1028 3(2)v 28
In the morn I awake,
And no comfort I take,
Am grieved and cannot tell why,
Till my Darcy appears,
And lulls all my fears,
No longer I then sit and sigh.
After Miss Rosemary’s departure, there was a letter found in her chamber, which, in the hurry of the moment, she had dropt; the contents were as follows:
To Miss Angelina Rosemary.
My amiable fair, the expectation of seeing you, has hastened my return from Austrelesia; what shall I write that will be sufficiently expressive of my feelings? I know no language to paint my ardent wishes to speak to you; words when I see you will, I hope, flow sufficient to convince you of my sincerity; and if you pretend to doubt my veracity, I will rush from you in a moment; for no woman on earth shall trifle with my feelings— if I know myself I must be respected. Pray consider, and be wise, and let not the moment 1029 3(3)r 29 pass that never will return—that waits your consent to make us one,
Respectfully your’s, (if you please,)
New-York, 1825-02-10Feb. 10, 1825.
What a singular character! he seems not only all helter skelter, but all hurry and hast; not a moment to think what must be done; we can only style him mighty monarch of passion? How high he is; perhaps ere he is much older, he may repent his haste.
Miss Rosemary’s sadness at parting is now accounted for. If it were not for the follies of half the world, the remainder could not exist. New-made dishes, like new-made clothes, always inspire the owner, and give him fanciful ideas that he is superior to others; his hasty step and vivid countenance plainly demonstrate he is happy; none of his former acquaintance pass him by; all are inquiring after his health and prosperity. On the reverse of fortune, and the thread-bare coat appears, he shuns and is shunned by his former associates, and sinks into forgetfulness.3* 1030 3(3)v 30
Proud man! what better than a savage art thou? The famed Pochohontas, the noble female that saved the first settlers in Virginia, how she adorned herself in all the feathers of the winged creation: how charming she looked; her mild soothing countenance was pleasant beyond expression; her voice as the lark, early and shrill; the tender passion of love inspired her with veneration towards the brave Captain Smith; she ingeniously contrived to make known to him the threats that were premeditated against him―― Lovely Aborigine! thrice lovely,Tho’ not enlightened by education. Thy soft and feeling heart contrived to save a man destined to death. Not a well educated female of this hemisphere has shone with half your beaming lustre. Peace to your gentle shade,Whose memory ne’er shall fade.
In rambling on the craggy summits in Virginia, how picturesque that scene at morning dawn, to behold the cloulds ascending in humid vapours above the little meandering 1031 3(4)r 31 rivulets, to point out their circumjacent windings, cheer our gloomy feelings, and make us magnify our great Omnipotent: to view Aurora open her gates after we have silently reposed, perhaps not serenely, for the troubles of life are so many and various, that mortals cannot always sleep to arise thus from a state of forgetfulness, a state of nothing—from corroding care. To awaken to a full fruition of pleasure, and partake of such enjoyments as conduce to health; calmly to sit and view the horizon and azure sky, and at eve to behold the effulgent brightness of the starry train moving in grand order and succession, convince us some mighty power directs and controuls beyond our feeble comprehension: we admire in silence! we praise thee, oh sweet Director of our hearts and minds, who in thy wisdom has placed us that we know not ourselves. We must leave our destiny to thy all powerful will, at the same time so conduct ourselves as to be blameless in thy sight, following the paths of virtue and holiness, without which we cannot please thee, and so ordering our steps that we may never stray from thee, for we, alas! are all meteors of a day, and as the passing clouds, vanish for ever.1032 3(4)v 32
After these reflections, I again resume my pen to more enlivening subjects, in order to amuse my readers, being well convinced that changing scenes amuse the mind, should the subject not be so entertaining.
Excursion to Croton and Poughkeepsie in a Jaunting Car, in company with Miss Abercrombie, and my Nephew, to Solomon Prodigal’s, with a description of Mrs. Prodigal, and her comely daughter, Emily, just from Bethlehem; and the kind reception we met.
I was passing from Croton, which is about forty miles from New-York, up the river Hudson to Poughkeepsie, in a superb jaunting car, in company with Miss Frances Abercrombie, a young lady of intellectual powers and fascinating demeanour, ever willing to put the best construction on words; and should the breath of scandal ever surround her, she would scatter it beneath her feet, and spurn at the retailer.
Previous to our expedition, she was determined to hear all that could be said in one family, respecting the other, and remain mute. The first house we made a stop at was squire Nimble’s, who kept a superb inn, it being no disparagement in America for even a governor or a general to entertain travellers. The 1034 3(5)v 34 Americans are so inquisitive, that all the family, old and young, in the country crowd round you when you descend from a jaunting car, or any handsome carriage, particularly in the New England states; where they are very ambitious for knowledge, most particularly the females; the men being for the most part always planning, which is sometimes better than working
Squire Nimble had two daughters, both intelligent girls; they could spin and talk at the same time, most cheerfully; especially the youngest, named Sarah, in memory of her grandmother, who lived to the age of one hundred.
I addressed the oldest, who was not quite so affable, and inquired how the young ladies employed their time in the country; she quickly replied, two-thirds of their time was spent in obtaining intelligence of the concerns of their neighbours—their economy, their pusillanimity, their religion and industry, and every other occurrence that took place. I then requested her to give me a short description1035 3(6)r 35 scription of their marriage ceremonies and christenings, as we intended to spend a day or two at this house of agreeable entertainment, before we went to Poughkeepsie, for ours was only intended as a jaunt of pleasure. My nephew, a youth of twenty years of age, was of our party, who never takes any delight in presence of the ladies; so he amused himself by seeing the horses fed, and keeping the fowls from eating their oats, that they may be enabled to proceed on their journey. He held it a true maxim, that when you alight at an inn, you should see that your horses are taken good care of, and not depend on a vassal, who always neglects them.
The front of Squire Nimble’s house was nearly covered with dried pumpkins and apples. His eldest daughter sauntered with me, by way of amusement, first to the hog- sty, and then to the cucumber plot, to look for melons; for indeed she was a good sort of a girl, tried to amuse me while her mother, as I supposed, was preparing the chickens for dinner, as I heard a great noise 1036 3(6)v 36 and fluttering in the coop, which I endeavoured to shut my ears against, but could not entirely. I began singing Welcome La Fayette—she begged me to write it for her. She said she would send to the store for paper; I told her we had plenty, and would give it to her.
I then requested she would relate the customs of the place. She said it would be impossible, as every family varied in their pursuits; some rose early, some likewise were so avaricious, that they worked both day and night; for farming required great, very great industry; and then you would know that you would obtain cash. She was fearful, she said, that the grand canal so much talked of formerly, and now, she heard, so much used, would ruin all the farmers near New-York; as truck (that is, produce) had been sold so cheap that it would not pay for raising it; and, indeed, their neighbour Spriggins had reported that it was current in New-York, that the next trippers in the canal boats meant, by way of speculation, to give their things for nothing, and see how that would 1037 4(1)r 37 please the scribes and pharisees in New-York, and ruin all the gardeners on Manhattan Island, Communipaw, and Saugerchies.
You astonish me, Miss Sophy; I have just come from New-York, and there is not a word of truth in it. So I told father—let him that putteth his hand to the plough not turn back, for the labourer is worthy of his hire: and moreover, I said likewise to sister Sarah, we will not faint or murmur, but water our father’s flocks as usual, and in shearing time, snatch the fleece and spin and make merry, for deuce take the canal and all schemers. Now, Miss, you promised that you would inform me of the marriage ceremony of your neighbours.
O! do excuse me from that painful subject, since I have been disappointed in that business, cried Sophy: I hate to talk of love; sister Sarah will entertain you most cheerfully; she is more intelligent than I, and goes to all the spinning parties in the neighbourhood.Vol. I. 4 1038 4(1)v 38
In the height of our conversation, the old gentleman (by name Nimble) announced dinner; my nephew was called from the pigeon house, and miss Frances Abercrombie from the garden, where she was collecting flower seeds, to an excellent dinner prepared by Mrs. Nimble, who, I assure you, was a dignified lady, for the keeper of a hotel, and so polite withal, that it was not quite so agreeable at the time that our appetites were so keen. She dissected the poultry with great exactness, while her husband sliced the ham very thin, and looked up to her for approbation— Ladies, what will you be pleased to be helped to? These chickens always roosted in our little hen house, and I fed them daily; these are of the top-knot breed and very fat. I confess I was not much pleased, though the scripture says kill and eat. I could not taste my chicken, for she had too ably expatiated on the breed. I felt disagreeable; begged to be helped to ham as, coming from New-York, fresh provisions were no novelty. Not eat chickens!—she was surprised. My nephew ate voraciously as he was convinced after all politeness was 1039 4(2)r 39 over we should be well charged, and so spared not his taste of all the good things that were offered; and the time passed on quite agreeably. Ladies, said the landlord, you have had great doings in York. I hear the great Fayette is come; were you to see him? By all means; every inhabitant paid due homage to him. Jew and Christian, catholic and protestant, all united to worship him. The latter days are not far off, said the old man, for we read in Zechariah, (I do not remember the chapter,) that before the great and terrible day of the Lord come, all people shall be united—Jews, Turks, and Christians, in one cause, and that in the cause of truth; and as he has fought for us, that is truth, and no one dare contradict it. I commend the people of New-York, who seem to exceed all the states in magnificence and grandeur.
The conversation turned on a variety of subjects. Sarah, the youngest daughter, is very conversant; for it is to be observed, that women formerly thought silence was the 1040 4(2)v 40 greatest mark of good breeding, and the greatest recommendation to a young lady.— Not so the present day: they now talk of Redgauntlets, Spies, Pilots and Pirates, and a whole train of excellent writings not to be surpassed in these days—such is female inquisitiveness.
There was a writer in New-Jersey in former days, who signed his name Hortensius; he particularly addressed his fair countrywomen as follows:
To your homespun, my fair daughters; I advise you, for your own peace and quiet. To your homespun—meaning their ancient manners and customs, as being most congenial to happiness.
After dinner the company dispersed to their different occupations; our company to their pleasure. Sarah staid by us, at my request, and was very intelligible. The old lady then came to us. I asked the age of her oldest daughter. She told me, she was born in corn-planting time; she always dated the 1041 4(3)r 41 birth of her family from putting in the crops. My sister, said she, was very old; she was born 1775-08-23the day the Asia man of war fired on New-York, in 1774one thousand seven hundred and seventy-four, the beginning of the old revoloutionary war, when brave men in this country took up arms—many knew not for what. Their posterity are now so loaded with honourable and profitable situations, as entirely to forget they ever were born; for fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers, are never mentioned; and perhaps never thought of in these days of prosperity: like Lot’s wife, they must not look back, for fear of turning to salt—or dirt. My sister lived to a good old age, and oftentimes she would relate to me the ancient manners of the native citizens of New-York, their descent, cleanly appearance, the veneration they held towards the minister of the gospel, such as is now paid to the missionaries. In all unhappy family disputes (which will arise) they pacified the parties; not crim. con. pretensions—they were never heard of; men in those days regarded woman as God’s last and best gift, as the 4* 1042 4(3)v 42 great Milton beautifully expresses it in his ever to be admired writings: Arise my fairest, my espoused, my latest found,Heaven’s last, best gift, man’s ever new delight.—Awake! behold the morning shines,And the fresh fields call us away.
Miss Frances Abercrombie was so pleased with old Mrs. Nimble’s recital of past events, that she begged me to prolong our stay, having no idea that a landlady of an inn could be so entertaining. She was born in London, where they make great distinctions; the people are all classed in several orders there, and it would be disgraceful to descend to any person beneath you. There are your lords, your dukes, marquises, counts, viscounts; then your dealers, hosiers, haberdashers, fruiters, fiddlers, cockneys, and a long list of characters, who never mix in society; all know their company, from High- gate to New-gate, and steadily and industriously pursue one course, which in time never fails to ensure profit, and so far lead the world, that all their manufuctures flourish to 1043 4(4)r 43 this day. A few more imposing duties on foreign luxuries, will raise America; and then probably her inhabitants will class themselves likewise. But at present we are all on a level in this free country; I had almost said black and white, no distinction—a fat goose is a fat goose, and he that can purchase it, has a free right to eat it. So much for our excellent constitution. We have wholesome laws, which fatten people to explain them. Rich lands too, but, (sorry to let the world know,) very poor owners. Rich emigrants will not visit our shores; poor ones only will benefit themselves.
In the midst of our conversation, in which the old lady had really astonished us, my nephew approached and begged to know if we intended proceeding on our journey, as the hay was bad at this place, and the oats had been gathered too soon. I assured him we should proceed to Poughkeepsie next day, and so prepared ourselves for our departure. The young ladies, at our request, assented to pay us a visit at New-York. My friends frowned at me for inviting them.1044 4(4)v 44
You know, they observed my dear aunt, that we shall be much ashamed to see them at our house in New-York. Consider, we live in Broadway, the emporium of fashion. I told them we would just take them to Joe Bonfanti’s store; a few jewels quickly adorn a lady, and dresses are now so cheap, it is impossible to tell a lady—but what matter, in these days mixed company is the rage. I repeat it again, there is no distinction in this country; we are not in Gloucestershire, or Pembrokeshire—we are on the road to Poughkeepsie, and you must banish pride from your bosom. Oh pride! what a destruction to human nature. American pride is above German pride, and that is represented to exceed all others—for certainly they show it, and that makes it most noticed. It was a fine pleasant morning when we left our entertainers, and they were not so exorbitant in their bills as my nephew George Washington thought they would be. After passing over a hilly country, we stopped at Peekskill, and refreshed ourselves; my nephew begged we would not delay so long on the road. Miss Frances kept a journal; however, there 1045 4(5)r 45 were no very lively occurrences took place; the country around seemed to present to view fine crops of corn, &c. &c.
Upon this we proceeded to Poughkeepsie; had letters of introduction to the honourable Solomon Prodigal; he waited on us at our arrival, and insisted that we should not stay in a tavern, as he called it; came for us, and received us with every mark of attention; kindly inquired after the banker in New-York that had introduced us, and such trivial conversation as generally takes place at the first interview of the rich and great.
Have you dined? We, in order to save trouble to our friend, said we had, (meaning yesterday,) knowing in a private family of distinction it creates confusion to take them by surprise, if their family is ever so well organized.
After a few moments had elapsed, Mrs. Prodigal entered with great dignity; we were ceremoniously introduced by the husband, who handed her the letter; she was 1046 4(5)v 46 nearest, and called for her spectacles, and after reading it made a pause: You are from New-York, I suppose? We bowed.
Judge Prodigal’s lady was about fifty years of age; had been extremely handsome in her youth; had lived in New York; was very facetious for one of her time of life, and delighted in tales of humour. Now, ladies, said she, you must throw aside all ceremony in my house, and enjoy yourselves as if at home; all but one thing you are welcome to—meaning her husband.
The ladies were pleased at their kind reception, and the young gentleman enjoyed himself on the farm with Mr. Solomon Prodigal.
The village rang at the arrival of such great people from New-York, and the jaunting car stood the strictest scrutiny. They were very inquisitive to know if we were the owners, which I assure you we did not conceal. The servants gazed, the neighbours made slight excuses for calling, and I can be free to say, we were much admired.1047 4(6)r 47
Miss Abercrombie was handsomely dressed in a riding habit of the colour of the crocodile, changeable; her hat turned up in front, with two waving black feathers; she had a handsome hand, with several glittering rings on her fingers, which she variously displayed by touching the piano—for they had an excellent one.
A young lady about sixteen years of age was then introduced—tall of stature, with fair hair and pale visage, and rather reserved in her manners, quite unlike her mother; seemed as if all her movements were planned, and all her observations studied; she tried to be agreeable, but that was impossible, for her formal manners had become habitual, and she could not surmount them. My nephew gazed at her, as at a comet, with pleasure and astonishment. She shone in his eyes with that brightness that illumined his soul beyond all he had ever seen before. Her mother, with her accustomed frankness, apologized for Emily’s taciturnity; saying at Bethlehem, where she had been educated, the young ladies were all seriouus. O mamma! 1048 4(6)v 48 you always make me the subject of your irony; certainly I have not that flow of words which I shall have when more acquainted with the world: and I have been taught that it is better not to speak, than to do it ungracefully. I hope my studious manner will give no offence to my dear parents; and at present it seems I have no other desire than to please them. Pray Miss, interrupted Miss Frances, did you like the manners of the Bethlemites?
Certainly I did, or I should not have remained there. Tea being announced, the ladies and gentlemen entered the drawing- room, which appeared as though it had not been opened for some time. There were sumptuous things in great profusion, particularly all kinds of preserves; the manner in which they were preserved, gave the old lady great pleasure to relate.
After tea the party all took a walk to the river; George Washington Claibourn taking Miss Emily by the hand, who appeared quite reserved. Miss Frances and myself 1049 5(1)r 49 paraded together, and the old lady and gentleman.
Every brook and tree was described to us by the aged pair; every plant and shrub, their usefulness and virtues were pointed out; and I can truly say the walk was both pleasant and edifying, for nothing pleased Mrs. Prodigal more than diffusing her knowledge to benefit the human race. Her husband though a good man, was secret and mysterious in all his ways, for it may be truly said they were past finding out.
The neighbours all assembled in the evening; some no doubt out of curiosity, some to make remarks, and others to take patterns of the dresses of the ladies. The conversation was varied and entertaining, the ladies sung; and Miss Emily played, Willie’s rare, Willie’s fair, and he is wond’rous bonnie,And he swears he’ll marry me, ’gin ere he marries ony.
The old happy pair seemed agreeably surprised to find their daughter in such spirits— Vol. I. 5 1050 5(1)v 50 they never witnessed her in such hilarity before. They began to suspect she had motive for her change of behaviour; which I also suspected, as my nephew never wanted to hurry us from Poughkeepsie. At an early hour we retired to rest; the old lady said, very humourously, I will interpret your dreams tomorrow—so try and recollect them. We entered the chambers, where hangings were as white as snow, and a variety of pictures of the ancient family decorated the walls, which revived in our minds past scenes. Early next morning as we graced the breakfast parlour we were asked our dreams, which the old lady interpreted. All silence prevailed, and she thus began:
To dream that you are in want of money is a certain sign that C.’s notes will again pass current; to dream that Porter’s squadron has taken all the pirates, denotes that the next Exchange that is to be built in New York will cost a million of stivers, and make the rich and gouty groan and sigh; to dream of the rejoicing for the new constitution, is 1051 5(2)r 51 a certain sign that there will be many turncoats and thread-bare waistcoasts worn, as an apology for economy, to bring all on a level. To dream of making the great national road from Washington city to Alabama, is ominous that the next president will be chosen from the magnificent city of New-York, to the extreme mortification of the large, mountainous, well watered, and beautiful state of Virginia, whose superb natural bridge has been so exquisitely described by a great scientific character, as an inducement to the brave Greeks to emigrate to this region, where the wild deer ramble unpursued and undaunted.— All silence reigns in this sublime forest, no jockeyed sportsman well mounted, with hark forward, tally-ho, here points his pistol; the knotted oak rises apparently to the skies, the sycamore smiles, the huge gum- tree spreads her foliage, and affords the weary traveller a shady covert from the scorching rays of Sol’s bright beams. The hemlock leaves afford a stupefactive draught to sooth the many sorrows of this sublunary life, and 1052 5(2)v 52 serve to make us forget our miseries, and pass on as though nothing awaits us.
Thus ended the interpretation of the dreams of the family of expectants, whose roving imaginations while they sleep, always portray scenes of gayety, and shadows of nothing when awake.—In short, what is life but a dream?—the busied and insignificant never awake.
The young ladies took a ride with my nephew, to the Ballston springs; and they were much entertained with the company. Persons do not altogether resort to the springs for their health: various other motives induce them—lovers meet their adorables; lawyers meet their clients face to face; speculators their Tristram Shandys and Peregrine Pickles, and many glittering fools of quality, seek pleasure, if possible to be found. The sons of Esculapius have little to say or do; the flowing of the water down the thorax (or prima viæ) excludes any necessity for Dr. Narcotic’s pills: and when Plutus is dismantled,1053 5(3)r 53 tled, they all fly to their respective homes, perfectly cured of idleness and folly.
Returning across the Hudson, my nephew saw the time fast approaching that he must leave Miss Emily, never, perhaps, again to see her. He revolved in his mind what manner of behaviour he should adopt to convince her of his attachment;—she is too sensible to believe every idol tale that may be told her, and has too penetrating an eye not to discover real affection.
The eyes, says Seneca, are the windows of the soul; and I have no doubt in my mind of the truth of it. Various were the sensations that perplexed the lovers. It was certainly a first and a reciprocal attachment, and not easily overcome by absence; no, that would only increase it. He advanced towards her, and in a pensive manner thus addressed her:
Will you, my charming fair, be so indulgent as to hear my painful tale? Many, I am told, are the ills of life that we are doomed to 5* 1054 5(3)v 54 endure. I am young, and surely nothing can distress the mind more than hope delayed. Reason prompts me freely to speak to the arbiter of my fate. But, alas! how can I? my tongue falters, and I shall illy grace my cause in speaking for myself. She replied, This is the grand prerogative of your sex: you can speak; but woman oft pines and sickens; she dares scarcely even think; she whispers to the wind, and vainly strives to subdue the feelings of nature; she flies to amusements, company, and all inviting occasions to make her forget herself; but time alone can relieve her: while man, roving from sweet to sweet, feels not the sting.
The day at length arrived, when we were to return to New-York; the confusion was evident on seeing the young people take leave of each other. My nephew took a lock of Emily’s auburn hair, as a memento of his attachment. We hastened on our journey; did not stop at Croton on our return, as my friends were opposed to it from motives I before remarked.1055 5(4)r 55
How satisfied the mind appears on returning home after an absence of three weeks! every thought tends to cheer you; I was called to the door by a rap; a man of dejected appearance delivered me a note from Miss Sarah Nimble, at Croton, in which she stated, that in eight or ten days she and her sister intended to pay us a visit.
Thunderstruck, my nephew George Washington Clairborn and Miss Frances Abercrombie, were not pleased at the sight of this note. How embarrassed, my dear aunt, shall we feel when they approach! I hope my friends from Poughkeepsie will not be here at the same time.
My dear young friends, we must endeavour to make life easy. God made us all. We must strew the path of those that are in trouble with flowers; then we shall obtain, as Solomon wisely observes, a good name, which is better than riches, and more to be desired than fine gold.
The ladies at length arrived from Croton, 1056 5(4)v 56 gayly decked in all the colours of the rainbow, and their blooming cheeks beautiful. They were, as usual, cheerful and entertaining, noticed every thing; and, I dare say, will never forget the smallest occurrences that took place. A fortunate event took place in New-York. Just at their arrival, the theatre was opened, and the Cataract of the Ganges was to be represented. I persuaded some of my young friends to accompany them. A second grand event took place, which I leave to the reader’s imagination, like Sterne in his writings, where he speaks of remise doors, &c., which to this day has never been understood in the manner he intended.
All the gay inhabitants in New-York, on a fine day, parade through Broadway to the post-office, library, reading-rooms, steam- boats, and auction-rooms; and all have their various pursuits, young and old, bond and free; and from their swift movement, you would suppose time too short for all their pursuits.
A gentleman from Egypt, meeting me one 1057 5(5)r 57 morning coming from church, thus addressed me: Your most obedient, Madam. I did not immediately recognize him. I am Counsellor Blackbean, who had the pleasure of meeting you on Long Island, at the races; the beautiful Miss Deiademia Drelincourt was there; you were one of the liveliest persons in company. Oh, sir, I ask your pardon, I now recollect you.
Madam, I have several articles that I brought with me; if would do me the favour to accept them, they are entirely at your service.
I fear you will rob yourself. Not at all. Of what use, pray sir, will they be to me? The greatest possible; the first curiosity is a pair of spectacles, which by looking through at the face of a gentleman or lady, you can discover their good or bad qualities, the peculiarities of their temper, and their predominant passions. They are not like Moses’ spectacles sold at the fair, for they were only valuable for their silver rims—these, for their intrinsic worth.1058 5(5)v 58
The Miss Nimbles having paid a social visit, and endeavoured to make it as agreeable as possible, I regretted I had not an opportunity of introducing them to such characters as would be agreeable to their ideas; there being none in my circle of acquaintances; this was extremely unpleasant; I assured them I should look out for city beaux, as they slighted their country acquaintances.
We condescended to see them safe in the stage, and were agreeably surprised to meet a friend from Arkansas territory, who was formerly one of our quadrille parties. He assured us that the jaunt should not exceed six weeks, and at his return he would make our house his home. My family was now happily relieved from such company as was disagreeable to them.
Miss Frances Abercrombie one fine morning requested me to relate to her the history of Miss Josephine Claibourn, which I had frequently promised. In reply, I told her it would require a long time to relate it; at a future day I should be happy to gratify her. My nephew 1059 5(6)r 59 then entered, and seemed very happy; he assured me Mrs. Prodigal and her lovely daughter, had just arrived from the country; he met them in the Park going to the museum; had offered his arm to Miss Emily, which she accepted; and they had been much entertained with the sight of many great characters of the revolutionary war. One of distinction, among the group, was the good general Sinclair, who, had he survived to see the present day, would be much surprised to see the grandeur of the American people. The ladies entered very soon.
Mrs. Prodigal is truly amiable—the delight of young and old; her daughter will never be so pleasing: she entertained us with the conquests she made of the officers of the British army during the revolution; who, said she, to speak truly, were more engaged in company with the ladies of New-York, than trying to conquer the colonies. They often amused themselves in riding on Long Island, particularly the Hessians, who were well skilled in stuffing birds, and playing on various instruments of music; most of them being excellent1060 5(6)v 60 cellent performers; and had fortune been propitious, many, very many, would never have left this fine country. Their steady habits would always have secured them a competency, and by a moderate share of industry, would have acquired wealth. The females are very submissive to the advice of their husbands, and pay them every due respect, as lords of the creation.
A jaunt was then proposed by my nephew, which was agreed to by the ladies to visit the Linnæan garden, at Flushing, accompanied by an acquaintance of ours, Colonel Fitzempty and Major Flash, formerly belonging to the Pennsylvania line, both gentlemen of figure and fashion. Miss Matilda Ann Van Schoten and Arabella Somerfield were also of the party.
Joy sparkled in the countenances of the young people. They expressed a wish to visit some of the old Knickerbocker families. I promised them that on a future day, when I should be at leisure, I would show them some of Miss Claibourn’s remarks, and her 1061 6(1)r 61 humorous descriptions would no doubt please them.
Colonel Fitzempty was all hilarity and good humour; particularly attentive to Miss Frances; who, as I have before remarked, possessed all those engaging accomplishments that were desirable in a young lady, and a goodness of heart beyond her sex.
My nephew let no opportunity escape, that offered, to convince Miss Emily Prodigal that his passion was sincere; and her countenance was ever the same. No sensations that rose in her mind were visible in her face: of course, her lover could never flatter himself that he was agreeable to her. Her words must fix his destiny, for indeed she was very choice of them.
Poor fello! he had a hard card to play: hearts were trumps—he had difficulty to gain the odd trick; or, more plainly speaking, winning the game. Every amusement that the country afforded was enjoyed by the ladies. Major Flash was so exquisitely genteel Vol. I. 6 1062 6(1)v 62 that nothing could imitate his style and manner. He would often indulge in the following strain:
A moist atmosphere always affects my pericranium, and causes such palpitations that I often think my life in danger. Doctor Narcotic advises me to keep myself from indulging sensations that may create trouble to my mind, so as to occasion tremours and other inviting disorders to send for the doctor.
The party now amused themselves in the Linnæan Garden, gazing at the flowers, and inhaling their odoriferous scents, that were presented to them.
The party were then anxious to return home. Like our first parents, they were not content even in Paradise, but were even more anxious to obtain knowledge.
On our arrival in New-York, the guns were firing at the approach of our national guest; of whom too much cannot be said; it 1063 6(2)r 63 is sufficient for me to say, that all hearts were pleased, and all great personages had an opportunity to distinguish themselves.
I had promised the young ladies, that I would slightly mention a few observations that I had made on the amiable young lady, that would in a future page amuse my fair readers, whose interesting narrative will, perhaps, please those who hurry through life, and never appear happy.
How cheerful should young ladies always appear!—they are the loveliest gift of the Supreme Being; they should honour Him, and by all engaging, endearing means, soften their manners, so as at all times to delight the other sex, who appear always, many of them, as though the world which is round was on their backs, having such a load of cares, and so many circuitous windings in their business, that often entangle them so as not easily to be extricated by usual means.
While amusing my friends at supper, an old gentleman from the interior of the country1064 6(2)v 64 try was asked in; he apologised for his late visit, saying the steam-boat had just arrived, mentioning he had a letter for the lady of the house, from Pequest. The sound was melodious to my ears, being the place where most of my relations reside, and where in my infancy I was taught, that as our first behaviour is, so our characters will be stamped.
When pride is too visible in our appearance by haughty, austere looks, we never will be agreeable in society, but shunned, as approaching contagion. In my childhood I was taught to venerate age, to love those of my own years, and freely afford all the satisfaction to the mind of my friends, as would again induce them to see me. My gayety of heart was always evident, when I could meet such as were suitable, who were animating; but who did not, as is the prevailing custom, ask too many questions: some questions it is not always agreeable to answer.
I assure you, my dear friends, I have met with many worthy people, that I could compare to nothing but a teacher hearing the 1065 6(3)r 65 catechism. Pray Madam, how old are you? Not quite fifty, Sir. That being the death’s-door of the ladies, surely you look charming. That is a sufficient apology, they think, for their flattery; and quickly reply,—Bless me! you do not look more than forty. Then vanity steps forward and erects her beak; instantly all the gayety of youth is assumed, singing, dancing, joking, and every thing becoming youth. The age of fifty is thrown aside by empty compliments.
The old gentleman that arrived in the steam-boat handed me a letter; it had a humorous superscription, was carefully folded, and directed—Mrs. C.B., widow, of New- York. These with care and speed. I instantly knew it was from a man by the direction of his wife, that had a great opinion of her knowledge, and a great friendship for me, which was of a nature never to be forgotten. Our situations in life were very different; but these good people never disquieted themselves about that; they openly indulged in the full flow of goodness, which 6* 1066 6(3)v 66 was alive in their bosoms, and which, I have every reason to suppose will continue until the lamp of life is extinguished. How grieved I felt, at their remembrance of me; for I had not in years seen them;—every pleasing theme, every delightful sensation that had been felt by me when I was young, arose in my bosom. Who can say, that true and sincere friendship will wear from the mind? Here is a complete contradiction of it—no interest prompted them to write, no pride to show their education, and no motive but sincerity and friendship.
What an inestimable gift it is to know how to prize a friend! Many, ah, too many, pass through this vale of life without knowing friendship—no kind feelings for any of the human race—they love only themselves.— When fortune smiles, as she often does, on these selfish characters, they feel themselves independent of the world, and care not for it.
To return to my correspondents. Their letter was singular in style; nothing I had 1067 6(4)r 67 ever read was so expressive of what they intended to convey, and yet it evidently appeared that they could neither of them sufficiently convey their meaning. The contents were as follows:Mansfield Woodhouse, Sussex County, State of New-Jersey, 1825-02-10February 10th, 1825Dear Widow,My wife and myself have disputed frequently about family affairs, such as killing bees and hiving them, gathering Solomon’s seal, golden thread, and spignut for the doctors of New-York. We are continually jarring with each other, particularly about the virtues of the different plants. I say to my wife, somewhat in anger, (for I am a positive man)though I live in a small house, thank God, it is my own: I will maintain my dignity! and not stoop to be controlled by feeble woman!—that I never will. Should swarms of bees alight on my head, I would be the same: not even the stings of wasps could alter my resolution of being head of my cottage in the vale.Why Snubbs, says Susan, how often you 1068 6(4)v 68 contradict yourself in one week!—ah, in one day: after you have been looking in the woods in vain for swarms of bees, you will come home quite exhausted, and call me honey. You have been so engaged you forgot; and sure how condescending you are while food is preparing for you by my own hands; then you are all submission and good will, and I then think myself head of you and all things. The next hour, when the appetite is satisfied, how changed the scene!— then dark looks with a frowning aspect! As we have no children, we must then begin and fret each other, and see who shall rule the roast. I then laugh at the change, and cry out how imperfect is man! It appears he is not quite finished, always restless, for an addition, he knows not what. Happy would it be if we could find, in our researches for healing plants, some yet unknown and undiscovered root that would quiet the raging temper of many of the human species. Then would joy and felicity be the portion of many who now spend their days in grief and trouble. After all this preamble, my friend John has wrote to you, madam, 1069 6(5)r 69 with no other motive, but to inquire after your health and the situation of your family.Now do gratify us with a short detail, if you have no inclination to write a long letter, and in return we will communicate every pleasant occurrence that takes place in our neighbourhood; who rises and who falls; who rides and who walks, and all other interesting matters, which none but the inquisitive want to know. And believe us, dear lady, with all our good wishes, your friends,John Snubbsand Susan Snubbs.N.B.—I forgot to say do come and see us.
My nephew remarked that they must be a romantic couple; they spend so much time in the woods; they reminded him of days of yore.
Are you not much entertained with their knowledge of the human heart? Do you not think them very intelligent?1070 6(5)v 70
The agreeable company all coincided in their just observations on the human heart; and all acknowledged that there was a void in life that never seemed to be filled in any station: all seemed in pursuit of wealth or fame; though ofttimes many made themselves quite ridiculous; particularly many characters of the present age: all now appear in hurry and confusion—honours conferred where they were not expected; while the truly valiant are quite forgotten. Laurels deck the brows of the aged, who do not enjoy them; while many youths seek in vain for honours.
The old gentleman had been long silent; and then, as though the spirit moved him—he began: Will you, ladies and gentlemen, pay a little attention to my short story? They all agreed; and after taking some wine, he related to them many scenes of his past life.
I have, since my youth, kept a journal of what passed, particularly what related to myself, and was always desirous to know how 1071 6(6)r 71 it happened to others. I never have been married; the only reason I assign for that is, I never had a friend to assist and recommend me, and not being bold enough to introduce myself, I am now alone, and have escaped many afflictions that are inseparable from that state.
My eldest sister was a very religious woman; she always advised me to read good books, pray often, and seclude myself in a great measure from society. All this I did, and have ever found a satisfaction in being alone, for one never sees any thing when he is alone to hurt his feelings. I am of opinion that a person secluding himself from the world is the happiest of the creation: then the mind has an opportunity to reflect. Those who live in a bustle, on the contrary, never have the satisfaction of the good things of this life: one scene is no sooner passed than another obtrudes, so that I can truly say, those who are polite and reserved, and interfere not with other’s business, public or private, escape much anxiety. One morning as I was crossing Spruce Run in Hunderton 1072 6(6)v 72 county, I met a beautiful young damsel, and thus saluted her: Where are you going? Not far, sir? What may your name be, if I may be so bold? Never mind that, if I would be so free, she replied? What! not tell your christian name? that looks unkind; will you then gratify me, by telling where you live? I have no home—the world is all to me a dreary waste; and I envy no one their comforts. Unfortunately I placed my affections on one of the flattering train who is now roving: if he but keep from my presence, I shall not mourn his absence. All that consoles me is, I never loved him—my family’s solicitations made him familiar, and induced him to believe his person and visit agreeable. A fair outside is always a first recommendation; the face attracts, but the mind conquers. He oft times boasted of beauties that he never saw, and I believe fancied raptures that he never felt. Proteus like he could change his shape,—in truth, young and old were in raptures with his behaviour. My father was a collector of taxes; his business required him to be much from home; my mother was aged and infirm, and conducted 1073 7(1)r 73 ducted the farm, which was not large, in my father’s absence. He had frequent opportunities of seeing me. My father’s business was lucrative; and as he was always cheerful in company, never knowing want, our house was always lively. My lover, whose name it is not necessary to conceal, was Ahasuerus Palafox, and while my father was gathering pounds, my lover was offering his heart to me. Having very little knowledge of the world, I thought all his words were sincere, and all his behaviour becoming. We were united for life; but my husband has become quite indolent, and I support myself by amusing travellers with fairy tales of my own invention. I met an old gentleman, and thus addressed him: If you wish to know your destiny, show me your hand, sir. Oh my fair wanderer, (for I know not your name,) I am too far on the road of life, and too near my journey’s end, to wish any one to inform me what I am to meet, even should I have confidence enough to suppose that you had flawed-reproduction1 or 2 letterse charm, which I never can believe. Ah! old gentleman, the wanderer replied, your wisdom about fifty years ago might have been Vol. I. 7 1074 7(1)v 74 beneficial, but it is of no use or advantage in the present day, as the words of the aged and their advice are quite disregarded, and soon forgotten, in the present age of liberty and equality. I then bid her adieu, wishing her safe across the Spruce run, which meanders in such a manner, that you cross it nine times in one mile and a half. I fear, said the old gentleman, I have too long obtruded on the patience of this agreeable company; and madam, addressing himself to me, I beg ten thousand pardons. I hope I shall be the bearer of an answer to Mr. and Mrs. Snubbs from you, which I am certain will afford them conversation for life, as they never forget any thing you say or write that comes to their knowledge.
I begged him to excuse me for some time, as I had several letters to answer; and was indebted one or two, to Miss Josephine Claibourn, at Zainsville, Ohio, who intends visiting New-York next spring, to make some inquiries respecting the Knickerbockers, whose history has been hitherto quite fabulous, though affording at the same time a 1075 7(2)r 75 fund of entertainment, to the great enlightened emigrants from all parts of the old world, whose ears and eyes when they first land in this free country are quite disappointed. They wonder how we can make cent. per cent., and they now send their brightest geniuses to settle among us, who are so delighted with the country that they care very little about the first born in the land. They sometimes, when Bacchus fills the bowl, forget to toast the fair daughters of Columbia; then their spirits rise, and a love of the country that they have left, their wine, their oil, their olives, and cheese.
Then they are continually sounding in the ears of the Knickerbockers, (while it is said they are grunting at their feasts,) all the dainties they feasted on before they left home, which really astonishes the natives of this vast country.
The party all now dispersed, and left my nephew, George Washington Claibourn, to amuse me with his observations: dear aunt, how pleased I should be, to hear from our 1076 7(2)v 76 friends at Washington, Tawnytown, and the Ohio; I think paper must be scarce, they write so seldom; you will ere long, if I am not mistaken, receive a volume from that country, and I hope it will be entertaining. In the mean time I will endeavour to amuse you with some tales:
Squire Simpson, a fine robust looking man, about forty years of age, rather corpulent, and active in agricultural pursuits, invited his willing neighbours to an entertainment in his house. His wife, who was born at Hacketstown, near Schooley’s mountain, was of respectable parentage. Her father being a methodist preacher, of the name of Percy, his daughter Joanna Percy, was always dutiful to his commands in every respect, which was a great solace to him in his declining years. At her marriage with Squire Simpson, the surrounding neighbours were all invited to the nuptials, particularly Thomas Sawdust their landlord, who kindly lent them his bald filly to bring their relatives to the wedding, it being some distance over the mountain where their friends resided.1077 7(3)r 77
On this jocund occasion all apparently, old and young, seemed pleased. The Squire was dressed in a fine broadcloth coat, manufactured in his own family.
It ran three yards and a half to the pound,
And had just three yards in it.
It was of a beautiful snail colour; his waistcoat was sagathee, and pantaloons fearnought. The pockets contained an agreeable portion of necessary change, to make life agreeable: which no poet or philosopher would despise, and which the banks are so overloaded with, to the great envy of empty pockets, and many shrugging gentlemen.
Miss Joanna Percy was in the twenty-fifth year of her age, of a sandy complexion, with bright blue eyes, indicative of good temper; her figure was majestic. In her manner, there was a peculiar turn to every thing—always viewed the best side of things, and was never intentionally known to give offence. In her dress she was fanciful, and always first in fashion on the mountain. Her wedding 7* 1078 7(3)v 78 dress was white pompadour with white trimmings; a small round hat, in shape of a pumpkin, with a morocco girdle around her slender waist; her slippers were weaselskins, beautifully embroidered, and shaped like sandals.
The reverend divine, her father, was pensive, notwithstanding the hilarity of the company. Her mother, an ancient lady, was born in Nantucket, of the family of the Whales; several of whom fell in the revolutionary war, which induced those who survived to remove to this place, where they lived respected.
The management of his domestic concerns, and the education of his daughter, he left to his beloved partner. Things being arranged for the great event, which was to take place on the twenty-fifth of November, that being a day of public festivity in remembrance of the evacuation of New-York by the British, in 17831783, which reinstated the old ancient inhabitants to their places of former grandeur. It may well be imagined that they were much 1079 7(4)r 79 pleased, after seven years’ absence, to again enjoy pleasures that are only to be found at home.
Among the guests that were invited, were some gentlemen that had been exploring the ground intended for the canal between the Delaware and Hudson rivers, they being men of knowledge and probity. Miss Bowlsby, daughter of Counsellor Bowlsby, or Derbyshire, England, was also a guest. Her father emigrated to this country some years ago to acquire wealth, leaving all his family, who were in the haberdashery line, to remain in the same state and condition that they had been in since George the Third’s reign—and no prospect of aggrandizing themselves.— Queen Caroline’s disappointments and vexations, and the troubles she met, were a constant theme with the old barrister. He said that had he been in Brougham’s place, he would have pleaded more powerfully. The Counsellor was a distant relation of the late Curran, and a correspondent of the great Phillips. One of the ladies that was to be at the nuptials, was a Miss Fairclow, very 1080 7(4)v 80 shrewd, but rather haughty to be agreeable in the country, where freedom and familiarity is the greatest recommendation for a young lady to the young opulent farmers.
The house of the Rev. Mr. Percy was on the top of the mountain, near Schooley’s Mountain Springs, the resort of all the fashionable people of New-York, Philadelphia, and the other different states, at the season of bathing.
Mr. Percy’s house was rather in the Gothic style, surrounded with handsome arbours; there was a large room on the first floor, set apart for devotion, which afforded the neighbours a good opportunity to see each other.
’Squire Simpson, from Mansfield Woodhouse, now approached the dwelling of his expecting fair one, with all that ardour that is usual on such occasions; and with joy beaming in his countenance, addressed his fair one thus: How tedious is time! in some cases it is said it is on the wing, and admits no delay. Not so with the expectant lover—to him it appears to stand still.1081 7(5)r 81
The twenty-fifth of November at last came; it was a smoky day, and what is termed an Indian summer. All the parties assembled, and the whole group made a very splendid appearance, each endeavouring to outshine their neighbour. At length the solemn moment arrived; and the gentle ’Squire led his lovely fair to the altar of Hymen. All silence prevailed while the ceremony was performing; and all the avenues to the house were filled to witness the ceremony. When finished, one of the guests hastened and snatched the first kiss, which quite discomfited him, and he felt quite confused. This passed over, and supper was announced; after which was a dancing scene. Old Tony (the fiddler) was engaged, and asked, what shall I play?—Come Haste to the Wedding. Oh, massa, I can’t play dat—’tis too old. Then play, Merrily Dances the Quaker’s Wife. All the swarthy race play that tune in a high strain. So the gay assembly shook each other, and crossed hands, and then right and left, and right and wrong, until completely fatigued; for in the country they really labour when they dance; 1082 7(5)v 82 and those who fatigue themselves most are considered the best dancers.
Miss Mayberry, a neat young lady from the River Lehigh, Pennsylvania, with a fine florid countenance and clear black eyes, a real topaz necklace around her neck, was also of the company. She attracted much notice at this splendid wedding; and, what added to her charms, she was perfectly silent —seemed formed for admiration. A lieutenant of marines, who had been at the Brazils, and travelled greatly, was at the Mountain Springs for his health. His person was quite outlandish—so he excited some remarks and mirth among the company at the mountain, who, to do them justice, considered themselves the tops of the country, and made shrewd remarks on this outlandish dandy.
The ladies said he looked like a toad under a harrow, and they scrutinized him. This Brazilian hero’s neck was not unlike a crane’s for length. Thus ended the Schooley mountain story.
Story of Jemima on the Catskill mountains, and her conversation with the great gentleman respecting the disposal of her property; also a picturesque description of the Pehatconk, in New-Jersey.
I now requested my nephew, in turn, to relate me some entertaining events that had appeared to him in his travels. He accordingly began:Last month I was travelling the interior of the country, not far from the Catskill mountains; I became acquainted with an old lady, whose name was Jemima; she was always hospitable and kind. There were three or four gentlemen travelling through the country on a hunting party. They espied a good well near the road. They threw some rubles at Jemima’s feet, and asked for a drink; their appearance caused her to smile assent. The men and beasts drank in silence, as great men sometimes are treated at splendid entertainments.1084 7(6)v 84 tainments. One of the gentlemen requested she would give him a short history of her life. Jemima answered cheerfully, that she would. She began: This is the place of my ancestors; here I was born; but cannot tell where I shall end my existence. This small inheritance is my own: I neither worked or toiled for it; it was bequeathed me by my great grand father, Cornelius Van Schoningan; he being determined it should remain in the family, and has entailed the property. My sister has a daughter, who bears my name; and was I convinced she would not marry a Scotchman, an Irishman, a Yankee, or a lawyer, I would, on these conditions, leave my farm to her; but she will not promise me, she says, who she will marry. Why aunt I can’t promise; the men promise, and flatter, and we believe them. Poor silly girls! how can we know the truth? Till ofttimes it is too late, as the poet expresses, When lovely woman stoops to folly,And finds too late that she’s betrayed;What art can sooth her melancholy,What tears can wash her grief away? 1085 8(1)r 85 As sure as my name is Jemima, my little property shall be secured to ages yet unborn, who perhaps will know better how to take care of their substance; nor will I give it to the Greeks, a people that I heard Denis M‘Murphy say, who had been amongst them, was a wise fighting nation, though not capable of taking care of their property, or they would not send here for help. He is wise indeed that can keep his own, and have something left for the poor. It is now sixteen years since I lost my husband, and fearing lest I should never meet his like again, I told my friends I would never again be bound. The country all mourned for him. I shall say no more on this painful subject. Now, gentlemen, when you return to Greece, Nova Scotia, or Botany Bay, I hope you will not ridicule an old American woman, because she is ignorant of every thing but taking care of her property, so that it shall not pass to unworthy characters.
With the American women, if you please, you may pass your life agreeably. A little flattery, I am sorry to say, is always Vol. I. 8 1086 8(1)v 86 agreeable to them, being so indulged in their youth by their parents, for fear their health might be impaired. I have known many a mother risquing her life in parting with some garment in cold weather, to make her only child comfortable thinking she had but a short time to live. The tender passions in this new country are in full bloom. In other parts of the world their hearts are more callous, more selfish, more wise. My dear aunt, my niece often says, I can no longer entertain you, being so absorbed with my own feelings; and am wretched beyond expression. If the healing balm of consolation is not immediately applied to my aching heart, I must be forever miserable. Fie! fie! youth! be firm, and subdue the weakness that now overtakes you; nobly conquer yourself, and show an indifference to cold apathy; that kind of indifference which the loveliest of the sex show man when she is not disposed to please. I allow it is more painful than the sharpest words,—as it leaves the mind in uncertainty, and harrows our feelings beyond expression. In the height of this soliloquy, 1087 8(2)r 87 news arrived from Greece, that the kindness and attention of the Americans toward them had caused a day of rejoicing and illumination, which made the youthful inquire what occasioned all these attentions in the American people towards us strangers and sojourners. A priest rose up and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, keep good counsel, and treasure up what I shall say unto you: We were of the leaven of unrighteousness; cleave to each other, in truth and holiness; stand not in the midst of the streets, like scoffers, but enter into your peaceful abodes, and say unto each other what meaning is this?
After placing all my family, agreeable to their wishes, near the Castle Garden, and telling my acquaintance of my resolution to travel for health and information, they perfectly agreed to my wishes: when a second friend from Pehatconk, New-Jersey, made me a visit.
I will describe this beautiful vale to my readers. It is a most romantic spot: Here the drowsy shepherd sits nodding by the limpid1088 8(2)v 88 pid meandering stream, and the whipperwill’s notes at evening’s close prepares the mind for tranquillity and rest: here even kings or presidents might be happy. O sweet Pehatconk! thy beauties are worthy of Reuben’s pencil; and thy lofty trees the sublime pencil of a West might endeavour to imitate in vain. How exquisite the sensations that arise in the mind on beholding this spot! No moralist, with all his knowledge can describe them. Plato, thou reason’st well; but all thy power would fall infinitely short to make known the feelings that fill the breasts of the ambitious of the present enlightened generation, who rapturously ascend the summit, where Fame sounds her trumpet either for war or laudable pursuits. Man, bold man, may extend his expanded arms, and try to reach the passing clouds; but, alas! too oft he sinks, by aspiring beyond his abilities, and, like a balloon not sufficiently inflated, sinks, and is seen no more. Such are the changing scenes, from lofty heights to lowly vales. Oh, then for a full bowl from the river of Lethe to banish sorrow.1089 8(3)r 89
In the country around this pleasant valley were many captivating females of nice discernment; among the number, was Laura Ann Bevers—her easy manner gained my attention. There was not that rustic and natural simplicity so often met with in the farmers’ daughters; her mind seemed more enlightened, and her pleasant retirement was inviting to strangers.
I passed one night there. At early morn we were awakened by the lowing of the cattle; the sportive lambs ranged the dewy lawns, to delight themselves. Miss Bevers’ father was very diligent in finding out the virtues of American plants, selecting those that would be most beneficial to mankind. The slippery elm, he considered a grand cataplasm, and Solomon’s seal a mild pectoral, and boneset a grand sudorific. How beneficial would his researches have been, had he the European knowledge of displaying their efficacy! His name, like Boerhaave and Cullen, would be handed down to posterity. From the balsamic powers of these tinctures, essences, gums, &c. a catalogue of 8* 1090 8(3)v 90 cures might be expected. The hypochondria would no more be heard of in this land; and the aged, who will entertain their friends for hours with all the pains that frail man is afflicted with, would then no more be heard.
The wealthy merchant may complain of drawbacks, speculators and brokers avail themselves by decretal orders, and idle gentlemen be amused by poetic effusions; heirs in expectancy, reversion and remainder, may amuse themselves at balls, plays, and every other amusement, to improve themselves, without incurring censure; but, as Solomon says, there is a time for all things, therefore, I shall expatiate no longer on the beauties of the Pehatconk; but return to the events that have not long since taken place—the ever-to be-remembered opening of the sluice gates at Albany into the noble Hudson; at the same time hoping the hearts of those who have been long shut will now be expanded, and commemorate this event, by some beneficial means to alleviate suffering humanity, and speedily erect opposite the stone that was so handsomely dedicated by a great scientific 1091 8(4)r 91 character, a public edifice to assist the poor. A cup of cold water shall not lose its reward, when given in the name of friendship; we are told in scripture, that the poor shall be always with you to the end of the world. The canal boats passing down the Hudson will always contain a variety of characters passing to New-York. The best of them are only meteors of a day. Some, perhaps, sprawl on Turkey carpets, lie on mockason Jackson’s pure hair matresses, and feast at Sykes’ great ordinary; some are money- changers at the numerous banks, (the great temple not being yet erected;) some are orators at the forum in the great marble house; and many are adorers of lovely women. Some of their names are placed on a ticket as candidates for office, at the expense of all that can be said of them of good report and evil report: But they all find that the breath of scandal is as contagious as the yellow fever.
The unhappy Simon Plenty, whose lovely daughter was deceived by Aaron Brown from Saugerchies; the bitter invectives of the old man, and his reflections on the youth, who remains obdurate, and will not marry her.
I again returned to my happy home in Broadway, the welcome guest of my little family, who are all inquisitiveness: when I return I am compelled to promise them some fairy tales. I told them it would not be long before I would open my scrutoire, to let them peruse some agreeable manuscripts I had there deposited, which I shall amuse my friends with reading, with their promises, not to criticize on a young lady who has never been at court, and knows no deception; sincerity and truth are her constant maxims.
To engage the attention of my family, I related a melancholy tale, that happened while I was travelling through Thakiat up the North river. While amusing myself one morning early, gathering mushrooms, I heard a great barking of dogs, and loud speaking on 1093 8(5)r 93 the public road. Quickly appeared a young man in custody; the sheriff allowed him to walk alone. When he first approached me he looked pale. I thought he was a robber; but the crime he had committed was a breach of honour: he was engaged to marry a young girl, and had deceived her. Her father was in company, but remained inexorable in his solicitations. Say, rash youth! what recompense will you make for deceiving my beloved daughter, who pines from morning to eve on account of your false promises to her?
Good old man, the youth replied, I cannot love your daughter—why should I longer deceive her? Her temper seems overbearing. At our first acquaintance she appeared angelic, and I looked upon her as my second self—one in whom was centered all that could make life agreeable; but on our farther acquaintance I think she lost that heavenly appearance which I at first formed of her: and why, good sir, while my mind forebodes that we cannot live happy—why, I say, provoke God’s anger, by calling him to witness, that we will spend our days together 1094 8(5)v 94 in constancy, when I am certain we cannot? I repeat, I cannot, my aged friend, be happy with your too much indulged daughter; so do as you please with me—scoff at me, insult me, imprison me, or whatever else you intend, but I cannot marry your daughter.
Simon Plenty, the father of the young girl, was a miller, and the young man was a wheelwright; his name was Aaron Brown from Saugerchies. The old man upbraided him, and hoped he would want the sweepings of his mill before he died, for bread to nourish his proud haughty body, while his daughter would be feasting out of the tenth of every neighbour’s bushel, honestly and fairly allowed by all the surrounding country. I hope, said he, addressing himself to the man, that you will be on Ixion’s wheel, for ever tortured, while my daughter’s fame will rise, as the wheel of fortune turns. Remember that unforeseen events continually fall to the lot of every human being; though this day arrayed in splendid equipage, surrounded by men servants and women servants, horses and cattle, houses and lands, deferred stock, or canal 1095 8(6)r 95 shares, all, all vanish, after a few revolving suns, and sordid man left pennyless. Though he be as brave as lord Wellington, or as learned and beloved as the late unfortunate Emmett, whose rising fame had reached beyond human excellence; and at his hard fate, millions mourn and wipe the unavailing tear, still man is fallible, and misery may await him.
The young man sat silent at the severe upbraidings of Simon Plenty, the miller: he thus addressed him:
Unhappy, sir! I feel for the disappointments of your child, but which I think proceeds more from pride, than affection: would you wish me to unite with your family, when my mind abhors the deed? No, no! I never will deceive the sex; for as soon as I discovered an aversion, I frankly owned it. We read in holy writ, that Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and afterwards changed his mind, and served seven years for her sister; we have there a great example of the force of love, though one was beautiful, and the other dim eyed. Our wills and passions 1096 8(6)v 96 are not easily controlled. And I hope that you may yet see comfort in your declining years, and wish your mill may from this day forward run swiftly to the end of time! and may the dustings and sweepings that you so honestly reap, descend with the dippings to your rising generation, who I trust will not fail, as time elapses, to pursue the manner pointed out; but not as lovers of learning, sink deeper and deeper, and let your example be forgotten: that is too often the case in the present enlightened generation from other states, whose custom it is to ridicule the ancient Knickerbockers; at their annual feast; and hackney toasts, boasting of their fine wine and figs, though very careful to suck the juice of their neighbour’s grapes, and then cry out— We the wise people from the eastern states, we that are the heads of your banks, teachers of your children, and possessors of your lands; we that are men singers and women singers, are trying to be planners of your new exchange—are ridiculers of your ancient customs, and say we do not inquire into our neighbour’s business to the neglect of our own. The peaceable ancient citizens of New-York 1097 9(1)r 97 despise all dissimulation and deception, and though it may appear to the world that they have been outwitted by their neighbours, it was not entirely owing to their ignorance. Beware, oh, ye men of the east, at such a triumph; the bravery of the Hollanders has never been equalled; the signal victories of the great Van Tromp, plainly demonstrates the strength of mind the Dutch possess; and lord Cornberry, late governor of this flourishing state, formerly a small colony, was very happy here, for there were none so wise as to be hung for witches. The learned in the law then passed their time with their arms behind them; not as at the present day with rolls of parchment under their arms—they then tripped through the short crooked streets, and had nothing to do but gaze at the multitude.
A scrivener, as it was called, answered all the purposes to convey property, and a reverend dominie to pray for the forgiveness of their sins. These were the golden days of the ancient Knickerbockers. Planning was not then known: the women, if they chose, were the bankers, and each pulled the cord Vol. I. 9 1098 9(1)v 98 and closed the purse. Not so the present day; men cannot now take care of their money—it requires a number to be linked together; and then they take other people’s business entirely to themselves.
An express has just arrived from Washington, with important intelligence; which my nephew read to me as follows:
After mature deliberation, it is contemplated, in order to pay the interest of the national debt, that an immediate tax should be directed on empty cupboards. The people then all assembled like the Israelites in the wilderness, and murmured, until Moses comforted them. But, alas! we have no remedy.
All the citizens of New-York assembled in the different wards; and those that were most idle, and eloquent, harangued the multitude of wise politicians, late hewers of wood and drawers of water.
Colonel Lookout and Captain Balderdash 1099 9(2)r 99 proclaimed loudly against such an unprecedented oppression; the widening Maidenlane, or building the new Exchange was not so alarming to these sons of Plutus, who, when disturbed in their minds, at such approaching evil, seek comfort in a potent draughts of Pierpoint’s ambrosia, or Bacchus’ nectar, to make them forget the miseries of life. Too often in such cases, sudden friendships are cultivated without the least sincerity or good fellowship, only to pass a moment forgetful of care and perplexity. And when reason assumes her empire, then reflection rises like the mist at early morn, and damps the genial current of the soul.
I promised to my readers, that I would unfold to them many letters I had in my possession from Zanesville, Ohio, with a humorous account of some ancient families, whose yea was yea, and nay, nay, and who formerly flourished in this great city of New-York, which was then called New-Amsterdam.
The writer, a young lady, has very ingeniously sought out the truth as near as possible, 1100 9(2)v 100 but hopes that any incorrectness will be passed over, as her epistles were not intended for the press. Her friends insisted on her delivering her remarks as quick as possible. If not amusing to all inquisitive readers, the happy few will perhaps find entertainment, which is all that can be expected.
Many read voluminous books, merely to say that they have read them, when they are neither amused nor instructed.
I sincerely hope the following narrative will so far please as to engage every lady in America to follow the example of Miss Josephine Clairbourn, whose descriptive powers can only be known by those who attentively peruse them. I shall now remind my readers of some passing events; the scenes of the Pehatconk, that I have passed over, still revolve in my mind.
Laura Ann Bevers, one of nature’s rarest gifts, pleasantly passed her hours with her father while he was preparing medicines for the wretched and infirm. She was formed for 11019(3)r101 all good purposes, and was frequently applied to for some of the secrets of her father’s profession. Her good nature could not refuse her inquisitive neighbours: Go, said she, and search the woods, and endeavour to discover the virtues of the plants, but never expect I will ruin my father by revealing his secrets. I will inform you all I have discovered, since that is my own knowledge, self- acquired, for imparting which I cannot be answerable. Apply your minds to search and seek; for without application you can never obtain knowledge.
Many persons never know their own minds, and always inquire of some friend for advice; who, though guiltless, often lead them astray.
Miss Laura Ann bent her mind on information; and being of retired habits, had every opportunity of improving herself. I frequently visited her when returning from Mrs. Dexter’s, who will, in a future page, engage some attention, being aunt to Josephine, and sister to governor Clairbourn.9* 1102 9(3)v 102
I just received a long letter from Poughkeepsie, from Miss Prodigal, in her neat style; every word was emphatic; it took me one hour before I could comprehend her real meaning. I find she has so far overcome prudery as to visit me. She certainly knows George, my nephew, lives with me, and she also knows his attachment to her. Her coming in the steam-boat next week I think is a prelude to a wedding in the family. If her mind had not been made up for that event, she would not have come; and George has been so silent some time, and never mentioned he rr name, I think it looks suspicious.
It is woman that seduces all mankind. By her we are first taught what it is to love. I resolved to keep a secret, and not name to him when he comes to dinner the letter I have received, and see who will speak first. He certainly corresponds with her, and must have letters also.
At dinner hour he came in quite silent— asked if any person had called for him.1103 9(4)r 103
Male or female? I asked. Oh, I never have ladies call on me!—you are quite satirical, aunt! Doctor Narcotic dined with us; he was just describing the right and left ventricle of the heart—asked me if I had ever seen the heart of a human being preserved? God bless me, no! said I. That mine has often ached, is true, and yet I never had a wish to see one. Do you think, doctor, that a love-sick lady or gentleman would find any relief from seeing a wounded heart? No, madam; but they might find relief from each other; that is, by pouring in each other’s bosoms tender expressions. You are the first physician I ever knew that could prescribe a remedy for the heart-ache; you surpass the great Italian doctor, Orsi Cure- all, who advertised remedies for all diseases. Your fortune will now be made; as soon as the young people see you, they will give you all you ask, if you can relieve them.
My nephew then spoke, after attending patiently: I think the practice of physic a very desirable employment, and had I sufficient funds to support me, I would immediately1104 9(4)v 104 ately commence the study; for what can afford the mind greater satisfaction than administering to the sons and daughters of affliction potent medicines that will heal them? What is life without health? Only a vapour, and riches and honours are no satisfaction without it. I am very desirous to relieve the wretched; it ever gives me satisfaction; doubly so will it be when success accompanies my prescriptions.Ah, my dear nephew, do you think that studying physic will afford you pleasure? If so, my purse is at your service. Step, then, boldly forward; study Hippocrates, Sydenham and Cullen, and may you be as skilful as the late ever-to-be-respected venerable Bard, who was the greatest physician in the city of New-York. Even when the former inhabitants would not swallow a pill, or take an emetic, he by cheering smiles made them easy and willing. He would say to them, arise from your beds of down, and walk, (for there were none of Jackson’s pure hair mattresses in those days). And then he would say to them, if I cannot pour down your 1105 9(5)r 105 bosoms a liquid to ease your pains, I will endeavour to talk you well.
Loud rang the bell; a message from the steam-boat. Miss Prodigal, in company with a relation, had just arrived. My nephew soon forgot his studies, and hastened to the wharf to receive them, and in a few moments we were all happy. The doctor soon left us, as he would not intrude, and his business at the hospital called his attention. Miss Emily Prodigal looked charming. The young lady, her cousin, who was with her, came to be improved in the fine arts, such as dancing, music, drawing, &c. The Cataract of the Ganges, a new performance, was advertised for this evening’s amusement, and the young ladies, not being quite prepared, and too much fatigued, did not go. To-morrow there is to be a concert for the benefit of Mr. Keane, when he is to sing a new song, called the Enchanting Pequest; and as I have many cares on my mind, and many duties to fulfil, I requested the young company to excuse me. After their absence, I retired to my chamber and wrote to a number of my friends, and a 1106 9(5)v 106 long epistle to Mr. Dexter with kind inquiries about his daughter, whether he did intend sending her to New-York to improve in dancing and other accomplishments. I also wrote to all my friends in Ohio, acquainting them with the particular occurrences that took place in our city, and sent them some new publications, such as the Redgauntlet, which I have had no time to peruse, and the Tales of a Traveller, much spoken of. I could not procure Lionel Lincoln, or the Leaguer of Boston, to send in time to amuse them. Carolina Sophia Dexter soon wrote a very entertaining letter after my inviting her to New York, with a promise shortly to see me, if her father and mother could be prevailed upon to let her come; they were so busily engaged at present in agricultural pursuits, she could not be spared. Her mother was so often called on for advice in all difficulties of the neighbours in matrimonial cases, she could not at present think of speaking to her.
My mother, said she, you know has a plaister for every wound, and is ever ready to 1107 9(6)r 107 comfort the afflicted: my father’s house is the resort of all the missionaries, and I often listen with particular attention, when they explain the scripture; for I am ashamed I do not understand what is so essential to my future happiness. Young people are apt to ridicule religion; for my part I feel comfort when I hear a good sermon, I make no boast of my profession, but invariably feel that there is a necessity for reformation, but cannot tell how to begin. Carolina Sophia must I think be good company, as her mother being so well informed, would never suffer her daughter to remain in ignorance; I shall now prepare my mind to see her. Miss Frances is at present at Catskill, visiting the academy, where young ladies are taught the languages. Pray, why not? We read of a Miss Schoraza in Germany, a very learned young lady; and if a society could be formed to encourage females to acquire the languages, and allow premiums, no doubt the attempt would be successful; then, in a future day, many shining females might appear to grace our halls in America, and snatch the laurels that are now decking the heads of many who receive, but do not deserve them.
Jonathan Slyfox’s history, with a humourous description of Mrs. Doshy Sproal’s marriage with Deacon Rusty; the marriage articles written by Arthur M‘Ayrthur,the village lawyer, and his description of Miss Almira Dexter.
Arise ye American fair, and show the nations on earth your superiority and greatness; entwine yourselves, like the ivy, round the hearts of our rulers, to inspire them to make laws that justice may take place, and teach Columbia’s sons to forbear their present vile practices of entangling one another in law-suits, which in the end is misery and contempt; for the most ignorant are the most stubborn and litigious.
Forbear, my inquisitive reader, to reproach me for the many promises I have made respecting the manuscript of intelligence conveyed to me by my young friend from Ohio; have patience, and I will tell you all. Miss 1109 10(1)r 109 Emily Prodigal and her cousin, walked frequently through the city, as is the custom with young ladies of the present day. The following lines were composed by an old disappointed batchelor, who now shuns the company of ladies as dangerous to his peace of mind.
On the Ladies of the present day.
The yankee girls, who men most prize,
Neat bonnets make and pumpkin pies,
So very wise have grown of late,
They hasten all to New-York state;
Where lasses, on a Summer’s day,
Are all parading through Broadway;
Seeking what is hard to find,
A husband suited to their mind.
All wasting time in gaudy show
They often meet a dandy beau,
Whose smiling looks, when gazing round
Convince his only aim’s to wound.
The brightest fair, whose father’s stock
Will ever prove a stumbling block;
For no industry will arise,
In men who think they have a prize.
Just from Catskill’s learned place,
With beaming eyes and handsome face,Vol. I. 10 1110 10(1)v 110
A graceful air in rich attire,
Is what the men do most admire.
Quick the knot is fairly tied,
Which nought but death should e’er divide;
Soon we find that ardent love,
By poverty is quickly drove
To the Aleghany mountains,
There bewailing by their fountain;
Lads and lasses from Broadway,
Teaching youth their A B A.
Miss Emily and her cousin have no particular business; they sometimes come home at a late hour to dinner, having walked slow with books in their hands to make them appear studious, though quite fatigued with doing nothing. Sad, sad girls, said I to them one day, your long stay has been a great disappointment to me, for as you passed the City Hotel there were a number of vacant looking gentlemen staring at the ladies among the number was one who has spent three weeks looking for a prize—he could quickly spy a new face; he saw you both pass early this morning, and contrived to call on me, to know if I had any deferred stock to dispose of. He pretended he was a broker 1111 10(2)r 111 and said he was recommended to me! It is astonishing the people suppose me to be rich. I am fond of company, it is true; but many resort to my house because they think me wealthy, which gives me daily opportunities to impose on the world. My hand has been solicited very often, and my nephew would wish me to change my situation; but I never will. I live now to amuse my friends, for that affords me particular pleasure. I told him that I was sorry to inform him that deferred stock did not remain in my possession long, and that every leisure hour of my life is spent in endeavouring to assist others in increasing their stock.
I beg your pardon madam, said he, for the intrusion. No offence, I assure you, sir. So he marched off much disappointed and chagrined: I know he feigned this excuse to see you. And now, my dear girls, let me entreat you to be guarded against these lovers of fancy and seekers of prey, whose wretched situations hasten them to declare falsehoods and use hypocrisy and ever other vile method to gain the hearts of the lovliest of Columbia’s daughters. We are much pleased, said 1112 10(2)v 112 Emily, that we did not see him. We did not come to New-York to make conquests: we came to make you a social visit, without any personal motive.
The young ladies then took a jaunt on Long-Island, as far as Satawket, leaving me to my own reflections.
I was called on by a gentleman of my acquaintance, who asked my opinion, what induced so many foreigners to come to our shores. I told him I once met in company a Yankee, of the name of Jonathan Slyfox; he remarked, in his peculiar manner of speaking, I guess as how the folks in foreign parts thinks how we cannot see farther than our nose, and law for me, that is the reason they came to larn to catch weasels asleep, but they had better keep a good look out for breakers, for we can catch rogues napping.
This was a Yankee captain from Stonington, who brought wooden ware and passengers to the city. He was civil to a high degree. His female passengers, were not very sick or silent, and the gentlemen not 1113 10(3)r 113 very stupid or lazy. Among the passengers were two ladies of distinction, who had been living at Satawket, and were so well bred that they could not help themselves to a glass of water, or any earthly thing.
The captain said to the ladies, what will you do when you arrive in New-York? servants are so impertinent, that the best people wait on themselves; and they now appear in handsome dresses and parade through all the little narrow streets.
These ladies were originally from St. Lucia, and were accustomed to much attendance. They seemed petrified when the captain told them that in New-York, the servants all try to outshine their mistresses. I suppose, said one of them, we must submit to the customs of the place. My spouse, said the Yankee, always feasts me with pies when I return from sea; and when a stranger enters her house, after giving him the time of the day, and inquiring all his business, she quickly lays the cloth, neat and clean; and what is wanting in good 10* 1114 10(3)v 114 things she makes up in politeness, and communicates to him all matrimonial engagements on foot—who is the handsomest young lady, and greatest fortune in the district: such intelligence she delights to convey, and often relates the following tale:A description of Doshy Sprowl and Squire Rusty’s Wedding. There is Squire Rusty, our opulent neighbour, has just been married to Deacon Sprowl’s widow, who can spin eight run a day, and after that go to meeting. She has more home-made cloths than all the women in her neighbourhood. She is rather masculine, and prides herself on her industry. The nuptials were conducted in a splendid manner. After the ceremony was performed they attended church. The Rev. Mr. Rubel officiated; Miss Peppermint was brides-maid, and George Preamble, grooms-man. The remainder of the company were the Blinkensop, Scammel, and Dexter families. Arthur M‘Arthur, the village lawyer, drew the marriage articles. For length and strength they cannot be surpassed, containing five hundred 1115 10(4)r 115 stops, and two hundred and fifty notes of interrogation. The words are so numerous, that time would not permit counting them at present; this has been deferred till the demand for payment is made. Domine Rubel read the ceremony with great solemnity, and Mrs. Doshy Sprowl and squire Rusty seemed quite sensibly affected. The party then all assembled at the church, where a great confusion took place: as deacon Penny was officiated for charity, the plate by accident fell, which excited some mirth. The priest began the following subject from scripture. It is not good for man to be alone. And he very ably expatiated on the endearing ties of conjugal felicity, not omitting to maintain that the first miracle wrought was at a marriage supper. The sermon being ended, the company all dispersed. Miss Almira Dexter, who was one of the guests, captivated Arthur M‘Arthur, the village lawyer. He gazed on her with looks of love, and added notes of admition to all her sayings, and then addressed her in the following tender and expressive manner: I consider it, Miss, as the happiest moment1116 10(4)v 116 ment of my life, when first I saw you, and may none of my future moments, I beseech you, be embittered with your frown. Ah! she replied, you remind me of some lines addressed by Miss Betsy Thoughtless to her lover: The humblest lover when he lowest lies, But kneels to conquer, and but falls to rise. I do not think, my fair charmer, that those lines are applicable to me; if any part of my character, or my person is not pleasing to you, do not, by cruel suspense, forbear to mention it. If my profession is disagreeable, or if my family, who are desended from the O’Rourkes, should be objectionable to you, let me know it before the great equinoctial gale comes on, so that I may be prepared for the shock, and bravely meet my doom. Miss Dexter conveyed her sentiments to Arthur M‘Arthur, in the following docile manner: I fully appreciate the honour you have done me in admiring my person, and the offer you have made me of your heart. Be assured, had not a prior claim been made to 1117 10(5)r 117 the possession of my hand, I should set a true value on your worth. Words are unnecessarry to inform you, that I have already disposed of my affections to a worthy youth. My hand is not yet linked to his; but he is hourly expected from Greece, where he went to distinguish himself in arms. He is the youngest son of the late general St. Clair, who distinguished himself in the revolutionary war. My lover was educated at West-Point; he is elegant in his person, and improved in mind. If he escapes the pirates, and returns, my sacred promise shall be fulfilled. Not all the wealth of the banks in the country, with their six per cent. stock, nor all their uninhabited forests purchased of the indians with notions, could alter my affections for Sebastian St. Clair. Mr. and Mrs. Rusty retired to Sycamore Grove; (that was the name of their seat;) it was situated in a vale not far from Hartford in Connecticut. The lawn in front was enriched with handsome shrubbery; at one corner was a locust grove, and at the other a pig-pen, a corn-crib, and a fowl-house. The 1118 10(5)v 118 garden abounded with onions, salads, cresses, endive and thyme. Deacon Rusty was a very hospitable man; killed the fattest hogs, made the most cider, and kept the best house in the valley; and when mounted on his favourite Eclipse, he thought himself as great as Lord Wellington. At his house warming all his friends paid him a visit, to welcome Mrs. Rusty. A sumptuous dinner was prepared, which consisted of the following dainties: At the head of the table a large pot-pie, with short crust; opposite a fine ham with sausages; then pumpkin pies, rice puddings, and a variety of vegetables, custards, and nicknacks. The hilarity of the company was evident, which gave great satisfaction to the lovers. The ceremony of the nuptials, and the entertainment being over, all parties retired to their respective homes, and the happy pair entered on the several duties each had to fulfil. The new painting of the house, which was a smoky brown, was the first occurrence that took place. The deacon thought that a yellow1119 10(6)r 119 low ochre front, and red roof, would outshine any other colour, and keep the crows from alighting on the top of the house. Mrs. Rusty agreed with him in opinion, though she observed that her father’s house was never finished; it was the custom to frame large buildings, which emptied their coffers, so that they could never finish the inside, and they continued so from generation to generation. As to painting, that was totally out of use, only the meeting-house steeple, which was always very high, with a gilded weathercock, and was painted handsomely. The next consultation was, who should choose a handsome picture to ornament the best room. Mrs. Rusty quickly replied, as the fine arts ought to be encouraged in this rich country, she would propose that the deacon should sit for his venerable likeness, and engage Mr. Browere to take it. He was averse to her proposal, and replied, I should be better pleased to have General Jackson, the Hero of New-Orleans, in my best room. Agreed, replied the condescending Mrs. Doshy Rusty; and I think, as 1120 10(6)v 120 second in public estimation, that De Witt Clinton, when planning the Grand Canal, and Counsellor Emmet, when defending Greenwich against lawless oppressive men, would be additional ornaments to our happy abode. Such pleasing scenes engaged the contented pair, and they were examples to their surrounding neighbours.
I have now, my patient reader, fully related the story as conveyed to me by Captain Slyfox, from Stonington, who appears to be a person of inquisitiveness, and requested of me to relate to him some humorous tales that have happened in the flourishing city of New-York. I then informed him of many interesting scenes that daily took place in our courts of justice, to the great uneasiness of many well disposed inhabitants, whose ignorance of Blackstone’s Commentaries made them shun these public meetings. Among the late events was a trial at court where there was a difficulty to obtain jurors, as every inhabitant made an excuse: One had lately 1121 11(1)r 121 married a wife, another was a respectable grocer, and a third was preparing the new Westminster Abbey, to bury all those in a future day, whose friends would be able to pay for them, with some degree of grandeur. But after much difficulty they obtained twelve gentlemen who were willing to be empannelled, six Dutch and six Irish. Their names are annexed:
- Lucas Van Orden,
- Petrous Van Solingen,
- Hermanus Polhemus,
- Derick Hovencamp,
- Clause Van Leven,
- Bernadus Kuypers.
- Barney Duffey,
- Pat Vaughan,
- Michael M‘Neven,
- Dominick O’Reilly,
- Dennis M‘Dowdell,
- Terence M‘Lochlin.
These gentlemen, being all freeholders and freemen, severally took their oaths that they could, if they would, pay twenty shillings on the pound, and recommended that all the human species should, have it or not, male or female, do the same, or they would, by all lawful means, make them, and in the following manner; that is, threatening, squeezing, I. 11 1122 11(1)v 122 shaving, or any other powerful manner, trick them out of their hidden treasures. Humph, humph, says Dennis M‘Dowdell, I have not eaten since morning, and though it is my fast day, a good herring and a bit of an onion would do me; no harm with a cup of Byrne’s good old Irish whiskey, that has been advertised ever since the yellow fever was in New-York. I hope it a’nt all leaked out of the bung.
Poh, man, said Barny Duffy, in this free country let’s away to Niblo’s, near the bank after it is shut, when the notaries are flying in every direction, to all parts of the city, causing the merchants to shake as though they have St. Vitus’ dance, until, as they regularly term it, they break to pieces. Let us just step in, and protest we will eat, if it should cost twelve shillings, and humbly request the notaries to pay for us.
Never heed, Barny, replied Dominick O’Reilly, fast bind, fast find, I’ll sum up the evidence, when you are all of a mind.1123 11(2)r 123
Pat Vaughan said, prithee, hold your prate, can’t you be thinking a little, and not all spaking your minds at once: just so it was at Balinahinch, the time lord Edward Fitzgerald triumphed over the minds of our dear countrymen:
Och, if father O’Donnell was here how pleased he would be, to see us all, some feasting, very few fasting, in fact all engaged, and the sweet American girls will be stealing our hearts, which are softer that our heads, and we are ready and willing to die for them; if we can obtain a few canal shares.
The right worshipful the mayor, then addressed the Dutch jurors; Bernardas Kuypers arose: Friends we are here assembled to enforce the laws. When Rip Vandam was governor, very few of us were called to sit as jurors; but in these enlightened days, vice accompanies wealth, and pride and folly stalk together. Excuse my expressions, I was not educated at the Hague; I obtained all my ideas and instructions at Erasmus Hall, Flatbush. The utmost attention was paid to 1124 11(2)v 124 our morals and cleanliness: Tasso and Homer we seldom studied—Virgil and Cornelius Neopos lay dusty above our cupboards; only looked into when white-washing took place. The almanac, the bible, the ready reckoner, and Buchan’s Family Physician, were all our library. Soon after Hermanus Polhemus, descendant from a Burgomaster in Holland, arose, and thus addressed the people: What is the intention of this meeting, my friends? It is a folly to spend so much time in nonsense, for my corn is suffering for the want of hoeing, and my spouse is never pleased when I leave home and spend money—if only for a pot of beer she finds fault; and I think it is always best to please the women—then all is well. My father always gave me that lesson. To be sure, Sorche Polhemus, that is my wife’s name, is a very prudent good woman. She never speaks before she thinks, never eats but when she is hungry, never laughs but only when the old gray goose has plenty of goslings: so I think we are a very happy couple. She does not trouble herself about states or countries, or who has talents to be the next president. That’s the woman, as 1125 11(3)r 125 Solomon says, who is a crown to her husband. Thus ended Hermanus Polhemus’s rhetoric.
Next rose up Claus Van Leven, a man of frank open behaviour, and addressed them: How satisfactorily, he observed, it is for the mind to be doing good; it makes me feel hearty, and when in my power, if I can do a man a good turn, here is at you. No hems and haws, such as I will think of it, &c. No, no; such double dealing I despise; I am right John Blunt, here’s my hand, and if ever I frown on a poor man, and send him empty away, I hope my pumpkins may rot, and my corn-cribs be left open to the rats.
Claus Van Leven was the best farmer at Flatlands; he had a lovely daughter, named Polly, who was the admiration of the village doctor; her education was somewhat superior to that of her neighbours. Her mind was always bent on having a scholar, and no other pleased her, no matter what profession. A farmer’s wife she did not wish to be, apprehensive that they had not those sublime 11* 1126 11(3)v 126 feelings for the sex as she thought she was entitled to: she was fond of dress. Her fine flaxen hair was enriched with a wreath of jessamine, and in her lovely bosom she always placed some fragrant flowers, such as the snowdrop, the polyanthus, the daisy, or whatever was in season.
She seemed formed to please: her light blue eyes as the azure of the sky shone refulgent, and she was the delight of her parents.
Next in order was Derick Hovencamp, a superannuated old gentleman, whose dress was indicative of his mind. The colour of his coat was like that the kings of old wore, royal purple, but no gold on them, nor very fine linen under them; his hat was of the shape of Oliver Cromwell’s; a very long waistcoat of black tabby, and square toed shoes. He smoked tobacco, which, to keep it moist, he put in a pouch made out of the bladder of a large hog, of the Holland breed, imported into this country by the first settlers at Gravesend, Long-Island. And after finishing his pipe, he began: How pleasant it is to meet all 1127 11(4)r 127 friends together to deliberate what is to be done for our fellow creatures in trouble and difficulties; and after that, how we shall increase our basket and store, and devise means to encourage our neighbour to lead a virtuous life, and recommend to those who have confidence in our advice to divide our time in the following manner: The first, to glorify the Supreme Being; the second, commendable industry, to enable us to acquire a competency to live above contempt, and to enable us to smooth the rugged paths of others; thirdly, to exert ourselves to gain wisdom, to assist in the government of the country. Shun all public meetings under any pretence whatever, that invites man to remove his neighbour’s land-mark; for look into the human heart, and there you will find that self predominates. Envy, pride and self-conceit flow in our bosoms; and at the misfortunes of good natured, meek, mild and unoffending persons, our exulting hearts burst in invectives against them. Lastly, to diffuse to all around, old and young, balmy comfort and set an example worthy to follow.1128 11(4)v 128
Derick Hovencamp was in his disposition kind and endearing, in manner soft and sympathizing; he delighted not in hearing of the losses and crosses of his neighbours, and was never known to give offence, or even his opinion who he thought should be the next ruler of these United States, which have become the admiration of the world. All he hoped was that every good man, like Hercules, would put his shoulders to the wheel, and assist to make the state of New-York the first in the Union.
Petrus Van Solingen and Lucas Van Orden entered the court; a profound silence took place; when Dominick O’Reilly arose: My worthy colleagues, said he, we must now take leave, relying on each other’s aid, whenever important affairs call our immediate attention. Our silver locks remind us, that like the fallen leaves we must soon perish, and leave this busy world, where fortune’s smiles are so uncertain, and death and sorrow sure. Go, worthy friends, to your welcome homes, to your tender wives and obedient children, 1129 11(5)r 129 and fervently advise them to shun all appearance of evil. I affectionately bid you all a final adieu; and may your evening of life (we are all here present near the close) be as bright as the evening star, whose effulgence illuminates the weary traveller, and serves him as a guide to his poor abode, where, solitary and alone, his feeble partner is gathering some little fragments to prepare a morself to alleviate his keen appetite. It is by the light of that splendid orb, that the tender partner of many a weary traveller is enabled to pick the outer bark of an aged oak that has stood the shock of perhaps a hundred equinoctial gales, which, and the barking and fawning of Pluto on his returning master, gives more indescribable pleasure to him, than the courtier receives from his hounds all decked off with stars and garters on collars of brass, to distinguish himself, and elate his proud heart. For, believe me, you will seldom see a man of great endowments, and easy circumstances, fond of a dog; he prefers to be alone, and musing with his own thoughts. It is only the jolly sportsman, the idle gentleman, the 1130 11(5)v 130 fat butcher, the sullen farmer, to protect his property, and the merry landlord, when he is half-seas-over, who are very fond of dogs. Those, to amuse their pot companions, will say, put out your paw—sit upright—snap the crust of bread;—then, oh then, a loud laugh by the vulgar at the sagacity of the animal. And they will be far better entertained than by the recital of one of Lord Byron’s grand sublime sketches of Bonaparte in exile; his soft fallen voice and manner, so forcibly described by the pen of that ready and unexampled writer, whose flowing numbers fill the soul with ecstacy beyond the power of language to paint, and whose imagination soars beyond human comprehension.
In attempting to amuse my readers, I fear I have deviated from the subject that is most pleasing to them; and earnestly request them to close the book and enter gaily far more enlivening pleasures, till snow or rain obtrudes and condemns them to retirement. Then take up this offering of amusement, and pass those subjects that suit not the vivacity of your heart.1131 11(6)r 131
I must again remind my readers, that Theodore Dorcy, formerly a druggist in the city, whose shop at evening made a brilliant appearance at the corner of the Old Coenties Slip in this city; where it was lighted with gas, and the coloured waters in the glass appeared very valuable to the owner. The profits being not sufficient, though the pestle and mortar was in continual use.
He determined to remove to the country and prepare wild plants, as he knew their virtues. Previous to his departure, he having consulted a friend the most proper place to remove to, he advised him to settle near the Maskenekonk, Sussex County, New- Jersey. He had in view a place that would suit him, with a little alteration, and he immediately moved, as it was then quarter day, so there would be exact six months for a new tenant. At his entering his new house, it was necessary to have some alterations; he sent for Builder Booby, their neighbour, who advised to take down the gable end, and at any time he could enlarge the building when 1132 11(6)v 132 occasion required. At the same time I beg leave to mention that they were very regular in their hours of working in the country; all was sure to let the hammer fall when the clock was striking twelve.
Theodore Dorcy said to Builder Booby, you are as regular then as the Savings Bank in New-York. This difference only, you do not save your shavings, they are for the good of the public.
After Theodore Dorcy was settled, the young people in the vicinity insisted that it was customary for him to give a dance: and he having a prepossessing daughter of twenty- four years old in New-York, she would pass in the country, by being gaily dressed, for eighteen: and having the good of his daughter at heart, quickly agreed to give an entertainment.
When the young company assembled, his fair daughter’s hand was solicited to dance by one of the party. Sir, she replied, I am 1133 12(1)r 133 engaged the first four dances: Squire Drowsy is my first partner; young Fiddle Faddle my next; George Seabright the third, and Constantine Noble, a physician, the fourth: after that I shall do myself the pleasure to move with you from the head of the room to the bottom of the dance, with all the grace I am mistress of, and sincerely hope your patience will not be exhausted, while I am figuring with the swains I have been mentioning. One only, I am apprehensive, will prolong the dance: that is the doctor, for he is always trying to make me believe his heart is bleeding for me.
The gentlemen of the faculty are always complaining of wounds and throbbings, and such a variety of pains, to try to soften the females, and endeavour to gain them. I mentioned that Mr. Dorcy was engaged collecting and curing herbs, having a sufficient knowledge of their different virtues, and endeavouring to substitute something for tea. In this happy country, which we are all fond Vol. I. 12 1134 12(1)v 134 of, and in order to amuse his friends, he composed the following stanza:
On the Virtues of Tea.
Fair or brown, bond or free,
All alike can sip good tea;
Crumpets light, and nice fresh cream,
Oft casts away both care and spleen;
Gay and great, here at their ease,
Offer tea in hopes to please.
Who would refuse this balmy drink,
Which robs the miser of his chink;
Frenchmen take it when they’re ill,
And Queen Caroline would have her fill.
Castlereagh is gone, you see,
Not by drinking good green tea;
Jefferson ne’er goes to rest,
Not alone, he drinks the best.
I hope on his high mount will be
The place that he will raise good tea.
The ships of Smith will then in vain
Cross the great sea for his sole gain.
Our own rich soil, if rightly hurl’d,
Defies the empire of the world;
The rich return our lands would yield,
If freedom’s sons would till the field.
After a variety of scenes took place in his family, his fair daughter, among her many 1135 12(2)r 135 admirers was most pleased with Constantine Noble, whose dress was very singular, as he frequently amused himself for hours at the glass, to gratify himself, and render his person agreeable. It is unnecessary to mention the colour of his coat; that not being material to form a beau. The waistcoat and hat are powerful look-ats.
His waistcoat was handsomely embroidered by his sister, who got the premium for it, at the last fair at the arsenal near New-York. It being a new unthought of material, entirely American manufacture; no less than the hairs out of the old family horse’s long tail, of a beautiful sorrel colour, extracted by the young lady’s own hands.
Constantine Noble was born in Acomack, Virginia, and had been in all the academies in that state; his father being so engaged in raising fine horses, he had not time to superintend his children; that task devolved on his wife, and she likewise had other domestic pursuits. So they all had their wills and whims, and were governed by them; and it is too true, 1136 12(2)v 136 Children from tender years ofttimes do growSo sadly stubborn, not their parents know;As to their wills no opposition went,Then, ah! too late—they never will repent.
The doctor’s father was a very hospitable man, and extremely polite to strangers, felt a a pleasing emanation glow in his bosom when a person was introduced to him. His house, table, and library were all at their service.
Loud rang the bell at the approach of a stranger, (not a beggar I mean,) and if well dressed, that was the first passport, all the family was then in commotion to welcome him.
If from the bay of Fundy, so much the better, as he has a sister lived there; and he was always partial to persons from that place. She was the widow of the brave general Stark, that distinguished himself at the taking of general Burgoyne in the revolutionary war. The character of his sister was singular; she was every thing that could be thought—the delight of young and old. Her conversation was cheerful and animating; and when the 1137 12(3)r 137 subject of love was introduced, she was in ecstacy; that ruling passion, when unrequited, absorbs the soul and makes man, the noblest of God’s works, sink into forgetfulness; his thoughts turn from his daily pursuits, and makes him like a shadow: but when successful, and meets a tender return of love for love, then his exulting heart throbs with inexpressible emotions, and in pleasing strains repeat the following lines from Lallah Roohk, And oh, if there be an Elysium on earth,It is this—it is this!
Now, my agreeable reader, I must again remind you of my nephew George W. Clairbourn, who I have so often mentioned, and whose character will appear in the close of this narrative in all its pristine beauty; where will also be unfolded a leaf to the engaging youth of the present day, which I hope they will read for their amusement, and fold it in their hearts as a precious memento, and again and again peruse it, until it makes an impression that time cannot erase; and may they say to each other, I am sorry it is ended. If I can 12* 1138 12(3)v 138 in any manner benefit the world with some of my own observations, then every good purpose I have in view will be accomplished— Nothing that is intended for instruction ought to be ridiculed; for every human being has some good ideas, and some good traits in his character, and consequently can be of some use to society.
My nephew’s life, and the character of his family, which is at present unknown to himself, will in a future page, as soon as my mind inclines me to be communicative, engage some of your attention. I must, in the mean time, request your attention to a few passing events; and one of which is the story of Baron Tilas, and his adventures and singular method to obtain a wife; the many difficulties he surmounted, and his being at last happy in the enjoyment of one of Heaven’s best gifts. But previous to giving the history of his life, I will give an account of an excursion to Haverstraw:
Joel Fairfax was born in Haverstraw, and was son of a collier, who had by his blowing 1139 12(4)r 139 rocks, splitting wood, and squatting on other people’s lands, made himself quite respectable; so much as to be chosen Parish Clerk and kept all the country in tune; so that Old Hundred was sweetly revived, and the spirit of religion and piety prevailed.
Mrs. Patience Foster, a leading musical character, struck his attention, by her melodious voice. She was a gay widow of a late member of assembly, who expired very suddenly at Albany, defending the question respecting the Chemical Bank, which has lately excited much commotion, and inflamed the minds of many distinguished characters.
One day as the widow was extending her voice to the last note, he stopped them all in the middle of the tune, and cried out that is uncommon metre!—perhaps to draw the attention of the ladies was his motive. He then began beating time with his broad flat hand in the following manner: Fa, mi, fa, sol. The females paid great attention and were in raptures; their tinkling pipes struck up, Who is ashamed to sing to-day,Not one cent we claim for pay;114012(4)v140While Europeans guineas win,If they just attempt to sing.Thither, thither we’ll away—All are made of the same clay.
After meeting, Joel overtook some of the lovely lasses, and having singled out the best performer, he waited on her home. On entering the house, she immediately took off her best clothes, tucked up those that she thought would be injured by cooking; and then she was quite at home. Joel sat still, like Patience on a monument smiling—not at grief—but, at the hopes of a good dinner. The pot roared, the family appeared quite reserved, and Joel was not asked to dinner; but it was not for the want of hospitality that they did not invite him—it was pride, for they were ashamed of their hodge-podge; so he at last rose to leave them. What’s the hurry neighbour?—and when they saw that he was going away they began to be very solicitous. They will, he replied, be waiting dinner for me at home, just as you are now waiting, and left them, much chagrined. The next week Joel called again; when they were better prepared and more friendly. After 1141 12(5)r 141 several interviews he found he was not disagreeable. In the course of a few weeks Mrs. Dorcus Green made herself very agreeable; and the good clerk, after modulating his voice, began one evening to touch the strings of her heart, to find if they would accord with his own, as all grating sounds were very offensive to him, he having so good an ear for music. He requested her to soften her voice, so as to soothe him, and vibrate with his own pipes. After an absence of some days he met her in the sloop Gay Delight, going to New-York with brooms and wooden ware, when he softly approached her, and spoke in the following manner:
Could you be content, fair Dorcus, in this gay city, now first in the union? Could you, I again repeat it, with your lover at your side, partake of all the inviting pleasures that appear to you?—bless by your smiles the man that adores you, and freely accept his offered hand?
She hesitated, and then spoke in a low voice:1142 12(5)v 142
Sir, the happiness you promise me by the offer of your hand and heart seems to surprise me, as I feel fully sensible I merit not such an offer. I fear I cannot conduct myself in the manner entirely to please you. Having always been governed by my own will, I cannot say how I will submit to the direction of another; but if you will risk the instability of my temper, and prepare yourself for the whims and caprices that actuate me in common with so many females of the present day, I will endeavour to make you happy. I will rise at early morn and cheer your roving fancy with some pleasing themes; relate the pleasant hours of my past life, and repeat the many observations I have made on the characters of others; and at the sitting sun, I will, in dulcet strains, lull you to repose; and when again I ope my eyes, I will reveal what in fancy’s dreams delight me, and you shall listen to the fairy tales.
He agreed to all her wishes, and they were cheerfully united, never to be separated until death close the scene.1143 12(6)r 143
The happy pair retired to the mountain, being preferrable to them. Joel, in a reverie, exclaimed, there are now many links added to the chain of our union; if we but keep them bright, and not suffer, by our supineness, the smallest link to rust, then let the Greek, the Englishman, the Spaniard, and the Jew, see the pleasure the American people take in brightening the union, and benefiting each other.
In the midst of his soliloquy the rain in torrents began to pour; his cares of life seemed then to vanish; the roof of the cottage he resided in, after the deluge, showed its mossy covering. In their garden the lilies raised their drooping heads, and appeared to erect themselves; the sun-flower at this season appeared in majesty and grandeur; the daisy seemed not to escape their notice; the ivy clung to their cottage, and the snow-drop was their admiration.
What a variety, my dear Darcus, said Joel, of wild flowers expand in the uncultivated forests in our state, whose virtues are 1144 12(6)v 144 yet unknown to man, which, if known, would afford a healing balm to the many ills of life our feeble frames are subject to. In ancient days the females administered to the sick, and devoted much of their time in preparing conserves and cataplasm.
A friend of Joel Fairfax’s, from Haverstraw, came ashore from the sloop Lady Delight, captain Conklin, just returned from New-York. He was astonished, he said, what so many people could be in pursuit of, and yet seemed to do nothing but parading the streets; some with spectacles on their noses without beards on their chins. It reminded him, he said, of the spies sent out by David, who were directed to tarry at Jericho until their beards be grown; others galloping to the different banks with long meagre countenances, not knowing what a day may bring forth; one with hasty steps and keen appetite is blending his way to Fulton-market, while another with painful expression demands the price of perriwinkles; and after purchasing them, returns to his wretched home and surly looking matron, who chides 1145 13(1)r 145 him for not purchasing something more palitable. He replied, Go yourself next time, and you will then see your noble brought to ninepence.
She returned, lack-a-day man, I am not such an elf,Though I say it myself,I know a sheep’s head from a carrot, a carrot. He replied, And a tree from a book,And a fool from a cook,With a dinner well dress’d,Though not of the best.My friends shall all dine,We will drink Niblo’s old wine—Money, O money, what comfort it brings.
Fine times you will have with your pretended friends, replied his sullen partner, but true, I have heard that A friend at call,Oft saves a fall, to those who do not reflect at the commencement of a long journey.Vol. I. 13 1146 13(1)v 146
George Washington Clairbourn, my nephew, returned after an absence of four weeks, in good health and spirits. My dear aunt, said he to me, my family connexions are unknown to me, and I have been frequently interrogated concerning them; will you, my best friend, acquaint me where they now reside, and when I shall see them? “I replied, I cannot at present unfold to you what is a great mystery; on a future day, when Josephine Claribourn’s history appears, you will then become acquainted with it. So in order to divert his mind from the subject I entertained him with some observations of the great Irish barrister Phillips, who observed that the cold neglect that is too often shown to ladies of the present day causes their hearts to chill, at the sight of their lords. If a man, says he, will not take care of the nearest and dearest friend of his bosom, let the spoiler seize her and doom him to never-ending misery. A jewel is sometimes estimated by its worth, and sometimes by its wearer; and if the possessor is regardless of its value, and carelessly lays it aside, who can behold the bright appearance, and not wish to possess it?1147 13(2)r 147
Reflect, then, ye segar smokers and wise polititians, and say to yourselves, what pleasure is to be compared to the attention of the innocent prattlers of the rising generation, and penetrating into the different characters that children are to act in these United States, where the expanded Eagle is gathering from all nations her bright gems?
My nephew observed, it was now the pleasantest season of the year; you meet all in cleanly attire—the young in their gayest plumage, like the feathered throng, and jocund sing, with pleasure and delight, and allure, by the soft cadence of their notes, the passing throng. The sports of the field invite the rural swains, such as the sons of Iberia cannot enjoy; now, too, the glowing heat of the sun and evening dews dress in mantle of green the surrounding country. The tender plants raise their heads, to the admiration of the gardener; the blossoms fall, and in quick order fruits appear, to the delight of youth’s science, who quickly lay by their Euclids and Lockes, to taste of Pomona’s bounty. Soon they must return to reap their yellow 1148 13(2)v 148 harvest, and deck their brows and laurels obtained by a due application to study; and the sweet reward that they will meet when introduced to a Portia, a Lucretia, or a Maintenon, which will fully compensate for all their long studious nights and solitary days spent in researches.
I will now relate to my readers the character of Orestes, a youth of science, who being introduced to a variety of ladies at a tea party at Aquackanonk. He seemed thoughtful.— How shall I be happy? he exclaimed; the wish of my heart is to be united to another; and I think the task to obtain one will be difficult. If she is possessed of beauty, others will attempt to allure her, unless she is possessed of wisdom to guard her honour. If wealth is her portion, she will be apprehensive that I will spend it. If she has superior intellects to mine, a better acquaintance with men and things, and a general knowledge of the world, with a map of it in her head, she will be ever restless after some pursuit foreign to the family fireside, and the trifling concerns of domestic1149 13(3)r 149 tic economy which contribute to the comforts and happiness of the husband; such as My dear, did the brewer take away the empty keg? Has Ponto been fed? Let Sukey take my boots to be cleaned. I have invited Counsellor Sunshine to a family dinner of scollops stewed in oil, with anchovy sauce. Then she will be convulsed—Bless me! my dear Orestes, this is washing day— Thump, thump, scold, scold,This is the washing day.
Now what hopes can a man have if he changes his situation? I am determined never to be yoked in wedlock; I will be free; and let Cupid aim his darts—I will rise above his shafts, and shun all appearance of misery.
Having finished Orestes’ observations, I reflected on the truths he suggested, as many observations he made were critically true. I then gently took a walk to the Battery, to view the many ships that approach with cargoes of misery, pride and expectation, to our flourishing city, where the majority of the citizens are all assembled, and contemplating 13* 1150 13(3)v 150 where to bury the dead, so as not to affect those who survive them.
I gazed at many just landed, boasting of the fine country they had left. I am willing to admit all the wonderful things they relate; and allow that the English excel us in eating: for the papers daily proclaim that Dick Lazy swallowed thirty eggs, and George Hopps, drank for a wager, (sAs he was too wise to do things for nothing,) five gallons of ale in six hours, and afterwards run to Islington from Tyburn in three minutes, and then eat a skim milk cheese, well coloured with safforron to make it look rich. Such nonsense, instead of pleasing, indicates gluttony; and as lord Chesterfield observes, a man who boasts of riding twenty miles in one hundred minutes, I should be sorry to believe a liar; but if he did, he must be very unfeeling, and not unlike a brute. The English, I allow, excel us in what I have recited.—But for horse- racing, fish catching, snipe shooting, banking, breaking, sneezing, smoking and sipping, we bid them defiance; however, the time may come when we will excel them in home-made 1151 13(4)r 151 commodities, I mean such as originate among ourselves. We have not a Fox or a Sheridan; but we have an Adams and a Clay to vociferate, and a Monroe to rule us, whose enlightened mind renders his people happy; but the time is too short, when he will return to his tranquil abode. Thousands will repine and grant him their blessings. Under his own vine, may he long flourish, and be as the evergreen, pleasant to behold in all seasons of the year.
I shall now relate a scene near the beautiful Pequest, the most rural spot I have observed in this country. The clearness of the rill affords an opportunity to gaze on the handsome pebbles. Here we are lost in contemplating the sublime majesty of the high surrounding country, where freedom spreads her banners and invites all distressed persons from other climes to enjoy our tranquillity.
On crossing the Delaware I perceived a crowd assembled; I knew not the occasion, until I observed a handsome youth much dejected. I cautiously inquired the cause— 1152 13(4)v 152 Ah! replied a venerable old gentleman, that youth has robbed me of all my earthly comforts: he has sought to obtain the affection of my dear daughter, and by stratagem gained, and now he is in custody: for when a female is dishonoured, all the French assignats, Spanish rials, and English guineas, cannot make any compensation: the fatal deed is irrevocable; and nothing can be done, but sigh, and exclaim, ah sad am I!
I endeavoured to comfort the old gentleman. He would not hear me, and in the bitterness of his heart, he uttered these words: Frail youth, may gnats take hold of and torment you, and mosquitoes buz round your nightly pillow, and caterpillars crawl in your bosom, until you repent, and fall on your knees to my sad daughter Ophelia, and implore her pardon, and seal by a pledge, with a promise never to part from her, and to crown her latter years, if she should live, and this be forgotten,— with love, respect and good treatment, and so render life agreeable.
The youth advanced in humble submission, 1153 13(5)r 153 prostrated himself to Ophelia, and said, Oh, injured, beloved woman! what have I not suffered since last I saw you? Remorse, shame, dishonour, all rush on my feelings and harass my soul. Worlds would I resign to merit your forgiveness. Oh, do not be so obdurate, but soften my decree by a speedy answer. I will defend your person, and your honour that I have sullied, with my life. I will, if you request it, make restitution by my death, and will take a potent anodyne that shall free the world from a monster, and be an example to all deceivers.
In the phrenzy of his mind he declared life was a burden, and insisted she would either forgive or aid him to leave it.
After mature reflection she raised his freeble voice, and emphatically expressed these words: Rise, lordly man—rise from the fallen state in which, from the beginning of the world, you have been by the allurements of female beauty—rise, and by firmly maintaining a fixed position, render yourself 1154 13(5)v 154 what you were intended for by the great Omnipotent Ruler of the world. I freely forgive you with the hope that you will see better days.
The history of Baron Tilas.
I crossed over in the teamboat to Hoboken, and from thence to Weehawk, a distance of about five miles. I then entered the habitation of colonel Fitzroy, a fine hospitable man surrounded by his lovely family, living in dignified retirement: his daughters were riding for their health, on horseback, accompanied by an adventurer.
To describe the figure and dress of baron Tilas would require some skill. In his manners he was frank and social, in his dress neat and genteel, but rather expensive for a man of small fortune; his conversation was a mixed jargon of French and German, and in order to be understood, and make himself agreeable, he would converse in English. There was a peculiar manner in this stranger, and by a happy disposition he engaged the 1155 13(6)r 155 attention of the whole family, particularly Miss Eleanora, who was the first to introduce him to her father’s family. The manner of their becoming acquainted was something singular, of which I shall now inform you.
Baron Tilas, having expended nearly all the cash he brought with him from Germany, in plotting and contriving plans to get a rich wife, by making expensive parties; and not having the pleasing manner that is requisite to captivate the American ladies, all his plans failed. He next purchased a ticket in the lottery, and was waiting for the result of his fortune; but it remained in the wheel, till his patience was exhausted: every revolving sun gladdened his heart with the expectation that that would be the lucky day. At length one of his particular friends told him not to trouble himself so much; good luck always comes unexpectedly. A thought occurred to his mind, that he would retire into the country, to recruit his spirits; and hearing board was cheap in the Jerseys, he went there. It was the season when people were alarmed about 1156 13(6)v 156 the yellow fever in New-York; so his excursion carried an appearance that he was very fearful of it. As he was fishing one day near the house of colonel Fitzroy, by a beautiful brook, and his mind quite absorbed in reflection to think what in a short time was to become of him, if his ticket should be blank. On turning his eyes quickly round, he saw passing by the brook a sweet lovely girl; he started, and approached her with this salutation: May I hope, Miss, that my presence in this retired spot may be no interruption to your happiness? Oh, not at all sir, she replied, this road is free for any of the human species, after paying the toll, which no doubt you have done, or you would not be here. Are you a stranger in this neighbourhood? Perfectly so, Miss; I came here fearful of the prevailing epidemic, to spend a few weeks. I board in a very kind family, who took me as they said for company, since they are independent people. The old gentleman is a squire, but I cannot recollect his name. Oh, perhaps it is squire Hageman you board with. His wife is a tall gawky woman; speaks very loud, and her husband has very little to say. 1157 14(1)r 157 The very same house, I assure you; and Mrs. Hageman is so taken with me, that whatever I ask for, is at my service, and I agreed to pay two dollars a week, but it must be in silver; for she says she will never take paper money again, as her father, in the revolutionary war, lost all his estate by taking continental money, which so depreciated at last that it was one hundred dollars for one, and the congress never made it good. But they have allowed pensions to all the old revolutionary soldiers. My father, said Mrs. Hageman, always did duty in the militia, and his military coat and sash are in the family to this day, and hung up in my best room. My husband the squire often argues with me, and says, he thinks he was disaffected, though he was in the militia; but how could he be disaffected? for when Burgoyne was taken by Gates, he seemed much pleased; but when Andre, the spy, was taken he looked grave, and all the country feelingly expressed their sorrow at his sad fate. It happened just at the time that I was confined with my first son, Jehoikam, who is now no more; he was the finest youth in Weehawk. Vol. I. 14 1158 14(1)v 158 I have only one child left, and that, I am sorry to say, is a daughter. A woman in this age has a hard task, as it appears they were formed only to please; but it is very difficult at all times for them to command their temper. It is true, I have lived some time; but in order to be happy, I never exactly speak what I think. I am made up of dissimulation, and my husband thinks I am the finest woman in the Jerseys. I am sorry for my sex, that they are doomed to deceive. I hope their sins will be washed away.
Baron Tilas observed to Miss Fitzroy, that he would take the liberty to see her home, if she would permit him. My father, sir, said she, is very austere in his family; and my mother is always silent in his presence; he does indulge me more than any of the family, so I will risk his displeasure. Pray, sir, by what name shall I introduce you? Baron Tilas, from Carlstadt, on the Rhine.
As soon as Miss Fitzroy entered the drawing-room, her father rose majestically, and 1159 14(2)r 159 bowed—This, sir, is Baron Tilas, &c. &c. I am happy to see you, sir; welcome to my house. What unexpected event brought you hither? Nothing but the apprehension of taking the fever caused me to take a jaunt into the country, to amuse myself. My library, sir, is at your service; there I spend most of my time. My garden is nothing to boast of, since I left Canada, and came to the state of New-York. I have purchased a small estate here, and my daughters are my whole delight, as I have no son. My second daughter has a taste for music, and I have an excellent master for her; she is preparing to sing at the next benefit of the Orphan Asylum; she has a melodious voice.
When Baron Tilas took leave of the family, the Colonel insisted he should dine with him the following Thursday. He begged to be excused, as he had some business to attend to that day in New-York, no less than exammining his ticket; but the Monday following he should do himself the pleasure; and, if it would be agreeable to the family, he would bring the Rev. John Fulham with him, as 1160 14(2)v 160 they had been bosom friends ever since his arrival, he having letters of introduction to him, and being well acquainted with his friends in Germany. Accordingly, on the Monday following, the Rev. Mr. Fulham was introduced to the Colonel’s family. He was a gentleman of easy manners and dignified appearance; his conversation was chiefly from scripture, the destruction of Ninevah, that great city, where scarcely a righteous man was to be found; he dwelt much on the burning of Moscow, and the attempt at destroying our Capital at Washington, which he thought were similar events, and plainly showed that man’s hand was lifted against man; and there was no rest for the wicked. True, replied Mrs. Fitzroy, human nature is ever the same; envy, pride, overbearing disposition too often possess our hearts, and evil desires are in some measure constitutional; but we must suppress in our bosoms all evil conjectures, as they arise, of our neighbours, and cheerfully aid them in their pursuits; for my part, I freely forgive all those who envy me. I know my garden is ridiculed for the trigonometry that is displayed1161 14(3)r 161 ed in the conkshell border. The Rev. Mr. Fulham was much pleased with our rural situation. We took a pleasant excursion to the English Neighbourhood with my daughter Eleanora. The Baron thought the people in this place resemble those where he was born, and formed the resolution that he would settle in that place, provided his ticket was a prize; if a blank, he would, as he had a good education, teach the languages, that being lucrative in the present day. Colonel Fitzroy did not accompany his lady and daughter in their excursion with the Baron; the divine had some family cares on his mind; besides, their carriage could not conveniently accommodate more than four persons. The driver appeared in style, as they had two handsome poneys of a dark chestnut colour; the carriage was Prussian blue, which the Germans are fond of. The doctor sung the following air: As free air I rov’d till now,Lov’d many a maid, yet cautious how;But still my heart was free.14* 1162 14(3)v 162
Miss Eleanora was much pleased with the singing, and in her turn cheerfully began her fuavourite air, The braes of Balquether, composed by M‘Dicks, the great musician. The baron and the priest had never heard it; the words, they allowed, were sublime; and Miss Fitzroy, unlike ladies in general, pronounced the words distinctly. The company returned at an early hour. The Baron proceeded to New-York to await the result of his ticket, and the priest spent a few days at this happy abode of tranquillity and ease. On his return he glided through all the back streets, as do unhappy characters who shun the sight of their old acquaintances; as his dusty appearance to a citizen who is all polished and brushed ready to dart at, he knows not what. Such shining outsides look with a contemptuous eye at dusty looking farmers, and long sided, long visaged trading folks from the eastern states, with rolls of leather under their arms instead of parchment. The carriers of the latter overawe all beholders; their wise visages, and black suits make them feel a superiority, not only in the courts but on the side-walks in Broadway, just before1163 14(4)r 163 fore the clock strikes eleven, and these meetings are inviting to all that have studied Hale and Erskine, or the ancients; there all will be entertained to hear words misconstrued and misapplied according to the wish of the party, and give a doubtful meaning to the best written document, which will require double skill to enforce the true meaning.
Thence arises all that necessity of argument, which affords the eloquent speakers an opportunity of aggrandizing themselves, often at the expense of truth, while the world extol their talents.
Baron Tilas quickly applied at the lucky lottery office opposite the City hotel to know the result of his ticket. One of the young gentlemen misunderstood him, and thought he came to offer uncurrent money. Alas, he replied, I have none, current or uncurrent; I merely wish to know if I have been fortunate.
Immediately the misunderstanding young man opened the book and was very observant 1164 14(4)v 164 of the number, and cheerfully informed him his ticket was a prize of one thousand dollars. He was frantic with joy. How unworthy am I, exclaimed he, of such good fortune! I left my father poor and miserable, when I had health and strength to support him, industriously engaged in painting toys—a very unprofitable business, which scarcely afforded him an existence. My mother, always tacit, scarcely uttered a word at my departure, but looked at my face till my heart was like to break. All these scenes presented to my mind a gloomy hope of happiness with this addition to my fortune.
O wealth, thou soother of almost all the ills of life! the want of thee makes the tottering limbs of age more feeble, and fills the large edifices of our populous cities with inmates, who weep fountains of unavailing tears, unheard by the rich and great, who are sporting and basking in luxury. They never think what the hand of time will effect.
It was now approaching spring; the feather1165 14(5)r 165 therered songsters warbled in the grove, and bright Sol approached with his warm beams. The impatient Baron hastened to the English Neighbourhood, with heart elate, to purchase a neat cottage, and by industry to cultivate a small spot of ground, by raising two crops in one year.
Arnoldus Van Berkle had a small farm to dispose of; his price was three hundred pounds—half cash, half bond and mortgage, five per cent. interest, payable half yearly. Many interviews took place before the bargain was made, as he had to consult Anarautia, his wife, and also please all the rest of her relations, among whom was his faithful slave, Cuffy, who always advised his master in important affairs. Cuffy was totally averse to his disposing of any of his landed estate— it was better to keep it, as perhaps at a future day it might be purchased at a great price of a new potter’s field. No, no, Cuffy, said Van Berkle, if I can persuade my wife to sign off her right of dower, I must and will sell it. At the last election for president I wanted to appear great, so I made some bets 1166 14(5)v 166 that Clinton would be president; but I hear the great Adams is elected, which is equally pleasing to me, for now the eastern people are all united. However, I must pay my bet.
In the height of the conversation between Arnoldus and Cuffy, his wife, Anarautia, entered the caumer, as the best bedroom is always called by the Dutch—meaning the spare room. She turned up her meek blue eyes, took off her spectacles, and inquired of him, What is your will, my husband? My will is, and you have promised to obey, that you will sign off your right of dower of my little farm over the bridge, as I can get a good price for it; the fences are old, the barn must be repaired, the hog-sty is too small, and the orchard is all summer pippins—they will not keep, unless I get the great Prince to inoculate them. Oh, forever! she exclaimed; what! sell the place my father left me? you will never have any luck; it is true we have been married seven years, and had no children; there is no knowing since the adoption of the new constitution what 1167 14(6)r 167 changes it will make in men and laws. However, if I must, I must; I only require what great people in general want, a set of silver with the initials of my own name, to be handed down to my collateral posterity.
Matters being thus arranged, the bargain was concluded, and the silver admitted. Counsellor Drawback wrote the deed, and other necessary papers, when Baron Tilas took possession, having enough left to begin farming. After lighting fire, he looked round, and found himself alone; he began to reflect that it was not good, and like our first parent, he fell asleep; but he found when he awoke, no rib he had lost, nor no woman had he found; he immediately determined in his mind, let the consequences be as they would; and as the stage passed the door of his new residence every day, he would take a seat. He was agreeably surprised at meeting his friend, the Rev. M. Fulham. He informed him of the purchase he had made, and his intention of now visiting the Fitzroy family. There were a variety of characters in the stage, particularly the rich respectable taylor 1168 14(6)v 168 and his family that made such a noise, and excited so much inquisitiveness, at the Greek ball, whom I have heretofore mentioned; he had taken a flight into the country to forget the disagreeable sensation that disturb their mind at being so particularized. Mrs. Snip was a little graceful person, flippant in speech and romantic in dress, being the daughter of a pawnbroker, a class of persons generally admitted in large cities.
The stage driver was a humourous classical scholar, who had just taken that employment to relax his mind from hard study in one of the public schools in the city, where he was usher. He was so fond of letting the passengers know that he was a learned man he could hardly restrain himself. He would say to the horses magna fui: the people looked round in consternation, and thought he was deranged; then he would cry out que, que, instead of whoa, whoa, which excited much laughter. Among the passengers, was an English girl lately from Salsbury, with broad shoulders and hollow stomach, full of health and spirits. She remarked on passing through 1169 15(1)r 169 the country, in the English neighbourhood, that they had a little appearance of the villages near London, where decency and neatness prevailed. She said she thought America a fine country, though the ouses were not so andsome as at ome; she, for her part, must say, that since she came here she had plenty of work, and should never again darken her parent’s doors, as she could live without them.
The Rev. Mr. Fulham, observed, he who hated his father or his mother, as is expressed in holy writ, the ravens should pluck out his eyes and the young eagles eat them. After that speech a profound silence prevailed; then the turnpike gate flew open and the driver payed the toll. There is a certain highwayman look in all these turnpike men, when they demand money of you, that is terrifying, and contrary to my ideas of a free country; for why should a person be way-laid for a trifle, just to gratify a few nabobs, who choose to stop the road, and make some alterations, to bank up a little money? For this, every idle, inquisitive and intelligent traveller must Vol. I. 15 1170 15(1)v 170 be detained, which is shameful. In this free country, roads, like water, should be free. Many an unhappy parent cannot, in the hour of sickness, see a darling child gasping his last breath, by being detained by these leeches. Let us then recommend the people at large to lay waste these annoyances, which distress the weary traveller.
In a short time we arrived at Weehawk, and my friend Fulham and myself entered the lane in front of Col. Fitzroy’s house to gather a little sprig to present to Miss Eleanora. On entering the hall a perfect silence reigned— Mrs. Fitzroy was exceedingly ill. We met Doctor Foresight, who informed us her case was rather singular (esub sultus tendenum.) Not dangerous, I hope, Sir. By no means: a gentle cathartic, and after that a mild sudorific, will be essentially necessary; and then a copious bleeding, and kept perfectly quiet, will, I hope, effect a cure. The nurse ran hastily after the doctor as he was going, for she had not altogether understood his prescriptions, not being well read. He kindly told her what was first to be taken, 1171 15(2)r 171 then charged her to mind their effects, and be particular in relating them to him at his next visit. The doctor being satisfied that Nurse Doser would be attentive, absented himself, and the Parson and the Baron entered the parlour. Eleanora seemed somewhat confused; a palpitation of the heart seized her: she, however, was careful, like her sex in general, to disguise her feelings. But rest assured, my inquisitive reader, that true love, sincere esteem, heightened by a little absence, the glowing cheek, the gentle smile, and the beams in the countenance, show too true, the work is begun; and whatever methods are taken to smother the flame, it burns the brighter the more you try to subdue it. After a few compliments and inquiries the conversation took a turn towards the English Neighbourhood, where the Baron first felt that indescribable emotion, which he who never felt was never happy, and informed them that he had purchased the cottage and farm of Arnoldus Van Berkle and Anarautia his wife, and intended to reside there—had already made fire and taken possession. The young ladies looked confused. Tea was announced1172 15(2)v 172 nounced in the adjoining room, and the evening passed off agreeably.—Nothing remarkable, except a few tender speeches, when the lover had an opportunity. At ten o’clock we left the family, hoping at their next interview Mrs. Fitzroy would be better. The Parson and the Baron staid at the first inn they could meet. They were invited to stay all night at Col. Fitzroy’s, which they declined. After being some time at the inn his friend spoke to him in the following manner:—What induced you to purchase a farm? Have you any knowledge of agriculture, or the changing seasons in this country? The manners of the people of America are different from those of Carlstadt on the Rhine: civility and discretion, prudence and economy, characterize the manners of your country, while ambition, pride and self-sufficiency, too much prevail in many other nations. My dear friend, replied the Baron, having formed an attachment to Miss Eleanora Fitzroy, and never having made it known to her, I beg your silence until you know the event; for I am determined to acquaint her at our next interview with my sincere and unalterable 1173 15(3)r 173 attachment to her. I have got some respectable names to my character in New-York, and in order to make things satisfactory, and that she might expect a home, I purchased a small farm, thinking by uncommon industry I might support her. She appears one of those lovely fair ones that require but little, having been used to a retired life. It would have been far different had I placed my affections on a modern toast—to such a one nothing is thought of but riding tandem and dancing, attendance at balls, plays, &c., and all kinds of expensive amusements, which is contrary to my ideas of comfort. The friends now retired to rest. The day following the Doctor called on his patient, Mrs. Fitzroy, and had the satisfaction to find her much better, and had fair hopes of her speedy recovery. The Rev. Mr. Fulham and the Baron became inseparable friends. Attachments of this kind are frequent, when a little secrecy is expected. Men or women cannot rest when love seizes the heart, until they confide the secret to their friend.
Among the visiters that frequented Col. 15* 1174 15(3)v 174 Fitzroy’s was Miss Laura Askin; she was from Philimore-place, Islington, near London; her manners were easy and unaffected; her features regular and beautiful, and her dark and raven locks were glossy as the breast of a blackbird; true wisdom flowed from her lips, and she was the admiration of the sons of Columbia. The Misses Fitzroys were not quite so handsome, but their conversation was enlivening.
But to return to the small farm in the English neighbourhood, which the Baron had named after a place in Germany near Oldenberg.
The Baron, having now finished his cottage in a neat style, and whitened the fences, which is always the first thing a gentleman farmer attends to, hastened to New-York to inquire for letters from his parents, the receipt of which gave him great satisfaction, as they informed him that a maiden aunt had bequeathed him a handsome legacy, on condition that he married within five years after her death, for she supposed that he would 1175 15(4)r 175 then take care of it. If he was not married in that time, it was to be given to a charitable institution, as she never wished what she left to be wasted. He hastened back from New-York to his favourite spot, and prepared his mind for an interview with his lovely fair. At his first approach he had the pleasure to find Mrs. Fitzroy perfectly recovered from her late indisposition, and all the good family in good health and spirits. Fortunately, Miss Eleanora was alone at his entrance in the parlour. He approached her with looks of cordial love, and hanging over her enamoured, began the following pathetic story:
How shall I address you in language that in common conversation I am at a loss to express my meaning. On the summit of happiness or misery, I have no words in any language to express the high esteem I have for you. Had I the eloquence of an Emmet, the mind of a Brougham, or the wisdom of a Socrates, I might hope a favourable hearing. Mine is an uncommon attachment.— Think, then, lovely charmer, and smile on your pursuer.1176 15(4)v 176
I have, my dear sir, she replied, no pleasure in trifling with a sincere heart: I only want time to inquire after necessary things to make life agreeable, and to know how we are to live. My father’s finances are only sufficient for immediate wants; he has nothing to spare for others. Rest happy, my dear Eleanora; I have purchased a comfortable abode, and a legacy having been left me by a maiden aunt, enables me to assure you I can support you in a genteel manner. What pleasure can you take in procrastinating our happiness? I have made your parents acquainted with my character and family, and they leave it to your discretion to make choice of a partner for life. Your own mind must be your director: all I wish is a speedy answer. I shall leave you to your own reflections; and in the course of ten days may I hope that the impression I have made on your mind will be favourable, and that with welcome looks and kind reception I may be allowed to salute you and call you mine for ever? Then will I triumphantly bless my better stars, fall at your feet, and, as a humble suppliant, hope for forgiveness if I have offended.1177 15(5)r 177
The Baron bowed respectfully, and retired to take leave of the family, who kindly asked him to stay that night; but which he modestly refused, though of all earthly pleasures he would most cheerfully have accepted.
At the return of his Eleanora how did his glad heart glow with ardour! His countenance as the drooping lily withered; but by the warmth of the sun of affection it expanded and appeared in its pristine vigour. How sublime the joy when hope dawns on our soul, he exclaimed; I shall now hasten to await my doom. And at the first interview after his return to Weehawken he immediately requested to know his doom. She was very explicit, and said she delighted not in tormenting those that preferred her to the rest of her sex, and now acknowledged that her every wish was centered in his happiness, and ere many revolving suns he should be blessed with her hand and heart. He then took her hand and promised her that every future action of his life should be directed by her, and as his leading star, he would follow her in all the intricate mazes of life. Should 1178 15(5)v 178 clouds overcast the morn, he would penetrate through their gloom. After a variety of conversation, the ladies all entered the room. Miss Erskine looked as if she should like to know our last conversation, she being a young lady of penetration, I quickly replied to her that I was the happiest man in existence. She took the hint and smiled. Mrs. Fitzroy entered the drawing room; I made a humble bow, and in the feelings I was impressed with begged her concurrence in my favour as speedily as possible. Her husband was gone to solicit aid for the Greeks. It depends greatly on the state of our minds at the time that we are wishing to aid the wretched, whether we shall be successful or not. But we may ask in vain; the all-seeing eye looks at the well meaning of the giver: He knoweth our hearts, and will smile upon us according to our sincerity. Baron Tilas entered and made his respects to Mr. Fitzroy, and likewise requested his approbation; he, without pausing a moment, gave his consent, and the twenty-fifth of the next month was to be the nuptial day.
End of the First Book.
It was planned by all the family that the nuptials should remain a secret three weeks, as the surrounding neighbours would all expect to be invited, for they were much esteemed. The wedding accordingly took place at the contemplated spot, and without any parade. They removed to their little cottage, where it was impossible to be retired. The young gentlemen assembled and serenaded them, and sung the following air:
Joe and Kate.
Old Joe he died, just worth a plum,
Which he bequeathed to loving Kate;
She grieved, and low her head he hung,
You would have thought her heart would break.
Her friends they tried to get her home,
And begged that she would not be grum,
But make a vow to live alone,
As she was now just worth a plum.
She silent sat now in her weeds;
Her friends contrived to have some fun:
The heroes now with long-tail steeds,
Found out she was just worth a plum.
She said Joe made it altogether
Just by shaving, and by rum,
Only by his rolls of leather,
He now left her worth a plum.
When morn approached, he’d smile, and say,
Oh haste, my dear, oh be quite dumb;
And she was silent all the day,
’Twas then he left what’s called a plum.
At his last gasp his friends all came,
And all proclaimed his work was done;
They strove to give him a good name,
For sure, he left his Kate a plum.
His friend, the Rev. Mr. Fulham, spent a few weeks at his cottage, and advised him to 1181 16(1)r 181 every thing for his benefit, being a man of profound erudition, and much caressed in the neighbourhood.
We shall now pass over all the changing scenes that took place in the amiable family that I have so minutely described, and take a survey of the interior of the state of New- Jersey, at a place called Hacketstown, where, in a merry mood, I crossed the mountain to see the rural abodes of indigence, and notice the treatment the fair sex receive from clownish, ignorant, labourous husbandman; mark the predominant desires that pervade the bosoms, and the home made dress of these sons of labour, which make them gay in solitude; for were they clad in purple and fine linen, they would not be content to grovel in the earth like glow-worms. The season was favourable for jaunting, the days long, and the face of the country clad in green; the lambs skipping, the lasses tripping, old women scolding, horses neighing, asses braying, hogs grunting, pigs squealing, cows lowing, man labouring; women having the most difficultI. 16 1182 16(1)v 182 ficult trial to please their tender companions. In this unsettled state of my mind, I saw a number of cattle passing along to Philadelphia, the driver whistling as he went for want of thought; his ruddy cheek convinced me he never studied. The asure sky and revolving seasons were to him a source of gratification.
Jerry Jocand, a merry fellow, (for I cannot convey my sentiment in any other expression) was strong and athletic; his arms always akimbo, and a silent dignity that was manifested in his behaviour, escaped not the scrutinizing observation of many persons. The fashion of his coat was not like Paddy’s, buttoned behind him, it was carelessly thrown over his shoulders to be exhibited when called to his repast, which was wholesome bacon and beans and good cider. The toast was, here’s towards your good health, and then threw the contents of the glass behind the backlog, which is the criterion of the well- bred clown. Then all the jovial family, when Jerry returns from the market, surround him to have a detail of his great business, which he 1183 16(2)r 183 thus related: A tall wise looking man, with a long face, looked in my basket very wishfully, and inquired the price, and continually found fault with every thing; hurry, hurry, says I to myself, this must be a politician, who prys into every thing and buys nothing. By Jove, it is laughable; they have not a cent or dime, only perhaps a few ancient coins which they show the women, for they cannot pass them, with a few scraps of unintelligable writings in their pockets, such as introductory letters to the Lord knows who, recommendations from the Lord knows where, with a detail of all their glorious achievements in Portugal, Spain, up the Mediteranean, any where you please, all fiction and folly, deception and whim. These long-faced gentry I hope will keep aloof from my basket of hard-earned production. By night and by day in summer’s scorching heat and winter’s keen blast, poor Jocund must labour, while those pale looking gentry look on us as very little superior to the beasts, because our appearance is not apt to please. The weather-beaten hat, hard mouldy shoes, and swaddling gate, broad-round shoulders, 1184 16(2)v 184 and turn-up nose, make us despised in the sight of your grand nabobs, with perhaps their all on their backs. If it was not for their brains, how could they exist? Sometimes they have a melodious voice, like the great Braham, who made thousands, or like the famed Mathews who acquired large sums for his jocose and pleasant manners. I heard Barny M‘Inch say he could, in spite of economy, draw large sums of money from respectable persons, who, previous to their going to hear him, would quarrel two hours with their servant for breaking an empty pitcher, and swear at their washer-woman for not crimping the bosom of their shirts, d――m the tailor for not sending their last chosen vest, then strut and feel vexed that they did not become the suit they had on, struggling with temper or they would change them. Such trying scenes took place not many minutes before they were to appear like angels, gallanting the ladies who are always pleased with polite attentions of the other sex. Then the smiling nymphs accept the proffered cakes, comfits, kisses, &c. &c.; all attention, the curtain then rises, and each appears decked in 1185 16(3)r 185 sumptuous attire, in imitation of him, I mean the great, the lost, the almost forgotten Napoleon, just entering on board of the ship, with a serene and becoming aspect, comporting with his former dignity. The theatre roared with admiration at his approach, and he addressed the audience in a style not to be expected from a son of Mars, it was as in the soothing strains of domestic tranquillity that he spoke. What! ah, what is power? it passes away as the fallen snow; for a short time it afforded pleasure to the mind, and after one cloud appears it vanishes for ever— aye, short is the triumph in those changing scenes of life.
Alike is wealth; for after the miser has heaped innumerable sums of money, and fearful that his nearest relatives should know it, and in the hurry and confusion of the world, in his latter days neglects to make a disposition of it, then soon as the vital lamp of life is extinguished, meteors of a day rush forward and seize the hidden treasure; then in the name of these United States all must be made public, whose power and grandeur fill the Edinburgh Review16* 1186 16(3)v 186 view with matter sufficient to amuse and surprise half the cockneys in Europe, though they have not much time nor inclination to read, being so engaged in profitable pursuits, only at evening’s close, drinking a little of their famous ale, for fear their large tubs would burst and deluge their famous city.
The curtain now drops, and agreeable sensations arise in the mind, and every person for a moment acknowledges the truth of Napoleon’s observation, and soon after a very different scene presents to our view, when the curtain again rises, then pomp, splendour, costly dress, and innumerable things appear. The first is lord Lorimer, one of his majesty George the Fourth’s privy council, a man of great dignity of person, just arrived with an assurance that his majesty would be graciously pleased to make Scotland a second visit, with a desire that on his appearance, all persons would bow their heads, and those particularly that practiced the healing art, by which that country heretofore had been so distinguished.1187 16(4)r 187
The theatre now closed, and I retired to rest. Early the next day I began to reflect on what I heard of the aborigines of this country, who thought they were kept in a state of vassalage and ignorance; but since missionaries have been sent among them they have become quite reasonable people.
How different are the sex in civilized life! The first of every good thing is presented to their females, and Bacchus does not interfere in their flowing bowls. The world is all at peace. Bacchus causes shipwrecks, animosities, wars, rumours, disquietudes, and almost all the evils of life; be sedate then ye wise men of America in particular, for your rising greatness astonishes all the habitable globe, you are now as Rome, Athens, and many fallen cities once were, at the zenith of your glory; then bravely assume a manly prerogative, and let the new constitution that has now began its powerful operations, stimulate you to good actions. Combine not in any manner to deceive your unknowing neighbour, who in order to enrich his field by laudible industry, is trying to obtain a comfortable1188 16(4)v 188 fortable maintainance for his little family, and to educate them to fill places of profit and honour, and be beneficial to this state of New-York; let not, I say, any combination of idle men meet and endeavour by corrupt manners, and designing means to alleviate their keen appetites, wish to ruin their industrious fellow mortal; and I again repeat it to all that are in the high walks of life, and in whose hands are power and wealth, crush those ravenous wolves, and let them no longer bask in sunshine to the ruin of their neighbours.
The ancient Spartans were a people whose integrity is a wise example to our rising generation: ye worthy youth of the present day, whose minds are yet uncontaminated by vice, look forward, for great honours await those who by application and industry seek wealth.
There is now established for you an extensive library, such as your forefathers never had an idea of; be studious, then, and it will be a gratification to many rising characters of the present day. You may perhaps in time 1189 16(5)r 189 sit in the highest seat in the temple, and with extended arms and eloquence profound, teach the people to be wise and good.
I shall now, my patient reader, leave this piece to your attention, in the foregoing chapter, and remind you of the promises I made in the beginning of this book, to relate some adventure not yet known. I shall now proceed to the beauties of the Pequest, and anxiously inquire what has taken place worthy of remark since my infant days. I confess, to my surprise and astonishment, the country is all fertilized, and male and female as much altered in manner and appearance as is possible to conjecture. My former friends and intimates have risen from almost a state of vassalage to wealth and comfort; many are in the silent tomb; others have erected stately fabricks, and filled them with growing evil; perhaps children I mean.
Colonel Dexter is the most officiating character in the place; he is adviser and protector of all unfortunate characters; he is president of the bank, deacon in the church, assessor1190 16(5)v 190 sessor of taxes, road-master, and overseer of the poor, all at one time. It appears he is loaded with troubles and honours; never a day passes but he is solicited to a party, or called on for advice; and if he does not attend they wait his pleasure, but never dispense with his company.
Mrs. Dexter is a sister to governor Claybourne, and is rather of a haughty appearance, which does not comport with the manners, nor suit the people of Pequest, who are very religious, being almost all methodists, and have a large barn instead of a church that they assemble in, and are well satisfied that God is in the midst of them to bless them.
Colonel Dexter and his lady sometimes attend divine service, which gives great pleasure to the people. A serious affray was like to take place about three months ago; Uriah Bonum, not Uriah the Hittite, ran off with Judith Cummins, to the state of Pennsylvania, and insisted she should give him her hand. She was an orphan, who had been educated under the auspices of a good family. The 1191 16(6)r 191 whole country was agitated at this treatment of her. Judith was rescued by Sandy M‘Farland, who offered to fight him, which he declined. Judith was rescued and safely conveyed to the Pequest; Uriah retreated to Alabama with an ambition that fills the minds of many characters of the present day, that is, wished to offer himself as a candidate for any vacant office. A small school is now preparing for Judith, under the patronage of Mrs. Dexter; she being a highly accomplished lady, is willing to give her a few necessary lessons, as a recommendation from her will be sufficient to satisfy the people that she is competent for the undertaking. She has only one daughter, who is in the sixteenth year of her age, named Carolina Sophia. She is in stature tall, in manners mild, and a countenance indicative of good sense; she is the adoration of her parents, and possesses the good will of her neighbours. It is contemplated by her parents to send her to New- York to acquire dignified manners, and obtain lessons in the fine arts, such as music, dancing, drawing, &c. &c.; all other instruction such as geography, stenography, philosphy,1192 16(6)v 192 phy, and many other accomplishments, she was possessed of. No expense had been spared by her parents, being determined their ancient family should not moulder or decay for the want of intelligent persons to support it.
Visible traits of former greatness were to be observed in their manner and address; their minds still retained a certain indescribable emotion at the appearance of the better order of beings, such as distinguish themselves in charitable pursuits.
Miss Judith began her engagement at the Pequest in New-Jersey, which I shall now describe. The country around is inhabited by peaceable, industrious farmers; it is about eighty miles from New-York—the richest man is Conrad Haunce, a German, from the borders of the Manheim, whose peculiar manners I must describe. He never consents to his partner’s leaving home, as he says it spoils the woman, and sets a bad example to his daughters. He always maintains a stubborn silence to his family; and a rigid economy is 1193 17(1)r 193 observed. His wrinkled forehead keeps them all in awe of him, and the only influence they can obtain is when they are sick; for he is so avaricious he does not like to part with any thing, not even his family. His Frowe is very sulky when a friend calls and finds her doing nothing, and in that state of mind she is sure to bind up her head with a large cloth, and tie up her mouth as though she had the tooth-ache.
Her husband then accosted her—Frowe, have you nothing to give our friend to eat after travelling all the way from Tawnytown to see us? Then she stamped on the floor, the heels of her shoes having many nails drove in them to make them strong; she ran down into the cellar, fetched up a side of bacon, and began slicing it; then the daughter flew up to the barn, and knocked the head off a pair of old roosters, while the old man gathered some eggs from under an old hen. They were all in motion to entertain their friend from Tawnytown, who began to be very pleasant and talkative, as he saw them all so busy preparing dinner; and, Vol. I. 17 1194 17(1)v 194 in order to entertain them with something new, he inquired, Have you heard our Squire Baltus Zeek has buried his fourth wife, and she has left him the care of ten children, all under twenty years of age? Poor old gentleman, I pity him; he is upwards of seventy years of age; my Heeragodt! what a sorrowful thing it is that these women die so fast. I think she worked too much—and he cannot now get another—he is too old. Well, exclaimed Haunce, I think I have great luck; I still keep my old wife—she was one of the Hessian women taken at Trenton, where Washington surrounded them all more than forty years ago. You have certainly heard when there were so many Hessians taken by him. For all she has the head-ache and tooth-ache at every turn, I don’t notice it; that is the best way; for if a man is alarmed every time his wife complains, she will die directly, only to please him. Poor Baltus Zeek! what trouble he has met —crying and mourning his whole life; it would be better he had never been born. How hard is the lot of man, if he studies all his life to please a peevish woman; and if for 1195 17(2)r 195 a moment he neglects her, she immediately dies of hypochondria. Then the doctors declare, for they know not her disease, it was a hasty consumption. It is the best way, I think, Boltus, not to look at the women at all, and then you can’t know whether they are pleased or not; that is my way: I plod on, and never feel merry or sad—always the same; a cloudy or a rainy day is all the same to Conrad Haunce: children crying, dogs barking, women scolding, or cats mewing, never disturb me. There is Captain Halsey of our militia, my next neighbour—he is from Hempstead, Long-Island. To be sure, I have nothing against him; he is so polite to every one, and so changeable, that he never, I am told, keeps his mind for two hours. If he promises to see the collector and inquire how much taxes you owe, or when you are to do your part of the road, or prepare for the election, he surely forgets it; and when he meets you he will ask your pardon, and say he had so many engagements he forgot it, when perhaps he had nothing to do. His wife can never please him. He is so whimsical, and so fond of company, that 1196 17(2)v 196 he can never rest at home; he must be meddling with other people’s business. I never go to see him, because he does not suit my turn: he often asked me; but whether he means it or not I cannot say. Now I would advise you, Boltus, my dear friend from Tawnytown, not to be in a hurry to get married, for it is hard to please the women, if you take any notice of them.
Mrs. Haunce, with her hard step, owing to her shoes as I before observed, entered the room, and with a fine white table cloth of her own manufacture in neat folds, laid the cloth, and in the twinkling of an eye the bacon and roosters were spread on the table, and a handsome print of butter and eggs.
All the family sat down to the table quite mute. The old gentleman took off his ancient hat and placed it before his face, and made a long prayer; and when finished spoke in a feeble voice, We have nothing better— help yourself; and in silence they all ate lustily, making no remarks by saying, this bacon is not so good as that cured in England1197 17(3)r 197 land; this poultry is quite small to what we have; this does not taste like Irish butter, and so on—not satisfied, and always making comparisons with distant things; which in fashionable high life cause warm disputes to arise at table concerning the goodness of what they are eating.—This is particularly applicable to Philadelphians.
America at present can boast of the best beef of any country; and every comfort of life is here—for few foreigners wish to return to their cheese, their sounds, their sorrows, or their oat meal or pigs.
I now leave Conrad Haunce and his friend Boltus Zeek, and all the family, at their different occupations at Pequest, while I take a view of Miss Judith’s school, and Miss Carolina Sophia Dexter’s improvements in New-York. To begin with dancing. Her teacher was a person of fine figure, or the name of Descartes, the son of a nobleman in France who fled to this country after Bonaparte left it. He was very attentive to Miss Carolina: she soon learned to waltz; and 17* 1198 17(3)v 198 on public days she was always one of the Graces, or carried the Grecian wreath.
As she had the advantage of a good figure, in a short time Miss Carolina was distinguished from the other ladies by Descartes, and she quickly discovered that he always made her the lowest bow when dancing a cotillion; and she in return held her head the highest. His attention did not escape notice. One day, as he was parading through Broadway opposite the City Hotel, dressed in lilac satin, she cast her eyes up, and saw Descartes in company with some gentlemen from Canada who had been running the boundaries, according to the treaty of Ghent. She passed quickly along, and in a short time she heard the footsteps of a person fast approaching— What haste you appear in, Miss Carolina. I should suppose, said he, if you were going down a dance, that you did not pay much attention to the music, for you seem in rather quick time. Not at all, sir, I paid no more respect to time than you did, and I hope in a short time to see my parents once more, whose presence is ever in my mind, 1199 17(4)r 199 whether tripping, talking, dancing, or stalking. I don’t doubt it, my dear Miss Carolina, and may I have the pleasure to hope that you will, in future, think a little of of your present time spent in my company, as it would make me blessed indeed. I should then attune my soul in high strains of melody, hoping the sound woould vibrate in your ear to delight you.
Forebear, Monsieur Descartes, she replied, to trouble my mind with your similes. I was sent by my parents, whom I revere, to profit by improving myself in all essential accomplishments; I have, by close application, endeavoured to improve myself, so as to give satisfaction for the expense I caused them. I do not wish to lessen myself in their esteem by committing any rash act. On the contrary, as I am their only child, it is my incumbent duty to make their latter days agreeable; so I beg, sir, you’ll not trouble my mind with any observations that in the event of time may give them pain. I hope, sir, you will excuse me, as I am engaged to dine this day at Counsellor Crafty’s 1200 17(4)v 200 who is my guardian, and I must be very particular in my conversation, as every word will be registered in his mind; and I am apprehensive that he will try me in all my different studies. My improvements in dancing and drawing he will not trouble himself about; all I fear is I shall make blunders, placing stops when they are not necessary, on which he will interrogate me. I shall then be dumb for ever, silent as the grave. The next thing is to inform my parents what progress I have made. If not satisfactory, I shall be called home to leave this far famed city, where I enjoy much pleasure.
Miss Judith gathered all the children in the vicinity, and gave great satisfaction to their parents. One day, in very great haste, she rapped at Mrs. Dexter’s door: Good news, madam, from New-York; Miss Caroline Sophia has made conquest of a nobleman’s son, who offended his parents in France, by quarreling with the servants; he embarked for America, and having no money, he undertook, under a feigned name, to teach dancing. Miss Caroline was a scholar of his, and he 1201 17(5)r 201 has never made known to her his high family and great expectations. His father can give him fifty thousand francs. His passion he has revealed to her, and she is at a stand until she knows who he is. A friend of his arrived at Washington Hall last week in the ship Criterion from France, and was inquiring after the family; I happened to be there taking tea, and heard the conversation. I steped forward and informed him every thing to his entire satisfaction. He exulted with joy, and intends soon returning to his own country. I hope Miss Dexter will not entirely extinguish the flame until she hears who he is, if agreeable to you, madam, as you certainly have the prosperity of your daughter at heart. I will write to her immediately, and put the letter in the post office; it will reach her before his friend returns; please to inform me who I must direct a letter to, and in whose care.
My dear Miss Judith, there are so many impostures, I scarcely can believe when the truth appears. The young ladies of America are sought after by the Europeans as soon as 1202 17(5)v 202 they arrive: the first inquiry is where resides the wealthiest young lady, or where shall I meet the greatest beauty. Immediately plans are laid, schemes projected, arts tried, parties made up, and, in truth, nothing left undone to introduce the young people to each other: and then hymen implored to grant his aid: all friends, old and young, give their opinion. If the gentleman can bow respectfully, talk knowingly, or sing enchantingly, the business is half done. As soon as he is introduced, a plan is immediately set on foot to form a party, and giving an opportunity to surrounding friends to inspect those outlandish gentry, who are as docile as lambs, and innocent as doves.I beg pardon, Mrs. Dexter, all Europeans are not designing, Man differs as much from man,As man from beast. We must have charity: many a worthy youth, with inexorable parents, because they will not study Euclid, and learn mathematics, astronomy, theology, and all other not easily 1203 17(6)r 203 acquired knowledge, are banished from their presence as hyenas; and they will not be softened into pity by any of their friends. Such unfortunate youths, by wandering in other climes, perhaps may be so fortunate as to alight at some abode, and in a moment receive comfort. They snatch the glorious golden oppertunity, and then time passes, and they risk their future destiny.
Well, Miss Judith, your expressions are on a firm basis; I will direct you how to send your letters to New-York, and hope the result of your wishes may make us content in this vale of life, where joy and sorrow are so combined, it is almost impossible to rend them asunder. To return to Maiden-lane, where Miss Carolina boarded. She had just entered the front door, when the servant handed her the letter. Her tender frame, for she was young, was seized with unusual sensations, and the tremble of her hand caused her to drop it, unheeded, on the floor. On entering the drawing room of her guardian, (guardians are ever great observers,) he inquired the fate of the dancing master, as he had not 1204 17(6)v 204 seen him for some time. At this moment the servant, Nimrod, ran into the parlour, and told his master, as he could not read, that he found a letter at the hall door, and supposed it was for him. He cautiously glanced a look at it, and saw by the superscription it was directed to his ward. He handed it to her, at the same time was inquisitive to know the contents.
Miss Carolina was a generous girl, and had no deception in her nature; she immediately, as soon as she had perused it, gave it to her guardian. He read it to his entire satisfaction; and said it was sufficient in his mind that all things were true.
The next morning Miss Carolina, (as was her custom,) like other belles, paraded through Broadway, under pretence of shopping. On going to the library, she met at the corner of Nausau-street her old acquaintance, who had not seen her in some days. He made a reverential bow, passed her, and darted into the Law Buildings, while she glided down Wall- street, where she was much gazed at by 1205 18(1)r 205 those corner gentlemen who are ever waiting in groups, until the bank shuts; she then took a turn to Joe Bonfanti’s, purchased a nut- shell with a pair of gloves in it; then took a turn with two books in her hand round through Pearl-street. A thought here entered her mind—she should like to have her fortune told; and having been reminded by an acquaintance, that one resided in Eldridge- street, she hurried there. On entering, a haggard-looking female asked her, what is your name, and what is your will? and began telling her, you are very uneasy about a person that is in the same situation. If you behave becoming your situation you will get him. He is, or will be soon, very rich. He goes by a false name; and it appears by the cards that he shakes himself very much to get a living. Don’t laugh at him, for his temper is hasty; and then she ran over with the cards, here is a good heart, good luck, and plenty of money. God bless you. Now pay me half a dollar.
The sharp and uncouth manner of the old hag frightened Carolina so, that she speedily Vol. I. 18 1206 18(1)v 206 left the house; and on her return through Pearl- street, she again met her lover, who had traced her meanderings through the streets almost the whole day. He stopped, and excused himself for passing her in the morning, as he was in haste to meet his friend he expected in the steam-boat at Courtland-street wharf, from Pequest. It is unnecessary to describe how cheerful he appeared at the agreeable account his friends gave him of her family and connections; it was to him a source of consolation, as he knew the grandeur of his family as soon as he met her. He was transported, and taking her hand in extacy, exclaimed—Man’s hope and joy are centered in woman; and I must now, my fairest, where thousands are fair, importune you to hear a few broken sentences I shall disclose.Can you love me in sincerity and truth? When I relate to you my situation, you will find that it is far above the common walks of life—mine is an exalted rank. I was cautious in relating it to you: I wanted you to love me for myself alone; and as you are 1207 18(2)r 207 now fully acquainted with my real situation, and I am happily informed of your’s, nothing now can be wanting but your consent for the completion of our happiness, which I flatter myself you will not long delay. I will write to your parents, and wait their answer; in the mean time I bid you adieu, and may flowers be strewed in your path, and on a downy pillow may you sleep and wake not, until rosy morn approaches and welcome you to new delights; and when bright Phœbus has mounted the chariot of day, may I hope to be blessed with your consent; and as he rolls his bright orb, and rewards all our cares with the warmest of his beams, I will be watchful, and then will be answered all my prayers. Oh, then I’ll be blest, and will hasten away, With my fair, by my side, on the first day of May.
As soon as the pretended Descartes, (that was an assumed name, his real name being Lionel Peetit, son of a nobleman in Paris, whose name is well known in France, for his virtue and integrity,) Lionel hastened to his drawing room at Washington Hall, and gayly 1208 18(2)v 208 led the young ladies through their several positions, and was remarkably facetious. The French character always acts agreeably to the liveliness of their feelings, and they are much elated with the smiles of fortune; when sorrow overcasts their brows, there is no nation on earth that apparently passes over misfortunes with more pleasantry.
Jamais, Jamais, Mora
Pour les femmes
A public ball was announced to the ladies, which was to take place on the following Thursday evening; and he particularly requested they would appear in as splendid a manner as possible; none in the altered clothes of their grandmother, something in the American style, if ever so trifling, to show a propensity to encourage our manufactures; for all the rare and scientific characters of the present day were invited. Also, linen drapers, hosiers, haberdashers, scriveners, newsmongers, &c. &c. The music, like Orpheus’ lyre animated the company; and what added to the sublimity of the scene was the presence of Carolina Sophia Dexter, from Pequest, 1209 18(3)r 209 decked in jewels and every expensive ornament that money could purchase; though at the same time she was of that singular form, that she was when unadorned adorned the most.
On this present occasion she eclipsed most of her sex; for when the mind is happy, the countenance beams a lustre not to be surpassed. After the ball the ladies returned to their respective homes, each bosom fired with rapture at the gay enjoyment they had recieeived.
We shall now return to Pequest, the place we have heretofore described, and enter on the fine farm of colonel Dexter, who was enriching it by his attention and labour. He was at the moment of our arrival fishing with a small net, and caught a variety of fish, which he generously distributed among his neighbours; this secured him their good will, as country friendship must be bought, in the same manner that city civility is taken with.18* 1210 18(3)v 210
The country around was hilly, and a few waterfalls, whose romantic echo enlivens the mind. Miss Judith entered the house of her friends and benefactors, and told them a dignified gentleman is at the hotel inquiring for your house; the name I cannot recollect. Landlord Humdrum requested me to apprise colonel Dexter as quick as possible, which I have taken the liberty to do, being ever ready to serve you. Amazed and agitated he rose and solicited Miss Judith to call and know if the stranger had any particular business with him, and invite him to dinner that day. She hastened to landlord Humdrum’s, and a gentleman of figure addressed her— Pray, madam, can you inform me if colonel Dexter is in this vicinity, as I have a letter for him from his daughter.
Yes, sir, I have an invitation from him to you, as he heard you made inquiries for him, I will introduce you. So they paraded to the mansion which was furnished in the first style. On his entrance he made a profound bow to Mrs. Dexter, who was a lady of dignity and acquirements. She began in the 1211 18(4)r 211 following manner to address him: Pray, sir, what induced you to visit this part of the country, is it to inspect the ores of the mines our country is enriched with, far superior in value to the Lehigh coal, that now so truly warms the frozen inhabitants of New-York? Or is it to take a picturesque view of the circumjacent windings of the river Delaware? or to view the ruddy hoidens that this country abound with? or whatever inducement you may have, I hope you will be perfectly satisfied when you leave us. At that moment, the old gentleman entered, and with that complacency, that was so habitual to him at the sight of a stranger, he thus welcomed him: Be pleased to be seated by the side of a man who in all the vicisitudes of life cheerfully submits to the decrees of fate, and should for a moment any occurrence take place, to interrupt him in his daily pursuits, or cause a tear to fall on his aged cheek, he immediately implores the divine disposer of events to fortify his mind, and enable him victoriously to triumph over the weakness frail man is born with.
I hope, sir, my appearance does not occasion1212 18(4)v 212 casion any disquiet in your mind; I have just to acquaint you that I am the cheerful bearer of a letter, the contents I hope if agreeable will crown my days with bliss, and make your’s truely happy, as it is from your fair daughter.
The old gentleman opened the epistle, and read as follows: New-York, 1825-02-10Feb.10, 1825.Now my ever respected parents, I know all my prospects of well doing will afford pleasure; and as the better part of my past days have been devoted to my studies to render myself agreeable to my parents, by obeying their commands, and as I have always endeavoured to please, may I now hope, that as the days of my infancy are past, and I have passions that are not easily subdued by reason, since I have arrived at years of discretion, and other duties to fulfil, may I be permitted to explain to you the sincere wish of my heart? and if it does not meet your pleasure, you will pardon my solicitations.121318(5)r213The bearer, Lionel Peetit, has sought my hand, and gave me every satisfaction respecting his family, which I hope you are acquainted with; and you will add to the many tender wishes you have heretofore given towards my happiness, if you would take this important request into mature deliberation. I am aware, honoured sir, that you do nothing rashly, or inconsiderately, and that you will answer my epistle according to the dictates of your mind, as soon as convenient.Respectfully, dear Father, I remain your affectionate daughter,Carolina Sophia Dexter.
After a few compliments, and talking of the weather, and the news of the day, and of the debates of congress, respecting sending an agent to Greece, and the unnecessary disquiet that arose in that august body, who are often disunited in their counsels, as appears by their able speakers, Mrs. Dexter, observed that the United States excited much attention in foreign countries, and it appeared to her evident that we were a great people; 1214 18(5)v 214 our debates in congress are expressive of our great feelings in the present momentous times, and they ought to be inlaid in gold and carefully reserved for ages unborn.
I perfectly agree with you, madam; you must remember France assisted America in her revolutionary war; and not half enough has been noticed of that event.
The family were all requested in the back room to a delightful dinner, served up in handsome style. Lionel Peetit was delighted, for he flattered himself he was not disagreeable, or they would not have prepared so luxurious a dinner. After the ceremony of eating was over, the old gentleman gave the following, appropriate toast, All we wish, and all we want.
After dinner they took an airing in their barouche, with Lionel, to show him the beauties of the country, and the manners of the rustics, which I have before described; and at their return, he politely took leave to return1215 18(6)r 215 turn to New-York. In crossing in the steam boat from Jersey city, he was much amused with a company bringing baskets and wooden ware to sell. There was Joe and Chat,With a Fayette hat,Frank and Sall,Both strait and tall,Poll and Tom,Cry’d well we’ve done. And then counted by their fingers how many dimes they would get for their cargo, and reckoned how much they could spare to be joyful. There were a variety of characters in the steam-boat; among the number was an Indian chief with several of his tribe, on their way to the city for beads and ornaments to pacify them for their lands. They attempted to sing the following ode:
Liberty, we now are taught,
By Americans was bought,
With the lives of heroes gone,
To their everlasting home.
The land we’ve tilled we wish to have,
’Tis ignorance us does enslave,
Our bosoms now for freedom burn,
We teach our sons at wrong to spurn.
May ignorance be far removed,
And vicious men who oft intrude,
Into our circles, where we all,
Pray to God, both great and small.
We’ll no longer sit and pine,
But quickly cultivate the vine,
Seize the sturdy oak, and then
Lay it low and work like men.
On our landing, great news was in circulation from Greece: The Turks had all sunk, or fled away, and the money that was collecting was to be appropriated to sumptuous feasts for the most gallant characters. All the bells in the city rang, except the prison bell; and the stepping-mill was ordered to stand still twenty-four hours, at the great event, and the forlorn females to chaunt the following air:1217 19(1)r 217
Ye who sit on gilded couches,
Were your crimes, but only known,
You would not long ride in barouches;
The day is quickly coming on,
When Jove, who sits and knows your hearts
Will quickly whirl you quite assunder,
For none will rise to take your parts,
Down, down you fall, and must surrender.
On passing through Courtlandt-street to Maiden-lane, I inquired at the house where Miss Dexter boarded. She was just gone to parade on the Battery, where many a tender sigh is given to departed friends; there she was feasting her mind with reflection on an event that she dare not reveal to her nearest friend. She returned to her home, and in the evening she sung the following old song:
I have sung and have prattled with twenty young lads,
And changed them as oft as you see;
But of all the young lads that trip on the green,
Lionel is the young lad for me,
Lionel is the young lad,
Lionel is the young lad,
Lionel is the young lad for me.
The clock struck six: Miss Dexter had forgotten the hour. She entered the drawing room, elegantly dressed in a pale blue circassian dress, trimmed with white sarsnet, which was very becoming, as she was of a fair complexion, a small piece of myrtle in her bosom, and a necklace of real amber. The time passed slowly from six to seven; but no appearance of her swain. She was impatient on two accounts; first, for the approbation of her parents; second, to know what reception he had met with. She was just making these reflections when Nimrod opened the door and placed some wood on the fire, the bell rang, and Lionel entered. I hope, Miss, I have not intruded on you this late hour; I was detained waiting on a lady that I reside with, as I could not refuse to wait on her to a friend’s house; and they importuned me to tea, which I acquiesced in; and before all ceremonies were over, I could not be so rude as to leave the lady; and thus I have been delayed. I hope you will forgive me for my intrusion.
Certainly, sir, I know too well the requisites1219 19(2)r 219 quisites necessary to form a gentleman; for he that lives to please the world has a trying task, as our sex think they are entitled to constant attention.
After a few compliments, the conversation turned on the seat of her father; he then informed her of the manner in which he was received, and said he brought no answer to her letter, as it required a little time to reflect on it. By the next mail doubtless, he thought, she would receive one. He then assured her his affection was unalterable; nothing on earth could shake it. She bowed her head, and he took leave of her with a request that she would so far gratify him as to go to the theatre, as a new play was to be performed, called Tom and Jerry. The next evening he waited on her with a friend, Miss Witherspoon from the Delaware, who was at her house. My friend Billings, from the Cahoos falls, was one of our party. When we were taking our seats, the young ladies drew much attention; perhaps Miss Witherspoon’s dress occasioned, it:—It was a velvet robe of orange colour, trimed with green fringe, and two large blue 1220 19(2)v 220 feathers in front of her head: her eyes shone with resplendid lustre, and it was visible in her countenance that she was delighted. Miss Carolina’s dress was quite romantic: a royal purple Grecian costume, trimmed with white sattin, and a beautiful ruby necklace round her snowy neck. These splendid belles drew much attention, as the house was not much thronged.
The curtain rose, and two fair damsels presented to the audience a handsome painting, representing the Grecian women imitating the Spartan ladies, in cheering the soldiers, and bringing them provisions, then applauding their courage, which had a powerful effect on the army, and excited them to deeds of valour.
The house echoed with applauses; the scenery was superb; the language of Cleopatra was strikingly impressive; and a few words that I recollected were spoke in an animated tone.
What is this life without agreeable reflections? 1221 19(3)r 221 Our nightly pillow is a piercing monitor, if we have through the day studied to destroy the happiness of our fellow creatures, and made them miserable. On the other hand, what afford to the mind more agreeable sensations than binding up the wounds and relieving wretched unfortunate beings from misery?
Miss Witherspoon had never been at the Theatre before, and seemed delighted with the performance; though the exertions that are usually made when there is a full house were not evident that evening. The Enchanting Pequest, a new song by an American lady, was encored, and gave infinite pleasure. Mr. Billings was studying the law, just to enable him to take care of a large estate left him by an old maiden aunt at Communipaw, who never offended a person in her life. She seemed not to possess any philanthropy, and appeared to live entirely for herself, unknown and unnoticed. The troubles of this life that many are overwhelmed with, to her were not known, nor had she ever had a single wish for the continuance19* 1222 19(3)v 222 nuance of the world. She said it was of little consequence what a woman did, so she led a virtuous life and attended regularly to church, owed no person any money, did not quarrel with her neighbours, wasted nothing, and on the first day of the year received her relations and friends dressed in her best attire, and treated them very hospitably. They then all congratulated her on the happy new-year. In this regular manner she lived to a good old age—she died very suddenly, and was never afterwards thought of; and so died in peace and was forgotten by all mankind. Her funeral was the largest ever known in Communipaw. The clergy of all denominations attended. Tears, it appeared, did not flow abundantly; for it is a true observation, that when people are grieved they sometimes cannot shed tears.
Miss Caroline and Lionel paid little attention to the performance at the theatre, being so engaged in conversation with each other. He could scarcely spare a moment, they were so precious, to purchase oranges and pea-nuts to regale the ladies, who sometimes are more 1223 19(4)r 223 pleased with them than with the entertainment. The comedy was an excellent one, dramatized from the Spy, which portrayed characters in an excellent strain.
The ladies were wishing to return home. The gentlemen handed them into the carriage, and after taking leave for that evening, as the ladies staid in one house, they returned to the theatre to see the afterpiece, and Lionel then related to his friend the serious attachment he had for Miss Caroline. He had penetration enough to discover it before he made him his confidant. They took leave of each other in the most friendly manner, engaging to meet again the next day, to call and see the ladies. Mr. Billings was sorry to mention he had a little business at the surrogate’s respecting his aunt’s will, which would detain him until twelve o’clock, and then would do himself the pleasure to wait upon him at his lodgings.
The young ladies sat up almost until day-light, telling each other how many lovers they had, and how they tried to 1224 19(4)v 224 torment them; what arts they used to gain the affections of men, and then always appeared quite surprised when they made a conquest. Miss Witherspoon was a finished coquette, having so much vivacity that all her designs seemed merely to pass a pleasant hour. Her quick wit made her please for a short time beyond expression, and a man was caught insensibly whenever she designed it; she would then torment him in a manner not to be described. Her lover, when most wretched, would try absence, and perhaps banish himself to South America, Porto Rico, or the Illinois country, under pretence of great business. She would then in his absence repent of her cruelty, and confine herself at home; dress, company, and amusements were lost on her, until his return.
After the ladies had taken a short nap, they awoke, which to Miss Dexter was great joy, as certainly on that day she should see her adorer, and perhaps receive a letter from her father. Under these impressions she dressed herself in her usual manner, which, as I before observed, was very tasty. 1225 19(5)r 225 Miss Witherspoon’s heart at this time was not particularly engaged, as her last lover was absent, as I mentioned, and had not written to her for fear it would not be agreeable; for at parting she had not given him sufficient encouragement. So she was partly free, only sometimes she would be angry at herself, and was determined at the next conquest she made not to trifle with the feelings of a sincere lover.
After breakfast the young ladies took a walk to Chatham street, and purchased some paper, and from there to the library to get the last publication, which was Lionel Lincoln, or the Leaguer of Boston, as they had heard much in praise of it. They were anxious however to read it, and perhaps could not describe a single character—only repeat, it is a good thing—I have read it; ask them which is their favourite character, and they will immediately change the subject. Every young lady can relate something that took place at a ball, (that requires no thinking) who was the best dressed, and the handsomest. I knew one of a gay temper, that could 1226 19(5)v 226 if she chose, repeat all the conversation of the company she had passed the evening with. After their morning walk, they seemed much pleased, for they had a bow, from dandy Lookout, at the corner of Liberty-street, who pretended to be much engaged in conversation with half a dozen gentlemen, who were only standing to view the ladies, either to make observations or bow to them: some are stupidly standing to receirve the solicitations of the busy merchant. There is a surprising ingenuity in the mind of man; for the more trouble he has in the Wall-street walks, the more quick is his invention and plans to extricate himself; though at the expense of his anxiety, many an industrious mechanic heaps riches, and the avaricious car-man is made contented. The merchant then wipes the widow’s tears by his philanthrop hy, though the anguish of his mind ofttimes is insupportable.
The clock in front of the mantle piece struck twelve; the ladies, with novels by their side, had a pattern of a new veil in their hand, which they were admiring;—just 1227 19(6)r 227 at that moment, Lionel and Billings from the Cahoos falls entered. I hope ladies you have taken no cold last evening at the theatre? Why, gentlemen, very pertly replied Miss Witherspoon, do you think we would acknowledge it if we had? No, no pleasure is so inviting—though alloyed with pain, we would suffer the one to be engaged in the other. Well said, Miss Witherspoon, you are a merry girl, and I hope through life, you will never trouble other people with your complaints of sickness and pain. For my part I have sat in company two hours with an old lady, who thought she was entertaining me by relating her sufferings—such a tremour and sneezing at the nose, and such a want of appetite; I can’t exist long—I often tell my family (said the old lady) that they will not have me long. The gentleman paid a short visit, and Lionel said he should hasten to the post-office to receive a letter for Miss Carolina, and call in the evening at the boat, leaving them. Miss Witherspoon observed, that Mr. Billings improved on acquaintance. I thought what a susceptible heart you have: Don’t flatter yourself too quick; Mr. Billings1228 19(6)v 228 lings appears, in my opinion, to possess a sound mind and temper, and not easily won; it would take at least six months acquaintance with him, before you could find out he loved you. So do not put yourself in trouble with your vivacity; for if you once lose your heart, and he find it, aye, I say, he may so keep it that you may not in a hurry get it again. Be cautious and quiet, and you may in time win him. His steady temper you cannot so easily subdue; and I shall be very wretched to see you in pain, when I cannot relieve you.
In the evening Lionel came, as usual, with the agreeable news that he had a letter for her, and would not give it without a promise that they would take a little excursion to Jamaica on Long Island, which they agreed to; and then Miss Dexter begged to be excused, and left the room, to read what she so anxiously wished to know.
After she left the room Lionel began to interrogate Miss Witherspoon what she thought of his young friend. She replied, As yet I 1229 20(1)r 229 have not thought sufficiently on the subject, so as to give an opinion. I am surprised you are always so speedy in your answers and hasty in your opinion—I cannot but express my astonishment. While in this pleasant conversation, Miss Dexter entered the room; joy was expressed in her countenance. She immediately ordered tea; the faithful Nimrod cheerfully obeyed her commands, and the evening passed off in great glee. Lionel inquired of the health of the family. And Miss Dexter told him when an opportunity offered, (for she spoke in a low voice,) she would inform him of the contents of the letter, which gave her pleasure on two accounts. After the usual ceremony of tea, &c. &c., the company separated with the intention of meeting the next morning for their excursion.
After Miss Carolina returned to her room, she gave free scope to her feelings, and uttered the following tender epithets: Oh, what tender kind parents I am blessed with! and began to read as follows: Vol I. 20 1230 20(1)v 230 Pequest, New-Jersey, 1825-02-04Feb. 4, 1825.My ever dutiful and affectionate daughter—I could bear no longer to keep you in suspense. I have the pleasure to acquaint you that your tender mother coincides with me in our mutual wishes for your happiness; and as the choice you have made admits no barrier on our parts, we freely consent, and with it our blessing, hoping that the ceremony of your nuptials may be celebrated in your father’s house, where the surrounding peasantry may have an opportunity of congratulating you on your felicity. I shall expect an answer as speedily as possible, so as to prepare for the important event. Make our kind respects to Mr. Petit—and we sincerely pray for your future prosperity and happiness.Affectionately your indulgent parent,Dexter.
The jaunt to Jamaica was certainly a delightful one. Billings was more reserved than usual. Miss Witherspoon was as delightful as ever; nothing could depress her 1231 20(2)r 231 spirits—and they returned home in safety. Lionel was anxious to have the happy day appointed with Miss Caroline, and she, as we before observed, was not a prude, and consented in three weeks from that time. Lionel sunk as it were into a lethargy, and spoke not one word. She consented at length, and he seized her trembling hand and said, I am now blessed indeed; nothing shall ever alter my affection for you. The three approaching weeks I wish I could sleep, and then awake to joys not yet by me experienced.
Miss Witherspoon returned to New-Jersey, and Miss Caroline remained one week to prepare her dresses and other necessaries for the family, as she had an order on her guardian to supply her. Accordingly, in eight days she took the stage, and arrived at her father’s house in one day, and found the family all in a pleasant mood, and ready to officiate and assist her. The drawing room was new painted, the family pictures cleaned, and many changing scenes took place that had not been thought of some time before. Mrs. 1232 20(2)v 232 Dexter exerted herself to make all the domestics pleased; she presented each with a new dress, which always has a tendency to excite industry; and her cheerfulness ever had a tendency to make things go on agreeably in the family, and hastened the grand preparations. All the best things that the farm afforded were selected, and the rich neighbours invited. The carriage was new painted, and farmer Grumble, their overseer, offered his services to drive them, and crop the plough horses to make them appear as though they had been accustomed to be used in that way, though it is well known the carriage had never been out of the barn since Monroe was President of the United States. Colonel Haislington, their opulent neighbour, heard of the preparations that were making; for in the country every one knows his neighbour’s business better than his own; and all take a particular pleasure in inquiring. The Colonel was a jocose vulgar man; had acquired his property by inheritance, and always made some silly speech whenever he called at Colonel Dexter’s. So I find, said he, your darter is going to get a man to herself. 1233 20(3)r 233 La, sirs, there is no stopping young folks; by gracious! I was surprised, and glad too, when I heard it. Says I to myself, that is the great business. Better late than never. I wish in my heart and soul my Nabby could have the luck to get a good husband; I would give her the bald filly and the two old brindled cows without horns, which I lately bought at Dixon’s vendue, sheriff’s sale; I know I got a good bargain, let who will pay the piper.
Mrs. Dexter was a polite lady; and the presence of Colonel Haislington was always so disgusting, that whenever she saw him appear, in a moment she would feign herself very ill with an anxiety of the precordia, which so confused the Colonel that he had not a word to say; when he would immediately step up to the barn and see the hogs, ask what they fed them with, as they were so fat it did his heart good to look at them. Farmer Grumble, the overseer, said, Oh, it is the lap-eared breed, imported into this country from Ireland at the time the great Washington was President. So, so; I think I 21* 1234 20(3)v 234 must have one, and quickly ran to the drawing room. Mrs. Dexter, not expecting his return from the barn, had assumed her usual health, and was busily engaged in rubbing the tumblers with whiting. Mistress, said he, (for he was an old Yorkshire man, and they call every woman they want a favour from by that submissive name,) I want to buy one of your fine lap-eared pigs just for the breed; money is no object; I will give you whatever you ask.
Upon my word, Colonel, said Mrs. Dexter, I know so little about the hogs or pigs my husband owns, that you are the first that has informed me of their valuable breed; and as I never take the privilege of conveying away my husband’s property without fully consulting him, I must beg your excusing me at this time from taking that liberty. It is well known in this place that Colonel Dexter is a man of noble sentiments, but how far he can be prevailed upon to part with his fine breed of pigs I cannot inform you. I believe he prides himself on owning a handsome dog, good horses, and fat cattle; but as 1235 20(4)r 235 to pigs I can say nothing. Do call and see him, and make your own arrangements.
Suddenly a gentleman on horseback approached the door. Neighbour Haislington bid farewell, to the great joy of the family. It was Mrs. Dexter’s brother from the Alabama Territory; he was governor there, and was on his way from Congress, who were now sitting, and had been solicited by his constituents to petition for a new road to Warrington, Mississippi Territory. His visit was very agreeable to all the family, as they had not seen him in ten years. He was a great land speculator, and had enriched himself early in life by purchasing soldiers’ certificates at a small price. His name was William Clairbourne; we shall presently speak more of him. A messenger was despatched for the Colonel, who was in Easton, Pennsylvania, on an excursion with some of his friends from Sussex Court House, now called Newton, in honour of the great philosopher. Scrip, the watch dog, announced his arrival. In the mean time Mrs. Dexter begged of her brother to be very reserved when he came in, 1236 20(4)v 236 as she should make him believe it was the tax gatherer; accordingly he accosted him— Good morrow, sir; you are welcome to my house; please to be seated. After these usual compliments—Can you, my dear, said Mrs. Dexter, discover by the physiognomy of this gentleman who he is, where he is from, and what he wants? Certainly I cannot; I have not half penetration to guess even his name, much less his business. At length a loud laugh ensued, and Mrs. Dexter made known it was her brother George William Clairbourne, whom she had not seen in some years, as he had resided on or near the Ohio ever since, and by industry and good planning had amassed wealth, and by that means was now governor. He is now on his way from Congress, said she, where he has been petitioning in behalf of his constituents for a new road; but Congress being so busily engaged in behalf of the Greeks, they were obliged to postpone all American concerns for a short time. In the mean time he has availed himself of this opportunity to pay us a visit, and seeing, during the same time, our dear daughter, whom he had no 1237 20(5)r 237 knowledge of, as she was so young when he saw her last. Words cannot express the feelings of the Colonel at the knowledge of his being his brother-in-law, he was so altered in his appearance. Thrice welcome to our abode, said he, which will afford you comfort and ease while you are here, I hope; and what adds a double pleasure in seeing you at this time, is the expectation of our daughter’s marriage, which is to take place next Thursday, that is the day appointed; hope that you will stay and partake of the pleasures that we expect to enjoy. Surely, such an occasion would be sufficient excuse for almost any neglect of business. I will cheerfully stay, and will this moment write to my family, and give them the agreeable intelligence; but pray, who is the young gentleman that is to gain the prize?
He is the son of a French nobleman. In early life he offended his father, for which he banished him from his presence; he came to America, was compelled to teach dancing, and assumed another name; my daughter was under his instruction, and he became 1238 20(5)v 238 captivated with her, not knowing who she was, and she equally admired him, but did not indulge the passion, thinking it would be degrading to have a dancing master; so after some time they became known to each other, and with our consent have agreed to spend their days together. Next Wednesday I will introduce her to you.
Just in the height of the conversation neighbour Haislington called to know if he could have a pig. The Colonel gave him one, and he hastened home, carrying it in his arms, transported with the idea of his increasing wealth.
Dinner was announced, of which the happy family partook; and hilarity and good cheer graced the feast. In the evening they were invited to sup at Colonel Haislington’s; Mrs. Dexter declined going, as she was always so surfeited with his conversation. Miss Sophia, her father, and uncle, condescended to accept the invitation, and certainly, for plenty and kind welcome nothing could exceed.1239 20(6)r 239
A large cheese of an enormous size was cut, and his cider tapped; his children were compelled to speak their best pieces; to do them justice, they were very well spoken— that was owing to the great exertions of the schoolmaster.
My children shall be scholars—I don’t mind what it costs; and as to Nabby, she has such an ear for music, I would give my whole cabbage patch if I could get a teacher for her. Do you think, gentlemen, she is too old to begin? Not at all, sir; you tell me she is seventeen; that is just the age of my Josephine, said George William Clairbourne, the uncle. Do you think your daughter has any taste for it? It appears to me it is only a trap to get a husband. There are many different characters in the world. Friend Haislington, replied Colonel Dexter, if your daughter should excel in any particular branch of education, base characters would slight them, whether they were improved or not. Do not let that intimidate you; for my daughter has made a conquest of a dancing master, which I hope will be for 1240 20(6)v 240 her benefit. Why should not your daughter, by the quick and graceful motions of her fingers, delight?—for men think they ought to be pleased, when they gain a partner for life. However, you must risk her fortune to future chances; for it matters not how they gain the ascendancy over men, whether by the tongue, the feet, or the fingers; all the merit is in securing the affections when time shall have furrowed their brows, and beauty be lost and forgotten.
The evening was spent in the manner described—the young ladies amused themselves in needlework. Miss Nabby displayed a handsome piece of work in stars and squares, octagons and hexagons; her father was delighted, as he had not before seen it. He then observed, and looked amazed at her ingenuity; but observed, I believe it is all my wife’s planning—every good husband wishes to give his wife praise. She was one of those females that heap up on chairs all their industry, not altogether pleasing, on account of the expense of weaving it. I will just describe the manner the family entertained1241 21(1)r 241 tained us at supper, and after that the marriage of Lionel and Carolina Sophia, which is to be consummated in two days, this being Tuesday evening. To begin first with the entertainment, which consisted of pigs, geese, turkeys and custards in great abundance; we all feasted, and praised every thing—made no odious comparisons, as is generally done by Europeans. A cockney will say, there is nothing good in America, neither butter, cheese nor roast beef, fit to be tasted without a very keen appetite. However, they will still write for more of their friends in the third degree of consanguinity to visit this free country, where water falls rapidly, and no one arrests its progress.
The company all bade a good evening to the family, with assurances of soon seeing them again. At their return Mrs. Dexter had retired to bed. The servant informed them that a gentleman had come from New- York, and sent to announce his arrival. Mrs. Dexter acquainted him with the family’s being all from home, and should expect him to breakfast the next morning. They all Vol. I. 21 1242 21(1)v 242 retired to their separate rooms, and in the arms of Somnus reposed, no doubt, until morning.
It was a delightful morning. Aurora had opened her purple gates, and it was to be hoped that in a short time her paths would be strewed with roses, to the pair who had patiently waited for the day to appear, which should show to the world that patience and perseverance are the only paths to true felicity, and that the morning of life requires great skill to conduct to the eve thereof with tranquillity, and serenely to prepare for lasting pleasures.
Agreeably to the wishes of Mrs. Dexter, Lionel entered the breakfast parlour; the family gave him a heartfelt welcome, and inquired the state of the roads, the entertainment he had met with, and what particular news from Europe. Miss Caroline entered in her morning dress, in her usual placid manner. I am sorry to acquaint you, Miss, said he, your friend Miss Witherspoon ran off with a lieutenant in the 1243 21(2)r 243 navy. She married him, to the extreme mortification of her family, and left poor Billings, who was dying for her. I always thought, said Caroline, she was too volatile to make any person happy: you have certainly heard me make the remark before; a drawing room was the place for her to exhibit all her powers, which soon vanished, when serious reflections arose in her mind. I hope Lieutenant Nabob will overlook his ridiculous manner, and she bless him with many happy days.
The family retired, and left the room; when Miss Caroline reflected on herself, fearing she should appear awkward when the ceremony was performing, as she had never seen two persons united in the holy state of matrimony. Her lover facetiously spoke to her, and said, Be of good cheer, thy sacred promises, I hope, will be fervently fulfilled.
It was now time for them to separate for a short period, and then to meet to part no more till death triumphs. The day was passed in assorting her dress and ornaments; 1244 21(2)v 244 and on the morn of her nuptials she was dressed in satin with four rows of lace at the bottom, and twenty two stars emblematic of the number of states in the Union; on her head was a handsome Grecian wreath of flowers; on her bosom a beautiful necklace cut by a lapidary in New-York of American chrystal taken out of a ledge of rocks in the upper part of that state, which glistened almost like diamond, and would have been as valuable had they been placed on the beautiful neck of Maria Louisa.
The following persons now made their appearance on this festival day, and graced the drawing room: George William Claibourne, uncle to the bride, who was to give her away; counsellor Drawback was to prepare the marriage articles, and the Rev. Peter Whitfield was to perform the ceremony; Miss Clarissa Oglethorp, was bridesmaid, and Billings, a disappointed attorney, was groomsman. The remainder of the company, was the family and a few neighbours; the drawing room was festooned with odoriferous flowers selected from the hot house. The time approached 1245 21(3)r 245 fast for the solemnity. Lionel and his friend Billings from Cahoos Falls entered lively and animated; the marriage of Miss Witherspoon, had not grieved him as much as was contemplated by his friends. Mrs. Dexter never appeared so charming, and the old gentleman in an ancient dress looked quite venerable. George William Claibourne led his niece to her place, and the Rev. Divine seemed quite jaocose, and made several pleasant stories pass off agreeable to those who had not heard them before, and nearly all were strangers. Silence being observed, the company arose; the bride and groom appeared a little agitated; and after all persons were placed agreeably to ettiquette, the ceremony began and was soon finished, and concluded with a long prayer, when, as quick as lightning, they all saluted the fair bride, and she then suddenly vanished into the adjoining room. After this they were called to a splendid supper, which was prepared for the occasion, as has been before mentioned, and more pleasing sensations were never witnessed. About three weeks after their marriage they returned to New-York, and occupied a neat house. He 21* 1246 21(3)v 246 lived on his income, and occasionally spoke at the forum, being a great orator. Their uncle returned to congress just in time to present his petition, which met a favourable reception, as every encouragement is given to settle the new lands owned by them; and good roads being the first consideration. Not unwilling to grant his petition, on his arrival at Washington, there were great arguments in the house by very eloquent men respecting affairs in Europe, and the learned had an opportunity of distinguishing themselves. G. W. Claibourne was a man that pleased his constituents, not by his long speeches in the house but by his affability at home and the manner he received his neighbours. He had not studied Newton or Locke.—The Pilgrim’s Progress, by Bunyan, was much sought after along the Ohio; the people were religious in a high degree; scarce an evening passed without prayer meeting, all seemed so devout. Their parson is the Rev. Balthazzar Blinker; he is much caressed by his flock, exhorts the people three times every Sunday, and has only one collection in the morning; he always goes regularly to church, or 1247 21(4)r 247 he would never have been chosen ruler of the people; in fact, his authority is very limited. His wife, whose character I have not as yet made known to you, is a native of Tennessee, and has never been in any other state, though a woman of information and family, and conducts herself with propriety; and being free of pride, she is universally beloved. She is a daughter of Solomon Bracebridge, or Cumberland, who now possesses a large furnace for casting metal, which supplies all the western country with that commodity.
My wife, said Mr. Claibourne, is his only daughter, and in time will inherit his whole estate; her name is Loranna, and at the birth of my daughter, she wished the child named after herself. But being fond of opposition, I insisted it should be Josephine; but I frequently grieve since that I did not gratify her, as I have only one child that the world knows of, or that I dare own. More on that subject will appear hereafter. How often in this life do men differ with their wives respecting the names of their progeny; it sometimes causes real unhappiness. My 1248 21(4)v 248 father-in law was much pleased with our daughter, though he does not admire her name. She is (though it is not for me to express it,) the most finished girl in our country, as from her infancy I always took pleasure in instructing her, and though now only fifteen years of age, can converse on any subject—agriculture, arts or commerce, belles- letters, drawing, and music—nothing has been omitted to make her engaging, and I sincerely hope she will not form any attachment until she is twenty years of age. Mrs. Claibourne is very solicitous that I would let her go to Philadelphia, as she has an aunt living there, her father’s sister, whose husband is president of the national bank. I think now when I return home I have some inducement to send her to New-York, as our dear Sophia is so agreeably situated there, and Lionel appears so conformable to her wishes, it would add to their comfort to have her a short time with them. She can go to her aunt’s at Philadelphia first, and then proceed to New-York; but I shall request her most particularly not to give her opinion which city is the handsomest, as there is a great jealousy1249 21(5)r 249 lousy in the inhabitants respecting each other.
I shall now request your patience, my inquisitive reader, while I relate to you, in the words of Mr. C., the manners of the people in Ohio, and their philanthrophy:To begin with Major Richards, our nearest friend, who removed from Baltimore on account of pecuniary affairs; his elegant family consists of three sons and two daughters; the names of his daughters are Almira and Portia, both lively pleasant girls; but dress engages Almira’s attention; she spends a great deal of her time in pointing ruffles and braiding her hair, which is of a chesnut colour; Portia, on the contrary, is rather the reverse—quite a slattern, attends entirely to the cultivation of flowers and shrubbery; can recite the names of all the plants and their several virtues, in the Encyclopœdia; her knowledge is quite confined to the garden and the hot-house; take her from these, and she is chilled in a moment. Mr. Robinson prides himself on his fine children; 1250 21(5)v 250 indeed, it is true they pay strict attention to his admonition, and are very obedient. His sons are fond of the chase, in which he indulges them to an extreme; they keep their hounds; and on a fair day, the country resounds with their yelping. The young men are pleasing. Stephen, the eldest, seems to be the oracle; his father intends him for the church. James, the second, will I fear be a gentleman, for he delights in no one thing; and Charles, the third, is the most forward and inclined to study. The particulars of their several characters I will relate in a future page. My next neighbour is Judge Bridgefield from the province of Maine; has been twenty years in this settlement; he has lost two wives, and is now beginning to show himself at all the funerals and prayer meetings in the vicinity. My wife has a relation at our house, an old maid named Priscilla Evergreen, who is still looking out, though forty-three years of age, but does not appear more than thirty, she is so tasty in dress, and lively in behaviour. 1251 21(6)r 251 The Judge accosted me the other day at the Farmer’s hotel in our village, and requested me to pay him a visit, which I assured him I would cheerfully do. He named next Sunday evening to sup with him, which I acquiesced in, and on my returning home I informed my wife. She being a woman of penetration, said instantly he wants Precilla, and takes this method to ingratiate himself in your favour; when he returns his visit, mark my observations. We had scarcely done speaking when Priscilla entered, for I believe she heard us. Pretty business, to be sure, (she said,) always planning to make me happy. I am conscious I do not deserve it, for whenever man, proud man offers me his hand and heart, I am sure to refuse it, and I cannot give any particular reason, only an opposition in my temper, and a fear that I shall not make myself worthy; and so by indifference I have remained so long single. I cannot now pride myself on beauty; that is vanished with youth. My family, to be sure, are ancient and respectable, my finances are sufficient to 1252 21(6)v 252 support me.—What must I marry for, cousin Claibourne?
I will tell you for what: To maintain the dignity you now possess; for after a few years you cannot expect to be noticed, and then you will sink, never to rise again, unless you take some such character as has been pointed out to you, whose respectability you cannot doubt.
At length the evening came, and Mr. Claibourne called on his neighbour, who was apparently happy with his faithful Ponto by his side; he called loud to his man Sandy, to feed the horse, and get some refreshment for his friend; for he was famed for hospitality and good living. He expressed great pleasure in the company of his neighbour, and commended his manner of farming; he observed, For my part I am so interruped with little petty suits at law, which our country is so annoyed with, that it is extremely disgusting to me; but there must be a squire in every little town; and if it was not for the great honour of the thing, I would not attend to the business.1253 22(1)r 253 ness. My farm suffers by it—the fences are fallen, and Sandy would rather talk than work; do call to-morrow morning, and I will show you some experiments I have been making, for I am an experimental farmer, and all my neighbours know it.
In the midst of our conversation, we were interrupted by a loud rap at the door, when Judge Prelude entered: I am heartily glad to see you alone; I hope no storm or rain has hurt you. None at all—I am just enjoying the company of neighbour Claibourne, and I never had an idea of farming, being only, as I before observed, an experimental one, who perfectly agree in opinion. No doubt you do; for my part, you know I always differ with you for nothing, I think; but real industry, good seasons, and putting in the crop early, encourage your domestics by good treatment, and feeding them plentifully, all combine to make farming profitable. Without these precautions you will only have your labour for your pains. So the social neighbours enjoyed themselves, until called to a fine supper, consisting of ham and eggs, Vol. I. 22 1254 22(1)v 254 chocolate and pancakes, of which they feasted, and when nearly done, two roasted fowls were presented. Excuse me, friend, you see what the want of a partner is; I had forgot to tell Sandy to bring them up with the rest of the things; but they were nearly forgotten. Ah, how wretched is man when alone; I am therefore determined to look out. I have twice succeeded, and have been blest; and now know not which is the best foot foremost. If every man could get a wife as you can, and most things else, by money, I should not long be destitute. Just read the daily papers, and all our wants can be supplied, except securing the first of all comforts, which is the possession of a good woman:— But where shall lost man find her?—If he goes to church—they are so devout that their real character he cannot see, so different are they there from what they are at their family fireside;—if you take a dish of tea and a sociable chat with them, their ogling, their syren songs, and their smiles, are all calculated to deceive,
Now, my valuable friend. said Judge 1255 22(2)r 255 Bridgefield, what is your opinion of the fair sex in general? though I have twice linked myself as I thought for life, I am again ready to make the third attempt.
My esteemed friend, replied Judge Prelude, my opinion I never give in matrimonial affairs, for the best of all reasons: for should I recommend to you a young lady of the most amiable manners, she might very suddenly change, when she became your wife; I then should be blamed, and never be forgiven. The manner in which I became acquainted with my wife, with whom I have been blessed these thirty-two years, is very singular:—I was travelling to Zainsville on the Ohio, and stopped to feed my horse and take some refreshment at the Cross Keys, a noted Inn; who should enter, as I was feasting myself, but a young lady of the name of Beavers. The landlord called out, Miss, who came with you in the chaise? My father, she replied. Oh, is the doctor here? I shall be glad to see him. After a few civilities, who should appear but doctor Beavers. This is my daughter Ann, said 1256 22(2)v 256 he to the landlord: she curtseyed, being a well-bred girl from Deits, a boarding school in Pennsylvania.The landlord addressed me, and asked if I had any objection to their dining with me. I told him none at all. So we all dined heartily together; I, having travelled some distance, had an excellent appetite, and did the honours of the table. I helped Miss Ann to the wing of a chicken and some cranberries; the doctor said he thought salt meat more wholesome, and so took it. The conversation turned on a variety of subjects between the doctor and myself; but the young lady was very reserved. The doctor said he had many patients with the small pox in his place. I gave it as my opinion that vaccination was a great preventive. I cannot however persuade the people near Zainsville to that method. After the cloth was removed, the doctor and the landlord went to see the horses fed. I remained with the young lady; and was so far acquainted with the world as not to lose a moment when opportunity afforded to be happy:—How did you like 1257 22(3)r 257 Deits? (I thought I must introduce some familiar subject,) and how long was you there? Three years, sir, she replied, is the shortest time that they admit young ladies. Their manners and customs became very agreeable to me after the first year; there is such a perfect regularity in their school, that no one can be displeased; music, drawing, embroidery, &c., take their separate turns; the mildness of the tutoresses, in conveying instruction, affords indescribable pleasure; the morning and evening prayers are so soothing and instructing to our young minds, that it is a perfect paradise, and many young ladies continue there for life. I assure you, Miss, you give a very satisfactory proof of the advantages you have acquired, and if you had continued there I should not have been at this moment in your delightful company! You praise me undeservedly, sir. Not at all, Miss; and as time will not permit for us long to see each other, may I be emboldened to hope that you would condescend to listen to the few words I have to relate. Certainly I cannot be so rude as to prevent a gentleman of your appearance conveying his sentiments in any way 22* 1258 22(3)v 258 he may think proper. Then my adorable Miss Ann Beavers, I consider this as the most fortunate meeting of my life; and may I hope that my passion is not disagreeable; but can I flatter myself that in time I may render myself deserving your good wishes? Just in this manner Judge Prelude was committing himself to Miss Beavers, when the doctor and landlord came in. My dear, are you ready? Yes sir, replied the young lady, though somewhat confused at Judge Prelude’s pretensions; and the conversation so suddenly interrupted was not altogether pleasing. They left the Inn, and the doctor invited the judge if he should pass his way he hoped to have the pleasure of his company. He bowed assent, and they parted. The remainder of the courtship will be introduced in a future page. Judge Bridgefield now began to be impatient to seek a wife, and he consulted governor Claibourne, if he could not introduce a character that would suit him. 1259 22(4)r 259 Sir, they say charity begins at home; but as you do not wish a wife for charity sake, I have just thought of one; however, you must keep it a profound secret that I was the promoter and adviser, as the lady I have in view is a distant relation of my wife. She has some property in the savings bank. To be frank with you, I think she will now marry, as her mind is bent that way; she has confessed to me that she had two often trifled with sincere affection, and when too late saw her errors. Time had passed imperceptibly away, and left her alone, when she had many sincere offers of marriage. Her name is Priscilla Evergreen: I shall in a few words give her character. Her age I do not exactly know; that is of little consequence for a third wife. In her person she is tall, and graceful; in her manner, easy and unaffected; in conversation, lively and animating, having from her youth been fond of books; she is a complete historian and novelist; can relate the names and characters of all the kings of England since the time of Ethelred to George the fourth; their barbarity, their licentiousness, and all their good and evil propensities;1260 22(4)v 260 pensities; her temper is passionate and warm; but the moment she can reflect she is herself again. I can say for Miss Evergreen, what few relations will do, that if her heart was once fixed on a man, no power on earth would change her—she has such a regard for propriety, and the breath of calumny has never yet branded her fair name. She is as the clear rill—it may for a moment murmur, but look at the flowing good it produces, and every eye beams pleasure. Now, my dear friend, after enjoining secrecy, I must bid you good night, for fear some suspicions should arise in the bosom of my wife, whose uncommon penetration may discover my plan. I shall not name a day to see you at my house; but rest assured if any thing I can do to make you happy, I am at your service. The friends parted, but not until Judge Prelude informed the gentlemen, when next they met he would relate to them the manner he obtained his wife. It was near twelve o’clock when Judge Bridgefield retired to bed, and Mr. Claibourne found Miss Evergreen and his wife sitting up reading the Pilot. 1261 22(5)r 261 Bless me, ladies, why did you wait for me? My friend’s watch, which runs on wheels, deceived me, and mine I forgot at home; it was just as well, for it never keeps time. We had a fine supper, and I had a friendly welcome. Mrs. Claibourne, began to try to find out particulars; but I passed off the conversation with, My dear, we have got a letter from New-York by the mail, from our dear niece who has a fine son, and wishes of all things that we would let Josephine pay her a visit next spring; she says she would be delighted with New-York; she has many valuable acqauintances, and her society is very good. Mr. Petit, has heard from his father in France, who sent him a large sum of money, when he heard he was married to an American lady; their son is to be called Alphonse, after him. The theatre in that city is crowded: Mr. Kean and Miss Johnson excite much admiration, and the Merchants’ Exchange, which is now planning, engages the attention of the mercantile world. Well, my dear, I think we will retire to rest and I will make up my mind respecting Josephine1262 22(5)v 262 phine; all we can at present do is to encourage her to laudable pursuits, suppress pride, and make her know that the female character has always a more difficult part to take in life’s large field than their youthful minds are aware of. Let us instil in her the love of virtue and benevolence, and to consider herself no better than the poorest of God’s creation— that the little finery she may be decked with makes her no better than the humble cottager. Miss Evergreen interrupted Mr. Claibourne:—Consider, sir, you are governor of this territory; surely you wish your daughter to have that share of dignity which her situation requires. The pride of her heart, if you choose to call it so, need not appear in her air or demeanor; let gentleness and good humour appear in her countenance; gayety and fashion in her dress, and above all things, wisdom and good sense breathe in her conversation, so as to enliven and amuse her company; such accomplishments must win the heart in spite of philosophy. You, Miss Priscilla, with all your wisdom, have never made a good bargain for yourself, though 1263 22(6)r 263 self preservation is the first law of nature— surely you cannot advice what you have so obstinately bent your mind on—the breaking of many a tender heart; for which, I hope, you will not suffer. Time will unraval all; so good night. Early next morning colonel Richards from Baltimore, one of our neighbours, (for the country is thickly settled on the Ohio) with his eldest daughter, made us a visit. She, as I before observed, paid great attention to dress; she rode up to the door, elegantly mounted on a Maryland poney, with feathers flying and ringlets flowing over her face, and thus addressed my daughter, Josephine: How do you do? how do you like my bonnet papa brought from Baltimore? I like it very well —they are the handsomest feathers in the country; the ostrich is not to compare to them; I think a young lady looks very vulgar without feathers on horseback, said Miss Almira. Do alight Miss. Mr. Robinson excused himself, as it was town meeting, and he wished1264 22(6)v 264 ed himself to appear of consequence, which is customary in the country. So he took leave and passed off. The family of the governor remained at home, at their usual avocations. Eight or ten days passed, when, to their extreme surprise, on a rainy morning, Judge Bridgefield called to pay the family a visit. Miss Priscilla was in her dishabille; Miss Josephine was drawing; Mrs. Claibourne, knitting; and they were all confused and taken by surprise. Miss Priscilla hastily left the room, and was completely mortified, determined to give the watch dog, Towser, a good beating for not alarming them. She returned to the drawing room apparently composed, though she could not get over the first impressions she most negligently must have made over the judge; he on his part had come purposely on that rainy day to have an opportunity of finding them alone, and perhaps to show his new great coat. He was well acquainted with the ways of women, having been twice married. He began complimenting them on their industry—that was the first topic, and a powerful one it is, when a man is looking for a wife. I think, Judge, said 1265 23(1)r 265 Mrs. Claibourne, that industry is the sure road to wealth, while education is the side walk to honour, and sensibility is the source of happiness. Miss Priscilla observed that our comforts depend on ourselves; a contented mind, Solomon says, is a continual feast; I beg pardon, Miss, I must admit that our happiness ofttimes depends on others; mine hitherto has been all made in that way, and I see no happiness alone—in society there is some.—What do you think, Mrs. Claibourne? I perfectly coincide with you, sir, and I think life too short to triffle a moment away. Early and late man should, by all honourable means, enrich himself in mind, body, and estate. Ah, my dear madam, there is such a perverse disposition in many persons in this life, that nothing but misery awaits them. My heart is ever open to the afflicted, and my purse I freely give to the sons of want; but when a person is afflicted in mind, neither food nor money satisfies. In a few moments the governor entered, who received his neighbour in the most friendly manner, giving him a wink at Priscilla, who sat like patience or a monument smiling at hope. Vol. I. 23 1266 23(1)v 266
Miss Josephine entered and presented one of her last drawings; it was Bonaparte going on board the Belorophon, with hasty step, like every other movement of his life. How are the mighty fallen! exclaimed the judge, and the humble lifted up. The ladies now having recovered themselves, began to be very lively; the governor requested the judge to spend the day, which he declined, assuring them that the next week he should do himself that honour—the day he could not exactly name, as he had several lawsuits to settle for his litigious neighbours. He then took leave, and cast a longing, lingering look behind, at Miss Evergreen, and departed over the lawn.
My dear, said Mr. Claibourne, you have not perused the letter from New-York; I should suppose you would be desirous to hear from your sister Mrs. Dexter at Pequest, who you have often told me was a pattern of conjugal felicity. Hand me the letter, and I will peruse it.1267 23(2)r 267
To his excellency George W. Claibourne, Zainsville, near the Ohio River.
Kind and ever to be remember uncle, I have the happiness to inform you that fortune has favoured me with one of its richest treasures; I am become the mother of a fine son, who I have named Alphonse, after his grand papa in France, which gives my husband great pleasure. To describe his face or form would be useless, as it will so often vary; this much I can say, his eyes express a look indicative of goodness. I hope, my dear uncle, as I have but one short request to make that you will gratify me—it is, that you will permit your dear Josephine to pay us a visit next spring. New-York has become one of the most opulent cities in the United States, and is the resort of all the fashionable world. My care and attention shall not be wanting to make all things agreeable. My tender respects to my dear aunt. My father and mother at Pequest are well, and are momently expected here to congratulate us on our fine son. Adieu! and may nothing on earth disturb1268 23(2)v 268 turb the repose of either of you, is the sincere wish of your Niece,
Caroline Sophia Petit
Bless me, how these women teaze me! Must my only daughter, perhaps my only child, who I love as the apple of my eye— must she now throw herself in the way of some adventurer, who will in a moment snatch her from our tender care? Why not, my dear, procrastinate this visit one year longer, and by a few presents, and pointing out some amusements, prevail on her to be content at home? Music and drawing take up much of her time, and if you would allow her to associate with our good neighbours she would be happy enough; she is an obedient daughter, and she would not for the wealth of the Indies offend her father. How can you refuse her going to New-York, she is so handsome—and beauty is of short duration. She may captivate some worthy character in that magnificent city, and add to the dignity of your family. The next morning Judge Prelude called on governor Claibourne informed him that on the next morning, he 1269 23(3)r 269 would call and continue to relate to him and his friends the manner he gained his wife, after many difficulties, which he did in the following manner:
Miss Ann Beavers and her father, the Doctor, rode slowly until they came to the farm, which was situated near the Miamai River, a most romantic abode, where hung in clusters round the arch in the garden, grapes of the most delicious flavour. Miss Ann Beavers was intimate with Miss Portia Robison, a female scientific botanist, that could almost enumerate all the plants of Linneus, and wisely expatiate on their different virtues.
The weather was calm and serene; the young ladies amused themselves in fishing, the stream being near the door, and at intervals when the sun was near setting they amused themselves in the garden in search of four-leaved clovers, to dream on. One clouddy morning, as the young ladies were amusing themselves, who should enter the garden, but myself. I bowed respectfully, and Miss 28* 1270 23(3)v 270 Beavers, immediately inquired if I had met her father, who was gone to vaccinate some poor children in the village. I told her I had been surveying a small piece of land, for that was the business I was accustomed to, and I had the chain and compass in my hand. She immediately invited me into the parlour, where sat an aged lady who was grandmother to the Doctor. She could relate many scenes in the revolutionary war; she was in the army with her husband, who was a corporal, and could minutely relate the taking of Burgoyne, as her husband was under general Gates; she now receives a pension from congress, and is apparently in good health.
Pray, madam, said I, how old are you? I am seventy-six years of age next harvest. I often tell my grandson I think I will live until I am one hundred, having never been confined through life more than a day or two at a time with any kind of sickness. You have been greatly favoured, madam; for health is an inestimable blessing, and he that is in possession of it does not sufficiently prize it.1271 23(4)r 271
The Doctor returned home, and invited me to dine on a fine leg of mutton and turnips. The young lady did the honours of the table, as the Doctor’s lady was confined to her bed. After dinner an excursion was proposed, and agreed to, and the ladies prepared themselves; it was to see a new manufactory lately established for making broadcloth. We had not rode far, when one of the horses took fright, and compelled the other to run, and in a moment we were precipitated down a steep hill. I caught my dear Miss Beavers in my arms, and was the happiest of mortals, to have it in my power to save her life; her friend rose without assistance; but the Doctor was nearly killed and taken home by a friend, who left me in charge of the ladies. This was the lucky moment for me to revive that endearing friendship, which first began at the crosskeys, and so suddenly interrupted. While her friend was absent out of the room, I thus began: Do you recollect, my dear girl, how I was interrupted by the landlord? But before I arrived at the end of the sentence I was interrupted by Bless me, sir, surely this cannot be a time for such conversation, when I 1272 23(4)v 272 know not my father’s situation; he may be at rest for ever for all I know. I beg, sir, you will not add to the sorrow I already feel any thing that will cause a sigh, far be it from me to grieve you—I could die in your arms. Then why, for a moment, put me in suspense? only let me hope that my attachment may in time meet a return—I will then wait until the age of Mathuselum to obtain you.—Do, lovely girl, smile on your adorer, and let this accident be the era of our happiness.
To be frank and generous then, my dear sir, if you will allow me one year to consider your proposals, and at the same time to try my own heart, I will indulge you with hope; at the same time I must request, on your part, that you will absent yourself from my father’s house, as our neighbours are very inquisitive, and I should be teazed to death; in the mean time I can aver that no person is in possession of my heart; I am as free as I was in my infancy, and beg as a mark of your goodness, that you will refrain from any more tender expressions. I look for no elevation in this life; I have by my education at Deits 1273 23(5)r 273 been taught to temper my mind according to events, and not be hurried on to rashness, but calmly to consider what is best to be done to make life agreeable.
Charming Miss! I will no longer vex you with a further recital of my passion, but will according to your wishes banish myself from your presence for one long year. I am certain I shall count every moment until I again meet your smiles, which all the powers on earth cannot prevent me. Rest and be happy, and believe that nothing shall alter the sincere affection I have for you. Adieu, adieu. I rushed from her presence without reflecting what I should endure, and left the ladies in the charge of a friend.
The doctor arrived, having not been so much hurt as was apprehended, and the family were all reconciled to the accident that happened. While the fair are engaged, let us just take a view of judge Bridgefield’s farm, near Zainsville. It was handsomely situated on the bank of the Ohio, a long meandering river that empties into the Mississippi1274 23(5)v 274 sippi, and is now continually filled with steam-boats. Very few accidents have lately occurred, as the river in a great measure is cleared from old trees. The great geographer, Hutchins, was the first that surveyed it sixty years ago; and one of the first proprietors of the soil near the two Miamies, two beautiful rivers that emptied into the Ohio, was John Cleve Symmes, a judge from Morris county, New Jersey, who obtained a great farm from congress, of one million of acres, at three cents an acre. It is now thickly inhabited by men of sense and wealth, and will in a future day be the most valuable spot in America. Judge Bridgefield’s house was in the cottage style; trees in front—two wings and serpentine walks in his garden; handsome shrubbery round it, and a number of magnolia trees, which perfumed the place as their flowers are of a peculiar fragrance. His domestics were few, and he had no children by either of his wives. A distant relation, an old woman about sixty, was his house keeper. Her name was Nauche. We shall have occasion to speak of her in future: all I can say at present is, she was very ill tempered; 1275 23(6)r 275 and this alone was sufficient to make the judge anxious to get a companion.
It was on Easter Monday, and all his domestics from home: he mentioned to his house keeper, that he should spend the day out; she was inquisitive to know the place. He would not satisfy her; and as he seldom left home, she was fearful he had some lady in view, for he had been preparing himself by having a number of shirts made and done up in the best manner, had his hair cut, and had a new suit of clothes made, all indicative of something she could not tell what.
Now, says she, as he was mounting his large bay horse, all cropt and trimmed with a long switch-tail, I am afraid you are going to fetch trouble home; you don’t consider you have had two good wives, and that is more than falls to the lot of man; how can you expect to get a third? Depend upon it, the third will make more trouble than you have ever had. Do consider you have not youth and beauty to recommend you—and woman must be pleased, or there is no living with 1276 23(6)v 276 them. If you marry a young wife, you may perhaps be jealous without a cause, and that is the worst of all jealousy. If you marry an old one, she will be expensive for dress, &c. &c.; so take my advice and stay at home, and smoke your pipe, read your bible, feed your hogs, visit your neighbours, go to church, and please yourself. Now I have given you my advice, for I have seen much of the world, and know that interest, not affection, prompt too many to tie that knot which is not so easily loosed, and spend their latter days in sorrow and misery. I have buried two husbands—God rest their souls—and I hope they were satisfied with me. I tried hard to humour them—for men are all like children, they have so many foolish ways.
The Judge paid no attention to her dialogue, but hastened to governor Claibourne’s. As he approached the house, it was some distance from the road, tTowser barked, and the governor called him; every thing shone with refulgent lustre—particularly the knocker at the hall door. He entered with animated looks, and was politely received by all the 1277 24(1)r 277 ladies. We have had redundant rain, which makes the roads almost impassible. So suppose, sir, said one, we have not been from home: Sometimes we are a dull thinking set, always moping. That, said Miss Evergreen, is your own fault—I suppose you can go if you like. We are not restrained from going from home, but being so accustomed to it, we cannot get in the habit of visiting.
Now you know, replied the governor, that I often ask you and my lady to take an airing in the barouche; but you think the horses too wild, and I think they are not very far from walking, so you stay at home for choice; however, you shall not always make that an excuse, I will insist on your not excusing yourself when spring appears.
The conversation turned on the wretched state of the Greeks. News had just arrived from Washington by mail that large sums are collecting in the different states to send to their relief; and I have myself, says the judge, been called upon to make a collectionI. 24 1278 24(1)v 278 tion to aid them, which I shall next week begin. I should not like our country to appear contemptible and wanting in charity.
The family were called to dinner, and Miss Priscilla was placed at the head of the table to give her an opportunity of carving and displaying her politeness; she dissected a pair of fine fat ducks while Mrs. Claibourne amused the company. The governor boasted that every thing on the table was of his own raising, except the salt. They then feasted, and Judge Bridgefield praised every thing. When people are happy every thing is good in the country; but discontented persons find fault with every thing, it matters not; the winds all perplex them. After dinner the family retired and left the single people to themselves. The Judge began: I think, Miss, addressing himself to Miss Priscilla, it appears singular you have never blessed some gentleman with your hand and heart; a disposition like yours certainly would sooth the thorny paths of life, and make a heaven on earth. You flatter me, sir, undeservedly. Since I have had the pleasure of 1279 24(2)r 279 your acquaintance, which is a short time, nothing has happened in your company to cause any uneasiness. As for my part I should be miserable indeed, and not worthy to breathe, if I could not so far govern my temper as to be agreeable in a drawing room where nothing is said to offend. The method to find out a lady’s disposition is to see her in pain and poverty, not in cheerful company. Excuse me for my sudden opinion, as you have, I assure you, gained such an ascendency over my destiny, that time I fear will not eradicate it. It certainly is a boldness to mention my inclination to you, that have no doubt frowned on much more worthy characters; however, I lay myself at your feet, and must submit to your tender feelings for an answer. It is true, I have not to boast of titles or grandeur, fame or honour; mine is a sincere attachment, founded on esteem; and if kind treatment, due attention, and acquiescence to your wishes, lay any claim to your preference, then I flatter myself you will be mine. I have possessed goodness and worth, but alas! the day is past, for which I study to be grateful, and I must wait with patience 1280 24(2)v 280 when other fair days may return. The vicissitudes of life are felt by all; no doubt your bosom has not been exempt from many of the miseries of life. Trifle not, then, most amiable girl, with a sincere affection, that took possession of my soul the first interview I had with you. I shall now leave you, and ere bright Phœbus has rolled her orb many days I shall expect from your fair lips soothing consolation—then I shall triumphantly exclaim. Hasten then, make no delay,Let this be our bridal day.
I then suddenly took leave and insisted the family would be sociable, as he seemed determined to visit them as often as convenient. The governor accompanied him nearly to his own farm, and was inquisitive to know what impression he had made on her obdurate heart.
My dear friend, I certainly never hinted the plan of yours and mine to bring this business on the carpet; I know she does not suspect you. I flatter myself she will in time 1281 24(3)r 281 condescend to accept my hand and heart, I did not wish to be too hasty, fearing she would doubt my sincerity. I have left her to her own free deliberation. If I am not mistaken she will be mine. I earnestly intreat you not to rally her about me, and request my dear Mrs. Claibourne to be quite indifferent on the subject, and then she will not suspect us. And now, worthy sir, I most humbly thank you for your kind attention and advice, in this most important affair of my life; and if I can add to your family comforts be graciously pleased to command me. At all times hail, rain, or snow, or when the tempest rises, and the storm threaten devastation, freely send to me and I will cheerfully risk my life to serve him who in so kind a manner endeavoured to strew my path with fragrant flowers, and make the thorny road of life agreeable. The friends parted, and retired to their downy pillow, awaiting joys not to be described by the pen of the most ready writer, and can only be described by those who have tasted of the sweets that flow from hearts united in love and friendship.24* 1282 24(3)v 282
Early next morning, awakened at her usual hour, Nauchie, the house-keeper, making her voice heard by the domestics—she seemed in great emotion. The moment the Judge came out of his room, good morrow morning to you, she exclaimed, if it is not too late. Not at all—never too late; better late than never, repeated the Judge.’ What is that you mean, said the indignant Nauchie, I always thought and have heard you mention, take time by the forelock— make hay while the sun shines—cut your coat according to your cloth. I do not understand your double meaning, said the Judge. Well, I say again, evil be to him that evil thinks. Thus this dialogue continued every day, and the longer the conversation the more bitter were the sarcasms. It had nearly ended in a discharge of the housekeeper, had she not buckled to, and become quite mute.— Sometimes she would say, young folks think old folks fools, but old folks know young folks fools. She was parable wise, and had a very retentive memory—could always find some expression adapted to the subject she was upon, though very ancient.1283 24(4)r 283
The Judge took an airing this day, as it was very pleasant, and crossed the Ohio with Judge Prelude, whom he had not seen in some time; he kindly inquired when he had seen the General. He said he expected him to dine next day, and should be happy in his company likewise, which he promised; and then the friends took leave of each other. Mrs. Claibourne was waiting dinner for her husband, when a person rode up with a second letter from New-York, from her niece’s husband, Lionel Pettit, who had just received intelligence of the death of his father; he died of apoplexy, and left his estate in such a manner that his son could only receive annually so much as to support himself, and the remainder to his grandchildren, of which, at present, there was only Alphonse, who was now one year old. He mentioned he had been at the Pequest a few weeks since, and Mrs. Dexter had been confined to her bed nearly four weeks, to the great loss of her family and society in general, as she was so interesting and intelligent, never tiring her company.1284 24(4)v 284
Mr. Dexter continued in his industrious habits, but felt a poignant regret that his daughter could spend so little time with them, as her family cares took all her attention, being an excellent housekeeper; preserves, pickles, blamonge, custards and every delicacy, she could prepare; and her receipts were solicited by many ladies of distinction, who pride themselves in making expensive dishes, to the destruction ofttimes of their posterity, who every vacant moment of their lives revile their ancestors for not leaving them sufficient to bask in the sunshine of prosperity, and regale themselves with nectar and ambrosia. Every new fashion, either cap or gown, was to be seen at Mrs. Pettit’s; and all the pleasant little adventures of her friends she was sure to extract from them by her artful demeanour; so her house was the seat of intelligence to all the inquisitive belles in the city, who were much amused at the information they acquired; and it might be truly called the fashionable fireside of worth delineated.
Little Alphonse was caressed, and magnified1285 24(5)r 285 fied to the skies; his nose was so like his father’s, his hair like his mother’s, and such flattering from the visiters, not always pleasing. However, we must allow for the ways of mankind, and not ridicule the customs of people unlike ourselves. But this great truth I have established—nothing passed so well in this vain world, and delights our ears so much, as well-timed flattery. The ruddy milk maid, when she observes you gazing at her white pail and making remarks, is quite pleased. The stately matron, with her healthy offspring, prides herself in their florid looks; while the sturdy husband determines they shall be learned and wise; he is so lost himself for the want of education, he determines in his own mind to have them educated, so that they may become ornaments of society, should they be the most stupid beings in existence. Only tell him their eyes are bright, and they look as if they could learn—he is then transported.
The governor now remarked to his wife, that as she had suggested the idea of sending their daughter to New-York, it appeared 1286 24(5)v 286 now to him that it would be extremely benecial, as their neiiece was in such good circumstances and kept such improving company, and to their daughter would be a source of infinite satisfaction; and he should wish, of all things, that Miss Evergreen would assist in preparing for that event, she being a tasty lady. My dear, you know how much citizens look at dress; without it you are not noticed, even though you are the daughter of a governor. The citizens laugh when a country justice, though he may be a near relation, calls to see you, if his hair is long, or his boots not polished, or his hat too large— they sneer, and are ashamed to introduce him to their acquaintances, and so invite him at all unfashionable hours to come, and then they are sure to walk out with you when their genteel moneyless friends call on them, or leave a card; for to be always dressed you can never save money: altogether to be a gentleman, or to appear like one, requires skill and management.I have now, my dear Mrs. Claibourne, to observe to you, I am engaged to-morrow to 1287 24(6)r 287 take a family dinner with our friend Bridgfield; he apologized to me for his housekeeper’s being such a termagant he dared scarcely invite a friend to dine; and as she was a near relation of his last wife’s, he did not like to offend her. But, said he, I assure you, my friend, she embitters many of my lonely hours. I expect Judge Prelude will be of our party, as he has promised to finish the short history of his life which he commenced some time past.
End of Vol. I.
A Description of the Men and Manners of
the Present Day,
Humorous Details of the Knickerbockers.
In Two Volumes.
America now can boast some pleasing themes,
Since her canals afford such silver streams;
That her fair daughters, whose enlightened minds
Cannot be flattered by the poet’s lines.
Southern District of New-York, ss.
Be it remembered, That on the 1825-09-19nineteenth day of September, A. D. 1825, in the fiftieth year of the Independence of the United States of America, C. S. Van Winkle, of the said district, hath deposited in this office the title of a book, the right whereof he claims as proprieter, in the words following, to wit:Changing Scenes, containing a Description of Men and Manners of the present day, with Humorous Details of the Knickerbockers. In two volumes. By a Lady of New-York. America now can boast some pleasing themes, Since her canals afford such silver streams; That her fair daughters, whose enlightened minds Cannot be flattered by the poet’s lines.
In conformity to the Act of Congress of the United States, entitled, An Act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of maps, charts, and books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the time therein mentioned; and also, to an act, entitled, An act supplementary to an act, entitled, an act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of maps, charts, and books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the times therein mentioned, and extending the benefits thereof to the arts of designing, engraving, and etching historical and other prints.
James Dill, Clerk of the Southern District of New-York.
The appointed day arrived, and the gentlemen all agreeably seated, smoking segars after dinner. Judge Prelude began as follows:—After I had banished myself from Miss Ann Beavers, I was wholly undetermined what route to take to cheer my spirits and banish her from my mind. One year seemed an age: how could I endure this absence? I then thought to myself, I will disguise my person, and place myself not far from the Ohio, and undertake to be a miller. I am acquainted with that business, my father having owned one on the Brandywine, in the late revolu tionary2004 1(2)v 4 tionary war, which was destroyed by the British. Accordingly, I travelled twenty miles down the river, and settled at Muskingum, and engaged in the mill of John Zuniker. He was a good man; his character had been made known to me, and his wife was kind and good natured, and occasionally mended my clothes. I engaged myself for eleven months, at ten dollars a month, to tend the mill. I assumed the name of Bartes Zeek, and declared I was of a German family; so they concluded I must be honest. I was very quiet and reserved, for fear I should betray myself. The greatest difficulty I encountered was in answering to my pretended name; but I told them that, unfortunately, I was a little deaf, and by that means brought trouble on myself. To keep up the deception, I did not at first think of the difficulty I had to encounter; for as my whole mind and character required complete finesse, all my faculties to prevent being found out were soon exhausted. However, it had this tendency, it banished, in a great measure, my tender concern for 2005 1(3)r 5 my dear Ann, who, I would ofttimes flatter myself, must be mine, and the idea of her made all things pass along cheerfully. I slept very little, I ate less, not being accustomed to labour. It was a severe trial, but the goodness of Zuniker and his wife made my life happy; and as they were very religious people, I was quite at ease, and entered in all their society; I was never suspected of being an impostor. Indeed, my respected friends, I had no evil designs; all I wished was to obtain the pride of my heart; and as she had doomed me to one year’s absence, I chose this method, that I might hear of her and learn how she spent her time. My changing my name had an evil appearance, for which I gave many an unavailing sigh; but I certainly had no evil intention. Now, my dear friends, three months had elapsed since I had become a deceiver in the honest family, and it required all my attention to continue the same story. One day, as my situation became painful, I addressed Mr. Zuniker, and told him I had a relation down the river that I was anxious to see; and as I had 1* 2006 1(3)v 6 been with him three months, and was perfectly satisfied with his treatment, I should return again. Mrs. Zuniker also assented to my proposal, and particularly requested I would finish my agreement, as it was in writing. I then travelled down the river opposite Zainsville to have an opportunity of hearing of Doctor Beavers’ family, whose welfare was near my heart. On my route down the river in a large flat boat, I recognized an old acquaintance that I had not seen in many years; he was from Vermont; his father was in the possession of land to a vast extent that he only held by occupancy—his name was M’Namara. He accosted me by my real name. I then made a confidant of him, as he was the friend and companion of my youth, which he assured me should be sacred—no torture should rend the secret from his bosom. In a few days I stopped at a cottage, suiting my dress and appearance. The old woman sat spinning; the old man was ill of a fever. This was about fourteen miles from Doctor Beavers’. I mentioned to the old woman that I thought her husband was very 2007 1(4)r 7 ill. She said she had no one to send for the Doctor. I told her my friend M’Namara would immediately go for him. I then enjoined him to make every necessary inquiry about the young lady, and then I should cheerfully return to Muskingum, and pleasantly attend the mill. According to my request, he crossed over for the Doctor, while I concealed myself until he had visited his patient; for the old people did not know my name, and they never asked me. In a short time the Doctor arrived; he took the old man’s arm, felt his trembling pulse, looked sad, and then told their friends that the brittle thread of life in him was nearly extinct, and they must, by all tender epithets, tell him that his weary pilgrimage was nearly finished, and that he must fervently pray to the Giver of all consolation to forgive him any sins that he might have committed, in mind, body or estate, so that he might sing hallelujahs to the Lamb that was slain, who for our transgressions freely gave up his life. M’Namara was studiously trying to find out where Miss Ann was; which he at length 2008 1(4)v 8 discovered: she was gone to New-York, as stages now pass to that city in a very few days. She was on a visit to a relation residing in Broome-street, who is Cashier of one of the banks—a very desirable situation. She intended staying six or eight months, and complete herself in some of her acquirements commenced at Deits. Her father had received one letter from her. She had been at the Greek ball, and was much admired. The following air was sung at the theatre by a young lady of New-York: I. Greece, famed of old for arts and arms, this day A tribute claims from all America, Whose eagle’s wings expand o’er injured man, And welcomes him with all the good he can. II. Our lofty forests, whose unbending trees Invite these worthy sons to sit at ease— After a few short years of labour, then You’ll brave the storm, and all become great men. III. Who would supinely sit and see the great Sip all the nectar at ambrosial feasts, When all can happy be?—without delay, Welcome, thrice welcome to America:— 2009 1(5)r 9 IV. Whose daughters fair, with manners quite serene, Prefer European manners, airs, and mein; Whose tender hearts yield to the power of worth To leave their parents in an hour of mirth. V. Ye valiant, then, and free-born sons of Greece, Welcome, kindly, to this land of peace; Leave all your sorrows, and be good and gay— Welcome, thrice welcome to America Cerena. She had also been highly amused at the theatre; had witnessed the striking powers of Miss Kelly; and the singing of Mr. Keane had transported her, so that she was delighted with a city life, and could spend her days there. She had also been at the forum, and many other places of fashionable resort, and should write frequently to her parents, whose kind treatment to her and great indulgence should be duly appreciated. M’Namara said he intended staying in this part of the country some time. He probably would get a good school, as he understood the languages. So the friends parted, and 2010 1(5)v 10 Bartes Zeek, the imposter, returned to old Zuniker’s, where they gave him a kind welcome; and as his mind had been somewhat composed, he now could work cheerfully. At times he would be chagrined, and say to himself, who knows what time may do? A lovely young girl, in the bloom of youth, just entering into life, certainly will have many admirers: will she think then of me? Great God! he would exclaim, what shall I do if I am disappointed? I will call on the rocks to fall on me—I will whistle to the winds that she was false to me. What will it avail? Though I weep to myself into a fountain, she will not hear me;—all I can do is to try to love another. There are many daughters in this land of liberty that could make a man happy. Ah, me! I now sigh in secret, but not without hope. After eleven months had elapsed in this uncertain state, he finished labour and settled his accounts, and then hastened to Zainsville. Miss Ann Beavers was momently expected; and the name of Bartes was set aside, and the real one assumed. Judge Prelude took lodgings2011 1(6)r 11 ings at the City-Hotel, and in a few days he heard Miss Ann had arrived home. On the wings of pleasure, he sought every opportunity to see her; at length a thought came o’er him, that she would appear at church, as is customary, on the following Sunday. He went, and after the sermon she met her lover at the door: he assured her that the next day he would call and see her. Knowing that Sunday is always a visiting day in the country, he would go the next, which he accordingly did, and then revealed his long hidden secret to her who commended his constancy, in words most soothing: How shall I reward such fidelity? My age is not the age of reason; and I have many fears in my mind that you will be disappointed in me. However, if you will risk all my faults, here is my hand—my heart you have possessed, I cannot tell how long; and if I embitter your days I ought to be abhorred. It is a chance you are willing to try, and I hope God will bless us. Now you have another obstacle to surmount—that is the consent2012 1(6)v 12 sent of my parents. Accordingly the next morning he waited on the Doctor, and in the following strains addressed him: Sir, you have a daughter whom monarchs might kneel to, and whose sterling worth is not yet estimated; could I indulge a hope, that my attention toward her would meet your approbation, I should be extremely happy. Words cannot express my sincere attachment; and if aught in my behaviour is disagreeable to you, let me hear it from your own lips, never divulge it to another. I am truly surprised, dear sir, at this suden application. My daughter has not arrived at an age to discriminate real from pretended affection, and sorry should I be if she did not prove worthy your choice. Youth is the season for joy and felicity, and age has no comforts only in the prospect of their progeny doing well.—Pray, sir, consider and reflect, that our daughter is sufficiently engaging, when all things are prepared to grace the table, to welcome friends and pass a pleasant joke; but for solid comforts, she 2013 2(1)r is too unskilful in the world’s wild arts. She may indeed crown your days with happiness, but I think it a serious risk. Far be it from me to discourage you; she shall be mistress of her affection; I will throw no weight in the scales against her. But take my advice, that, wait till a few years roll on, and she be better acquainted with the duties she has to fulfil. I can no longer wait—my passion is the most refined and exquisite; I could not endure it a month longer; do then, my dear sir, bless me with your consent, and I will kiss your feet and humble myself in the most submisive manner. After all these fine promises, Doctor Beavers consented that they should be one, and on the following Monday they invited three young ladies and as many gentlemen, and they mounted on horseback as was customary in the country, and went to Parson Ogden’s house, and were married according to the established custome of the Episcopalians. And then Judge Prelude, after so many mishaps, was made happy. vol. ii. 2 2014 2(1)v 14 Now, gentlemen, I have given you a long and true account of the many difficulties I had to surmount, in the most momentuous trial I had to gain her, who for thirty years that we have been united seemed as one day; and nothing can alter our happiness. Consider and be wise, neighbour; you have been twice linked, and the chains suddenly broken be careful how you rivet yourself again for fear of the trammels of misfortune.
Dinner being announced, the three friends mutually congratulated each other on their comforts in life, while many unfortunate worthy characters were pining in want of necessary food—how thankful ought we to be for God’s mercy to us.
Judge Bridgefield said he was on the tiptoe of expectation. God grant said Claibourne and Judge Prelude, a quick enjoyment of your wishes. The conversation turned to a variety of subjects, among which was, when Miss Josephine was going to New- York. Her father said in a few weeks, as her cousin was preparing a few articles of 2015 2(2)r 15 dress for her. The Judge listened attentively, and after many other subjects, they were anxious to know who would be the next president. They thought as New-York was the most flourishing state in the union, perhaps one might be selected. A gentleman soon entered their dinner parlour, from Washington, and greeting them with the pleasing information that Mr. Adams was duly elected, which gave great satisfaction to the people at large.
It was now a late hour; the gentlemen took leave of each other, and just as they were leaving the room, Nauchie, the house keeper entered: How do you all do this time? I thought as how you had forgot yourselves, and had got to sleep, so I thought I would give a peep. No, no, Nauchie, we have been telling neighbour Bridgefield he looks so pleasant we must come again until he gets a good wife. That is well put in—he has had two prizes, and they say in the lottery of life there are two blanks to a prize; and as he has had the prizes, if he ventures again he must expect a blank; the world is so divided 2016 2(2)v 16 it would not be fair that all the corn should fall in his basket. Oh, I think said Claibourne there are as good fish in the sea as ever were caught.
They all parted good friends; and the next day Miss Priscilla kept a look out for the Judge, thinking it most time for him to renew his tender tale, which broke off so suddenly when last they were together. The lawn was swept, the knocker cleaned, jumbles made, and every thing prepared in the house for his grand reception. Mrs. Claibourne put on her fine clear starched cap; Miss Evergreen her large paste ear-rings glittering like stars. The day being pleasant, they all took a walk in the lawn in front of the house, when towser began to bark, and the ladies saw approaching Judge Bridgefield, upon his large bay horse with a long tail almost down to the ground, a fine sportsman’s saddle, embroidered silver stirrups; in fact, he was gayly caparisoned.
Good morning, ladies; a fine day for recreation and pleasure. How is his excellency?2017 2(3)r 17 lency? Just gone to court—there is a great trial—two men taken for passing counterfeit money; and it appears their trial will be very interesting, as they criminate many not suspected.
Oh, I think I will go also.
Won’t you alight?
Not now; I will do myself the pleasure of spending the evening with you; for his excellency will then be at home.
So he gallopped off, and Miss Priscilla had an opportunity that day to make up her mind for her future happiness or misery.
When they returned to the house of the ladies all pursued their different occupation, and Miss Evergreen gave vent to her tears in her chamber, while the following reflections agitated her mind:—I am sensible he prefers me to any of my sex; but what a task it is to please a man! I have witnessed so many conjugal broils, and more especially in old 2* 2018 2(3)v 18 men—they are so peevish and obstinate, and so penurious in general, they will scarcely allow a pair of shoes to their wife, and many so extremely jealous you cannot leave them. What a state of perplexity I am in! ’Tis true, I have just sufficient to support me without being beholden to anyone; why then should I encumber myself with a husband? Perhaps his temper may be overbearing; and after we are united it will be too late to repent. I think I will call on Mrs. Claibourne and consult with her; she is my tried friend; we are connected also by the ties of blood; she will assuredly advise me for the best. I will hasten to her as I would to a mother, and will unbosom myself to her. Just as she was in this reverie Mrs. Claibourne entered.
Why so melancholy, Coz?
I will just relate my feelings to you, replied Miss Evergreen, and the situation I am placed in. Our neighbour (you know who I mean) is to spend this evening with us; when last he was here (now do not tell your husband, for he knows nothing of the 2019 2(4)r 19 business,) he declared himself my lover, and permitted me to reflect on it, and give him an answer. I never thought seriously of it until now; but as he is to be here this evening, I feel like a child that has not studied his lesson, and is to be called upon to rehearse it by his teacher, when alas! he knows it not. That is my situation, my friend; and what shall I say or do? Please to advise me, for I have always through life been guided by your good counsel; and now, in this important moment, leave me not to fate. You know my disposition better than I do myself—and what is to be done? Pray inform me, as it is now three o’clock, and short will be the time that I am to be arbitress of his destiny.
Well, my dear cousin, in such affairs how can you apply to me? Sure your own heart must be your prompter. If your neighbour has made any impression, my advice will not be taken. But, summing up your fortitude, ask yourself—do I love him who requires me to give my hand to him as a partner for life? For feeble woman wants a friend in her declining years, and it is not every day that 2020 2(4)v 20 fortune favours her. Therefore seize the golden moments, and make a paradise on earth. The sun is nearly setting, and I hope a brighter day will appear to you than any heretofore.
A loud rap at the door announced the Judge’s arrival. He entered the room with a dignified composure to meet the fruition of his wishes.
You have had an agreeable ride this day, said Mrs. Claibourne.
Quite so, madam.
Miss Priscilla entered the room in a careless manner, and made a low courtesy, for she was very graceful in her manners, and dressed very tasty; she had a moderate degree of vivacity, not bordering on rudeness, and had a general knowledge of things which made her quite conversant. They all met in the dining room to tea, and it was her task to entertain the company. After tea they retired to one corner of the room, when the 2021 2(5)r 21 Judge accosted Miss Evergreen in his usual tender manner, and begged of her, as she valued her own happiness, not to trifle with his, as time was too precious to let a moment pass unimproved. Sir, said she, you have put me to a very severe trial, and I have not yet chosen counsel. I feel myself unable to speak; as the poet says, For little shall I grace my causeIn speaking for myself
Let me, then, my fair tormentor, anticipate your wishes—let me fold you to my bosom, that pants as the fleeting deer while pursued in the chase. Excuse the comparison, and let me depart triumphant and bless my better stars, and serenely hope you will be mine ere Sol again sinks to rest; let tomorrow’s dawn prepare you for our approaching nuptials, and do let us be blessed
She sunk in his arms, and gave him her hand in token of acquiescence, and he then exclaimed, May time make us dearer to each other; and may we be as the loving hind and the tender lamb.2022 2(5)v 22
So they took leave, and the next week was agreed upon for the celebration of their nuptials—she then condescended to go and see his house the next day at 9 o’clock, to name the persons that were to witness the ceremony.
Nauchie, the house-keeper, being in an uncommon good humour, had prepared every thing in the neatest manner; for it is an old remark, that the greater the scold, the more industrious the matron; and it is a true criterion, if a woman rises early and puts on a clean cap, she is undoubtedly capable to manage a house.
They had an old family block, the oiling and putting that in order was the most trouble the family had.
All things being now prepared, the judge retired to Miss Priscilla’s: after the usual salutations that passed between friends, it was mutually agreed that the Rev. Amaziah Norcross should perform the ceremony, and Miss Amelia Coriander should be bridesmaid, and 2023 2(6)r 23 Jasper Andre groomsman; some of their nearest friends should be present, whose names we will omit.
Accordingly, the lovers agreed that at 5:00five in the evening they were determined to be happy.
Miss Josephine came tripping up stairs, as Miss Evergreen was preparing her dress. Now Coz, papa has at last consented that I shall proceed to New-York early next spring, and I am greatly indebted to you for assisting Mama in preparing for my departure. I shall be very particular in describing every occurrence that takes place, by letter, which will be directed to Miss Priscilla Bridgefield, near Zainesville, Ohio. What a handsome name! the sound is more melodious than the boblinkin’s notes in spring, and fires my bosom with hope, that perhaps in some sequestered spot now sits brooding one who is destined for my guide and direction in this life of care, where joy and sorrow are so linked together., it is impossible to extricate them. My Dear Friend, drop not a hint to my tender parents 2024 2(6)v 24 who I am sensible are buoyed by expectancy, that I will raise myself so as to merit their favour.In New-York, I am told, the first settlers from the Netherlands flew from persecution, as they thought, and were the Reformed Calvinists, people of industry, sobriety, and honesty; and their descendants are now somewhat changed, by their marriages with other nations. When they first emigrated it was customary to answer to their christian names, which, if it happened to be Hendrick, which is Henry, they went by the name of Hendrick, till at last the family forgot their surnames, and after that they went by the name of Hendrickson. The women in those ancient days paid due reverence to their husbands’ opinions, whether right or wrong; and this advice was handed down from mother to daughter, and so on from generation to generation. The reverend divines had great influence with the ladies, and they were feasted with 2025 3(1)r 25 the first fruits of the earth; of every thing that was killed they shared a part. Paries among these Knickerbockers ran so high, that they could not endure those of another opinion. There were the Vanderbaracks and the Vanderspiegles—they were the the ready advisers on all interesting cases, such as the encroaching on each other’s shad fisheries. Nothing so much roused these ancient people as the least appearance of design to remove their neighbour’s landmark; and instead of taking counsel of an attorney, they always apply to their dominie, give him a good dinner, plenty of how wafils, raw smoked beef, quinces, and oley-cooks, which the good lady presented by the touch of her fair hands, and in general laid a pyramid at the side of your tea-cup, the higher the more welcome; and if you were not agreeable they would be as silent as possible, never offend you by sarcasms on your friends, as is now the general custom—no argument in these happy days of the Dutch burghers who should be the next ruler, which is now the prevailing topic of busy insignificant pretenders to public good, when selfish views of aggrandizement is the vol. ii. 3 2026 3(1)v 26 secret spring of these plotters to encumber the state with more taxes, to tease the minds of good industrious farmers. These were the ancient golden days of commercial prosperity. I have been informed that my cousin Pettit has made himself acquainted with all the customs of the first settlers in the New-Netherlands, which is now called New-York; he has assured me that the information received is well authenticated, and means to make me write them all for posterity. As cousin Pettit is a man of property, he is delighted with the idea that it is in his power to be amusing to ages yet unborn; for New-York being one of the most splendid cities in the United States, so at this time nothing can be more entertaining than a correct retrospect of past events, (the present enlightened inhabitants seem so much to thirst for knowledge,) and give more satisfaction than an early acquaintance with the customs of their ancestors.
Ireland produces so many topographers that their country, it appears by their writers seems ever to have been the first in the world 2027 3(2)r 27 for producing statesmen, warriors, poets, mathematicians, and divines; indeed America is indebted to their learned sons for instruction in many branches of literature, which the hardy ingenious yankee now has so completely imitated, that co-equal which the many public schools which our wise and great saviour of his country advised and directed for the benefit of the American republic, bears ample testimony. Why, Miss Josephine Claibourne, you have undertaken a task which will employ you many vacant hours, which I am fearful you will not accomplish, as there will be so many amusements in the city for a young lady which will be more pleasing than a history of ancient and present fashions, that I have my doubts of your firmness to finish it: young minds are ever ready to begin many things, but it requires a firm and steady character to continue a work of such magnitude as you have undertaken, with the assistance of your relation. However, I flatter myself, for the honour of the family, that no inducement will swerve you from your determination, and that you will by every convenient opportunity inform 2028 3(2)v 28 me of the progress you make. Your cousin Caroline Sophia will be so engaged with her little son Alphonse, that you will need not be apprehensive she will interrupt your narrative; and what a gratification it will be to Bridgefield to have such a relation. All I have to request is that you will not, as is too often the case with writers, be too prolix.
I am much obliged to you, replied Josephine, as next week I go, and shall not return again to Zainsville in one year. I shall now leave you to regulate your dress, as you have not much time to spare. At that moment Mrs. Claibourne and her husband entered the room. We have just got another letter from Caroline Sophia. She is very much pleased that we have given our consent to let our dear daughter spend one year with them, and the manner in which she is to be employed will be both gratifying to us and improving to herself. The Governor informed the family that he was invited to a fox chase the next day across the river at his friend Judge Prelude’s; a number of gentlemen from Washington city, since congress broke 2029 3(3)r 29 up, wished to see the country, and are now at the Judge’s house. Some are from the Mississipi, and some are from the Indiana territory—great speakers in the house. The Greek subject had been ably expatiated upon by them, and they would return to their constituents with joy, for those were subjects which engaged much of the time of congress, such as roads and attempts at canals—they fire the eastern people so much that they are all in a blaze at their rhetoric; this will ever be the case, for the eastern and southern people are always at war in words, their pride and manners are so different. One man prides himself in dress, another in family, and in large demesnes, which is something to be proud of. My wife’s pride is in her only daughter; and that I think a laudable pride. So, ladies, to-morrow I leave you for my short excursion; and on my return I shall be very particular in giving you a description of these gentlemen, their appearance, manners and education, and their particular propensities. You must not blame me for my criticism; they may perhaps amuse you—that is all I wish.3* 2030 3(3)v 30
The day being pleasant, the Governor crossed the Ohio, and the sight of the hounds transported him; he hastened to the mansion of his friend, which was furnished with great taste. Some of the finest pictures of ancient and modern characters were hung in his drawing room. Among the number were Saint Nicholas, the Dutch saint, and one of the great Van Tromp, the renowned Dutch admiral. The next was a representation of General Washington, in the year 1789one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine, taking the oath of president in the old City Hall of New-York, fronting Wall-street. The crowds of citizens that visited that metropolis were very numerous—a description of that important event is not necessary. His figure was exalted; and his praise was echoed by thousands, similar to the present adoration paid to General La Fayette, our nation’s guest. There were many more sublime things at that great event, which I shall not now describe—sufficient that the house was Gothic and grand.
Mrs. Prelude, whose character has been 20313(4)r31 portrayed in this volume, from the time of her being at Bethlehem boarding school by the name of Miss Camilla Beavers, until her union with the Judge; and, if my readers have any recollection, it will be sufficient to know, that she has not lost any virtues she possessed, but in a great measure improved them since she has become a wife. It is a great encouragement to the rising generation that matrimony does not lessen the female character. On the contrary, if she meet her kindred soul, she improves as the smiling sprint by the refreshing showers.
At length the gentlemen were all introduced to the Governor.
This is the honourable Thaddeus Hodgkiss, from Alabama, whose display for his country’s good was evident, when he wanted to have his country near the Tombigbee all drained, the expense not regarding, to make it more healthy, for which he is continually imploring means to benefit the rising generation; if it cannot now be accomplished, they will undoubtedly do it. He appears a gentleman2032 3(4)v 32 tleman of domestic manners, and thinks a comfortable fireside preferable to foreign grandeur.
The next is the honourable Cyrus Bountiful, from the Arkansas territory, a deep penetrating character, always officious to drain his constituents for public institutions, such as jails, hospitals, and lunatic asylums. He seldom makes a motion in the house until he first obtains the opinion of his colleagues, and then immediately his wishes are obtained as soon as applied for, having obtained the yeas and nays before suggested. This saves much expense to the country, and likewise shortens the session. After him I was introduced to the worthy Conrad Kriperstein. He was born in Olmutz, Germany, and is now a representative from Pennsylvania. He is a patient, good man, never did or said any thing withouut mature deliberation, and is certain to perform all his promises, ever so trivial. The only time he ever spoke in congress was when they wished to prohibit importing horses. He then felt warm; he loved these animals better than any of his family, 2033 3(5)r 33 (his wife excepted,) and he saw no reasoreason why a man might not make money selling horses as well as any thing else, as that would encourage farmers to procure a good breed. For his part he fed his horses with the same grain he did his family, only a little difference in preparing it; and it was the more befitting (making use of his own words) to sell horses, as they had for a long time left off selling negroes, who were many of them such an abominable race, that he wished them all free and sent to the Turks, as they were in general so treacherous to white people. In my country you never see any black skins, and when I first landed in New-York I was frightened when I saw black people, and thought they were all young devils.
A great hunting party near the Ohio, and a splendid entertainment at Judge Prelude’s, with several appropriate toasts—with a description of Conrad Kriperstein.
The different gentlemen being now introduced and become acquainted, an excursion after the fox was proposed by Judge Prelude, and the beautiful hounds let out, whose cry echoed through the air. Ponto, the leader, with his collar of hbrass, was foremost. The sportsmen gayly mounted their steeds, all except Conrad Kriperstein, who begged as he would for his existence that he might be excused, for in all his life he had never been hunting; and his wife Christina, were she to hear of it, would never forgive him, she was of such an inexorable temper. He had been married to her for ten years, and she never yet had been truly angry with him; for she said, that if ever he did intentionally offend her, she was sure, as she knew her own temper, she could never forgive him. So he was 2035 3(6)r 35 fearful of the first offence. A good lesson, I think, for men of all nations, to be fearful of giving the first offence to their tender wives. The company consented to leave Conrad with the ladies, while the gentlemen pursued the fox.
Conrad Kriperstein amused himsef at seeing the hogs fed, and viewing the land and young colts of his friend, his pasture and meadows, and quickset hedges. His ditches he did not approve of, as it wasted too much of his land. During the absence of the gentlemen, Mrs. Camilla Prelude was inquisitive to know if Mr. Conrad Kriperstein liked the country along the Ohio as well as Olmutz in Germany, or Pennsylvania:—Oh, my good lady, when a person is on his own place, he is at home, aber he may tink dat is not all gold dat glitters. I like Sharmany very well, but de groote heere drink all de swill; but we say in dis country dat de still sow sucks all de swill; not so in our country—we have so many counts and barons and high mightinesses, dat de are poor indeed; and if it were not for de high taxes dat oppress de poor with, 2036 3(6)v 36 de could not live; and den de are so proud de will not look at de poor clodhopper like I was before I came on board de Goedevrouw (dat was de name of de vessel wat brout me to dis goudt country;) for aldough I had to work very hard de first two years for my passage, I do’nt care a stiver, for den I am now as good and grodt as any republican; dough in my own country I had not so much as a vote; and may be I had staid till now I would not have had one yet. De woman what you call de fair sex in dis country, who are so deluding and kind, work very hard in my country. Sometimes you will see dem wid a basket on der back, wid a child in it, and one by der side, working in de fields, while der strong husband is dressed up in military uniform, receiving dree cents a day and rations; and den de men is constant fighting, for de know not who or care, while de poor woman, if de want any ting, de must do widout, or work in de manner I have told you.
Pray, interrupted Mrs. Camilla Prelude, are your parents alive? Oh yes, madam; 2037 4(1)r 37 my fader he makes hitchells, and moder and de rest of de ingenious family make and paint toys.
The peculiar taste of the country is strongly exhibited in the colour of the articles that are shipped to America, where mother and child are ofttimes pleased with a sixpenny purchase.
The inquisitive Mrs. Prelude, having satisfied herself of the origin of Kriperstein’s family, she was looking up the road, and saw a cloud of dust arise; in haste the procession appeared; the fleeting coursers, and ruddy riders, whose bright eyes shone like so many stars, came rushing in. Bacchus had aided him with his potent draughts, and they alighted more merry than wise. In haste a splendid dinner was announced, and Mrs. Prelude did the honours. The gentlemen, in the hilarity of the occasion, forgot to mention they had taken a fox, and in a moment the servant was ordered to present him to the sportsmen; and the gratification was to them vol. ii. 4 2038 4(1)v 38 of more consequence than if they had taken one of Bonaparte’s fine standards, obtained at Tilsit.
After dinner a variety of toasts were drank, among which were the following:
By the lord of the Mansion. A speedy reformation to men and manners.
By Mr. Hodgkiss. May the trees of the forest in America be speedily felled by the sons of oppression from every part of the terraqueous globe. Loud huzzas.
By the Honourable Cyrus Bountiful, from the Arkansas territory. May the first wish of Solomon be impressed on our minds when he was chosen to govern the people; that is, may wisdom guide our councils, and sincerity be the touchstone of honour.
The usual ceremonies of polite people were next in order, and after Mrs. Prelude left the dining room, the last toast was given:—
May the storms of life, whatever region 2039 4(2)r 39 we inhabit, never make us forget woman, angelic woman. A second loud huzza.
Then followed an enlivening song by the honourable Cyrus Bountiful, as follows:I. Columbia’s fair daughters, like gay flowers, will No fragrance here scatter around, But perish for ever the side of yon hill, And wither above the cold ground. II. Unless that you tenderly share in the woes That life’s busy cares oft surround, You’ll perish for ever, and have no repose, And wither above the cold ground. III. Then quickly, fair maidens, improve while you can, And join in the muses’ gay throng; Be cheerful and gay, make happy one man, Not wither above the cold ground. IV. The snowdrop no fragrance nor beauty can give; The lily, that’s fair to the eye, Without the dew of the morn cannot live, Will wither, and quickly must die. 2040 4(2)v 40 V. With Martha, the fairest, whose charms all can see, I’ll wander the world all around: Her heart and her hand shall forever be free, And not wither above the cold ground. Cerena.
The company then rose, and after the usual ceremonies they all retired to their destined homes, and Conrad Kriperstein shook the lady and fdamaged4 lettersy by the hand, and in fervent blessings on their heads, hoped that the longer they lived they might be, as old wine, the better; and then hoped he might find his affectionate wife, whom he had never yet offended, smile at his return—not saying that though she had never frowned, she had never smiled on him. He was the last that took leave; and the amilyfamily all returned to their different occupations on the Ohio, while Governor Claibourne crossed that beautiful river, which now appeared with more grandeur than heretofore, as he had been longer from his family than he intended. They were all in the hurry of preparation for the event that had been so long in agitation; and at his approach his wife and lovely daughter embraced him affectionately.2041 4(3)r 41
What a solace to the heart of man, at his return to the bosom of his family to receive a heartfelt welcome! It is truly flattering, while, at the same time, it depicts his character. On the other hand, when a sullen tyrant enters his abode, even the watch dog looks melancholy, and all the wretched family dull as at the funeral of a person they do not grieve for.
Miss Priscilla Evergreen, for the last time in this history that she will bear that name, appeared to her relations, nearly dressed, and in a silent, solemn manner, approached her friend Claibourne. Thinking that suited the approaching occasion, he saluted her, and requested to known if she was perfectly resigned to give up liberty and property to his friend; for if a lady is bent on happiness, there must not be any deceit or dissimulation. And he assured her, as being her best adviser, that though it was the last moment, as it were, if she felt the least repugnance to his friend, she would now openly declare it; for in the event of time she would be most miserable4* 2042 4(3)v 42 rable if she did not put implicit faith in his conduct and integrity.
My true and ever dear friend, how can you for a moment question my sincerity and good opinion? From my earliest youth, when I was firmly bent on any thing, no power on earth could change me. I am like the turtle dove, true and sincere.
In a few moments the company assembled, and Mrs. Claibourne received them courteously. Miss Josephine did her part.
The reverend Amaziah Norcross appeared in front of the house, on his high dappled pacer.
Miss Coriander and Mr. Jasper were sitting tete-a-tete in the hall, debating on and remarking the different characters that presented themselves. The bride and groom then appeared in full dress, and Miss Coriander taking her by one hand, and Mr. Andre taking his friend aside, they all placed themselves in one corner of the room; when the 2043 4(4)r 43 reverend divine began some pertinent remarks to Miss Josephine and Miss Coriander, the two young ladies who, as I before observed, were not deficient in repartee. I had forgot to mention a young gentleman from West Point, a cadet, who was of the company at the nuptials; he was of the family of the Crawfords, a relation of Mrs. Claibourne’s, and had particularly distinguished himself in the art of arms—could go through all the evolutions with great exactness.
The company being all assembled, the candles snuffed, and every one placed according to etiquette, the solemn ceremony commenced; when the bride was so overcome as to be entirely insensible for some minutes. Salts were applied, and she speedily recovered. The ceremony was but two-thirds over when the fainting took place; and I assure you, never such a sensation did I witness in such an assembly before; some thought she was dying; however, she recovered. The divine thought it most prudent to delay the concluding of the ceremony until she was perfectly recovered—the conclusion being more 2044 4(4)v 44 congenial to her feelings than the first part of it, where they promised to do so much for each other. To a mind like Miss Priscilla’s, I am not surprised at the excitement it produced. The latter part of the ceremony is so enchanting, no one would be affrighted at it. They were then solemnly pronounced man and wife; and the priest hoped she might be like Sarah and Rebekah, fruitful and obedient, in the name of the Father, &c.
The usual compliments passed; and, according to things agreed upon before, the happy couple, after tea and other refreshments, proceeded to the farm house about ten o’clock. The company amused themselves with dancing to the melodious music of Toney, the village fiddler, who was dressed like Don Quixote, with a helmet, for the occasion; and this singular circumstance excited more curiosity in the country around than all the other part of the entertainment, for every one in this country has heard of Don Quixote; but never has he been personified as a fiddler before. Every scene being 2045 4(5)r 45 over, the company retired at an early hour, that is, two o’clock.
Miss Josephine shed tears at losing her friend and relation. Her mother assured her, as she was shortly going to leave them, she should not be so unhappy. She assured her parents, at parting, that she would write as often as convenient, and give all the news of the day, such as the rise and fall of fashions, feasts public amusements, &c. But the history she was going to give of the ancient Knickerbockers in a novel form they must not expect the least hint of, until it reached from Maine to the extremity of the United States. And then I hope, my friends, you will not ridicule my attempts. You cannot expect the style of Peveril of the Peak or Quentin Durward; or should you chance to find some singular characters like those represented in the Spy, do not turn indignantly away, but pass on until more engaging characters strike your fancy, such as Sitgrieves, whose skill surpasses that of all the sons of Esculapius of the present day; and were he now here, he might find out an antidote2046 4(5)v 46 tidote to the prevailing alarming much-to-be- dreaded disease, for which no name can be found in the Lexicon to give it sufficient malignancy, which the present age is infected with.
My dear mamma, said Josephine, I hope you will not repine when I am absent; if I thought you would, I think I could not endure it. I am told my cousin is good tempered— Caroline I mean; for I do not mind men’s tempers, for we can shun them. But an ill-tempered woman, sitting by her own fireside, who can retreat from in winter, especially one of the family?
I have this to assure you, that fame speaks of your cousin as a pattern of excellence; and my chief object in sending you is to reap the benefit of her example. The ties of affection from parents to their children are so strong, that they forego their own felicity for their children’s good. Now, my dear daughter, so far from feeling any anxiety at your departure, I rejoice more than words can exrppress; and the task you have taken on you to perform is a great pleasure to my 2047 4(6)r 47 mind. To-morrow is the day fixed on for your leaving us. Your father will conduct you as far as the city of Washington; though it is out of your route, I wish you to see it, as in a future day it may hbe pleasing for you to tell your offspring, that you have been at the Capitol, where great characters from all parts of the United States meet to display their wit and talents, and where foreigners of distinction, from every clime, are obliged to resort. If in public situations, their eloquence, most profound, is displayed, wit enlivens their keen remarks, and all the learned who live by the display of their genius, find the sweet repast not only in benefitting their country, but increasing their families’ comforts, which are a source of delight to the world in general. Our desire to obtain wealth is implanted in our natures; whatever philosophers may say to the contrary I do not agree to, for self-sufficiency is evident.
“The day at length arrived, and Miss Josephine proceeded, accompanied by her father, to Washington city, where she remained one week, so as to make all remarks in her 2048 4(6)v 48 power in that short space of time. Congress was then sitting in their splendid hall, which vies in grandeur and magnificence with the parliament house in London. The city of Washington stands on a large level spot, three miles in length. The houses, at present, are at a distance from each other; and carriages are required to convey the gentlemen from their lodgings to the Capitol, which is a superb building. The Potomac bridge is one mile and a quarter long. The country around Washington is in general good land, and much of it not cultivated. The Virginia mountains appear like blue clouds, they are so high, and are all covered with heavy timber; the gum tree and oak are the largest; locusts are in great abundance. There are many handsome rivulets. The Shenandoah rises in Beauty; and there are many delightful seats near the river: it is one hundred miles in length
All foreign ambassadors, when they arrive in the country and proceed with despatches, must be displeased, as the road is so very bad from Baltimore; and their expectations must 2049 5(1)r 49 be disappointed, for the city is not as large as Europeans expect to find it; and when congress does not sit, it is not a lively place.
Miss Josephine, not seeing any thing remarkable to describe in her intended history, requested her father to hasten his departure. They took the road to Baltimore, staid at the City Hotel, where they were much gazed at by the travellers, and then proceeded to Philadelphia, in the stage. The company consisted of Madame Dampier and her little grand-daughter, and two Spanish gentlemen; neither could speak one word of English—only looked unutterable things. Miss Josephine was much disappointed, not having the pleasure of their conversation, she being of so inquisitive a disposition, and eager for information, in order to be interesting in her narrative. The other passengers in the stage were two yankee speculators, who had been carrying pocketbooks to Baltimore, where there was a good market for them, the Baltimore people being a busy, industrious, contriving people.
Our travellers arrived at Philadelphia, and vol. ii. 5 2050 5(1)v 50 put up at one of the best inns in the city. It is not so lively as New-York, there are so many Quakers, whose yea is yes and nay is nay— no equivocating, all plain truth and civil courtesy, no rapturous expressions at meeting a friend, no unavailing grief at departure —all consistency and good order. There need not be any fear of trouble or riots; peace and good order prevail in their councils; profit and pleasure are their daily pursuits. The travellers viewed all the beauties of their city, their Academy of Arts, and their fine paintings, which exceed any in the United States. This city is so well lighted at night, it appears as day. Their market is their pride and boast; and if you want to offend them, tell their butter or fish is not so good as in New-York, and the immediately talk of their long streets, their flourishing manufactories, the beautiful reservoir of water at the head of Market-street, and the well ordered police of the second city in the Union. Then their heads are puffed up and their bodies erect; then they boast of their city.
After we alighted from the stage, we were 2051 5(2)r 51 very sociable with some of the passengers, and I invited them to call at forty-one, Broadway, near Castle Garden, where Miss Claibourne intended to reside, at her cousing Caroline Sophia Pettit’s, as has been before observed. After every assurance from the passengers whom they became acquainted with on their journey from the capital of the United States, that they would pay them a friendly visit, they parted, and the Governor and his daughter took a seat in the mail stage, which was much crowded. The Honourable Jedediah Gilman, from New-Hampshire, was one of the passengers; he seemed in great good humour, for he believed the next president would be chosen from one of the eastern states—he thought Massachusetts.
I am not of your opinion, said a dark- visaged man; I think the southern states will always endeavour to keep the power, there is such a vast tract of country uninhabited near them, belonging to congress; it is doubly their interest to get it settled as fast as possible—whether by good or designing men, time will develope:2052 5(2)v 52 lope: then the brilliant star of our Union will be more brilliant, and appear with double lustre.
The passengers all looked with astonishment at this dark prognosticator, and every one immediately gave his opinion, as this is a free country, unasked; and certain it is, they contradicted each other every moment. At length the driver turned round, seemed in a great passion, and said, Men and brethren, you speak so loud, and make such a clatter, my horses, being true-blooded, the Duke of York’s breed, will certainly run away and leave us in Swarthout’s Swamp—and O, la, for me! what will become of the women folks!
Very true, coachman, they all cried; the stage is not the place for gentlemen to argue on politics, any more than the meeting house; it is only intended for a public benefit, to convey passengers; and that time may glide pleasantly, why not introduce some lively topic? such as—
Mynheer Vanderdonderbarrak has run away from Araanche Clatterclap, his wife, to the 2053 5(3)r 53 astonishment of all the loving husbands in Gowawnes, Long-Island, Kings’s county. The country around was so exasperated at such an unexpected, unprecedented event, that they ordered the church bells to chime every morning at an early hour, to give notice to the hight-spirited ladies, descendents from the great Courters Van Vlailers and Van Hoogebooms, not to occasion such another disaster in the present generation. In order to give it publicity, there was a general meeting called of all the rich, long-headed, self- opinionated gentry, and it was agreed among them that they would put up large handbills on all the aspin trees as a warning, as they shake when there is no wind. Pamphlets were printed in the confiscated, flourishing village of Brooklyn, setting forth the probable cause of the flight of this renowned farmer. His fame as an agriculturalist had overtopped that of all his neighbours; and the approaching meeting of the Horticultural Society had so fired his mind with eagerness to present the first and best fruits of the earth, that previous to his departure he had not suffered his family, even his dear Oraanche, to sleep for many nights, apprehensive he might not be 5* 2054 5(3)v 54 awaked early on the great expected day. Some imputed his flight to the grief he manifested when informed the old tulip tree was fallen, that had stood the shock of more than one hundred years. In remembrance of that event some poetic effusions were offered, which were in the elegaic strain, and were as follows:
On the old Tulip Tree, at Brooklyn, that fell the day the British evacuated New-York, in 17831783.
Thy roots, alas! no more shall spread,
And shadowing branches shade around,
Nor gayest flowrets deck the head
Of thy past owners, under ground.
That braved the storm, when men did spurn
To rob their neighbours’ mould’ring urn—
Brooklyn, shudder at the thought;
Was your soil, then, fairly bought?
Age, with all its feeble ills,
Could not stop rapacious wills.
Man, determined to be great,
Risqued whatever would await.
America must never boast,
Till justice is her ruling toast;
Her sons that fought she now does pension,
Forgetting those I’ll never mention;
Whose property all then could see,
Was that where grew the Tulip Tree;—
A man, whose ancestors could boast
They sought religion on this coast.
Freedom’s sons, now weep for me;
I fell the day you were made free:
Sweet odours rose in freedom’s calm,
Which to the senses was a balm.
Your grandsires, men of probity,
Oft they conversed under this tree;
And happy, happy, sure, are they
Who did not live to see this day.
Continuation of Oraanche Clattertrap’s history, and the confusion that took place in the family after Mynheer Vanderdonderbarack had hastily left her.
The company now arrived at Newark, which was only nine miles from New-York—there being2056 5(5)v 56 ing a beautiful turnpike road and handsome bridge over a morass to Powles Hook, an ancient settlement of the first Dutch inhabitants in this country, the Von Vorst, which signifies the first and greatest people. In those days, there was a proper distinction between the hewers of wood and the drawers of water. The people were then governed by those that read their Bibles every day, and who ordered some men not to take the first seats in the temple—which is a plain demonstration there was a difference to be observed in those of the highest order by the Great Omnipotent, though ofttimes the leaders of the people caused them to err.
They at length arrived at the steam boat, which conducts the traveller to the city. The first step that is taken is on the soil that the right owner is kept out of similar to the native aborigines:—might overcomes right.
Miss Claibourne, who is to be the future historian of the mild and peacable early inhabitants of the city of New-York, having now arrived from Zainesville, Ohio, it will be necessary to remind2057 5(5)r 57 mind you that she is the niece of the worthy Mr. Dexter of Pequest, near the Delaware, in Sussex county, New-Jersey, and cousin of the amiable Mrs. Pettit, wife of Lionel Pettit, son of a nobleman in France, who on his first arrival, as I have observed in the beginning of this book, was compelled to teach dancing, and by that means was so fortunate as to obtain the happiness that now attends him. As to the character and accomplishments of Miss Claibourne, hitherto unknown, suffice it to say, that she is intelligent and persevering, and doubtless will be as entertaining as circumstances will permit.
Various characters inhabit America—more, perhaps, than any other part of the world. Though we have no Goldsmiths, Popes, Swifts, Addisons, Macauleys, or Montagues, we trust that the rising genius of our country will in time produce competitors of Byron, and Cooper and Irving, our country’s boast. Though now in brilliants set,Still brighter gems await them. The ruby, emerald, and diamond, that adorn the great, are but the exterior; it is the soul that 2058 5(5)V 58 breathes the noblest energies, and makes man, one of the noblest of God’s works, to enchant the world by sublime poetic effusions, the perusal of which, to a thinking mind, renovates life, and transports us to the highest possible pitch of felicity that is to be obtained in these changing scenes of our existence.
Miss Josephine now arrived at her relations, the lower end of Broadway, opposite where the equestrian statue of king George the third was placed, in the Bowling-Green, previously to the revolutionary war. It is now destroyed. The horse was handsomely gilded, and was placed on a pedestal. The rider presented a palm in his hand; he appeared in full speed, though he could not overtake the great William Pitt, whose statue, of white marble, was iat Wall-street, between the banks of New-York and the great merchant tailors. In his extended arm he held a large scroll with the stamp act impression on it, emblematic of his good wishes towards America. His Majesty George the Third, at that time the ruler of this country, stood motionless, and could not overtake the friend of this country, as 2059 5(6)r 59 his horse was like Balaam’s ass—he would not move. Pitt’s statue was at that time as much admired and talked of, as the visit of our great nation’s guest is at this present day; and Washington, the great father of his country, were his statue in the Park, could not be more adored. Such are the changing scenes here.
To return to a description of Miss Josephine— she was a young lady of the most exquisite refinements, and at the same time so humble, she would associate with any persons of inferior rank, if they were intelligent. In her person, she was tall and slender, and her face was an index of her mind, placid and serene. No interruption from her kind parents had ever prohibited her from making researches; and she was more happy in the society (if I may so call it) of the dead, than of the living; that is, in perusing the trials, troubles, and all the vicissitudes that this life is burdened with. In order to convince her friends that she had not forgotten her promise, at parting, (to inform them of her progress,) she thus began:2060 5(6)v 60
New-York, 1825-06-06June 6, 1825.
To Mrs. Priscilla Bridgefield.
Dear Cousin—I have, at length, commenced my narrative of a people that have always been ridiculed for ignorance, selfishness, and sordid manners; but who, on the contrary, from all the intelligence I have obtained, far surpass any of the human race. In the first place, they do not overload their minds with the intrigues and crim. con. speculations which the great Philips, by his eloquence, has in a great measure arrested, by convincing the world that man and wife are one, and that there should be no more separate receiving of money; and the advice that he forcibly gives, is, Let every good man stay at home, when business will permit, and take care of his inestimable treasure. These ancient people do not intermeddle with any affairs that will give their posterity trouble, and cause the heart to feel oppressed. I am now abridging some manuscripts that I hastily wrote; and I shall, from time to time, convey by letters my sincere attachments. Little Alphonse is now two years old, and is a lively representative of my 2061 6(1)r 61 uncle Dexter’s family. I am invited to pass a few days at the ancient village of New-Utrecht. It is nearly two miles from the first landing place, called Gravesend. Two hundred years since, the settlers took a course across the country to Tappaun (that is the original name.) It has become known to the world in general as the place where Andre, the reputed spy, was executed. He was buoyed by the expectancy that the President would pardon him; however, it was not in his power—and Miss Seward wrote the following lines on the event: Relentless Washington! the day will comeOf deep repentance for this dreadful doom. He is now removed, and buried with the great in Westminster Abbey. Our first settlers crossed over to Haverstraw, which is the only place that retains its ancient name: the present race, descendants from those people, admire names of the great Roman warriors, as Pompey, Manlius, Marcellus, as high sounds carry with them appearances of riches and grandeur.vol. ii. 6 2062 6(1)v 62
Now, ye few, very few ancient Knickerbockers, arouse from your supineness! Ye Courtes, Van Ledues, Van Values, Middachs, Rapaljes, and De Sillases, who have escaped the torrent of invective that has been levelled against you, arise, and declare to the world the plain sincerity and truth, that the inheritance of your forefathers shall not be contaminated, and nobly relate facts to set aside falsehoods invented for popular purposes. Tell the world, that we boast not of Aristides, Pompey, Plutarch, or Demosthenes; we can assure them we are the offspring of the followers of the Lamb of God, who peaceably left their country for the good of their souls: and shall their posterity forget it? No—not while a female being exists, who can and will maintain their cause. Let it, then, O daughters of America, be imprinted in your tender bosoms and the recollection of your minds, that though, by the policy of war, man takes from man his inheritance, and not even allows him a mess of pottage for the confiscation, he should not murmur, but exclaim with Pope—Whatever is, is right.
Miss Claibourne, having sent her letter to her 20636(2)r63 relations at the Ohio, then employed her pen in relating the many curious adventures the first setters met with, their patience, and resignations.
While the family were at breakfast, they were called upon by a plain looking farmer from Sussex, by the name of Arnoldus Hackenberry, who had brought some beeswax and honey to market—had a keen appetite, the family being all seated at a stylish breakfast of fresh rolls, coffee, and mushrooms. They were a little confused, thinking he would devour all on the table; however, after some inquiries, and then a great deal of ceremony, he was invited to partake, as they had added a beefsteak. The old farmer, after seating himself, began to hold his hat before his eyes, and returned thanks by a short prayer; and then presented a letter from their parents at the Pequest.
Pray, sir, what is the best news in your parts, said Mr. Pettit. All I can say is, we will have poor crops this year—the hessian fly is in the wheat, and the weevil in the corn; and the drought has hurt the potatoes—sad! sad 2064 6(2)v 64 indeed! How will the farmers live? They must all turn statesmen, and come to New- York. I am sure, said Hackenberry, I should die drinking your water, it is so feverish. Not at all, for many have died because it is so cold. The old farmer then gave a groan, which is customary with some old people after eating, they being apprehensive their food may not easily digest—and they all are alarmed at indigestion, as much as they are at prodigality. He then mentioned, that if he could do any thing for them he was at their service, as he was going to leave them that day, it being town meeting next week, and he, being one of the overseers of the poor, must be at home if God spared him his life. He then took a walk up Broadway, bowed to every person he met, heard music near the Park—and was induced to see the lion and lioness by giving a shilling; and he was so pleased, and his astonishment was so great, that he declared when he returned no sight in the city had so delighted him.
The woman folks, as he called them, he thought were handsomer than in the country:— 2065 6(3)r 65 They are so red and white, and walk so neat and pretty all day, I suppose for their health; and I think they are all rich and happy. Not at all, said Mr. Pettit; on the contrary, those that you meet walking are many of them most miserable, and, generally speaking, have such wretched houses, that they saunter to make time pass agreeable—the females in particular. But matrimony is their grand object, and when they have secured the affection of some rich youth, they are fixed for ever. Is it possible that woman is so designing? In the country, if a man has a good farm, and two or more daughters, on Sunday evening his house will be surrounded by young men to divide it, though it does not take place in years, yet hope is pleasing, even hope delayed—not in love, in wealth I mean. I now bid you farewell, my city friends, and I will relate to your parents, in Sussex, that you look content, and your son Alphonse, who, it appears, is learning to read, will in time astonish his relations, he being so young.
Farmer Hackenberry having left the city, I shall just relate the description he gave Mr. and 6* 2066 6(3)v 66 Mrs. Dexter on his return. The road, he said, is very fine, and a variety in it; for after you pass Newark to Morristown, you cross Schooley’s Mountain, famous at present for its medicinal springs; and then you pass ’Squire’s Point, a mountain in form similar to a sugar-loaf. It is said the name originated from the following circumstance:
A few gentlemen, (Squires,) were on the top of this mountain, took some refreshment, and having drank freely, could not find their way down, and were compelled to stay all night, or until they were sober; and thus the name originated. From thence to Mansfield wood houses are found, a fine country, and continues so until you reach the house of Mr. Dexter, who, on the arrival of his friendly neighbour, was transported; joy was depicted in ever countenance, and all with one voice exclaimed,—welcome once more to your happy home! Ah! happy indeed! I would not exchange it for the marble houses in New-York, where I saw long faces with short beards—heard wise sayings, and old proverbs, from the mouths of great men for the public good—no selfish views 2067 6(4)r 67 were there brought forward; all appeared unanimous for the good of the city. Petitions were read, not worth attending to; plans formed for widening crooked streets, and emptying misers’ pockets—All seem revived when any new plan was in operation, which affects either the living, or those that must expect according to the course of things to die; that is the question, then Where, ah, where, shall their bones be laid,That never signalized themselves in battle,In Pottersfield? forbit it Heaven!— Perhaps with those who have undermined the country.
Upon my word, neighbour, you need not repent your journey to New-York, said Mr. Dexter; sure I am, that were I to stay seven years, I never should have thought of seeing the lions or the inmates of the great marble house; but curiosity, I have oft been told, lies deeper in a woman’s than a man’s bosom. I must contradict the assertion; for you have developed things that I should never have thought 2068 6(4)v 68 of. The old man begged to be excused, as he wished to return to the bosom of his family.
I shall now acquaint my readers of the proficiency Miss Claibourne made in her narrative of the ancient Dutch. In her last letter she describes the great confusion that took place on Long Island, in looking for Mynheer Vanderdonderbarrack, who had most unfeelingly, and unprecedentedly, ran away from his kind, tender, well-beloved wife Oraanche Clattertrap, who in silent sobs, it was thought, would melt away like honey in the comb.
Public meetings were called in all the surrounding villages, to devise plans to prevent the like mishap again; and it was sincerely recommended by Nicacius de Silla, late fiscal of the Netherlands, to all well-wishers of the tender sex, that they would in future pay a proper deference towards their husbands, as men in general; and particularly, the Knickerbockers insist that they are the head of the tree. Though many disputes do arise respecting it, which the reverend divines are obliged to settle to the decrease2069 6(5)r 69 crease of their best fat geese, which are served up to regale them as a remuneration for their good advice and peace offerings, the worthy females were all seized, from Wallabacht to Gowawnes, with a shivering coldness, when Oraanche’s fate was made known. They much feared, as times were so precarious, how soon it might be their own case, it having been an ancient and established custom among the old inhabitants of Long Island, to do as your neighbours do, and they make it an invariable practice still.
Mr. Pettit called on Miss Claibourne, to know when she was again going to the museum, as he was promised some interesting manuscripts, for her immediate attention; she politely thanked him for his assiduity, and mentioned that it appeared to her in her researches, that the first inhabitants of New-York and Long Island were extremely attached to some particular minister of the gospel, as on all occasions he was consulted, and his advice strictly adhered to, he being supposed to have their welfare at heart.— They were much bigoted to their own denomination at their friendly meetings; but decency, 2070 6(5)v 70 decorum, and a degree of civility prevailed, that is not often to be found in the present day.— What mostly affected these good people, was seeing a tax-gatherer, for they were not often solicited for money, and generally the women attended to this call, as in those days they were always to be found at home, seldom on the high road, only when going to church, visiting the sick, or attending the funeral of a friend or a neighbour; only these occasions called them out.
Happy, happy days of comfort and delight! Oh, what blissful scenes then enlivened the habitations of our ever to be remembered ancestors! Oh, were they now to arise and behold their progeny aspiring after vain pursuits, while the charm of liberty is inflaming the minds of their children—to arise, and if possible snuff the moon! Such are the present times, which I shall not at present describe.
I shall begin with the account of Guisboet Brice, a collector in New-York. He entered the house of Adolphus Thregier, near Coenties Slip, with his book under his arm, Pray, yefrow,2071 6(6)r 71 row, how rich are you? Ask my husband that question, replied she. I always heard, said he, that the Dutch ladies take care of the cash, and that they are never known to speak an untruth, so I was directed to inquire of them. Her name was Neiltie, she was very still, but very angry at such inquisitiveness; she thought that to tell a person you were rich, is a sure sign of a fool; so she told Guisboet he might find out. A great dispute arose, and the Dutch lady said very civilly she wished she might be allowed to enjoy her own fireside without interruption. A very decent hint, as she expected her brother-in-law from the Sagarchies with his wife and daughter, and she was preparing to receive them, and no assessor, oppressor, or any disturber of her peace, was welcome in her house. Excuse me, madam, the business that brought me here is for the public good, to pull down houses and straighten streets, to erect public edifices for the general good.
Miss Claibourne returned from the museum, and was feasting her mind with the information she had acquired, when suddenly a rap at the 2072 6(6)v 72 door, which being attended to by one of the servants: a gentleman inquired for Miss Josephine. She is not at home. He replied, I shall return in the evening. He left his name—and called again. She was transported when she saw him. I need not mention the inquiries that were made; suffice it to say, that Miss Josephine amused her father all the evening with humorous stories that she had collected. One was of Yacup Vanderclip, who lived on a rock about four miles from New-York. It was customary in times past for all the children, as they rode out of town, to point their finger and cry out to him. This singular character, it appears, left to his great- grand-children all the disputed property from the battery to the Bridewell, and it was so many years before they were to get possession that they entirely forgot it, not being blessed with good memories; and so it was now occupied by those who, as the saying is, keep it. So much for the great and wise plans of the ancient inhabitants of the New Netherlands. Rather than their children should be made extravagant by leaving their property to them, they all wisely put their heads together and divided their estates among 2073 7(1)r 73 the third generation. All the city is now terrified lest they should be ousted; many have not slept soundly for years; and all the old manuscripts and records that have been raked up now are searched for, to afford the sons of science an opportunity to display their talents whenever they can take hold of any thing lawfully.
She then indulged herself in her father’s arms, and said—O thou best and kindest of parents, how shall I in language paint my ardent feelings, and in what exquisite tone shall I raise my voice to hail thee, here in the bosom of that family that ages to come will venerate for protecting her who is searching and endeavouring to make known the inhabitants of this city—for very few inherit from their ancestors the pure unmixed blood.
The time was approaching that her father must leave her—which he did, and left this impression on her mind:—Better be the admiration of a few discerning characters, whose opinion has weight, than shine like the comet’s blaze. Her father at parting dropped a silent tear. She vol. ii. 7 2074 7(1)v 74 then hastened to view some manuscripts that she had slightly glanced over. Among the number was Volkirk Andriassa, a country schoolmaster from Long-Island, taken in the act of yawning while mending a pen, and who had nearly fallen from his high seat, where he always felt dignified and assumed unbounded authority. He was consulted, and his advice taken in all critical cases, such as a breach of a promise of marriage. He always interfered and prevailed upon the young main to renew his addresses, as woman, he said, was the weaker vessel, and if she had erred, he must forget and forgive. God knows, says he, the good man, whose name I bear, can vouch for my assertion: woman will be woman still. Their manners, in this enlightened age, are much changed; and their power and influence, as report expresses, cannot be doubted. Their damask lips and auburn hairInflame the soul, ’tis true;And then a smile from her that’s fair—It ever will subdue.
The keeper of the museum presented Miss Josephine an original letter found in a miser’s 2075 7(2)r 75 chest at Wallabout, opposite Corlear’s Hook, New-York. It was from Nultjee Bogart, to her lover, Hendrick Lubbertson.
My dear Friend,
I told you that I did not certainly know my mind, when I sat behind you on your old sorrel, whether I would marry you. I wanted to think a little and consult my father. He gave the following answer to my sister and me: Girls, don’t be in a hurry—there comes as good ships in as there goes out. These foreigners look for wealth; and as I have not done with what I have, there is nothing to spare at present. Now, my friend, if all you say is true, and you love me, do you think you could support me without father’s help?—If not, depart in peace.
Your kind friend,
N. B. I forgot to mention that after marriage I do not wish to fatigue myself.
This letter breathes the truth; and I presume the lover was cool enough at the receipt of it. 2076 7(2)v 76 It was the first letter the lady ever penned; the style showed she was no great epistolary writer. Whatever she might have been in prose, I should, of all things, wish to see some of her poetical effusions; if possible, I’ll try to obtain some.
I think, Miss, I can find something more entertaining:—that is, the s――k races in Amsterdam. A number of villagers collect on Easter holidays, and a s――k is hung up very high on something purposely made, and the fastest runner gains the prize. She is not compelled to wear the usual garment. She is delighted, and eagerly seizes it as a gift from Heaven. All the ruddy-cheeked, stoop-shouldered, large-feet damsels were engaged; the long-sided, pale-faced, delicate females did not attempt for the prize, but contented themselves to be witnesses of the enlivening scene. It was a great recreation to the mind; and these humble beings felt as much gratification as Queen Caroline would have done had she been crowned Queen of England.
The people of Holland have few paupers; 2077 7(3)r 77 they always employ the poor.—Not so in America; they punish them by suffering them to remain idle. In Holland, on the river Veght, the rtackskuits are worked by the poor; and they smoke sorrow away—the women neat and clean —content with their situation, in high or low estate.
Our heroine began now to feel a little unhappy, as she had been near a twelvemonth from home, endeavouring to amuse herself by continuing writing. She sent to her friends a few lines in the following ludicrous strain:—
Be not surprised, my dear cousin Bridgefield, that I thus hastily address you. I have nearly finished my history; and ere I begin to relate to you their eccentric manners, let me first ask one question:—It is now seven months since I left Zainesville, and in that space of time has Fortune, who is sometimes lavish of his favours, given you no hope of additional comforts to your family! Do not keep the secret from me; and I shall then congratulate him on his lively expectancies. Now, my amiable friend, I should 7* 2078 7(3)v 78 be pleased to hear from Mrs. Prelude, Miss Coriander,—and likewise Mr. Andre, whether, as we conjectured, he is paying attention to Miss C. Communicate to me all the pleasing intelligence in your power, as I discover all to Mrs. Pettit.
I shall now endeavour to amuse you by relating a story of Dominie Yan Arondeous and Wilhellimpe his wife, whom I became acquainted with at Shawangunk—a descendant of the Van Dams, famous for great deeds, such as fishing, fowling, fighting, and many other pursuits not necessary to mention. He was a minister of the gospel, and his young spouse very devout while he held his broad brimmed hat before his eyes and fervently prayed for all the good things that would administer comfort to his feeble frame, and prepare his mind to acknowledge with gratitude the goodness of God in blessing him with one of the fairest of the creation, and to prepare her mind to meet the frowns of this world with patience and resignation, and to become a pattern to the rising generation (not in dress) in goodness and amiability of manners in these happy days of 2079 7(4)r 79 ignorance, as they are styled by our present wise, deceitful generation. In times past, sincerity was pictured on the countenance, and you could safely unbosom yourself to a friend; he would not deceive you; truth was in his expressions, and friendship was in his bosom. If the afflicting dispensations of Providence crossed you, you were sure to find a ready adviser.
How changed is the scene! In these days of pretended greatness, folly and pride stalk the streets, and look with envy on those who do well. In those ancient days families were united in silken bands, which, for strength, could not be broken; and the chains of wedlock could never be forgotten; time could not erase it. Look at the present thoughtless generation!— Every man now seeks wealth under the Hymeneal banners; his future prospects of existence depend on the acquisition he obtains in the partner that he chooses. Wealth is the only spring that now moves the fashionable world.2080 7(4)v 80
I must now, my amiable friend, conclude, wishing you all the happiness you deserve.
Mrs. Priscilla Bridgefield, after receiving the above letter, began to make preparations in her family to leave them to spend a few days at her former home, in presence of those whom, in all the changing scenes of her life, she would never forget. Her husband, whom she consulted, and whom she had bound herself for life to obey, perfectly agreed to her request to make a visit to a valuable friend, though he felt exreme repugnance at parting with her, as this was the first time they should be separated. However, great preparations were made for her departure, though only distant ten miles—the harness varnished and horses cropped—and old family servants active in preparing every thing necessary. Now, my dear, said the Judge, I have one request; that is, to be careful of yourself; for you are dearer to me than life. And do forbear to go to the mighty meetings of the methodists. You know Mrs. Dexter is a great follower of that sect—not that I am averse to those good people— 2081 7(5)r 81 only fearful some accident may befal you, and leave me again forlorn and miserable. My dear Priscilla, I have so often tasted the cup of affliction that the dregs I cannot, I am certain, swallow. However, I shall leave you to your own discretion; and during your absence I will regulate the servants in the best manner possible. I am well convinced, since you received the letter from New-York, your anxiety to present it to your friend is your chief inducement, at present, to go, at the same time to share with them the pleasure it will afford. And whenever you wish to return to that bosom that is ready to receive you, and by tenderness and good wishes to convince you of its sincerity and attachment—then, oh then, the meeting will far surpass the feelinsggs that absence occasioned. The joys of meeting pay for the pangs of absence, else who could bear it? My weakness I fear I cannot hide from you; and should a tear fall when you part from me, let the recollection to your mind be, that you are my all on earth; father, mother, sister, all are lost in the thought of you. I pray you cherish that affecrtion which is rare.2082 7(5)v 82
On the day appointed to go, all the family were active to make very thing ready, and Mrs. B. took leave most kindly of them all. The road was pleasant and tolerably good, though somewhat hilly near the river. As soon as they appeared in front of the lawn, the family rushed out to meet Mrs. B. and in transports of joy, Mrs. Claibourne welcomed her to that home which was always at her service; she thanked them most politely, and then in her usual strain, began to inquire about goslins, pigs, geese, &c. &c. which pleases the best informed minds in the country. Ah, replied Mrs. C. since you and my dear daughter left us, our inclinations are changed from worldly things, our minds are now bent on more exalted subjects; we look for happiness not in this life of trouble, our souls are bent for higher and more lasting enjoyments, where grief and sorrow are not known, and bright rays of happiness await those who live to God; as to the trifling concerns of this world merely for food and raiment, they are beneath my consideration; I aspire to sing hallalujas to the lamb that was slain. Your remarks, my amiable friend, are true and correct; 2083 7(6)r 83 but while in this vale of life we are commanded to assist the poor, to bind up the broken hearted, to cheer the forlorn traveller, and to do to other as we wish to be done unto us. ’Tis true, that it is not required of us to keep trouble on ourselves; all that is necessary is to pray for the pure in heart, to feed the hungry, clothe the naked if in our power, not so as to injure ourselves: we must not, however, encourage idleness and sloth. My dear friend, I have now the felicity to acquaint you that I have received from your daughter a long letter with a pleasing narrative of the ancient manners and customs of the first settlers, taken out of the museum, where they had been gathered from the old chests of many a worthy character, who did not think it necessary in his day to communicate them, and freely left to posterity, all the satisfaction they might receive by perusing them; the only unpleasant circumstance is the difficulty to give the long names their true musical sound, as many are six syllables, such as Van-der-don-der-bar-rack, whose character shall appear upwards of an hundred years before; the descendants have curtailed the names by leaving out some of the vowels and 2084 7(6)v 84 adding consonants, so that many do not know their families, the names are so changed; then their positiveness is so evident in the the female, that many of them will not change their names. Your daughter gave an account in her letter, of Everardas Broner, from Communipaw, which I shall relate, begging your patience, as every particular ought to be mentioned.
Narrative of Everardus Van Brinckerhoff—His hasty movement to gain a Companion—Is recommended to a fair damsel residing at Raritan, who wore a gold chain round her neck—the method he took to gain her.
The day at length arrived when Mrs. Bridgefield was to return to the bosom of her family. She took an early breakfast, and begged her friends to be assured of her lasting esteem, and should be much pleased if either of them would return with her, which they both excused—in a short time would do themselves that pleasure, as soon as they heard from New-York. So she took leave, and enjoyed a pleasant ride home 2097 9(1)r 97 and was received by her husband with every possible demonstration of joy. Then she began relating the changing scenes that occurred in her absence. Nothing, my dear, has happend, except the addition of a calf; I now congratulate you and myself as part owner. So they retired to peace and rest.
While Mrs. Bridgefield visited her friends.— They received a letter from Pequest, with the information of their intention to visit their daughter—and should be gratified to meet them there; and the short time that Josephine had to stay would be very agreeable. What do you think of the proposal, my Camilla? (Whenever the Governor wished his wife to think seriously of any thing, he addressed her by her Christian name.) I will think of it, and ere to-morrow’s dawn, I will make up my mind. So they changed the subject.
The Governor crossed over to his old friend Prelude’s, who was always jocund and gay when his friends called to see him. He related how Conrad Kriperstein had written to him, acquaintingii. 9 2098 9(1)v 98 ing him with the particulars of his journey to Philadelphia, and from thence to his farm in Deits, near Lancaster. To speak in plain words, I cannot read half his letter. I have often heard you say there was no writing you could not understand—do me the favour to peruse it. I will; and if any errors in diction appear, I will pass them over in a friendly, courteous manner; and let not mirth (which, we all know, enlivens) make us turn to ridicule the great German character. So he read as follows:For Judge Prelude over the Ohio—these with care and speed. Worthy Sir, Eber since I come to mine own house, I hab bin troubled wid all kinds of sickness and disturbance. In the time I was wid you at the Ohioes, I could jump, sing, and dance the rigadoons, and tel sich storys which did make Miss Prelude laf in her sleve. Now I am sorry to speak my own mind and expose folks; I told you I was afraid of my wife; howdsomeber I did hurry home, and she was so engree wid me because that I staid a little bit to long, she slambd 2099 9(2)r 99 the street door bang before my face. Got zukkers, wad de dival is the matter wid mine frowe. Ober den I tot mabe the witches has got in hur; I will go tirectly and git a littil bottle of ashafitatai, and stop her mouth. So I sent to Doctor Kinge, and he sent me, by and by, tirectly a small box of pills, wid direcshuns how da must be taken. I went straight to mine own wife, and had one pill redy—tolp it was good for hur to open hur mouth, witch she did, and almost bit my finger off. Yours in the Lord, Conrad Kriperstein.
Now, my friend, what do you think of such a wife? How supremely blessed ought we to be, who are so firmly united to women who are patterns of excellence. Mine riseth while it is yet night and giveth food to her household, and a portion to her maidens. Your’s, I hear, seeketh wool and flax, and worketh diligently with her own hands. The fair daughters of Columbia are as chaste as Lucretia, and many beautiful as 2100 9(2)v 100 Juno; and when we leave them they mourn like the turtle, and will not be comforted.
I cannot, my friend Prelude, stay longer with you, as Mrs. Claibourne will make up her mind to-day whether she will proceed to New- York to meet my sister and her husband, and their only child, whose presence will make us feel a new source of happiness, and at our return bless the day we left her.
If such are your reasons for thus abruptly leaving us, we must submit—and ever hope that, as Time rolls his chariot, we may both of us meet to hail each other, and communicate some fresh cause of delight. Go, then, my friend, and receive from the voice of your better half such soothing consolation and pleasing expressions as will make you the happiest of your sex. I bid you adieu; and when next we meet, may it be by the fireside of your well wisher, George William Claibourne.
Fourteen days had now elapsed, which was the time appointed by E. Brinckerhoff to again 2101 9(3)r 101 visit Miss Cornelia, who had not offended him at his first visit, and was highly flattered by that encouragement.
Continuation of Everardus Van Brinckerhoff’s history, with his declarations to Miss Middleswart, of Raritan.
He would often walk up to the barn, cast a look at a swallow’s next, reflect, and say, one swallow never makes a summer; then smile and say to himself, one smile from a beloved damsel of amiable manners, is not enought to bless and make me happy; her temper appears so kind, I fear she frowns on no man. I do not know what to do. Oh, woman, precious woman! and then hummed to himself, 1Oh! where shall wretched man then roam,When beauty fires her darts?No peace on earth can e’er be foundTill soften’d is her heart.21029(3)v1022’Tis smiles alone can anguish heal,And strew our paths with bliss,When mutual love they both reveal,Then seal it with a kiss. whose manners are so varying, the idea distracts me! However, this dear girl seems so much to engage my mind she may be an exception to the generality of them. I will summon resolution and again see her, for I have the satisfaction to know that the secret of my attachment is in my own bosom, and should I meet a frown at my next interview, I may derive consolation that the world knows it not. Many men visit the fair sex for fashion’s sake, to pass an hour or two of pleasantry, without an idea of conjugal felicity; and many military characters toast the ladies to show their gallantry, and appear as men of fashion, and delight to parade with them at all public walks, but never feel the power of love. Not so the sudden thrillings of a feeling heart, at the sight of beauty and accomplishments; then the manners of the most savage man is changed to mildness, every offer of kindness is tendered, and all means taken to assure her of 2103 9(4)r 103 his sincerity. The female mind is then aroused, and attentively listens to the syren song, and as opportunity offers, either approves or rejects.
Everardus, returning from the barn with his mind enraptured, determined the next day to prepare for his second sincere visit. Making every arrangement the next day, he left Communipaw, telling his negro, Callaman, that he would be back in two days, if God spared his life, and not to forget the work that was necessary to be done, which he faithfully promised.
He had unfortunately chosen a cloudy morning for his excursion; but thinking it an unfavourable omen to return, he proceeded though it rained in torrents until he arrived at the house of his old landlord, who received him with satirizing look, and boldly asked him, in the course of conversation, if he was going to purchase a farm? I must find cash first, was his reply. Time, time will reveal all, said the jocose landlord. He eat heartily, and every thing was approved of; when the mind is happy all is well. The day being fine, the young farmer entered2104 9(4)v 104 tered the lawn where his fair one dwelt; the loud barking of Scrip brought the family around the door; the old family servant, Jude, cried out, Miss Cornelia, make haste down, you cannot guess who is here—Sit down young master, and I will call Tom to put your horse in the meadow, for there is fine after-grass. These old family servants know who are welcome, and are always very attentive to such company. Miss Cornelia prepared herself, and in a short time came down. On her entering the room, a crimson blush o’erspread her cheek which added a charm to her appearance, and plainly discovered she had some agreeable sensations; for had she been indifferent to him, she never would have been confused. I hope you are very well, sir, she said when she approached him; that is the usual salutation when people meet often; a short observation on the state of the weather, was the next subject, and the indisposition of the old gentleman was the first topic of conversation, who was confined to his room; he thought of his first attack which was only wind, but it proved to be a serious malady, and Doctor Dobbins thought he was in some danger; the young people2105 9(5)r 105 ple had no interruption to their happiness, being most of the time alone, and every convenient opportunity was snatched to inform her of his real intentions, to which she put no obstacle in the way; only mentioning to him that there was a gentleman residing at Squire’s Point, Sussex County, of an ancient family and most engaging address, had solicited her hand, and made himself very agreeable to the old gentleman, who assured him that he never meant to direct his daughter in such an important thing as matrimony, for he had unfortunately married to please his parents, and made himself miserable, for the wife of his bosom, (who, alas! is no more) was not calculated to make him happy; she was so teasing, so uplifted and domineering, none but himself could have endured her, and, notwithstanding his hard fate, he resigned himself to it, and submitted to all her vexatious taunts with calmness, and patiently bore with her ill temper in silence: for when she reviled, he reviled not again, but acted with perfect self-denial, in order that he might live in peace, until the day of her death; and at her departure, she stretched out her hands to him, and said, I thank you for your 2106 9(5)v 106 kind forbearance, unhappy woman that I am, who have caused you so much trouble, for I thought you never loved me, and therefore teazed you to induce you to love me, as I had a tender regard for you, and pitied you.
I hope my daughter will never be controlled in her choice, and that she may be more blessed than her mother was, is my ardent wish. She died in peace with all the world, sincerely lamented. This young gentleman from ’Squires’ Point, is pleasing in his manner, genteel in his address, and every way qualified to make a woman happy; whenever he introduces the subject nearest his heart, he says, I immediately evade the conversation, so he has no encouragement from me, and consequently he will trouble me no more.
Things being now all in a fair train, the young lover proposed a ride to Somerville, which was agreed to, and on the way took the opportunity of declaring that this was the happiest occurrence of his life, and begged to know if his visits would be agreeable in future. She very humourously2107 9(6)r 107 mourously replied, that it depended on his fuſ ture conduct; he smiled and said that should invariably be the same. Will you not, my sweet girl, allow me to hope that I am first in your esteem, and if my future conduct accords with the past, I may hope to be happy. Leave these things, sir, to me; let us not hurry our destinies, they are no doubt fixed by the Supreme Being; let us calmly await time, which flies swiftly.— Ah, that I can aver; in your company From morn to eve I ne’er would grieve,If I might ever see thee;Then all my prayers, and future cares,Would be, that you might bless me.
Upon my word, Mr. Brinckerhoff, I think a few more lessons, and you will become a poet. Did you ever hear of Van Catts, the great Dutch writer, who flourished in 1669sixteen hundred and sixty-nine? He always wrote with a crow quill dipped in oil; his soft soothing strains delighted all hearts.—I never heard of such an author. I must now, my charmer, take leave for a few days; and may you taste all the sweets of this life until I return, which will be speedily. 2108 9(6)v 108 His neighbours began to be suspicious, on his return, that he had some object in view, and often interrogated him—he made no reply to their inquiries. How happy I am, he used to exclaim when he walked up to the barn; how shall I conduct myself to merit such good fortune? I can form no plan to mend my ways; I regularly attend church; I quarrel with no man; I do not slander my neighbours: and yet, on reflecting, I think I am undeserving so much happiness. In a few days my destiny will be fixed, for I cannot endure suspense; and should it be unfavourable to my wishes, I can no longer exist; I shall wish myself hid in the middle of a conch- shell along the Jersey shore.
While musing in this manner, he was surprised by some huntsmen asking to be informed if there was any game in the neighbourhood. He informed them they must go to the interior of the country; they would there find sport.
It was now some time since Miss Josephine had written to her parents; they were extremely solicitous for her return; however, the reason of 2109 10(1)r 109 her silence may be conjectured. One morning as she was cheapening some tiffany at a store in Maiden-lane, she was accosted by a young gentleman of taste and discernment, who very politely inquired of her how long she had been in New-York; he immediately asked pardon on looking at her a second time, as he was mistaken in her person—he thought her Miss Angelina Clay, from Tennessee. Since I have been so inquisitive and made so great a mistake, may I presume to ask you by what name I shall address you?—Claibourne, Sir.—What! Josephine?—The same.—How happy I am to meet you. Don’t you recollect that at a party near Zainesville, Ohio, I had the pleasure of seeing you at Judge Bridgefield’s?—I recollect it, Sir—May, I presume to take the liberty of calling on you at your lodgings.—I reside in the lower part of Broadway, near the Bowling Green, at Mrs. Pettit’s, a cousing of mine. I expect to return home in about a month, having written to my parents to that effect. He bowed respectfully, and said he would wait on her. Said his name was Lucius Emanuel Mantel. He had travelled to all parts of the world to obtain knowledgeii 10 2110 10(1)v 110 ledge and wealth—two very desirable attainments.
After Miss Josephine returned to her cousin’s, she mentioned what had passed at her interview with the young stranger. Ah! she exclaimed, you have made a conquest—mark my words. I hope it may prove true, for I feel a little interested, as I think you will stay somewhat longer than you intended.—You know I am so engaged in my narrative I have not time for any other pursuit at present; so do not teaze me with nonsense. To-morrow I again visit the museum. There is much agreeable company there, which is more edifying than seeing their rare pebbles, fossils, &c.
The first propensity in the present generation is to cultivate the mind. It used to be sufficient if a female could adorn herself. Now the scene is changed. To finish a young lady, she must dance, sing, play on some instrument, hasten to the library for every new publication, just glance it over as an attorney does a bill in chancery; and then parade the streets, and return home 2111 10(2)r 111 quite fatigued, fly to the piano; then enters some jocular, troublesome fellow, who tells all the scandal of the town, to the great entertainment of—himself.
I hope my dear cousin, to convince you of my affection when I return home, by continually writing. I should be pleased if I could take the Pequest on my route home; it would be rather fatiguing.
Eight days had now elapsed; and Everardus Brinckerhoff again renewed his visit to Raritan, and was, as usual, welcomely received. To his astonishment, he found the old gentleman better. He kindly took him by the hand; very soon Miss Cornelia entered, with her usual vivacity, and they spent an agreeable evening. The old gentleman retired; and the enraptured lover began, where he left off the last visit, to represent his ardent attachment. She listened with satisfaction; and then, in tender accents, exclaimed— How is it possible, in so short an acquaintance, I can be prepared to answer such important questions, whereon the future happiness2112 10(2)v 112 ness of my life depends? I now have few cares, which I am able to bear; but when the scene is changed, and have a ruler over my conduct, I cannot say how I may brook it. I may become peevish and sullen by having too much care; and do you think you could submit to any whims that wedlock may ensnare me with?—O, certainly; if I continue in the same mind and opinion, I shall not readily contradict you.— So, say—will you consent to be mine? Every action of my life shall be to make you happy. She blushed consent; and he left the room, and retired to bed, but could not sleep. In the morning he approached her, and begged she would name the day when they should be united. She begged him again to ask the old gentleman’s consent, which he gave in a very pleasing manner, and in twenty days the marriage was to be solemnized. He hastily took leave, and returned home to prepare the house for her reception, and said he should see her in a few days. The house was neat and spacious, the fences in good order; the wagon was new painted and the garden wall cleaned—that was all that was necessary. He 2113 10(3)r 113 now thought it safe to inform his friend—for he had but one, and very few acquaintances; the most that visited him were his relations; that was customary, to keep up family distinctions. His friend was Derech Van Boskirk, a handsome young man, all pure nature, no artificial adornments. He was son of the minister of the place; and there was a dignity in his appearance that exacted respect. His surprise was great when his friend informed him his intention. You had not confidence in me, he said, or you would have told me before, and seemed hurt at his want of confidence in him. Mr. Brinckerhoff excused himself, and made satisfactory apologies.
The long wished-for day at length arrived; and the groom dressed in a royal purple coat, with white vest and pantaloons, with white gloves. His friend’s coat was prussian blue, buff vest and pantaloons, white silk stockings and gloves. Miss Middleswart chose for her friend Dinah Cortenious, who had the honour of pulling the glove. The Reverend Dominie Van 10* 2114 10(3)v 114 Vleck officiated. There were not many guests, on account of the old gentleman’s indisposition,. The two Misses Van Gelders and Miss Rime Arondeous were all the females present. Doctor Dobbery, being the family physician, and Counsellor Filcher, the family adviser, were there. The evening was spent in a pleasing manner, for all the good things the country afforded were prepared, sufficient to entertain many more persons.
The company all retired to their respective homes; and the happy couple agreed that they would in one month return to Communipaw.
We shall now leave the happy couple, and see what has become of Miss Josephine. What was our surprise to find her in company with the gentleman who became acquainted with her in Maiden-lane, Lucius Emanuel Mantel! He was a perfect master of music, could play on several instruments, and sing melodiously the following new song on the beauties of Pequest, 2115 10(4)r 115 which quite delighted Miss Claibourne, as her aunt lived there.
By the side of Pequest
I reclined me to rest
To efface the thought of my fair,
Whose last chilling look,
In crossing this brook,
Rendered life not worthy my care.
Our shadows were seen,
In thy clear purling stream,
Which the sun, as he sets, can attest:
My fair, haste away,
And no longer delay
To be mine, by the side of Pequest.
The priest joined our hands—
Did not publish our bands
Only by our mutual request.
The bliss which’s in view
No time can undo
Now we’re one by the side of Pequest.
Our hearts and our hands,
When we entered the bands,
Appeared to be happy and blessed;
And all our bliss
Is centred on this,—
To be happy the side of Pequest.
The young people spent many agreeable hours together. He visited the house almost every day; so Miss Josephine could scarcely finish her Knickerbocker, her mind was so intent on her new lover. She begged her cousin not to mention a word in her letter to her mother, as she was easily alarmed. After a few walks and public amusements he became quite captivated, and addressed her cousin, as her parent who had the care of her—begged permission to visit her, which she did not prevent; and in a few weeks they discovered a mutual passion for each other. Lucius told her cousin Pettit he would inform her of his family and expectations, and what brought him to America. She said she should be pleased; and he named Monday next to satisfy her who he was.2117 10(5)r 117
After his departure, Mr. Pettit addressed his cousin: I hope, my dear friend, we may not be deceived in this stranger, for the world is full of impostors. He is now going to relate a story of himself; I hope it will be corroborated by some person who has a knowledge of him, damaged2 letters you shall not permit his company; you are under my care, and you must not offend me. If he prove to be what he represents himself, I have no objection to the consummation of your wishes, as soon as possible; but if any mystery appear, he must not see us more. In the mean time, we will write nothing to alarm friends—you must continue your little history, which I suppose is nearly finished, and endeavour to give it all the probability possible, so that your name will be handed down to posterity for confuting falsehood, and pointing out the true character of our ancient city dames, which was industry, economy, and good manners; and let not the pretended sons of science contrive to aspire to the easy manners of our ancestors, whose bosoms never concealed the venom that now rages, and which sometimes 2118 10(5)v 118 breaks out with uncontrouled vigour, and causes great confusion in the country.
Miss Claibourne was quite demure at the sharp reproaches of her cousin, and could not damaged4 letters observing, that he himself was a stranger in this country, and by knowing to dance gracefully, he had won the heart of his scholar, before she knew who he was, and that he had every reason to be thankful that fortune had blessed him with so amiable a lady.
The day at length arrived, when Lucian Emanuel Mantel was to give a succinct account of his family, birth, fortune and expectations.— He thus began:Ladies, you must excuse my manner of expression.—In the early part of my life I lived in France, though I was not born there; my family is from the river Ibbervell—my father was a physician, and I was intended for the study of law; but being an only son, my mother indulged me to such a degree that I could not be from 2119 10(6)r 119 her a day. I was, notwithstanding, the most unhappy lad upon earth, and my father being what is called a hen-pecked husband, left all the management of the family concerns to her; he would sometimes say, I fear Lucian will be a blockhead. No, no, she would reply, he will be wiser as he grows old, and be fond of study. On the contrary, the older I grew, the more indolent I became; and when I was in my eighteenth year, I lost my dear and kind mother. How shall I paint my feelings at that hour!—life lost all its relish, and every thing around appeared gloomy and sad. Then I mourned, and said within myself, what on earth can rend the heart more than grief. They say love will, but that I cannot admit; grief, excessive grief, and that for a good mother, is of all afflictions in this life, the most insupportable. I hope no future troubles, to which all on earth are subject, will ever make me so miserable again. My father, after a few days, accosted me one morning in the following serious manner: You are now, my son, deprived in a very sudden manner, of your best friend on earth! —I 2120 10(6)v 120 feel the poignant stroke; it gives a pang which I cannot express. All my joy was in her, she was nature’s master-piece—all that was lovely in woman—gentle, kind, forbearing, communicative, intelligent, and every way favoured to please and delight. Alas! my Anna is no more! But we must not embitter our future days by too much grief, we must summon fortitude to our aid. Thus moralized my father, until we both silently left the room. My reflections became very painful to me. I began to think it full time for me to undertake something for myself; the study of the law required time of which I had none to spare, and I had no inclination to be a physician. A thought struck me as I had an ear for music, and could play handsomely on the violin, that I would leave my father and depend on myself for a livelihood. This course appeared the more necessary, as I knew his circumstances to be slender; for during my mother’s life, she could always so manage as to keep us decently without much expense. She being now called away, the only expedient 2121 11(1)r 121 I had now, was to apply myself to my violin whenever my father was called to see a patient, for I knew he would be mortified that I should fiddle for a living, we having been considered the most respectable family at Ibberville—though poor, the world knew it not, for we always kept up appearances, by the industry and good management of my mother. After I had practiced every opportunity, in the absence of my father, I suggested to him one day the propriety of leaving him and seeking my fortune. My inclination he approved, But, my son, said he, what are you competent to do? Never mind, father, leave that to me—I shall not disgrace you by my attempt; only permit me to leave you next week. I shall get my trunk in readiness; and I have plenty of apparel, all in good order. I shall proceed to the Sciota, as I have a good friend there, a relation of my mother’s, and I shall write you by every conveyance, the success of my undertaking. Nay, do not object, dear father; I know your affection for me is so great that you would wish me in one of the best situations Congress have to bestow.ii. 11 2122 11(1)v 122 stow. I have no reason at present to expect any great affair, at my first setting out in life; but I shall, if I exert myself, (for it is always the case in a new country,) rise, and then it will afford you pleasure. My father’s countenance changed, and he looked with astonishment at me, and listened to my resolutions and buoyant expectations, and then replied: I shall never oppose such excellent sentiments as seem to inspire you; all I hope is that your wishes may be realized. Go, my son; and may fortune smile upon your undertaking. But ever bear in mind the example of your mother’s virtues; and if a thought should enter your mind derogatory of honour, think on her that bore you. After all things were prepared I left my father’s house at Ibberville, which, though not magnificent, was his own. It was situated in a vale; the garden was laid out in serpentine walks, and tulips, pinks, roses, and daisies 2123 11(2)r 123 pleased the eye; and when our friends paid us a visit, my father and mother both delighted to show their fine garden, and described most pleasantly every shrub and flower, and its virtues and fragrance. I recollect his sending a pot of flowers as a present to the Viceroy of Mexico; and every rare plant that he could obtain he would raise, and present it to some great character. By that means he obtained the name of the best man at Ibberville. My mother was not quite so generous; her good qualities were, to first take care of her own family. The day arrived on which I was to depart to the Sciota river; and when I advanced to take leave, my father fell lifeless on the floor, his emotion and tenderness were so great. The old family servant snatched him in his arms, and Doll, the cook, screamed with the gridiron in her hand, and would not put it down—all was confusion. After a few moments my father recovered, and we parted. He gave me a sum of money, exceeding what I expected. I suppose my mother had it, and he thought, in honour of her memory, he must give it to me. 2124 11(2)v 124 I assure you it was a great pleasure to my weary mind, that thought of nothing but making money, like many other of God’s creatures, but knew not which way to begin. All great enterprises must be begun; many a well-bred man consoles himself with pleasant ideas of what he is going to do—of the thousands he is going to make; and yet year after year he is no richer—only lives with the hope of better days. On my arrival at the Sciota, the first thing I thought necessary was to conceal my name, and the place I came from, for fear it would bring my father’s gray hairs with sorrow to the grave, if he thought I was to be either a music or dancing master, both which I excelled in. For (I assure you, ladies, that I speak the truth) there was not a thing on earth that I was sufficient master of, except these two things. To be sure, I might have turned dentist, as many have done, and have broken the jaw bones of asses, like Sampson; but harmony was my determination. So I called myself Victor Bicker, that being so 2125 11(3)r 125 uncommon a name I should find none claim relationship, and I ventured to give a concert—got acquainted with all the musical characters of the place, and particularized by playing solo on the violin. Mrs. Monckton was to play on the piano-forte; Miss Nuremberg on the guitar, as that is now quite fashionable; and the full band, by Halenburg. The evening was fine— we had a full house. I began with the fiddle. As it was supposed I had just arrived from Paris, I met with great applause; and though I was sensible they were no judges of music, yet, such is the weakness of the human mind, I was gratified with their applause. All the satisfaction that arose in my mind was, that I was in the road to wealth, and one purse and one heart we musicians enjoy. The day after the concert I advertised for scholars, having just arrived from Paris. It was some days before any application was made. The first was Colonel Fitzpatrick; he had two sons; and the eldest being fond of music, he thought he would indulge him—called on me to know my terms. I told him, a guinea entrance, and 11* 2126 11(3)v 126 twenty-five dollars for three months. He was willing I should begin with him on Tuesday, which I did. He was rather slow at first; however, by perseverance, he improved. I then undertook to teach dancing, and was very successful. All that made me unhappy, was, that I knew I was a deceiver, as I had never been to Paris. It was my necessities compelled me to deceive, in order to obtain support. My next consideration was, to form some plan to write to my father, as I knew it would give him pleasure to know that I was making money. I had no ambition to more than a living until his death, when I knew I should have a competency at Ibberville. I wrote him, and dated my letter— Succasunny Plains, New-Jersey, Morris county —to the care of ’Squire Norcross, who had a relation boarded in the same house at Sciota with me. He planned it for me to deceive my father, and not to let him or any other of my relations know I was a music and dancing master. Every leisure moment I applied to the improvement2127 11(4)r 127 provement of myself—thought very little of the attention that was necessary to improve my scholars; all that I was particular in, was exactly dating the lessons I gave, and every week summing up my accounts, to know what I was to receive, as my pupils were all of the richest families. After I wrote to my father, I received a letter from him in eight weeks from the date of mine. I was not happy—he begged me to be more particular in my next, what business I was in. I thought I would wait a reasonable time, and then write I was a broker and bought uncurrent notes, and had met with a friend. So, upon reflections, I began to think the dreadful conse— quences of untruth. I had begun to deceive the best of fathers, through pride; and now I was wrecked to invent probabilities to strengthen my first suggestions. In the second letter from my father, he mentioned to me that, as he was so suddenly deprived of my mother, and my soon following her, and being left alone, he had been so fortunate as to 2128 11(4)v 128 become acquainted with a widow of some property at the Chickaswaw Bluffs. Her husband was interpreter to the Indians, and accumulated wealth. She had an only daughter, whose manners were entirely uncultivated, whom she intended to send to Philadelphia for her improvement, being fourteen years of age. Her name was Orra; her countenance was lovely, with a penetrating black eye—quite reserved in her manners. After a short acquaintance, my father wrote me that, being so lonely, he had proposed marriage to Mrs. Blacklock, which she had accepted; and they are to be married next month. I suppose my father will then remove to the Chickasaw Bluffs, and let me have possession of the estate, though small, at Ibberville. I shall forbear, ladies, to be tedious in my narrative; suffice it to say, that after making as much as I thought sufficient to go to New-York, I would try to get in some respectable situation, though I was confident I could not keep it, so that I might then with truth inform my father, and prepare to return to Ibberville. Just as these ideas crowded on my mind, when I arrived 2129 11(5)r 129 in New-York, and was in pursuit of what my imagination had planned, I was struck with your appearance, when I first met you, in Maiden- lane. And now I have the honour, my dear Miss, of assuring you, that every sentence I have expressed towards you, is perfectly true. Here I am, in the magnificent city of New-York, like many others, with a small sum of money, just sufficient to appear and be comfortable, as I have plenty of fine clothes; and that, in the present day, is no recommendation, as every person you now meet is neatly dressed, clothing being so cheap.
Having finished his narrative, Lucious Emanuel Mantel apologised for having detained the ladies, which he hoped they would excuse, and particularly the subject, which is rather dull; but you cannot, my dear ladies, said he, complain that I have taken up much of your time in describing all the achs and pains I had to bear; many a long hour have I sat and heard people complain of the nervous or sick headache, trembling of the nerves, want of appetite, a severe cold they had caught going to church on a rainy 2130 11(5)v 130 Sunday, until my patience has been exhausted, and hear that Doctor Tanzy had advised them to be bled or take an airing; these were what you would call men of propriety—I always endeavoured to change the subject, and begin with them about their tenants, and the heavy taxes the corporation burthened them with, for public dinners and fourth of July expenditures; then my complaining friends would forget all their imaginary ills, and brighten up their countenance with this kind of reply—it is all very true what you say, our country is ruined by such an influx of foreigners, and we shall never see the happy times that are past.
I now, Miss Claibourne, must leave you, as my landlady where I board seems to look on me with a suspicious eye, and God knows my heart, I have no evil in it; tomorrow evening I shall call, and see what impression my story has made on you, and whether you would condescend to hear a short tale that I have to relate. Adieu, my dear patient girl, and when we meet again, I hope we shall be more happy.2131 11(6)r 131
After he left the room, I cannot describe my feelings; the last words he uttered were a plain demonstration that he had formed an attachment to me, which he forbore to hint until the moment he left me; I cannot say that his words were offensive; on the contrary, I am perfectly reconciled to the event. I have only now to prepare for his again seeing me, which will be in a few hours. How feeling the manner in which he expressed the loss of his mother:—a good son will make a good husband, is an old saying.
I had a party of ladies and gentlemen to tea with me, which made the day pass off agreeably and when I retired to my downy bed, the thoughts of my dear parents at the Ohio, and my cousin Bridgefield in particular, who all had my prosperity so much at heart, would not be much pleased with my attachment to an adventurer, and particularly one who made no secret of his situation. It was this circumstance that engaged my attention; his frankness, and his abhorrence of falsehood, only as they were necessary to his existence, and not wishing to hurt the feelings2132 11(6)v 132 ings of his father, was in some measure a palliation of the offence.
My cousin Pettit just brought a letter from the post office for me, from my parents, wherein they say they expect me home next month, beg I would mention the day and hour that I will leave here, in order that they may meet me at Washington City. My friends are in tip-toe expectation of seeing me, and wish, of all things, that I will bring with me all the new fashions, all the new songs, and every matrimonial engagement on foot. I feel myself inadequate to the task, as most of my time has been spent in writing and reading, and such persons are mostly very careless. A loud rap at the hall, and Lucious Emanuel Mantel entered. He was a tall, genteel young man, about twenty-two years of age, of dark complexion and dark hair, pleasant and good humoured in conversation, and was never at a loss for words; at times he appeared absorbed in thought, and would appear as though he had awoke out of a trance.
I hope Mrs. Pettit will be at home, was his 2133 12(1)r 133 first expression, but she was gone to Long Island to see the races, which seems to afford great pleasure to the mind, and is a fashionable amusement in America; the State of Virginia is extremely mortified that we eclipse them in race horses.
Miss Josephine Claibourne addressed her friend and lover, after the following manner:— I have been in New-York eleven months; I am very certain that my motive you never would think of. Why Miss, I think to charm hearts would be gratification enough for a young lady. That idea never entered my mind; to be plain sir, and speak as you do, it has been my only wish, to collect what intelligence I could of the ancient settlers of New-York, now styled Knickerbockers, which has afforded the outlandish of every country an opportunity to ridicule them in a singular manner; and being well convinced that there are few in the city who would devote any of their leisure moments to the explanation of their true character, particularly my sex, who spend their leisure time in the pleasant walks in Broadway—the young and handsome I mean.vol. ii. 12 2134 12(1)v 134
Well, miss, I think this city can boast of more beauty, and fine dressed ladies, than any other part of the world; I have heard that of many of my friends, who aver it: but for literature and psalm-singing, answering rebusses, writing acrostics, &c. the eastern ladies excel. The spirit moves them sometimes to exhort people to cast off iniquity, and deck themselves in robes of godliness; and in some parts of the state of New- York, there is a set of people who shake their sins away.
I think I have heard of that society, Sir, replied Miss Josephine; and I will let you see my Sketch Book. I am certain you cannot contradict me, the subject being so new to you.
I shall wait on you in a few days, Miss, as I am invited to spend a few days at Mynheer Van Sinderon’s at Croton, who, I am told, is the most hospitable man, and smokes out of the longest pipe in that place. I met him at the cook shop where I took a luncheon; and he became suddenly taken with me, he said because I looked so much like a brother he lost at sea, and who 2135 12(2)r 135 was never heard of. It is somewhat singular that these sudden friendships sometimes end in sad catastrophes; I hope this will not be the case. On my return, I will particularize every thing I hear and see, for your amusement. It will add to your Sketch Book, though I am not good at description. On Saturday I shall go in the steam boat; and when I return you will, I hope, gratify me with your opinion of others, and, to crown all, at last open your heart to me, and I will snatch the tender string that vibrates; and if for me, I will arise with the morn, and bless my better stars that so much bliss has been laid in store for me, though quite unworthy. Now, I pray, let your Knickerbocker be laid aside, and think only of him who, in all the changing scenes of life, will adore you, and by every laudable means in his power endeavour to make life easy to you, and, if possible, strew your morning walks with rose-buds of delight. I leave you, my angelic Miss, to your own reflections; and think, devoutly think on him who is always the same, and does not delight to trifle away the few moments that are given us in this world in vain pretensions. I go with the hope, 2136 12(2)v 136 when I return, to make you mine, with all your inestimable qualities; and then the world with all its allurements will no longer invite my giddy thoughts; you will, I think, absorb my whole soul; and our love shall be as strong as that of Abelard and Eloise.
To the great surprise of the Pettit family, and the amazement of Miss Josephine, her father arrived from Zainesville, Ohio,, to fetch his daughter. In vain did she assure him she had not finished her writing. He mentioned that he thought her mother was in a decline, and that she wished, of all things, to see her; and he, being apprehensive that she, perhaps, would not live a month, had hastened to New-York, and could not possibly stay more than one day, and had engaged his and his daughter’s passage. The family were all astonished, but did not mention a word of the young lady’s love. She immediately made preparation for her departure, not omitting to write to Croton how she was unexpectedly called away, and that to see the last moments of her tender mother, and he knew how to pity her. She mentioned it would be unnecessary2137 12(3)r 137 cessary for him to follow her on such a long journey—she would write him every particular under cover of her cousin, Mrs. Pettit, and give him directions where he should direct to her, as she knew her father’s stern manner, who, she was certain, would never consent to her marriage until she was older. She was perfectly acquainted with his sentiments with respect to early marriages, which he abhorred, as young ladies did not know, until they arrived at years of discretion, what a vast number of attentions were necessary to secure the affections of a husband. Every look of a woman, after marriage, becomes of consequence; every word must be studied, for fear it may admit two meanings, and the tender husband may misconstrue the real one.
How hard is the lot of woman! Pain, care, and anxiety for the good of her family, overwhelm her! And if, unfortunately, she is linked to an ignorant usurper, what is then her lot!— Pining discontent, and black despair! Her vivid looks vanish; she sinks into some fatal malady; and knows not what method to take to please him who never will be pleased. She then passes 12* 2138 12(3)v 138 her days in indifference; he becomes vexed, and flies to the company of bacchanalians for an hour of recreation and forgetfulness; his children become neglected; and when he returns home at a late hour, reproaches are the entertainment till Somnus closes his eyes. And on the morrow it is all as a dream, only his pockets are rifled of what would be sufficient to support the family the next day. Then economy is the burthen of the song; and what has been spent in folly must be saved, at the risque of the children’s health; for it is a solemn truth, that good, wholesome food prevents sickness, and drives away the doctor, the nurse, and the sexton.
How many have lost their health by abstemiousness! Many a tender female, for fear of becoming gross and vulgar, will not eat meat, butter, &c. What is the consequence? Consumption, and all its sorrowful train!
Governor Claibourne left his wife in the care of her friend, Mrs. Priscilla Bridgefield, who promised to attend her until his return. She had 2139 12(4)r 139 her little darling with her, whom I have not mentioned before, named after the Judge.
On the journey home the father and daughter were quite sad; nothing could enliven them, though they met with good company in the steam boats, and fine feasting, with a particular imitation of grandeur. A person, for a short time, in the steam boats lives like a king; and the cabin, so exquisitely furnished, makes him full of importance. How soon the scene changes! A man returns to his home—his wife, perhaps in her night cap and morning gown, scolding the servants for letting the cat eat the cream. What a change a few hours make! All things in this life pass away as a dream, and there is nothing sure, only death—that is certain. But when it will arrive we do not know, nor wish to care.
During the absence of the Governor for his daughter, Mrs. Claibourne’s life was despaired of, and preparation for that event was making. When they arrived a solemn sadness appeared on 2140 12(4)v 140 all around—the knocker tied with linen, which startled Josephine; however, she hurried in, and the sight of her mother, though near death, was satisfactory to her. She silently gazed on her dear daughter, and made signs to embrace her, but could not rise. Mrs. Bridgefield was overwhelmed with joy to see her dear cousin once more, and assisted the servant to raise Mrs. Claibourne; but she was too weak to make any effort; she sunk again into her bed, and could scarcely speak. Her daughter embraced her after she spoke a little, when her husband entered the room. He clasped her hand in his, and poured out the following ejaculations:—
Great Disposer of Events, grant, I beseech thee, that my beloved partner may rise once more from this bed of affliction, and again visit thy tabernacle, and thank thee for all thy goodness to her and the family, and I will sing hallelujahs to the Lamb that sitteth upon the throne. Mercifully Great Omnipotent, restore her once more to her dejected family, who will praise thee in thy gates.2141 12(5)r 141
He then retired, and Mrs. Bridgefield gave her a little tamarind water to drink—she could eat nothing—and observed that she had poor hopes of her recovery. The doctor then entered the room, and, keeping a profound silence, which always discovers skill, shook his head and went away—made no remarks. Mrs. Bridgefield took this as an unfavourable omen; Miss Josephine shed tears; and it was an unhappy family. She survived but a few days. She begged to see the Rev. Mr. Sampson, and he prayed with her and for her, from the following words:—Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord, for their works do follow them. She continued a few days, and the day before her death she was apparently better. She called Josephine to her bed, and thus addressed her:—
Weep not for me, for I go, I trust, to the place of my Redeemer, where you will, sooner or later, follow me. Comfort your father, and be to him both me and yourself; and I hope that as reason ascends in your mind; you will prepare to follow me. Let it be your first and 2142 12(5)v 142 morning song to praise your Redeemer; and remember, in this life there is nothing desirable but the love of God.
Miss Josephine said to her mother, as she had always endeavoured to obey her, she should, in a particular manner, strive to follow her advice— and left the room; when she dozed a little, and they left the nurse waiting on her.
Just as they entered the drawing room, Judge Bridgefield arrived to fetch his wife, but they could not remove her, as the doctor said she would not live two days; he consented to let her remain, and returned home. The family were all in commotion, preparing for the sad event, which finally took place. She died without a struggle, in the forty-second year of her age, leaving Josephine under the particular care of Mrs. Bridgefield.
After Lucius Emanuel Mantel came from Croton, judge his surprise to hear that Miss Josephine’s letter had miscarried, but Mrs. Pettit gave him all the particulars, and he resigned 2143 12(6)r 143 himself to patience, for he was assured of her partiality, and had only to await the event of time. He very soon established himself in business, as he had now some inducement, and was very assiduous to make money; in a day or two he got his letter, and was perfectly reconciled to his doom. After a few weeks, Mr. Pettit received a letter with the melancholly account of the death of Mrs. Claibourne, and Miss Josephine being under the care of her cousin; he was now convinced that he should see her in a few months, and should endeavour by all industrious means to make money. He had received a letter from his father, giving him an account of his marriage with the widow of the Indian Interpreter, at the Chickasaw Bluffs, and having sent her daughter to boarding school at Philadelphia, and that he intended to remove to the Bluffs, as the practice of physic was his business, he would obtain wealth.
However, that was not named; as she was a lady of property, and much esteemed him, the place at Ibberville would ere long be for his benefit. I shall not, said he, depend entirely on that 2144 12(6)v 144 prospect, but try to improve my mind, and pursue what I know will be agreeable to her my heart adores, for she is now more dear than ever, and when I again behold her, nothing shall separate us, father, cousin, friend, nor relation—she must be mine—we are destined for each other. Welcome morning sun, and evening stars, and cloudy skies and moon light evenings—all welcome! for you hasten the hour when I shall again behold her who is dearer to me than life—welcome, then ye frosts, and snow, short days, and long nights; they are all the same to him who lives on hope—with all thy changes hasten, and bring the expected hour—while hope soothes the weary mind, I shall pass the time in agreeable anticipation!
The next news from Zainesville was a letter from Miss Josephine to her cousin, with an account of all the sorrow of the surrounding peasantry, as Mrs. Claibourne was much esteemed for the many agreeable traits in her character. She mentioned Mantel’s name in a very delicate manner, and also the excessive grief of her father; she wrote by every opportunity.2145 13(1)r 145
Miss Pettit was agreeably surprised by a visit from her mother living at the Pequest, who came to spend some time with her daughter, and to gain information of all that had happened since Miss Josephine had undertook her history, for the country around, where she resided, had been promised with a perusal of her production, as soon as published.
New-York was in commotion, in the expectation of the arrival of the Marquis La Fayette, a great friend to America in the revolutionary war. Those veterans who esteemed him, and bore him company in his perilous conflicts, the days which tried mens’ souls, are now mostly consigned to the tomb—melancholly thought! What a gratification it would have been to those brave men to have seen the present rising generation in the zenith of their splendour, hailing the approach to our shores, of one of the founders of this grand Republic.
Not many days had elapsed, when a second letter was received from the Ohio, from Mrs. vol. ii 13 2146 13(1)v 146 Bridgefield, who endeavoured to describe the feelings of her friends, at their late misfortune and irreparable loss. Grief fills the mind with the most indescribable sensation; all other passions afford in their description, some entertainment, but this alone makes us careless of the world, and indifferent in our pursuits; and were it not that time in some measure takes away the poignant sting, who could endure it? The greatest philosopher has not fortitude to subdue his feelings, but silently roves unknowing where to find consolation, some times imagining that a change of objects will pour the healing balm of comfort into his dejected bosom.To him who is with grief oppress’d, The day seems long, the night no rest, Till Sol, her annual round doth give Some pleasing scenes, that you may live; For we’re but meteors of a day, Like snow, we melt, and pass away.
Mrs. Bridgefield is very happy in the married life; all she laments is that she had no propensity until her friends alarmed her, by telling her 2147 13(2)r 147 she would be doomed to lead apes; so she was hurried into wedlock, without a sigh or a tear. She often tells the Judge, that had they seen each other in earlier life, many blessings might have attended them, which they are now deprived of. They have lost their only son, a fine child, and seem now so happy with Miss Josephine, that I think they will not willingly part with her, she is so entertaining. People advanced in years, of a good constitution, enjoy company: thus it was a Judge Bridgefield’s, for he was fond of a joke, and never engrossed all the conversation himself, it not being polite; and his house, as I before observed, was visited by all classes of people, he was so humane.
It was on Monday, being Easter, all the neighbours assembled, as Mr. Bridgefield officiated, and they all went to the meeting-house, which stood four miles on the turnpike road; but no money was taken from those going to church; all passed free on Sunday. The congregation was very large, and the meeting-house small, so many persons had to stay outside. Among the number,2148 13(2)v 148 ber, Judge Bridgefield could not get a seat, and Miss Josephine did not grieve much at that, as she had an opportunity of seeing all the young country gentlemen, who almost always stared at the door. Among them was deacon Burnet’s son, just from Washington City, where he had been studying law; he was an elegant youth, of engaging manners, and polite address, seeing Miss Josephine standing, he rose and made her a seat from the branches of trees that were near, for which she returned him many thanks. He never left her during the sermon, and on her getting into the carriage, he asked the favour to accompany her home, which she could not refuse him. Judge Bridgefield treated him very kindly, and Miss Claibourne entertained him with the manners of the ladies of New-York, who, she observed, had all the accomplishment necessary to adorn the female character, and a disposition to make every thing agreeable; there is not that distrust at the sight of a stranger, that is so common in Europe—an immediate acquaintance takes place without that formality which is so disgusting to strangers—that cold, shy look—all is pleasantry and good humour.2149 13(3)r 149
I should be much plased to make a visit to that opulent city.
Well, if I should ever again see it, depend on it I shall be much pleased to meet you; for I assure you, the museum and castle garden would both so delight you, that you would never again wish to leave the city.
James Madison Burnet, son of the deacon, was just three and twenty years of age, of a sandy complexion, had penetrating eyes, and a remarkable fine voice. There was a peculiar turn in his expression, and a double meaning in almost every thing he said—suited exactly to the profession he had chosen to live by. He was a great admirer of the ladies, and Miss Josephine mistook his attention for more than mere gallantry, for she was not sufficiently acquainted with the subterfuges made use of by the men to gain the female heart—she thought all was sincerity and truth.
Judge Bridgefield endeavoured to make time pass agreeable, for he spent the days at his hospitable13* 2150 13(3)v 150 pitable house. Fishing, fowling, and every recreation to please a gentleman was resorted to, and time passed off in such a manner as to wish a continuance. The last day of his visit, he asked Miss Josephine to take a little ramble in the neighbourhood to see the peasants, which she cheerfully did, and in rising a little summit, he took her by the hand, and pressed her to his bosom:—
Oh! divine fair, what language can paint my feelings toward you, fairest of the creation, and heaven’s best gift! I must acknowledge your power, and await your smiles, which would add a bliss not to be found elsewhere in this world.
A blush o’erspread the cheeks of Miss Josephine, and the recollection of her admired Lucius Emanuel Mantel, darted into her mind, being conscious she had given him some hope, and he only waited the event of time, until she should become reconciled to the death of her mother, which was now near six months, and she daily expected to hear from him. She behaved with all 2151 13(4)r 151 politeness she was capable of toward the lawyer, said his conversation and sentiments were unexpected to her—begged him to discontinue the subject, as her mother’s death had banished every passion but grief from her mind, and that she must indulge for some time yet. He seemed unhappy, and in extacy exclaimed,
I shall always love you, in sorrow or in joy; my passion is not to be subdued by grief—death only can ease me; and if I am not suffered to hope, I must fly to some remedy. I cannot endure so much misery.
She seemed panic-struck, and thought it best not to fill him with vain hope, for her heart was gone, Mantel had it; so she began in a mild, soothing manner, to lament his misplaced affection:— Sir, I must, though painful the task, assure you, that my heart is not at my own disposal; I have left it in care of a person, whom I thought deserved the confidence; and when time shall elapse, and my inclination lead me, I shall regain it with the satisfaction of obtaining double, for two instead of one shall be in my 2152 13(4)v 152 possession. Do not chide me for my sincerity, I act agreeably to the dictates of honour.
They both quickly returned to the house, but in perfect silence, and were met in the hall by the good lady, who observed they looked gloomy; (for they could not hide their chagrin,) she handed them some refreshments and wine—he gave the following toasts:
May the hope of happiness, that is now the first wish of your heart, be realized to the satisfaction of your friends.
She bowed, and then gave the following toast:
May no disappointments that you may have met with in this busy world cause one sigh, and may happiness await you.
I think, my dear young friend, you are quite sentimental. I wish I perfectly understood you.
Mrs. B. was naturally so inquisitive she could not rest—all impatience to know what meant all this rumour, which the young people were determined2153 13(5)r 153 termined should for ever remain a secret between them. So expectation was kept on tip-toe.
The Counsellor took leave of the polite family, assuring them he should again see them. Miss Josephine’s situation can be better felt than described. Her father, who had been travelling, returned to Mrs. B.’s, and they spent a few days together. Judge B. brought a letter from the post-office to Miss Josephine; it was what she expected, and enclosed an epistle from her friend and lover, who made sad complaints of the tedidiousness of time, how many vibrations before the clock struck ten, for that was the hour he always wished for, and then he thought he could dream something agreeable.
The critical moment had now arrived, when she must make known to her father her solemn intention. Oh—how shall I reveal it to him? His tender heart, I know, feels for me; and he now wants to part with me. When he comes to reflect that I shall have a protector, he will forget his feelings, to the gratifying of my own. To-morrow—oh, to- 2154 13(5)v 154 morrow will I address him, and, in the fulness of my heart, exclaim,—my hand is promised to another, and, my respected, indulgent, kind parent, forgive me my attachment—you shall never have cause to mourn for my intentions.
Just as she was in this soliloquy, some of the neighbours called to spend the evening. Among the number were Rev. Mr. Fantorn and lady, who came to commiserate with the father and daughter, for their late loss. The old divine began in the following manner to comfort them:—The Lord hath given, and he hath taken away: blessed be his name; and his kind helpmate said, The clay is in the hands of the potter, and he moulds and fashions it agreeably to his divine will.—True, indeed, said the Governor; we must submit to the will of him who governs the world by his omnipotent power; and we must, like Job, patiently bear the ills of life. After Judge B. and lady entered, the conversation became more lively, and the kind offers of wine cake, and cordials, seemed to enliven the priest and his spouse. A sumptuous dinner was served up in style, at the head of which was a sirloin 2155 13(6)r 155 of beef, and cabbage, and a fine fat pig, nicely crisped and browned. The Reverend Divine smacked his lips, and said that he thought good eating and drinking was the most desirable thing in life. His wife interrupted him, and said she thought good health was more. He said, — How can you have good health, if you live poor? The blood becomes impoverished; and half the deaths by consumption are on account of their abstemiousness, and stinting children, to make them wise and meek. I by no means commend gluttony; that is odious; but to have good food and thankful hearts, is a great blessing: so says Solomon, the wise.
The friendly party enjoyed themselves, talking over every dish, which seemed to give a double relish; and the Reverend Divine and his lady feasted to their mutual satisfaction, tasting every dish. In the evening they returned to their comfortable homes, leaving the family as much pleased when they absented themselves, as when they came.
Miss Josephine, being now alone with her 215613(6)v156 father, began:—I hope, honoured Sir, that what I am going to communicate will in no manner offend you, particularly as my parents have done the same. To be explicit, my dear father, I have fixed my heart on a young gentleman in New-York, who, I know, is now pining for me; and should I be so unfortunate as to incur your displeasure, I shall be miserable.— When will you reflect, and tell me your mind on the subject so near my heart? He stood aghast; surprise, indignation, and horror, seemed to fill his mind, which was almost bursting. He cried out,—Unthinking girl, to serve me so! me, that instilled in you, in your early days, a desire to please those that begot you—I now doubly feel your undutifulness, being left alone—me, that collected all the good examples that were to be obtained to set before you, and hoped—oh, how vainly!—hoped that you would have been exemplary, and sent you to New-York, not to learn to love, for you are yet too young, but to show the world the talents that nature has blessed you with, and to confute the Knickerbocker story that enlivens so many strange wealthy emigrants, that they are in a country 2157 14(1)r 157 whose founders and institutors were as dull as beetles. I spurn, I say, such indignities offered to the founders of the great city of New-York, whose early inhabitants were men of goodness, wisdom, and piety; they panted not for liberty— what liberty?—to remove their neighbour’s landmark, so expressly bforbidden in the Old and New Testament. Much I fear that these cries for liberty (for many, very many, have no property) only mean a desire to be great, to be busy, to be inquisitive, to know what is in the banks, in order to tax the usurer, whose waking dreams teach him only the rule to multiply, to take from and then add—two to four make six. The word liberty is in high estimation in the present day; poverty and all its wretched train fly from the sound.
Their pomp and folly swells the mighty group, and ignorance and vice stares them in the face. Avaunt! ye haughty train! Is it wealth you seek by all your subterfuges? then welcome ye sons of Plutus, to the scraps that fall from the table of the great and good characters, who rise vol. ii. 14 2158 14(1)v 158 above your paltry treasure—may you feel for your folly.
I cannot, my dear daughter, consent that you should change your name until you finish what you have begun, and convince the world that you are capable of giving a true account of the ancestors of the rising generation. They studied not Lavater to read the mind of man, for his looks in those days were alike with his feelings, he could not smile and smile, yet be a villain.— At the present day our country is filled with a variety of characters—men from every part of the world. Now, my dear daughter, I expect that you will continue your book, in favour of the Knickerbockers—let not the world be deceived by slanderous publications—continue in the truth, for that overcometh all things. I shall now take my leave of you and proceed to the Potomac, and from thence to Acomac, Virginia; you can go in the stage direct to Philadelphia and New-York—prepare for your journey as speedily as possible, and bear in mind the advice of your father, or you will have no luck, and next to him, your cousin Pettit, whom I 2159 14(2)r 159 shall write to; and I shall expect that in the course of three months, you will have finished your writings, to the satisfaction of all those who know what they read—so you shall heap coals of fire on those who have written contrary to the truth.
I shall not at present say any thing of the journey, only that hope and joy filled my bosom; and on entering my friend’s house, she received me with that composure which was habitual to her; no sudden rapture—no wild emotion—she was and is an excellent woman, joy and sorrow are alike to her; she discovers no violent sensation.
I rose early in the morning, and following the road my father pointed me, I went as heretofore to the museum. Curiosity being my motive, I was highly gratified; there were many additions since my last visit; the grand likeness of the Marquis Lafayette. He was very assiduous in the late revolutionary war, and assisted the Americans in their emancipation from British thraldom; he was particularly agreeable to the late General Washington—he visited him often 2160 14(2)v 160 at head quarters in Morristown in the year 17771777, and was busily engaged in assisting America.
I then particularly inquired if the people in this city were so proud in former days: Oh, they did not want for that, replied the keeper, but it was a kind of sentimental pride, a pride to do good, to cheer the broken-hearted, to diffuse comfort, to pour oil and balm into their wounded hearts; it was not the pride of the present generation, to build magnificent temples for the great to live in, to make gardens and take toll for entering, when they were intended for the health of the citizens, to open streets so that the great may turn more conveniently with their carriages, to meet in separate districts to devise plans for raising a revenue to close a large square, to extract money from those who have nothing, to bury the dead, for all the present race seem in commotion to be great.
I likewise discovered, that in those days of goodness and truth, there was no lucre held out to encourage mankind to go to law; all men had a just aversion to that, thinking it best to 2161 14(3)r 161 lose the contested property, than risque any more after it. In this was wisdom not to be found in the present generation. Every man is now a counsellor, and every man thinks he has a friend, who in fact cares not for him, but is a cheap adviser when urgency requires. How wretched must that mortal be who has no firm opinion of his own, but must advise with his friend, who from the impulse of the moment is prompted to speak what first occurs to his mind, and the patient hearer is satisfied, and returns to his dear fireside quite contented. It is in vain to remonstrate, and happy is that being, who, as Burns the great poet says, Can look and laugh at a’ that.
After a few days, I went no more to the museum, but employed my leisure hours in the committing to paper, what I had already seen, and paying visits to my friends, in order to remove from my mind reflections the most painful. The loss of my dear parent I now began sensibly to feel, and the world lost most of its charms; I had no brother or sister to whom I could unbosom myself,14* 2162 14(3)v 162 self, and my father at such a distance, that I began to give myself up to despair. The idea of making myself of use and entertainment to the world, seemed to wear from my mind, and every day I became less fond of writing. At length, one morning as I was musing over some old manuscripts, my cousin entered my apartment—
I have just, said she, read a letter from Ibberville; it is from our friend, who informs me that his father has just put him in possession of his farm, he having removed to Chickasaw Bluffs, on the farm of his lady. He also most particularly wished me to write to him, as soon as you returned to New-York, and inform him of your real sentiments, as he will then know what course to pursue, and will be guided by what you may think proper to advance.
I sunk into the arms of my friend, knowing not what to determine. My father’s late severe remonstrations burst on my mind, and I did not dare forget them. It was now that I felt the loss of my mother; she was my adviser in all intricate matters—alas! she is no more! This being the 2163 14(4)r 163 most important trial which I have ever met, I shall, notwithstanding the hurry of the moment, deliberate as quickly as possible.
Now, my dear friend, this is my resolution: I know that my father’s affection for me is unbounded, but I will risque his displeasure. In the first place, write to Ibberville that I have returned, and am busily engaged, at the request of my father, in finishing my writings, which will yet take three months close application, and during that time he can write me, giving me information where to direct my communications to him, the subject of our correspondence to remain within our own breast, as nothing appears at present, but the want of a little time, to make us happy. I shall continually write to my father, and endeavour to gain on his heart so as to obtain his consent, for I think it an incumbent duty to obey my father, and I have no doubt but I shall soothe him in time.
After a few moments, my cousin left the room to write to our friend, while I continued writing my history, which I think is almost enough 2164 14(4)v 164 to prepare for the press. I confess that I have no wish to become conspicuous; the lonely grove and warbling birds, the croaking of frogs in a marshy pond, give more delight to me, than the flattering adulation of a thousand tongues. I wish not praise—I sigh not for grandeur nor riches; the humble walks of life have to me more charms, and afford more real happiness, than is to be found in costly palaces. I wish not to increase the trouble on my mind, by froward ambition; let me wander unseen and unnoticed, so as not to excite envy.
The season is now charming, and an evening walk to Castle Garden is like paradise. There beauty displays all her allurements, for where pleased, woman exceeds all God’s creation, there lordly man is all officiousness, his ready attention is evident. But on the morrow, when the banks open, and he has obligations to encounter, then horror seizes him, and distractedly he walks until almost faint, when at length the clock strikes three, and a respite takes place— he immediately seeks pleasure at the expense of his next day’s feelings—he cares not! So hurries 2165 14(5)r 165 on the life of man—another and another day fills up the round of his life, and then he is no more seen. All that follows is his good name, and the good deeds he has performed.
I now began to prepare my novel for the press by the assistance of a friend, when I received from my father, the following epistle:
Acomac, Virginia, 1825-08-03August 3, 1825,
My dear and affectionate Daughter,
Since I last saw you my mind has been unhappy, in thinking that the injunction I laid on you at our parting was rather severe, well knowing, on reflection, that youthful passions are sometimes not easily overcome; and reflecting, that you have always been the most dutiful child on earth, I abhorred myself for endeavouring to check your growing passion for a youth who, I have since heard, is a pattern of excellence. I now, my dear daughter, permit you to conduct yourself agreeably to the feelings of your heart, 2166 14(5)v 166 and shall never bar your happiness, which is so nearly linked to my own.
Act then, dear child, as becomes a good woman; be frank and sincere to the man that loves you, and do not, like many of your sex, triumph in your power. Soften his affliction by sympathy, and, if the storms of life ever have, or ever should o’ercast his brow, be as the rising sun, dispel the mist, and banish all his sorrow. So shall the paths of life, which you are now just beginning to walk, be smoother than velvet, and fancy’s airy train shall follow you in all your steps, and lead you to ambrosial feasts, such as mortals wish for. All I wish is, that you would finish the writing you have begun; for when Hymen has bound you for life, you cannot so well amuse the world; your thoughts then will be so engrossed and your attention so required by family concerns, to make every one around you happy, that the world and the sojourners in it will not claim your attention.
I must at last conclude, hoping at our next meeting there will be more to share the happiness2167 14(6)r 167 ness we now look for. Adieu, my ever obedient daughter.
Your tender father,
George W. Claibourne.
Miss Josephine was all joy at the receipt of this letter. She had anticipated her father’s forgiveness. Her mind was now at rest, and she continued her writings—only experienced a short interruption by the arrival from Pequest of her cousin, father, and mother, who spent only a few days in New-York—were very much elated at the growing wealth of the city. The old gentleman thought it would be the London of America. The manners, he observed, of all the inhabitants were much changed in the present day, from what they were in his youth. For their best clothes seemed now every day on, as it appeared to please the wearers, of all colours, to be finely dressed; for, he truly observed, as this was a free country, all were alike. For the Ethiopian cannot change his skin, nor the leopard his spots. He was also pleased to see the scientific improvements in the old coloured people who were formerly engaged on Sundays in preparing dainties for the appetites of the 2168 14(6)v 168 affluent; they now go to Sunday schools, which are well directed, and particularly attended to by African characters.For blessings every wait on virtuous deeds; And, though a late, a sure reward succeeds.
As I particularly mentioned Colonel Dexter, from Pequest, in the first volume, it is useless to describe his character—only to observe, he knew mankind and all their propensities, from the cottage to the throne. Mrs. Dexter was a lady in every sense of the term—polite, easy, and never engrossed the conversation, even should it be on her favourite subject. As to religion, she allowed that many miracles appeared in print! and had not the smallest doubt of the goodness of our Creator; and she thought that piety was commendable in any sect; and recommended all possible methods to bring hardened sinners to repentance.
The old gentleman and lady went to Castle Garden; they thought it represented the Garden of Eden in beauty, and likewise thought there 2169 15(1)r 169 appeared much forbidden fruit. They had no wish, being so old, to snatch any of it—thought the grievance was rather singular; and what took from its beauty was, cash being demanded at its entrance. Shameful of this rich metropolis, that would not afford to the sons of science a relaxation from study, and the daughters of industry a pleasing moment free from pain and care, without their purchasing it.Shout your trumpets, beat your drum, Never man or woman dun; The garden free must ever be For Lafayette, and you, and me.
After the visit they proposed to return home, and requested permission to take little Alphonse, their grandson, with them, who was five years old, and very handsome. The old gentleman said, He shall not return in haste, as we have good schools. Horace Fox, our teacher, is a very scientific man, can tell how many votes it wilwill take to elect a new president, and how many acres of land to fill the treasury. He is the village oracle; all intricate business he adjusts, and gives great satisfaction to his employers.vol. ii 15 2170 15(1)v 15
The old gentleman and lady now seemed perfectly happy on leaving New-York; they never wished to see a balloon ascend, a horse race, a fourth of July procession, a corporation dinner, nor many other things that were not now in season, and so were obliged to be dispensed with. They set out on Tuesday last, with a particular wish that Miss Josephine would pay them a visit in a short time, which she acquiesced in. Mrs. Pettit gave a sigh at parting with her dearest and nearest friends, next to her husband. He was now expected from Paris, in the same ship with the Marquis Lafayette.
The ladies being now alone, they had nothing to do but to console eath other for the absence of their friends, which was reciprocally felt. Each in turn broke out in ejaculations that the most poignant at times; and then expectancy would buoy them up beyond expression: as the poet observes—: Hope! thou nurse of young desire,Fairy promiser of joy,Painted vapour, glow-worm’s fire,Harmless sweets, that ne’er can cloy.2171 15(2)r 171
In this train of reflection, how plasing is the passion above described! Our hearts and souls are enraptured, and seem to stand still.
A few weeks having elapsed, who, to the gratification of the ladies, should arrive, but the long-expected Lucius, from Ibberville, in charming spirits, only a little burnt by the rays of the sun. He approached his lovely fair in silent gravity—words cannot describe the meeting. She was all confusion, and Mrs. Pettit all hilarity—expected it soon to be her own case— first inquired what wind it was that now blew. He said it was a perfect calm to him on this day.
Oh, I understand you, said she; you are always speaking hieroglyphically, according to your ideas, we must expect a storm.
He then addressed Miss Claibourne: I hope, Miss, that the ills of life which have lately embittered your peace have not made you forget to think of him who is ever the same, and always truly yours.2172 15(2)v 172
I have, it is true, had much sorrow since we parted, and the cup of affliction was full to overflowing. I had many unpleasant scenes to encounter, and had it not been for my fortitude, I should have desponded. Suddenly a change took place in my father’s displeasure towards me, and he freely left to my own discretion any preliminaries that I might wish to enter into for the completion of my wishes. I then felt most grateful, and have ever since acknowledged him to be the kindest and best of fathers. I then considered myself as mistress of my own resolves, but woman-like, knew not what to determine for my own good, and while in this situation you have arrived; I must acknowledge that my mind has not changed; all I hope is, that time will make us more dear to each other.
Let the passing moments fly—let time pass as though we regarded it not, until it is convenient to tie the happy knot, replied Lucius Emanuel Mantel.
The happy pair now embraced. He took a little excursion in the steam boat to the Linneau Garden, in Flushing. She amused herself in finishing2173 15(3)r 173 nishing her history, and composing a few songs adapted to the present times. She then wrote to her father at Acomac, giving him an account of the arrival of her lover, and particularly requested his company in the course of a few weeks.
On An American Hero.
The dew of the morn, no fragrance exhales
On the laurel that covers the head
Of the sanguine hero, who never bewails
Those now lying number’d with dead.
For Mars, he elates all his followers on,
To bravely their courage pursue,
For a name t’ enrich them for what they have done—
With the perils of war, then adieu.
To virtue, our course, let us all of us bend—
The reflection of goodness is great,
And at our own home, should we meet with a friend,
Good example should ever elate.
Our own bosoms swell when the heart we adore,
Approaches to welcome us home,
With cheering good wishes, and nought we want more,
Then the hero will never more roam.
Oh! Anna, the first of God’s blessings to me,
I ne’er shall repeat it again—
I’ve fought and have conquer’d, you plainly can see,
And lamented for those who were slain.
Oh, woman! thy smile every joy doth afford—
Gives comfort, and heals like the miser’s rich hoard,
Doth bliss to the sons of Columbia bestow,
When they return home from conquering the foe.
She also wrote to her friend Mrs. Priscilla Bridgefield, at Zainesville, giving her a description of her lover, her determination to make him happy, and would consider it a favour from Heaven, as she had lost her mother; and as Mrs. B. being such a friend of her’s, she would be happy if she would come to New-York and witness the marriage solemnity; the day was not fixed, but it rested with her to name it, and she had no doubt but her lover would be very impatient2175 15(4)r 175 patient in a short time. She requested an answer by mail, in the mean time things hould remain in statu quo.
In the midst of all this preparation, who should enter but Mr. Pettit from home, to the great satisfaction of my cousin, who esteems him much. All that perturbed him, was his little son Alpha’s living with the old couple; he at first was very unhappy, but his wife explained to him the necessity of pleasing the old people, her parents, and he was immediately reconciled. Nothing now seemed wanting to the happiness of all persons, but time; so the several characters retired to their different occupations.
New-York was now in commotion at the arrival of the Marquis Lafayette—bells ringing, music playing, women parading, and old men gazing at the great event. Miss Josephine’s room being near the battery, she had a good view of his landing, and expressed some sorrow that he was not younger, that he might be of use to the United States, whose citizens unanimously admire his character. He seems, 2176 15(4)v 176 she said, to revive in our bosom the memory of the beloved Washington, who could not be more venerated; for every heart expands at the sound of his exalted name—a name which will never become extinct, while the chariot of the sun moves in the order it now does!
On the First Landing of the Marquis Lafayette, 1824-08-16Aug. 16, 1824, and His Attendance at Castle Garden.
The day was clear, the evening mild,
Then lads and lasses met and smil’d;
And this the order of the day—
None must appear who are not gay.
In rich attire, the natives shone
Like brilliant stars, eclips’d by none;
Their bosoms throb’d, you all could see,
For Lafayette and Liberty!
The men were pleas’d, and seem’d to say—
Now welcome to America!
Old and young did then agree,
To chaunt his prise with merry glee—
Happy, happy, now are they,
Who see him on this festive day!
Oh, ye bright effulgent orbs! witness this day of our rejoicing, at the sight of him who was a companion of our great deliverer—who felt for him in his anxiety, when he could not gratify his soldiers with every necessary comfort, but addressed them in soft speeches, promising more than at that time he could perform! Since his dissolution, America has fed the hungry and those who fought her battles, and clothed those of the naked who were in want, and heaped honours on their posterity. Could our ancestors only rise from their graves and see, they would certainly wish to stay on earth, and roll in chariots which they never expected, as the reward of their bravery, and to see it descend to their third and fourth generation. View the present times, look into the face of former men, and you cannot but observe the smiles of contentment—riches brighten their appearance, and the liberty of which they have to boast, inflames their hearts with a continual desire to grow greater. Public edifices are erected in every part of our city, not only for religious purposes, but for great and studious men to harangue and make themselves popular; and also for reclaiming youth, and pointing out 2178 15(5)v 178 the way to honour, without defrauding any one, which promises to the rising generation much real honesty, a matter devoutly to be wished.— In the hurry and confusion that overspread our city, the post-man dropped a letter at the door, and could not wait for the postage. Goodness! I exclaimed, I would have given a guinea, if I had no change, provided I had seen the superscription, as I knew it to be from my father. To my great satisfaction it was from him, assuring me that he would be in New-York in four weeks.
How I was delighted!—I flew to my friend, to whom I communicated the glad news. The next day my lover called, and I showed him the letter; he was pleased beyond expression, and handed me a ticket to go to Mr. Keene’s benefit, which was to take place in a few evenings. Not many days had elapsed ere I received a letter from Zainesville from my aunt, who could not wait on me, as her husband was inclined to the dropsy and already showed symptoms of it. I think it would be a public calamity to loose so 2179 15(6)r 179 good a man, and society would no doubt deeply regret his loss.
In a few weeks more my father arrived in the steam-boat from Philadelphia, he approached me with endearing smiles—You have conquered your father’s wishes, who had no desire to part with you. Where is the youth that I must be allied to?
He will be here immediately, as it is now near visiting hours, and he would not intrude in any other.
He then entered the room and was introduced to the governour, who kindly shook his hand, while he uttered not a word, as it was usual with him to be silent until he became acquainted.— The conversation turned on agriculture—He mentioned that the Mississippi was a fine country, and the soil rich, but not better I presume than the Ohio; and at Baton Rouge, which is the first rising ground above New-Orleans, I have been told there is very rich land.2180 15(6)v 180
I never was there; but the western country opens a large field for emigration; the lands are good—want nothing but industry to make life comfortable; and the sons of poverty, in every part of the world, can there have a cheap home.
The conversation ended, and young Mantel took leave until evening, when he engaged himself to return. When he left the house, the father said, he thought he appeared a promising youth, and he thought his daughter might be happy. They all dined together; and after dinner, the old gentleman said, he had promised a a fellow traveller to call on him at the City Hotel, where he mentioned he should stay while in New-York. He accordingly left the ladies to their different amusements, and went to the Hotel. His friend went with him to the Chatham Garden Theatre. The play was Love in a Village; the singing was melodious, and Mr. Keene distinguished himself.
In the evening, L. E. Mantel waited on Miss Claibourne, and, being left to themselves, 2181 16(1)r 181 he began the subject nearest his heart.— Now, my fair girl, do not delay, through the modesty of your behaviour, to make known to me the real feelings of your heart; and when the happy hour will come that is to make us one. I am so absorbed in thought I know not what to say; I have exhausted my rhetoric to gain you, and now I submit my whole soul to you.
Do not, my friend, upbraid me; my temper is soft, and I am easily persuaded. To-morrow I will determine. Let me recline on my pillow, and give my thoughts to determine what is to be my fate, happiness or misery. He agreed, and they parted.
At breakfast, my father joked me, as he said he must leave New-York in ten or twelve days. Good God! what shall I do? This—this is the important day of my life, and I must determine good or evil. I have no particular wish to marry at present, I would rather wait; but two considerations harrass me,—my father’s wish to depart, and my lover’s wish to secure me.vol. ii 16 2182 16(1)v 182
O woman! what mighty events await thy too sudden decision! Yet I must, and will determine. So I ran from the table, and prepared to take a walk to relieve my mind, and begged my father to dine with us, which he agreed to. I wandered along the north side of the town, thinking I should meet some of my acquaintances, and stopped at the museum to take a last look at the different curiosities, and returned to dinner. My father began, as they were preparing the dishes—Any thing, my child, you want, you must suggest to me, and you shall be gratified. tThank you, Sir; females have many little wants that your sex have no idea of. We must always appear charming, always appear pleased, and never ungrateful if caught in dishabille—that, to a studious female, is very troublesome. However, Sir, I shall be as prudent as I can for one of my years.
In the evening all friends were absent walking, which I declined, having fixed a resolution to prepare to meet my lover, and crown his wishes, by fixing the hour for solemnization of our marriage. Oh, all feeling minds, who 2183 16(2)r 183 only know my situation at this moment:—To give up our liberty to man, the first of God’s images, to promise ever to obey and please him. Gracious Powers! what a task am I going to put on my now free will! For in the absence of my father I do as I please, and the determiminations of this evening will place me in such a situation that I must live to please him who now adores me. Suppose that those charms which now allure him should vanish, by sickness, misfortune, disappointment, and all the changing scenes that this life is embittered with, what then will be my situation! I know myself in sunshine and prosperity, my heart is elated, my countenance beams pleasure. On the contrary, when afflictions arise, I am as dull as a stormy day, like those who have no reflection, and cannot be happy within themselves. However, I must await my destiny, and assume a placid countenance.
While in this soliloquy my friend entered the dining room, with that composure for which he was famed, and thus solicited me:—The few happy moments that are allotted to man in this 2184 16(2)v 184 short life may, I hope, in my present feelings, which it is entirely in your power to verify.
Happy, Sir, thrice happy must I feel, to be the means of strewing flowers in the path of him whose many changing scenes of life have been embittered by wo.
Ah, my friend! could I for a certainty know how long your present feelings will last, or what turn of mind will seem to me lasting felicity!
This, I allow, is the most important crisis of my life; and while the wheel (not Ixion’s wheel) is turning, I will stop it for a moment, and pronounce, in your hearing, that ten days hence I will be yours.
He faltered and spoke, promised every future action of his life should be to make me happy, and we cordially took each other’s hands, and in ecstacy, not to be described, repeated the following lines from Lalla Rookh:And O, if there be an elysium on earth, It is this—it is this— 2185 16(3)r 185
They parted that evening, not to see each other in four days, as Lucius was engaged with a party of gay persons to visit Schooley’s Mountain Springs. The company were, the Marquis Lafayette and his friend, Don Diego Joseph Navarro, and a few politicians of the present day. There were no ladies of the party. The Spanish gentleman could not speak a word of English; Mantel was his interpreter. He was delighted with the country. He said the Spaniards had a very imperfect idea of this country; for his part, he thought it a paradise; the American women, whose complexions, in general, are fair, appeared to him as fallen angels. All he lamented was, he could not express his feelings towards them, which Mantel was endeavouring to teach him, for which he was very grateful. He very humorously said, that the passion of love, he heard, there was no language could describe—French, English, Spanish, or Irish—none could express it—nothing but the expression of the countenance that was sufficient. The American lady who had captivated him was a grand daughter of oan American officer 16* 2186 16(3)v 186 who was killed at Stoney-Point; her name was Anastasia. She was all that was lovely, in manners, grace, dignity, sublimity of ideas, and every requisite to please and so far from having any knowledge of the charms she was possessed of, that they escaped her notice.
There were a variety of characters assembled from the different states; and it did not altogether appear that the place was frequented purposely for health, as there were so many inquisitive characters from all countries—the Jew and the Greek, the wise and the foolish, rich and poor—all trying to find some alleviatives for misery; and many professional gentlemaen, and many no gentlemen at all, only in dress and pretensions. One who drew great attention was a dandy of great pomposity—talked of our benevolence in aiding the Greeks, our philanthropy to distressed emigrants from every part of the world, who speedily amass wealth, if honour and sobriety, truth and industry, marked their character.
Four days had now elapsed, and Mantel was 2187 16(4)r 187 expected in New-York, where the preparations for the nuptials were all finished, and on Thursday evening, the Rev. Mr. Onderdonk was to perform the ceremony. The party were to be, Miss Sybil Clay, bridesmaid, and Dewit Crawford, groomsman; Miss Quincy Adams, and young James Jackson, son of the hero of New- Orleans. The marriage articles, drawn up by Robert Blackstone, Esq. short and explicit, all technical terms and double meanings abolished. Nothing was now wanted to complete the business, but the meeting of the company and the reading of the ceremony, which the reverend divine would most cheerfully do, as no part of their duty adds more dignity to their characters, and places them first in esteem and veneration.
The lawyer, doctor, divine, sportsman, politician, banker, broker, all have their hobby; and ridiculously speaking, every dog has his day, and every crust and crumb there is he is ready to snatch; for this life, though short, must be nourished, if not with turtle soup and Burton ale; many are content with homminy. Every country has its favourite dish; England 2188 16(4)v 188 has roast beef and plum pudding; the Americans, having taken out some of the plums, feed themselves most daintily, in company with the commission merchants from every part of the world, who here can be great indeed, not allowing the old remark, Great cry, and little wool, for they are peaceable indeed; for it is great wool and very little cry. The Germans can boast of their abstemiousness; they are pious, honest people, not eagerly inclined to dip in the dish with all the great potentates, every content with their situation, and slowly and surely gain wealth by the sweat of their brow. The wise Scotch, ever revising and printing their reviews, which seem, God help them! to amuse the ignorant Americans, and to afford to them, poor pensioners! a comfortable mean of bannocks. Alas! the Waverlies are dying! and the Americans are now preparing a grand square, three miles from New-York, where, if they should chance to be buried, we will erect no monument to their memory, As we have no Byrons to eulogise them, they must calmly sleep, and let their good name follow them. As the poet expresses it:2189 16(5)r 189 Praises on tombs are trifles vainly spent: A man’s good name is his best monument.
The brave sons of Erin, for catholic emancipation have shed their blood; I much fear, that under the present state of things, an immediate change will not take place. The American huge oak, and the people’s high, erect, majestic form, bends to their nervous arm and lays prostrate! Singular as it may appear, all the Europeans disdain that which pleases our proud station; gladly they all unite to crush the growing stalk; and bravely, as they call it, prevent our tree from falling on us—so cut them down, and then join in procession to establish themselves, change all order of things, and assume a power that in time will sink us into oblivion!
The hour at length arrived, and all the happy company of Miss Josephine attended the nuptials. She looked divine; her father’s veneraable appearance excited much respect and attention; Mr. and Mrs. Pettit appeared quite cheerful; and Lucius Emanuel Mantel, the intended bridegroom, wore a face of pleasure and agreeable expectancy.2190 16(5)v 190
The company all assembled in Broadway, near the Battery; the evening was calm and serene, and Luna’s pale beams invited to pleasure; a perfect silence prevailed previous to the ceremony, when all eyes were fixed on Miss Josephine, whose dress was a white satin pelisse and petticoat, elegantly decorated with wreathes of white roses—a fan in her hand, emblematic of the present time, a small pigmy endeavouring to erect himself above a large figure, and by his exertions, had it not been for the light of gas, he had nearly fallen, to the astonishment of all present.
The ceremony was short, though very solemn. Miss Josephine appeared serene and happy, which afforded pleasurable sensations to her friends, and the evening was spent in great hilarity. The company dispersed—some to the south, and others to the east. The parting scene between the bride and her father was interesting. He said as follows:
As by the laws of God you are now solemnly chained for life, may your behaviour to each 2191 16(6)r 191 other be decorous and kind, and time will then not lessen your attachment; this is the first wish of my heart. Endeavour to be patterns of conjugal felicity, and may the ever-green bay deck your brow; and when the storms of life beset your declining age, may you find comfort in each other.
After the ceremony and parade which is customary on such occasions had passed, the happy pair contemplated what would be most beneficial for them to pursue, in order to make life agreeable. They consulted their friends, who advised, as they were both literary characters, to amuse the world with some effusion of their fancy, and they commenced by beginning the history of my nephew, which was promised in the beginning of this book.