« ZurückWeiter »
NEW YORK IN 17 48.
FROM THE GERMAX, BY THE EDITOR.
ENRICHED BY A FEW ORIGINAL NOTES.
In the year 1747 and 1748, the learned Peter Kalm, Professor of Domestic Economy in Aobo, and inember of the Royal Academy of Science, in Sweden, visited this country. An account of his travels was published in Goettingen soon after his return, in German, from which we translate for the readers of the Guardian, his aceount of the “ town of New York," as he found it in 1748, one hundred and eleven years ago. It is calculated to awaken many amusing and instruetive thoughts, which the reader will please enjoy for himself, as he contemplates this interesting picture of the olden time.-[ED. GUARDIAN.]
New York, the principal town of the Province, bearing the same name, lies in forty degrees and forty minutes north of the Equator; seventy degrees and four minutes west of the meridian of London, and about ninety-seven miles from Philadelphia. The location is very well adapted for trade; for the town is situated on a point formed by two Bays, into one of which the Hudson river empties, not far from the town. Thus, New York is bounded by water on three sides. The ground on which it is built, is in some places level, in others somewhat hilly. The place is regarded as healthy.
The town was laid out by Hollanders. This is said to have been done in 1623, when they were yet the lords of the land. They called the town New Amsterdam, and the whole Province, New Holland. Afterwards, however, about the year 1664, when the English, under the leadership of Cartes, took possession of it, and also continued to hold it under the latest treaty of peace, they gave to the town, as well as to the Province, the name New York. In size, it may now be next to Boston and Philadelphia, among the English towns of North America. But in regard to the beauty of its houses, its wealth, and its flourishing trade, it contends with them for the mastery. It is about twice as large as Goetenburg, in Sweden.
The streets, it is true, are not so straight as those in Philadelphia; some of them are rather crooked. Still, of their kind, they are pretty enough, and nearly all of them are paved, except in the best parts where it is not necessary. Along the principal streets there are trees planted before the houses, which, in the summer, not only present a pleasant view, but also, in the great heat, which at this time prevails here, cast a cool shade. It was very pleasant to me to walk about in the town; for it seemed to me no otherwise than if I were in a garden. Two kinds of trees are used for this purpose; the Water-beech (platanus occidentalis) are the most numerous; and on account of their large and many leaves, make a pleasant shade in summer. The Locust-tree (pseudo accacia) is not found much more seldom. Its beautiful leaves, and the exceedingly pleasant fragrance of its bloom, are peculiarities, which render it well worthy of being plauted plentifully along the streets, beside the houses and in the gardens. There stand also, Linden and Elm trees, along the alleys, but not as many as of the other trees. The different kinds of trees are planted alternately.
Besides singing and twittering birds of all kinds, there are also a peculiar kind of frogs which are found in abundance on these trees during the summer. These, in the evenings, and during the night, especially after the hot days, or when their was appearance of rain, filled the air with the variety of their songs, and contended with the birds for the prominence. In this way they often created such noise and confusion, that on the street one could scarcely understand what another said. *
The houses are principally built of brick ; the most of them are firm and beautiful, and several stories high. Some of them, according to the old style of building, have the gables toward the street. In the new ones, however, this is changed. Many houses have a platform or balcony on the roof on which the people sit in summer evenings, enjoying themselves it from which, also, one has a pleasant prospect, not only of a good part of the town, but also of a part of the adjacent water and country bordering on it. The roofs of the houses are generally either covered with tiles or shingles. These last are made of white pine which grow farther up in the country; and it is believed that roofs made of these are equally as durable as those made of the so-called white-oak, which is used for shingles in Pennsylvania. The walls within the houses are plastered. I nowhere saw carpets in the rooms ;I and, in general, also little is known of them in this country. The white-washed walls were variously decorated with all kinds of drawings and pictures, on little tablets, which were hung around. On either side of the chimney there are permanent cupboards; and the wall beneath the windows, are lined with boards, with benches against them, upon which one may sit. Ş The cupboards and all the other wood-work was painted with a grayblue color.
There are several different churches in the town, which deserve to be mentioned. 1. The English church, which was built in 1695, is situated at the western end of the town. It is built of stone, and has a steeple with a bell in it. 2 The new Dutch church is pretty large, also of stone, and provided with a steeple. Besides this, it has also a clock which strikes the hour, which is the only one in the town. This church stands lengthwise, north and south. As a general thing, no rule is here observed in regard to the direction in which sacred edifices are built ; one church stands, as is customary, east and west, the other north and soutb; and the rest vary in the same way. In the Dutch church there was no altar, no sacristy, no choir gallery, no chandelier, no image, or picture Around the church, however, stood various trees, on which account it preseuted the appearance as if it stood in the woods. 3. The old Dutch church, like the new, is built of stone, but is not as large. This one was painted inside, but without images, and ornamented with a small organ, which was donated to the congregation by Governor Burnet. The males nearly all sat on the galleries, and the women below in the church. 4. The Presbyterian church was only newly built, pretty large, of stone, with a steeple and a bell in it. 5. The German Evangelical Church. 6. The German Reformed Church. 7. The French Church, in which worship those Reformed, who on account of their religion, fled from France. 8. The Meeting House of the Quakers. To these may also be added the Jewish Synagogue.
*All of which was perhaps prophetic of the future human Babel, which “the town of New York” was destined to become.
† To us the wonder ariseth, whether they were not wiser and happier in this "enjoying themselves" than their successors are, in spending their evenings in other palaces. There is no doubt that in those days of palmy simplicity, home and the family were far inore "popular places of amusement "both in New York and other places, than they are now. We believe some houses in New York are now carpeted. We understand these have been removed to give place to sofus.
Toward the Sea, at the extreme point of the land, there is a pretty good fortress, which is called Fort George. It can fully command the Harbor, and protect the town against the sudden incursion of an enemy, at least from the direction of the sea. Besides this, on the northern land-side, it is also protected by pile-work; this, however, since there has been for a long time no occasion to fear an enemy, is in various parts pretty much rotted down.
There is no very good water to be found in the town itself. But a little distance out of town there is a beautiful and fine flowing spring, from which the inhabitants fetch all the water which they use for tea, for driuking, and for the better preparation of their victuals. Still such as are less delicate in their taste, use for these purposes the water procured from the wells in town, bad as it is.* On account of this scarcity of good water, the horses of strangers who come to town, especially, suffer much, and they very reluctantly drink that which is taken from the wells.
There is a market held in town, twice a week, nearly in the same manper as in Philadelphia. But there is this inconvenience, that several localities are appointed for this purpose, on which account it happens that what is wanted cannot at all times be procured at one place, but must be sought in different places.
There are two printers in the town. English papers are published weekly, which contain news from all quarters of the world.
In the summer the inbabitants are at times sufficiently well troubled by flies. These come in part by following into town the hay which is made in the low lands near town, where the grass is saturated by the salt water of the sea ; and partly they come by following the cattle which return to the town in the evening. I have as well experienced myself, as seen in others, how very much these insects can disfigure one's face during the night, so that one must be ashamed to appear before the people, seeing the skin is covered all over with blotches. I
*We have been informed that the New Yorkers still procure their water for family use, from " a spring outside of town," but we believe it is one farther out than the one mentioned by our author. We are informed also, that the water is no more carried in buckets, but is brought in by an ingenious contrivance wbich is said to be far more convenient.
+ It is said that the vumber of printers and newspapers, has of late years increased in New York.
It is said that the modern New Yorkers have a certain kind of powder, by which such little blemishes of the countenance are nicely covered. Whetber dies are still so plenty, WJ are not able to say.
In the last number of the Guardian, we gave a sketch of one of those itinerant Shoemakers who used to travel the circuit in the rural districts of Pennsylvania. We dow propose to call attention to one of another craft—the itinerant Blacksmith. For be it considered, that if the boys needed shoes, so did the horses, though of another kind. Besides this, the ploughs needed coulters and shares, the barrows teeth, the wagons and carts tires. Then the axes, hoes and forks, needed fixing up; and, in short, there were fifty things ont of order in the various farming implements, which waited for the returning blacksmith.
Most every farmer bad bis blacksmith shop, and a pretty good set of tools, wherewith all bis own work could be easily done. Some eight or ten shops constituted the circuit of one blacksmith, which he travelled with great fidelity and regularity, giving one, two, three or more days to each farmer. It was pleasant if there chanced to be a rainy day in summer, or a snow storm in winter, for “the boys” to spend some time with the blacksmith, to put a rivet in a knife, to make a corn-husker, or to fix some other small matter that belonged to the business and arrangement of the juveniles.
Boys have there fancies; and there was a time, as we well remember, when there prevailed a great taste for a kind of little midjature iron half-moons resembling horse-shoes, which were nicely fastened to the heel of boys' shoes in winter time. Sometimes they were inlaid in the leather of the heel, making a firm enamel around the edge. They were of course neatly made and nicely polished ; and to this end the old blacksmith's aid was often necessary in the making of them. · Considerable ambition was sometimes manifested in the shops on rainy or snowy days, in the attempt of each juvenile to outdo the other in this business, under the incidental direction of the blacksmith. He was always willing to give instructions; but one rule had to be observed, they must "keep out of his way,” and neither disturb his iron in the fire with their beatings, nor use any of the tools which be needed. Good-natured as he was, and always disposed to mingle mery with justice, yet an infringement on this rule would either stop the business of the offender, or perhaps cause his banishment from the shop. For it was well understood, and regarded as right, that the blacksmith was “monarch of all he surveyed,” with a perfect right to make such roles as were necessary to protect the proper business of the shop; and we all knew that we were there, not by right, but by indulgence.
The blacksmith was a very useful man in the community. He not only kept the iron matters belonging to the farm in good working order, but at such time as there was no call for such work, he was always willing to turn his hand to any other service. He was especially useful in harvest and hay-making, when bis time was often divided between the shop and the field. In winter he was often found among such as handle the axe and the maul; and whole woods were laid low under his firm and persevering strokes.
Much as we have said and implied to his praise, the blacksmith had one fault.
When we think of it, we are always reminded of the story of a certain Elder of the church who had built a new mill. He thought it was without defect; and he took pride in showing it to his friends. Once upon a time he was visited by his Pastor. Knowing the good Pastor's taste for nice works of art, he of course invited him to see bis mill. When he had conducted him through all its parts, and pointed out to him all its conveniences and perfections, he asked the Pastor what he thought of it?
“ It has one fault,” said the Pastor, fixing his eyes on his Elder with solemn earnestness.
“A fault,” said the Elder in anxious surprise—"one fault-you are the first man that has discovered the least defect in the work. Tell me what it is; no money shall be spared to make it perfect."
" It has one fault,” continued the Pastor, looking still more solemn and earnest, “a fault that mars all its other beauties and perfections—a fault that will, in the end, ruin the whole mill-a fault, however, that may prove the ruin of your family, and of yourself, in soul and body, in this life, and that to come!"
"Why, my dear Pastor, you alarm me! Pray tell me what that fault is, and it shall be immediately remedied.”
“It runs on Sunday !” meekly said the Pastor, “a most serious fault, and one which will subject either it or yourself to the serious consequences to which I have referred."
“ It shall be remedied," said the Elder ; "and I am sorry that in my thoughtlessness I did not see it myself. I know it is a fault just as serious as you have represented it, and I thank you for calling my attention to it."
It is said that the Elder sent the first bag of flour to the Pastor that came from the new mill, after that interview; and from that time forth, to its other excellences was added this virtue, that it remembered the Sabbath day to keep it holy.
In like manner, our blacksmith, among all his excellencies, had one serious fault; and one which we fear proved his ruin : He drank too much liquor! Every now and then he would betake himself to a fearful spree. The taverns between the different points of his circuit were bad places to him. Often would he arrive a day later than he promised, to the great inconvenience of the farmer who expected him, having not only been detained at these tippling places, but also clearly relieved of all his earnings. When he thus arrived, still drunk, he was never irritable, but always tender, and seemed to find some relief in confessing his fault with tears; and was ready to make promises of amendment, which, however, these tippling houses would sweep away like cob-webs the very next time his business called him to pass them!
When a young man he had been a soldier in the war of 1812 ; and on one occasion narrowly escaped with his life. When under the influence of liquor, it was only necessary to refer to this fact, to call forth from him a flood of tears. He often felt, deeply felt, his misery ; but