Walls to Kick and Hills to Sing from: A Comedy with Interruptions

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We bade our new friends, whom I like better than some old ones, good-by, and walked briskly on to the Battery, to see them as they passed it. The sun was intensely hot; and as I struggled forward, hooked up to this young Sheffield giant, I thought we were the living illustration of Hood's "Long and Short" of it.

We gained the battery, and saw the steam-boat round; our travellers kept the deck with "hat and glove and handkerchief," as long as we could see them. This Battery is a beautiful marine parade, commanding the harbour and entrance of the bay, with Governor's Island, and its dusky red fort, and the woody shores of New Jersey and Long Island.

A sort of public promenade, formed of grass plots, planted with a variety of trees, affords a very agreeable position from whence to enjoy the lovely view. My companion informed me that this was a fashionable resort [Pg 30] some time ago; but owing to its being frequented by the lowest and dirtiest of the rabble, who in this land of liberty roll themselves on the grass, and otherwise annoy the more respectable portion of the promenaders, it has been much deserted lately, and is now only traversed by the higher classes as a thoroughfare.

The trees and grass were vividly and luxuriantly green; but the latter grew rank and long, unshorn and untidy. Came home up Broadway, which is a long street of tolerable width, full of shops, in short the American Oxford Road, where all people go to exhibit themselves and examine others.

The women that I have seen hitherto have all been very gaily dressed, with a pretension to French style, and a more than English exaggeration of it. They all appear to me to walk with a French shuffle, which, as their pavements are flat, I can only account for by their wearing shoes made in the French fashion, which are enough in themselves to make a waddler of the best walker that ever set foot to earth.

Two or three were pretty girls; but the town being quite empty, these are probably bad specimens of the graces and charms that adorn Broadway in its season of shining. Came home and had tea; after which my father, I, and Mr. Wallack was to act in the Rent Day. Mercy, how strange I felt as I once more set foot in a theatre; the sound of the applause set my teeth on edge. The house is pretty, though rather gloomy, well formed, about the size of the Haymarket, with plenty of gold carving, and red silk about it, looking rich and warm.

The audience was considerable, but all men; scarce, I should think, twenty women in the dress circle, where, by the by, as well as in the private boxes, I saw men sitting with their hats on.

The doorbell

The Rent Day is a thorough melodrama, only the German monster has put on a red waistcoat and top boots. Nathless this is a good thing of a bad sort: the incidents, though not all probable, or even as skilfully tacked together as they might be, are striking and dramatically effective, and the whole piece turns on those home feelings, those bitterest realities of every-day life, that wring one's heart, beyond the pain that one allows works of fiction to excite.

As for the imitation of Wilkie's pictures, the first was very [Pg 31] pretty, but the second I did not see, my face being buried in my handkerchief, besides having a quarter less seven fathom of tears over it, at the time. I cried most bitterly during the whole piece; for as in his very first scene Wallack asks his wife if she will go with him to America, and she replies, "What!

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The manager's wife and another woman were in the box, which was his, and I thought we should have carried away the front of it with our tears. Wallack played admirably: I had never seen him before, and was greatly delighted with his acting. I thought him handsome of a rustic kind, the very thing for the part he played, a fine English yeoman: he reminded me of ——. At the end of the play, came home with a tremendous headach: sat gossiping and drinking lemonade. Presently a tap at the door came, and through the door came Mr. I shook hands with him, and began expatiating on the impertinence of people's not enquiring down stairs whether we were at home or not before they came up—I don't believe he took my idea.

He is a nice good-tempered young Irishman, with more tongue than brains, but still clever enough: I am sorry he is going. Came to bed-room at eleven, remained up till one, unpacking goods and chattels. Mercy on me, what a cargo it is! They have treated us like ambassadors, and not one of our one-and-twenty huge boxes have been touched.

Rose at eight. After breakfast, began writing to my brother; while doing so they brought up Captain ——'s and Mr. I was delighted to see our dear Captain again, who, in spite of his glorious slip-slop, is a glorious fellow. They sat some time. Colonel —— called—he walks my father off his legs. When they were all gone, finished letter and wrote journal. Unpacked and sorted things. A cheating German woman came here this morning with some bewitching canezous and [Pg 32] pelerines: I chose two that I wanted, and one very pretty one that I didn't; but as she asked a heathen price for 'em, I took only the former;—dear good little me!

After dinner, sang and played to my father, "all by the light of the moon. He said to me, "Is there not reason to be grateful to God, when we look at these fair things? He told me that he had begun a song on board ship for the last Saturday night, but that, not feeling well, he had given it up, but the very same ideas I had made use of had occurred to him. This is not surprising; the ideas were so obvious that there was no escaping them.

My father is ten years younger since he came here, already. Colonel —— came in after tea, and took my father off to the Bowery theatre. I remained with D——, singing and stitching, and gossiping till twelve o'clock. My father has been introduced to half the town, and tells me that far from the democratic Mister , which he expected to be every man's title here, he had made the acquaintance of a score of municipal dignitaries, and some sixty colonels and major generals—of militia. Their omnibuses are vehicles of rank, and the Ladies [Pg 33] Washington, Clinton, and Van Rensalear, [2] rattle their crazy bones along the pavement for all the world like any other old women of quality.

These democrats are as title-sick as a banker's wife in England. My father told me to-day, that Mr. The feeling of rank, of inequality, is inherent in us, a part of the veneration of our natures; and like most of our properties seldom finds its right channels—in place of which it has created artificial ones suited to the frame of society into which the civilised world has formed itself.

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I believe in my heart that a republic is the noblest, highest, and purest form of government; but I believe that, according to the present disposition of human creatures, 'tis a mere beau ideal, totally incapable of realisation. What the world may be fit for six hundred years hence, I cannot exactly perceive; but in the mean time, 'tis my conviction that America will be a monarchy before I am a skeleton. One of the curses of living at an inn in this unceremonious land:—Dr.

I behaved very ill , as I always do on these occasions; but 'tis an impertinence, and I shall take good care to certify such to be my opinion of these free-and-easy proceedings. The man had a silly manner, but he may be a genius for all that. He abused General Jackson, and said the cholera was owing to his presidency; for that Clay had predicted that when he came into power, battle, pestilence, and famine, would come upon the land: which prophecy finds its accomplishment thus: they have had a war with the Indians, the cholera has raged, and the people, flying from the infected cities to the country, have eaten half the farmers out of house and home.

This hotel reminds me most extremely of our "iligant" and untidy apartments in dear nasty Dublin, at the Shelbourne. The paper in our bed-room is half [Pg 34] peeling from the walls, our beds are without curtains: then to be sure there are pier looking-glasses, and one or two pieces of showy French furniture in it. I can't think how they endure it; but, however, I have a fever at all those things.

My father asked me, this evening, to write a sonnet about the wild pigeons welcoming us to America; I had thought of it with scribbling intent before, but he wants me to get it up here, and that sickened me. Rose at eight: after breakfast tidied my dressing-box, mended and tucked my white muslin gown—wrote journal: while doing so, Colonel —— came to take leave of us for a few days: he is going to join his wife in the country.

Walls to Kick and Hills to Sing from: A Comedy with Interruptions

I sent word down that my father was out, knowing no such person, and supposing the waiter had mistaken whom he asked for; but the gentleman persisted in seeing me, and presently in walked a good-looking elderly man, who introduced himself as Mr. He sat himself down, and pottered a little, and then went away. When he was gone, Mr. He had been a great auctioneer, but had retired from business, having, among his other honours, filled the office of Mayor of New York.

My father and Mr. Within a hundred yards of each other, the Town-Hall lay, with its white walls glowing in the sunset, while the tall grey church-steeple was turning pale in the clear moonlight. That Town Hall is a white-washed anomaly, and yet its effect is not altogether bad. I took a bath at the house behind it, which is very conveniently arranged for that purpose, with a French sort of gallery, all papered with the story of Psyche in lead-coloured paper, that reminded me of the doughy immortals I used to admire so much, at the inns at Abbeville and Montreuil.

The house was kept by [Pg 35] a foreigner—I knew it. My father proposed to us a walk, and we accordingly sallied forth. We walked to the end of Broadway, a distance of two miles, I should think, and then back again. The evening was most lovely. The moon was lighting the whole upper sky, but every now and then, as we crossed the streets that led to the river, we caught glimpses of the water, and woody banks, and the sky that hung over them; which all were of that deep orange tint, that I never saw but in Claude's pictures. After walking nearly a mile up Broadway, we came to Canal Street: it is broader and finer than any I have yet seen in New York; and at one end of it, a Christian church, copied from some Pagan temple or other, looked exceedingly well, in the full flood of silver light that streamed from heaven.

There were many temptations to look around, but the flags were so horribly broken and out of order, that to do so was to run the risk of breaking one's neck:—this is very bad. The men did not jostle or push one another, or tread upon one's feet, or kick down one's shoe heels, or crush one's bonnet into one's face, or turn it round upon one's head, all which I have seen done in London streets. There is this to be said: this crowd was abroad merely for pleasure, sauntering along, which is a thing never seen in London; the proportion of idle loungers who frequent the streets there being very inconsiderable, when compared with the number of people going on business through the town.


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I observed that the young men to-night invariably made room for women to pass, and many of them, as they drew near us, took the cigar from their mouth, which I thought especially courteous.

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