Philander Doesticks.

Doesticks: What He Says



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My madness was now over – the intoxication of love was dissipated, and I was once more able to get about my business without having a feminine name constantly present to my eyes. The stages, the dry-goods' boxes, the streets and signs, were once more lettered in sensible characters. I was guilty of no more poetry, went to no more operas – in short, exhibited no longer any of the signs of insanity, but relapsed at once into my former unpoetical condition – the spell was broken – the blind fiend was exorcised – reason got back to her old bunk, and "Richard was himself again."

The difference in my mental condition occasioned my landlady considerable alarm; while I had lived on love, and paid five dollars a week for the privilege of sitting down at table only, she had considered me a profitable boarder; but the disappearance of beef and substantials generally, consequent upon my returning appetite, sensibly diminish her esteem for me. I fancy I can perceive a change in her treatment, for she sets the bread and butter as far away from me as possible.

P. S. – She has raised my board to eight dollars a week, and with a consciousness that I deserve it, I submit.

XV
Modern Patent Piety – Church-Going in the City

Persons from the rural districts – who are visiting the city for the first time, and who have all their lives been accustomed to no more pretentious religious edifices than the old fashioned country meeting-house, with a "steeple," either of the extinguisher or pepper-castor pattern; with great square hot-house windows, built expressly to concentrate and reflect upon the innocent congregation the hottest rays of the sun, as if religion was a green-house plant, and would only bloom beneath a forced and artificial heat – usually expend no small portion of their simple wonder upon the magnificent temples of the town, which aspiring congregations erect ostensibly for the worship of the manger-cradled Saviour.

It usually too requires some considerable time for such a behind-the-times person to lay aside all his antiquated notions of religion, in which love, charity, and good will to men were essential elements, but which primitive idea of Christianity has, in the more enlightened city precincts, been long since exploded, and adopt the more convenient and showy piety which fashionable city people wear on Sundays – the constituent parts of which are too often only ostentation and vanity, veneered with a thin shell of decency and decorum. Such church-going people are remarkably easy on the Bible – most of the doctrines therein inculcated having been long since explained away by their three-thousand-dollar clergyman, who measures his people for their religion, and fits them with as much nicety as their tailors or dressmakers do in the case of more visible wardrobe. One or two Sundays after my first appearance in this town of patent Christianity, I attended service for the first time.

Having seen the opera with detestation, the theatres with approbation, George Christy with cachinnation, and No.

2 Dey street with affiliation; having visited Castle Garden, the model artists, and the American Museum; in fact, knowing something of almost all the other places of amusement in the city, I resolved to complete and crown my knowledge by going to church, and I hope I may receive due credit for my pursuit of amusement under difficulties. I made known my heroic determination to my new-found friends, and they instantly resolved to bear me company – Bull Dogge by way of variety, and Damphool from force of habit – (Bull Dogge seldom goes to church, and Damphool always does).

Sunday morning came, and the aforesaid individuals presented themselves – B. D. looked pugnacious and pugilistic, and Damphool perfectly marvellous – in fact, majestic as this latter-named person had ever borne himself, and importantly huge as he had ever appeared, his coat tails were now so wonderfully short, his collar so enviably large, and so independently upright, and his hat so unusually and magnificently lofty, that he certainly looked a bigger Damphool than ever before.

Walked up Broadway through a crowd of people of all sorts, sizes, colors, and complexions; countrymen running over every third man they met; New Yorkers threading their way through apparently un-get-thro'-a-ble crowds without ruffling their tempers or their shirt collars – (By the way, I have discovered that no one but a genuine New Yorker, born and bred, can cross Broadway upon a dignified walk;) firemen in red shirts, and their coats over their arms; newsboys with a very scanty allowance of shirt, and no coats at all; Dutch emigrants, with dirty faces, nasty breeches, and long loppy looking pipes; Irish emigrants, with dirtier faces, nastier breeches, and short, stubbier pipes; spruce-looking darkies, and wenches arrayed in rainbow-colored habiliments – and at last reached the door of the church.

For about a quarter of a mile on either side of the entrance there extended a row of carriages, lined with satin, with velvet cushions; and on every carriage there were a couple of men with white gloves on, gold bands round their hats, a black rosette on the side, and a short cloak over their shoulders, with cloth enough in the multitudinous capes of each to make a full suit of clothes for a common-sized man, and three or four half grown boys. Bull Dogge informed me that these were the liveried flunkies of our republican aristocracy, and that it was made their business to sit outside the church and watch the lazy over-fed horses, while their owners were inside saying American "amens" to democratic prayers that liberty and equality may be established over all the earth.

The coachman spends his Sabbath hours in the pious occupation of cracking his whip at the little boys who are playing marbles on the side-walk, reading the Sunday papers, and saying hard words at the flies which make his horses shake their nettings off – while the genteel footman goes to sleep in the carriage, with his boots out of the window, and only arouses from his slumber in time to open the door for my lady, as she comes from her courtly devotions.

We passed the scrutiny of these gentlemen without exciting any audible impertinence, and reached the door of the church. Everything looked so grandly gingerbready that I hesitated about going in. Little boy in the corner (barefooted, with a letter in the post-office) told us to "go in," and called us "lemons." Did not perceive the force of his pomological remark, but "went in" nevertheless. Man in a white cravat showed us to a pew; floor covered with carpet, and seat covered with damask, with little stools to kneel down upon. Bull Dogge says that at one time the prevailing style of pantaloons nearly caused a division in the church, which was however compromised by an alteration in the litany, and allowing the gentlemen to stand during the performance of certain prayers instead of kneeling down, which latter feat was difficult of accomplishment, on account of the tightness of their straps. Some of the congregation were however so much offended that they stayed away, and used home-made prayers, instead of coming to church and dealing in the orthodox ready-made article.

Got inside; crowd of people; minister fenced up in a kind of back closet, in a pulpit trimmed with red velvet and gilt-edged prayer-books.

Pretty soon, music – organ – sometimes grand and solemn, but generally fast and lively enough for a contra-dance. (B. D. said the player got a big salary to show off the organ, and draw a big house.)

He commenced to play Old Hundred (Damphool suggests Ancient Century).

At first, majestic as it should be, but soon his left hand began to get unruly among the bass notes, then the right cut up a few monkey shines in the treble; left threw in a large assortment of quavers, right led off with a grand flourish and a few dozen variations; left struggled manfully to keep up, but soon gave out, dead beat, and after that went back to first principles, and hammered away religiously at Old Hundred, in spite of the antics of its fellow; right struck up a march, marched into a quick step, quickened into a gallop; left still kept at Old Hundred; right put in all sorts of fantastic extras, to entice the left from its sense of propriety; left still unmoved; right put in a few bars of a popular waltz; left wavers a little; right strikes up a favorite polka; left evidently yielding; right dashes into a jig; left now fairly deserts its colors and goes over to the enemy, and both commence an animated hornpipe, leaving poor Old Hundred to take care of itself.

Then with a crash, a squeak, a rush, a roar, a rumble, and an expiring groan, the overture concluded and service began.

First, a prayer; then a response; prayer; response; by the priest and people alternately, like the layers of bread and butter, and ham and mustard in a sandwich; then a little sing, then a little preach, then more petitions and more responses.

Damphool read the entire service, Minister's cues included, and sung all the hymns. I noticed that Bull Dogge gave all the responses with a great deal of energy and vigor. He said he always liked to come to this kind of Church, because when they jawed religion at him, he could jaw back.

Kept as cool as I could, but could not help looking round now and then to see the show.

Elderly lady on my right, very devout, gilt edged prayer-book, gold-covered fan, feathers in her bonnet, rings on her fingers, and for all I know, "bells on her toes."

Antiquated gentleman in same slip, well preserved but somewhat wrinkled, smells of Wall street, gold spectacles, gold-headed cane, put three cents in the plate.

Fashionable little girl on the left – two flounces on her pantalettes, and a diamond ring over her glove.

Young America looking boy, four years old, patent leather boots, standing collar, gloves, cane, and cigar case in his pocket.

Foppish young man with adolescent moustache, pumps, legs ? la spermaceti candles, shirt front embroidered ? la 2.40 race horse, cravat ? la Julien, vest ? la pumpkin pie, hair ? la soft soap, coat-tails ? la boot-jack, which when parted discovered a view of the Crystal Palace by gas-light on the rear of his pantaloons, wristbands ? la stove pipe, hat ? la wild Irishman, cane to correspond; total effect ? la Shanghae.

Artificial young lady, extreme of fashion; can't properly describe her, but here goes: whalebone, cotton, paint and whitewash; slippers ? la Ellsler, feet ? la Japanese, dress ? la Paris, shawl ? la eleven hundred dollars, parasol ? la mushroom, ringlets ? la corkscrew, arms ? la broomstick, bonnet ? la Bowery gal (Bull Dogge says the boy with buttons on him, brought it in, in a teaspoon, fifteen minutes after she entered the house), neck ? la scrag of mutton, complexion ? la mother of pearl, appearance generally ? la humbug. (Bull Dogge offers to bet his hat, she don't know a cabbage from a new cheese, and can't tell whether a sirloin steak is beef, chicken, or fresh fish.)

At length, with another variette upon the organ, and all the concentrated praise and thanksgiving of the congregation, sung by four people up stairs, the service concluded. I thought from the manner of this last performance, each member of the choir imagined the songs of praise would never get to Heaven if he didn't give them a personal boost, in the shape of an extra yell.

Left the Church with a confused idea that the only way to attain eternal bliss, is to go to Church every Sunday, and to give liberally to the Foreign Missionary cause.

Bull Dogge tried to convince me, that one half the people present, thought that Fifth avenue runs straight into Heaven, and that their through tickets are insured, their front seats reserved, and that when they are obliged to leave this world, they will find a coach and four, and two servants in livery, ready to take them right through to the other side of Jordan.

XVI
Benevolence Run Mad – Charitable Cheating

I was so much affected by the services of the Church, had my feelings so much excited, and all my benevolent and charitable nature so thoroughly aroused by the sermon, that I felt an irresistible desire to rush out and give somebody something.

For I know that I am charitable; I feel it in my bones, like rheumatism. I always give money to the begwoman, who has such a large family at home; and to the whiny boy, with a club-foot, who asks charity on behalf of his sick mother.

True, I have seen the old lady when she was evidently inebriated, and apparently disposed to harangue the crowd in high Dutch – but then she was in excellent company; noble-looking men, with stars on their bosoms – and I have discovered that the club-footed boy changes all his money into cents, and gambles it away, playing "pitchpenny" in Theatre-alley; still, I keep on giving.

But it is also a fact that I am not always able to comply with the demands upon my purse. Twice have I been invited to "calico" parties, and at the bottom of each note was a modest request that I would make my appearance arrayed in such apparel only, as I would be willing to donate next day to the Five-Points Mission.

Could have done like the others – bought a ready-made coat and vest and given them with the greatest pleasure – but the hint in the invitation seemed to include the entire wardrobe brought into requisition on the occasion, and when I thought of a Five-Points darkey in my ruffled shirt and gold studs, I was "suddenly indisposed," and sent my "regrets."

But I did go to a ball for the benefit of the poor – a two-dollar commingling of "upper-tendom" with "lower-twentydom" – an avalanche of exclusiveness, in a torrent of mobocracy – where the crowd was so great that faces lost their identity, and I was only conscious of a hustling mass of dressed up humanity – a forest of broadcloth wrecked in an ocean of calico. I barely escaped with life, and reached home in a state of collapse.

Afterward, went to a concert in behalf of the poor – where I sat all the evening in a hard seat with a number on the back to see a woman make faces at a well-dressed audience, and sing music which I could not understand – the people all applauded when she screamed, and threw bouquets at her when she made a noise like a swamp-blackbird.

But after listening to the stirring address before alluded to, I felt that I had not done enough; so, obedient to the promptings of my impulsive nature, I determined to give something more, and being so far cityfied in my habits that I desired to combine amusement with charity, and only give my money to the needy after I had received its worth in dancing, got its full value in foreign music at a high price, or eaten its equivalent in oysters and ice-cream at some kind of a pseudo-charitable gathering, I looked about me for some fitting opportunity to bestow my charity on the deserving poor, after making it previously pay for some delectation for myself.

It did not take me long to find out that there was soon to be a ladies' fair, in aid of the poor, given by the benevolent ladies of the Church of the Holy Poker.

Damphool (who can't give up city associations, and who wouldn't read his Bible if it wasn't printed in New York) had sent to me from his rural solitude to procure him a dressing-gown, a pair of slippers, and a crocheted worsted comforter.

Thought I couldn't have a better opportunity to purchase these, and so I went to the fair.

Got to the hall, paid my twenty-five cents at the door, went in – saw plenty of long tables, with ladies behind them playing "keep store" – tables covered with mysterious articles of baby linen, and complicated pieces of female harness, designed for uses to me unknown, and also all sorts of impracticable unnecessaries intended for gentlemen.

Slippers that you couldn't get on; smoking caps that could never, by any possibility, fit anybody (shaped like a Chinese pagoda, and full of tinsel and spangles to make them prickly); cigar cases, that you couldn't get a cigar into without breaking both ends off (perhaps they expect us to smoke "stubs," like the newsboys); pin-cushions, stuffed so hard they would turn the point of a marlin-spike; watch cases, just big enough to hold a three cent piece; pen wipers, that fill the point of a pen full of wool – and divers other nonsensical inconveniences fabricated by speculating females, the patterns being always very short, and the stitches very long (I suppose they think we don't know the difference), to palm off upon victimized gentlemen; and these latter resignedly submit to a price so exorbitant, that if a Chatham-street Israelite had the impudence to ask it they'd straighten out his fish-hook nose like a darning needle.

The prettiest looking girls are always placed where the least attractive-looking merchandise is displayed, and they ask the biggest kind of prices, trusting to the gallantry of the gentlemen "not to beat them down," flattering themselves, I suppose, that their pretty looks are "value received" for the exchange.

One consequence of this arrangement is, that every buyer spends all the money he has in his purse, taking in exchange therefor a lot of stuff so utterly useless, and so ridiculously absurd, that after having it on his table for a week or so to laugh at, he is fain to get rid of the rubbish, by giving the whole to his chamber-maid.

Sometimes your purchases will hold together till you leave the room, and sometimes not; you must show yourself a man, and "equal to either fortune."

There was a post-office; pretty girl called me; had a letter for me; bought it; paid ten cents; nothing in it – blank.

Solicitous young lady very anxious to have me give her twenty-five cents to tell me how much I weighed; paid her the money, and she told me within fifty-one pounds and a half.

Young woman wanted me to invest in the "grab bag;" gave half a dollar, and fished in; got, in three times trying, a tin whistle, half a stick of candy, and a peanut done up in tissue paper.

Went on to the auction table, where, after much competition with a ringleted miss (who was put there to make Peter Funk bids against probable purchasers), succeeded in bidding in a China vase, which I soon discovered had a hole in the bottom, and wouldn't hold water any more than it would bake pork. If I had bought it anywhere else should have thought I had been swindled, and have demanded my money back, but here I supposed it was an exemplification of some newly discovered principle of fair dealing with which I was not yet acquainted.

Was much amused with the way they disposed of the unsold goods – certain number of articles, (things left at the tables tended by the homely girls) and for each article twenty tickets were put into a hat, whence they were drawn out singly, and the last tickets drawn were to have the prizes – should have thought it was just the same as a lottery, if I had not been acquainted with the ladies, and known they wouldn't do anything so naughty.

Came to a place where an old lady, with steel spectacles, was cutting up a loaf of cake into particularly small pieces – asked what it meant – was told there was a gold ring somewhere in the cake, and they proposed to sell each piece for a quarter of a dollar, and give the ring to the lucky buyer – wondered if it wasn't another lottery on a small scale, but supposed it couldn't be – went to the supper-room.

It is a curious metropolitan fact, that at parties, balls, or wherever a refreshment-table is spread, every man seems to regard it as his duty to fill himself to the very lips with all the "delicacies of the season," and to accomplish it in the least time possible – as if he was a gun, and anxious to ascertain his calibre, and find out how quickly he could be loaded in case of necessity.

And the ladies are not far behind; this evening I learned how much a female can eat in a charitable cause.

A pale-faced ball-room belle is a modern Sphinx – a gastronomic problem, whose solution will probably never be satisfactorily expounded.

Under the impression that she would not eat more than I had money to pay for, I invited a lady to take some refreshments, and I certainly think that, like the countryman, she imagined she was bound to eat all the bill-of-fare called for.

She ate stewed oysters – fried oysters – boiled turkey with oyster sauce, celery – oysters on the shell – ice cream, sponge cake, and Charlotte russe – Roman punch, two water-ices, coffee, sandwiches, cold sausage, lobster salad, oysters broiled, also stewed again, and six on the shell – orange jelly, grape ditto, cake; she then hinted again at oysters, but as the supply had run out, she was obliged to go hungry – paid the bill with a certified check on the Merchants' Bank, which luckily covered the amount, and greatly relieved my mind; for I feared there would be a balance which I would have to give my note for.

Having previously procured the articles required for my friend, I immediately left – go home – got there, and proceeded to examine my purchases – found that the slippers – having been pasted together without the slightest regard to permanency, had come apart in my pocket, my comforter had ravelled out, so that I had about six inches comforter, and a wad of yarn big enough to make a horse blanket – my dressing-gown had been made of a moth-eaten remnant, and where there was any sewing, every stitch was as long as a railroad, but the sleeves had, I verily believe, been put in with court plaster, and the long seams closed with carpenter's glue.



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