Doesticks: What He Saysскачать книгу бесплатно
Here too, almost every other doorway is ornamented with daguerreotypes of distinguished personages Ц negro-dancers duly equipped with banjo, tamborine and clappers Ц militia officers rigged out in all the glory of feathers and tinsel Ц supreme rulers of Know-Nothing Lodges, resplendent in the full regalia of that astute and sapient order Ц and whole dozens of pictures of the beauteous model artists who exercise their modest calling in that vicinage; whose names are fanciful enough, but whose physical embellishments are not always the ones commonly attributed to the mythical characters they represent.
"Kitty Clover" with splay-feet and dirty silk tights as "Venus Rising from the Sea," "Lilly Dale" cross-eyed and knock-kneed, as the "Greek Slave" Ц "Kate Kearney," with eyes rolled up, mock-pearls in her hair, in an attitude which must be exceedingly trying, as "Morning Prayer," or a trio of clumsy squaw-like damsels with smirking faces and stumpy limbs, as the "Three Graces."
Not only are all these works of art exhibited gratis by the public-spirited habiters of Chatham Street and the Bowery, but they have an infinity of other exhibitions, which cannot be classified as either gratuitous, theatrical or amphitheatrical, to see which a fee is demanded, moderate but peremptory, trifling but inevitable.
These consist principally of ferocious beasts captured by heroic men, and brought from their native fastnesses to astonish the city people Ц of deformed and monstrous beings which should be human, but whom nature has sent into the world destitute of arms or legs, or vital organs, the lack of which makes these curtailed individuals objects of wonder, of mystery, and of three-cent speculation Ц and of various animals, human and otherwise, trained to perform unheard of feats of strength, agility, or juggling sleight.
The whereabouts of these interesting prodigies is made known by huge paintings on nobody-knows-how-many square yards of canvass; and generally by a decrepit hurdy-gurdy played in a masterly manner by the enterprising proprietor, who occasionally varies his performance by reciting at the top of his voice the leading attractions of his exhibitions, and extending to the bystanders a general invitation to walk in, and get their money's worth.
Reader, whose dainty musical and dramatic tastes, our theatrical and operatic managers fail to gratify; who have laughed your fill at Burton, and at Forrester; who have tired of Vestvali, Steffanone, D'Ormy, and the rest; who have grown sick of Badiali, impatient of Brignoli, and tired of both; who have ceased to interest yourself in the "Happy Family" either at the Academy of Music or at Barnam's; whose sickened ear is fatigued with the burnt-cork lyrics of Christy, Buckley, and their sooty accomplices in questionable harmonies; you, who know every inch in the circle of fashionable amusement, and long for some novelty to break the monotony of the tedious track; pray discard the Shanghae coat, don a more sensible and less noticeable garb, step from the Broadway sphere to the Bowery precincts, and there look upon wonders hitherto unknown, and which will heartily astonish your bewildered optics.
Let us begin with the Anacondas, and the "only living Rhinoceros;" let me speak, and you hold your breath, and marvel.
Pause ere you enter the apartment containing these prodigies of Natural History Ц these dread-inspiring denizens of the mighty rivers and impenetrable morasses of the tropics, examine carefully the gorgeous painting which decks the outside of the building.
How majestic in design! how masterly in the execution! Criticism is silent, and we can only speak to commend.
Observe the brilliancy of the coloring; the vivid red and yellow spots upon the serpents, which wind their powerful folds about that noble charger Ц (you thought it was a windmill? No, Sir! I have inspected it carefully, and I am positive it is intended for a horse.)
See with what an air of stolid placidity, and sleepy complacency, his rider, the gallant Indian Chief (you took him for the "Fat Boy"?†Ц the mistake is perhaps excusable, but it is not the "Fat Boy,") draws his arrow to the head to pierce the slimy monster; (arrow? you imagined it a fish pole? wrong, my friend, palpably wrong, the instrument may suggest fish-pole, but it is undoubtedly meant for arrow;) whose tail, the artist, with a noble disregard of the principles of perspective which stamps him as an original genius, has caused to rest upon a mountain twenty miles in the distance.
Notice how the other monstrous reptile has twined himself in the branches of the palm-tree Ц (it looks like a hickory-broom.
No, sir! "it is no such thing" Ц it is most emphatically a tree Ц ) and with his fiery tongue thrust from his gaping jaws, (of course it's a tongue, and you need not assert that it resembles a barber's pole with the end split up, for it doesn't,) is about to make a frightful descent upon the other steed. (Another
horse? Yes, sir! another horse, although you assert it to be meant for a cider barrel on a three-legged stool.)
Admire the elegant yet terrible proportions of the mighty Rhinoceros, as he stalks majestically through the tall jungle-grass (you thought that was a terrier dog looking for rats in a barn-yard, did you? Well, my friend, the resemblance certainly is striking, but do not disparage the artist, who is undoubtedly much more familiar with terrier dogs than with the other brutes, and don't find fault with the Rhinoceros because he isn't bigger than a dog, for you perceive that if he had been represented the proper size he would have covered up the snakes, hidden the Indian from our sight, and rendered the landscape invisible.)
We pay our money and go inside. What, though, upon seeking the realization of this promise of novelty, instead of the living rhinoceros we see only the dried and shrivelled skin of what was probably once a hog? and the ferocious reptiles of fabulous size shrink into a couple of exaggerated angleworms?
Let us not find fault with the showman who is only carrying on a popular business on too small a scale to be honest. He should increase his stock of curious swindles, tell bigger stories and more of them, humbug a hundred people where now he swindles one, and so make his business honest and respectable.
Our attention is next claimed by the man without any arms, who is advertised to possess tremendous strength, and can do more things with his feet than most people can with their hands; who can draw, paint, load a gun, play the piano, violin, and accordeon, cut likenesses, put on a clean collar, shave himself, tell fortunes, set type, and saw wood.
Do not grumble if, instead of an admirable Crichton, whose accomplishments are to provoke your envy, you see only a miserable cripple, necessitated by poverty and inability to work, to make an exhibition of his deformity, and the poor devices to which he is driven, to supply, in some slight degree, the absence of his limbs.
Don't forget to see the "Living Skeleton," who has seen two score years, only weighs twenty ounces, and is so thin that when he is undressed he is invisible to the naked eye.
Visit also the dancing bears, the performing dogs, the wax figures, the mineralogical, geological, and conchological collections; see the female minstrels; the alligators, who have devoured in their native country an army of men, a multitude of women, and a myriad of nigger pickaninnies; see the magician who turns chickens into mugs of ale, and transmutes iron soup kettles into purest gold; the girl who dances a hornpipe on a drum-head, amongst a dozen eggs and never breaks any; the man who swallows a sword for his dinner, and lunches daily on jack-knives and gimlets; the boy who can tie his legs in a bow-knot on the back of his neck.
Go to see the individual who balances a ladder on the end of his nose, and his canine friend, who courageously ascends to the top thereof, and barks defiance to the world,†Ц the juggler who tosses the balls and butcher knives,†Ц the Chinaman who throws flip flaps by the dozen, and makes a human cart-wheel of himself in the air, between heaven and earth, like Mahomet's coffin; Ц the learned Canary-birds which draw water, fire off guns, ring bells, and cut up all sorts of unnatural antics to earn their daily cuttlefish bone and loaf sugar; take a regular round of Bowery three cent amusements, glut your taste for novelty, take the edge off your curiosity, laugh at the bombastic humbugs enough to last you for a month; and then when the conglomeration of unaccustomed sights and sounds has tired out your aristocratic senses, go back to the Fifth Avenue world again, convinced that all the fun of the city is not located in Broadway or Chambers Street, or all the humbug concentrated between the City Hall Square and Maiden Lane.
New Year's Day in New York
The last New Year's day previous to the one herein spoken of, was passed by the subscriber on board a Mississippi steamboat Ц said boat being fast aground on a sand-bar Ц provisions all gone Ц the captain, steward, and one of the bar-keepers being occupied playing "poker" with the passengers at one end of the boat, while the more piously disposed were listening to the drawling tones of a nautical preacher, who was discoursing second-hand sanctimony at the other Ц crew all on a "bender" in the engine room, firemen all drunk on the boiler deck, and every body generally enjoying themselves.
Made no calls, myself, except at the bar, where I wished myself so many happy New Years, and so many compliments of the season, that I slept that night on a pile of cotton-wood, and when I attained my state-room, next day, I found each berth occupied by a colored fireman, both with their boots on; one with my Sunday coat under his head for a pillow, his hair decorated with sundry lumps of stone-coal, and his red flannel shirt ornamented with the contents of a tar-bucket, and the carpenter's glue-pot.
Since that eventful time, I have become a sojourner in town, and on the approach of New Year's, had felicitated myself on the prospect of seeing how New Yorkers celebrate this universal holiday.
Intended to call on my friends, and hoped, as the number of my feminine acquaintances in this immediate vicinity is small, to get through in time to spend the afternoon at my new boarding-house, where Mrs. Griggs, my landlady, and her two daughters were to receive calls, and who had invited me to be present and see "the elephant" as far as the proceedings of the day should disclose to an unsophisticated eye, his mighty and magnificent proportions.
Early in the morning, dyed my incipient but dilatory moustache into visibility, dressed myself as fashionably as the resources of my limited wardrobe would permit, and, attended by my fast friend Sandie, started on my journey, intending to "fetch up" eventually at my boarding-house, "stopping at all the intermediate posts by the way."
A word about my friend Sandie. I have become much attached to him, from his strong resemblance in habits to the "fat boy" of the Pickwick papers.
He sleeps every where.
In the omnibus, on the ferry-boat, in the store, at the Post-Office, in church, at the theatre, and even while walking along Broadway.
I have known him stop twenty-one stages in the course of an afternoon's walk by nodding at the drivers while he was enjoying a peripatetic nap. The first time I saw him I was the humble instrument of preserving his valuable existence. He had started to go to the Post-Office to mail an important letter, but had fallen asleep in Nassau street, and the bill-stickers had nearly overlaid him with show-bills, announcing that at the Bowery Theatre would be played the drama of the "Seven Sleepers," to be followed by the song "We're all a Nodding," the whole to conclude with the farce "Rip Van Winkle."
In fact, he sleeps every where, except at table.
Open his sleepy eyes to the prospect of something good to eat, and his wakefulness will be insured until the uttermost morsel is entombed in those regions of unknown capacity to which he diurnally sends such astonishing quantities of provisions.
His internal dimensions have long been a favorite theme of speculation to his friends, but, alas! the problem must ever set at defiance all the ordinary rules of mensuration.
He has occasional fits of spasmodic piety, and then tries to read his Bible, and invariably goes to sleep and lets the book fall into the ashes Ц and I verily believe, that though his eternal salvation depended upon his reading three chapters of the Gospel without having a fit of somnambulism, he would go fast asleep before he had accomplished three verses.
Put ourselves into our new clothes and started on our tour. Went to the Smiths, Thompsons, Tompkins, Greens, Browns, Wiggins, Robinsons, &c.; in all these places there was the same performance, without change of programme. I give the formula Ч
Enter Ц speak to the lady of the house Ц "happy New Year," compliments Ц happy returns Ц take a glass of wine with the ladies Ц another of brandy or punch with the father Ц nibble a little cake Ц exit Ц to be repeated "ad libitum."
At Jones' they had, on a side-table, a plate under a placard labelled "for the poor" Ц and every visitor was expected to drop in a contribution.
Some malicious person has recollected that the Joneses did the same thing last year, and his inconvenient and libellous memory has also recalled the circumstance that soon after New Year's, the two daughters of Jones had new silk dresses, and Mrs. J. rejoiced in a new cloak and hat of the richest style, and he says that Brogley, the broker, told him that on the 3rd of January last, Jones got some "tens" and "twenties" of him in exchange for small money, and made him give him two per cent. over because so much of it was silver change Ц and, in fact, he insinuates that as the money was to be "for the poor," Jones voted himself as poor as any body, and kept the proceeds Ц and rumor whispers that the Joneses won't have half so many calls this year as last, because their friends object to being taxed to pay their milliners' bills.
At Snooks' we found the doors closed, and a basket hung outside, in which to deposit cards Ц thought of the foundling hospital, &c.
Odd circumstance, very Ц but in all the parlors we visited that day I noticed one unvarying peculiarity of furniture Ц there were in no single parlor any two chairs of the same pattern Ц but they were of all shapes, sizes, dimensions, capacities, and degree of discomfort Ц from the damask-covered to the unvarnished, which looked as if they had strayed in from the kitchen. The effect of this arrangement is to impress a stranger with the idea that the owner of the establishment has been compelled to furnish his drawing-room from the chaotic assortment of a second-hand furniture store.
And, notwithstanding the recent election of a Maine Law Governor, in nearly every house, wines, brandy, punches, "hot stuff," and various inebriating drinks abounded, and every guest was compelled, on pain of slighting his host, to partake Ц the inevitable result was, that before night, many a youth, whose head might have withstood the attack of a single bottle, not being able to endure a twenty hours' siege, gave in dead-drunk Ц while others of harder heads and stronger stomachs, reeled from parlor to parlor, proclaiming the obituary of their respectability and decency, by exhibiting the noisy clamor, or idiotic gibber of beastly drunkenness, to the refined and polished ladies of "our best society" Ц in many cases rewarding the pseudo-hospitality of their fair entertainers by liberally sprinkling the marble steps to their noble mansions, with an unclean baptism from their aristocratic stomachs.
Kept Sandie awake until we entered a hack, and then let him relapse into a refreshing slumber, which continued until we reached home Ц entered the parlor, and took a seat in a corner, from which, unobserved, I could get a fair view of the various performances.
Every young lady is skilled in music, and an "elegant player" upon that tortured instrument, the piano Ц each can sing an assortment of "glees" from beautiful operas Ц transposing her voice into a vocal cork-screw, and opening her mouth so that, as a general thing, you can see those unmentionable articles, which are used, in fireman's phraseology, to "light up the hose" Ц and these songs, these delectable morsels of harmony, varied by such extemporaneous discords as the agitation or forgetfulness of the moment may occasion, are always "executed" for the entertainment of evening visitors.
Mrs. Griggs' daughters are no exception to this general rule.
First call-bell rings Ц enter bashful young man Ц evidently his first attempt at a fashionable visit Ц came in with his hat in his hand Ц put it behind him to make his bow Ц dropped it Ц tried to pick it up Ц stepped in it Ц put his foot through it Ц fell over it Ц and in his frantic struggles to recover himself, burnt his coat, fractured his pantaloons, untied his cravat, demolished his shirt collar, and was finally borne away to the hall by his sympathizing friends; minus his patent moustache, one-half of which was afterwards found in Laura Matilda's scrap-book and the rest discovered in the coal-scuttle.
Crowd of young men came in together, (it is customary here, for young gentlemen to club their funds, hire a carriage by the hour, and go calling in a drove; stopping at every house where one of the company happens to be acquainted; so that when a lady keeps open house, for every person whom she knows or desires to see, a dozen unknown individuals annoy her by their uninvited presence,) Ц every one asked the young ladies to sing, and the young ladies did sing Ц generally opera, but sometimes varying the entertainment with the touching ballad of "Old Dog Tray," or the graceful and genteel melody, "Jordan is a Hard Road."
On this occasion the programme was somewhat as follows: Ц Gent. No. 1 was treated with a "gem from Norma" Ц No. 2, a Grand March Ц No. 3, "Old Dog Tray" Ц No. 4, "Prima Donna Waltz" Ц No. 5, "Norma" Ц No. 6, "Jordan" Ц No. 7, "Norma" Ц No. 8, "Prima Donna," again Ц No. 9, "Norma" Ц No. 10, "Norma" Ц No. 11, "Dog Tray" Ц No. 12, "Norma," &c.; "Norma" being always ahead, and evidently a favorite of the field.
I have no doubt that in the whole city, yesterday, "Norma" must have been entreated to "hear my prayer," at least fifteen thousand distinct times, by probably five thousand imploring females Ц and these harmonious supplications, if blended and consolidated into one powerful, entreating scream, would have been sufficient to raise the ancient Druids from their graves, only to find that, although the final trump had not sounded, it was by an imitation by no means to be despised, that they had been fooled into a premature resurrection.
As evening came on, the guests who came showed signs of the day's indulgences Ц I was particularly edified by the movements of three of them, whom I noted with peculiar care Ц the first shook hands cordially with the servant girl, called her "Mrs. Griggs," wished her many happy returns, and on being told of his error, made an humble apology to the piano stool, and immediately sat down in a spittoon.
The next made his bow to the hat-stand in the hall, swaggered into the room, called for a brandy "smash" Ц tried to rectify his mistake by begging pardon of Mrs. G. for mistaking her parlor for a bar-room, and assured her, if he had done anything he was sorry for, he was exceedingly glad of it.
The third stumbled on to the sofa, and, after steadily contemplating his boots with much satisfaction for fifteen minutes, he picked up a Chinese fire-screen, and with an irresistible drunken sobriety, he tried to decipher the mysterious characters inscribed thereon, at the same time calling the attention of Mrs. G. to the capital story in "the Magtober number of Harper's Octazine."
Refreshments Ц first man often essaying to wipe his nose with his umbrella, which he afterwards placed in the music rack Ц poured his coffee into his ice-cream, put his cake and sandwich into its place, stirred them up with a tea-spoon, and tried to drink Ц the effort resulting in a signal failure, he passed his cup to the chandelier for "a little more sugar."
The next spilled his wine in Laura Matilda's neck, begged she wouldn't apologize, and offered to wipe it with his pocket handkerchief Ц by which appellation he designated the door mat, which he had brought in with him from the hall.
The other, after carefully depositing his plate on the floor, dropped his gloves into his saucer, and tried to put his over-coat into his vest pocket, made a great attempt to eat his cup of coffee with his knife and fork, and then resolutely set about picking his teeth with the nut-cracker.
After some complicated man?uvring, they bowed themselves out as best they could Ц but the last one, having mistaken the door and gone down cellar, instead of out-doors, was found next morning reposing complacently in the coal-hole.скачать книгу бесплатно
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