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Our evening lounge for idlers (and the whole town is now forced to be idle) is the evening auction marts, where every conceivable thing is sold-if it comes up to the price expected! Books, pictures for farmers and log-houses, clothing, &c. I do not go, nor to the theatre. Shut up in this way one finds some other amusement. The place is full of French bag's-men, or adventurers, up from New Orleans, or down fresh from Paris. Here is one who has been here some time with a venture of pictures for this market; but they won't sell, and he is forced to try it on by the hammer. Every night when he returns from the sale he is loud in bad English, interlarded with French, against "Dis stupide peoples, good for nutting but make de pig and de dollare! dis sacré Porkopolis! Vell, sare, nevare was some peoples like dis stupide! what is, but canaille!"
Some one slily said:
"Do you go armed, mounseer? there's a lot of queer chaps about; they might upset you, and borrow your porte monnoie!"
At this the Frenchman looked fierce.
"Vat is upset? Sall borrou. I nevare am fraid of chap yet, brigand! I sall knock him wid dis poignard!"
"Ay, but what if five or six trip up your
My heel! Ah! let come five, six-I knock him all, au diable; sacré canaille!"
On the third day, now near Christmas, the streets begin to show some signs of life, as the wind is less fierce. I walked down to the strand or water-side, where all the river steamers lay touching the shore. There are no stone or planked wharves, or slips of any kind, at any of the Ohio or Mississippi towns-they are unnecessary.
I counted about thirty-five of these great steamers, all frozen in as fast as if set in so much granite; one was broken in two, and several more or less damaged by the surging of the drifting blocks of ice before they finally closed completely across; under this rugged mass (not unlike the Alpine glaciers) the river rushes on its way, eager to dash the superincumbent stratum into fragments once more, on the first symptoms of a thaw. Thousands of people are already on the ice, waggons, carts, trucks, and men on horseback, crossing to Covington and Kentucky, all the more eagerly on business, as everything has been suspended between the two shores, and there is generally an active intercourse between the
I, too, walked over to Kentucky among the crowd, the sun shining brightly; and meant to have looked at Covington (a town of three or four thousand inhabitants, called a city), and I might have crossed the ice at the mouth of the Licking river, where three or four steamers were frozen in, and had a closer look at Newton, a smaller town, with a good many steam-forges, foundries, and manufactories, but I found the cold too much for me; and everything six inches deep in snow was not at all inviting for an excursion, so I turned about, and retraced my steps over the rugged river, forced up into all sorts of irregular fantastic hummocks and ridges, marking the process of the whirling floes uniting, after being previously forced upon each other.
Two or three huts and liquor-shops were quickly set up on the river as houses of call, where they had stoves to warm the fingers of their cus
tomers; for a few moments I watched various horsemen coaxing their horses down the banks, and across the ugly ice-barriers, or slippery open intervals; other parties with loads of provisions on sledges; others with carts and waggons, loaded in various ways, drawn by mules, and forced over blocks of ice and holes, enough to break their sledge-runners or the legs of their animals; but they stopped at nothing, as if their very lives depended on getting their load across.
This excited and desperate exertion on emergencies, I think it is, which is so remarkable—far beyond our own sleepy hired capability; certainly brought more constantly into play all over America. They will have no difficulties, or instantly some new energetic mode of getting over them. In this way one Kentuckian had a long contention with his horse, which over and over refused to enter the ice. I should have alighted, and led him on, but he persisted, and finally rode him on over a very ugly place, where some of the ice had been broken at the edge; certainly at the risk, had the horse slipped, of breaking his own neck.
The whole scene, though comfortless and desolate enough, looking up the river on both sides, the hills, trees, steamers, the city itself, and all the country round, clothed in one dazzling white, had a novelty and grandeur in it sufficiently interesting, had I not been so very cold; so I regained the streets, along the sunny side of the shops and warehouses, which face the strand.
This same wide strand is paved, and on ordinary occasions is full of barrels, boxes, cases, carts, and long-bodied drays expressly for carrying flour barrels, hackney coaches, and crowds of people; with a constant loading and unloading of the numerous steamers, arrivals and departures. Even now it is lively enough, for half the town are out to see or go on the river.
All the stores on this river face have a second-hand, slop appearance, or of a low peddling order, set out in glass cases; a great mixture of the gaudy and superfluous in the watch and trinket way (French wares); or, if useful, in clothing, tools, fire-arms (very much after the fashion of Peter Pindar's razors), said to be cheap, and sure to be good for nothing; with bold touters at each shop-door ready to pounce on their victim, should he venture to look at anything. This excessive attention is perhaps sharpened by the cold, and consequent slackness of trade. But in all the hotels and stores one hears nothing but this lament over the slackness of trade. Here the great staples are in hog's flesh (thence "Porkopolis"), flour, and whisky. In the upper part of the town, near the canal, are several immense pork-killing and curing establishments; half a million unfortunate pigs are killed here in the year! salted, packed in barrels, and exported; and Covington, opposite, shares in this thriving trade. Here the streets are full of fat pigs, and fat rats. Apropos-I more than once amused myself watching these sagacious creatures in a back yard, under my window, where an Irish girl regularly fed some fowls on potatoes, &c. The chief rat village here was under a pile of wood; as soon as the cocks and hens were busy eating, first one would run out and reconnoitre, run back, then out would come a dozen, and watch their chance under the legs of the poultry, while their backs were turned run off with the largest bit; every now and then the fowls would chase them back under cover, but they still returned while a morsel
remained. No noises seemed in the least to frighten them, or even the presence of the Irish girl, as she was quite expected and very constantly looked for by both parties. The fowls seemed only to resent their meal being thus stolen, but no sort of surprise or panic at the intruders. One old cock seemed to watch the most bold of the rats as they advanced, as if from the corner of his eye, then make a bolt after the most daring, but he never could get a peck at them; on which he would return from the chase with a dignified air, as much as to say, "You come that again,
During the few days I remained, I saw an immense number of waggons loaded with dead hogs, stiff, piled and loaded like wood, ready to be cut up, taking to the salting warehouses. They say now, that the two railways here already interfere with this monopoly of pork, by running off the pigs alive to other markets. I cannot understand it; but when were men ever content!
The quantity of whisky and fine wheat flour collected here, too, is enormous; transhipped up and down the river, and to the sea-board cities. The houses in Broadway, in Walnut, Main, and Sycamore-streets (and fashionable Forth-street), are many of them very handsome; all are well built, but the streets are very dirty and badly paved; the shops not so good or so well arranged as one might expect to see in so large a place, but there is a general air of careless neglect in everything which meets the eye, as to public arrangements; and I am told the police is a mere mockery. Like so many other American cities, the mayor and municipality, chosen from the favourites of the citizen mob, are afraid to make stringent or wholesome regulations; or, if made, to enforce them! Their own daily papers are full of complaints of the authorities. People are afraid to be out much, or late, alone or unarmed. The other day a man was killed (it is concluded) near the water, dragged off stunned and bleeding; his son, a boy who was with him when attacked, ran off and called the watch-about as efficient as our old Charleys-but the assassins got clear off, and the body is not found-a hole in the ice reveals nothing. Other cases have since occurred of citizens missed most unaccountably, supposed by foul play, but there is no stir or inquiry about the matter. Gangs of desperadoes set themselves above the law, and the indifferent, independent constables don't trouble themselves about their duty, or dare not do it. Added to this, the inhabitants complain of the turbulent spirit of the associated firemen, who hang together, behave rudely, and set people at defiance; for all these evils there seems no remedy, till it becomes worse, more intolerable, when the volunteers, or militia, must be called
There are a great many Germans and Irish here, chiefly inhabiting the north and east suburbs beyond the canal; lots of French adventurers; some few shopkeepers in jewellery, pendules, and daubs of pictures; with the usual auctions going on at the auction stores, of books, prints, clothesindeed, all sorts of things useful or ornamental from Europe, thrown on a forced sale, by hundreds of speculators and bankrupts. These sales are the only amusement to help the theatre, which is just now well filled by a piece full of strong points and horrors-"The Seven Passions." But, on the whole, it would be unfair to judge of this city, or the country at this moment, when everything appears to a disadvantage. One day be
fore the river broke up, on a partial thaw, I walked to the south-west suburb across Mill Creek (which meanders through a nice valley); all the suburbs are quite in the rough, in frame-houses, deep roads, and empty lots; a large foundry on the river bank here is in ruins. The Northern Railway station is in this quarter, and is large and handsome. This rail crosses a branch of the canal and the creek, and runs up the valley to Columbus, the capital of the state. The other railway, to the little Miami valley, is on the north shore suburb, called Fulton, where there are several steam-engine factories and coal depôts, and where a fine new steamer, the James Robb, was fitting. All the ladies' cabins have a Cupid over the door, "quite significant," say the papers. Apropos of their immense boats drawing so little water, another paper says: "The new steamer, Major A. Harris, with her engines on board, draws but ten inches water. Low water will never give her much trouble."
Some of these notices are startling. Thus: "Great complaints are made in various parts of the city in regard to clothes hung out on lines (to dry) being stolen. What next."
Again, apropos of the river: "It is calculated that twenty thousand people crossed the river forth and back during Sunday. Guides charged two dollars and a half to show horses the way across the river, and four dollars for a horse and gig. This beats the boots off the 'Skinners' at Niagara."
Again: "John Hunt, the prince of apple-buttermen, is boiling over two thousand pounds of mincemeat for the holidays."
Of balls: "Some fifteen or twenty Christmas balls are advertised in the German papers. Whew! what a time there will be ! an empire of grindstones in a crazy whirl will be nothing to it."
One would not expect to hear of destitute people here, but I extract from the papers again: "There are a hundred and fifty boys and girls at present in the house of refuge." Again: "The trustees' office continues to be the attractive place of distress; the little room was crowded throughout yesterday with the poor and destitute, asking relief of the city." To be sure, there is no such thing as a beggar by trade, nor have I been accosted by any one of the poor half-starved looking creatures one meets occasionally in rags; but whole suburbs seem in poverty, and yet the smallest service, or any job, must be paid for exorbitantly. Often they will not be at the trouble of calling for it, if promised; it must be taken to them, and then very badly done. But I must break off abruptly for want of room to say more now. I will glance at one or two things characteristic of the place when the river opens, and as I leave this queen city of the West; where sixty years ago there was not a single hut or wigwam even of the Indians; then a dense forest and a silent shore.
*This means light, and not a very large boat; but the great breadth, and the flatness of floor, gives this excellent quality; it pervades all American built vessels; giving swiftness, buoyancy, and stability.
NEW MONTHLY MAGAZINE.
A FEW SPIRITUAL MANIFESTATIONS RECENTLY REVEALED TO MR. JOLLY GREEN, M.P.
IT will, I am sure, be in the recollection of the House-I mean, of the Public that when I last addressed them it was in the flush of victory on the well-fought field of Muffborough, when I beat my antagonist by the triumphant majority of ONE!
You, Sir-I should say, the Public (it is so difficult to avoid, even in writing, the forensic style to which I have latterly been accustomed)— will also remember that, in the heat of that struggle, accusations were preferred by the opposite faction to the effect that intimidation and even bribery had been resorted to, to secure my election.
It is, I trust, unnecessary for me to state that I availed myself of every opportunity as the columns of the Muffborough Gazette will testifyto hurl back the foul calumny with indignant scorn, while at the same time I challenged the strictest scrutiny into my own conduct, and that of the party with whom I had the honour of acting. Nevertheless, such is the mania-I may say, the epidemic-which prevails with respect to the elections of 1852, that a petition has actually been got up against my return, the prime mover in the dark conspiracy being, of course, the malignant editor of the Muffborough Scorpion, who has never ceased to assail me and I thank him for it—with the bitterest hostility.
I was naturally desirous that the charge against me should be investigated at the earliest possible moment, being quite of opinion with Don Cæsar de Bazan, whose wife was suspected of high treason, that a lie is serviceable to a cause if it be allowed to circulate for only five minutes; but as there were two hundred and fifty similar petitions before the House of Commons, which, with five on each committee, would require a force of twelve hundred and fifty members, and the gross amount of parliamentary wisdom-including the Speaker and myself-being only six hundred and fifty-eight, it followed that at least one-half of these charges must be disposed of before any fresh ones could be entered into. It might have been expected that my wishes would at once have been acceded to by Ministers; but as the order of investigation was left to the chances of the ballot, it happens that no committee has yet been struck in the case of Muff borough, though I have every reason to expect when one-half of the House has done trying the other, and the first half has, as King Lear says, "Gone down the middle and up again, poussette, and changed sides," and-been tried in its turn-that it will shortly come on.
Boldly as I can stand the brunt of a direct assault, I am free to confess, and you, Sir, will correct me if I am out of order, that a state of suspense is the only thing before which my constancy quails and my faculties succumb. Bind me to the breech of a red-hot cannon and blow me into countless shivers, and I will stand the shock; but torture me not by the delay of flashing in the pan. "The blackbeetle's death," as
June-VOL. XCVIII. NO. CCCXC.