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SOME THOUGHTS ABOUT FANCY FAIRS. — JOHN PHENIX indorses the following: and we should n't be at all surprised if he had some little hand in it:
"The measures adopted for perpetrating the benevolent intentions of the founders of fancy fairs, I regard as serious evils, confessedly not readily to be remedied, though the charities themselves be above all praise.
* For many months the ladies of our country have been exercising their ingenuity, and the patience of fathers and husbands, in planning and constructing a quantity of the most elaborate gimcracks for disposal at the annual fairs, to their deluded countrymen, in behalf of suffering humanity. The orphans are to be clothed and nourished; unregenerated Hottentots reclaimed ; unconscious NewZealanders are to be endowed with breeches to supersede the primitive fig-leaf, or whatever (if any thing) serves therefor; the Borioboolans remembered in mercy ; and even the Sepoy-smitten missionary at Boggley-Wollah, kept in eleemosynary remembrance, while the feet of the broad-soled aborigines are to be taken from the horrible pit and miry clay, and ‘set upon a rock' edge-ways - all to the credit and renown of our world-noted and charitably-minded women.
The mighty engine — of more than leviathan power — that is to accomplish all this, is the * Fancy Fair,' rather ‘low down,' we must confess, but still ranking as one of the most prominent among our American institutions.
"Many a fearful exploit of fancy work, whose use and application the most imaginative man in the universe might fail to divine : miraculous feminine habiliments, exuberant in embroidery, that makes the eye to ache in tracing its pattern, in close communion with male garments of the most confidential description; cerulean slippers, silvered too gayly to be trodden under foot of men, or to mate with the attenuated pantaloon of senility ; such achievements in artificial babies as are irresistible to childhood and enticing even to ancient maidens, to whose virgin bosoms they are longed to be clasped in default of the genuine article ; barbaric and bridal adornments, precious to the souls of blooming, nubile damsels ; and the myriad paraphernalia of toilet and boudoir are all paraded to public view, with the beseeching motto of “Come, buy me,' enforced every allurement of entreaty of which their fair custodians are master.
• Wondrous objects of personal wear have these eyes beheld at such festivities. A decorative sample of nocturnal head-gear has been presented to my astonished
vision, averred to contain ninety miles of thread to a mere ell of cloth! I firmly declined a proposition to try on' this mid-night coronet, lest the opposite sex might resent the incursion upon their domain by the fearful retaliation of adopting an essential part of the male attire, sacred to domestic discipline, and without which no authority can be maintained. By laborious computation, I have ascertained that the time employed on this useless embroidery, would have sufficed to fabricate the following articles of philanthropic utility, viz., namely, to wit: Seven hundred and sixty-three Borioboolan cravats ; thirty eight dozen pinafores for destitute infants in South-Africa; sixty-eight dozen table-cloths for the starving savages of Raritongo; one hundred and twenty long-boots for the pearl-fishers of Wankifungo; two hundred buck-skin breeches for the Subversion of Fleas in California ; seven hundred dozen towels for the Melioration of the Cuticle of the subjects of the King of Dahomey; and four hundred and eighty dozen hem-stitched handkerchiefs for the Suppression of Perspiration at Boggley-Wollah.
• Comment on such misapplication of labor is unnecessary.
* With the fervent hope of correcting an evil so monstrous, I presented to the fair worker of this piece of filaceous folly a copy of an able work on · The Proper Employment of Time,' with injunctions to make a good use thereof. From subsequently beholding the head of the young woman in question decorated with leaves of that valuable book, twisted into curl-papers, I was led to conclude that my efforts in her behalf had not been attended with the most complete success.
• Piles of imposing kickshaws are arranged on all such occasions, to tempt the callow youngsters, and through them the unwary parent, who straightway finds himself endowed with a stock of preposterous inventions in behoof of his progeny, for the ruin of his repose, and the eternal destruction of his household comfort. Think of it, О ye fair ladies ! would you be instrumental in enticing a roaring lion, a barking mad-dog, or a needless crying-baby (these may be had, all in tiers) into the domicile of even your worst enemy? Would you arm the offspring of your dearest AMANDA with engines eminently adapted to the batteration of every mirror and window of her house into effectual smash? Or visit upon the unoffending head of your maternal uncle the ear-splitting tortures of juvenile toys, such as accordeons, compounded of a squeak and a groan; drums, noisy out of all proportion to their size; doleful trumpets, with a hoot like an owl; and the great variety of machines, invested with an atrocious jingle, safe to ruin the peace of mind of any adjacent ear attuned to harmony? No, my dear Madam, I think if you could foresee half the amazing annoyance that, through your efforts at fancy fairs, the reckless spread of war-like toys is calculated to occasion, you would not thus rashly place temptation in the way of your fellow-creatures.
•What resistance can be opposed to the blandishments of a benevolent beauty, who aggravates her natural charms by the enhancements of soft entreaty ?
• I have seen the most dogged obstinacy overcome in a moment by a bewitching smile from one of those graceful extortionists, and a cumbrous domestic article of doubtful utility foisted upon the rueful victim, who, amid the inward chuckles of the by-standers, is fain to retreat, with the air of a man who has drawn the prize elephant in a beastly raffle.
• It must be admitted, that of late, considerable improvements in the management of the 'rafile,' once so great an engine of chicanery, have been effected, so that, as I am credibly informed, it is not unusual for some body to win, and be allowed to go quietly away with the article in which he buys an interest; at one time a feat so rarely performed, as to be held to be difficult, if not utterly impossible. A further improvement is suggested, but which meets with little favor,
that the object to be rafiled should not be placed at more than ten times its actual value, at present a net profit of one thousand per cent being considered, in the ethics of fair-managers to be the least that can be entertained, in justice to the cause in which they are engaged. A fashion has hitherto prevailed, but is happily now becoming obsolete, of refusing any change back' for the purchase of an article, no matter how large the denomination of the sum tendered, thus compelling the victim to disgorge his substance with the dismal satisfaction of having clothed the hungry and fed the naked with the funds wherewith he fondly hoped to pay his debts.
But when our fair countrywomen lend their talents to the illustration of ideal and historical subjects, by means of wax-work, and the aids of costume, we cannot deny the potent temptation to purchase at any price -even at a fair — the fruits of their labor. Behold that commanding figure, the Goddess of Liberty, in a flaxen wig and expansive skirts, resolutely clutching the cap-crowned staff, as if, emulous of the magnet, she had determined to be true to the pole, at the fearful price of being mistaken for a disguised barber !
• View with hushed emotion that biblical group of the Good Samaritan ; who, if faces go for any thing, is an irreclaimable villain, as LAVATER is my judge ; and see how, with the grace of a milk-man, he pours nothing out of an impossible jug into an incredible chasm in the head of a serene though maudlin wretch, evidently in the last stage of whiskey ! "Admirable also is that other scene from inspired history
the fraternal consignment of the beleaguered JOSEPH to a deep hole by his unnatural brethren, pending the advent of the approaching caravan - a pitiful tableau — hanging by a suspensory ligament round the pit of his stomach — over a pit for which he has evidently no stomach — in which transaction the paternal gift of the polychromatic jerkin plays an important part. The inherent love for the traffic in secondhand clothes among the Jews, of which this is the first example in history, is displayed by the fondness with which they are visibly regarding this variegated vestment.
'I have been better pleased, however, with the reconciliation of the repentant Mrs. PARTINGTON with her reputed offspring, just arrived from his foreign tour, during which he has sown his wild oats we refer to the parable of the 'probable’son of that venerated lady, for whom is slain an infatuated calf — where the household is made merry over the young sinner, who closely resembles a destitute returned Californian, and looks far more hungry than honest. This genial group enforces her own proverb, that a veal dinner, even in the sub-urbs where love is, is preferable to a stolid' ox and hatred therewith.
* There are other subjects which I have not seen thus delineated, but which appear to me to be equally capable of being successfully rendered, such as scenes in the life of Moses, (an early one, for example, where he narrowly escapes being gored by a bull-rush ;) the thrilling act of Samson vanquishing hosts with his maxillary weapon, or his inimitable performance of slaying the gates of Gaza ;' the convivial meeting of David and Golian, showing the effects of the immoderate use of a sling on the human constitution; the disposal by Esau of his patrimony for a mess of 'potage Julienne' all capable of being made the vehicle of much instruction and entertainment to the youth of our land.
* The stories of Scripture may even be made to become a key to the revelations of science; the phenomenon of the rain-bow, for instance, (whose colors, like those of a toper's nose, exhibit a natural result of being constantly on a bender,) being explained to the meanest capacity, and established as a knower's Arc, (thus
by a neat and serviceable pun indicating its origin,) and truth be in divers ways evolved in every department of knowledge. • What caitiff so rash as to dare deny the presence of Art among us ?
Take him to a Fair, and let that gorgeous picture, affluent in all the colors of the rainbow, the Battle OF WATERLOO, with its crewel and sanguinary scenes, (wherein both NAPOLEON and his enemies are worsted,) done with a darning-needle, reply, and extinguish the traitor forever!
“We may point, also, in triumph to another work of equal merit, which displays that touching episode in the life of CHARLES I., where that monarch is depicted, dressed in robes of violet, taking leave of his green and yellow children, while his royal nose obtrudes upon us in a carbuncled state, garnished with a rectangular pimple, of purple hue, all of wool, woolly. The majestic features of that decapitated potentate are seen blocked out in eligible squares of various colors, like a map of a western city, all the outlines of his face exhibiting edges like a coarse hand-saw, or a flight of door-steps.
* To whom are we indebted for this graceless invention for perpetuating in fleecy, lanatous, and flocculent stitches, the memorable events of history ? May his visions be haunted by the leatheriest of medals !
"The appalling extent of this mode of delineation is calculated to excite the liveliest apprehensions in the breast of all true lovers of art and loyal patriots ; for what, may I ask, would become of our veneration for the adored Father of his country, should the needle-workers assail his sacred image with premeditated punctures, and hold him up in variegated lamb’s-wool through all coming time, to the horror-stricken gaze of new-begotten generations ?
'I need not remark that the system I condemn furnishes more nutriment to the dismal epidemic of wool-pictures than any other moving cause; and verily, I say unto you, such are the inflammatory hues of these productions, that even the ancient Jews, who looked so solemn on all the glories of Solomon, never beheld him arrayed like one of these.
• What, let me propound, becomes of such atrocities, when they leave the warm precincts of the cheerful Fair ? Did any body ever see one in any body's house? Conscientious peruser of these lines, would you tolerate the guilt of one in your own ? It is my fervent hope and belief that the dismayed winner of such a prize, after vainly essaying to give it away, consigns it to merited oblivion in the cock loft, or furtively bestows it upon Towser in his kennel.
Quite as worthy of consignment to TowseR are some of the culinary preparations usually found at fairs. Great mids of cake, than which nothing is more fit to confer perennial head-ache; baker's pies, whereof no man knoweth the composition, so grievous to the bodily health that the buyer ought forthwith to bespeak the coffin, as after consuming the former, he will have imminent need of the latter ; and being thus near to “kingdom-come,' let also his will be done, if he entertains any designs of a testamentary nature. The reflections of ice-cream and charlotterusse are less to be condemned, though it may be said in general, that too large a share of the entertainment consists of the crockery and spoons.
• The KNICKERBOCKER is not a folio volume a foot thick, printed in diamond type, and I therefore cannot absorb its limited space in an enumeration of all the follies, faults, offences, and infirmities justly chargeable upon the fancy-fair system. Its limits are counsellors to the fear that this article hath over-stepped the brief boundary already. The subject being barely broached, it is to be hoped that some able advocate at the bar of common-sense, will prosecute to a conviction the investigations thus imperfectly begun.'
THE LATE HENRY CARY: JOHN WATERS OF THE KNICKERBOCKER. Selaom have we been more startled, than when walking up Broadway with a friend, one morning recently, to learn from him of the death of Mr. HENRY CARY, of New-York, the 'JOHN WATERS' of the KNICKERBOCKER, in days gone by. He died at Florence, some months since; and although we have read every day two city journals, we have never seen the lamented fact recorded. It will be our province, in an ensuing number, to speak, in detail, of the extraordinary qualities, personal and literary, of this refined gentleman, and most gifted and graceful of essayists. A writer of the time said of him : 'How skilfully he moves a horror, and produces affrightments, let the reader judge, who
the authentic story of 'The Iron Foot-step,' in a late KNICKER
Yet is not this a fair example of the writer's power. Does he place before you, with a few touches of his pencil, a portrait of a departed friend? How faithful and striking the delineation ! Does he transcribe heart-records, or depict the affections ? What an amount of kindred thought and feeling he conveys to the reader! Does he dally with the NINE? What a tender regard they manifest for him, while he traces his graceful fancies ! No cumbrous and misplaced description; no disproportioned and injudicious ornament, mar the beauty of his poetry, or the clearness of his prose.' Let us go back nearly nineteen years, and show to the thousands of our ner readers how beautiful, clear and fervent was his style. Take, for example, "The Iron Footstep,' the scene of which is laid in one of the barracks of a Western Scottish regiment, which was stationed upon a high bluff that formed one point of a low crescentular bay, over-looking the town and harbor ;
'In one of these barracks were quartered three officers of the regiment, Major Hamilton, Captain Gordon, and a third whose name I cannot at this moment recal. Major Hamilton's apartment was in the centre. He had lost a leg in the service, and usually wore a wooden pin, or stick, shod with iron; and being an alert man, fond of exercise, used to walk up and down this piazza for hours together, stopping occasionally at GORDON's door or window, and sometimes looking in at that of the other officer, exchanging a cheerful word with them as they sat each in his apartment, endeavoring to beguile the time with dressing, reading, writing, thoughts of promotion, of home, and of a speedy and happy return to Britain.
“The sound of the Major's step was peculiar. It was only the blow given by the íron ferule at the end of his wooden leg that was heard ; for although a stout man, he trod lightly with the remaining foot, and heavily only with the wooden substitute, which gave forth its note at short intervals, as he paced to-and-fro, so regularly, that there was a certain pleasure in listening to it.
'Sounds that strike the ear in this measured way, affect us more than others. The attention becomes engaged, and they grow emphatic as we listen. The calker's hammer-stroke, as it Hies from the dock-yard of the busy port, across some placid bay, into the green and peaceful country, is an instance of this truth. Associated with this measured movement of the Major, was his deep, cheery voice, that made light of danger and difficulty; whether on the field of battle, or as now, amid the sickness, which, in mockery of the beauty of tropical skies and scenery, was devastating the colony at this melancholy period.
* This sickness proved fatal to several officers of the regiment, and after some time, Major Hamilton was taken down with it. It was a fever, attended with delirium. The Major was confident of recovery; and, indeed, from the great equanimity and happy temperament of his patient, his physician had hopes almost to the last. These, however, were not destined to be realized. He expired the seventh day after he was seized, while endeavoring to speak to his friend Captain GORDON, and was buried under arms at sun-set of the same day.
Now it was on the second night after this mournful event, that GORDON, having