« PreviousContinue »
could only have their ears regaled with the concord of sweet sounds, by going into a little chapel where one of the faculty of medicine dispenses the gospel to a handful of bearers who call themselves Swedenborgians. A beautiful Unitarian church recently erected, is an ornament to the city. The Rev. Mr. —, from Boston, made the society a visit a while since, and his pulpit oratory was much admired. The ladies, dear creatures, were enraptured with him ; and I was told by a sweet little fairy, that they actually halted at a confectioner's on their way from church, and called for ice-creams! Good,' said I : “Je noterai cela, Madame, dans mon livre.'
I cannot say much for the literature of Cincinnati, though there are persons there who are themselves literary, and who would have us believe it to be the Athens of the West. There are several good book-stores and reading-rooms, an Athenæum, a Franklin Institute, etc. But these latter, I could see, were not well patronized nor attended. The magazines and reviews lie covered with dust upon the tables, and were seldom disturbed. There is a circulating library attached to the Athenæum, containing a few historical works, and a score or two of novels. At the Franklin Institute, I heard a young man, who was self-taught, and who was ambitious of being thought both literary and scientific, lecture upon painting and sculpture. His remarks upon the former were drawn chiefly from the life and writings of Sir Joshua Reynolds, and the latter from Winckleman. He was an adept in music, too, and it was said played sweetly upon the guitar.
There is a medical college here, which has been a fruitful source of evil, as well as of good, to the city. It has struggled through several long and bitter wars - medica bella -- and many grievous dissensions and angry jealousies have threatened its very foundation, For several years, more legalized quackery issued from its walls than any other medical institution probably in the United States. It has recently undergone another and another reform, and promises, under a new direction, to be more serviceable to the public; though it may still be regarded as le forge des docteurs, as Professor Configliachi would say, which annually sends forth many a tyro, who had better be tilling the soil of the west, than in constant apprehension of breaking the sixth commandment.
The freedom of elections here, as in all new towns and communities, where the population is so restless and fluctuating, is a source of great and increasing evil, not easy to be corrected. It will eventually, I fear, destroy our free institutions, and sap the very foundations of that glorious liberty which we have so long and preeminently enjoyed. “Corruption wins not more than honesty,' said Woolsey, though now-a-days the reverse of the maxim seems to be politically true. We take an example from this city, the truth of which was guaranteed to us by one of her own citizens, and which may serve both to 'point a moral and adorn a tale.
It seems that a scheming, cunning fellow, from the back woods, who had been bred a lawyer, or rather half-bred — and which brings to mind the old saw, that half a loaf is better than no bread — emigrated to this city with the determination of improving his condition, and if possible, to gain a post of honor in the political world. He
could not have come to a better market. To find an opportunity to win upon the favor of all and sundry of the republican citizens, he condescended to begin his career as a hawker of gingerbread, etc. He 'toted' a wheel-barrow with cake and ale, and other fine edibles, throughout the city, until he gained the acquaintance of, and became familiar with, every man and beast that could give him a vote. By chance, he passed the mayor's office, or some other court of justice, at the moment that a fellow citizen had been arraigned for petty larceny, or some such offence, and who needed counsel to rescue him from his ‘durance vile.' He proffered his services, and they were accepted the 'rectus in curia' to the contrary notwithstanding. The plea was successful, and the prisoner discharged, amid the deafening shouts of the multitude, who had assembled to hear the gingerbread-pedlar advocate the claims of the prisoner, and prove the strength of the maxim, that it is better for ninety-and-nine guilty persons to escape punishment, than for one innocent man to suffer. From this moment, he considered his fortune as made, and the vote of the city as his own.
He forthwith offered himself as a candidate for the first office in the gift of the people, viz: that of state representative ; and strange to say, though true, he distanced his opponent, who was a military gentleman, of high standing, and who had long before gained bright laurels in fighting the battles of his country. The 'sovereign people' will no doubt advance the political interests of the gingerbread-merchant, who may yet prove a formidable rival to Jack Downing, and live to be hailed as the greatest and best in the federal city. What reflections might we make here !— but we forbear; for ‘it is painful,' as Somerville has feelingly remarked, 'to reflect on the degeneracy of modern times - on the unnatural excitement of low ambition, which instigates every beggar to tread on the heels of every gentleman, and every gentleman pant to be a king.
There is a good theatre in the city, which, in the winter season, is often well and fully attended. There are regular public assemblies and cotilion-parties, also, to which strangers are admitted, and which are indeed very agreeable. We attended one of the most brilliant and fashionable for the season, held on Washington's birth-night, at the Bazaar, a famous building erected at the expense and ruin of Madame Trollope, who was never more shocked in her life, she
says, than when she saw the fair' wall flowers' attached to the ceiling, 'putting their sweet-meats and creams in their laps,' and thus, independent of the gentlemen, enjoying their sweet, but sad and sulky repast.' I confess it seemed to me a little outré, but then it is .emi. nently characteristic of the country,' as she says, and what could we do? Quadrilles and cotilions were the order of the night, and we spent most of it in gazing at the fairy forms and smiling faces which surrounded us, and which, as Yorick would say, made the very locks shake upon our shoulders. 'Pray who is thai Hebe-like lady,' said I to my friend, that forms the centre of attraction, round which are revolving many lesser stars, in that lively cotilion? She is beautiful; and he that feels himself weak, should pray to Heaven to guard him from such eyes as those.'
*Oh!' said he, with a deep and expressive sigh, she is the daughter
of Mrs. H-, who lives in Broadway, and who keeps the most fashionable boarding-house in the city.'
* And who is this approaching us, that walks in beauty like the queen of cloudless climes and starry skies ?' She too is lovely.'
• Yes,' said he, laying his hand upon his heart, “she is a Miss T whose mother also keeps a boarding-house, and she is one of the belles of the city.'
Again I turned, and leheld a sylph-like form mingling in the dance, in which she sported lighter than a zephyr, and was about bartering my heart away through the medium of my friend, when I saw tho blood mantle his cheek.
Stay,' said he, she is the daughter of a respectable, nay, fashionable lady, who lives in Broadway, and whose house is the most recherché for private boarders in the west.'
• Well ?' said I.
*Oh!' said I, ‘once more : here - here is Miss G-, and Miss S-'
*Oh! they are both, they are all living in the same style,' replied he; and so saying, he dropped my arm, and sought refreshment in the ante-room.
I turned and addressed myself to the veriest coquette in the city; flirted with, and flattered her, until I felt my heart beat, and hers evidently began to flutter. When I left her, she gave me a sweet smile - such a smile ! - oh, I shall never forget it, though it was the smile of one whom I had never seen before, and probably shall never meet again.
In the suburbs of the city, there is an Indian mound, which we visited. It was erected, heaven knows when, or for what purpose. Could it be a retreat from the rising waters? There are hills, half a mile distant, that overlook the moon, and which could not be inundated, except by a second deluge. Could it serve as a burial-place for the tribes who erected it ? 'There is not a single shadow of the remains of any human being, or any appearance that could indicate its ever having been intended as a Golgotha, or place of sculls. We walked over it. The wild beasts of the forest bad trodden there be.
We entered it, and traversed its long-drawn aisles and fretted vaults, till we almost needed the thread of Ariadne to bring us out. We paused and meditated, as others no doubt had done before us, and felt as if there might be something more there than was dreamed of in our philosophy. What a scene for an antiquary! I was about pencilling in my note-book the thoughts and impressions produced by it, when the appearance of the guide led me to inquire how long he thought these hollow avenues had existed, and what tribe of Indians could have fashioned them. 'Oh,' said he, with great nonchalance, 'not long I reckon, I cut 'em myself.' 'Shade of Phidias !' I exclaimed, and hastened homeward, muttering .curses not loud but deep,' against this shadow of mortality, who could find it in his heart to cheat me of such delightful illusions.
I had now seen all the lions of Cincinnati ; had laughed at its theatre, slept in its churches, smelt of Dorfuel's 'hell,' and gazed at the Picture Gallery; had visited its Athenæum and Franklin Insti
tute, and supped at its Bazaar; had yawned in its schools, and courtrooms, feasted at its hotels and boarding houses, lounged in its bookstores, and flirted with the ladies. 'And now,' thought I,“ how odd it is that Mad. Trollope should have been dissatisfied and unhappy, and that she should have shaken off the dust of her feet, and in the agony of her heart exclaimed :
'Good Heaven ! deliver me from this dire place,
Shall mark my penitence ! To those of moderate expectations, and ordinary ambition, we sincerely recommend to abide in Cincinnati. 'Tis the Florence of America for cheap living, and not the least of its attractions is, that while we may find much to interest us - many things to admire, and some to love we may enjoy all the necessaries of life, and its luxuries, even, and draw our family and friends around us, and seem 'passing rich, with forty pounds a year.'
When dim in shade those meadows lay,
And of its pleasant waters drank,
Receded from the bank ;
A sachem dwelt, Black Plume by name,
Of a long line of chiefs of fame.
With sinews of the big elk strung :
In his bark cabin hung ;
The Black Plume had a gentle child,
Her brow was shaded by the black,
Long tresses of her race,
Accorded with the woodland well,
Of haughty Black Plume fell,
One morning in the month of flowers,
'How lovingly the mist is twining
Ils blue arms round the mountain,
On reedy pool and fountain :
The hunter for his long delay :
Shall tribute to my woodcraft pay;
The bird of victory shall bring -
Than plumage of his wing ?'
Like one of peril nigh, afraid,
"Oh, go not forth in quest of game!
My mother, who hath long been dead, In visions of the inidnight came, And with a warning gesture said, 'Rose of the Senecas, give ear!
The foe, the Chippewa, is near! Affrighted by the dream, I woke,
And felt a wild, foreboding thrill; For, warbled on the solemn oak,
That shades our lodge, the whip-po-will. I sought, a second time, niy bed, And sleep my pillow visited :
My long-lost mother came once more, And, her thin hand uplifting, said, In accents louder than before : 'Rose of the Senecas, beware!
The Chippewa has left his lair ! I rose with fear oppressed : the east
Was radiant with the march of morn, And bees were busy at their feast,
In blossoms newly born.'
'Thy bodings, ominous of ill,