UNCLE HIRAM'S PILGRIMAGE, by William C. Cutter (from Robert Merry's
Museum, January 1857, pp. 8-11)
Come, children, one and all. Come, Hanna, Frank, Mary, Elsie, Laura,
Charles, Willie, Harry, Ellen, Susie, and as many more as can climb on my
knees, or hang about my chair, or dispose yourselves in other convenient
attitudes--I have a story to tell you of my pilgrimages, for I have been
somewhat of a traveler, you know, and I wish you to see what I have seen,
and enjoy what I have found pleasant, in the sunshine and shade of a roving
life. Stories, if rightly told, are like pictures, and present to the mind
of the hearer, or reader, scenes, incidents, and characters which have
passed before the eye of the narrator. Let me see if I can paint for you a
few pictures from the Sketch Book of my memory, and so introduce you to
characters and places with which I have had a passing acquaintance, or a
more intimate relation as circumstances, or the fancy of the moment,
On the 15th of May, 18--, I entered on the pilgrimage of life.
It has been, so far, a checkered course; rambling, roving, up-hill and
down-hill; plain and doubtful; easy and difficult; over-shadowed with
heavy clouds, and gilded all over with glorious sunshine; darkened with
many a sorrow, and many a discouragement, but generally cheered and
illuminated with the bow of promise glowing in advance, and growing
clearer, brighter, and more substantial with each step in the progress.
But hold! I did not intend to speak of the pilgrimage of life, but of
another and a lesser one, which is but a single stage of the former.
On the 15th of May, 18--, I commmenced a laborious, hazardous and
amusing "Pilgrimage up Broadway." It was an undertaking, though I say it,
worthy of the genius of Marco Polo, Mungo Park, Ledyard, or Bayard Taylor,
and the singular incidents I met with by the way, the remarkable discoveries
I made, the moral suggestions
and scientific observations that sprung up on every side, for the
enlightenment of the world, though they may have been paralleled by those of
Columbus, Humboldt, Layard, Dr. Kane, and some few others, will, I am sure,
be found worthy of the notice and regard of all the Merry family at least,
if not of the whole civilized world.
Precisely at sunrise we arrived at the pier, a little north of the
Battery. In less than fifteen minutes I had all my little matters arranged,
and was ready to go on shore. With my valise in my hand, I mounted the
cabin stairs, and essayed to go forth into the great city. Here I was met
by an unexpected, and somewhat appalling obstacle. The perfect quiet and
good order which had reigned on board the boat that brought me to the pier,
had prepared me for an easy and pleasant introduction to the far-famed
metropolis. I had heard of the city police, of old Hays, and other
municipal Cerberi, or Briarii, or (where shall I find a fabulous monster
worthy to illustrate my conception of the omnipresent terrors of the
detective and protective police of a great city?)--and I innocently supposed
that such a thing as a mob, or an assault in open day, was no more to be
apprehended than another flood. What was my surprise and embarrassment,
then, to find myself, as I stepped on deck, in what appeared to be the very
purlieus of Babel, or of Sodom itself. The pier was thronged, and the boat
absolutely besieged, by an immense horde of ferocious-looking savages, each
armed with a huge weapon, resembling a stage-driver's whip, and each in a
gibberish peculiar to the race attacking the hapless passengers as they came
out to view, and seeking to kidnap them, or, at least, to entrap them into
their power for a time, and for purposes best known to themselves. The
scene reminded me of the accounts I had read, of savages in the South Sea
Islands, crowding on board the merchant ships that touched there, and
sometimes, when not duly watched, overpowering the crews, and following up
their victory with murder, rapine, and fire.
I am usually cool, even under unexpected difficulties. But here I was
surprised, excited, and much alarmed. I demanded the cause of this strange
and untimely invasion. No one answered me. Some stared at me with looks of
surprise, as if I had asked a very foolish question. All, especially the
older and more experienced, seemed to look on with perfect indifference, and
to move about as if there were no danger. I looked about for the police. I
wondered where the "old Hays" was, and expected to see him walk in among the
intruders like Samson among the Philistines, mowing them down with the jaw-
bone of an ass. But no Samson appeared, and no one offered to explain the
disturbance, and show a way of escape from it. The bustle continued. The
confusion increased. And soon the boat was boarded by a large number of the
savages, leaping upon the bulwarks, and distributing themselves among the
passengers, with imquisitorial
looks and menacing gestures--protruding their ugly visages into every
one's face, and demanding, in stern imperious tones--
"Wantercadgeser!" "Wantercadgeser!" Occasionally, whether by
way of musical variety, or in the hope of striking a deEper terror into the
hearts of the multitude, they would scream--"Heesmycardser!"--or--
"Izepokefustser!"--or, addressing a comrad, apparently to encourage
him in the onset--"D--youthatsmycustomer!"
Laura. Do, Uncle, stop a minute, and let me ask what these
strange words meant. Were they really Indians? or did they speak some
corrupted dialect of our own language?
Uncle H. I could not discover, at the time, what the invaders
were, or what they meant by these uncouth exclamations. I afterward
learned, however, that they were not Indians, but a sort of semi-civilized
Ruffians who infested the city, and were tolerated by the government,
because it was a troublesome matter to get rid of them, and city governments
are proverbially opposed to any kind of troublesome business that does not
pay well. Their language could be interpreted into English, by any one who
was curious to understand it. But, as every one wished, if possible, to
avoid contact or collision with such rabble, the object of their pow-wow was
not often inquired into.
To proceed with my story. The scene would have been absolutely
terrific, if it had not, as I became accustomed to it, began to assume a
comical air. I was astonished to find that no ladies fainted or even
screamed. They only clung more closely to their protectors, with looks of
annoyance and discomfort, but not of alarm. Taking courage from this, and
impatient of further delay, I seized firmly my valise and umbrella, and
ventured boldly out into the midst of the ferocious gang, who still hung in
large numbers about the gangway, as if to cut off our escape. In this, I
felt that I was encountering no little hazard of life and limb. In solid
phalanx, the ruffian band hedged up the way, each one brandishing his
weapon, and frowning darkly on my fool-hardy attempt to break through, alone
and unassisted. One of the most savage-looking of them seized my valise,
and trying to wrench it from me, shouted--"Imeyourmanser!" while
another laid hold of the other side, screaming
ferociously--"Izepokefustser!--seemycardser!" Between the two, I was
near being pulled in pieces. I called out, at the top of my lungs--"Police!
police!" This raised a general shout of laughter, while the two ruffians
who had me in hand scowled and swore, as if they would annihilate me.
Roused to unwonted energy by the shameful assault, and, at the same time,
enouraged by the merriment occasioned by my fruitless call upon the police,
I made bold to push the intruders aside, and wedge my way into the solid
mass of the besiegers. No sooner had I shaken off these, than I was
attacked by others, of the same class, and somewhat in the same way. One of
them laid hold roughly of my baggage, as if it were his
own, and then, with a suddenly altered look and tone, as if a wintry
nor-wester had instantly changed into "a summer breeze, whispering out of a
mellow sky," informed me that he had a very nice cadge, and would
take me to any part of the city, cheap.
I then discovered that his cadge was a carriage, and that he was for
compelling me to ride with him, whether I would or not. Informing him, as
politely as I could, in my then excited state, that I preferred to walk, and
should be my own porter, I contrived, with some difficulty, to shake him
off, but not until I had seen the "summer breeze" give way again to the
"rough nor-wester," and learned a good deal of that part of his vocabulary
which related to "dammeanyankees," "stingyoldskinflint," and
several other classes of the community, with whom he seemed to be familiar,
but with whom I had no desire to become acquainted.
At length, with great difficulty, and with the loss of two or three
buttons from my coat, and of more patience and serenity than I could well
afford to spare in one day, I found myself on the outside of the crowd, with
my valise in one hand, my umbrella in the other, and with an experience I
had neither anticipated, or desired, of a public reception in a great city.
Frank. Well, Uncle, what now of your Pilgrimage?
Uncle H. That is just begun. Having run the gauntlet through a
detachment of Border Ruffians, and found myself, right side up, on the
planks of the pier, and a tolerably open way before me, I laid my valise on
a barrel, and paused a moment, to look round, take breath, and consider.
UNCLE HIRAM'S PILGRIMAGE, by William C. Cutter (from Robert Merry's
Museum, March 1857, pp. 70-73)
Finding myself safe on the outer side of the mob, and not likely to be
pursued, I took an observation, as Jack Tar would say, and headed my course
toward Broadway. There was an unseemly rattle of wagons and carts, but it
was music compared with the jargon I had left behind.
The morning was clear and bright; and I had no sooner left the pier,
than I was attracted by sounds of mirth and music on the right. I followed
them, as I always do, when I can, and soon found myself within the ten
beautiful inclosure, called the Battery. The trees had on their fairest
spring dresses, and the birds were making them ring and thrill with melody.
The bay, the broad, bright, sparkling bay, with its living panorama of boats
and vessels, of every form and size, and its distant islands, lay stretched
out before me in a golden calm. The air was sweet, fresh, and invigorating,
and scores of children, and some who had once been children, were making the
most of its healthful influences.
Jessy.--I wish I could have been there, Uncle.
"I should so wish so too, if I were going there again, dear. The
children paid no attention to me, but kept on their sports, as if they had
been all alone. Finding a comfortable rustic seat under one of the broad
spreading trees, I sat down to witness the fun, which I enjoyed as much as
any one among them. They were very lively and gay, as free and almost as
musical as the birds overhead. By and by, one of them, either a little
tired with over-earnest exercise, or attracted by a book which I had taken
out of my pocket, but had not yet began to read, stopped near my seat, and
looked wistfully toward me. My heart was touched in an instant. I felt as
if she must be one of my family--a niece at the farthest--she seemed to feel
and to be on the point of saying, "Good-morning, Uncle." But she
hesitated, blushed, turned a pirouette, with a sweet bird-like gust of song,
and was off among the group of merry dancers in a trice. A few moments
after, she took one of her companions by her arm, and strolled away to the
other side of the park, and then, in returning, came round through the
avenue, on the edge of which I was sitting. I caught her eye, as she
approached, and said:
"Good-morning, Mary! How do you do?"
Looking at me again, earnestly, she drew a little nearer, and with a
diffident, but very lady-like air, replied:
"Good-morning, sir; but please, sir, how did you know my name?"
"Why shouldn't your uncle know your name, dear?"
"Are you my uncle, sir? Why, I did not know that, though I felt, when
I first looked in your face, as if I had seen you before."
"So did I," said her companion. "Perhaps you are my uncle, too?"
"Yes, my dear Helen, I am your uncle, too."
"Why, how strange!" they both exclaimed together. "He does know our
"But, Uncle," said Helen, "I can't understand how you can be uncle to
both of us, when we are not cousins to each other."
"Oh, there is nothing easier in the world," said I. "I have a large
family of children at home, and a wide circle of nephews and nieces,
according to law. And dear, good children they are, too. But there are not
enough of them. My heart has room for so many, that the more I have the
more I want. And I claim to be uncle to all the bright, happy children of
the land; and I hardly know my adopted nephews and nieces from my real
"How many do you think you have in all, dear Uncle?" asked Mary.
"Well, I can name somewhat over twelve thousand, and they are
"Oh! Mary," exclaimed Helen, "isn't that funny?" And she jumped up,
and clapped her hands, as if a new joy had touched her heart.
Elsie.--Did they know what you meant, Uncle?
"They soon found out. Helen's gesture of surprise and pleasure
attracted the notice of others of the party, both boys and girls, who came
over and joined our group.
"Each one, in coming up, was introduced by Helen, or Mary, with the
question, 'Do you know this cousin, Uncle?' In every case but one, I gave
the right name, and that one, which was Estelle, I called Isabel. They were
greatly surprised and delighted, and set up a merry shout, as each new name
Elsie, Alice, and two or three other together--
"Why, Uncle! how did you find out all these names? Had you ever seen
"No, I had never seen one of them,
till I entered the park that morning. But old ears are not always dull.
mine are very quick to the tones of childish glee. There is more music in
the unconstrained frolic of a score of happy children, than in harp or
organ, or the full-orbed orchestra. I had been noticing them, when they did
not notice me. I had heard them call and answer each other in their sports,
while they, perhaps, if they had looked my way, would have thought I was
dozing or dreaming. I should have given Estelle correctly, but they always
called her Telle, which I mistook for Belle."
Jesse.--How many of them came to your company?
"About a dozen. Some of the older ones were a little shy, and perhaps
doubted the propriety of speaking to a stranger."
Jesse.--Why, Uncle, is it possible you could pick up twelve
names in that way, in so short a time? You must have had a wonderful quick
"My memory was quicker then, than it is now. But it was not all
memory. There was some guess-work about it. And the children, without
knowing it, helped me out. First, Mary and Helen, who began to feel like
old friends, and to take an interest in keeping up my reputation, would,
quite unconsciously, and yet with a good deal of expression, say the word to
themselves, thus helping me, as I watched their lips, to apply to the right
person a name I had heard called in their play. After I had guessed one or
two correctly, every child in the group would do the same thing, so that,
instead of being more difficult, it became constantly easier to surprise and
Alice.--Did you explain the mystery to them?
"I told them there was no mystery in it; that when they had seen as
much of the world as I had, and counted as many nephews and nieces as I
could, they would understand a great many things that looked strange to
them. They then asked me, if I had time, and was not too weary, to tell
them some of the things I had seen. I told them some stories of my travels,
and something about some of my other nephews and nieces, till the breakfast
bells in the neighborhood began to ring, as a signal that our meeting must
break up. About half the company said, 'Good-bye, uncle,' and scampered
away. A few of them hesitated a little, among whom were Mary and Helen.
then Mary, stepping a little nearer, said, blushing, 'Uncle, won't you
please walk over and take breakfast with us? I am sure you will be most
"Thank you, Mary," said I, "my relationship, as uncle to you, does not
allow me to claim your parents as brother or sister. I am sufficiently
happy in the love of children, to find it no loss to be a stranger to their
parents. Besides, I must go on my way. I only paused here a little, to
have my part in your sports."
"But what part have you had?" inquired Helen. "You have sat here all
----- "My part," I answered, "is to look on, and listen. It is as much
pleasure to me now to see the frolic, and hear the sport, as it once was to
take part in it. Through sight and hearing I now enjoy all the pleasure
which I once derived from the full exercise of all my boyish powers. When
you leap, my heart leaps with you; when you shout, my heart echoes the
shout; when you laugh, my heart smiles; when you are merry, I am glad. When
you dance, or troop, or hunt-the-slipper, I seem to have a whole bevy of
young cherubs galloping through my veins, and making me feel so young and
antic, that I can hardly keep from screaming. But you must go, for the bell
has rung. Good-morning, dear children. God bless you."
"Do let us see you again, Uncle," said Helen. "Then, perhaps, we can
find out your name, as you have ours."
"Oh! I know," said Estelle; "it must be Uncle Peter Parley."
"Is it so? Is it?" cried they all together.
"You do me too much honor," I replied; "but I claim Peter as an old
"Well, then," exclaimed Helen, "you must be Uncle Merry. Are you not?"
"Not exactly, dear," I replied; "but Robert is a friend of mine, and
much sympathy do we have in our love of children. My nieces at home call
me--" just then one or two bells rang loudly, and eager and curious as they
all were, my young friends heeded rather the call of duty, and ran homeward,
without giving me time to pronounce the word; though one of them, turning
her head as she moved off, seemed to feel sure she should catch it.
UNCLE HIRAM'S PILGRIMAGE, by William C. Cutter (from Robert Merry's
Museum, May 1857, pp. 145-147)
Come, Uncle, we are glad to be all together again. We are eager to
hear of your pilgrimage, for you have hardly begun it yet.
That is a grand mistake of yours, my darling. You know the old
proverb--"Well begun is half done." It is as true now as ever it was. And,
surely, a Pilgrimage whose first step is a battle for dear life, and the
second, a sweet, bright, gladsome interview with a whole troop of family
friends, trees waving over, and birds singing around us, may be said to be
well begun, when that battle is successfully ended, and that
interview fully enjoyed. It was as if the city had been walled and strongly
guarded, and I had effected an entrance, either by scaling or breach, and
found within, a host of my best friends, ready to give me the kindest of
welcomes. If I was not as proud as the conqueror whose path is written with
blood, I was as contented and happy as the beggar, when he struck into a
path strewn with pearls.
Well, Uncle, where did you get your breakfast?
Pilgrims, my dear, never stop to eat; or, if they do, they never tell
of it. They are supposed to live on what they see and do, like your heroes
I parted from my lively nieces with a feeling of gratitude, that,
however the head might become white and the form bent, there was no need of
the heart growing old. I looked after them as they ran away, at the sound
of the peremptory bell, wishing them all manner of blessings. Waiting still
in my comfortable seat, to enjoy, for a few minutes, the fresh breezes and
the fresh songs of the morning, I put my book in my pocket, and walked up to
the gate, at the northeastern angle of the inclosure. Here I first broke
upon Broadway, and began to realize something of the bustle and stir of that
great thoroughfare. It is broad, very broad, at the beginning, or rather it
would be, if they had not dropped into it a beautiful bright gem of a
garden, and inclosed it round, thus dividing the broad way into two narrow
ones. This little oasis, called the Bowling Green, has been a famous spot
in its day, and has seen wonderful sights. It witnessed the rebellion and
execution of Jacob Leisler, and the terrible panic and tragic end of the
"negro plot." It witnessed the comfortable, quiet days of the pipe-loving
Knickerbockers, and the more stirring times of English supremacy, and of the
Revolution which put an end to that supremacy. But the chief distinction of
the Bowling Green, in the olden
time, was the famous leaden statue of George II., very appropriately made
of lead, to represent the dull old king. Do you know what was the end of
that statue, any of you?
I do, Uncle, exclaimed two or three voices at once.
Well, how was it[?]
It was melted up at the time of the Revolution, and cast into bullets,
to defend New York against the British invaders, replied Harry.
Yes, and a very good use they made of it. That was the most profitable
piece of statuary that our old mother, England, ever presented to her
colonies; and George II., stupid as he was, did some service even after his
Well, I was musing quietly under the shadow of the great trees, and
thinking of the stirring scenes of those days, when lead was scarce, and
courage and true patriotism plenty, when my thoughts were suddenly
disturbed--perhaps I ought to say quickened--by the rolling of a drum, and
the sound of other martial instruments. Turning inquiringly round, I saw a
merry troop of young soldiers, armed with wooden guns, swords, and spears,
and with banners waving, coming round the northern sweep of the Green, and
moving toward the Battery. A little farther up the street, another company
of full-grown boys, who had not yet outgrown the foibles of youth, were
coming down the same direction.
When the leader of the juvenile band saw me, he seemed to be suddenly
struck with a pleasant recollection. Commanding his company to form a line
along the sidewalk, he ordered them to "present arms," which they did with
great alacrity, if not with the most approved military precision. Then,
stepping out a little in front, he gave the order for a salute; whereupon,
the standard-bearer waved his ensign, the drummer rolled a spirited welcome,
and the whole company raised their hats, and gave three hearty cheers.
This done, the Captain was about forming them again for the march, when
I thanked him for the honor they had done me, which could not have been more
hearty, or more civil, if he and his young friends had known that they were
saluting Uncle Merry himself.
I thought you must be Uncle Merry, said the Captain, as soon as I saw
you, and I could not persuade myself to go by without saluting you. Uncle
Merry! Uncle Merry! exclaimed the boys all together, in spite of the rules
of military discipline, breaking from their ranks, and gathering round me.
told them they had made a mistake. I was not Mr. Merry; but that did not
matter much, since I was their Uncle, at any rate, and had come to the city
as much to see them as for any other reason. And, I added, Robert Merry
himself can not claim to be more fond of his nephews than I am of mine.
Well, exclaimed the Captain, Uncle, at any rate--Uncle Merry, or Uncle
Peter, or whatever other Uncle you may be, we are most happy to see you, and
now, unless you prefer to be our guest, we shall claim you for our prisoner.
We are about to have a grand review in the Bowling Green, and a cold
collation, under our marquee, which you are invited to witness and share.
For if you came to the city to see us, you will never have a better chance.
I accepted the invitation; the gates were thrown open, we all marched
in, and the gate was closed against all intruders. The other company, as it
marched by to the Battery, gave a salute, which was handsomely responded to
by the juvenile Merrys. The review passed off very pleasantly, consisting
much more of gymnastics, curvetings, and merry-making, than of any thing
military or warlike. They treated me as an invited and honored guest, and
were very anxious to learn my name. Some called me Uncle Frank, but others
said I did not at all resemble the portrait they had seen of that worthy
gentleman. The Captain, who was a right merry little wag, was quite
positive that I was Uncle Merry, while the drummer thought I resembled his
ideal of Uncle Hiram. We had a very social time, and stories and jokes went
round, till the call was made for the repast.
This was just what it should be--a real merry-making. It was not
boisterous or irregular, but a well-conducted, though very amusing affair.
Every one felt at liberty to pay me such compliments as came to hand, which I
returned as well as I knew how. At length, after toasting all the uncles
from Adam down, I was called upon for a speech and a song. This was rather
too much for me, and I excused myself, assuring them they should have both
in the next MUSEUM, in a form which they could keep.
Time passed so rapidly that it was near noon before I was ready to take my
leave. They gave me another cordial salute at parting and a special
invitation to visit them all at their houses.
UNCLE HIRAM'S PILGRIMAGE, by William C. Cutter (from Robert Merry's
Museum, June 1857, pp. 177-179)
Taking leave of the young captain and his merry friends, I crossed over
to the "western sidewalk," now well known, the world over, as the
genteel side of Broadway. I was, of course, in somewhat of a
military mood, and easily affected by objects and associations connected
with the history of the past. I paused before the house on the corner, now
known as the Washington House. It was a house much celebrated in the days
of the Revolution as the head-quarters of most of the leaders of the army.
It was built by Captain Kennedy, of the Royal Navy, a son-in-law of Colonel
Peter Schuyler, of Newark, N. J. Here you have a view of the house, as it
now stands, with several of its nearest neighbors. The first house on the
left, with arched doorway and pediment, is the Kennedy House, occupied for a
time by Lee, Putnam, Washington, and afterward by Sir Henry Clinton,
Robertson, Carleton, and other British officers, and where the ill-fated
André wrote his letter to Arnold.
Willie.--But, Uncle, I see a part of the Bowling Green here on
the right, and I want to ask if the printer did not make a mistake in the
May number of the MUSEUM. It is said there that the
leaden statue which was broken up and cast into bullets was a statue of
George II. You told us it was George III., just as I have read in books.
You are right, Willie; somebody made a mistake there; but whether it
was a slip of the pen or of the type, I have not investigated.
Elsie.--Was there not once a beautiful fountain in the Bowling
Green? I have read something about it in the papers.
Yes, there was once a fountain here; but as to its being
beautiful, I prefer not to testify. It was a large pile of rocks,
which might have fallen from some volcano in the moon, and certainly they
were moon-struck who placed them there. They were as appropriate to the
spot, as an elephant to a lady's boudoir.
Harry.--Did Arnold occupy the same house?
I believe not. After his treason he resided for a time in the next
house, on the right, now No. 3 Broadway. It was there that Sergeant Champe,
the brave Virginian, attempted to capture
the traitor. Do you remember the story?
Yes, Uncle, but we would like to have you repeat it, with the houses
before us, so as to explain it more fully.
Well. The scheme of arresting Arnold, and bringing him to the American
camp, originated with Washington. He consulted Lee about it, who at once
fixed upon Champe as the person to carry the plan into execution. The great
difficulty in persuading Champe to undertake the perilous mission was not
the danger, but the seeming dishonor of the service. Champe was to desert
to the enemy, and offer his services to the king, and, while acting this
double part, to steal away Arnold in the night. Washington had friends and
correspondents in the city, with whom Champe communicated. Champe enlisted
in Arnold's legion, and became familiar with his habits. A garden, attached
to the house, extended quite down to the river's edge, for most of the
ground west of Greenwich Street has been made since that time. Arnold was
in the habit of walking in this garden every night, about midnight, just
before retiring. Adjoining this garden was a dark alley, leading to the
street. Champe arranged with two accomplices, (one of whom was to have a
boat in readiness,) to seize and gag Arnold in his garden, convey him to the
alley, and thence by such means as they could, to the river. In case of
interruption, they were to represent him as a drunken soldier, whom they
were carrying to the guard-house. Every thing being arranged, and the time
for the capture agreed on, Gen. Lee, with a chosen party, waited all night
on the opposite shore to receive his prisoner. But he was disappointed.
The plan was foiled by the removal of Arnold, on that very day, to other
quarters, for the purpose of superintending the embarkation of his legion
for Virginia. Poor Champe was in a sad dilemma. He was obliged to go to
Virginia with the arch traitor, but there found means to escape and join his
Lucy.--How strange it seems, when looking at such quiet places,
to think of what has happened there in the troublesome times that are past.
Yes, Lucy, the world is full of strange things, and there is scarcely a
spot, however dear to us, whose past history, if given in full, would not
startle and amaze us.
Lucy.--Were the other houses in this sketch remakable for any
The two I have been speaking about stood by themselves at the tiem of
the Revolution. The next two are more modern. The space occupied by them
was an open garden. The next one (now No. 9, Atlantic Garden) was occupied
by Gen. Gage in 1765, before the Kennedy House was built.
When Lee entered New York, immediately after the evacuation of Boston,
he took possession of this house (No. 1). Capt. Parker, of the British ship
Asia, lying in the harbor, threatened to burn the town if the rebel troops
should enter it. Lee replied:
"The first house fired shall be the funeral pile of the tories."
Lee followed the British to the South, and Putnam took up his quarters
in this house, awaiting the arrival of Washington. Majors Aaron Burr and
David Humphreys formed a part of his staff at this time. It was while
residing here that Putnam formed his plan of blowing up the British ships in
the lower harbor.
There are many more interesting historical incidents connected with
this part of Broadway, but I have not time now to relate them. You will
find them in all the freshness and glow of original anecdote, beautifully
illustrated, in Lossing's "Field Book of the Revolution," published by the
Harpers--one of the richest and most elaborately embellished works ever
issued from the American press.
UNCLE HIRAM'S PILGRIMAGE, by William C. Cutter (from Robert Merry's
Museum, July 1857, pp. 14-15)
Well, Uncle, we are waiting for you to go on with your pilgrimage. It
seems as if we should never see the end of Broadway, said Elsie.
Why, are you in such a hurry to get along?
Elsie.--Oh! no, we are in no hurry, for there is something
interesting at every step. Still, we seem to move slowly, and to have a
long walk before us.
Well, then, let us be moving. A few doors north of the hosue last
spoken of, I was startled by the appearance of two full-grown lions,
crouching on the steps, and guarding the entrance. I had no fear of the
animals, for they could neither bite nor roar. They were exceedingly quiet
and well behaved. I think I am within bounds, when I say that they have not
moved a muscle these fifteen years.
Fanny.--Oh! I understand; they were not living lions, but stone
or bronze. But why, then, did they startle you?
Not from any fear thaat they would harm me, Fanny; but I was surprised
that any person who had sense enough to build so fine a house, should have
had so little tste as to place these lions in front of it.
Elsie.--Why, Uncle, what objection can you have to them? They
are getting to be quite the fashion.
More's the pity. My objection is, that they are out of place in this
cold climate. Lions belong to the torrid zone, and could nto live exposed
through our winters. If Solomon had lived in New York, he would never have
thought of placing lions on the steps to his throne. He would doubtless
have substituted bears, or dogs, a deer, or a buffalo.
Well, I was musing of this incongruity, when an unearthly shout rung in
my ear, and a wild, haggard-looking boy rushed up to me, screaming in a
gibberish I had never heard before,
I could not gather the slightest meaning from his vociferation, and
there was nothing in his expression or manner to help me to understand him,
and discover the cause of his agony. But he held out a paper, not as if he
wished me to buy it, but as if he would compel me to take it, whether I
would or not.
"What is the matter, my boy?" said I.
----- He looked at me with a mingled expression of anger, contempt, and pity,
and rushed on, shouting, as before,
Why, Uncle, that wa a news-boy, and you ought to have bought a paper.
I know it, my dear, and I knew it then. But I hold that the news-boy
has no claim on me to understand such barbarous yells, or translate them
into English. He can speak as plainly as any one, when he is in the house,
or conversing alone with you or me. Why, then, should he make a wild Indian
of himself, when he has papers to sell?
I had gone but a few steps, and had lost none of the impression of the
news-boy's shout, when I was attracted by two voices coming, in alternate
gusts, down the street, neither of which seemed to have a motive or a
meaning. I soon learned that the performers were street peddlers, each
being accompanied by a skeleton of a horse, drawing a skeleton of a cart,
and each shouting at the top of his lungs. But what either of them said, I
had no power to comprehend. The first seemed to be called "Hoyesers!
Hoyesers! Aiyenaige Hoyesers! Aiyego!" The other, with equal
earnestness and effect, shouted, "Oyejers! Oyejers! Aiyenaige Oiyejers,
Aiyego!" It would have puzzled better ears than mine to discern any
difference between them, or to discover what it was they were so earnest to
proclaim. It was evident they had something to sell, and equally evident
that they did not intend the people should know what it was, unless they
came and looked into their carts. Being somewhat curious to ascertain the
relation of these strange sounds to the things offered for sale, I stepped
into the street, and found that the one had oysters to sell, and the other
oranges. Having made this discovery, I stood and listened a while, to see
if I could then discover the difference in the cries. It was utterly
impossible. If I had wished to buy an orange, I should have been quite as
likely to call the oyster-man as the other. But hark! there's the bell for
supper. It speaks much plainer English than one in fifty of the New York
UNCLE HIRAM'S PILGRIMAGE, by William C. Cutter (from Robert Merry's
Museum, September 1857, pp. 82-83)
Elsie. "Well, Uncle, where are we now?"
Leaving the orange man and the oyster man to their outlandish yells,
and passing quitely along, by rows of tall, splendid houses, and taller
stores, I found myself face to face with Trinity Church. Years
before, I had stood in front of it, when it was a much smaller and less
pretending structure, and when its next neighbor, on the south, was a very
plain Quaker-looking brick barn, called Grace Church. The grace must have
been all in the interior, for the exterior was utterly wanting in that
quality. It was now replaced by a tall, long, massive temple of Mammon, an
immense warehouse for all sorts of fashionable wearables. The houses in the
same row had also undergone many changes. Some had come down altogether, to
make way for stores, and others had been deserted by their old tenants, and
occupied as stores, or offices, with but little change in their outward
appearance. The wealthy old citizens, who formerly occupied them, and who
regarded this part of the city as the "Court End," the very choice of all its
localities, had been driven away to some remote improvement by the
relentless march of business. But here I stood before Trinity, and Trinity
stood before Wall Street. What a strange conjunction! thought I. The
Church and the World! God and Mammon!
Frank. Why, Uncle, what do you mean? I do not understand you.
Excuse me, dear. I forgot that I was talking to children, who have not
seen New York, and know little of Wall Street, or of Mammon. I will explain
myself, and then pass on.
Trinity Church is one of the oldest of the church corporations of New
York. It received its charter and its land from the British Crown, long
before the Revolution. Its property was then known as the "King's Farm."
It has been made very rich from the sale of lands then given it, and
consequently has great influence in the diocese of New York.
Wall Street is the great center of the money operations of New York.
Most of the banks are there. The Custom-house and the Mint are there. And
there, too, are scores of bankers, brokers, lawyers, and all sorts of
operators in stocks, notes, and money. Strange things are done there
sometimes--that is to say, things which plain common-sense people do not
readily comprehend as altogether fair and straight-forward. It is thought
that there are some rogues in Wall Street. It is suspected that there are
gamblers there, and that some of them are in the daily habit of putting
their hands deep into other people's pockets. I do not say that this is so,
but such is the reputation of the street, and to see the old Trinity Church
rearing its lofty crest at its
head, and looking calmly down upon all its doings, seemed much like an
attempt to serve God and Mammon at the same time. It may be better,
however, to regard it as a watch-tower set for the rebuke of the wicked, a
sort of granite conscience to check the spirit of worldliness that prevails
there. Be that as it may, Wall Street is headed, and cut off, by Trinity
Frank. How cut off, Uncle?
Well, now, you are getting critical. I will explain again. Wall
Street is, as I have said, a very important street. It commences at the
East River. It would be a very great convenience to this part of the city
to have it run through to the North River, there being no direct
communication from one side to the other, for some distance above or below.
The Trinity Church grounds are in the way and the church itself stands
directly in front, as a tall sentinel, to say, Thus far shalt thou go, and
This is one of the finest churches in the city, or country. It is
built of a light colored brown stone, obtained in New Jersey. The steeple
is 280 feet high, and is a conspicuous object, in approaching the city, from
any direction, by water. The architecture is Gothic, and unlike many other
expensive edifices professing to be Gothic, the style is faithfully and
elaborately carried out. It may be set down as one of the great ornaments
of the city. The sum expended on it, $300,000 would have been sufficient to
erect 30 respectable churches in the country, to accomodate 30,000 people.
UNCLE HIRAM'S PILGRIMAGE, by William C. Cutter (from Robert Merry's
Museum, October 1857, pp. 115-117)
Passing from under the shadow of "Trinity," not caring to pause over
the rusty old tombstones and begrimed monuments, that looked dismally
through the iron inclosure, I found myself pushed and hurried along at a
rapid pace by a wave of eager men and boys, all of whom seemed bent on some
great object ahead, which they were in a desperate hurry to secure at the
earliest possible moment. In vain did I endeavor to keep on at my wonted
pace, noticing, as I went, the objects of interest around. There was a
necessity that I, too, should hurry along with the rushing crowd. I had no
power to resist it. So, on I tramped, as if the city were on fire, and I
had scarcely time to effect my escape. I began to be excited to see what it
was we were after. I crossed several streets, and was about to make a
perilous passage across another, when I found myself suddenly brought to a
stand by another wave rushing in the opposite direction. One advantage I
gained by this. My onward course was arrested, and I was not only able, but
obliged to stop and look about. Stepping a little one side, I took an
observation, as a sailor would say, and found myself facing St. Paul's.
This is a large chapel, connected with the Trinity Church, and situated
between Fulton and Vesey streets. I stood close under the great iron gate,
drew a long breath, and looked about for something to occupy my eyes while I
was resting. The church had nothing attractive to draw me that way. The
rattle of carriages and carts, and the rush of men in all directions, made
it difficult to hear. But ever and anon, in the pauses of the din, there
was a soft, cooling murmur, as of falling water, which was quite refreshing.
Stepping forward to the edge of the sidewalk, a fortunate lull in the stream
of carriages, that seemed to be ever pouring along the street, enabled me to
catch a glimpse of the Park, the Fountain, and the City Hall. The fountain
was in full play, and sent up its crystal columns some sixty or seventy
feet, falling in graceful spray to the basin below, stirring the air and
making a ceaseless gentle murmur, that contrasted pleasantly with the
discordant din of the streets. I was about stepping over to get a nearer
view of the beautiful fountain, when my attention was drawn another way by
strains of martial music. They proceeded from the balcony of Barnum's
Museum, a place so famous in the history of New York, and so attractive to
all young persons, that I resolved at once to visit it, expecting, of
course, to find some of my own friends there, inasmuch as the Merrys all
have a natural drawing toward a museum. At the entrance I was met by Mr.
Barnum himself, who recognized me as an old acquaintance (some of the
Hatchet family reside in Bridgeport), and gave me a cordial welcome, then
and at all times, to the place.
----- The Museum is a large building, six stories high, occupying the corner
of Broadway and Ann Street, and contains a great variety of very remarkable
curiosities, with some pictures, statues, and other works of art. On the
first floor, directly in the rear of the entrance, is the illuminated
gallery, a long, dark hall--
Jessie. Why, Uncle, how can an illuminated gallery be dark?
Not quite so fast, my dear. The Hall is dark, about fifteen feet wide,
and running back some fifty or sixty feet. On each side is a row of
circular openings, about six inches in diameter, with lenses or magnifying
glasses inserted. Behind these, at suitable distances, are hung many rich
and beautiful engravings, which are so magnified by the lenses which you
have to look through, in order to see them, that they appear to the eye in
full life-size. This gallery, containing the pictures, is illuminated, and
all the scenes represented are brought out in clear light. One of them
represents the funeral procession of Napoleon, in Paris; a magnificent
display of military pomp and Parisian enthusiasm. Another represents the
front of St. Peter's and the Vatican at Rome. Another a scene in Venice.
This room is called, in the simple language of the Museum, the Cosmo
Panopition-Studio. Tell me, if you can, what that means.
Elsie. I am sure I don't know, Uncle, do you?
Well, it will not answer to say I don't know. To me, it has two
meanings. One is that which was intended by the inventor, a studio or
gallery, where you may see all the world at once.
Jessie. What is the other?
Oh! no matter about the other.
Jessie. Do tell us what it is! I am sure we shall understand
it better than this.
Well, it means that the proprietor knows how much most people love to
be humbugged by hard names, and things they can't understand. If he had
called it the "Illuminated Picture Gallery," as I have done, few,
comparatively, would care to go and see it.
Ascending to the second floor, we find ourselves at once in the Museum,
surrounded with curiosities of all sorts, and from all quarters of the globe,
in such a variety, it is difficult to know where to begin. Above, near the
ceiling, is a long range of portraits of distinguished characters, which
a study for the readers of history. They embrace some of the most
prominent characters of Europe and America during the last two centuries.
This collection was once known as "Peale's Portrait Gallery;" and many of
the best portraits, which adorn our literary and political magazines, and
other similar works, were copied from these pictures.
In the cases around the sides of the rooms on this floor, are many
natural curiosities of great interest, such as few of us can ever expect to
see in any other condition than as they are prepared for us in the Museum,
or perhaps in a Menagerie. Lions, tigers, leopards, catamounts, monkeys,
apes, ourang-outangs, anacondas, and many others, the full description of
which I shall have to reserve for our next meeting. I should like to take
Mr. Merry's entire family with me, and spend a day, or perhaps two, in
examining the many curiosities of nature and art which are here brought
Elsie--Oh! Uncle, do invite us all. How nice it would be!
What, twenty thousand at a time? That would be nice indeed. Mr.
Barnum would be obliged to hire the Crystal Palace for the occasion.
For the present, the greater part of the family will have to content
themselves with seeing through my eyes; and as I took no small pains to
examine every part of the Museum, I shall have not a little to say about it.
It may seem like a halt in my pilgrimage, but will be found to be something
like an oasis in the desert, for, to a social heart, there is no desert like
a crowded street.
UNCLE HIRAM'S PILGRIMAGE, by William C. Cutter (from Robert Merry's
Museum, November 1857, pp. 137-142)
Charlie. Dear Uncle, we are all waiting anxiously to hear more
about the Museum. I do wish we could see it ourselves, and have you with
us, to explain everything.
It will be time enough to talk about that after Christmas, when I shall
go to New York again. Then I will see what I can do.
Hurrah! Capital! That's good! Bravo! and a whole dictionary full of
exclamations, occupying just two minutes by the watch, and what the printers
would call a stick-full of print.
There, that will do for a demonstration. Now let us go quietly on. At
this rate, we shall never see the end of Broadway.
One of the greatest novelties of the American Museum (for that is the
name of this great collection of curiosities), and, perhaps, the greatest
attraction it has ever presented to the public, is
Jessie. Why, there is another hard name. Pray what does it
It means an artificial pond, for raising aquatic plants or animals.
Frank. Why! a pond in the Museum! I should not think there
would be room enough for that.
Why not, Frank? a pond is not necessarily very large. This fish-globe
may be called a pond.
Ha! ha! ha! Uncle. That is just like you, always making fun of
Not at all, Franky, I am quite in earnest. Go to your dictionary, and
you will find that a pond is a small body of still water, without an outlet.
Will not your globe answer to that definition? At all events, the
aquaria of the Museum are small glass vessels, of various forms and
sizes, containing water (from ten to one hundred gallons each) for the use
of various kinds of fishes and plants. It is a sort of fish-globe on a
comprehensive scale, so arranged, however, that in most cases it is not
necessary to change the water at all.
Elsie. Why, Uncle? I should think the fishes would all die. I
could not keep mine, without changing the water very often.
That is true, my dear. But these aquaria are furnished with living
plants, as well as living animals. These plants are growing, and they
supply to the water all that is necessary to the life and health of the
animals that properly belong there. This gives to the aquarium all the
advantages of a natural pond. It is a sort of ocean or river-garden. You
may fill it with salt-water, and sea-shells, and plants, or with
fresh-water, and the appropriate productions of pond, lake, and river. You
may supply it with coral, rock, sea-weed, moss, and all the endless variety
of water-life, so that the fishes, after getting over the fright of being
caught, will feel as much at home as ever, making love, and rearing their
families, without the fear of being devoured by large fish, as in the
Frank. Pray how do our gold-fishes live at all in those glass
globes? They have no plants or mosses there, and we never give them any
I will tell you. There are more or less impurities in all the water we
use; I mean vegetable and even animal matter, too minute for us to observe,
but not too minute for their delicate organs. This supports them while it
lasts, but when they have consumed this, and the oxygen of the water is
exhausted, they die. To prevent this, the water must
be often changed, or supplied with such substances as will furnish, in
their growth, both vegetable nourishment and oxygen for breathing.
An aquarium may be of any size or form, from a little globe on
the table to a tank, as large as this house. In the Museum, to which I am
now to introduce you, there are some twenty or more of them. They are
mostly square or rectangular, the sides being formed of heavy plate-glass.
The bottom is covered with sand and pebbles, to the depth of several inches,
out of which flags and other aquatic plants are growing. Large stones, of
various forms, are so arranged, as to give them all the appearance of rocks
in the sea, forming, as they lean one over another, caves and grottoes, or
whatever fanciful apartments you may choose to imagine for the convenience
of the finny race.
In one place, you see scores of sun-fish, or pond-perch,
enjoying themselves as if they had a whole lake for their range, moving
gracefully about near the surface, as if it were a peculiar pleasure to show
their silvery sides to the light, through a wall of French plate-glass. In
another, the yellow-perch, the pike, the cat-fish, and some other
varieties, live together in harmony, gliding about among the weeds and
caves, as if each one was monarch of the whole. This quiet does not arise
from any particular amiableness in the species, for, while I stood by, the
attendant dropped a small fish, of another family, into the reservoir, who
had not yet found his way to the bottom, before one of the larger sort took
him in at a mouthful, and swallowed him whole.
Elsie. Oh! Uncle, was it not cruel for the man to put him in
there? I should not like to see such a thing as that.
Well, dear Elsie, it is so the world over. Man is not the only
destroyer. Dr. Franklin, you know, once thought it wrong to eat any kind of
animal food. But when he found, as a fish was opened in his presence, that
he had been feeding on another fish, he concluded that that was according to
nature, and so gave up both his theory and his practice.
Passing on to another of these beautiful oceal palaces, I found
shiners, carp, roaches, muddlers,
suckers, and eels, the last, according to their usual habits,
nearly hidden in the gravelly bottom.
The next contained gold-fish and craw-fish. They would
not seem to belong to the same family, but they live peaceably together.
In the next vase--
Elsie. Why, Uncle! were any of them so small as to be called a
There is no particular size for a vase. It may be large as well as
small. I called it a vase for variety. In the next, there was a little
nation of water-newts (efts), very much resembling lizards, sprawling
about in all directions, and seeming much as if they might be young
crocodiles or alligators. These, with the frog and toad, are among the msot
amusing inmates of a fresh-water aquarium; but a merciful regard should be
had for the last two, and when they
cease to possess gills, they should be liberated, or they will die. This
is not the case with the eft, though for amphibia generally the aquarium
should be so furnished, that a part of the mimic rock-work rises above the
water. The eft retains its tail, and with it the power of volition
in water, which enables it to rise to the surface and breathe, having
accomplished which, it descends at once to the bottom, as if struck by a
blow, but speedily recovers, and, till breathing-time returns, remains
actively employed in the water, when the same performance again takes place.
The frog, during the last weeks of his residence
in confinement, is the "Mr. Merryman" of the collection.
The cunner and the porges occupied the next place,
looking much prettier and more graceful, floating about in their crystal
palace, than where we ordinarily see them, in the frying-pan or the platter.
After these came a family of sea-bass, who also exhibited a
beautiful contrast with such as we often see in the fish-market.
In one reservoir, there were fine specimens of zoophytes.
Charlie. Dear Uncle, what can that mean?
Zoophyte is a word made up of zo-ou, an animal, and
phaton, a plant. It is the lowest species of animal lilfe, and the
highest of vegetable; or rather, it seems to be a combination of the two.
It appears to be only a plant, but the plant seems to have life. It is
sensitive, and retires from the touch. We do not know much about this kind
of marine life. Sponges and corals are zoophytes.
Passing on from these, you will find in one place the conger-eel
and the horse-shoe, of both of which I once had a great horror, lest
I should meet them when I went into bathe. In another, the star-fish
adn the crab keep house together, the star-fish delighting to attach
itself to the sides of its house, as to the rocks under the sea, and the
crab, having no shell of its own, but occupying what deserted habitation it
This is a very curious feature in the habits of the crab. As it grows
too large for the shell it has taken, it crawls out and finds another. And
oftentimes there will be a severe contest between two of them for the
occupancy of some cast-off shell. Sometimes they kill each other in these
conflicts, and sometimes they die from exposure, not being able to find a
shell large enough to hold them.
One of these crystal palaces was wholly devoted to tortoises,
only one of which showed any desire to amuse us by his motions. He swam
about most vigorously, but not very gracefully. All the rest seemed to be
lazily sunning themselves on the top of a large rock.
One of the most curious, but not the most beautiful, of all these
vases, was one which contained a large number of shrimps--a little,
delicate, almost transparent fellow, looking very like a lobster, or rather
like the ghost of a lobster in miniature. It has long, slender feelers,
claws with a single-hooked fang, and three pairs of legs. Its eyes, instead
of being in its head, seem to be on the ends of two little protuberances,
set out on each side of the head, like horns. Their motions in swimming is
very peculiar and funny, and you wonder, as you see them, how they can have
any muscles at all, or any power to move, as they do.
I could not help thinking how little we know of the wonderful variety
of the works of nature. But, my story has been a very long one, and I must
break off short.
----- Frank. Oh! please go on. We are not at all weary. We should
like to hear more of these wonders.
No more now, if you please. It is quite time to stop.
Elsie. One question, dear Uncle. Some of the fishes you have
named live in the sea, where the water is salt. How do they live in
True, Elsie. I thought I had told you, that some of these vessels are
filled with salt-water, and some with fresh. they are all carefully
prepared with a view to the habits and wants of their occupants.