Robert Merry's Museum: "Uncle Hiram's Pilgrimage", by William C. Cutter (1857-1860)

"Uncle Hiram's Pilgrimage" (1857-1860), by William C. Cutter as "Hiram Hatchet," is a 30-part look at 19th-century New York City. "Uncle Hiram" narrates his journey down Broadway to representative subscribers to Robert Merry's Museum -- a journey through a world as exotic as any Gilbert Go-ahead ever encountered. Humorous encounters with "the natives" punctuate heavily illustrated descriptions of New York City landmarks which include Barnum's American Museum and the Five Points area. Every landmark mentioned is illustrated in the magazine, though only a few illustrations are reproduced here.



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UNCLE HIRAM'S PILGRIMAGE, by William C. Cutter (from Robert Merry's Museum, January 1859, pp. 23-24)

What is that you were saying, Hal? My pilgrimage rather solemn and dull? I am not surprised that you find it so. It was, for the most part, dull and solemn to me, as all pilgrimages must be. Bunyan's Pilgrim was not always dull, but he was always solemn. The numberless pilgrimages to Jerusalem and Mecca were none of them mere journeys of pleasure. Most of them were sad, wearisome, and exhausting, with very little at the end to compensate for the toil.

But, Hal, what would you have me do? Life is made up of the grave and the gay, and we must take it as it comes. If the grave overbalances the gay, as, after all, it does, even in Broadway, we can not help it. We must travel on, and see what comes before us. I would prefer to find only amusement, since you are with me. But there is not much fun in Broadway. Bunyan's Pilgrim did not probably find half as much to amuse him in Vanity Fair, as he found every day along the King's highway, for he was not disposed to be merry over the follies of his fellow-men. Let us see, however, what will come up next.

Here comes the mammoth travelling advertiser. I doubt if you ever saw one like it. it is a very long wagon, with an immense box on it, like a small house, covered all over on the sides and ends with flaring advertisements. It travels slowly up and down the streets, into all parts of the city, attracting the notice of hundreds and thousands of people, and directing where to go, if they would find certain articles which they ay be wanting, of the best quality and at the lowest prices. Here, perhaps, you will see at one time, in flaming capitals, Hiram Anderson, inviting you to call at 99 Bowery, if you want the best and cheapest carpets. On the other side, you will be told where to find trunks and carpet bags of every pattern and quality, or hats and caps of the most approved style; or toy-books, paper dolls, etc., or perhaps some new or old patent medicine, warranted to cure everything but death, and to stave that off indefinitely. The theaters are conspicuous on this box, and the minstrels, whose minstrelsy will not pass muster unless they black their faces, and pass themselves off for negroes.

Jessie.--How is it, Uncle, that so much money can be spent in advertising? I should not think it would pay. The papers are full of advertisements. I am sure I never read one of them.

But other people do, Jessie. It is astonishing how much of the business of a great city depends upon judicious advertising. In such a labyrinth of streets, avenues, houses, and stores, it would be very difficult to find anything you might want if there were

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no advertisements to direct you where to go. It requires a great deal of talent and ingenuity to advertise well. And the expedients which some men resort to in this way are very amusing. Here, now, is another. Six men marching slowly along, each with a large placard, in the form of a banner, with an invitation to all the world to call at No. ----, and see a pig with two tails, and a sheep with six legs!

The next thing, perhaps, will be a file of men, each with white muslin coats, printed all over with the flaring show-bill of a Book Auction or a Ladies' Fair. And so they go. To do anything in this world a man must be known, and not suffer himself to be forgotten. If you don't read the advertisements, others do. And you would read them, too, if you were anxious to find some particular thing, and did not know where to go for it.


UNCLE HIRAM'S PILGRIMAGE, by William C. Cutter (from Robert Merry's Museum, February 1859, pp. 48-49)

I wish it was in my power, instead of so tamely describing some of the things I saw in Broadway, to take you all along with me, and show you the things themselves. Some of them can not well be described. To appreciate them at all, you must see them. Here, now, is a large store, full of pictures of all sorts and sizes, in all styles and forms of frames. In the windows there is a great display of some of the rarest, and most beautiful, to attract the passers-by. There are seldom less than a dozen persons at each window at any time of the day. These pictures are often changed, so that you may almost every day see something new; and some persons never pass without stopping to study the window. it is a continual free exhibition.

You ask me how they can afford to have such fine pictures, and be always showing them for nothing. The answer is, that the show-window is one way of advertising. Many are first induced to stop and look, without any intention to go farther, who afterward go in and buy. But let us go in, and look round a little. Where shall we begin? Here is a subject in which I am always interested, though the painting is not as fine as some others. It is the interview, mentioned in the December number of the MUSEUM, between Samoset, an Indian chief, from Maine, and the good old Pilgrims at Plymouth. It is very hard to believe, unless the climate has very greatly changed, that even an Indian could

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live through the winters of Maine or Massachusetts, without more clothing than Samoset has in the picture. But such is the story, and such is the picture, and we must take them as they are. The old Pilgrims were few in number, and surrounded with tribes of unknown enemies. They were consequently always on their guard. They never went unarmed. They were afraid of Samoset at first; but he proved to be a friend, whom they could trust. With what an expression of surprise and curiosity the girls look at him from behind the shelter of their father! What a wonder he must have been to them, with his naked body, his long straight hair, his fancy headdress, and his unintelligible tongue! How many questions they would have asked him, if they could have made him understand their language! And how they would have been amused at his stories of Indian life and manners, and how surprised at his account of the wide extent of the country, and the numerous tribes which inhabited it! Those tribes are nearly all gone. The remnant is fast wasting away. I wish I could feel that our nation had dealt justly by them.

But let us pass. Here, on the right, is a beautiful hunting scene. What a rich back ground of open country is spread out on the left, with here and there a fine clump of trees, or a solitary elm or oak, stretching its heavily laden arms to the sky! The leaves of those trees seem almost to move, as you look at them. But see what a magnificent creature that horse is coming down the valley, the tall rider sitting so easy in the saddle, that he seems to be a part of the horse! And this, on the right, just leaping the ditch, his rider, though a lady, as cool and fearless as if sitting in her chair at home. It seems more like flying than riding, and it is a marvel that there are not more necks broken than are reported. The fox they are all so eager after, you see in the distance, down among those clumps of trees. But enough of that.

Here is a group of children at play. How admirably the whole is arranged to give to each game its appropriate place and expression! How alive the children look, almost as if they would speak, or as if you could take them in your arms and carry them away! Would you not like to jump in among them, and take part in their play? I should, old as I am.


UNCLE HIRAM'S PILGRIMAGE, by William C. Cutter (from Robert Merry's Museum, March 1859, pp. 82-83)

When I came out from the picture store, the whole street seemed to be in unusual confusion.

Broadway is always noisy, and always a jumble. But now it was stormy, uproarious. I paused at the door to see what was going on. I found the sidewalks crowded with moving masses, principally of the "lower ten," men in ragged coats and red noses, boys ragged all over, with dirty hands and faces, and here and there one of a different sort, who seemed borne along with the wave, and who served, by his decent appearance, to show off the mob to better advantage. Omnibuses, carts, carriages, were wedged in among the masses which had crowded into the street, and were slowly, and with great difficulty, struggling to get ahead.

And what was the cause of all this bustle and confusion? It was a slight effervescence of New York folly. It takes all sorts of people to make a city. And it is nothing more than should be expected, that, if there is a great excess of population in New York, there should be a proportionate excess of fools. Except Washington, there is probably no place in the country so afflicted in this way.

The present uproar was occasioned by a company of "Fantasticals," who had turned out to display themselves to the gaping multitude, and "take off the shine," as they said, from a new and splendidly equipped company of Hussars, whose first appearance was announced for that day. These Fantasticals consisted of about forty of the most clownish and suspicious-looking figures, in the form of men, that I had ever seen. They were mounted on quadrupeds, most of them supposed to have been horses once, but so emaciated, bruised, and broken-spirited, that they seemed to be but a poor burlesque on that noble animal. The equipments were in keeping with the beasts. Bits of carpet, or an old sheep-skin, served for saddles, and ropes of various colors and sizes for bridles. the captain of the motley band was a tall, long-legged skeleton of a man, with a small coal-scuttle for a hat, tied down with a leather scrap--a very short red jacket--broad, full, duck pantaloons, which reached a little below his knees, with bare legs and feet. He rode a mean little donkey, so small that his feet often touched the ground. His epaulettes were two huge sun-flowers, and his sword, a broad, flat, wooden shillaly, painted blue, with a white edge. next following him, was a very small, hump-backed negro, dressed all in white, riding a large, raw-boned cart-horse, and brandishing a huge wooden axe. Next came the music--a trumpeter, with a slender tin horn, some five feet long, with which he ever and anon executed a kind of shriek. He rode a

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long, lank, calico beast, with large spots of white on his head and back. his dress was striped red and white, with long fringes of red at his wrists and ankles, and a cap of straw in the shape of a sugar-loaf, with a paint-brush for a plume, at the top. By his side, on a lame, gray pony, was a drummer pounding on an old tin kettle. He was bare-headed, with a check shirt, bright, yellow pants, and red woolen boots. The grotesque figures that followed I will not attempt to describe in full. They were all in character with their leaders. it would seem as if they had selected all the worst-looking, worn-out, broken-down animals that could be found in the city, or its precincts, and mounted upon them the most ungainly specimens of human nature in all the world. One was covered with rags, which would scarcely hold together, and mounted on an ox. Another, in a tattered uniform of the old continental style, with a paper cap, rode a large Newfoundland dog. Another, with a dress which defied all description, rode backward on a limping mule. The standard was an old tattered bed-quilt, of all colors, borne by a very short, thick-set man, on a tall skeleton of a horse, so lame that it was painful to see him move. Immediately following him was a monkey, in a motley dress, mounted on a quiet old gray, and playing all sorts of antics as the cavalcade moved along. And so the whole company was made up. Some wore hideous masks, some had painted their faces hideously--the strife among them being to see who could make himself look ugliest. If I had been called upon to award the palm, I should have divided it equally among the men, the monkey being the only decent-looking fellow in the company. The crowd of attendants were greatly delighted at his antics, and kept up a continual volley of shouts to encourage him.

The "Hussars" had passed down the street a few minutes before. I did not see them. If called upon to judge between the two companies, I shold say the Hussars were the greatest fools of the two. Their uniform and equipments are expensive, and their time too valuable to themselves and their families to be wasted in such boyish shows. The other company was composed of drunken loafers and rowdies who were never doing so little mischief as while making this burlesque parade. Their dress and equipments cost them nothing, and their time was of no value to themselves or any one else. And yet, though so degraded, they had sense enough to see the folly of the military shows. In a country like ours, and in a time of peace, and with no possible temptation to war, it is an unmeaning, ridiculous, costly, and demoralizing amusement, in which I hope none of the Merrys will ever be found engaged.

N.B.--I don't believe in duels. So the little colonels or corporals, who may chance to read this, can keep cool, and save their spunk for some worthier subjects.


UNCLE HIRAM'S PILGRIMAGE, by William C. Cutter (from Robert Merry's Museum, April 1859, pp. 102-103)

This seemed destined to be a noisy hour, for the next thing that attracted my attention, was the sudden outburst of an uproar of musical small talk from a hand-organ, at which a tall, grum, savage-looking loafer was grinding with all his might. He had taken his stand on a side street, a few rods out of Broadway, and was beginning to draw crowds of children round him. The great attraction was not the music, nor the man, but a very bright, brisk, musical, fun-loving boy who accompanied the organ with his voice and tambourine, dancing and capering with great vivacity, the while. He was fantastically dressed, and entered, with so much interest, into his part of the play, that he became a general favorite, wherever his master chose to exhibit him. There was so much genuine good-humor and boy-fun in him, and he seemed so entirely independent and original in all that he did and said, that it left the impression on all that his master, notwithstanding his hard look, had a kind heart, after all, and that the boy was happy in his calling. At any rate, he had a wonderful knack of pleasing the children, and getting the pennies from all, young or old, who chanced to have any. The music of the organ was but little short of execrable. the boy music was natural, sweet, and very effective, but the pleasanter music to me was that of the bright looks, the encouraging smiles, and hearty applause of the wondering groups of children. It may seem a weakness in an old man like me, but I really would have enjoyed it highly, could I have followed that organ an hour or two, just for the pleasure of viewing the different groups of children that would gather round it, seeing their happy faces and listening to their exclamations of delight. Children are a pleasant study anywhere, and it does an old man's

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heart good to take lessons in it daily. There was another show connected with this organ, which amused the children very much, though it did not take their hearts like the boy-dancer. This was a group of puppets performing a sort of promenade dance, in a small opening in the front of the organ box. It was a procession of fantastical figures, that moved whenever the organ crank was turned, and kept time to the music. Occasionally, the boy would turn round, and address some comical remark to one of the figures as it passed, whereupon the figure would throw up its arms, and look, for all the world, as if laughing at the fun. This surprised the children exceedingly, but they gave the whole credit of the thing to the boy, who seemed to them to have all the marvelous powers of a young magician. I heartily wished myself as simple as they, that I might enjoy a genuine astonishment. But, unhappily, I knew too much. The boy took his own time for acting this bit of play, knowing precisely in what part of the music his laughing figure would come along, and just when the wires inside would make him throw up his arms and show his teeth. I saw this at once, and, instead of increasing my interest in the actor, as it did wth my simple-hearted companions, it lessened it very much, showing that, after all, he was only an actor, already skilled in deceiving. He was not this joyous natural child I had taken him to be; but just a bit of trained machinery, like the puppets in wood, save only that he was capable of doing better, but they were not. So with that happy group of children, in an ecstasy of delight at what they saw and heard, I was obliged to turn away with the reflection, that if we gain much, we lose something by growing old.


UNCLE HIRAM'S PILGRIMAGE, by William C. Cutter (from Robert Merry's Museum, May 1859, pp. 140-141)

As I turned away from the laughing group, I saw, on the other side of the street, a small, interesting-looking child, with a basket on her arm, standing before an open door, in the act of taking a very unmusical scolding from a rough-looking woman inside. I wondered, at first, that this child was not in the group round the organ, but as i crossed over, and got a view of her face, I forgot the music and the group around it, in my interest for this one little girl. She was not more than nine years old. Her face was beautiful, but so marked with sorrow and suffering, that the beauty was the last thing I noticed. Her dress was ragged, and not very clean. Her shoes were large and loose, and full of holes. Her hair, dark and wavy, straggled out from under a hat that must have been her mother's and seen many years of service. Her basket was still empty, and likely to be, for all that she would get at the door. I heard a part of the storm as it fell upon her, and was grieved that anything wearing the form of a woman could wear such a look, and use such words, to a child who had simply asked for a portion of the crumbs that might have fallen from her table. It may not be right to encourage beggary; but what shall a starving child do, in such a great city as New York, with two other smaller sisters and brothers at home, as hungry as she, and all dependent upon what she can get by begging? I took interest enough in her to inquire into her history. She told a very plain and simple story, and I felt from her manner that it was true, and resolved to go with her to her home, and see what I could do for her. On my way I stopped at a bakery, and put something in her basket to satisfy the immediate wants of the hungry. The little girl shed tears of joy, as she received it, but she could not speak, even to articulate the thanks that spoke, louder than words, in every feature of her face.

It was scarcely a stone's throw out of Broadway, on the other side, where the little mendicant found a home, such as it was. It was a basement, or rather

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a cellar, with a few panes of glass in the door, which furnished their whole supply of light. The room was about twenty feet square, low, dark, damp, and exceedingly uncomfortable in all its aspects, though much neater than many such places which I have seen. As soon as the door opened, the hungry little ones within rushed toward it, exclaiming, "Bread! bread!" but seeing me with their sister, drew back toward the bed, and were silent. On that bed lay the sick mother, wasted almost to a skeleton, weak, hungry, but worse than all, in agony of spirit for the helpless ones, whom she was soon to leave alone in this dark world. Mary, the eldest, my little friend, was her only dependence, her housekeeper, her nurse, her provider, her all. She had been confined to her bed some weeks, and Mary had taken care of her and the children. While the mother was telling her story, Mary took the hungry little ones into a corner, and gave the each a piece of bread, which, being fresh and sweet, they devoured most eagerly. She also brought a piece to her mother and begged her to eat it at once, "for," she said, "you have had none since yesterday morning." The mother hesitated; I told her not to regard me at all, and she attempted to eat. The effort was a severe one, she was so weak. I asked Mary for water, and assisted the poor woman to rise, so that she could drink. With the little strength thus obtained, she finished her story. It was a long one. I may tell it to you at some other time. I will only now say that I saw this family several times afterward, and that the last time I saw them, they were all well and comfortable in the very cottage, on the banks of the Connecticut, where the mother was born.


UNCLE HIRAM'S PILGRIMAGE, by William C. Cutter (from Robert Merry's Museum, September 1859, pp. 83-84)

There is nothing more amusing than the study of human nature in its everyday aspects; and a few places are more favorable for the study than a crowded thoroughfare like Broadway. I took my stand before the great show window of one of the prominent daguerreotypists, and studied for a while both the pictures and some of the living characters they represented. the pictures were nearly all of them characters; that is to say, they represented classes of persons such as are found in all societies, and generally on the top, like scum on the top of any other fermenting compound. Here was a young lady, with no pretensions to personal beauty, a plain, good-natured-looking body, who had the vanity to suppose that her elegant costume and rich diamond brooch would quite eclipse the sweet grace of that plainly dressed girl by her side. And you can see, that, while she would give all the diamonds and silks in the world for just such a face as her neighbor, she has convinced herself that all the world beside are of a different opinion. Very near to this was a young man, or what purported to be a man, who had a notion to be distinguished, and became so by extinguishing the only good feature he possessed. Nature had given him a month finely formed and very expressive. Every other feature of his countenance had some defect. The mouth would have redeemed them all; but he contrived to make it execrable, fierce, suspicious looking, by raising on the upper lip a huge, dark mustache, while a hollow cheek and a long chin were left bare and asked. It attracted attention, as he intended it should--but only from those who wondered how ugly a human face could be made to look. With his chin and cheek covered, and his lips free, he would have been a fine-looking man.

In the center of the group, in a very showy frame, was a young lady (that is, she had been young once) afflicted with literary aspirations, but without taste or genius to bear them out. She had written and published some books, and had received some polite editorial notices. She took her seat there, among the shows, paying an extra price for the central position. Her dress is decidedly negligée, and her hair studiously disheveled. She has a roll in one hand, and leans her elbow upon a table, where books, paper, and pens are carefully arranged in the most careless confusion. She is in love with fame, and so she courts it. Among the crowd of pictures there were Rev.'s and D. D.'s, in gown and bands, so grim, stark, and crusty that you could almost hear the rustle of the silk as you profanely wondered that a man capable of wearing a D. D. should also be capable of wearing, when his rubrics did not require it, so ungainly a covering. It must be said, however, that they "magnified their office" by hiding their proper manhood

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behind it. It was astonishing to me that affectation could put on such varieties of costumes and attitudes; for there were other clergymen, of other schools, who despised silk and linen, and displayed themselves quite as conspicuously in open collars, loose flabby coats, long flowing hair, and a sort of "don't-care" expression, which told plainly how much they did care for the opinions of the people. Then there were all sorts of hats, both masculine and feminine, used always to show off some peculiar trait of the wearer. I had often wondered how the artists obtained so many pictures of persons more than ordinarily plain, who were willing to set themselves up for a public show. But I discovered, in almost every one, a certain something, which would stick out, in spite of all efforts at concealment: a sort of great I on the forehead, which was known and read of all men, but which the looking-glass never revealed to the wearer. It was amusing and instructive to see the same characteristics showing through the various garbs of lawyers and doctors, gamblers, dandies, and ministers, old men and maidens, young men and children, scholars, artists, rowdies, and simpletons. There they were, all in one show-case, all in one show, all in one class in this one respect, that, in presenting themselves to be looked at by the world, they are never natural and siple, but always aiming to be something other than they are.

While I stood looking and studying these pictures, various kinds of persons stopped and looked too. Some of them commented on the pictures, each in his own way. And it was marvelous how, in most cases, their comments differed from mine. "What a beautiful girl that in the corner!" exclaimed one. I could see nothing beautiful but a straggling curl on her neck, and a jaunty little hat, that would have served for a fairy. "Zounds!" exclaimed a coarse-looking fellow, who looked less like a hero than like a lobster, "there is old General Scott; I will go in and have my picture taken by the same man, and sitting in the same chair." He was doubtless a captain, perhaps a major, or a corporal, in some country regiment. That picture will, perhaps, promote him to broader epaulettes and taller plumes. but I must break off in the middle. I lingered longer here than I intended to, but must not compel you to linger with me.


UNCLE HIRAM'S PILGRIMAGE, by William C. Cutter (from Robert Merry's Museum, October 1859, pp. 104-105)

I was about to leave the window, when two children came up, and stood by my side. At first they whispered quietly to each other, as if they were unwilling to disturb my thoughts. But I heard all they said, thinking I could not better finish my lesson in the study of human nature, at that show window, than by listening to its natural utterances out of the mouths of children. It was a running commentary on all the varieties of character shown up there. It was astonishing how well and how aptly the prominent features of each picture were hit off, generally in a single word. "Stiff," "sweet," "pretty," "proud," "dark," "hateful," "lovely," "beautiful," "sweet enough to be Aunt Bessy herself"--in the midst of which the boy shouted--

"Oh! Laura, don't that look like Peter Parley?"

"Yes, it does," replied Laura; "that must surely be Uncle Peter--just as he looks in the books. I wish I could see the good old man himself, don't you?"

"Indeed I do," answered the boy. "But see here, Laura, did you ever see such a sharp face, in your life, as this. I am sure this must be--"

"Uncle Hiram!" shouted Laura. "I do believe it is. Isn't he a funny-looking man?"

"Well, if it isn't Uncle Hiram," said the boy, "it ought to be. It is one of the Hatchet family, I am sure. I wish the thing could speak, I would ask it who it might be."

It was a strange position to stand there and be talked about so familiarly, and yet not known. For certain reasons I did not care to make myself known then, though I could not refrain from cultivating a little nearer acquaintance with my young friends, and finding out where they lived, so that I might call and see them at home.

"Well, Laura, my dear," said I, "that is not Peter Parley, though it does look something like his picture in the MUSEUM."

Laura looked at me with surprise, almost fear. Her brother eyed me sharply, and said--

"Who is it, sir, if you please?"

"I do not know," I replied; "but it is not Mr. Goodrich. You could not see his picture, if it was a true one, without speaking to it."

"Why so, sir?" asked George.

"Because it would speak to you, right out."

"Why, sir, if you please, pictures can't talk."

"Some pictures can. Have you a good picture of your mother at home?"

"Oh, yes, sir, a very fine one, and baby wants to kiss it every time he sees it. One day, when mother was away, and baby cried, we showed him the picture, and he stopped crying, and in a few minutes fell asleep."

"Yes, the picture spoke to him, though it did not say a word--and so a good picture of Peter Parley would

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speak to you, or to any of the Merry family. You could hardly help knowing it at once by--"

"But, please sir," interrupted Laura, suddenly drawn off to the other picture, "is this Uncle Hiram Hatchet?"

"Do you know Uncle Hiram?" asked George in the same breath.

"Yes, I am acquainted with the man who goes by that name," I replied, answering the last question first.

"Do, please tell me," cried Laura, earnestly, "does he look anything like this?"

"Not very much," I replied; "but he is just about as corpulent."

"Corpulent!" shouted George, with a merry laugh, "corpulent as a split wafer. But is Uncle Hiram as thin as that?"

"Yes, I think he is--quite as thin, though not perhaps as sharp-looking. Has he ever told you, in the MUSEUM, what a crazy woman once said to him?"

"I think not, sir. If he has, I do not now remember it."

'Well, this woman was a neighbor of his, a great talker, and said what she pleased to everybody. Meeting uncle Hiram one day, she inquired for his health.

"'Never better,' he replied. 'Indeed, I am afraid I am getting too corpulent.'

"'Corpulent!' she exclaimed, with an indescribable look of half scorn, half merriment, 'corpulent as a clothes line!'"

My young friends laughed heartily, little suspecting with whom they were talking, and quite too polite to ask any very close questions. I enjoyed their embarrassment, and approved their politeness, and meant they should be reminded of it at some future time. I came within an ace, however, of being caught and exposed where I was. My old friend, Jack Downing, came along, while I was talking, and was about to salute me in his wonted cordial style; but I gave him a sign, which he understood, and so passed on; and, after a little more talk with my young friends, I passed on too.


UNCLE HIRAM'S PILGRIMAGE, by William C. Cutter (from Robert Merry's Museum, November 1859, pp. 148-151)

I had gone but a few steps before I found myself brought suddenly to a stand by the cordial salutation of two old friends, whom I little expected to meet in this place. They were booksellers--one from Boston, and the other from Cincinnati, and had come to New York to attend the "Trade Sale," as it is called, by Geo. A. Leavitt & Co., which takes place in the "great metropolis" twice a year. After the first salutations were over, and a few harmless jokes had passed, principally at the expense of my long and sharp physiogony, they insisted upon it that I must go with them into the sales-room, where I should be sure to meet a large circle of old friends, as well as some new ones; for all the trade, they were complimentary enough to say, would recognize Uncle Hiram as one of the craft. I accepted the invitation, and shall now take liberty to invite you to go in with me.

Ascending a long flight of stairs we reached a large, spacious hall, with a long, high counter running across one side, and a complete stock of very comfortable arm-chairs, filling up almost the entire area below. Most of these chairs were occupied by different members of the trade; that is, of the publishers and booksellers, from all parts of the country--for it is the book trade that is here represented.

There were young men and old men, gray beards and black beards, yellow beards and red beards, and chins as smooth as a barber's block. There were bald heads and bushy heads, grave faces and merry; men of stout, thick, clumsy figures, and long, thin, sharp, bony ones; in fine, all sorts, sizes, and degrees of men.

Behind that high counter stood the auctioneer, Mr. Orton, and his assistants, who kept everything in steady motion, especially his own tongue. All day long, from early morning till late evening, he kept on an unvarying stream of talk, putting up the books in the regular order of the catalogue, and knocking them off, to this, that, and the other bidder, with incredible rapidity. There seemed to be a sort of telegraphic communication between him and his customers, by means of which a nod or a wink from them was interpreted at once into so many copies of the book, and at what price. Then a considerable number of the trade would be represented by some funny name, or nick-name, by which he would designate them as he knocked off their several purchases, and the frequent variation of these names sometimes occasioned no little sport. Here are some of them; "Jack," "O. K.," "Mississippi," "Ohio," "X. Y. Z.," "Hal," "Oliver," "Hoosier," "Bragg," "Mich.," "New Orleans," etc., etc.

Messrs. D. Appleton & Co. had the largest invoice of books. The works of Bayard Taylor and Irving's Washington, by G. P. Putnam, were in great demand. Mr. Taylor is so well known

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as one of the most interesting writers in the world; his travels have been so extensive, that there is hardly a spot on the globe that he can not write about, from personal observation.

Mr. Putnam has just issued a new book of his, on Greece and Russia, which I have no doubt you will all read. There were over one thousand copies sold while we were there.

Our friends, Gould & Lincoln, of Boston, presented a long catalogue of choice books. In fact, their list of books can hardly be excelled in this country.

It is astonishing what an amount of business is done at one of these great sales, and how easily and rapidly the different publishers and booksellers of the country thus effect the exchange they wish to make with each other; for the different publishers not only sell their own books at the trade sales, but buy those of other houses. The sales amount to about half a million of dollars a year. A recess occurs at one o'clock, which lasts an hour. An invitation is given to all booksellers and buyers present to adjourn to an upper room, for lunch. and there, to be sure, is a lunch set out in a most liberal style. Mr. Leavitt understands how this part of the entertainment is done--several long tables, abundantly provided with cold beef, tongue, ham, sandwiches, crackers, oysters, and all the et cetera of a grand collation. Then there was an abundance of good humor and talk; jokes, old and new, and all sorts of fun went round.

I met here some score or two of old friends, from various parts of the country, whom I should not have seen at all if I had not gone in there. Some new acquaintances, too, I made, whose friendship I value very highly, and who gave me a cordial welcome there. It proved to me indeed "a feast of reason and a flow of soul."

It was with regret that I parted with them, and again betook myself to the crowded thoroughfare.

Sin and its misery meet us everywhere as we walk through this world, and nowhere do they glare upon us with ore hideous faces than in the proud thoroughfares of great cities. As I passed quietly along, musing of what I had just seen, and thankful that there was so much pure sunlight in the happy homes of New York, I was arrested by one of the most painful and disgusting objects I had ever seen; a miserable, ragged, filthy, bloated, broken-down man, without strength or sense enough to find his way along the streets, was leaning against the iron rail in front of one of the fine houses then to be found in that part of the street, begging for a few pence. Two very interesting and beautiful children were inside the rail, regarding the miserable man with pity and compassion, and one of them was appealing earnestly to her mother, who had just come out, to take the poor man in, and give him some clothes and food. Another little girl, at the next house, was peeping timidly out from behind the portico, as if fearing that the vagrant would come there next and find her all alone.

It was a melancholy, but a very instructive sight. The children knew only that the man was very poor and very wretched, and, not knowing what made him so, thought it very easy to help him, and make him comfortable. The mother, with no less sympathy for his said condition, knew that it was hopeless; that no relief she could afford would reach it, and that no treatment, but such as we give to insane persons, or idiots, would do him any

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good, or make him decent or comfortable for a single hour. I had seen many such cases; but this, in the strong contrast with the wealth and splendor all around, was particularly painful and revolting.

On viewing the man attentively, I recognized him as an old acquaintance. Though somewhat younger than myself, he had been a fellow-student in the same college. He was a young man of fine talents and great promise. He was handsome, refined, and very witty. He had a fine personal address, and great fluency of speech, and was a general favorite in the gay society of the village. Unfortunately for him, his father was one of those who believed in what was called "the temperate use of ardent spirits," and encouraged his son in the manliness of a social glass at the table. He was often heard to quote Paul's advice to Timothy--"Take a little wine for thy stomach's sake, and thine often infirmity"--not thinking how absolutely this passage proves the tee-total temperance of the Apostle and his young friend. For surely, if Timothy were not most exemplarily and resolutely abstinent, it would not have been necessary for Paul to urge him, with the authority of a spiritual father, to "take a little wine," not as a beverage, or a stimulant, for his indulgence, but as a medicine "for his often infirmities."

Under such influences, this young man grew up. He entered on a professional life with the most flattering prospects. Popular and flattered, he was in all gay society, on all festive occasions. His habits of temperate drinking grew upon him apace. A ready debater, an eloquent speaker, he soon became prominent in political life. He was sent to the Legislature of his own State, and finally to Congress. At every step of his progress, the dreadful habit so early formed, and strengthened by parental example and advice, grew stronger and stronger.

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With resolution and force of mind enough to overcome all obstacles in the way of his political advancement, he had not resolution enough to overcome himself. With talent and genius to hold the multitude subject to his will, he was himself an unresisting slave to one of the lowest appetites of his animal nature. At length, notwithstanding the fair prospect before him, and the frequent and urgent efforts of his friends to save him, he gave himself up to unrestrained indulgence. He neglected everything else. He lost his position, his influence, his friends, and his property--all, all sacrificed, apparently without one sentiment of remorse, to this one beastly, burning, voracious appetite. I had not seen him, or heard of him, for many years. I should not have recognized him, but for a singular twinkle of his eye, now almost lost in the baleful bloating of the face, but yet accompanying, with something of the old expression, a peculiar chuckling exclamation, as the boy on the stoop dropped a penny in his hand. "Clutch him, Gro!" said he, as if galvanized into momentary life by the touch of the metal, whose only value to him was its power to command liquor. "Good heavens!" I exclaimed involuntarily, "can this be G.?"

He looked up, with a vacant stare, at first, which changed in a moment to a ghastly smile. Then, with a kind of confused howl, he shouted, "Hatchet, give me a drink!" At this moment the police came along, and I had the pain of seeing the once proud and gifted G. borne off to the house of vagrants.

I went my way repeating sadly, "Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging; and whosoever is deceived thereby, is not wise."


UNCLE HIRAM'S PILGRIMAGE, by William C. Cutter (from Robert Merry's Museum, December 1859, pp. 170-171)

As soon as I recovered from my astonishment and distress, at this sudden apparition and no less sudden disappearance of an old comrade, I moved on very thoughtfully, and wondering how I had been preserved from the dread gulf into which poor G. had plunged so deeply. From these reflections, I was soon aroused by the clear, musical, joyous shout of a little girl--a sound that never fails to go right to my heart, and that, then, in contrast with the unearthly yell of a miserable inebriate, was like the music of a better world. I turned toward it as a sick man, tossing in his fever, would turn to a breath of pure air through the open window. Two girls, of the poorer sort, but decently clad, were standing before the great show window of a toy-shop; they had set down their baskets, to rest awhile before this attractive exhibition, and seemed disposed to enjoy, to the uttermost, the sight of the beautiful things, which others might possess, but they could only look at. The window was very showy, and very attractive, and more favored children than they had often stopped to enjoy the view, and to tease indulgent mamma to go in and purchase some coveted article. I have often paused there myself, partly to admire the ingenuity of the manifold contrivances for pleasing and educating the young, and partly to enjoy over again the pastimes of my own childhood, or imagine the fun that some of my numerous family might be enjoying at home with these or similar articles of furniture in their nice little play-houses.

"Oh! Mary," shouted the younger of the two girls, "do see this darling little baby, with such sweet pretty eyes, and real hair, and darling little feet and hands." It was this that drew me away from my somber thoughts, and took me straight home again to realms of innocent, happy childhood. thank god for the sunshine of joy in the child's heart. I wanted to take her up and kiss her. But Mary answered, "Oh! yes, Nettie, 'tis beautiful. I wonder how they can make them so. And do see that dog, he looks just as if he was going to bark at baby, or jump and play with her.

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It almost seems as if he must be alive, he looks so bright." Several times, while Mary was speaking, the little ones broke in with some new exclamation, as each new object in the store caught her eager eye. "I never saw such a beautiful kitten!" "Oh! what is that great cross-looking bird, with big staring eyes?" And so the two sisters went on through the whole array of animals, birds, windmills, kites, tops, dancing-figures, masks, and all the countless variety of things, great and small, that find place in a city toy-shop. I enjoyed greatly their pleasure, and the simple comments they made on each article as it passed in review, and wondered that they did not express any wish to have them, as their own, as children generally, and very naturally do. At length, I said, "Wouldn't you like to have some of these pretty things for yourself, Mary?" She looked up as if she had not noticed me before, and seemed a little abashed. Nettie drew close to Mary, and was silent. "No, sir," said Mary, modestly, in reply to my question; "I don't wish for them, because I know I can not have them."

"That is very wise," said I. "It is not well to desire strongly what we know we can not obtain; but it is very common for people to get into the habit of wishing for more things than they have."

"Yes, sir," she replied; "I often wish for things I have not got, but not for such toys as these."

"What are the things you wish for?" I asked.

"Oh! sir, I want mother to be stronger, and not to have to work so hard, and I want little brother to get well, and go with us to the Sunday-school."

"You have a good mother, Mary," said I, "and you are a good daughter, I am sure."

"Yes, indeed," interposed Nettie, who had now mustered courage to speak. "We have a dear, precious, good mother, and a darling little brother Charlie, and we'll make him very happy when we will get home, telling him what beautiful things we have seen here."

I talked more with the sisters, and learned more of their history before I left them. I gave them a sweet little book, which I had in my pocket, for Charlie. I found out where that good mother lived, and Charlie and I are right good friends. Mary and Nettie are all that I thought they were, when I first met them at that show window, and I have often thought, as I have seen how they grow in wisdom and in every grace, that there is not a happier mother or a more blessed household in all the city.

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