Mr. Tweed attempted to explain away Mr. Tilden's discovery, but was met at once by that gentleman, who more than fastened his guilt upon him. Said Mr. Tilden:
"The fourth act in the conspiracy was the collection of the money and its division. (Laughter.) Who collected that money? We found upon investigation that every time Garvey collected $100,000 he paid 66 per cent. to Woodward, who paid Tweed 24 per cent. of it. (Laughter.) Sometimes Woodward paid a fraction above 24 per cent. to Tweed, sometimes a fraction below, but it never reached 25 per cent. nor fell to 23 per cent. (Laughter.)
"Every time Woodward collected money he paid over 24 per cent. to Tweed. The investigations in the Broadway Bank having begun without knowledge of the specific transactions to which they would relate, extend back through the whole of the year 1870, and it appears that about the same transactions were going on in the four months of that year, and about the same division was made. Something like $200,000 or $240,000 was paid over to Tweed during those four months.
"Now I have heard it said in some of the public presses that a gentleman who had an interview with Mr. Tweed had received the explanation that Mr. Woodward owed him large sums of borrowed money, and that when, in the course of his business arrangements with the city, he received these sums of money from the city, he simply paid it over to Mr. Tweed in satisfaction of his debts. That is a very fine theory. There is only one difficulty about it, and that is, these loans are not entered on the bank account. Examine Mr. Tweed's bank account, and there is not $1000 in it except in city transactions. His whole private business during this time when he was depositing it—checks drawn upon city warrants amounted to $3,500,000—did not amount to $3000; therefore it results inevitably that whatever is taken from that account is city money, for there was nothing but city or county money in that bank. There were no private funds there. Where his 42 per cent. went I am unable to find out. It was probably transferred to some other bank in large checks for subdivision among the parties entitled thereto; but about that we know not. Now, gentlemen, that disposes of the fourth act in the conspiracy, and the events justify me in saying that at the time the City Charter was passed I had no suspicion that the principal object in passing it was not to preserve political power, with the ordinary average benefits that usually accrue to its possessors. I had no suspicion that affairs were going on in this way. But it seems that these transactions were about one-half through; that there was about as much to be done after the new charter as had been done for sixteen months previous under the old law; and that therefore the motive and object of the new charter was not only to secure political power with its ordinary average advantages, but also to conceal the immense amounts that had been already stolen, and to secure the opportunity of stealing an immense amount that was in prospect before its passage. I say, then, that by the ordinary rules and principles of evidence, looking back to the beginning of the transactions, no man can doubt that all this series of acts were parts of one grand conspiracy, not only for power, but for personal plunder."
We have not the space to dwell further upon the villainies from which the city has suffered, but in parting with the Ring we cannot but regret, in the forcible language of the Committee of Seventy, that, "Not an official implicated in these infamies has had the virtue to commit suicide."
To write the history of Broadway would require a volume, for it would be the history of New York itself. The street was laid out in the days of the Dutch, and then, as now, began at the Bowling Green. By them it was called the "Heere Straas," or High street. They built it up as far as Wall street, but in those days only the lower end was of importance. The site of the Bowling Green was occupied by the Dutch fort and the church, and on the west side of it was the parade and the market place. Ere long several well-to-do merchants erected substantial dwellings on the same side, one of these belonging to no less a personage than the Schout-Fiscal Van Dyck. The east side of Broadway, during the rule of the Dutch, was thickly built up with dwellings of but one room, little better than hovels. Eventually, however, some of the better class mechanics came there to reside, and erected better houses. Their gardens extended down to the marsh on Broad street, and they cultivated their cabbages and onions with great success, where now the bulls and bears of the stock and gold markets rage and roar.
Under the English rule Broadway improved rapidly. Substantial dwellings clustered around the Bowling Green. The first, and by far the most elegant of these, was the edifice still known as "No. 1, Broadway," at present used as a hotel. It was built by Archibald Kennedy, then Collector of the Port of New York, and afterwards Earl of Cassilis, in the Scotch Peerage. In the colonial times it was frequented by the highest fashion of the city, and during the Revolution was the headquarters of the British General, Sir Henry Clinton. Other noted personages afterwards resided in it. This portion of Broadway escaped the destruction caused by the great fire of 1776, and until about forty years ago preserved its ante-colonial appearance.
This fire destroyed all that part of the street that had been built above Morris street. After the Revolution it was rebuilt more substantially, and many of the most elegant residences in the city were to be found here, between Wall street and the Bowling Green. General Washington resided on the west side of Broadway, just below Trinity Church, during a portion of his Presidential term.
In 1653, the Dutch built a wall across the island at the present Wall street. One of the main gates of this wall was on Broadway, just in front of the present Trinity Church. From this gate a public road, called the "Highway," continued up the present line of the street to the "Commons," now the City Hall Park, where it diverged into what is now Chatham street. In 1696 Trinity Church was erected. The churchyard north of the edifice had for some time previous been used as a burying ground.
Along the east side of Broadway, from Maiden lane to a point about 117 feet north of Fulton street, was a pasture known as the "Shoemaker's Pasture." It covered an area of sixteen acres, and was used in common by the shoemakers of the city for the manufacture of leather, their tannery being located in a swampy section, near the junction of Maiden lane and William street. About 1720 the pasture was sold in lots, and Fulton and John streets were extended through it. That part of the tract bounded by the present Broadway, Nassau, Fulton and Ann streets, was for many years occupied by a pleasure resort, known as "Spring Garden." The tavern occupied the site of the present Herald office. It was here, during the excitement preceding the Revolution, that the "Sons of Liberty" had their head-quarters. They purchased the building, and named it "Hampden Hall." It was the scene of many a riot and public disturbance during those stirring times. It was occupied as a dwelling house from the close of the Revolution until 1830, when it was converted into a Museum by John Scudder. In 1840 Phineas T. Barnum became the owner of the building and Museum. After the destruction of the Museum by fire in 1864, Mr. James Gordon Bennett purchased the site, and erected upon it the magnificent office of The Herald.
Trinity Church Farm lay along the west side of Broadway, north of Fulton street. It was divided into lots in 1760, and between that time and 1765, the present St. Paul's Church was erected on the lower end of it. The street forming the northern boundary of the churchyard was named Vesey, in honor of a former pastor of Trinity.
In 1738 a public market, 156 feet long, and 20 feet 3.5 inches wide, was erected in the middle of Broadway, opposite the present Liberty, then Crown street. It remained there until 1771, when it was removed as a public nuisance.
By the opening of the present century, Broadway had extended above the present City Hall Park, which had been enclosed as a pleasure ground in 1785. It was taken up along its upper portion mainly with cottages, and buildings of a decidedly rustic character. In 1805 the street was paved in front of the Park, and in 1803 the present City Hall was begun on the site of the old Poor House. It was completed in 1812. The principal hotels, and many of the most elegant residences, were to be found at this time on both sides of Broadway between Chambers street and Wall street. In 1810-12 Washington Hall was erected on the southeast corner of Reade street. It was the head-quarters of the old Federal Party, and was subsequently used as a hotel. It was afterwards purchased by Mr. A. T. Stewart, who erected on its site his palatial wholesale store, which extends along Broadway to Chambers street. About the year 1820, the dry goods merchants began to locate themselves on the west side of Broadway near Reade street.
On the west side of Broadway, above Duane street, was the celebrated Rutgers' estate, consisting of a fine mansion and large and elaborately laid out grounds. The house was built by Anthony Rutgers in 1730, and occupied by him until his death in 1750. After his death the property was converted into a pleasure garden, known as "The Ranelagh." It was kept by a Mr. John Jones until a few years before the Revolution. It was a famous resort for the better classes. A complete band was in attendance every Monday and Thursday evening during the summer, and dancing was carried on in a large hall which had been erected in the garden. In 1770, the estate was sold. Five acres, embracing the orchard, were purchased by an association, and in 1773, the New York Hospital was begun on this site. In 1869 the hospital was removed higher up town, the land was sold, and Pearl street was extended through the hospital grounds.
Between 1774 and 1776 a reservoir for supplying the city with water was erected on the east side of Broadway, near the southeast corner of White street. The water was pumped into the reservoir from wells, and was distributed through the city in wooden pipes. At this time the streets were not opened in this vicinity, and the reservoir is described as standing on an "elevated hill." In 1810 the reservoir property was sold in lots, the highest price paid per lot being $3000.
By 1818 Broadway was built up to above Duane street, and in 1826 the Free Masons erected a handsome Gothic Hall, on the east side, between Duane and Pearl streets. The street continued to grow, and about 1830 extended above Canal street. In 1836-39, the Society Library erected a handsome building on the west side, between Howard and Grand streets. In 1853, they sold the building, which fronts sixty feet on Broadway, to D. Appleton & Co., Publishers. By the year 1825, when gas was introduced into the city south of Canal street, the west side of Broadway above Chambers street was the fashionable shopping mart. The cross streets were used mainly for residences, and these daily poured a throng of pedestrians into Broadway, making it the fashionable promenade. At this time long rows of poplar trees lined the sidewalks. The principal hotels and theatres, restaurants, and pleasure resorts were to be found along the street, and Broadway became what it has since been, a miniature of the great city of which it is the chief artery.
After passing Canal street, along which, in the early part of the present century, a considerable stream, spanned at Broadway by a stone bridge, flowed across the island to the Hudson, Broadway grew rapidly. In 1820 the site of the St. Nicholas Hotel was occupied by a store, four dwelling houses, and a coach factory, the last of which was sunk below the level of the street. Back of the present hotel was a hill on which were the remains of an earthwork, thrown up during the Revolution. The hotel was erected in 1852. In 1823 the site of the Metropolitan Hotel was vacant. The block between Prince and Houston streets, on the west side, was occupied by two large houses, a garden, and several shanties.
On the east side of Broadway, above Bleecker street, was a fine pleasure resort, called "Vauxhall Garden." It was opened by a Frenchman named Delacroix, about the beginning of this century. The location was then beyond the city limits. The Bible House and Cooper Institute mark its eastern boundary. Lafayette Place was cut through it in 1837. Astor Place was its northern boundary, and the site of the Astor Library was within its limits. The entrance to the grounds was on Broadway.
From Astor Place, originally known as Art street, the progress of Broadway was rapid. By the year 1832, it was almost entirely built up to Union Square. In 1846, Grace Church was erected, the original edifice, built about 1800, having stood at the corner of Broadway and Rector streets, just below Trinity Church. In 1850, the Union Place Hotel, corner of Broadway and Fourteenth street, and in 1852, the St. Denis Hotel, corner of Broadway and Eleventh street, were built. Union Square was laid off originally in 1815, and in its present shape in 1832.
Above Union Square, Broadway was originally known as the Bloomingdale road, and was lined with farms and country seats. Madison Square was laid off about 1841. The Fifth Avenue Hotel was built about fifteen years later, and the remainder of the street is of very recent growth, possessing but little local interest.
Broadway has grown with the extension of the city northward. The upper blocks of buildings have always been dwelling houses or shanties, and these have given way steadily to the pressure of business below them. In a few years the entire street, from the Central Park to the Bowling Green, will be taken up with substantial and elegant structures suited to the growing needs of the great city. From the imperfect sketch of its history here presented, the reader will see that the growth of the street is divided into distinct periods. Under the Dutch it was built as far as Wall street. The next 100 years carried it to the Park, from which it extended to Duane street, reaching that point about the close of the Revolution. By the opening of the present century it had reached Canal street. Its next advance was to Astor Place. Thence it passed on to a point above Union Square, and thence by a rapid growth to the neighborhood of the Central Park.
The most wonderful street in the universe is Broadway. It is a world within itself. It extends throughout the entire length of the island, and is about sixty feet in width. Its chief attractions, however, lie between the Bowling Green and Thirty-fourth street.
[Picture: BROADWAY, AT THE CORNER OF ANN STREET.]
It begins at the Bowling Green. From this point it extends in a straight line to Fourteenth street and Union Square. Below Wall street it is mainly devoted to the "Express" business, the headquarters and branch offices of nearly all the lines in the country centring here. Opposite Wall street, and on the west side of Broadway, is Trinity Church and its graveyard. From Wall street to Ann street, Insurance Companies, Real Estate Agents, Banks, Bankers and Brokers predominate. At the southeast corner of Ann street is the magnificent Herald office, and adjoining it the Park Bank. Both buildings are of white marble, and the latter is one of the grandest in the Union. Immediately opposite are St. Paul's Church and graveyard, just above which is the massive granite front of the Astor House, occupying an entire block, from Vesey to Barclay streets. On the right hand side of the street, at the lower end of the Park, is the unfinished structure of the new Post Office, which will be one of the principal ornaments of the city. In the rear of this are the Park, and the City Hall. Back of the City Hall, and fronting on Chambers street, is the new County Court-House, which proved such a gold mine to the "Ring." Across the Park you may see Park Row and Printing-House Square, in which are located the offices of nearly all the great "dailies," and of many of the weekly papers. Old Tammany Hall once stood on this square at the corner of Frankfort street, but its site is now occupied by the offices of The Sun and Brick Pomeroy's Democrat—Arcades ambo.
[Picture: A. T. STEWART'S WHOLESALE STORE.]
Beyond the City Hall, at the northeast corner of Chambers street and Broadway, is "Stewart's marble dry goods palace," as it is called. This is the wholesale department of the great house of A. T. Stewart & Co., and extends from Chambers to Reade street. The retail department of this firm is nearly two miles higher up town. Passing along, one sees in glancing up and down the cross streets, long rows of marble, iron, and brown stone warehouses, stretching away for many blocks on either hand, and affording proof positive of the vastness and success of the business transacted in this locality. To the right we catch a distant view of the squalor and misery of the Five Points. On the right hand side of the street, between Leonard street and Catharine lane, is the imposing edifice of the New York Life Insurance Company, one of the noblest buildings ever erected by private enterprise. It is constructed of white marble.
Crossing Canal street, the widest and most conspicuous we have yet reached, we notice, on the west side, at the corner of Grand street, the beautiful marble building occupied by the wholesale department of Lord & Taylor, rivals of Stewart in the dry-goods trade. The immense brown stone building immediately opposite, is also a wholesale dry-goods house. Between Broome and Spring streets, on the west side, are the marble and brown stone buildings of the St. Nicholas Hotel. Immediately opposite is the Theatre Comique. On the northwest corner of Spring street is the Prescott House. On the southwest corner of Prince street is Ball & Black's palatial jewelry store. Diagonally opposite is the Metropolitan Hotel, in the rear of which is the theatre known as Niblo's Garden. In the block above the Metropolitan is the Olympic Theatre. On the west side, between Bleecker and Amity streets, is the huge Grand Central Hotel, one of the most conspicuous objects on the street. Two blocks above, on the same side, is the New York Hotel, immediately opposite which are Lina Edwin's and the Globe Theatres. On the east side of the street, and covering the entire block bounded by Broadway and Fourth avenue, and Ninth and Tenth streets, is an immense iron structure painted white. This is Stewart's retail store. It is always filled with ladies engaged in "shopping," and the streets around it are blocked with carriages. Throngs of elegantly and plainly dressed buyers pass in and out, and the whole scene is animated and interesting. Just above "Stewart's," on the same side, is Grace Church, attached to which is the parsonage. At the southwest corner of Eleventh street, is the St. Denis Hotel, and on the northwest corner is the magnificent iron building of the "Methodist Book Concern," the street floor of which is occupied by McCreery, one of the great dry-goods dealers of the city. At the northeast corner of Thirteenth street, is Wallack's Theatre. The upper end of the same block is occupied by the Union Square Theatre and a small hotel.
[Picture: NEW YORK LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY'S BUILDING.]
At Fourteenth street we enter Union Square, once a fashionable place of residence, but now giving way to business houses and hotels. Broadway passes around it in a northwesterly direction. On the west side of Union Square, at the southwest corner of Fifteenth street, is the famous establishment of Tiffany & Co., an iron building, erected at an immense cost, and filled with the largest and finest collection of jewelry, articles of vertu, and works of art in America. In the middle of the block above, occupying the ground floor of Decker's Piano Building, is Brentano's, the "great literary headquarters" of New York.
Leaving Union Square behind us, we pass into Broadway again at Seventeenth street. On the west side, occupying the entire block from Eighteenth to Nineteenth streets, is a magnificent building of white marble used by a number of retail merchants. The upper end, comprising nearly one half of the block, is occupied by Arnold, Constable & Co., one of the most fashionable retail dry-goods houses. At the southwest corner of Twentieth street, is the magnificent iron retail dry-goods store of Lord & Taylor—perhaps the most popular house in the city with residents. The "show windows" of this house are always filled with a magnificent display of the finest goods, and attract crowds of gazers.
At Twenty-third street, Broadway crosses Fifth avenue obliquely, going toward the northwest. At the northwest corner of Twenty-third street, and extending to Twenty-fourth street, is the Fifth Avenue Hotel, built of white marble, one of the finest and handsomest buildings of its kind in the world. Just opposite is Madison Square, extending from Fifth to Madison avenues. The block from Twenty-fourth to Twenty-fifth streets is occupied by the Albemarle and Hoffman Houses, in the order named, both of white marble. Just opposite, at the junction of Broadway and Fifth avenue, is a handsome granite obelisk, with appropriate ornaments in bronze, erected to the memory of General W. J. Worth. Immediately beyond this is the Worth House, fronting on Broadway and Fifth avenue. The vicinity of Madison Square is the brightest, prettiest, and liveliest portion of the great city. At the southwest corner of Twenty-sixth street is the St. James' Hotel, also of white marble, and just opposite is the "Stevens' House," an immense building constructed on the French plan of "flats," and rented in suites of apartments. Between Twenty-seventh and Twenty-eighth streets, on the west side, is the Coleman House. At the southeast corner of Twenty-ninth street is the Sturtevant House. At the northeast corner of Twenty-ninth street is the Gilsey House, a magnificent structure of iron, painted white. Diagonally opposite is Wood's Museum. At the southeast corner of Thirty-first street is the Grand Hotel, a handsome marble building. The only hotel of importance above this is the St. Cloud, at the southeast corner of Forty-second street.
At Thirty-fourth street, Broadway crosses Sixth avenue, and at Forty-fourth street it crosses Seventh avenue, still going in a northwesterly direction. It is but little improved above Thirty-fourth street, though it is believed the next few years will witness important changes in this quarter.
There are no street car tracks on Broadway below Fourteenth street, and in that section "stages," or omnibuses, monopolize the public travel. Several hundreds of these traverse the street from the lower ferries as far as Twenty-third street, turning off at various points into the side streets and avenues.
[Picture: BROADWAY, AS SEEN FROM THE ST. NICHOLAS HOTEL.]
Below Twenty-ninth street, and especially below Union Square, the street is built up magnificently. From Union Square to the Bowling Green, a distance of three miles, it is lined on each side with magnificent structures of marble, brown, Portland, and Ohio stones, granite, and iron. No street in the world surpasses it in the grandeur and variety of its architectural display. Some of the European cities contain short streets of greater beauty, and some of our American cities contain limited vistas as fine, but the great charm, the chief claim of Broadway to its fame, is the extent of its grand display. For three miles it presents an unbroken vista, and the surface is sufficiently undulating to enable one to command a view of the entire street from any point between Tenth street and the Bowling Green. Seen from one of the hotel balconies, the effect is very fine. The long line of the magnificent thoroughfare stretches away into the far distance. The street is thronged with a dense and rapidly moving mass of men, animals, and vehicles of every description. The effect is unbroken, but the different colors of the buildings give to it a variety that is startling and pleasing. In the morning the throng is all pouring one way—down town; and in the afternoon the tide flows in the opposite direction. Everybody is in a hurry at such times. Towards afternoon the crowd is more leisurely, for the promenaders and loungers are out. Then Broadway is in its glory.
Oftentimes the throng of vehicles is so dense that the streets are quickly "jammed." Carriages, wagons, carts, omnibuses, and trucks are packed together in the most helpless confusion. At such times the police are quickly on hand, and take possession of the street. The scene is thrilling. A stranger feels sure that this struggling mass of horses and vehicles can never be made to resume their course in good order, without loss of life or limb to man or beast, or to both, and the shouts and oaths of the drivers fairly bewilder him. In a few minutes, however, he sees a squad of gigantic policemen dash into the throng of vehicles. They are masters of the situation, and wo to the driver who dares disobey their sharp and decisive commands. The shouts and curses cease, the vehicles move on one at a time in the routes assigned them, and soon the street is clear again, to be "blocked" afresh, perhaps, in a similar manner in less than an hour. Upwards of 20,000 vehicles daily traverse this great thoroughfare.
It is always a difficult matter for a pedestrian to cross the lower part of Broadway in the busy season. Ladies, old persons, and children find it impossible to do so without the aid of the police, whose duty it is to make a passage for them through the crowd of vehicles. A bridge was erected in 1866 at the corner of Fulton street, for the purpose of enabling pedestrians to pass over the heads of the throng in the streets. Few persons used it, however, except to witness the magnificent panorama of the street, and it was taken down.
Seen from the lofty spire of Trinity Church, the street presents a singular appearance. The perspective is closed by Grace Church, at Tenth street. The long lines of passers and carriages take distinct shapes, and seem like immense black bands moving slowly in opposite directions. The men seem like pigmies, and the horses like dogs. There is no confusion, however. The eye readily masses into one line all going in the same direction. Each one is hurrying on at the top of his speed, but from this lofty perch they all seem to be crawling at a snail's pace.
The display in the windows of the Broadway stores is rich, beautiful, and tempting. Jewels, silks, satins, laces, ribbons, household goods, silverware, toys, paintings, in short, rare, costly, and beautiful objects of every description greet the gazer on every hand. All that is necessary for the comfort of life, all that ministers to luxury and taste, can be found here in the great thoroughfare. And it is a mistake to suppose, as many persons do, that "Broadway prices" are higher than those of other localities. The best goods in the city are to be found here, and they bring only what they are worth, and no more. Yet it must not be supposed that all Broadway dealers are models of honesty. Everything has its price in the great street—even virtue and honesty. By the side of merchants whose names are synonymous for integrity are to be found some of the most cunning and successful scoundrels. Broadway is an eminently cheerful street. On every hand one sees evidences of prosperity and wealth. No unsuccessful man can remain in the street. Poverty and failure have no place there. Even sin shows its most attractive guise in Broadway.
[Picture: SATURDAY AFTERNOON CONCERT AT CENTRAL PARK.]
The side-walks are always crowded, even in the summer, when "everybody is out of town," and this throng of passers-by constitutes one of the most attractive features of the scene. Every class, every shade of nationality and character, is represented here. America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and even Oceanica, each has its representatives. High and low, rich and poor, pass along at a rate of speed peculiar to New York, and positively bewildering to a stranger. No one seems to think of any one but himself, and each one jostles his neighbor or brushes by him with an indifference amusing to behold. Fine gentlemen in broadcloth, ladies in silks and jewels, and beggars in squalid rags, are mingled in true Republican confusion. The bustle and uproar are very great, generally making it impossible to converse in an ordinary tone. From early morn till after midnight the throng pours on.
At night the scene is different, but still brilliant. The vehicles in the street consist almost entirely of carriages and omnibuses, each with its lamps of different colors. They go dancing down the long vista like so many fire-flies. The shop-windows are brightly lighted, and the monster hotels pour out a flood of radiance from their myriads of lamps. Here and there a brilliant reflector at the door of some theatre, sends its dazzling white rays streaming along the street for several blocks. Below Canal street Broadway is dark and silent, but above that point it is as bright as day, and fairly alive with people. Those who are out now are mostly bent on pleasure, and the street resounds with cheerful voices and merry laughter, over which occasionally rises a drunken howl. Strains of music or bursts of applause float out on the night air from places of amusement, not all of which are reputable. Here and there a crowd has collected to listen to the music and songs of some of the wandering minstrels with which the city abounds. Gaudily painted transparencies allure the unwary to the vile concert saloons in the cellars below the street. The restaurants and cafes are ablaze with light, and are liberally patronized by the lovers of good living. Here and there, sometimes alone, and sometimes in couples, you see women, mainly young, and all flashily dressed, walking rapidly, with a peculiar gait, and glancing quickly but searchingly at every man they pass. You can single them out at a glance from the respectable women who happen to be out alone at this time. They are the "street walkers," seeking companions from among the passers-by. Some of them are mere children, and the heart aches to see the poor creatures at their fearful work. The police do not allow these women to stop and converse with men on Broadway, and when they find a companion they turn off promptly into a side street, and disappear with him in the darkness.
Towards eleven o'clock the theatres pour out their throngs of spectators, who come to swell the crowd on Broadway, and for a little while the noise and confusion are almost as great as in the day. Then the restaurants will close, and the street will gradually become deserted and dark, tenanted only by the giant policemen; and for a few hours the great city will be wrapped in silence and slumber.
All the world over, poverty is a misfortune. In New York it is a crime. Here, as in no other place in the country, men struggle for wealth. They toil, they suffer privations, they plan and scheme, and execute with a persistency that often wins the success they covet. The chief effort of every man and woman in the great city is to secure wealth. Man is a social being—woman much more so—and here wealth is an absolute necessity to the enjoyment of social pleasures. Society here is organized upon a pecuniary basis, and stands not as it should upon the personal merits of those who compose it, but upon a pile of bank-books. In other cities, poor men, who are members of families which command respect for their talents or other admirable qualities, or who have merit of their own sufficient to entitle them to such recognition, are welcomed into what are called the "Select Circles" with as much cordiality as though they were millionaires. In New York, however, men and women are judged by their bank accounts. The most illiterate boor, the most unprincipled knave finds the door of fashion open to him, while St. Peter himself, if he came "without purse or scrip," would see it closed in his face.
Society in New York is made up of many elements, the principal of which it is proposed to examine, but, unfortunately, wealth is the one thing needful in most of the classes into which it is divided. Nor is this strange. The majority of fashionable people have never known any of the arts and refinements of civilization except those which mere wealth can purchase. Money raised them from the dregs of life, and they are firm believers in it. Without education, without social polish, they see themselves courted and fawned upon for their wealth, and they naturally suppose that there is nothing else "good under the sun."
Those who claim precedence base their demand upon their descent from the original Dutch settlers, and style themselves "the old Knickerbockers." The majority of these are very wealthy, and have inherited their fortunes from their ancestors. They are owners of valuable real estate, much of which is located in the very heart of the city. The incomes derived from such property are large and certain. They are frequently persons of cultivation, and were it not for their affectation of superiority, would, as a class, be decidedly clever people, even if many of them are stupid. They make an effort to have their surroundings as clumsy and as old-fashioned as possible, as a mark of their Dutch descent. They sport crests and coats of arms such as the simple old Dutchmen of New Amsterdam never dreamed of; and rely more upon the merits of their forefathers than upon their own. They are extremely exclusive, and rarely associate with any but those who can "show as pure a pedigree." Their disdain of those whose families are not as "old" as their own is oftentimes amusing, and subjects them to ridicule, which they bear with true Dutch stolidity. They improve in their peculiar qualities with each generation, and the present pompous Knickerbocker who drives in the Park in solemn state in his heavy chariot, and looks down with disdain upon all whose blood is not as Dutch as his own, is a very different personage from his great ancestor, the original Knickerbocker, who hawked fish about the streets of New Amsterdam, or tanned leather down in "the swamp."
[Picture: A FASHIONABLE PROMENADE ON FIFTH AVENUE.]
Strange to say, the Knickerbocker class receives fresh additions every year. Each new comer has a Van to his name, and can show a string of portraits of yellow-faced worthies, in leather breeches, and ruffles, and wigs, which he points to with pride as his "ancestors." The statistician would be sorely perplexed in attempting to ascertain the number of Dutch settlers in New Amsterdam were he to trace back the pedigrees of the present Knickerbockers, for if the claims of the present generation be admitted, one of two things is sure—either the departed Dutchmen must have been more "numerous fathers" than they cared to admit at the time, or the original population has been underestimated.
The next in order are those who, while making no boast of family, are persons who have inherited large wealth from several generations of ancestors. Freed from the necessity of earning their livings, they have an abundance of leisure in which to cultivate the "small sweet courtesies of life." They are neither shoddyites nor snobs, and while there are many who do no credit to their class, they constitute one of the pleasantest portions of metropolitan society. They furnish some of the most agreeable men, and some of the most beautiful and charming women in the city. Their homes are elegant, and abound in evidences of the taste of their owners, who spend their money liberally in support of literature and the arts. Here are to be found some of the rarest works of European and American masters. Unfortunately this class of New Yorkers is not very large. It is destined to increase, however, with the growth of wealth in the city. Good men, who have begun where the forefathers of these people started, will constantly contribute their children to swell this class, in which will always be collected those who unite true merit to great wealth, those who are proud of their country and its institutions, contented with its customs, and possessed of too much good sense to try to add to their importance by a ridiculous assumption of "aristocratic birth," or a pitiful imitation of the manners of the great of other lands.
The third class may be said to consist of those who value culture and personal excellence above riches. There is not much individual wealth in this class, but its members may be regarded as "persons in comfortable circumstances." They are better educated, have more correct tastes, and do the most to give to New York society its best and most attractive features. It is a class to which merit is a sure passport. It is modest and unassuming, free from ostentatious parade, and, fortunately, is growing rapidly. It is made up of professional men of all kinds, clergymen, lawyers, poets, authors, physicians, painters, sculptors, journalists, scientific men, and actors, and their families. Its tone is vigorous and healthy, and it is sufficiently free from forms to make it independent, and possessed of means enough to enable it to pursue its objects without hindrance.
The remainder of those who constitute what is called society are the "New Rich," or as they are sometimes termed, the "Shoddyites." They constitute the majority of the fashionables, and their influence is felt in every department of domestic life. They are ridiculed by every satirist, yet they increase. Every year makes fresh accessions to their ranks, and their follies and extravagances multiply in proportion. They occupy the majority of the mansions in the fashionable streets, crowd the public thoroughfares and the Park with their costly and showy equipages, and flaunt their wealth so coarsely and offensively in the faces of their neighbors, that many good people have come to believe that riches and vulgarity are inseparable. They make themselves the most conspicuous, and are at once accepted by strangers as the "best society" of the metropolis.
They are almost without exception persons who have risen from the ranks. This is not to their discredit. On the contrary, every American is proud to boast that this is emphatically the land of self-made men, that here it is within the power of any one to rise as high in the social or political scale as his abilities will carry him. The persons to whom we refer, however, affect to despise this. They take no pride in the institutions which have been so beneficial to them, but look down with supreme disdain upon those who are working their way up. They are ashamed of their origin, and you cannot offend one of them more than to hint that you knew him a few years ago as a mechanic or a shopkeeper.
Some of the "fashionables" appear very unexpectedly before the world. But a short while ago a family may have been living in the humbler quarter of the city, or even in a tenement house. A sudden fortunate speculation on the part of the husband, or father, may have brought them enormous wealth in the course of a few days. A change is instantly made from the humble abode to a mansion on Fifth or Madison avenue. The newly acquired wealth is liberally expended in "fitting up," and the lucky possessors of it boldly burst upon the world of fashion as stars of the first magnitude. They are courted by all the newly rich, and invitations to the houses of other "stars" are showered upon them. They may be rude, ignorant, uncouth in manner, but they have wealth, and that is all that is required. They are lucky indeed, if they hold their positions long. A few manage to retain the wealth which comes to them thus suddenly, but as a rule those who are simply lucky at the outset, find Dame Fortune a very capricious goddess, and at the next turn of her wheel pass off the stage to make room for others who are soon to share the same fate.
During the oil speculations, and during the war, the shoddy class was largely increased by those who were made suddenly and unexpectedly rich by lucky ventures in petroleum lands and stocks, and by army contracts. Now other speculations provide recruits for this class, to which Wall street is constantly sending fresh "stars" to blaze awhile in the firmament of society, and then to make way for others. The shoddy element is not, however, confined to those who acquire wealth with rapidity or by speculations. There are many who rise very slowly and painfully in the world, who, when blessed with fortune, throw themselves headlong into the arms of "shoddy."
It is not difficult to recognize these persons. They dress not only handsomely, but magnificently, making up in display what they lack in taste. They cover themselves with jewels, and their diamonds, worn on ordinary occasions, might in some instances rival the state gems of European sovereigns. Their rough, hard hands, coarse faces, loud voices, bad English, and vulgar manners contrast strikingly with the splendors with which they surround themselves. They wear their honors uneasily, showing how little they are accustomed to such things. They look down with disdain upon all less fortunate in wealth than themselves, and worship as demi-gods those whose bank accounts are larger than their own. They are utterly lacking in personal dignity, and substitute for that quality a supercilious hauteur.
II. FASHIONABLE EXTRAVAGANCE.
Extravagance is the besetting sin of New York society. Money is absolutely thrown away. Fortunes are spent every year in dress and in all sorts of follies. Houses are fitted up and furnished in the most sumptuous style, the building and its contents being sometimes worth a million of dollars. People live up to every cent of their incomes, and often beyond them. It is no uncommon occurrence for a fine mansion, its furniture, pictures, and even the jewels of its occupants, to be pledged to some usurer for the means with which to carry on this life of luxury. Each person strives to outdo his or her acquaintances. Those who have studied the matter find no slight cause for alarm in the rapid spread of extravagance among all classes of the city people, for the evil is not confined to the wealthy. They might afford it, but people of moderate means, who cannot properly make such a heavy outlay, are among those most guilty of the fault.
In no other city of the land is there to be seen such magnificent dressing on the part of the ladies as in New York. The amount of money and time expended here on dress is amazing. There are two objects in view in all this—the best dressed woman at a ball or party is not only sure to outshine her sisters there present, but is certain to have the satisfaction next day of seeing her magnificence celebrated in some of the city journals. Her vanity and love of distinction are both gratified in this way, and such a triumph is held to be worth any expense. There is not an evening gathering but is graced by the presence of ladies clad in a style of magnificence which reminds one of the princesses in the fairy tales. Says a recent writer:
"It is almost impossible to estimate the number of dresses a very fashionable woman will have. Most women in society can afford to dress as it pleases them, since they have unlimited amounts of money at their disposal. Among females dress is the principal part of society. What would Madam Mountain be without her laces and diamonds, or Madam Blanche without her silks and satins? Simply commonplace old women, past their prime, destined to be wall-flowers. A fashionable woman has just as many new dresses as the different times she goes into society. The elite do not wear the same dresses twice. If you can tell us how many receptions she has in a year, how many weddings she attends, how many balls she participates in, how many dinners she gives, how many parties she goes to, how many operas and theatres she patronizes, we can approximate somewhat to the size and cost of her wardrobe. It is not unreasonable to suppose that she has two new dresses of some sort for every day in the year, or 720. Now to purchase all these, to order them made, and to put them on afterward, consumes a vast amount of time. Indeed, the woman of society does little but don and doff dry-goods. For a few brief hours she flutters the latest tint and mode in the glare of the gas-light, and then repeats the same operation the next night. She must have one or two velvet dresses which cannot cost less than $500 each; she must possess thousands of dollars' worth of laces, in the shape of flounces, to loop up over the skirts of dresses, as occasion shall require. Walking-dresses cost from $50 to $300; ball-dresses are frequently imported from Paris at a cost of from $500 to a $1000; while wedding-dresses may cost from $1000 to $5000. Nice white Llama jackets can be had for $60; robes princesse, or overskirts of lace, are worth from $60 to $200. Then there are travelling-dresses in black silk, in pongee, velour, in pique, which range in price from $75 to $175. Then there are evening robes in Swiss muslin, robes in linen for the garden and croquet-playing, dresses for horse-races and for yacht-races, robes de nuit and robes de chambre, dresses for breakfast and for dinner, dresses for receptions and for parties, dresses for watering-places, and dresses for all possible occasions. A lady going to the Springs takes from twenty to sixty dresses, and fills an enormous number of Saratoga trunks. They are of every possible fabric—from Hindoo muslin, 'gaze de soie,' crape maretz, to the heavy silks of Lyons.
"We know the wife of the editor of one of the great morning newspapers of New York, now travelling in Europe, whose dress-making bill in one year was $10,000! What her dry-goods bill amounted to heaven and her husband only know. She was once stopping at a summer hotel, and such was her anxiety to always appear in a new dress that she would frequently come down to dinner with a dress basted together just strong enough to last while she disposed of a little turtle-soup, a little Charlotte de Russe, and a little ice cream.
"Mrs. Judge —-, of New York, is considered one of the 'queens of fashion.' She is a goodly-sized lady—not quite so tall as Miss Anna Swan, of Nova Scotia—and she has the happy faculty of piling more dry-goods upon her person than any other lady in the city; and what is more, she keeps on doing it. To give the reader a taste of her quality, it is only necessary to describe a dress she wore at the Dramatic Fund Ball, not many years ago. There was a rich blue satin skirt, en train. Over this there was looped up a magnificent brocade silk, white, with bouquets of flowers woven in all the natural colors. This overskirt was deeply flounced with costly white lace, caught up with bunches of feathers of bright colors. About her shoulders was thrown a fifteen-hundred dollar shawl. She had a head-dress of white ostrich feathers, white lace, gold pendants, and purple velvet. Add to all this a fan, a bouquet of rare flowers, a lace handkerchief, and jewelry almost beyond estimate, and you see Mrs. Judge —- as she appears when full blown.
"Mrs. General —- is a lady who goes into society a great deal. She has a new dress for every occasion. The following costume appeared at the Charity Ball, which is the great ball of the year in New York. It was imported from Paris for the occasion, and was made of white satin, point lace, and a profusion of flowers. The skirt had heavy flutings of satin around the bottom, and the lace flounces were looped up at the sides with bands of the most beautiful pinks, roses, lilies, forget-me-nots, and other flowers.
"It is nothing uncommon to meet in New York society ladies who have on dry-goods and jewelry to the value of from thirty to fifty thousand dollars. Dress patterns of twilled satin, the ground pale green, pearl, melon color, or white, scattered with sprays of flowers in raised velvet, sell for $300 dollars each; violet poult de soie will sell for $12 dollars a yard; a figured moire will sell for $200 the pattern; a pearl-colored silk, trimmed with point applique lace, sells for $1000; and so we might go on to an almost indefinite length."
Those who think this an exaggerated picture have only to apply to the proprietor of any first-class city dry-goods store, and he will confirm its truthfulness. These gentlemen will tell you that while their sales of staple goods are heavy, they are proportionately lighter than the sales of articles of pure luxury. At Stewart's the average sales of silks, laces, velvets, shawls, gloves, furs, and embroideries is about $24,500 per diem. The sales of silks alone average about $15,000 per diem.
A few years ago the dwelling of a wealthy citizen of New York was consumed by fire. The owner of the mansion soon after applied to a prominent Insurance Company for the payment of the sum of $21,000, the amount of the risk they had taken on the wearing apparel of his daughter, a young lady well known in society for the splendor of her attire. The company refused to pay so large a sum, and protested that the lady in question could not have possessed so costly a wardrobe. Suit was brought by the claimant, and, as a matter of course, an enumeration of the articles destroyed and their value was made to the court. The list was as follows, and is interesting as showing the mysteries of a fashionable lady's wardrobe:
6 silk robes—red, enamelled, $950 green, blue, yellow, pink, black—with fringes, ruches, velvets, lace trimmings, etc. 1 blue Marie Louise 300 gros-de-Naples, brocaded with silver taken from the looms of Lyons; cost, without a stitch in it Silver bullion fringe tassels and 200 real lace to match 1 rose-colored satin, brocaded in $400 white velvet, with deep flounce of real blonde lace, half-yard wide; sleeves and bertha richly trimmed with the same rose-colored satin ribbon; satin on each side, with silk cord and tassel; lined throughout body, skirt and sleeves with white silk 1 white satin of exceedingly rich 2500 quality, trimmed with blonde and bugles; two flounces of very deep point d'Alencon, sleeves of the same, reaching down to the elbows, and bertha to match, with white bugles and blonde to match 1 royal blue satin dress, 1500 trimmed, apron-shape, with black Brussels lace and gold and bugle trimmings, with one flounce, going all around the skirt, of black Brussels lace; body and sleeves to match; sleeves looped up with blue velvet roses set in lace, to imitate a bouquet 1 dove-colored satin dress, 425 trimmed with velvet, half-yard deep; a long trail with the velvet going all around, with llama fringe and dove-colored acorns, forming a heading to the velvet, and going all up the skirt and around the long Greek sleeves; the sleeves lined with white satin and quills of silver ribbon going around the throat; lined throughout with white silk, having belonging to it a cloak and hood, lined and trimmed to match; made in Paris 1 black Mantua velvet robe, long 500 train, sleeves hanging down as far as the knees, open, lined with white satin, and trimmed all round with seed-pearls, as well as all round the top of low body—the seed-pearls forming clusters of leaves going down front of skirt and all round the skirt and train 1 rich moire-antique dress, 400 embroidered in gold from the body to the skirt and sleeves and all round, taken up and fastened up with gold embroidery to imitate the folds and wrinkles of the dress, trimmed round the edge with white Brussels lace, having an underskirt of amber satin trimmed with Brussels lace, to show underneath; lined throughout with silk 1 large Brussels shawl, of 700 exquisite fineness and elegance of design, to go with it 1 crimson velvet dress, lined 400 throughout with rose-colored silk; train very long, trimmed with rich silk, blonde lace covering the entire train, being carried around and brought up the front of the dress and body, forming the bertha; and sleeves looped up with white roses; turquoise fan and slippers to match 1 blue mercantique (lined), low 200 body, trimmed with Honiton lace, body and sleeves; one piece of silk to match, unmade, intended for high body, and bons; sleeves slashed open and lined with white satin 1 rose-colored robe, with $250 flounces; high and low body, having fringe and trimming woven to imitate Russian fur; both bodies trimmed with fringe ribbons and narrow lace 1 mauve-colored glace silk, 180 braided and bugled all around the bottom of skirt, on the front of body, around the band of Garibaldi body, down the sleeves and round the cuffs of Garibaldi body; the low body, with bertha deeply braided and bugled, with sleeves to match; long sash, with end and bows and belts, all richly braided and bugled with thread lace 1 vraie couleur de rose 300 gros-de-Naples, with flounces richly brocaded with bouquet in natural size and color, made to represent the same in panels, trimmed with gimp and fringe to match; also, high and low body, with bertha and trimmings to match 1 pink morning robe, very superb, 250 trimmed down the side with white satin a quarter of a yard wide, sleeves trimmed to match, satin-stitched, with flounces in pink silk on edge of satin, passementerie cord and tassels 1 gold-colored silk aersphane, 100 with three skirts, each skirt trimmed with quillings of yellow satin ribbon, looped up with pink roses: body to match, trimmed with silk blonde; white blonde round the neck; satin quillings; silk blonde on the sleeves, and lace and yellow satin; rich underskirt to match 2 very richly embroidered French 100 cambric morning-dresses, with bullion and heavy satin ribbons running through; one lined throughout with pink, the other with blue silk 1 rich black silk glace, trimmed 200 with bugles and black velvet 1 blue-black Irish silk poplin, 125 made in Gabrielle style, trimmed with scarlet velvet all round the skirt; sleeves and body-belt and buckle to match 1 Cashmere, shawl pattern, 100 morning-dress, lined; sleeves and flies lined with red silk, cord and tassels to match; not twice on 1 white Swiss muslin, with double 90 skirt and ribbon running through the upper and lower hems of each skirt, of pink satin; body with Greek sleeves to match 1 straw-colored silk dress, 80 trimmed with black velvet, and body of the same 1 white Swiss muslin robe, with 95 one plain skirt and one above, graduated by larger and smaller tucks to imitate three flounces; the sleeves with puffs, and long sleeves with tucks, down and across to match skirts, and Garibaldi body made to match; one pink satin under-body to go with it 1 white Swiss muslin dress, with 90 three flounces, quilled and tucked, graduated one above the other, with headings of lace on the top of each flounce; low body, with tuck, bretelles and broad colored sarsnet ribbon 1 India muslin dress, very full, $110 embroidered to imitate three flounces; and Greek body and sleeves, also embroidered to match sky-blue skirt and body to go underneath 1 India muslin dress, double 90 skirt, richly embroidered, with high jacket and long sleeves embroidered to match 1 pink satin skirt and bodice, to 25 go underneath 1 white long morning dress, 60 embroidered round the skirt and up the front, in two flounces, one hanging over the other; sleeves and cuffs to match 1 white muslin, with white spots, 80 skirt and bodice trimmed with bullion and narrow real Valenciennes lace 2 white cambric morning-dresses, 275 one very richly embroidered, in wheels and flounces; and jacket to match 1 white Swiss muslin jacket, very 100 richly embroidered; skirt and bodice to match 3 cambric tight-fitting jackets, 120 with collar and sleeves very richly embroidered, to imitate old Spanish point 5 Marie Antoinettes, made 300 entirely of French muslin, with triple bullion and double face; pink satin ribbon running through. Cost $60 each 1 pique morning dress and jacket, 75 richly embroidered 1 pique skirt, richly embroidered 50 6 fine Swiss muslin skirts, four 55 yards in each, trimmed with two rows of real lace, to set in full, finely finished 2 very rich bastistes, for 120 morning-dresses 2 very fine cambric skirts, 60 delicately embroidered, to wear with open morning-dresses 2 fine linen skirts, embroidered 40 in open work 2 silk grenadine dresses, trimmed 200 with Maltese lace and velvet; two bodices to match, blue and green 2 silk bareges, trimmed with 200 velvet and fringe, and bodice to match 1 Scotch catlin silk full dress, 100 Stewart, trimmed with black velvet and fringe, made to match colors of dress 3 Balmoral skirts, very elegant, 90 embroidered in silk 1 ponceau silk dress, trimmed 250 with llama fringe and gold balls; body and sleeves very richly trimmed to match 1 blue silk to match, trimmed 250 with steel fringe and bugles; body and sleeves richly trimmed 1 French muslin jacket, with 40 lapels and sleeves to turn back, very heavily embroidered 1 set point d'Alencon, consisting 120 of shirt sleeves, handkerchief, and collar 1 point d'Alencon extra large 100 handkerchief 1 set Honiton lace, consisting of $80 handkerchief, collar, and sleeves 1 set Maltese lace, consisting of 300 handkerchief, collar, velvet cape 1 set Irish point lace, very 80 rich, consisting of wide, deep sleeves, handkerchief and collar 1 cape of ditto, going up to the 35 neck and shut at the back 2 black lace mantillas 40 1 black lace jacket 15 1 cape, composed of Valenciennes 75 lace 2 dozen very rich embroidered 120 cambric chemises, with lace 6 ditto, with puffed bullions in 100 front 18 Irish linen chemises, with 200 very rich fronts 7 Irish linen, embroidered 40 1 dozen night-dresses, very rich 216 fronts 3 linen ditto, very rich 75 1 dozen embroidered drawers 72 2 very rich ditto 50 11 new pairs silk stockings, in 40 box 1 dozen Lisle thread stockings 20 9 pairs boots and shoes 45 3 pairs embroidered slippers, 40 very rich, in gold 1 pair Irish point lace sleeves 30 (extra) 1 black velvet embroidered 450 mantilla, imported 1 ditto, silk, embroidered with 100 bugles, imported 1 glace silk, tight-fitting 65 basque, with black zeplore lace cape; trimmed in every width with narrow lace to match 1 black silk Arab, with two 25 tassels 1 dust-wrapper, from Cashmere 18 4 magnificent opera-cloaks 175 1 red scarlet cloth cloak, 12 trimmed with yellow cord 1 cloth, drab-color cloak 8 1 cloak, with hood lined with 10 silk 2 dozen cambric, embroidered, 24 with name Fanny 1 set Russian sable muffs, cape 100 and boa 1 tortoise shell comb, made in 50 one piece and very rich 6 fancy combs 30 1 very rich mother-of-pearl, gold 85 inlaid, and vol. feathers beautifully painted by hand 1 fan of mother-of pearl, inlaid 45 in gold, with silk and white and Job's spangles 1 blue mother-of-pearl, with 35 looking-glass; imitation ruby and emeralds 6 other fans, of various kinds 25 1 parasol, all ivory handle 100 throughout, engraved with name in full, covering of silk and Irish point lace, very fine, covering the entire parasol Several other parasols $25 1 real gold head-ornament, 100 representing the comet and eclipse appearing About twenty hair-nets, silver, 40 gold, and all colors and pearls 4 ladies' bonnets, some 100 exceedingly elegant 1 box marabout feathers, for 50 dressing the hair 1 box artificial flowers l5 1 lot new ribbon, for sashes; 35 velvet, silk, and satin 1 small miniature model piano, 50 played by mechanism, from Vienna 1 lady's writing-desk, inlaid 200 with tortoise-shell and mother-of-pearl, lined with silk velvet, with compartments and secretary; carved mother-of-pearl paper-knife, gold seal, gold pencil, case full of fancy writing paper; made in Paris 1 bula work-box, elegant; inlaid 125 with silver and lined with ci-satin, fitted with gold thimble, needle, scissors, pen-knife, gold bodkin, cotton winders; outside to match French piano 1 long knitting-case to match the 40 above, fitted with needles, beads and silk of every description 1 papier-mache work-box, and 5 fitted up 1 morocco work-bag, ornamented 3 with bright steel; fitted up with scissors, thimble, etc 1 lady's Russia leather 15 shopping-bag, with silver and gilt clasps for chain and key 1 18-karat gold filigree 20 card-case 1 set gold whist-markers, in 50 hands on little box, a present unto her 1 lady's small work-bag, silk 5 fittings 1 solid silver porte-monnaie 19 1 little blue porte-monnaie; 3 velvet, and cords and tassel 1 ladies' companion, with fixings 45 in silver; a present 1 hair-pin stand; a small 14 book-case, with small drawers and mirror 1 basket of mother-of-pearl, and 35 gilt and red satin, full of wax-flowers 1 elegant Bible in gilt, edge 30 mounted in gold 43 volumes various miniature 100 books, bound most elegantly in morocco, and brought as a present from Europe 1 silver pin-cushion and sewer 23 for fastening on the table 1 elegant, richly carved ivory 400 work-table, brought from Mexico, inside fitted up with silk and different compartments, standing three feet high 1 lady's solid silver rutler, 25 from Mexico 1 gilt head-ornament, 3 representing a dagger 1 lady's English dressing-case, $250 solid silver fittings, English make and stamp, rosewood, bound with brass and gilt, fitted and lined with silver 1 pair rich carved ivory hair 155 brushes, engraved with name and crest 1 ditto engraved and crest 55 1 small ivory hair-brush 12 1 ebony hair-brush, inlaid with 20 mother-of-pearl 1 Berlin-wool worked cushion 50 1 sewing-chair, elegantly 75 embroidered seat and back 1 Berlin-wool Affghan 100 1 fire-screen, Berlin work, 125 beads, representing Charles II. hunting 1 large sole-leather trunk, about 250 four feet long and three feet deep, lined with red morocco, handsomely ornamented in gold, embossed on the red morocco, with seven compartments; very scientifically constructed for the necessities of a lady's wardrobe, with springs to hold open each compartment; and the lace compartment could, at pleasure, be rested on two steel legs, covered with gilt embossed morocco, representing a writing table, with a portfolio, containing writing materials; it had two large French patent locks 1 lady's travelling trunk, with 73 cover, containing a quantity of worn dresses, zouave cloth and gold, druided jacket cloaks, woollen ditto, opera cloak, etc Total $21,000
Such lavish expenditure is a natural consequence of a state of society where wealth is the main distinction. Mrs. John Smith's position as a leader of the ton is due exclusively to her great riches and her elaborate displays. Mrs. Richard Roe will naturally try to outshine her, and thus rise above her in the social scale. Many persons seeking admission into such society, and finding wealth the only requisite, will make any sacrifice to accomplish their end. If they have not wealth they will affect to have it. They could not counterfeit good birth, or high breeding, but they can assume the appearance of being wealthy. They can conduct themselves, for a while at least, in a manner utterly disproportioned to their means, and so they go on, until their funds and credit being exhausted, they are forced to drop out of the circles in which they have moved, and the so-called friends who valued them only for their supposed wealth, instantly forget that they ever knew them. No more invitations are left for them, they are not even tolerated in "good society," and are "cut" on the street as a matter of course.
Not a year passes but records the failure of some prominent business man in New York. His friends are sorry for him, and admit that he was prudent and industrious in his business. "His family did it," they tell you, shaking their heads. "They lived too fast. Took too much money to run the house, to dress, and to keep up in society." Only the All Seeing Eye can tell how many men who stand well in the mercantile community are tortured continually by the thought that their extravagance or that of their families is bringing them to sure and certain ruin; for not even in New York can a man live beyond his actual means. They have not the moral courage to live within their legitimate incomes. To do so would be to lose their positions in society, and they go on straining every nerve to meet the demands upon them, and then the crash comes, and they are ruined.
Those who dwell in the great city, and watch its ways with observant eyes, see many evils directly attributable to the sin of extravagance. These evils are not entirely of a pecuniary nature. There are others of a more terrible character. Keen observers see every day women whose husbands and fathers are in receipt of limited incomes, dressing as if their means were unlimited. All this magnificence is not purchased out of the lawful income of the husband or father. The excess is made up in other ways—often by the sacrifice of the woman's virtue. She finds a man willing to pay liberally for her favors, and carries on an intrigue with him, keeping her confiding husband in ignorance of it all the while. She may have more than one lover—perhaps a dozen. When a woman sins from motives such as these, she does not stop to count the cost. Her sole object is to get money, and she gets it. It is this class of nominally virtuous married and unmarried women that support the infamous houses of assignation to be found in the city.
The curse of extravagance does not manifest itself in dress alone. One cannot enter the residence of a single well-to-do person in the city without seeing evidences of it. The house is loaded with the richest and rarest of articles, all intended for show, and which are oftentimes arranged without the least regard to taste. The object is to make the house indicate as much wealth on the part of its owner as possible. It makes but little difference whether the articles are worth what was paid for them, or whether they are arranged artistically—if the sum total is great, the owner is satisfied. It is a common thing to see the walls of some elegant mansion disfigured with frescoes, which, though executed at an enormous cost, are utterly without merit or taste. Again one sees dozens of paintings, bought for works of the old masters, lining the walls of the richest mansions of the city, which are the merest daubs, and the works of the most unscrupulous Bohemians. Not long since, a collection of paintings was offered for sale in New York, the owner being dead. They had been collected at great expense, and were the pride of their former owner. With a few exceptions they were wretched copies, and in the whole lot, over five hundred in number, there were not six genuine "old masters," or "masters" of any age.
Entertainments are given in the most costly style. From ten to twenty thousand dollars are spent in a single evening in this way. At a fashionable party from twelve to fifteen hundred dollars' worth of champagne is consumed, besides other wines and liquors. Breakfasts are given at a cost of from one to three thousand dollars; suppers at a still higher cost. This represents the expense to the host of the entertainment; but does not cover the cost of the toilettes to be provided for the family, which make up several thousand dollars more.
Suppers or dinners are favorite entertainments, and the outlay required for them is oftentimes very heavy. The host frequently provides nothing but viands imported from foreign lands. Sets of china of great cost, or of silver equally expensive, or even of gold, are displayed ostentatiously. Sometimes the supper-room is entirely refitted in red, blue, or gold, everything, even the lights and flowers, being of one color, in order that the affair may be known as Mrs. A—-'s red, blue, or gold supper. Some of the most extravagant entertainers will place at the side of each cover an exquisite bouquet inside of which is a costly present of jewelry.
All this reckless expenditure in the midst of so much sorrow and suffering in the great city! "The bitter cold of winter," says the Manager of the 'Children's Aid Society,' in his appeal for help, "and the freezing storms have come upon thousands of the poor children of this city, unprepared. They are sleeping in boxes, or skulking in doorways, or shivering in cellars without proper clothing, or shoes, and but half-fed. Many come bare-footed through the snow to our industrial schools. Children have been known to fall fainting on the floor of these schools through want of food. Hundreds enter our lodging-houses every night, who have no home. Hundreds apply to our office for a place in the country, who are ragged, half-starved, and utterly unbefriended."
III. FASHIONABLE FOLLIES.
We have spoken of the women of fashion. What shall we say of the men? They are neither refined nor intellectual. They have a certain shrewdness coupled, perhaps, with the capacity for making money. Their conversation is coarse, ignorant, and sometimes indecent. They have not the tact which enables women to adapt themselves at once to their surroundings, and they enjoy their splendors with an awkwardness which they seek to hide beneath an air of worldly wisdom. They patronize the drama liberally, but their preference is for what Olive Logan calls "the leg business." In person they are coarse-looking. Without taste of their own, they are totally dependent upon their tailors for their "style," and are nearly all gotten up on the same model. They are capital hands at staring ladies out of countenance, and are masters of all the arts of insolence. Society cannot make gentlemen out of them do what it will. As John Hibbs would say, "they were not brought up to it young." They learn to love excitement, and finding even the reckless whirl of fashion too stale for them, seek gratification out of their own homes. They become constant visitors at the great gaming-houses, and are the best customers of the bagnios of the city.
If men have their dissipations, the women have theirs also. Your fashionable woman generally displays more tact than her husband. She has greater opportunities for display, and makes better use of them. If the ball, or party, or sociable at her residence is a success, the credit is hers exclusively, for the husband does little more than pay the bills. Many of these women are "from the ranks." They have risen with their husbands, and are coarse and vulgar in appearance, and without refinement. But the women of fashion are not all vulgar or unrefined. Few of them are well educated, but the New York woman of fashion, as a rule, is not only very attractive in appearance, but capable of creating a decided impression upon the society in which she moves. She is thoroughly mistress of all its arts, she knows just when and where to exercise them to the best advantage, she dresses in a style the magnificence of which is indescribable, and she has tact enough to carry her through any situation. Yet, in judging her, one must view her as a butterfly, as a mere creature of magnificence and frivolity. Don't seek to analyze her character as a wife or mother. You may find that the marriage vow is broken on her part as well as on her husband's; and you will most probably find that she has sacrificed her soul to the demands of fashion, and "prevented the increase of her family" by staining her hands in the blood of her unborn children. Or, if she be guiltless of this crime, she is a mother in but one sense—that of bearing children. Fashion does not allow her to nurse them. She cannot give to her own flesh and blood the time demanded of her by her "duties in society;" so from their very birth the little innocents are committed to the care of hirelings, and they grow up without her care, removed from the ennobling effect of a mother's constant watchful presence, and they add to the number of idle, dissolute men and women of fashion, who are a curse to the city.
Your fashionable woman is all art. She is indeed "fearfully and wonderfully made." She is a compound frequently of false hair, false teeth, padding of various kinds, paint, powder and enamel. Her face is "touched up," or painted and lined by a professional adorner of women, and she utterly destroys the health of her skin by her foolish use of cosmetics. A prominent Broadway dealer in such articles sells thirteen varieties of powder for the skin, eight kinds of paste, and twenty-three different washes. Every physical defect is skilfully remedied by "artists;" each of whom has his specialty. So common has the habit of resorting to these things become, that it is hard to say whether the average woman of fashion is a work of nature or a work of art. Men marry such women with a kind of "taking the chances" feeling, and if they get a natural woman think themselves lucky.
IV. FASHIONABLE CHILDREN.
As it is the custom in fashionable society in New York to prevent the increase of families, it is natural no doubt to try to destroy childhood in those who are permitted to see the light.
The fashionable child of New York is made a miniature man or woman at the earliest possible period of its life. It does not need much labor, however, to develop "Young America" in the great metropolis. He is generally ready to go out into the world at a very tender age. Our system of society offers him every facility in his downward career. When but a child he has his own latch-key; he can come and go when he pleases; he attends parties, balls, dancing-school, the theatre and other evening amusements as regularly and independently as his elders, and is rarely called upon by "the Governor," as he patronizingly terms his father, to give any account of himself. He has an abundance of pocket-money, and is encouraged in the lavish expenditure of it. He cultivates all the vices of his grown-up friends; and thinks church going a punishment and religion a bore. He engages in his dissipations with a recklessness that makes old sinners envious of his "nerve." His friends are hardly such as he could introduce into his home. He is a famous "hunter of the tiger," and laughs at his losses. He has a mistress, or perhaps several; sneers at marriage, and gives it as his opinion that there is not a virtuous woman in the land. When he is fairly of age he has lost his freshness, and is tired of life. His great object now is to render his existence supportable.
Girls are forced into womanhood by fashion even more rapidly than boys into manhood. They are dressed in the most expensive manner from their infancy, and without much regard to their health. Bare arms and necks, and short skirts are the rule, even in the bleakest weather, for children's parties, or for dancing-school, and so the tender frames of the little ones are subjected to an exposure that often sows the seeds of consumption and other disease. The first thing the child learns is that it is its duty to be pretty—to look its best. It is taught to value dress and show as the great necessities of existence, and is trained in the most extravagant habits. As the girl advances towards maidenhood, she is forced forward, and made to look as much like a woman as possible. Her education is cared for after a fashion, but amounts to very little. She learns to play a little on some musical instrument, to sing a little, to paint a little—in short she acquires but a smattering of everything she undertakes. She is left in ignorance of the real duties of a woman's life—the higher and nobler part of her existence. She marries young, and one of her own set, and her married life is in keeping with her girlhood. She is a creature in which nothing has been fully developed but the passions and the nerves. Her physical constitution amounts to nothing, and soon gives way. Her beauty goes with her health, and she is forced to resort to all manner of devices to preserve her attractions.
It is a habit in New York to allow children to give large entertainments at fashionable resorts, without the restraining presence of their elders. Here crowds of boys and girls of a susceptible age assemble under the intoxicating influence of music, gas-light, full dress, late suppers, wines and liquors. Sometimes this juvenile dissipation has been carried so far that it has been sharply rebuked by the public press.
V. A FASHIONABLE BELLE.
An English writer gives the following clever sketch of a fashionable young lady of New York, whom he offers as a type of the "Girl of the Period:"
"Permit me to present you to Miss Flora Van Duysen Briggs. Forget Shakspeare's dictum about a name; there is a story attached to this name which I shall tell you by and by. Miss Flora is a typical New York girl of the period; between sixteen and seventeen years old; a little under the medium height; hair a golden brown; eyes a violet blue; cheeks and lips rosy; teeth whiter and brighter than pearls; hands and feet extremely small and well-shaped; figure petite but exquisitely proportioned; toilette in the latest mode de Paris; but observe, above all, that marvellous bloom upon her face, which American girls share with the butterfly, the rose, the peach and the grape, and in which they are unequalled by any other women in the world.
"Miss Flora's biography is by no means singular. Her father is Ezra Briggs, Esq., a provision merchant in the city. Twenty-five years ago, Mr. Briggs came to New York from one the Eastern States, with a common-school education, sharp sense, and no money. He borrowed a newspaper, found an advertisement for a light porter, applied for and obtained the situation, rose to be clerk, head-clerk, and small partner, and fagged along very comfortably until the Civil War broke out, and made his fortune. His firm secured a government contract, for which they paid dearly, and for which they made the Government pay dearer. Their pork was bought for a song, and sold for its weight in greenbacks. Their profits averaged 300 per cent. They were more fatal to the soldiers than the bullets of the enemy. One consignment of their provisions bred a cholera at Fortress Monroe, and robbed the Union of 15,000 brave men. Their enemies declared that the final defeat of the Southerners was owing to the capture of 1000 barrels of Briggs's mess beef by General Lee. But Briggs was rolling in wealth, and could afford to smile at such taunts.
"Flora's mother had been a Miss Van Duysen. She was a little, weak, useless woman, very proud of her name, which seemed to connect her in some way with the old Dutch aristocracy. In point of fact, Briggs married her on this account; for, like most democrats, he is very fond of anything aristocratic. Mrs. Briggs, nee Van Duysen, has nothing Dutch about her but her name. The Knickerbockers of New York were famous for their thrift, their economy, their neatness, and, above all, their housewifely virtues. Mrs. Briggs is thriftless, extravagant, dowdy in her old age, although she had been a beauty in her youth, and knows as little about keeping a house as she does about keeping a horse. During the war, at a fair given for the benefit of the Sanitary Commission, in Union Square, several Knickerbocker ladies organized a kitchen upon the old Dutch model, and presided there in the costumes of their grandmothers. Mrs. Briggs was placed upon the committee of management, but declined to serve, on account of the unbecoming costume she was invited to wear, and because she considered it unladylike to sit in a kitchen. But Mrs. Briggs preserved her caste, and benefited the Sanitary Commission much more than she would have done by her presence, by sending a cheque for $500 instead.
"Do we linger too long upon these family matters? No; to appreciate Miss Flora, you must understand her surroundings. She has never had a home. Born in a boarding-house, when her parents were not rich, she lives at a hotel now that her father is a millionaire. Mr. Briggs married the name of Van Duysen, in order to get into society. Miss Van Duysen married Briggs's money, in order to spend it. Miss Flora Van Duysen Briggs combines her mother's name and her father's money; her Mother's early beauty and her father's shrewdness; her mother's extravagance and her father's weakness for the aristocracy. She has good taste, as her toilette shows; but she does not believe that anything can be tasteful that is not expensive. Her aim is to run ahead of the fashions, instead of following them; but she is clever enough to so adapt them to her face and figure, that she always looks well-dressed, and yet always attracts attention. Her little handsome head is full of native wit, and of nothing else. Her education has been shamefully neglected. She has had the best masters, who have taught her nothing. Like all other American girls, she plays on the piano, but does not play the piano—you will please notice this subtle but suggestive distinction. She has picked up a smattering of French, partly because it is a fashionable accomplishment, and partly because she intends to marry; but I will not yet break your heart by announcing her matrimonial intentions. Compared with an English or French girl of the same age, she has many and grave deficiencies; but she atones for them by a wonderful tact and cleverness, which blind you to all her faults and lend a new grace to all her virtues.
"Truth to say, the admirers of Miss Flora, whose name is Legion, give her the credit for all her own virtues, and blame her father and mother, and the system, for all her faults. Born, as we have said, in a boarding-house, left entirely in charge of the nurse-maid, educated at a fashionable day-school, brought into society before fifteen, living in the whirl, the bustle, the luxury, and the unhomeliness of a hotel, what could you expect of Miss Flora but that she should be, at seventeen years of age, a butterfly in her habits, a clever dunce as regards solid knowledge, and a premature woman of the world in her tastes and manners? The apartments which the Briggs family occupy at the Fifth Avenue Hotel are magnificently decorated and furnished, but they do not constitute a home. Several times Mr. Briggs has offered to purchase a house in a fashionable thoroughfare; but his wife objects to the trouble of managing unruly servants, and terrifies Mr. Briggs out of the notion by stories of burglars admitted, and plate stolen, and families murdered in their beds, through the connivance of the domestics. What more can any one desire than the Briggs family obtain at the hotel for a fixed sum per week, and a liberal margin for extras? The apartments are ample and comfortable; the cuisine and the wines are irreproachable; there is a small table reserved for them, to which they can invite whom they choose; an immense staff of servants obey their slightest wish; their carriages, kept at a neighboring livery stable, can be sent for at any moment; they are as secluded in their own rooms as if they lived in another street, so far as the family in the next suite is concerned; they are certain to meet everybody, and can choose their own company; the spacious hotel parlors are at their disposal whenever they wish to give an evening party, reception, or the dansant. What more could they gain by setting up a private house? Mr. Briggs, having never tried the experiment, does not know. Mrs. Briggs, whose only reminiscence of a private residence is the one in which her mother let lodgings, does not know. Miss Flora Van Duysen Briggs, having never been used to any other way of life than the present, neither knows nor cares, and 'does not want to be bothered.'
"The Briggs family spend their winters in town, their summers at Newport, Saratoga, or some other watering-place, at which nobody cares anything about the water. The frequenters of these rural or seaside retreats are presumed to come for their health, but really come to show their dresses. Thus Miss Flora's life varies very little all the year round; she rises late, and is dressed for breakfast; after breakfast she practises upon the piano, shops with her mamma, and returns to be dressed for luncheon; after luncheon she usually takes a brief nap, or lies down to read a novel, and is then dressed for the afternoon promenade, as you have just seen her; after the promenade she is dressed for a drive with mamma in the Central Park; after the drive she is dressed for dinner, or dines in her out-of-door costume, preparatory to being dressed for the opera, the theatre, a ball, or a party. Every Tuesday she receives calls; every Thursday she calls upon her acquaintances. Whenever she has a spare moment, it is bestowed upon her dressmaker. If she thinks, it is to design new trimmings; if she dreams, it is of a heavenly soiree dansante, with an eternal waltz to everlasting music, and a tireless partner in paradisiacal Paris.
"As all the best and—in a double sense—the dearest things of Miss Flora's life come from Paris, it is quite natural that she should look to Paris for her future. The best of all authorities declares that 'where the treasure is there will the heart be also.' Miss Flora's treasures are in the Parisian magasins, and her heart is with them. Although scores of young men kneel at her feet, press her hands, and deride the stars in comparison with her eyes, she cares for none of her worshippers. She smiles upon them, but the smile is no deeper than the lips; she flirts with them, but stops at that sharp, invisible line which separates a flirtation from a compromising earnestness; she is a coquette, but not a jilt. If she encourages all, it is because she prefers none. Her heart has never been touched, and she knows that none of her admirers in her own country can hope to touch it. Her rivals scornfully assert that she has no heart; but as she is, after all, a woman, this assertion must be incorrect. She is in love with an ideal, but that ideal has a title. So soon as Mr. Briggs can dispose of his business, Miss Flora is to be taken to Paris. Within two years afterwards she will be led to the altar by a French duke, marquis, or count, who will fall in love with her father's bank-book, and then she will figure as an ornament of the French Court, or the salons of the Faubourg Saint-Germain. This is her ambition, and she will certainly accomplish it. The blood of the Van Duysens and the money of Briggs can accomplish anything when united in Miss Flora. With this end in view, the little lady is as inaccessible to ordinary admirers as a princess. She is a duchess by anticipation, and feels the pride of station in advance. There is no danger that she will falter in the race through any womanly weakness, nor through any lack of knowledge of the wiles of men. With the beauty of Venus and the chastity of Diana, she also possesses qualities derived directly from Mother Eve. An English matron would blush to know, and a French mere would be astonished to learn, secrets which Miss Flora has at her pretty finger-ends. She has acquired her knowledge innocently, and she will use it judiciously. Nothing escapes her quick eyes and keen ears, and under that demure forehead is a faculty which enables her to 'put this and that together,' and arrive at conclusions which would amaze her less acute foreign sisters. You may not envy her this faculty, but do not accuse her of employing it improperly. She will never disgrace herself nor the coronet which she already feels pressing lightly upon her head. As she trips out of sight, it may give any man a heart-pang to think that there is at least one lovely woman who is impenetrable to love; but then, if she were like those dear, soft, fond, impressible, confiding beauties of a former age, she would not be herself—a Girl of the Period."
VI. FASHIONABLE ENTERTAINMENTS.
New York has long been celebrated for its magnificent social entertainments. Its balls, dinner parties, receptions, private theatricals, pic-nics, croquet parties, and similar gatherings are unsurpassed in respect to show in any city in the world. Every year some new species of entertainment is devised by some leader in society, and repeated throughout the season by every one who can raise the money to pay for it. The variety, however, is chiefly in the name, for all parties, breakfasts, dinners, suppers, or receptions are alike.
Of late years it is becoming common not to give entertainments at one's residence, but to hire public rooms set apart for that purpose. There is a large house in the upper part of Fifth avenue, which is fitted up exclusively for the use of persons giving balls, suppers, or receptions. It is so large that several entertainments can be held at the same time on its different floors, without either annoying or inconveniencing the others. The proprietor of the establishment provides everything down to the minutest detail, the wishes and tastes of the giver of the entertainment being scrupulously respected in everything. The host and hostess, in consequence, have no trouble, but have simply to be on hand at the proper time to receive their guests. This is a very expensive mode of entertaining, and costs from 5000 to 15,000 dollars, for the caterer expects a liberal profit on everything he provides; but to those who can afford it, it is a very sensible plan. It saves an immense amount of trouble at home, and preserves one's carpets and furniture from the damage invariably done to them on such occasions, and averts all possibility of robbery by the strange servants one is forced to employ. Still, many who possess large and elegant mansions of their own prefer to entertain at their own homes.
On such occasions, the lady giving the entertainment issues her invitations, and usually summons the famous Brown, the Sexton of Grace Church, to assist her in deciding who shall be asked beyond her immediate circle of friends. Mr. Brown is a very tyrant in such matters, and makes out the list to suit himself rather than to please the hostess. He has full authority from her to invite any distinguished strangers who may be in the city.
Upon the evening appointed a carpet is spread from the curbstone to the front door, and over this is placed a temporary awning. A policeman is engaged to keep off the crowd and regulate the movements of the carriages. About nine o'clock magnificent equipages, with drivers and footmen in livery, commence to arrive, and from these gorgeous vehicles richly dressed ladies and gentlemen alight, and pass up the carpeted steps to the entrance door. On such occasions gentlemen are excluded from the carriage if possible, as all the space within the vehicle is needed for the lady's skirts. The lady is accompanied by a maid whose business it is to adjust her toilette in the dressing room, and see that everything is in its proper place.
At the door stands some one, generally the inevitable Brown, to receive the cards of invitation. Once admitted, the ladies and gentlemen pass into the dressing rooms set apart for them. Here they put the last touches to their dress and hair, and, the ladies having joined their escorts, enter the drawing room and pay their respects to the host and hostess. When from one to two thousand guests are to be received, the reader may imagine that the labors of the host and hostess are not slight.
Every arrangement is made for dancing. A fine orchestra is provided, and is placed so that it may consume as little space as possible. A row of chairs placed around the room, and tied in couples with pocket-handkerchiefs, denotes that "The German" is to be danced during the course of the evening. There is very little dancing, however, of any kind, before midnight, the intervening time being taken up with the arrivals of guests and promenading.
About midnight the supper room is thrown open, and there is a rush for the tables, which are loaded with every delicacy that money can buy. The New York physicians ought to be devoutly thankful for these suppers. They bring them many a fee. The servants are all French, and are clad in black swallow-tail coats and pants, with immaculate white vests, cravats and gloves. They are as active as a set of monkeys, and are capital hands at anticipating your wants. Sometimes the refreshments are served in the parlors, and are handed to the guests by the servants.
The richest and costliest of wines flow freely. At a certain entertainment given not long since, 500 bottles of champagne, worth over four dollars each, were drunk. Some young men make a habit of abstaining carefully during the day, in order to be the better prepared to drink at night. The ladies drink almost as heavily as the men, and some of them could easily drink their partners under the table.
After supper the dancing begins in earnest. If The German is danced it generally consumes the greater part of the evening. I shall not undertake to describe it here. It is a great mystery, and those who understand it appear to have exhausted in mastering it their capacity for understanding anything else. It is a dance in which the greatest freedom is permitted, and in which liberties are taken and encouraged, which would be resented under other circumstances. The figures really depend upon the leader of the dance, who can set such as he chooses, or devise them, if he has wit enough. All the rest are compelled to follow his example. The dance is thoroughly suited to the society we are considering, and owes its popularity to the liberties, to use no stronger term, it permits.
[Picture: THE GERMAN]
The toilettes of the persons present are magnificent. The ladies are very queens in their gorgeousness. They make their trails so long that half the men are in mortal dread of breaking their necks over them; and having gone to such expense for dry goods in this quarter, they display the greatest economy about the neck and bust. They may be in "full dress" as to the lower parts of their bodies, but they are fearfully undressed from the head to the waist.
Towards morning the ball breaks up. The guests, worn out with fatigue, and not unfrequently confused with liquor, take leave of their hosts and go home. Many of them repeat the same performance almost nightly during the season. No wonder that when the summer comes they are so much in need of recuperation.
VII. MARRIAGE AND DEATH.
Only wealthy marriages are tolerated in New York society. For men or women to marry beneath them is a crime society cannot forgive. There must be fortune on one side at least. Marriages for money are directly encouraged. It is not uncommon for a man who has won a fortune to make the marriage of his daughter the means of getting his family into society. He will go to some young man within the pale of good society, and offer him the hand of his daughter and a fortune. The condition demanded of the aforesaid young man is that he shall do what may lie within his power to get the family of the bride within the charmed circle. If the girl is good looking, or agreeable, the offer is rarely refused.
When a marriage is decided upon, the engagement is announced through one of the "society newspapers," of which there are several. It is the bounden duty of the happy pair to be married in a fashionable church. To be married in or buried from Grace or St. Thomas's Church, is the desire of every fashionable heart. Invitations are issued to the friends of the two families, and no one is admitted into the church without a card. Often "no cards" are issued, and the church is jammed by the outside throng, who profane the holy temple by their unmannerly struggles to secure places from which to view the ceremony. Two clergymen are usually engaged to tie the knot, in order that a Divorce Court may find it the easier to undo. A reporter is on hand, who furnishes the city papers with a full description of the grand affair. The dresses, the jewels, the appearance of the bride and groom, and the company generally, are described with all the eloquence Jenkins is master of.
If the wedding be at Grace Church, Brown, "the great sexton" is in charge. A wedding over which he presides is sure to be a great success. A wonderful man is Brown. No account of New York society would be complete without a few words about Brown. He has been sexton of Grace Church ever since the oldest inhabitant can remember, and those familiar with the matter are sorely puzzled to know what the church will do when Brown is gathered to his fathers. The congregation would sooner part with the best Rector they have ever had than give up Brown. A certain Rector did once try to compel him to resign his post because he, the Rector, did not fancy Brown's ways, which he said were hardly consistent with the reverence due the house of God. The congregation, however, were aghast at the prospect of losing Brown, and plainly gave the Rector to understand that he must not interfere with the sexton. Never mind about his want of reverence. The Rector's business was to look after the religious part of the congregation, while Brown superintended the secular affairs of that fashionable corporation. They had use for the Rector only on Sunday; but Brown they looked up to every day in the week. The Rector meekly subsided, and Brown forgave him.
A very lucky man is Brown, and very far from being a fool. There is no sharper, shrewder man in New York, and no one who estimates his customers more correctly. He puts a high price on his services, and is said to have accumulated a handsome fortune, popularly estimated at about $300,000. Fat and sleek, and smooth of tongue, he can be a very despot when he chooses. He keeps a list of the fashionable young men of the city, who find it to their interest to be on good terms with him, since they are mainly dependent upon him for their invitations. Report says that, like a certain great statesman, Brown is not averse to receiving a small present now and then as a reminder of the gratitude of the recipients of his favors.
Brown is sixty years old, but time has dealt lightly with him, and he is still hale and hearty. He knows all the gossip of New York for thirty years back, but also knows how to hold his tongue. To see him in his glory, one should wait until the breaking up of some great party. Then he takes his stand on the steps of the mansion, and in the most pompous manner calls the carriages of the guests. There is no chance for sleep in the neighborhood when the great voice of the "great sexton" is roaring down the avenue. He takes care that the whole neighborhood shall know who have honored the entertainment with their presence.