PHILIP HONE, 1825-26, and



THIS year was one of much commercial distress, the result of the failure of several spurious banks chartered by the State of New Jersey. Subsequently, by the failure of several insurance companies, was revealed an amount of venality that affected the commercial character of the city at home and abroad, and also that of a number of persons of character and respectability; resulting in the conviction of some by a court of justice; some of them being sent to the Penitentiary, while others appealed to the Court of Errors, and escaped by the casting vote of the Lieutenant­governor.

Jacob Barker, who has been already mentioned (1822), in consequence of his connection with the Exchange Bank at a previous date, and the Washington and Warren at a very late period, was very seriously and generally censured in the public prints, and some years after this he became a citizen of New Orleans. He resided at 34 Beekman Street, a neighborhood which at that time was the residence of many of our well­known and distinguished citizens; he enjoyed not an enviable reputation for his shrewdness in business matters and responsibilities., My employer, who had a bill against him for the repairs of his steamboat Marco Bozzaris, threatened to sue him; whereupon he said: "It is not worth while for you to go to the expense, when you can buy a judgment against me of any amount you want at a very low rate." At this time, which was some years prior to his leaving for New Orleans, a number of brokers publicly advertised or proposed to raise the amount of three hundred dollars, to give him as an inducement to leave the city.

Instances of Barker's shrewdness have been frequently repeated. Thus, when a boy, he engaged to carry a trunk for a passenger to a neighboring hotel, but finding it too heavy for him to handle alone, he secured the services of a playmate by promising that if he received two apples for the work he would give him one. The trunk was transported, and Barker received a sixpence, whereupon, when his assistant asked for his half, he replied: "If he had given me two apples, I would have given you one, as I said; but as he did not give me apples, I have none to give you." On another occasion, he had incurred the dislike of the paying teller of a bank, and upon demanding payment in specie of a check for a thousand dollars, he was given a box of six­penny pieces. At this time, and for many years afterward, in making a deposit in a bank, the teller, when he had counted the amount, asked the depositor the amount of it, and if his account agreed, well; if not, a new count was made. Upon receiving this box Barker caused the lid to be raised, withdrew a few pieces, pocketed them, and then directed the balance to be passed to his credit as a deposit. Whereupon the teller had to count the entire contents of the box, while Barker had but to count his small portion and subtract it from the whole in order to name the amount of the deposit.

When in the shipping business he was at one time much exercised regarding the safety of a particular vessel on a distant trading voyage, which he had not insured. He one day applied to an insurance office for a very full amount upon her; the application not having been made "binding," he did not ask for the policy, but a few days afterward he hurriedly appeared at the office and told the president of the company that he need not sign the policy, as he himself "had heard of the vessel." Whereupon the president replied that the application had been accepted and the transaction completed, retired to his private office, and returned with the policy duly signed, which Barker pocketed. Soon after it was posted that the vessel had been wholly lost. Barker had "heard of the vessel," that is, he had heard of her loss. It was reported that this was a case of "diamond cut diamond"; the policy, in fact, having not been signed until after Barker reported hearing from the vessel; the president intending thus to secure the premium without taking any risk.

Mrs. Hackett, who since her marriage had retired from the stage for a period of seven years, was induced to return to it, in consequence of the failure of her husband, a merchant of Utica, and appeared on January 27 at the Park Theatre. March 1, James H. Hackett himself appeared for the first time on any stage at the Park, and in spite of the nervousness natural under the circumstances, his success warranted his adoption of the profession. He made several profitable English tours from 1827 to 1851. In 1829 and 1830 he was connected with the Chatham and the Bowery managements; in 1837 he managed the old National for a time; still later, he was concerned in the Astor Place Opera House. He brought out Grisi and Mario in the summer of 1854. Hackett's imitations were remarkable, and his Dromio (especially with Barnes) and Falstaff were wonderful. He gained a great deal of money, which he used first to pay all his trade debts. As a raconteur he was inimitable.

On March 20 the Common Council required hacks to have lighted lamps at night.

March 30. One Hewlett, a colored representative of "Shakespeare's proud heroes," as he himself termed it, gave illustrations of his talent at 11 Spruce Street.

At this time the steamboat Washington, under the command of Captain Elihu S. Bunker, then and for many years afterward well known, commenced running to Providence. John C. Symmes returned to this city and delivered a series of lectures in support of his theory of a passage to the centre of the earth, at the North Pole (see 1821).

June 5. Garden Street (Exchange Place) was widened to Broad. The Merchants' Exchange building (the present Custom House), was in course of erection. The project of constructing a railroad between Schenectady and Albany was entertained and advanced.

June 12. Hackett appeared at the Park Theatre for the third time on any stage, for the benefit of his wife, as Monsieur Morbleu in "Monsieur Tonson."

June 15 George P. Morris's play of "Brier Cliff" was produced at the Chatham Garden Theatre and achieved decided success and long popularity. July 15 Thomas Placide appeared at this house for the first time in New York; becoming much esteemed as a capital low comedian, though of less talent and general capacity than his brother Henry. He very soon after joined the Park company.

June 23 Edwin Forrest appeared for the first time in New York, at the Park Theatre, as Othello. Returning to the Park, he produced "Metamora" and "The Gladiator," both written for him. He was twice in England. Forrest's connection with the Astor Place riot, and his divorce suit, injured him in public estimation; yet immediately after the verdict in the latter case, being engaged at the Broadway Theatre, he opened (in January, 1852) to an enormous house, and played Damon for sixty-nine consecutive nights, surpassing all records of tragic performances then existing.

June 24, St. John's Day, was laid the corner­stone of Masonic Hall, on the site of 314 and 316 Broadway, a Gothic structure of imposing appearance among buildings of the time. It contained a fine saloon 100 feet long, 50 feet wide, and 25 feet high, richly decorated Here the first fair of the American Institute was held. After the alleged murder of Morgan and the organization of the Anti­masonic party, it was named Gothic Hall.

Before this building was completed, William Morgan published his book purporting to reveal the secrets of Masonry, and then occurred his hidden and unexplained disappearance. As it was alleged that he had been murdered by Masons and his body secreted, the charge was availed of by some politicians in the State, and an Anti­masonic party was organized, which not only pervaded this State, but extended to contiguous States, and continued active for some time. Thurlow Weed, of Albany, took a leading part in availing himself of the excitement against Masons, with a view to the organization of an opposition to the Democrats. Upon being told that the body of a drowned man had been found in Niagara River and that some declared it to be that of Morgan, while others who had seen it denied that it was his, Weed is reported to have said: "It is a good enough Morgan until after the election." In 1830 Francis Granger received one hundred and twenty­eight thousand votes as Anti­masonic candidate for Governor of New York. In 1832 William Wirt was Anti­masonic candidate for President of the United States, and obtained the electoral votes of Vermont, a State which was for several years wholly under Anti­masonic rule. During this excitement Masons were held to be so obnoxious to propriety and good citizenship that the order was measurably paralyzed; so much so that some lodges closed and others met but rarely,-in one case I know of, the lodge withdrew and donated its funds, exceeding six thousand dollars, to a charitable institution,-but in time the opposition lapsed and Masonry lifted its head, and was soon restored to popularity and usefulness. In the meanwhile the name of the hall was changed to Gothic Hall.

July 4 the new Lafayette Theatre was opened. General Sanford built during this summer the Mount Pitt Circus, in Grand Street, opposite East Broadway, first opened in November.

On arrival of the Liverpool packet Silas Richards, her captain reported that in a given latitude and longitude, he, with his passengers and crew, saw a sea serpent on the 7th of June.

July 18 the project of cutting a canal from One Hundred and Eighth Street at the Harlem River to Spuyten Duyvil Creek, was first entertained and discussed.

September 11 the Williamsburgh Ferry Co. petitioned the Common Council to allow them to replace their horse­boat with a steamboat, as a steamboat was not provided for in their grant.

September 19 a family from the South arriving here with several slaves as servants, a party of resident negroes assembled soon after and endeavored to incite a mob for the purpose of freeing the slaves, but the general populace and the Courts resisted the design.

The firm of Arthur Tappan & Co. was the largest silk house in the city. Arthur and Lewis Tappan were the principal originators of the abolition of slavery movement. Arthur was a zealous bigot of a pronounced type. He issued to the clerks of the house, and submitted to all applicants for employment, the following requirements and rules for their government and manner of living: "Total abstinence; not to visit certain proscribed places nor remain out after ten o'clock at night; to visit a theatre, and to make the acquaintance of an actor precluded forgiveness; to attend Divine service twice on Sundays, and on every Monday morning to report church attendance, name of the clergyman, and texts; prayer­meeting twice a week, and must belong to an anti­slavery society and essay to make converts to the cause."

September 21 the steamboat New Philadelphia made a passage hence to Albany in the unprecedented time of twelve hours and fifteen minutes, including all her eight landings. The Sun, in her fast passage, came from Albany, or down the river.

September 27 Henry Eckford, George W. Browne, Mark Spencer, and Jacob Barker, who had been indicted for a conspiracy upon the allegation of irregular transactions in the operation of certain banks and financial companies, were arraigned in the Court of Oyer and Terminer held by Judge Edwards; they were prosecuted by Hugh Maxwell and Peter Augustus Jay, and defended by Thomas Addis Emmet, William M. Price, Murray Hoffman, David C. Colden, and William R. Williams; Mr. Barker defending his own case. The Court forbade the publication of the current testimony. Stenography was not practiced then. On the 23d of the following month the jury was discharged, having failed to agree upon a verdict; their decision was reported to be seven to five for a verdict of guilty, against all; and eight to four for all but Henry Eckford.

October 2 the famous English tragedian, W. C. Macready, made his American debut at the Park Theatre, as Virginius, instantly taking a very high place. He returned to England at the end of the season, but was again at the Park in 1843, and made his last appearance there in the autumn of 1844.

The first of the stone buildings of the General Theological Seminary in Chelsea Square (Ninth and Tenth avenues, Twentieth and Twenty­first streets) was completed in this year, the cornerstone having been laid by Bishop White, July 28, 1825. This was the one afterward termed the East Building, removed in 1892 to make way for new houses for the professors. The present Dean of the Seminary, the Very Rev. Dr. E. A. Hoffman, writes in a recent article published in the Trinity Record: "The site was then far removed from the city and extended down to the banks of the Hudson, being surrounded on the other sides by green fields, enclosed by post­and­rail fences. The grounds, which now stand above the street, were then an apple orchard, which was situated near the corner of what is now Ninth Avenue and Twenty­first Street. Professor Clement C. Moore's country residence-extending from Nineteenth to Twenty-fourth Street and from Eighth Avenue to the river, and known as Chelsea-was the only house in the vicinity; and with this exception, save a few straggling houses in the village of Greenwich, there was scarcely a good brick house to be found between it and Canal Street. The only approach to the grounds was through a narrow road, called Love Lane, running easterly to the Bloomingdale Road, now Broadway; while the water was at times so deep immediately around the new building as to make it inaccessible during a great portion of the winter, except on horseback or in a carriage." This fine property had been given to the Seminary by Clement C. Moore, immortalized among children by his verses, "'Twas the Night before Christmas"; being a part of his patrimony, formerly attached to the country­house of his father, the Rt. Rev. Benjamin Moore, Bishop of New York.

October 23 was a day of consequence in New York's theatrical annals, for it saw the opening of the New York Theatre; so named officially, but even then called and afterward universally known as the Bowery Theatre, constructed on the site of the Bull's Head (see page 169). It was opened with "The Road to Ruin," and the farce of "Raising the Wind," under the management of George H. Barrett. Prices of admission: pit, 37­1/2 cents; boxes, 75 cents; gallery, 25 cents. This was the first theatre in New York to be lighted with gas. The house and stage were the largest in America. For many years Thomas S. Hamblin was the lessee, and Gilfert the manager, and the house acquired great fame. Many plays of note were here first produced and many actors and actresses who became celebrated first appeared here. Here Mme. Malibran was paid six hundred dollars for a performance-a sum in those days held to be enormous-and here she made her last appearance in America, on October 28, 1827. The Bowery suffered more than its fair share of the fate that besets theatres, being four times destroyed by fire; viz., in 1828, 1836, 1838, and 1845.

In December of this year it was first thought necessary to pave the sidewalk in Canal Street, and then only on one side. Waltzing was first introduced this season as an element of evening entertainment, this occurred at the house in Franklin Street of a member of a leading French shipping firm. I was present. The discussions and declarations on the propriety of such a lapse from the requirements of a society principally (at that time) confined to the descendants of Knickerbockers and Puritans, can more readily be inferred than portrayed. Sed tempora mutantur, et nos mutamur in illis.

Lithography was first introduced. There was but one boat at the Paulus Hook (Jersey City) ferry. It was about this time that the making of mint juleps was introduced here; they were a great novelty and were indulged in to a great extent, as much in the way of curiosity as from a liking for them.

Onesippe Pacolin commenced business at No. 7 Wall Street, and subsequently in 1840 removed to 82 Broadway; he was the first strictly French boot and shoe maker of a Parisian stamp that opened in this city, and so superior was the material he used, and so thorough his workmanship, that he soon took the lead in his line, and in a comparatively few years retired with an independence.

Mrs. Knight, from London, first appeared at the Park Theatre in this year.

Lafayette Place was opened on the 4th of July in this year, one hundred feet in width and through Vauxhall Garden. Bancker, which was a street notorious for the objectionable character of its dwellers, and a bye­word, was changed to Madison Street.

The State prison at Christopher Street was purchased of the State by the Corporation for one hundred thousand dollars.

The public schools at this period were but five in number, viz.: "Chatham Street," near Tryon Row; 119 "Henry," near Pike Street; "Hudson," corner Barrow Street; "Rivington," near Pike Street, and "Chrystie Street," No. 70.

In consequence of a rupture in the relations of the Professors and Trustees of the College of Physicians and Surgeons, a second college was organized, termed the Rutgers Medical College, which was located in Duane near to Church Street.

Antoine Malapar, who in 1825 had been a bar­tender at Castle Garden, associated with George I. Pride and others, advertised the formation of the Marble Manufacturing Co., assumed the province of a Bank of Deposit, and issued notes. The enterprise was viewed with such general suspicion that it existed but for a brief period, failing within the year, and in its failure the Franklin Bank, the Jefferson Insurance Co., and a bank in New Jersey in some manner were involved, and they also failed. Malapar had descended upon the public in great force, and for a time was a noted figure in Wall Street, standing prominently on the steps of banks and the Exchange, displaying a gold pencil­case wherewith to note his operations-gold pencils were scarce in those days. For a year or more his local renown was nearly equal to that of the leading speculators of the day. He, however, gradually disappeared from the public gaze and was quite forgotten until, a few years afterward, it was learned that he had died in the Almshouse.

At this period watering­place life was slightly organized and comparatively restricted. Nothing was known of the general summer exodus that in these days divests the finer parts of the town of almost every sign of occupancy from May till November. The places of resort for the moderate vacations indulged in at the time were Ballston Spa (perhaps Saratoga), Lebanon Springs, and Trenton Falls, N.Y., and Schooley's Mountain, N.J. Newport was a quiet town at which the steamboats hence to or from Providence touched, if there was any one to land or to be taken off. Places now thronged by thousands for the sake of picturesque scenery were then unvisited; indeed the love of Nature seems to be a development of more modern civilization and modes of thought. The Adirondacks retained their native wildness; a few hardy spirits adventured out of curiosity or for scientific purposes to some points in the White Mountain region, and the reports of extreme difficulty and considerable danger in ascending Mount Washington were apt to deter others from imitating their example. It was not till 1840 that Abel Crawford, first of all men, rode a horse to the foot of the cone or dome of Mount Washington.

The Almshouse at Bellevue which had been commenced in 1823 was completed in this year, and were it not that it would awaken mournful recollections among families and friends of unfortunates, I could recite a number of instances of meeting, in my official visits to Bellevue and the "Islands," schoolmates, youthful companions, bright intellects and promising men, that were there awaiting that early dissolution ever attendant upon debauched dissipation.

New York Society Library, incorporated 1795, was located at corner of Nassau and Cedar streets.

In the previous year, 1819, the French Benevolent Society of New York (Societe Francaise de Bienfaisance de New York) was incorporated; it was organized in 1809. Its objects, to assist needy French people with medical advice, medicines, food, clothing, and temporary shelter.

About 1823 there was a young man in the city who, with his associates, amongst some other festive amusements, would occasionally, in the early hours of the morning, awake or terrorize the "Dogberrys" of the city watch, and who not only did "those things he ought not to have done," but "left undone those that he ought to have done," and as a result, he was very generally and well known and quoted. In addition, he was the owner and driver of a very fast mare, which, for exceptional speed, his daily displays of her in Broadway, of her capacity on the roads, and the uniform manner in which she, even at night, however unguided, would return with him to her stable, was as well known as he was.

As there were not any trotting courses or associations, especial trotting wagons or sulkies, or timing watches at this period, her speed was not publicly known; my impression is that it was about a mile in three minutes, about equal to that of the "Boston Blue" of Mr. Stackpole, who claimed that in 1810 he had trotted a mile in two minutes forty­eight and one­half seconds, and in order the better to avail himself of such singular and exceptional speed, he was taken to England.

The only competitor of this mare was a horse owned by Wm. Niblo named "Dragon," and on an afternoon, when the usual number of gentlemen who had driven out of town to Cato's (Fifty­second Street) were resting their horses and refreshing themselves, the owner of the mare referred to entered, and in a discussion that ensued regarding her points he was asked what he thought of Billy Niblo's "Dragon," to which he vauntingly replied, "My mare can show him her tail from Brooklyn to Jamaica." A lad who was present related this to a boarder of Niblo, who immediately challenged the mare, which being accepted, the match came off from the turnpike gate on the road to Jamaica, about where Adams Street and Boerum Place met it.

Cato drove the mare, and White Howard, a keeper of a livery stable at Brooklyn, drove "Dragon," and one of the conditions of the match was that, in the event of either horse "breaking up," he was to be stopped and turned around; this was not an exceptional requirement, it being one that was observed both here and in England at this period. "Dragon" won.

A few years after this the public were surprised to learn that the owner of the mare had mended his ways, joined the Methodist Church, and become a zealous and vociferous member.

About 1824, a family of Charleston, S. C., on their return home, were driven down to a pier south of Wall Street, to embark in a vessel, and as the carriage was fully occupied by the mother, children, and maid, the father walked down. It occurred, however, that the carriage was backed against the string­piece of the pier, and from its insufficiency, carriage and horses fell into the water and the entire party was drowned. I saw the carriage and horses in the water.

St. Andrew's Society of the State of New York, founded in 1756, and incorporated in 1826, is probably the oldest society in the country. Its object, the promotion of social and friendly intercourse among Scotchmen and their descendants in this city and its vicinity, and the relief of such as may be indigent.