5HTML> octo-26


1858­1859.-DANIEL F. TIEMANN,


1858. THE corner­stone of St. Patrick's Cathedral on Fifth Avenue, between Fiftieth and Fifty­first streets, was laid. The entire plot of land extending to Madison Avenue was bought of Francis Cooper in 1829, by the Roman Catholics, for the sum of $5850.4

A great enlargement of the Astor Library was made by Mr. William B. Astor.

The vast religious revival then in progress became more widely extended, and increased in fervor.

January 17, the first practical test of two new steam fire­engines occurred, both of these newly acquired machines being employed at a fire. Chief Harry Howard made a report regarding them to the Common Council, the substance of which was that he "was free to say" that he did not think much of them.

Niblo's Theatre was occupied by Dan Rice's Circus until late in March, when the Ravels followed for two months.

Mary Devlin at Burton's New Theatre made her debut in New York, playing Juliette to Miss Cushman's Romeo. Miss Devlin was much admired on our stage; she married Edwin Booth in July, 1860, retiring soon after to private life. She died in February, 1863. Placide, Blake, and Brougham were all in the cast of "London Assurance."

February 3. The steamer Baltic left Liverpool on the last voyage of the famous Collins Line of steamers to Liverpool, it finally succumbing under pressure of the loss of the Arctic and Pacific and adverse conditions.

March 1. At Laura Keene's Theatre, Miss Polly Marshall made her first appearance on that stage.

April 2, Central Park extended to One hundred and tenth Street and on 17th Madison Avenue extended.

May 11, three Sisters and nine patients moved into St. Luke's Hospital, and the regular work of that noble charity was thus begun.

In June, and again in July, accidents befell the new Atlantic cable, but on August 6 all the long effort expended on this essay issued in success. My readers who have grown up in a world of cables can scarce imagine the enthusiasm-or I might say the transport -which this extraordinary event created. Queen Victoria congratulated the President in a despatch across the ocean, and Mr. Buchanan replied to the Queen. The "Cable Celebration" in New York will be long remembered; the city was illuminated, Te Deum was sung in Trinity Church, a banquet was given to Cyrus W. Field, whose energy had accomplished the great work. The whole land broke out into celebration. Nevertheless, the cable, that had cost so much labor and money, and was the cause of so much rejoicing, shortly broke down entirely and again there was silence between the continents, to the bitter disappointment of projectors and people alike.

During the illuminations in New York, the cupola of the City Hall caught fire and the upper story suffered considerable damage, which was not for a long time repaired.

Purdy's National, which had been busy since the fall with a variety of performances, in which the leading attractions were G. L. Fox, F. S. Chanfrau, Lawrence Barrett, H. A. Perry, "Yankee" Locke, Fanny Herring, and Emily Mestayer, was closed on August 30.

September 20, Marietta Piccolomini made her first appearance in America at Burton's in " La Traviata," as Violetta, a part written for her by the composer. The effect produced by this artist upon our susceptible youth may be inferred from Artemus Ward's tribute to her, which may be found in the collected works of that social philosopher, and a summary of which is contained in his single sentence to the effect that "Fassinatin peple is her best holt."

October 3, Burton with his company, under Eddy's management, succeeded the Ravels at Niblo's. At his benefit, on the day and evening of the 15th, the house was besieged by tremendous audiences, and Burton, in the parts of Timothy Toodle, Ebenezer Sudden, Toby Tramp, and Mr. Micawber, was received with overwhelming applause. This proved to be his last appearance in New York. After a little travel in the provinces he returned here, where he died February 9, 1860, at the age of fifty­six, leaving a handsome fortune and a remarkable dramatic and literary library.

The receipt by me this morning of the third price­list or catalogue within a week, of wines, liquors, etc., from different firms of the city, in which the champagnes of many producers are included, further reminds me of the difference in social customs of the day and those of fifty years past. A schoolmate of mine, whose family resided on Broadway and maintained a carriage, gave dinners, evening parties, etc., told me some time about 1830 that, until he was nineteen years of age he had never to his knowledge seen a bottle of champagne, and then only at the house of a French gentleman on the occasion of a great festivity.

The Fifth Avenue Hotel, which had been commenced in 1856, was completed and leased by Paran Stevens for a term of years.

Up to this time the street cars of the Harlem Railroad ran from opposite the Hall of Records to Forty­second Street; after this they ran through Madison Avenue to Seventy­ninth Street.

The peculiar observance of the first day of January or "New Year's" as it was termed, originating with the primitive Dutch inhabitants, was maintained up to this time, when it rapidly lessened, until now (1895) the ancient custom of visiting on New Year's Day has wholly passed away. In order the better to explain how and to what extent this custom was observed, I give my experience in the year 1833. In company with a friend, each fortified with his list of parties, or where to call, we began at nine in the morning, and at five in the afternoon we ceased, having visited sixty­seven houses. In some cases, in consequence of the great number of " callers " in a house, we merely walked in and said "Happy New Year," or "Compliments of the Season," "Thank you, we dare not indulge," "Good­morning." At other houses, when the young ladies were especially interesting, a few minuses' conversation and a sip of cherry bounce or coffee, "Good­morning," and off to another house. Such was the routine of the young men, while the elder, having fewer visits to make, remained longer at their calls and indulged in the table, lavishly spread with crullers, doughnuts, cookies (New Year's cakes), pickled and stewed oysters, chicken, turkey, mince­pies, jellies, etc., and with wines and liqueurs.

No. 102 Fifth Avenue, 36 by 80 feet, was sold in this year for $31,000.

October 15, Tom Taylor's play, "Our American Cousin," was produced at Laura Keene's Theatre, and had a run that extended beyond anything before known on our stage. Mr. Joseph Jefferson, in his "Autobiography," remarks that "the success of the play proved the turning­point in the career of three persons," Miss Keene, E. A. Sothern, and himself. Meantime at Wallack's was put on for counter attraction "The Veteran," composed by J. Lester Wallack, a spectacular melodrama; which also had a great (though less) success. The necessary sacrifice of Lester Wallack's whiskers to the similitude of a French officer in this part excited general lamentation among the young womanhood of the city. The elder Wallack played Colonel Delmar, and Brougham was Oflan Agan, an Irish convert to Mohammedanism, who had not altogether laid aside some of the natural O'Flanagan tastes, as for drink and the like. Some of his scenes with Mrs. Vernon as Mrs. McShake were very amusing, and the piece contained many military effects, picturesquely presented.

October 18, the city, as well as the whole country, was excited by news of John Brown's raid into Virginia to free the slaves.

The House of the Good Shepherd opened at foot of Ninetieth Street and East River. Objects, the reformation of inebriates and fallen women who wish to reform; the care of those who may be in danger of falling, and of the girls committed to it by the city magistrates. No involuntary detention or regard to creed or nationality.

November 9, the bust of Schiller, in its secluded nook of the Ramble in Central Park, was unveiled.

The Dreadnaught, Captain S. Samuels, the clipper which once had arrived here from Liverpool the same day the Cunard steamer Canada reached Boston, that had left Liverpool the day before, in this year made the run hence to Rock Light, Liverpool, in thirteen days and eight hours.

Depau Row in Bleecker Street, between Thompson and Sullivan, constructed in 1846, was once in distinguished occupancy, but the unforeseen and rapid translation of our residents beyond this, soon left it in the background, and its occupation and surroundings, from about 1870, have so materially changed, that it would be difficult for a passer­by of the period to credit its former purpose and occupation. It is questionable if a single native occupies any part of it. Passing it on a late occasion, its condition reminded me of the Heu! quantum mutatus ab illo!

1859. In addition to the customs of the early period of these "Reminiscences," before recited: A late visit to a public horse stable, erroneously termed "livery," reminds me of the difference of some of the day and those of the time of my first observation of them. Thus:

A furnished office, matting, prints, fire­place, washstand, harness and clothes closets, gas light, etc., as opposed to a very common and rough­built wooden structure, for there was not a brick or stone one for this use in the city, rarely an office proper; the horses led to the nearest street pump for water. and not a blanket for them, however cold the weather, these not being in general use even in private stables; but as some amelioration of their condition, horses' tails were seldom "docked"; occasionally "pricked" and, in the teams of a few young men, their ears were sometimes clipped, but that cruel device, a "Kemble Jackson" rein, was unknown.

The manner in which our street lamps are lighted is so very different from that practiced even for a very long period after oil was replaced by gas, that I hold it worthy of being recited. Thus:

A street gas lamp can now be lighted in 2­4/10 seconds, and the lighting of the oil lamps involved the use of a ladder, a vessel of spirits of turpentine, a lantern and a torch, and if by the severity of the weather the torch was extinguished, the relighting of it, before friction or loco foco matches were known, was a dilatory matter. On the following morning the ladder was again required, the lamp refilled, and the wick trimmed.

In addition to the lamps being far apart, and the light they gave very insufficient, they were not required to be lighted on moonlight nights, but the contractor for the lighting held and practiced that moonlight nights were designated by the Calendar, and not by the accident of an obscured sky.

This is Easter Sunday, and the style of women's bonnets awakens remembrances of those of the early period of these "Reminiscences"; and I am of the conviction that if a woman had then appeared upon the streets with one of the straggling constructions of the day which a sailor would term a "hurrah's nest," she would have been held to be a second Ophelia, and would have risked arrest as a wandering lunatic.

In this connection one is reminded of Pope's

" In words and fashions, the same rule will hold,

Alike fantastic, be they new or old:

Be not the first, by whom the new are tried,

Or yet the last to lay the old aside."

As the public notices of the meetings of the Tammany Society have been discontinued of late years, and as they were of an unusual form, I think it well to preserve a record of them. They were published at the head of the inside page of a Democratic paper, and after notifying the members of the meeting and when it was to occur, they would close in accordance with the season and the year:

In this year and month of October, thus: Season of Fruits, Tenth Moon, Year of Discovery 367th, of Independence 84th, and of the Society 73d.

October 13, Frances A., a daughter of ax­Lieutenant W. A. Bartlett of the U. S. Navy, and a shipmate of mine in 1837­38, was married in St. Patrick's Church by Archbishop Hughes to a very rich gentleman from Cuba, Don Estaban Santa Cruz de Oviedo, and in consequence of the value of the diamonds and pearls, estimated at one hundred thousand dollars, he gave his bride, this marriage was attended with more eclat than any that ever preceded or followed it here. The ceremony was termed and universally known as the " Diamond Wedding," and as it was the first of such a character, a description of all the parties concerned and a recital of all that occurred in connection with it were themes, not only for our city papers but for those of the country at large and even abroad. Mr. Stedman's poem, "The Diamond Wedding," refers to this.

The curiosity to witness the wedding was so general that, for the first time in this city, cards of admission to the church were issued, and the services of a squad of policemen were necessary to control the crowd of vulgar people who essayed to see the bride and groom.

Oviedo died soon after and, being without a direct heir, his wife under the Spanish laws was not entitled to a right of dower, and all the property that he had given her, which was held to be heir­looms, was taken away from her. She married again an Austrian baron, but so unfortunately that she now is in embarrassed circumstances.

Female cashiers, with the exception of one in Delmonico Brothers' Restaurant, when they opened it in 1831, in William Street, were wholly unknown here until within a few years. So novel was the practice that this place was patronized in some instances in order to verify the assertion that there was a woman cashier.

John Ordronaux, a sugar refiner at 28­30 Leonard Street, surprised all by the employment of his wife as bookkeeper and clerk.

These, however, were not really instances, as the present profuse employment of women is an instance, of social manners of our own civilization; they were merely French importations.

Pigeon­shooting, like horse­racing, has become afflicted with Anglomania. Retaining the gun below the elbow until the trap is sprung, and a restriction to a discharge from but one barrel, is changed, not only to holding it above the elbow before the trap "ground" is opened, but sighting with the gun and the privilege of a second discharge.

Prior to this year the Board of Aldermen constituted also the Board of Supervisors, and on January 4 a Board of twelve Supervisors that had been elected by the provisions of an Act of the Legislature of the 15th of April of the preceding year, convened and organized.

Ninth Avenue Railroad was opened and operated in this year.

In this year the Legislature repealed the restrictive Excise Law, alike to the "Maine Law," it had enacted in 1855. It was very strictly enforced. Under its provisions all dispensing of liquors was disallowed save for mechanical, chemical, or medicinal purposes (or wine for the Sacrament), save by citizens under severe bonds, with two sureties (householders), and the keeping of books with all particulars of sales open to public examination. Severe penalties provided imprisonment for first offence against two sections of the Act, and for second offence against one section.

Restrictions on transportation of liquors conformed to other requirements of the Act. Liquors kept in violation of the Act were declared to be a public nuisance.