With the above introduction I waited on Dr. Wainwright, who invited me to take tea. We had some conversation together on various subjects, particularly Eastern literature, and the progress it has made and is making in Europe. During our conversation, a marriage party was announced, and I rose up to de part. " If, " said he, “you have any curiosity to see the ceremony performed, you can stay." The party was immediately introduced, and the ceremony took place, without any hesitation in his study. It was much like our own, only curtailed. The parties were not of full age, but this is almost universally the case of young people in the States at the time of marriage. A relation of the bride, a mere boy, attended to affirm that the parents knew of the match, and that there was no impediment. After the retiring of the party, I inquired, with some surprise, if it were frequent for parties to be married in the clergyman's house, and at night too? “Yes," replied he, "and in their own houses also, or in any other place, by day or by night, whenever they desire it. Any industrious man can support a family, and that is as much as most people here exspect. There is also plenty of room to spread in, without any danger of overpopulation. If a family is in difficulty at one time, it can generally make up the deficiency at another."
NEW YORK CITY. January 1832. Gentleman Callers on New Year's Day.
There is a singular custom, which prevails in New- York, but, I am informed, in no other part of the Union: on New-year's Day, all gentlemen call on their female friends, to renew or perpetuate their friendship. A lawyer, with whom I had contracted an intimacy, introduced me on that day to about thirty ladies. The rounds of calls we made, occupied our time from nine in the morning till seven at night. In almost every house we entered, we found other gentlemen on the same errand. It would be regarded as unpardonably rude in any lady, to treat with indifference a gentleman, who had honoured her with his call. This is often the commencement of new acquaintances, or the reconciliation of former ones which were broken off, or discontinued. All the ladies we called on, as is universally the case, had prepared cakes, sweetmeats, wines, cordials, &c. in great profusion, in readiness, to exhilirate and regale their visitors. They were themselves, in general, very elegantly decked out and beautified. All appearance of mercenary business was wholly laid aside, and calculating penury had its annual slumber. Many gentlemen jaunted about in sleighs, a kind of carriage which slides upon the snow, to pay their devotions to the fair recluses; ladies on this day not being permitted, from punctilios of etiquette, to stray from home. The scene to me was as gratifying as it was new. All was animation, cheerfulness, and friendly feeling. The Americans seem, on this occasion, to have light hearts and buoyant spirits, and fulfil as much us any nation, the command, " Take no thought for the future.”
NEW YORK CITY. May 1832. The Practice of Switching Households Once a Year in May.
The first of May is noted among the people of New York for bustle and change. It is almost impossible to rent a house or Iodgings longer than for one year; and in any part of a year longer than till May day next ensuing. We had taken our apartments till that time, at the the expiration of which Mrs. F. took other lodgings, during my tour through the States and Canada. She described May-day as affording scenes exceedingly laughable; in every direction were carts and waggons laden with furniture; the streets were literally filled with chairs, tables, drawers, desks, carpets, &c., passing from one house to another, to the great advantage of the carters, who find full employment, and are on that day paid double charges. It is also not a little gratifying to New-York gossips, who are allowed a peep into the lodgings of such strangers generally as have not permanent dwellings. As May-day approaches, the landlord proposes to the tenant his terms. The tenant finds, for the most part, an advance of rent, and prefers a change. The landlord annexes to the door-post a written notice, and the tenant commences amusing himself with entering every one's dwelling similarly circumstanced, and exposing his own to the gaze of others. It is almost impossible for a stranger, who has occupied lodgings, and wishes to escape imposition, to avoid such intrusion into his private rooms. We suffered this our selves, and therefore speak from experience. Many American women, we were told, occupy much of their leisure time about this period in prying into the abodes of foreigners, to see if they are respectable, and have their rooms well furnished. Americans could not have invented any domestic custom more inquisitorial, or which gives a readier access to the privacies of strangers.
NIAGARA FALLS, NEW YORK. Spring 1832. Women Traveling by Stagecoach.
From Lockport we travelled by coach to Lewiston, on the American side, and thence to Manchester, seven miles farther, and close to the Falls.
On leaving Lockport, two young girls were admitted into the coach, rather singular in their dress and manners. They were also more free in conversation, and with less of reserve, than any American women I had seen before. These Americans alighted at the first inn they came to, for the purpose of warming themselves. My companion, whose curiosity and suspicions were more acute than mine, expressed his sentiments to be, that our female fellow travellers were not of good reputation and stepped into the inn after them to make inquiries. I felt much at a loss to distinguish any particular criterion from which my amusing friend could have drawn prognostications so unfavourable to their character. Nothing escaped them, which could have excited in me such surmise or conclusion. He soon returned with the information that they were what he expected, and that the neighbourhood abounded with similar characters. This was the only instance, in all my rambles through America, in which female behaviour or language met my observation, betraying a departure from strict reserve, and the departure in this instance was of such a nature, as to awaken no suspicions in a stranger's mind.
THORNHILL, CANADA. Summer 1832. Style of Living while in Canada; Canadian Women being Swindled by American Men
The manner in which we lived was not very splendid, but sufficiently accorded with the country and ou recent arrival. The house had no oven. One had been built, which was fallen to decay. The bread we eat was consequently either thin cakes or loaves, baked in a pan. We could sometimes, but not regularly, have bread from York; but as we could not depend on such luxury, and as the obligation we seemed to owe to the person who brought it, appeared greater than the favour we discontinued our orders for its supply.
It was not always possible to obtain joints of fresh meat when wanted. There are no butchers' stalls in country places, at which a constant supply of meat is provided. We were consequently often debarred from such food for several days together, and had only salted pork, and puddings or pies; with fish, when I could find opportunity to go to York. Our usual drink was tea, into which a little whiskey or brandy had been infused. Sometimes a little wine and water. Mrs. F. occasionally procured ale for herself, at the price of eight-pence per quart. Butter, milk, cheese, &c. are attainable, but not at lower prices than in England. Cheshire cheese was between three and four shillings per lb.
Our landlady was a widow, and had come originally from New-York. She was one of the United States Loyalists, and the second or third person who settled at Thornhill. This was at a time when Yonge Street was no better than a continuous forest, and a foot-path, or at most a horse-path, was their only road. At that period. their wheat had to be carried through forests, or by water, fifty or sixty miles, before it could be converted into flour; and letters might remain for six, months in the Post-Office at York, before they could be forwarded to the proper persons. Our landlady sometimes alluded to the changes she had witnessed in the removal of forests, the cultivation of lands. and in conveniencies of all kinds. But she deplored these changes; since people from England of some capital, who generally prefer to purchase farms partially cleared rather than seclude themselves within almost impervious forests, were hereby induced to take up their residence along the road, and to buy out the original settlers. She had witnesscd the departure or death of most of her co-temporary settlers; and began to feel herself among a strange people of another generation, with whom she had little intercourse and less syrnpathy.
The former husband of our landlady had left her with a family of sons and daughters, with a highly improved farm, with flocks of sheep and herds of cattle, and with five hundred pounds in money. American republicans have been frequently found prowling up and down Canada, in search of something which they might be able to convert into their own profit, regardless of the character or welfare of their dupes. Our landlady, a handsome widow with a handsome fortune, was not likely to continue undiscovered. One of them, a physician by profession, learned her history, was introduced, gained her heart, and married her. He obtained possession also of her cattle and her money, but not of her land, for this was a grant from government originally conveyed to herself, and she would never part with it. This American, after living with her for some time, and obtaining all she possessed but her farm, found his way back into the States, where he had another wife. The cattle and money obtained by our landlady had previously disappeared.
This is by no means a solitary instance of such tricks. During the year we were there, an American, I was told, found his way to the affections of a young and beautiful Canadian, and to the purse of her father. He married her, and secured her fortune, and then vanished for ever, from the confines of her country.
Americans boast of their skill in money-making; and as it is the only standard of dignity, and nobility, and worth, in that country, they endeavour to obtain it by every possible means. A person in Canada informed me, that he and another gentleman, once overheard two American fathers, arranging a marriage between a son and a daughter. The bridegroom's father had but little fortune to bestow, and the father of the bride would not give his consent to such a degrading union. The other hereupon assured him, that his son was deserving of the wealthiest lady in America, and then recounted numerous instances of successful and clever villany, of which his boy had been guilty, and which the young lady's father admitted as equivalent to a fortune. I heard so many instances of well-acccredited cunning and knavery practised by Americans on Canadians, that a volume might be filled with such incidents.
THORNHILL, CANADA. Summer 1832. Segregation in America; Freed Slaves in Canada.
In New-York no white person will sit down to eat at the same table with a coloured person, nor associate in the same company. I cannot conceive, why there should be any such antipathy or repugnance. I talked with several coloured people, and always found them, in conversation, rational and sensible. At Thornhill in Canada, there was a black man and his wife, but they were not so treated as in the States. With the woman I had several opportunities of talking. She spoke as properly, and as much to the purpose, on every question proposed to her, as any person, who could neither read nor write, could be expected to do. I encouraged her to join our Sunday school, which she did a few times but had not acquired ability to read, before she left the neighbourbood. Her husband had been a slave in the States, and had made a premature liberation of himself by crossing the boundary line. Yet he could not gain a living by his skill and labour. He was a helpless and dependent creature. I perceived the necessity of conveying useful instruction to people inured to slavery, before emancipation and the rights of freedom are bestowed. Liberty to the captive is assuredly no blessing, where this had not been previously provided.
ALBANY, NEW YORK. Fall 1832. American Opinion of Mrs. Trollope's Work.
On arriving at Albany, I again called on the gentleman whose kindness I had twice before experienced, and enjoyed as warm a reception as before. His lady was seated by him. Mrs. Trollope's work had made its appearance in Armerica, subsequent to my previous call, and was the subject of a few remarks. He admitted the general correctness of her statements, and added, " I have often told my friends the same thing, and that Mrs. T. is a benefactress to our country; in return for which they call me an Englishman." His lady had no gracious yearnings towards the authoress. She corroborated, notwithstanding her dislike, the truth of some of thc statements contained in the book; the account of Dorcas societies, for instance, which she said was minutely accurate. This gentleman accompanied me to the steam-boat.
I called on one of the professors of Columbia college, previous to embarking for England, to take mv leave. He was from home; but I had a long conversation with his lady. I inquired of every lady I encountered with in the States, if she had read Mrs. T.'s book. The same question was asked here. The professor's lady was the only female in America, who made the acknowledgment of having read it; although I am persuaded that it is generally read by Americans from one extremity of thcir country to the other. "Can you believe, Mr. F.," she inquired, "that any clergyman would act as Mrs. Trollope has described?" `` I have not witnessed," I replied, " any thing approaching to it; yet as every thing described by her, of which I could form a judgment, is circumstantially correct, I have no reason to disbelieve her on that point." " We can generally tell," she then said, “from what class thosc we converse with have come. The best informed from England always speak of us in the same way. But it is very hard, that we can admit no respectable English person in our houses, without running the hazard of being exposed or caricatured." " You will shortly have an opportunity,” I replied, " of reading another work on America; since it is my intention to publish my remarks, on my arrival in England."
In the preface to the American edition of Mrs. T.’s work, the writer mentions the probability of Mrs. Trollope and Captain Hall being one and the same person. This opinion was entertained by almost every American I spoke to on the subject. The real ignorance there, as respects literary subjects, is quite surprising. Scarcely any are able to distinguish one style of writing from another. If an American editor should assert that all the English books he edits were the productions of one author, let them be ever so dissimilar in composition or argumentation, he would be believed be almost every reader from Maine to New Orleans.
"What a foolish preface that is," I observed to the Professor’s lady, ''which some editor has prefixed to her book !" "Pray, Mr. F." said she, "make no more observations. The writer of it is a particular friend of ours." " Pardon me, madam," said I, "for my freedom in proposing one question. Could the author of it really persuade himself, that Mrs. Trollope and Captain Hall are one and the same person ? The styles are so different that it is impossible to mistake thcm as identical. " The truth is," she replied, " that Mrs. T. had an introductory letter to us, and was introduced to the writer of that preface, and to some others of our acquaintances. She was personally known to several iu New-York, but not generally known. The great fault of Mrs. Trollope," she proceeded, " is this. She resided in a remote part of our country; and has described the manners of the people there, as the manners of the Americans in general." To this I replied, "that in those circles in which I had the honor to make, I observed no correspondence with her Cincinnati delineations. But Mrs. Trollope herself admits the same thing.”
We had again taken up our residence at the lodgings which Mrs. F. had formerly selected during my first Canadian tour. The medical gentleman, who, when I disputed the superiority of American to English physicians, told me I should never be able to gain a respectable living in their country, boarded at thc same house. He and some other Americans declared Mrs. T.'s book a fabrication of falsehoods. In that land they always denounce as false whatever truth offends them. Her statements were always expressed, said they, in illiberal and vulgar language, and arose from disappointment.
If you can show me," I observed, " one statement in her book, which you can prove false or illiberal, I pledge myself to do penance for my fair countrywoman, and will eat her book." The book was procured, and I have no doubt examined with great attention. On the following morning, I desired them to tell me if they had detected one. The further mention of her name was immediately interdicted. At the shop of a bookseller, from whom Mrs. F. and myself had received many kindnesses, I inquired for Mrs. T.'s work. He replied " I would not keep it in my store."
Mrs. T's book is producing, and will produce incalculable good in America, and a wonderful alteration in the manners of the people. Their great removal from other nations more advanced in refinement and civilization, debars them from possessing the same facilities with other countries, of divesting themselves of national foibles and partialities. The poor emigrants also, who flock from other countries to their shores are really behind them in some kinds of information; and they hence infer that all those of the same countries are also behind them. The highest class alone have abandoned this opinion. When, however, they have perceived that no really respectable and well-informed European will continue in their country, longer than his business, or the purposes of travelling and making observations may require, they must find out that something not entirely attractive pervades their national character. They possess a high degree of native talent, and of emulation as far as commerce is concerned. When they find leisure for emulation in polite literature, and foster with greater patronage the arts and sciences, and the embellishments of life, then European emigrants of a higher class may continue in thcir country, and find a comfortable home. Till that period many a Captain Hall, and Mrs. Trollope will be found among the number of their visitors