Stephen C Massett.

Drifting about; or, What Jeems Pipes, of Pipesville, saw-and-did. An autobiography by Stephen C. Massett. With many comic illustrations by Mullen online

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Online LibraryStephen C MassettDrifting about; or, What Jeems Pipes, of Pipesville, saw-and-did. An autobiography by Stephen C. Massett. With many comic illustrations by Mullen → online text (page 1 of 29)
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3 3433 08235887 4

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■As se



cc bl;S^





a T n









Carle ton ^ Publisher^ 4.13 Broadway^






Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1868, by


la the Clerk's Office of the District Court of tho United States for the Southerc

District of New York.


Printer, Slereoiyper, aiid Klectrotjrper,

CTaiton ISuiltiing,

81, 83, and 86 CtaUre JSlrtM.







Nbw York, February, 1868.



I.— My First Yoyage 13

II. — A Pearl Street Boarding- House in 1837 . . . 17

m. — My First Saunter up Broadway 18

rV. — Scene on a Canal Boat 19

Y. — I become a Law Student 20

YL— The Eagle Street Theatre 21

YII.— Drifting • .... 23

YIII. — A Full and Trae Account of my First and Last

Deposit in a Savings Bank 29

IX. — ^More Funny Scenes 32

X. — Comic Scenes at the Charleston (S. C.) Theatre . . 38

XL— The Old Olympic 48

XII.— All about a Calfs Head 53

XIIL— Yankee HiU 55

XIY. — Summer Trip up the Mediterranean .... 58

XY.— Malta 63

XYL— Smyrna 69

XYIL— Constantinople 76

XYIIL— Street Scenes 86

XIX. — At the Foot Lights in Boston 96

XX.— At Home 97

XXL— Oh 1 Law! 98

XXIL— Things at " Brady and Maurice's " .... 98

XXIIL— I Start for California 103

XXIY, — A Strange Adventure at the Island of Tobogo . . 107

XXY. — Arrival at San Francisco 112

XXYL— Colonel Stevenson's Office 114

XXYII. — First Concert given in San Francisco . . .119

XXYIII.— I am made (Lord) Mayor of N. T. of the Pacific . 121

XXIX. — The Auction House of Massett and Brewster . . 126

XXX.— A Jolly Dinner 132

XXXI. — The First Theatrical Representation in Sacramento . 135



XXXII.— The Flood of 1849 and '50 ....

XXXIII. — " Going — Going — Gone 1" to the Sandwich Islands
XXXIV.— The Way they Catch Whales in the Pacitic
XXXV, — The Island of Lahaina
XXXVI.— The City of Honolulu, S. I.
XXXVII. — Arrive again at San Francisco
XXXVIII.— I turn Editor .
XXXIX.— An Editorial Concert .

XL. — The Great Fire — An Incident at the Bank
XLI. — Singular Sensations upon re-visiting England
XLII. — My First Day m Liverpool
XLIII. — All about the City of London
XLIV.— The " Fielding "—Mr. Thackeray, etc
XLV. — Comical Scenes in a Police Court
XLVI. — The London Showman
XLVII.— Punch and Judy
XLVIII. — Something about London Boys .
XLIX.— KenUworth Castle .
L. — Warwick Castle
LI. — Stratford-upon-Avon .
LIL— The " Garrick Club " .
LIII. — The Little Chapel in Cannon Street
LIV. — London to Paris
LV. — Places in Paris for the Stranger to See
LVI. — Paris Notes ....
LVll. — The French Actor Lemaitre
LVIII. — An Interview with a Com Doctor
LIX.— The " Notre Dame "
LX. — Henri Herz Concert
LXI. — Lyons
LXII. — Marseilles .
LXIIL— Nice .

LXIV. — A Reminiscence of Genoa .
LXV. — Civita Vecchia — to Rome .
LXVI. — A Scene to be Remembered
LXVIL— Geneva ....
LXVIII. — An Interview w-ith Braham at the Ag'
LXIX.— All about " Pipesville "
LXX.— A Pike County Wedding
LXXL— Skedaddling of Bankers
LX XII.— The Panama Railroad
LXXIII. — A Bank " Bursts," and I lose my Money
LXXIV.— My Future Course ....
LXXV. — Some of the Troubles of a Wandering Minstrel

of Eigln^'


Contents. vii


LXXVL— Lola Montez 247

LXXVI I.— Oregon '^^7

LXXVIlI.—Tho Columbia River 249

LXXIX.— Astoria ^r,l

LXXX.— A Running Trip from Portland to Corvalles— its Perils. Ur/d

LXXXI.— The other Land of Gold 2r,9

LXXXII. — An Exciting Occurrence at Savage Island in the

South Pacific Ocean 2 GO

LXXXIIL— Melbourne 200

LXXXIV.— A Christmas Dinner at the French Consul's . . 270

LXXXV.— Rambles through the Colonies 272

LXXXVL— How I got to my Hotel 280

LXXXVII — On the Wing 281

LXXXVni.— Concert Saloons 282

LXXXIX.— My Concert in Bendigo 283

XC— Sydney 2JiO

XCI.— A Visit to the Lunatic Asylum at Paramatta . .294
XCn.~I meet with an Old Schoolfellow . . . .297
XCIII.— I am Patronized by his Excellency the Governor and

Suite 299

XCIV.— Amusing Letter from an "Agent" .... 300

XCV.— Still Moving On 302

XCYL— Off for India 304

XCVIL— Bombay .806

XCVIIL— A Visit to the Caves of Elephanta .... 308

XCIX.— Blowing Away from the Guns 311

C— A Word at Parting 320

CL— Calcutta 321

CII. — I meet with Captain Hall after an absence of Twenty

Years 323

cm.— Streets— Hotels— etc, etc., etc 325

CIV.— Voyage from Calcutta to Suez 326

CV.— Madras 326

CVL— Aden 327

CVII.— Suez 328

CVIII.—Shepard's British Hotel 329

CIX.— Egypt 380

ex. — Something about the Pyramids 332

CXL— About Cotton 334

CXIL— Alexandria 337

CXIII.— Southamptcn 340

CXIV. — London once again 341

CXV. — The Event, and what Occurred 342

CXVI.— Mr. Shirley Brooks 34c

viii Contents.


CXVII.— The Derby Day 346

CXVIIL— The Garrick Club 847

CXIX. — Charles Dickens's First Reading in London . . 349

CXX.— The Shakespeare Dinner at the Garrick Club . . 350

CXXI.— Hanging at the Old Bailey 351

CXXII. — A Visit to Doctors' Commons, London, and to the Sur-
rogate's Office, New York. The Contrast . . 354

CXXIIL— The Hon. Mrs. Norton 357

CXXIV.— Leave England for New York 359

CXXV.— A Visit to Idlewild 359

CXXVL— "Undercliff" 361

CXXVIL— Washington Irving 362

CXXVIII.— My First Concert at Niblo'a 365

CXXIX.— Henry W. Longfellow 365

CXXX.— First Concert in Boston 366

CXXXL—Ofif Again to California 367



Beginning ! That's the diffi.
culty. In what form can I
weave together the incidents
of travel and adventure, the
experiences and vicissitudes of
my life for the last sixteen
years ?

Take a seat, my kind read-
er! Taste that wine. It's
cheering and cheerful, isn't
it ? Light a cigar — or you —
Miss or Madame — sip a little
tea or coffee, imagine your-
self, pray, in a position of
entire repose, and listen while
I recite what has happened
to me " by field and by flood."
I'll try not to bore you. The
chapters shall be short — and
we can pause when you choose.
I would like, above all things, to interest and amuse you.
I will try to give advice worth nothing to those who may

1 2 Introduction.

hereafter travel over the same lands I have journeyed
through. I am told that the Spaniards have a proverb to
the effect, that no man has accomplished anything who has
not begotten a son^ built a house, or written a book. Despite
my numerous and persistent efforts to become a respecta-
ble married man, there is no such thing as filial affection
for me, but I can boast of a noble, gorgeous, and architec-
tural triumph, which is expressed in the musical word
'' PipesvilleJ^ You will find out all about that achievement
if you keep me company. And now I proceed to gratify
some one who exclaims, ''Oh that mine enemy would
write a book." It will have some marked peculiarities — it
will not have particular ' style ' — ^because I know nothing
about 'style,' except getting over several in my native
country ! There will be little of cohesion, and nothing of
vanity in the composition. "What I jot down may make
some laugh, others weep, a few praise, many censure, but
no one will be injured by hearing what I have to say.

I shall not rely much on fancy, I am going to deal with
facts, turn up or trump up what may — funny or precocious,
laughable or lugubrious, pithy or puffy, grave or gay.

Persons more than things, shall engage my attention.

Reader ! — I mean to give you " chat," bald, disjointed
chat — it may be, or chatter as some may complain. So
put yourself at rest, hearken, be good-natured, let me shake
your hand, exclaim " God bless you "—and then begin —

Now Then —


In the summer of 1837, I, then a small-sized boy, coul(?
have been seen wending mj way to the St. Katherine's
Dock in the good old City of London, to take a look at
the ship (which happens to be a bark by the way) in which
I had taken passage for New York. She was an old "West
Indiaman, and had for years been employed in the Sugar
trade. Her name was the " Hampton," and the Captain's,
David Balderston. Her cabin windows projected, in
the style of an old man-o'-war's-man, she had a high poop
deck, large portholes, and resembled more an old tub than

14 Drifting About.

anything else I know of. I shall not endeavor to draw
upon the sensibilities of the reader by endeavoring to depict
the grief at parting with relations and friends ; or by de-
scribing the singular sensations I experienced in driving,
for the last time as I thought, through the crowded tho-
roughfares of my native city in a '' Hansom " to the dock
gates. The utter uncertainty of the future, as I had no
Bxed object in view upon landing in America, only render-
ed my leaving the old homestead the more exciting ; but
the picture, even after a lapse of twenty-three years, is still
present with me, so much so, that I shall for a moment
transfer to paper the little scene in the parlor of our home,
for the pleasures of memory are sometimes painfully sweet I
■ — when, for the last time in this life, I heard the voice of
affectionate counsel of a father and a sister. The " God
bless you, my dear boy," of our only surviving parent (my
beloved mother having died two years before), as the tears
coursed down his wrinkled face, is still ringing in my ears,
and as he placed in my hand a little memento of affection,
and with trembling voice said, " may the Lord" preserve
you, and keep you unto his heavenly kingdom," it seemed
as though we should never meet again ; and it was with
difficulty that I could control my feelings. I shall never
forget the look of my sister — long since departed, nor her
last words ; they will live in my memory for ever. The
grave has closed over all save three who were present at
that farewell gathering, yet still I cling with undying tena-
city and affectionate remembrance to this last scene of my
youthful home ; and can but hope that we may be in ano-
ther world reunited.

The peculiar hurry and scurry on board a New York
and London Packet Ship in olden times, is so happily hit
off by one whose name I have forgotten, that I am tempted
to transcribe it from some manuscript notes I have by me.

The seamen as usual lighten their labor with song and
chorus, and the one they sang on our old ship was pecu-
liarly musical, the chorus of "Old Sally Brown" being
given by the whole crew with great emphasis. I took my
seat on the upper deck, and listened.

" Heave away there forward."

" Ay, ay, Sir."

Drifting About. 15

[Sailors.] " Sally Brown, oh my dear Sally,

Oh Sally Brown. [Chorus.]

Sally Brown of Bubble Alley,
Oh Sally Brown."

" Avast heaving there, send all aft to clear the boat."
" Ay, ay, Sir, where are we to stow these casks, Mr.


*' Stow them, Heaven knows, get them in at all events."
[Wo7nan''s voice.'] "Captain 11., Captain II., there's my

Piano still on deck, it will be quite spoiled, indeed it


" Don't be alarmed. Ma'am, don't be alarmed, as soon as

we're under weigh, we'll hoist the cow up and get the

Piano down."

" What, under the cow ?"

" No, Ma'am, but the cow's under the hatchway."

" Now then, my lads, forward to the windlass.'*

" I went to town to get some toddy,
Oh Sally Brown,
'Twasn't fit for any body
Oh SaUy Brown 1"

" Out there and clear away the jib I"
"Ay, ay, Sir."

" Mr. Fisher, how much cable is there out ?'*
" Plenty yet, Sir," — " Heave away, my lads."

" Sally is a bright Mullattar,
Oh Sally Brown,
Pretty girl, but can't get at her,
Oh SaUy "

" Avast heaving, send the Man up to whi^ the ladies

" Dear me, I had no idea they did such horrible things
aboard ship I"

" Now, Miss, only set down, and don't be afraid, and
you'll be in, in no time. Whip away, my lads, handsomely,
steady her with the guy I"

" Oh dear, oh dear I'' [woman.']

" There, Miss, now you re safely landed T^

i6 Drifting About.

[ Woman.'] " Landed am I, I thought I was shipped I'*
" Very good indeed — very good, Miss, you'll make an

excellent sailor I"

" I should make a better sailor's wife, I guess. Captain.'*
" Excellent, allow me to hand you aft — you'll excuse

me. Forward now, my men, heave away I"

" Seven years I courted Sally,

Oh Sally Brown,
Seven more of Shilly Shally,

Oh SaUy Brown.
She won't wed "

" Avast heaving — up there and loose the topsails, stretch
along the topsail sheets ; upon my soul — half these children
will be killed, whose child are you ?"

[ Child.] " I— d— on't— know."

*' Go, and find out, there's a dear I"

** Let fall — sheet home — belay starboard sheet — clap on
the larboard — belay all that. Now then, Mr. Fisher."

" Ay, ay, Sir — heave away, my lads."

" She won't wed a Yankee Sailor,
Oh SaUy Brown."

" Heave away, my men — heave and in sight. Hurrah,
my lads."

" Sally Brown — oh, my dear Sally,

Oh Sally Brown ;

Sally Brown of Bubble Alley,

. Oh Sally Brown ;
Sally was a cross old Granny,
Oh "

" Heave and fall — jib halyards. Hoist away I'*

[Woman.] "Oh dear, oh dear. The clumsy brute has
half killed the girl."

" Don't cry, my dear."

"Pick up the child, Tom, and shove it out of the way."

[Tom.] " Where shall I put her ?"

" Oh, any where just now, put her into the Turkey

" Starboard—"

Driftina- About.


" I saj, clap on some of jou be chaps or else get out of
the way."

[ Woman.'] " Sailor, please mind my bandbox."

" Starboard."

" Starboard it is — steady — so — ."

Thus with the trifling matter of maiming half a-dozen
children; upsetting two or three women; smashing the
lids of a few trunks ; and crushing some bandboxes as flat
as a muthn, the ship proceeded on her vo3^age.

Oh ! the tediousness of this first voyage I for it will
scarcely be believed that we were 95 days in reaching Xew
York ; a succession of calms, head-winds, strong gales, and
indeiid every variety of wind and weather was ours. I
think it was about the end of August that we entered the
harbor of Manhattan — the day a lovely one, and I recol-
lect distinctly being struck by the brightness of the atmo-
sphere, the gaiety and beauty of the craft, with their milk-
white sails, that covered the bay; the lovely verdure and
bright green foliage of the shore on each side, and the
general bustle, lightness, jollitj^, and go-a-head-atives that
pervaded everything, and everybody. And even when the
" Pilot " jumped on board and put a "New York Herald"
(a small, single sheet in those daj^s !) in the Captain's hand,
I felt that I could know him in five minutes, and that
wUhoui an introduction.



We landed, if I remember right, at Jersey City, <ind I
and my brother Jack crossed over in a steam tug, with our
traps, to the foot of Coenties slip, from thence to a " Board-
ing House" in Pearl street. Well do I remember the first
dinner in our temporary American home. Two long din-
ing tables, covered with a white cloth — that only wanted
two or three bodies on them to make the resemblance very
vivid to a dissecting room — half a dozen great big white
jugs full of cold water, and each one of the boarders with a

l8 Dfiftinp; About,


big corn cob in his mouth. The meats tasted as though
they had been all cooked at the same time, and the gravy,
seemingly a decoction of oil and dripping, was ladled out
of a large bowl, and would have certainly done more justice
to the operations of a cart-wheel than to the organs of mas-
tication. The repast wound up with a series of slices of flat
pies in round cans, containing brown apples smashed, the
" crust" of the institution being all dough, and highly fla-
vored with brown paper and hot tin.

We sat down to dinner at one o'clock, and at a quarter
past not a soul was to be seen I



The heat was intense (it was the month of August) as I
strolled up, for the first time, this celebrated thoroughfare.

In those days the trees, with their bright green leaves
and waving branches, were very much more common, mak-
ing this fashionable promenade picturesque and elegant.
The limit of my walk was "White street," whither I was
bound to find the whereabouts of my eldest brother. As I
turned from Wall street into Broadway, I stood for a mo-
ment to look at Old Trinity, and read some of the inscrip-
tions on the tombstones. Broadway was full of life, gaiety,
and sunshine. " Kip and Brown's" and " Brower's" stages,
some with " four in hand," were rattling up and down —
the fare then twelve-and-a-half cents. I recollect distinctly
the " pump" opposite the City Hospital, where the " Gin-
gerbread man" used to wash his mouth, the Washington
Hotel (where A. T. Stewart's store now stands), and where
I first met my esteemed friend Dr. Oarnochan and many

The Park Theatre (then the crack house of amusement)
was pointed out to me — the City Hall, decidedly the most
imposing looking edifice I had yet seen, with the bright
green foliage of the trees — the Masonic Hall, where Fanny
Wright used to lecture — the Cafe de Mille Colon nes of old

Drifting About. ig

Palmo, and the large store of Vcnablcs k Co. near Cham-
bers street.



In the latter end of August I took passage in the steamer
" Swallow," Captain McLean, for Albany. The scenery
of the magnificent Hudson has been so frequently described
by tourists, journalists, and others, that it would be idle for
me to attempt to give my earliest or present impressions.
Never having, at that time, seen a river bigger than the
Thames, I was of course astounded and delighted at its
magnitude, and charmed by the variety, richness, and gran-
deur of its scenery.

Upon our arrival at Albany I took passage in one of the
" Canal Boats" (my stock of money being rather limited)
for the " Queen City of the Lakes." We were about eight
days in making the " voyage," which was certainly, to me,
a very novel affair; the method of making up the "cots"
for sleeping purposes being particularly amusing. It was
something in the following style. After "supper" was
over, three rows of portable cots, attached to each other by
ropes swung against the two sides of the boat, resembling
more the slats in a baker's oven than a resting-place for the
body, and then the passengers, by dint of sundry gymnastic
feats, managed to crawl into their holes. The heated and
close air soon became insufferable ; so I determined to roll
myself up in a blanket and lie on the deck. But just as I
had made up my mind to leave my place of baking, the cot
above me, containing a big fiit man weighing certainly over
three hundred-weight, gave way, falling upon me, and smash-
ing me almost to a jelly. I gave a yell which aroused all the
sleepers; at the same moment the " skipper," who was steer-
ing, called out "Bridge," too late, however, (the night being
dark) to save the head of a poor "Faddy from Cork," who,
ignorant of the approaching arch, was by the concussion
sent clean overboard, and, but for the shallowness of tho
stream, would have been instantly drowned. His cries of

20 Drifting About.

"Blood and muillicr!" and such like delicate exclamations,
with the crash in the cabin, the shrieks of men, women, and
children, rendered the place a perfect pandemonium. The
relief I experienced when on the " eighth day out" the
glittering cupolas of the city of Buffalo greeted me, it would
be difficult to describe.



I HAD been in Buffalo about a month, when I entered the
office of Mr. Thomas Jefferson Kevins, 200 Main street,
exactly opposite the Farmers' Hotel, then (and I believe
now) kept by Philip Dorsheimer, the present State Trea-

I think about the third day of my initiation into the mys-
teries of " Coke upon Littleton," I was directed to serve a
paper upon some one in the office of Fillmore, Hall, and
Haven, and there and then met a young student, named
C , about whom I shall have something to say here-

I used to go by tlie name of the " red-faced little English-
man ;" and I remember Mr. Fillmore speaking very kindly
to me, asking me sundry questions as to the time of my
being in America, and whether I intended becoming a law-
yer, and was assiduous in my studies, &c.

I do not think, at that time, he ever dreamed of being
" President of the United States."

My duties were not very arduous, consisting chiefly of
filling in several blank notices, in which the name '"T. K.
Beers" was constantly occurring, the only suit (excepting
one I bought) the office could boast of for many months ;
reading occasionally a line or so of " Blackstone's Com-
mentaries," varied with half a page of " Kent," or a speech
of '* Charles Phillips."

At intervals I began to study Shakespeare, and it ended
in my learning Kichard III. by heart, portions of Othello,
and a scene or so from Macbeth.

About this time " Ben Rathbun" burst up, and Buffalo

Drifting About. 21

was in a p^roat state of excitement thereat. A paper called
the "Bulhilonian" was started by a Mr. Arlington, its edi-
tor and proprietor, who was imprisoned in the Buffalo Jail
for libel. This gentleman afterwards came to New York,
and is now lecturing on Catholicism.

Brown, Buckland, and Co. were celebrated bankers in
those days, and were decidedly the most notable men about
town. They had a private box at the theatre, and drove a
first-rate team on the macadamized road. Brown dii^d
years ago, and John Buckland married the beautiful Miss
Kate Horn.



The first play I saw in America was in this city ; it was
Bichard the Third, and Mr. Charles 11. Eaton was the hero
of the night. The names of the managers were Dean and
McKenny, but a Mr. Thompson (an Englishman) had some-
thing to do with the internal arrangements, and to him it
was that I was indebted for an occasional " order." The
first opera I ever saw was Cinderella, with Edwin as the
Prince, and Miss Melton (sister of Charles Walcot) as the
Princess. Among the performers was a Miss Powell, a
beautiful English girl, who afterwards became Mrs. Charles

Here I first saw the play of the Lady of Lyons, with
Ellen Tree as Pauline, and Mr. Fredericks as Claude. Mr.
Fredericks is, I believe, at present in the city, and Miss
Ellen Tree, as all the world knows, has long since been
Mrs. Charles Kean (whom I had the pleasure of meeting at
a party in London in 1858, just twenty years afterwards !).

It is useless to deny the fact, that I became seized with a
desire to "go upon the stage;" and the great amount of
time I had upon my hands gave me opportunities for stu-
dying, thus fanning the flame which I fancied would burst
forth and electrify everybody. A lot of young students
started a Thespian Society, and our first performance took
place on the Kremlin Block. The play was (of course)

22 Drifting About.

Kichard ; I enacting the " crooked-backed tyrant," and my

friend C , the student, Eichmond. Lady Anne was

played by a Mr. , and the Queen by another limb of

the law. I got along pretty well until the last scene with
Eichmond ; but as with the words, " My soul and body on
the action both," we struck the usual attitude to commence
the fight, my sword, being made of wood covered with tin,
snapped in two pieces, one end taking effect on the eye of
the leader of the " orchestra," a small-sized boy, who imme-
diately dropped his instrument (a broken-keyed melodeon),
and ran out of the building crying. This mishap, of course,
killed the scene, and the words, " Perdition catch my arm,"
&c., were entirely lost in a whirlwind of laughter and shout-
ing. The comical termination of the play rather damped
my theatrical ardor ; and when it became known to our
employers that we belonged to an association of the kind,

Online LibraryStephen C MassettDrifting about; or, What Jeems Pipes, of Pipesville, saw-and-did. An autobiography by Stephen C. Massett. With many comic illustrations by Mullen → online text (page 1 of 29)