Asa Greene.

A glance at New York: embracing the city government, theatres, hotels, churches, mobs, monopolies, learned professions, newspapers, rogues, dandies, fires and firemen, water and other liquids, & c., & c. .. online

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Online LibraryAsa GreeneA glance at New York: embracing the city government, theatres, hotels, churches, mobs, monopolies, learned professions, newspapers, rogues, dandies, fires and firemen, water and other liquids, & c., & c. .. → online text (page 4 of 11)
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don was obtained and Dunn set at liberty af-
ter having served out a very small portion of
his time

On what principle Recorder Riker makes
up his sentences, we confess ourselves "mainly
ignorant." We have never heard of his toss-
ing a copper, shaking a die, or turning a card,
to determine whether a sentence should be se-
vere, or lenient, or no sentence at all. The
light sentences might be acccounted for, by
being pronounced after dinner, when, having
enjoyed a good table — 'Such as his honor's is
known to be — the mind is apt to be filled with
charity for all mankind— ^even as the body is


filled with good viands. But unluckily fo?
this hypothesis, the sentences of all sorts,
whether light or otherwise, are invariably
pronounced before dinner. Saturday is "sen-
tence day ;" and on Saturday morning the
Rhadamanthus of the Court of Sessions pro-
nounces the doom of all those who have been
convicted on the previous days of the week.

Many a rogue escapes by suspension of
sentence. This suspension, however, is not
acquittal, nor is it pardon. The very act of
suspension leaves the punishment still hang-
ing in terrorem over the head of the'culprit —
ready to fall whenever he shall so far outrage
the majesty of the laws as to repeat his offence
— and provided always., he is again caught and
brought before the Recorder's court. That
he will sin a second time, having escaped pun-
ishment for the first offence, is altogether
probable ; but it is not quite so probable that
he will place himself in a situation to be ar-
raigned before the same tribunal. He will
take his roguish inclinations, to a difi'erent
market. If he can be sure of impunity once,


he will hardly be so unreasonable as to expect
it a second time at the hands of the same

But this impunity, even for a first offence,
allows a wide scope for villany. By being
often repeated, rogues look for it as a matter
of course ; or if not a matter of course, as at
least one of great probability. They consider
the chance of escape quite sufficient to invite
the hazard of the crime. And some, who
have hitherto led honest lives^ seeing others
escape so easily in the outset of guilt, are in-
duced themselves to embark in the same voy-
age of iniquity. Nothing is more important
to the suppression of crime than the certainty
of punishment; and in this respect, as well as
in the leniency of many a sentence, the Court
of Sessions, under the present worthy incum-
bent, is lamentably at fault.

Another thing, which aids very materially
in supplying the rogue-market of this city, is
the lenity of his Excellency the Governor,
who pardons and sends back from the state
prisons so great a number of villains. What


is the occasion of this gubernatorial leniency^
has been matter of very serious conjecture.
Some have ascribed it to the prudent motive
of securing the support of the rogues at elec-
tion. But this is merely the conjecture of
political opponents, in which we put very lit-
tle faith.

From what we have said of the merciful
treatment of rogues both by the sentencing
andthepardoning power, it might be concluded
that our city would be actually overrun with,
and entirely given up to, roguery. And yet
such is not the case, as will be seen by the
following statement of all the convictions in
our criminal courts, during the year 1836.
These were : in the court of Oyer and Ter-
miner, 26 ; in the General Sessions, 301 ; in
the Special Sessions, 530 : total 857. Of
these, much the greater number were for small,
or petty larceny offences ; and for assaults and
batteries. Of the latter there were 264.
These latter though illegal acts, cannot pro-
perly be called rogueries : because falling out
with, and beating, a man, does by no means^


imply dishonesty ; which is the essence of
roguery. Deducting then, the assaults and
batteries, and there remains only 593 convic-
tions for theft, robbery, forgery, and the like ;
which is about one to every 510 of the popu-
lation of this city.

This — considering the causes abovemen-
tioned, which so operate to the increase of
crime — must be allowed to speak volumes in
proof of the moral and virtuous disposition of
the people of New York.

Having had occasion to mention his honor,
the Recorder of this city, as so closely con-
nected with the subject of this chapter : it only
remains that we say a word respecting the
person and disposition of that worthy func-
tionary. Richard Riker is believed to be bor-
dering on 70 years of age. In stature he is
about five feet five ; and he exhibits a remarka-
ble fine specimen of a

" Litde, round, fat, oily man."

His head is smooth and polished ; his face
plump and jolly ; and his expression that of


good nature itself; which we understand is
his leading characteristic* To conclude :
we are assured by those who know — that he
eats well, drinks well, is a good Presbyterian,
and worth half a million of dollars.

The Recorder — to the sincere regret of
those who have business in the Court of Ses-
sionst — has announced his intention of retir-
ing from the office which he has so long held,
after the expiration of his present term of ser-
vice. Both the lawyers and the rogues will
have occasion to mourn that event : the for-
mer, because they can scarcely expect, in his
successor whoever he may be^ — so good-na-

* The Recorder, we are informed, is a very generous
landlord, and does not, like most others, take advantage of
the rise of property to oppress his tenants, or to turn them
out of doors. On the contrary, they are allowed to remain,
on the same rents which they paid when real estate had not
reached half its present value,

t There is a set of lawyers in this city, whose practice is
nearly all in the criminal courts, and whose principal aim
is to defeat tlie ends of justice : in other words, to save
villains from the state's prison and the gallows ; and their
exertions to bring oflf their clients are always in the precis^
proportion to their utter worthlessness and depravity.
"A fellow faUing makes us wond'rous kind !"



tured a man ;* and the latter because they
can have no hopes of so lenient a judge.

' I^*^« gentlemen of the bar-as sometimes happens in
the court of Sessions-tweak each others' noses, Record r

say Gentlemen, your noses are your own, and you may
handle them as you please." » " you may





He was perfumed like a milliner;
And 'twixt his finger and hia thumb he held
A pouncet box, which ever and anon
He gave his nose, and took't away again.

Henry Hotspur,

We hope none of the gentlemen belonging
to the genus dandy, will take offence at our
placing them in the next chapter to the genus
rogue. We assure them it was purely acci-
dental ; and furthermore, that we are not
aware of any such necessary and essential like-
ness between them as should cause them to be
treated of in so near a connection. It is true,
the rogue sometimes assumes the garb and
manners of a dandy, the better to conceal his
canning designs, and the more securely to ac-
complish his deep4aid plans. But we are
not aware that the dandy, on his part, is solici-



tous ever to appear in the garb and character

of a rogue.

In fact there is a very essential difference
between them. Their minds are of different
calibre. The rogue, though very far from be-
ing a wise man, is not by many degrees, so des-
titute of nous — to use a Greek word— or of
gumption to speak in the vernacular — as the
dandy. He has a head capable of better
things, if he would but use it properly ; while
the capacity of the dandy is not supposed, in
its utmost limit, to be capable of any thing
more weighty or of more importance, than
mere outside show. He is a poor unfortunate,
if a creature, wanting sense, may be so charac-
terized, merely from that circumstance. But
this is doubtful ; for the more empty a man's
head, the less likely it is to droop and to be
weighed down with the miseries of this life.

Like other great cities, New York has her
share of this class of the biped without feath-
ers. The whole number, after a careful esti-
mate, is believed to be about 3000 ; or one
to every hundred of the population, They


abound more or less in every part of the city,
from Corker's Hook to the Battery, and
ifom Blooming Dale to White Hall. But
they are mostly to be seen in public places—
at the corners of streets, on the door-steps of
hotels, and in the various public walks.

Dandies may be divided into three classes
namely: chained dandies, switched dandies,'
and qmzzmg-glass dandies. These are so
distmguished, as the reader will readily con-
ceive, from those harmless pieces of ornament
which they severally wear about their persons
or carry in their hands.

The chained dandy is so called from a
go de„-or a gilded-or a brazen-chain,
of light workmanship, which he wears about
his neck, and which is attached to a watch if
he IS able to wear one; and to nothing at
all, if his pecuniary condition happens to be
better suited to that convenience.

The switched, or caned, dandy is so de-
nommated from a slender cane, or switch,
about the size of a pipe-stem, made of whale-
bone, or of steel, as the case may be, of



a shining black, neatly polished, with an
ivory head, a brass foot, a golden eye, and a
tassel of silk ; which cane or switch, he con-
stantly carries and switches about him,

" As a gentleman switches his cane."

The quizzing-glass dandy is so styled from
a small glass, either of a circular or eliptic
shape, set in gold or in brass, which he car-
ries suspended to his neck by a chain or
riband ; and which he whips from his bosom,
and applies to his eye, as often as he is intro-
duced to a stranger of either sex, and as often
as he sees a female who has any pretension
either to youth or beauty.

In respect to numbers, the three classes are
nearly equally divided. In many cases, they
are united in the same person. The tasselled
switch, the gilded chain, the everlasting
quizzing-glass, combine to ornament the self-
same character. He is a dandy of the first
water. He is the triple, or compound, dandy ;
and his head is found, on dissection, to pos-
sess three times the vacancy of the single,
simple, or uncompounded dandy,


Having such " a plentiful lack of wit," it
will be asked how do these gentry obtain a
livelihood ? For the most part, we answer,
they live by eating. But this is not invariably
the case ; as we have more than once had
occasion to witness : having seen them stand,
day after day, near the cooking apartments of
the refectories, where they take in with ex-
panded nostrils the rich steam that escapes
from boiled, roasted, and stewed, and passing
through the doors, windows, or crevices,
causes them to be mightily refreshed ; and all
without the expense of purchasing a dinner,
or the labor of using their jaws.

But the dandies are not all reduced to live
on such very light fare. Some of them have
fathers, some have mothers, and some have
uncles and aunts, who take pity on their wants
and supply their emptiness — of bellj^ Others
go upon tick. And others again — strange as
it may seem — are engaged in different em-
ployments, and receive wages. Many of
them are to be seen at the merchant's desk or
behind the counter. Having the use of hands


and the faculty of speech, they can handle
the yardstick, use the pen, or pronounce on
the price and quality of goods. Their speech,
however, is exceedingly parrot-like, and
mostly consists in the use of a single word,
which is applied promiscuously to all som
of articles. They are all '' shuperb !"

Dandies are supposed, by many, to be on
the increase in New York. But of that we
are not certain. The truth is, the race is not
particularly admired, and especially by the
ladies. The consequence is, that they have
little chance of getting married and thus pro-
pagating the species. It is believed, therefore,
that in time they will run out. That the race'
will become extinct; and, like the mammoth,
leave nothing behind them but their bones:
de mortuis nil nisi hone-um.



But soon awonder came to light,

That showed the rogues they lied :

The man recovered of the bite,

The dog it was that died.


There is an occasional police in New York,
for the restraining of dogs. But, alas ! for
the canine race ! it is not founded in equal
principles of justice as that applied to man.
It has no reference whatever to the char-
acter of the dog. It is not even asked, "what
evil hath he done ?" It is sufficient to say,
he is a dog— therefore let him die. His life
may have been as pure as that of Socrates.
He may never have done, designed, or even
imagined evil, against any human being ; and
yet he cannot escape the death of a felon, if


he presume, while the law is in force, so
much as to put his foot into any street of this
great metropolis.

This dog-police, we have said, is occasion-
al. It requires some spur in the head of the
city authorities to prick them on to the enact-
ment even of a temporary law, more bloody
than that of Draco himself*. There must be
some great out-cry against the animals.
'^' Mad dog !" must be frequent in the mouths
of the inhabitants, and especially in the col-
umns of the newspapers. Somebody must
contrive to be bitten, or attacked, or fright-
ened — or put in jeopardy of a fright — by
some sort of a dog, which must be supposed
to be mad — or violently suspected of being
inclined to madness.

No matter how the cry originates ; nor
whether it have any foundation in truth or
not. Sufficient is it, that it is full, frequent,

* The difference between our anti-canine legislators and
Draco, is this, that, whereas the latter ordained the punish-
ment of death for the smallest crime, the former inflict it
without any crime.




and loud. And if it happen in the dog-day^'
—as it generally does — it is so much the more
effective. The common council immediately
pass a law, setting a price on the head of
every dog that shall presume to be seen in
the street. Without this premium, dogs might
continue to run at large forever without be-
ing molested, notwithstanding they are out-
laws as often as they are out of their masters'
houses : for, such is the general good feeling
of the human race towards them, that nobody
would think of putting the law in force, ex-
cept he were well paid for it. So cruel — so
" foul and unnatural" — is the crime of dog-
murder, that money alone can induce to its

The last great " slaughter of the inno-
cents," in New- York, took place in the sum-
mer of 1836 ; when fifty cents was consider-
ed sufficient inducement to take a dog's life-
Two years previously — to wit, in the summer
of '34 — a dollar, if we mistake not, was paid
for the same bloody service. Why the cor-
poration made so great a deduction last year


-especially as the price of every other kind
of labor, and of all commodities, had increas-
ed—we are not informed. Perhaps they had
a mmd, by fixing the price so low, to save the
dogs as much as possible from their unmerit-
ed fate.

But if such was their humane design, they
must have been grievously disappointed : for,
small as the inducement was, there perished
during the whole massacre— which continued
for several weeks— no less than 8537 dogs '
How many fell in the year '34, when the pre-
mmm was twice as high, we do not recollect.
But we believe the number was greatly infe-

We are not certain that the lower price was
not the greater inducement to exertion : be-
cause more labor was necessary to be done to
make a '' living business" of it. The slaugh-
ter was mostly achieved by loafers ; and, as
every body knows, a loafer will not exert him-
self unless driven to it by dire necessity. His
maxim is, that " sufficient for the day is the
evil thereof," and therefore h^ takes '' no


thought for the morrow.*' Hence, if he could
procure the means of livelihood for a day, by
the slaughter of one dog, he had no induce-
ment to bloody his hands with two.

Such was the case in the year '34. In
that year the loafer, black or white, (for cani-
cides are of no particular color) having killed
his dog of a morning, and got his dollar, re-
signed himself entirely to his ease, and throve
for the remainder of the day on the fruit of his
morning's work. But in the year '36, having
got only half a dollar for his morning's work,
he was driven to the necessity of sallying out
again in the afternoon, to make good the de-
ficiency of his earnings in the previous part
of the day.

Another reason for the greater slaughter
of last 3^ear wasj probably, the increase of
loafers. The}' might have been induced to
this city by the report of the very liberal man-
ner in which New York rewarded the murder
of the most innocent of her inhabitants. And
as it is an easy thing to find a dog, where
those animals abound ; so money could


scarcely be wanting to a loafer to buy him a
dinner, through the means of their execution.

There was a rumor, last year, that a part
— and a pretty large part — of the ani-
mals, on whose head the bounty was paid,
were not found in New York ; but brought
hither by shallop-loads, from Flushing, Oyster-
Bay, Crane Neck, Mount Misery, Saugatuck,
Sachem's Head, and all along the shores of
Long Island Sound ; and thence eastwardly
as far as Conaguetogue Point, Narragansett
Bay, Squibnock Head, and so on as far as
the uttermost bounds of Yankee land. And
some said that a large importation was made
even from the Isle of Dogs.

Whether it was a discovery, or a suspicion,
of this system of smuggling : or whether the
blood of the murdered innocents began to cry
to them from the ground : or whether the
city exchequer began to run low: certain
it is, that the half-dollar system was suddenly
stopped ; the bounty was suppressed ; the
inducement to slaughter was recalled : and the

remainder of the dogs had their lease of



life renewed for another year — or until such
time as the senseless outcry against their race
shall stir up the corporation to expend the
people's money in killing the people's fa^

From what we have here said, strangers
may learn at what hazard — especially in dog^
days— they bring with them to New York
their four-footed domestics. Though they
are. sure not to desert them — like some of the
more faithless of the two-footed — still they are
in imminent danger of losing them by some
statute of outlawry, already passed, or on the
very eve of passing against them.

In addition to this hazard of life, dogs are
subjected, in New York, to an annual tax of
three dollars. It is, indeed, more than most
of them are worth— alwa3^s excepting the
terriers. Were it not for this species of dogs,
the city would be devoured with rats. Noth-
ing will stop this kind of vermin, until you
stop their breath. They penetrate every
where. The stoutest oak plank is no obstruc-
tion. And for deal boards, lath and plas-


ter, and such like defences, they laugh at

These rats (known in Boston by the name
,of ^* wharf rats," and by naturahsts called the
mus decumanvs,) are, especially many of the
older ones, too strong to be easily killed by a
cat ; besides the cat will not hunt them with
half the perseverance of the terrier, which
seems to take greater delight in their slaugh-
ter than even in its daily food.

In fact the only true professional rat-catch-
er in this country — who both understands
and loves his profession — is this variety of the
dog. Two terriers, kept at a certain hotel
in this city, are known to kill not less than
half a ton of rats in a single year.*

* If any reader should fancy its to be a large story, we
beg him to consider, for a moment, the extraordinary size,
weight, and abundance of the New-York rats. Allowing
the above named dogs to despatch, each only three rats per
day, Sundays included : and there are upwards of 2000
rats killed during the year. Now, no person, acquainted
with the size of these rats, will pretend to estimate their
weight at less than half a pound each: which proves that
our assignment of half a ton, as the joint labor of the two
dogs, ia not a single ounce too high.


When such are the virtues and such the
services of the terrier, who can think, without
indignation, of a price being set upon his
head. But we hope — -and are rather in-
clined to think — that fewer of this valuable
sort of dogs have fallen a pre}* to the butchers
than of any other. And we are inclined to
think so, for this reason — that they are decid-
edly industrious dogs, and the most domestic
in their tastes, of any of the inhabitants of the
city. They are seldom seen gadding about
the streets. And therefore in all probability,
had the good fortune, a majority of them, to
escape with]|their lives.



I charge ye all, no more foment
This feud, but keep the peace betweeu
Your brethren and your countrymen ;
And to those places straight repair
Where your respective dweUings are.


Were a magistrate, in New York, to read
the riot act in the words of our motto, it
might safely be answered, by most of the riot-
ers, " we have no * dwellings' — how then
can we repair to them ?' Those, who have
houses of their own, it is believed, are seldom
inclined to leave them for the purpose of de-
molishing the houses of their neighbors.

Mobs are not an invention of recent date.
On the contrary, they may lay claim to very
high antiquity. Even before the deluge "the
earth," we are told, " was filled with vio^



lence." And where is violence to be found
in a more concentrated form, than in a mob ]
In the days of " righteous Lot," and in the
foul, city of Sodom, we read of " both old
and young," that collected about the house of
that patriarch and violently clamored for the
surrender of the two angels who lodged with
him. And they would actually have broken
into the house and committed great violence,
had they not, in the midst of their rage, been
struck blind by the celestial visitants.

The mob prevailed to a great extent in
Greece. But the materials of a Grecian mob,
it must be confessed, were of a more respecta-
ble character than those of modern times ;
and they might plead in excuse, especially at
Athens, the nature oi their government, which
so frequently called the multitude together.

At Rome also they had very distinguished
mobs. Such was that which seized upon the
Sabine women. Such was that which foully
murdered the brave Dentatus ; and such that
which slew the Gracchi. The two last were
patrician mobs.

MOBS. 95

In Judea, a mob murdered the Savior of
men. When Pilate, the Roman governor,
who sat as judge, was disposed to acquit him,
he was prevented by the violence of the multi-
tude who demanded the blood of the innocent ;
and that Barabbas, a fellow of their own
kidney, who had been committed for murder
and sedition, should be set at liberty. And
the governor (how unworthy the character of
a Roman) gave sentence for the crucifixion of
an innocent person, because " a tumult was

Great cities have ever been, and probably
ever will be, more or less the theatres of the
mob. In London they have given their tu-
multuous exhibitions times without number.
Many of these have been deemed worthy of a
place in history. During the reign of George
III. there were several of this description :
such as the beer mob of 1762, occasioned by
an increased duty on that favorite beverage of
Englishmen. In the year 1767 happened the
Wilkes mob, occasioned by the imprisonment
of the celebrated John Wilkes. The year

96 MOBS.

1780 was famous for the great anti-popery
mob, occasioned by the repeal of the penal
laws against Papists. This mob continued to
rule for several days. It set fire to many
houses ; pulled down that of Lord Mansfield?-
and several others ; and was not finally sup-
pressed until three or four hundred of the
rioters had fallen by the hands of the military.

Paris too has had her mobs. Indeed, for
several years during the French Revolution,

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Online LibraryAsa GreeneA glance at New York: embracing the city government, theatres, hotels, churches, mobs, monopolies, learned professions, newspapers, rogues, dandies, fires and firemen, water and other liquids, & c., & c. .. → online text (page 4 of 11)