James Fenimore Cooper.

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conveyed in a spacious, convenient, and even elegant
boat, the distance of forty miles, for something less
than a shilling sterling. This was certainly cheaper
than common, but the price of a passage, (food in-
cluded,) from New-York to Albany, varies from two
to four dollars, according to the style and nature of
your accommodations. For the lowest sum, you
travel better than in any European boat I have ever
yet seen; and for the highest, if the excessive crow^ds
be excepted, with a degree of comfort and abundance
that is really next to incredible.

I think the first thing that strikes you at an Ameri-
can table, is the liberality with which it is supplied.
The excessive abundance is a fault. The innkeepers
seem to understand that a traveller can eat but a cer-
tain quantity, and they appear nearly indifferent as to
the quality of the articles m which he may choose to
indulge. Thus game, fish, and flesh, are placed before
him in very liberal quantities, and he is allowed to
choose between them. W.hat he leaves is silently
removed, pay being expected only for that which is
consumed. Of course the pri<:e? and the quality of
the viands, no less than the style in which they are
served, differ very materially in a country of such
vast extent. In the older States, pariicu5arly in the
vicinity of the large towns, the expens^^s yif the inns
are greater than in the interior, though, compared
with their comfort and abundance, never eoual to
that which we pay in most of Europe. Foreign
travellers are, however, often deceived on Ihe sub-
ject, from ignorance of knowing how to choose. The



MANNER OF TRAVELLING. 293

stage-houses, though frequentJy the best inns, very
often deserve to be classed among the worst. The
traveller in a stage is commonly obliged to take such
fare as the stage-house affords. There is no posting,
and consequently those connected lines of excellent
inns, which are to be found over most of England,
and which are prepared for the accommodation of
travellers who are willing to pay a little more than
common, for personal indulgence, are unknown here.
But still, a native of the country, and especially one
of higher pretensions, travels in all the older States
of America, with vastly more comfort than a stran-
ger would be apt to suppose. He is familiar with
ills privileges, and he knows how to assert them with-
out offence ; while the foreigner either submits unne-
cessarily to privations, from an exaggerated opinion
of the danger of offending a people, of whose equality
he has an absurd and confused opinion, or he gives
rational cause of disgust, by assuming airs that should
be practised nowhere, and which can never with
perfect impunity be practised here.

We left New-York in a steam-boat for Brunswick,
a small city in the State of New-Jersey. At this place
we found no less than thirteen stages, ready to con-
vey those \Aho proceeded to the river Delaware.
The number of the coaches varies according to the
amount of travelling, and on some occasions I was
told it exceeded twenty.

In these vehicles, the passengers are disposed by
a very simple and quiet process, and with an expedi-
tion that marks all the movements of these active
people. You are only to imagine a hundred pas-
sengers, arriving with their baggage at a point of de-
barkation, whence, in less than ten minutes of time,
they were to proceed in coaches, to fancy the uproar
and confusion that would occur in most countries.
The steam-boat lines, as they are called, manage the
matter differently.

Cc2



294 CLASSIFICATION OF THE TRAVELLERS.

Some little time before the boat arrives, the pas-
sengers give in their names, and receive in return,
tickets, which bear the numbers of the coaches in
which they are to proceed. As the masters of the
boats have a method of making these arrangements,
which is analogous to the common sense customs of
the country on all matters which relate to the inte-
rior regulations of society, I will explain it.

You will readily suppose that all classes of people
are to be found travelling in these public and cheap
conveyances ; some little address is therefore neces-
sary to dispose of an assemblage which is so motley,
and whose members are of necessity to be brought
in such familiar contact. The master of the boat
knew Cadwallader, and to him he immediately gave
ticket No. 1 ; not that the stage was better than the
rest, but because it was necessary to keep some
division of the subject in his own mind, and this was
probably the most natural. My companion pointed
to me, and I received No. 1 , also. There were tvv^o
or three pretty, genteel looking women, with their
male friends, who received the same sort of tickets,
until the stage was filled. Then came Nos. 2, 3, 4,
5, and 6, with nearly the same quality of travellers,
hi one or two instances I heard requests urged, that
families, or parties, might be placed together, and
several changes were made in order to accommodate
the applicants. There were two or three vehicles
filled with jolly sons of the ocean, who appeared to
relish each other's society better than they would
have relished ours ; and the carriage in the rear
brought on a dark bevy of the descendants of Ham.
When we reached the shore, each one sought his
number; the baggage, which had been previously
marked with chalk, was transferred to its proper
vehicle, and the whole line was in swift motion, in
less than the prescribed time.

In order to get a view of the country, 1 had begged



A SAILOR COACHMAN ! 295

d seat on the dicky, by the side of the coachman.
As the driver of No. 1. gave the movement to all who
came after him, he was, of course, the most distin-
guished w^hip of the whole procession. My com-
panion certainly deserved his honours, for he not only
managed his team with great dexterity, but he showed
the qualities of judgment and temper in that degree
which I think distinguishes most of the native coach
men of this country. They are commonly a reason-
ing and discreet race, compared to so many of their
prototypes in Europe, and consequently they are
humane. A httle discourse soon brought us ac(juaint-
ed, and to my amazement I found the coachman w-as
also a sailor, and that a year or two before, he had
actually been the coxswain of a commodore I He
had driven a public coach in England, a private
coach m South America, and now he was driving No.
1. of the steam-boat line at home ! " Where were you
born ?" I asked. " Over there, in that house you see
against the sid^ of the hill," he answered, pointing
with his w^hip. " I took to the seas about the same
time I took to horses, and so I have been driving and
getting a wet jacket, turn about, two or three seasons
at a time, these live and tw^enty years. But my pipe
is out now for the seas, sinc6 I broke my arm, in
which there is scarce strength enough left to hold a
bucket of water to the heads of my horses." Here
was a striking case of the diversity of employment
which is so common in America. The very pursuits
which, in Europe, are perhaps the most opposed to
each other, ^vere here successfully exercised by the
same man. When I mentioned *the fact to Cadwal-
lader, he told me that such professional incongruities
were far from rare, and that one of the best drivers
of a public coach he had ever know n, was a man
who had diversified his life by sometimes going to
sea. Indeed, I am persuaded there is no one thing
which will more astonish an observant and good-



296 A GOOD AMERICAN INN.

humoured traveller through this country, than the ex-
traordinary aptitude that the common Americans dis-
play in the exercise of callings which are thought to
he as much opposed to each other in qualification as
that of a coachman and <hat of a coxswain of a man-
of-war.

We found the roads very tolerably good, the horses
excellent, the coaches, though not exceedingly easy,
well enough. When we entered Trenton, the coach
was stopped by Cadwallader, and we descended at
an inn, which, as it afterwards appeared, had no con-
JTexion with the stages. Our example was followed
by one or two more, the rest of the travellers pro-
ceedhiG; to the resfular stai>e-house. I mention this
little circumstance, as it may serve to give an idea
of a description of inns in this country, of which even
observant travellers in it do not often get any notion,
but which, nevertheless, abound in all the northern
and eastern States. Under favour of my friend's
experience, I have entered fifty such, some not quite
as good, and some even better than the one I am
about to describe : —

At Bispham's, Trenton, we were received by the
landlord with perfect civility, but without the slightest
shade of obsequiousness. The deportment of the
innkeeper was manly, courteous, and even kind ; but
there was that in his air, which sufficiently proved
that both parties were expected to manifest the same
qualities. We were asked if we all formed one party,
or whether the gentlemen who alighted from number
one, wished to be by themselves. The reply was,
tliat we wished to be alone. We were shown into
a neat well-furnished little parlour, where our supper
made its appearance in the course of twenty minutes.
The table contained many little delicacies, such as
game, oysters, and choice fish, and several things
were named to us as at hand, if needed. Cad walla-



ITS COMFORTS AND CHEAPNESS. 297

der had tea, while I took coffee. The former was
excellent, the latter, as usual, indifferent enough.
The papers of New-Yorfc and Philadelphia were
brought in at our request, and we sat, with our two
candles, before a cheerful fire, reading them as long
as we pleased. Our bed-chambers were spacious,
w^ell furnished, and as neat as possible, and the beds
as good as one usually finds them out of France. In
the morning we left the house before breakfast, in
order to rejoin our steam-boat line, which took the
river a short mile from the place where we slept.
Now, for these accommodations, which were just
as good, with one solitary exception, (water-closets,)
as you would meet in the better order of English
provincial inns, and much better in the quality and
abundance of the food, we paid the sum of 45. 6d. ster-
ling each. 1 confess I did not think it was enough, and
proposed to my companion to make an addition.
"Put up your purse," he said, smihng; "all we ask
is, that when you get back, you will merely tell
what you have seen. This man has his price, and
will take neither more nor less." You must also
remember, that in America, when you pay the regu-
lar price for any thing, you commonly have paid all.
I have never known a servant ask for a douceur^
and tliough people of a certain class generally give a
trifle to the man who cleans boots, or to him who
does any little extra services, neither waiter, cham-
bermaid, nor any one else, demands it. It is just the
same in the steam-boats, stages, hackney-coaches,
<Sz;c., when you get the regular price, you know all
the necessary expense, and I use the word necessary,
in reference to custom no less than ri2;ht.*



* A trifle is commorxly expected for transferring the baggage
from the steam-boats to the coaches, and vice versa. Sometimes
an European, or an experienced American servant in the largo
towns, will look as if he expected a present.



298 SECOND ONLY TO ENGLISH INNS.

I have been in a vast number of these inns. So
far from putting people three in a bed, they apologize
for the necessity of putting friends in the same room
when it is necessary ; and on the slightest hesitation
at such an arrangement being manifested, they do all
they can to obviate the necessity.

I do not suppose that it is possible to arrive at any
very exact estimate of the taverns in this country.
They are certainly more numerous than I remember
to have ever seen them before, especially on all the
great routes. A vast number are very bad, and it
might be difficult for even a native to travel in his
own carriage any great distance without occasionally
encountering some of the sort; but, always confining
my remarks to the older and more northern States,
and making the exceptions which are peculiar to the
two countries, I am of opinion that there are quite
as many good taverns in America as in England,
while there are infinitely more bad ones. The former,
certainly, do not occur at every five miles ; but in
order to institute a fair comparison, it is necessary to
remember the vast difference in the sizes of the two
countries. In this simple fact exists the secret of the
apparent difference in the quality of the taverns.
But an American inn, and, indeed, the inn of every
other country except England, is almost always de-
ficient in the one great nameless convenience already
mentioned in this letter. The servants here are not
so good as in Europe generally, and much inferior to
those in England. I make my comparisons with your
inns, because they are, as a class, more uniformly
good than those of any other country, and because
the best of yours are unquestionably among the best
of the world. I know no other country indeed in
which the inns will compare, on the whole, with
those of the older parts of America. The inns of
France, in the large towns, cleanfiness excepted, are



HABITS OF THE EX-KING. 299

about equal to the inns in the large towns here ; hut
the best inns of the villages are vastly inferior.*

The passage down the Delaware, though pic-
turesque, and far from unpleasing, will bear no com-
parison with that on the Hudson. Still, one may get
an idea of the great beauty of all these splendid
views by recalling the fact that numberless European
travellers who have made the excursion to Philadel-
phia before going north, extol the former river to the
skies.

A few miles below Trenton, Joseph Bonaparte
has sought a retreat from the cares and mortitications
of the old world. He lives in a sort of retirement
which embraces a large circle of friends and de-
pendants. The family of Bonaparte is already getting
to be numerous in America, and it is probable that in
a few years the name will be found in the rolls of
Congress : a century hence it may possibly be seen
on the signs of the cities. Besides 'he ex-king, (who
has assumed the title of Compte de Survilliers, the
name of a little village which" lies adjacent to the
splendid chateau of Morfontaine,) there are a son of
Lucien, (married to the oldest daughter of Joseph,)
a son of Jerome by his first, or the American wife,
and two sons of the hapless Murat. Charles, the son
of Lucien, has childien born in the country, and who
consequently are possessed of the rights of natives.
This young man is already favourably known for his
devotion to, and for his attainments in science. He is
said to be simple in his habits, and to have found
favour among the republicans of these regions.

The Compte de Survilliers, I believe, does not
mingle much with the society of the country. He



* If we take cooking into the account, there are :nns now, in
the northern and western parts of France, that are quite equal
to the best English provincial inns. Those who are very luxu-
rious in their beds may even think them better.



300 NAPOLEON IN AMERICA.

does not speak the language ; and, as French is not
so generally understood here as in Europe, that cir-
cumstance alone would oppose obstacles to his wishes,
did he even feel a desire to live more in the world.
He is said to be unassuming when he does appear in
public; and, in consequence, is rather in favour than
otherwise."^ Many absurd conjectures were hazarded
at the time on the probable consequences, had Na
poleon succeeded in his project of reaching the United
States. These conjectures, like a thousand others
connected with the events of the hour, are already
forgotten among the evanescent interests of the past ;
but it was recalled to my mind as I gazed at the se-
cluded and irregular chateau of his brother. " What
would Napoleon have done with your institutions,
had he reached your shores V was the question I put
to Cadwallader. "He would have found some agree-
able site, like this of Joseph, and told his tales of Italy
and of France to travellers in the west, instead of
telling them to travellers in the ea^^t. As no one man
had any exceeding influence in creating our institu-
tions, rely on it they will not speedily fall before the
talents, or even virtues, of any single individual. That
which we owe to ourselves as the work of our own
hands, our own hands will preserve; and while kings
can find on earth no more peaceful asylum than that



* A few years since, the house of the Compte de Survilliers
was burnt by accident. A few days after the conflagration, a
card appeared in a journal of the vicinity, in which the sufferer,
after returning thanks to the inhabitants of the neighbouring'
village of Bordentown, for their promptitude in coming to his
assistance, alluded to the circumstance, that none of his effects
had been purloined in the midst of the confusion in terms of
commendation. The writer understood that the thanks were
well enough received, for they were usual, but that a momentary
offence was given to the inhabitants, by any man presuming to
thank them for common honesty ! The people of the vicinity
have, however,' already forgotten their pique, for they speak of
thier neighbour with great kindness.



PHILADELPHIA. 301

we ofier them, imagination cannot conceive a less
profitable theatre for the enactment of a royal drama.
We are ready to extend hospitality to both parties —
subjects who are tired of their kings, and kings who
are tired of their subjects; but the great political role
of this country must be played in our own simple
fashion, and with scenery and decorations that shall
suit the national taste,"

I found Philadelphia remarkable for its regularity
of construction, its neatness and its quietude. It has
much more the air of a better sort of English town,
or, in fact, of a quarter of London, than even New-
York, though there are points of marked difference,
as well as of resemblance, between the City of Broth-
erly-love and the capital of the mother country. The
bricks are not painted, and the eye immediately misses
the gay, cheerful look which distinguishes New-York.
Herein it resembles a well-built and clean town of
England; but its exceeding neatness is almost peculiar
to this country, aided as it is by objects of ornament
that are not found in the streets of any English city.
A vast number of the door-steps are of white marble;
many of the caps and sills of the w^indows, and even
parts of the side-walks, are chiselled in the same ma-
terial. Indeed, the profusion of this stone in the best
streets serves to enliven the appearance of the place,
though I acknowledge that I have some doubts of the
taste which creates so violent a contrast as that be-
tween white and red.

In architecture, Philadelphia, beyond all- doubt,
excels its great commercial neighbour. The private
buildings do not materially vary from those I have
described, though I think it may be said there is less
taste for luxury, generally, in this place than in New-
York. If any thing, the furniture is more sim.ple,
though always neat, and often exceedingly rich. A
gentleman of Philadelphia is about as well lodged as
that portion of the English nobilitv and geiitrv who

\ or. 1. ' D d



302 PUBLIC BUILDINGS.

are not the proprietors of capital town-houses. This
brings him on a level with most of the Frenchmen
below those who singly occupy large hotels.

Of public edifices there is a larger and better dis-
play than in New- York, churches alone excepted.
A good and an improving taste is certainly prevalent
in this city on the subject of architecture. I believe
it is generally admitted, that the finest modern edifice
we know is the Bourse of Paris. You will be sur-
prised, perhaps, when I say, that, next to this exquisite
work of art, I rank the Bank of the United States in
this city. There are certainly a hundred buildings
in Europe of a very similar style, and of far more
laboured ornaments ; but I cannot remember one, in
which simplicity, exquisite proportion, and material,
unite to produce so fine a whole. It is doric, without
side colonnades, not particularly large, though of
suiiicient size for effect, and of white marble. The
church of the Madeleine at Paris, for instance, when
completed, should be an edifice of a vast deal more
of pretension ; but, notwithstanding its admirable po-
sition, its great size, and its immense colonnades, I
do not believe it will ever produce so pleasing an
effect as this chaste and severe little temple of Plutus.
It is certain that the Madeleine stands in a position
to try its powers of pleasing to the utmost ; for,
flanked by the Garde Meuble, and fronting the facade
of the Chambre des Deputes, no imperfection is per-
mitted to escape, without quick comparative criticism.
1 am not sure that the Bank of the United States does
not owe some of its charms to the fact*that it has no
rival near ; but even that circumstance is a merit in
the architect, since he could have had no other eye
than that of the mind to regulate his proportions.

Philadelphia has other clever edifices. There is
another banking-house in classic taste, and several
more buildings erected for the monied institutions, (a
tribute to gold, perhaps, to be expected here) are in



A MANUFACTURING CITY. 303

a very good style. An immense building is in the
course of construction for a Penitentiary, and wears
a promising air. The Fair Mount water-works are
well worthy the examination of every stranger.

But you, who know, b}^ melancholy experience,
how little there is actually worth viewing in the
oldest countries of the earth, after the first interest
of curiosity has been appeased, should not be sur-
prised to learn, that an American city can contain
very little to reward the eye, unless that which is seen
should be taken in connexion with the moral agents
that have assisted to bring it into existence. In the
latter respect, one has cause of astonishment at each
step taken in this rapidly advancing country, and in
no place more than in Philadelphia.

New- York is a great commercial town ; but this
city is more devoted to manufacturing. It is much
cheaper than the former place, and in many particu-
lars admirably adapted to maintain its present pur-
suits. There is no want of capital ; and it is highly
probable that the day is not distant when it shall
become a modified, or improved, Manchester or Bir-
mingham. Its present population is about 1 40,000.*

I will not say we found in Philadelphia a better
bred, or a more enlightened society, than we found in
New- York, for this would not be strictly true; but
we found it less interrupted by the intrusions of that
portion of the world which is purely commercial.
The constant and vast accessions to the population
of the latter city keep society in a constant state of
fermentation, as I have already mentioned : and it is
not always easy to tell into which of its currents or
bubblings one has fallen. It is more easy to keep pace



* The writer has more than once said, that Philadelphia city
contains, at the present day, about 150,000, and New- York near
200.000, exclusive of the village of Brooklyn, a suburb on the
Long Island side of the strait or arm of the sea, which must
have of itself quite 12,000.



304 ROUTE BY THE INTERIOR.

with the movements of this tranquil town. With the
exception of those who are Hterally men of the world,
and they are not numerous, I should say also, that the
inheritance of Penn is in a slight degree more provin-
cial in its habits and manners than the sister city.

Instead of following the river in our route to Balti-
more, we went by a road of the interior. The first
day's journey was through one of the most highly cul-
tivated and richest agricultural districts of this, or of
any other, quarter of the world. The appearance of
the country, with the exceptions already named, was
essentially English, though I have seen no part of
England where such farm-houses and barns are to be
seen as we met wi+h here. The villages are few, and
but small, though there are two or three market-
towns of some size on the route. The natural scenery
was rather like that of Normandy than that of Eng-
land, though the artificial parts were much in the
English taste, always excepting hedges.

The Susquehannah was crossed by a noble wooden
bridge, which was said to be a mile long. This was
the twentieth of these immense constructions in



Online LibraryJames Fenimore CooperNotions of the Americans: picked up by a travelling bachelor (Volume 1-2) → online text (page 25 of 58)