Departure from Philadelphia—A Communicative Yankee—Trenton—The Mansion of Joseph Bonaparte—Scenes of Brainerd’s Labours One Hundred Years ago—First Impressions of New York—150, Nassau-street—Private Lodgings—Literary Society—American Lodging-houses—A Lecture on Astronomy—The “Negro Pew” in Dr. Patton’s Church.
At half-past 4 in the afternoon of March 15 we left Philadelphia by railway for New York, which we reached at 10 P.M., an average again of about 16 miles an hour. In this journey I met with a very communicative Yankee, who, though not a religious man, was proud to trace his genealogy to the “Pilgrim Fathers,” and, through them, to the Normans. Intercourse, he said, had been maintained for the last two centuries between the English and American branches of the family. He also took care to inform me that the head of the English branch was a baronet. This was but one of many instances in which I found among our Transatlantic friends a deep idolatry of rank and titles. In talking of their own political institutions, he declared their last two Presidents to have been—the one a fool, and the other a knave,—Polk the fool, and Tyler the knave. He entertained an insane and cruel prejudice against those whose skin was not exactly of the same colour with his own, and “thanked God” that he had no African blood in his veins.
We passed through Trenton, celebrated as the scene of a bloody conflict between the British and the American forces. The Americans, I am sorry to say, dwell too fondly on the remembrance of those deadly struggles. They cherish the spirit of war. The influence of Elihu Burritt and his “bond of brotherhood” is indeed greatly needed on both sides of the Atlantic.
We also passed what once was the residence of ex-royalty—the princely mansion which Joseph Bonaparte erected for himself after he lost the throne of Spain. It is surrounded with about 900 acres of land, his own private property; and was still in the family, though about to be sold. What a home has America proved both to fallen greatness and to struggling poverty! Princes and peasants alike find shelter here.