Washington Irving was born in William street, halfway between John and Fulton. “Knickerbocker” was considered very saucy; but if any man ever had a right to say mirthful things about New York, it was Washington Irving, who was born there. At the corner of Varick and Charlton streets was a house in which Washington, John Adams and Aaron Burr resided.
George Whitefield preached at the corner of Beekman and Nassau streets.
But why particularize, when there is not a block or a house on the great thoroughfare which has not been the scene of a tragedy, a fortune ruined, a reputation sacrificed, an agony suffered or a soul lost?
A dip in the sea.
Shakespeare has been fiercely mauled by the critics for confusion of metaphor in speaking of taking up “arms against a sea of troubles.” The smart fellows say, How could a man take “arms against a sea?” In other words, it is not possible to shoot the Pacific Ocean. But what Shakespeare suggests is, this jocund morning, being done all around the coast from Florida to Newfoundland, especial regiments going out from Cape May, Long Branch, East Hampton, Newport and Nahant; ten thousand bathers, with hands thrown into the air, “taking up arms against the sea.” But the old giant has only to roll over once on his bed of seaweed, and all this attacking host are flung prostrate upon the beach.
The sensation of sea-bathing is about the same everywhere. First you have the work of putting on the appropriate dress, sometimes wet and chill from the previous bathing. You get into the garments cautiously, touching them at as few points as possible, your face askew, and with a swift draft of breath through your front teeth, punctuating the final lodgment of each sleeve and fold with a spasmodic “Oh!” Then, having placed your watch where no villainous straggler may be induced to examine it to see whether he can get to the depot in time for the next train, you issue forth ingloriously, your head down in consciousness that you are cutting a sorry figure before the world. Barefoot as a mendicant, your hair disheveled in the wind, the stripes of your clothes strongly suggestive of Sing Sing, your appearance a caricature of humankind, you wander up and down the beach a creature that the land is evidently trying to shake off and the sea is unwilling to take. But you are consoled by the fact that all the rest are as mean and forlorn-looking as yourself; and so you wade in, over foot-top, unto the knee, and waist deep. The water is icy-cold, so that your teeth chatter and your frame quakes, until you make a bold dive; and in a moment you and the sea are good friends, and you are not certain whether you have surrendered to the ocean or the ocean has surrendered to you.