« ForrigeFortsett »
ALBANY FEMALE ACADEMY.
and a professor of elocution and composition; in addition to which are teachers of sacred music, of the organ, harp, and piano-forte, of drawing, and of Latin and Greek.
There is a large and well-chosen library attached to the institution, with maps, charts, globes, models, and an excellent chymical and philosophical apparatus. It contains, also, a cabinet of specimens in natural history, mineralogy, and botany; and the principal, Dr. Campbell, who lectures on Biblical and Jewish antiquities, and the professor who lectures on physiology, have each an extensive set of well-executed transparent drawings for the illustration of their respective subjects.
There are two classes of pupils : those who come from the country, and board with the family of the principal or with the teachers, and those whose families reside in town. The former consist of about 140, and the expense of their board and education is from 200 to 225 dollars per annum. The number of the latter is about 250, and the cost of their education is from 12 to 32 dollars per annum, according to the class in which they may be; the lowest or sixth class being three dollars per quarter, and the highest or first class being eight dollars per quarter.
This experiment, which has now been continued for upward of twenty years, has proved abundantly what many still affect to disbelieve or doubt, that the female intellect is in no degree whatever inferior in its capacity to receive and retain instruction in the highest and most difficult branches of learning to the male; that their
powers of application and their zeal for information are also quite equal to those of the other sex; and that such differences as have hitherto existed between the intellectual condition of male and female youths have been wholly owing to their being subjected to different modes of education.
The same defect which belongs to every plan of scholastic training that I have yet witnessed, characterizes this; namely, that no portion of time seems to be allotted to physical training. There is neither walking, riding, gymnastics, nor any other fixed and regular exercises for the body. The consequence is, that among the 400 pupils of the Academy there did not seem a single example of vigorous or robust health. Slender forms, pale cheeks, and feeble physical powers were the general characteristics; while the constant drain upon the mental powers, in the study of most of the subjects taught in the Academy, and particularly in geometry and the mathematics, tended still more to enfeeble frames of great delicacy, and was calculated, as it seemed to me, to shorten life, as well as to make that portion which remained less healthy for the individuals themselves, and less favourable for their offspring, than if they had two or three hours less of learning per day, and two or three hours of walking, riding, or gymnastic exercises, suited to their years and sex, in the open air.
It is a very general belief among the more elderly people of America, that the present race of female youths are greatly inferior in physical stamina to the preceding generation ; and, considering the mode of life they lead, with little or no systematic plan of exercise in the open air; with very early and severe application to studies while at school; corresponding early introduction into life, passing from 15 to 17 amid the late hours and dissipation of fashionable parties, thinly clad, and especially during the most inclement parts of the winter ; early marriages, from 16 to 18, and early bearing of children, with the drain
upon the strength of nursing; insufficient sleep, ill-prepared food, hasty and unmasticated meals, profusion of pastry, sweet-cakes, and ice-creams, which destroy the appetite for more simple and more nourishing food, and require frequent recourse to medicine; it is hardly to be wondered at, when all these deteriorating causes are considered, and their accumulated force from generation to generation taken into account, that the effect should be a declining stamina in every succeeding race.
Religious Establishments in Albany.-Number of Churches possessed by each Sect.
Proportion of the whole Population attending Worship.- Liberal Support of the Clergy or Ministry.- Beneficial Effects of the Voluniary System.-Anecdote of a noble Lord in America.–Sunday schools and Teachers in Albany.- Most ancient Churches of the City:--Public Buildings: the Capitol, the City Hall, the new State Hall.-Newspapers of Albany, Number and Character.-Specimens of political partisan Warfare. --Pugilistic Encounter in the Hall of Congress.- Causes of the excessive Irritability of Southern Members.-- Parallel Influences on the British in India.The same in naval Officers of all Nations.
Next to the establishments for education, those for religious worship deserve attention; and these are here, as everywhere that we had yet visited, numerous, well furnished, and well sustained. The Methodists have the greatest number of churches, there being six belonging to that body of Christians. The Presbyterians come next, having five churches. The Dutch Reformed Religion has three, and the Baptist three. The Episcopalians have two, St. Peter's and St. Paul's; the Catholics have two, one of them a very fine building; and the German Lutherans, the Universalists, and the Quakers one each. There are thus 24 large churches, containing in the whole, perhaps, accommodation in seats for 24,000 persons out of a population of 30,000, of which, taking into account the infants, the very aged, the sick, and the infirm, there will be always at least 6000, or one fifth that could not attend public wor
RELIGIOUS ESTABLISHMENTS IN ALBANY.
ship; so that the means of religious observances are amply sufficient for every individual who could possibly profit by them; and it is believed that at least 20,000 persons out of the 30,000 do really attend the places of public worship on the Sabbath in Albany.
The contrast which this offers to England is very remarkable. I have seen estimates by which it appeared that not more than one in one hundred attended public worship in London; and I think that in Norwich, where the churches are very numerous, and much zeal exerted to procure attendance, not more than twelve in one hundred, or about an eighth of the whole population, frequented any church. It is probable that in no part of England is there accommodation in the churches or chapels of the towns or districts for one half the population of such places; and it is doubtful whether there is any town in England in which one third of the entire population really attend regularly any place of worship; while here at Albany two thirds of the whole community are found in attendance in one or other of the churches every Sunday:
The whole of these establishments are sustained by the voluntary system of support; each congregation first choosing, and then maintaining, its own pastor, which they do with great liberality, no minister receiving less than 1000 dollars or 2001. per annum as regular stipend, besides presents at baptisms, weddings, &c., sometimes equal, on the whole, to the salary itself; and others receiving 2000 dollars per annum, with the same additional perquisites; the scale of which may be inferred from the fact that, while we were at Albany, a marriage was solemnized between two members of the same congregation, and a present of 500 dollars or 1001. was sent to the minister on this occasion. The voluntary system of supporting religion, while it is certainly more agreeable to the parties who have to make the payments, is, on the whole, more uniforinly beneficial to those who are paid, as the average incomes of religious teachers in America greatly exceeds the average incomes of the established clergy in England. Besides this, it leads to great care and circumspection on the part of the people, who are to choose and pay their pastor, to see that he is in every respect an honour to their choice and worthy of their reward.
The consequence is, that an ill-educated or an immoral man cannot find his way into the American clergy. There is no opening of patronage, or interest, or purchase by which he can make an entry into that body; and being carefully selected in the first instance, and having every conceivable motive for retaining his ground, and justifying the soundness of the choice in the second, his zeal, industry, and correct conduct are all called forth to their utmost, and the greatest harmony of respect and affection almost uniformly reigns between the pastor and his flock. The estimation in which the clergy are held here, and the influence which they consequently exercise over the taste and conduct of the com
munity, is much greater than it is in England, and thus it is that the churches are more uniformly filled, the services altogether more decorous, more impressive, and more efficient, the seats more commodious, the furniture more substantial, the singing and music more refined as well as devotional, the prayers more earnest, the sermons more searching, and the congregations more influenced by religious motives or respect to religious principles and observances in their general conduct in society.
I remember to have heard here a curious anecdote of one of our distinguished legislators, which is worth recording. In a conversation which I had with one of the State judges, resident in Albany, as to the opposite opinions entertained in England on the subject of supporting religion by a State establishment or by the voluntary system, I mentioned that I had myself heard debates in the English House of Commons, in which it wal boldly asserted on the one side that the flourishing condition of the churches of every sect in America was sufficient proof of the excellence of the voluntary system of support for religion, while on the other hand it was as warmly contended by those who were in favour of a State establishment, that the voluntary system had entirely failed in America, where there was a great deal less of religion and religious observances than in England. I added that these counter assertions staggered the doubting, who could not decide on the relative value of the conflicting evidence, especially when a nobleman of great talents, one of the ablest supporters of the State Church, and who, in addition to his rank, station, and ability, added the advantage of having travelled in America, allied himself to the latter party.
Upon hearing this, the learned judge said, “I do not wonder that this noble lord saw so little of the religion and religious observances of the Americans when he travelled among them, because I happen to remember being at Utica, where the court was then sitting, at the period of his arrival in that city, accompanied by two other gentlemen now in the British Legislature; and on the Sunday, when our religious observances are most apparent, these young English statesmen, and friends and advocates of an established church, set off in their carriage to the West, with their dogs and guns, on a shooting or sporting excursion, to the no small surprise of those who thought they might have all been much more appropriately employed.”
Excessive zeal for the Established Church is, however, capable of a more easy solution than a belief that the voluntary system is not favourable to the interests of religion in America; and may be sometimes found, perhaps, in the fact that deep interest at stake in the amount of church property, and church patronage, will obscure the perception of men of the most brilliant talents. If such inducements as these to advocate an established church existed in America, I have no doubt that, with the class who possessed these pecuniary
advantages, the voluntary system would be just as unpopular here as it is with the same class in England. But put the question fairly on the issue of its merits, to be decided by impartial, because disinterested witnesses, and the number are very few in either country whose judgments would not decide in its favour.
To every one of the churches in Albany a Sunday-school is attached, in which are educated and trained up in respect for religion about 5000 children; the duty of teachers in these schools is performed by young persons of the first families of the city, of both sexes, who appear to take a great delight in this pure exercise of benevolence, by gratuitously instructing those who would otherwise remain ignorant, and devoting themselves for years to this service.
It appears from the ancient records of the Corporation that the first church in Albany was erected in the year 1656, the cornerstone of which was laid by Rutger Jacobson. It was, of course, a Dutch church. The bell and pulpit were sent from Holland in April, 1657. Previous to this time Divine service was performed in " The Fort," and afterward in a small blockhouse erected for the purpose. This church, for which the bell was sent, continued to be used till the year 1715, a period of 59 years. At that time the church was found too small, and the inhabitants determined on erecting a larger one. But, with characteristic fondness for preaching, and for Divine service generally, it was resolved that the old church should be used during the period that the new church was erecting over it. It was accordingly so managed that, while the new church was in progress, enclosing the old one, not a single Sunday was lost in preaching in the latter. In 1806 the new church was opened and the old one demolished; and it is stated that a Dutchman of the name of Onderkirk was the first person christened in that church, and the last one buried at the sound of its bell.
The next oldest place of worship in Albany was St. Peter's Church, the foundation of which was laid in 1705, in the reign of Queen Anne, who presented it with plate for the communion service. The inscription on the new one erected in its stead is as follows: “Glory to the Lord, for he is good ; for his mercy endureth forever. St. Peter's Church, formerly standing in the centre of State-street, at its intersection with Barrack-street, built A.D. 1705, incorporated A.D. 1802."
Of the other public bulidings, the Capitol, or Legislative Hall, is one of the most prominent. It stands on the summit of the hill, or highest part of the City of Albany, and terminates the upward vista of State-street from the river, as the Albany Academy terminates the vista of Steuben-street, each having their foundations at an elevation of 130 feet above the Hudson. It is a fine building of stone,