« ForrigeFortsett »
115 feet in front, 90 feet in depth, and 50 feet in height, independently of the small tower arising from the centre, on the summit of which stands the figure of Justice. It has a basement of 10 feet, and two stories above that. The east front, looking down State-street towards the river, has an Ionic portico of four pillars, about 33 feet in height; and in the interior are two halls of legislation for the Senate and the Assembly, with the Supreme Court of Justice and the Court of Chancery for the State, the State Library, consisting of 30,000 volumes, and other rooms for committees and public business. The various rooms are well proportioned, and well adapted to their respective purposes; they are adorned with full-length portraits of Washington, of the several governors of the state in succession of the several chancellors of the state also, with portraits and busts of other public characters of America.
The City Hall, which is not far from the Capitol, and which is used for municipal business transacted by the mayor and corporation, who form the local government of the town, is also a fine edifice, built of white marble, and surmounted by a dome, which is gilded, and is a conspicuous object from afar on approaching the city.
A new State Hall is now in progress of building, constructed also of white marble, and in the neighbourhood of the Capitol, the Academy, and the City Hall. This is to contain all the public offices for the various state officers, such as the secretary of state, comptroller, treasurer, surveyor-general, attorney-general, and others.
Of newspapers there are four in Albany, three daily and one weekly. Of the daily there are two morning and one evening paper.
“The Argus,” published in the morning, is conducted by the gentleman who holds the office of State printer, which is very lucrative; and he, of course, supports the existing administration, or is, in other words, highly Democratic, the local government of the state according with the general government of the Union, it being in the hands of the Democratic party at present. The other morning paper, " The Daily Advertiser, is Whig, or opposed to the present administration ; so is " The Evening Journal," while" The Family Weekly Newspaper" is on the Democratic side; so that, in number of organs, the forces are well balanced ; and in ability the talent appears as equally divided. Here, however, as everywhere else in America, the most violent language is used by the writers of one party towards those of another; and so entirely partial are both, that no stranger could ever arrive at the truth without comparing the statements of one side with those of the other, which, however, are often so directly opposite, even in matters of fact, that it is difficult to know how much to allow for misrepresentation in both.
As an instance, the following may be cited. The state authorities being in want of a house for some public purpose, and the state printer (the editor of the Argus) having one well adapted to such purpose, it was purchased of him by the authorities for what was considered a fair and just price. If the house had belonged to any person else, the matter would, perhaps, never have been heard of more; but belonging to the Democratic editor, it became the subject of the most unsparing attacks, and imputations of corruption, bribery, fraudulent misapplication of the public money, and so on, for days and weeks in succession; the papers on each side making it the subject of a bitter partisan warfare throughout the state.
The following, from a neighbouring journal, is the shortest specimen that can be given of the sort of language used by the editors of and towards each other in this criminating and recriminating kind of controversy :
“ The Cooperstown Freeman's Journal concludes a brief notice of the misrepresentations on this subject with the following remark :
* We ought not to close our passing notice of this without at least adverting to the character of the source whence these black and damna ing charges, upon gentlemen equal in integrity and respectability to any in this or any other state, proceed. They have their origin with the Albany Evening Journal; a paper which, in its dealings with the character and conduct of others, and with matters of fact, repudiates as well the binding force of the received obligations of honourable courtesy, as the still higher obligation of a sacred regard for truth. With such char, acteristics, it is not surprising that it has earned the contempt of all hon, ourable men.'"
One of the most ludicrous exhibitions of this party spirit that I remember to have heard of, is contained in the following para, graph, taken from one of the New-York papers of July, 1838:
“REMOVAL OF A HEARSE-DRIVER.—The Whig authorities of New-Haven have removed Mr. Willoughby, a worthy man, from the place of hearse-driver, and appointed another person in his place, on account of his Whig principles. For the first time,' says the Hartford Times,
since the creation of the world down to the present year of 1838, this humble station is made political.'”
Another instance of the eagerness with which every incident is caught up, and made to subserve some party purpose, either by elevating the one side or depressing the other, may be given from the Albany Argus of July 13, which contained the following paragraph:
"Wag CHARACTERISTICS. As the late session of Congress commenced in violence, personal and otherwise, on the part of the Federal and Bank bullies, and was early marked with blood (in the duel by which Mr, Cilley was killed by Mr. Graves, and in which Mr. Wise was the second of the latter), so it has now very appropriately terminated with an affair of fisticuffs between two Whig members from Tennessee. The circumstances are thus told by a Washington correspondent of the New, York American, under date of the 9th instant :
Yesterday morning (Holy Sunday), Messrs. Campbell and Maury, of Tennessee, had a pugilistic encounter in the House a few minutes alter it adjourned. They were much bruised, and each received a brace of black eyes. The circumstances were as follow : It appears that early on Sunday morning Mr. Maury was very active in procuring a call of the House, in order to show the country who were the delinquents. Mr. Campbell was among the absentees, and was brought to the bar with the rest in custody of the sergeant-at-arms. At eight o'clock, when the house adjourned, the latter went to his colleague and reproached him for his conduct in aiding the call, at the same time alleging that Mr. M. had done it with a view to injure him (Mr. C.) at home among his constituents. Crimination and recrimination followed, and each gentleman honoured his opponent with the epithet of “ liar," "scoundrel," and so forth. As might be expected, a personal conflict was the result, and blows were bestowed in abundance. Not more than five members remained when the fracas commenced, and they, of course, did not attempt to interfere. After the belligerants had belaboured each other to their hearts' content, they suspended hostilities, and retired to their respective homes, and have not been seen since. It is said they are so well satisfied with their mutual inflictions, that no doubts are entertained as 10 farther proceedings.'"
Now it was certainly not because they were both Whigs that these members thus assaulted each other, but because they were both hot-blooded young Southerners, residents in, and representatives from, a slave state, brought up in the almost uncontrolled exercise of their irresponsible will over those subject to their authority, and, therefore, impetuous and ungovernable even among their equals, when their passions are excited by opposition.
It would have been far more just, therefore, to have headed such a paragraph by the words “Southern Characteristics,” or “ Southern Impetuosity,” or some such title, and have drawn from it the same lesson as should be drawn from the murder of a member of the Arkansas Legislature by the speaker descending from his chair, and stabbing the offending member to the heart on the floor, and from the constant duels and assassinations with which the Southern States are so stained ; all of which proves this: that, wherever the institution of slavery exists, and any one class of men may exercise with impunity uncontrolled and irresponsible power over any other class of men, they can hardly fail to have all their angry and vindictive passions frequently called forth and continually strengthened by exercise ; and hence it forms a part of the general character of persons bred up under such unfavourable circumstances, to be more fiery, impetuous, and ungovernable, even among their own class, when once excited.
It happened that during our stay at Washington we lived in the same house, and breakfasted and dined daily at the same table, with the two young members from Tennessee, Mr. Maury and Mr. Campbell, as well as with Mr. Wise from Virginia ; and during a familiar intercourse of many weeks we had an opportunity of knowing that they were generally mild, amiable, courteous, and gener
ous when all things went smoothly; but their impuses were so strong that they were all far more under the dominion of feeling than of reason; a state which, with very few exceptions, is common to all the high-bred youths of the South, and, indeed, to the white population there generally; and is to be attributed wholly, as it seems to me, to the influence of slave institutions.
In the same spirit, and from the operation of the same causes, the British youths in India, whether in the civil or the military service, act with more violence towards the Hindus and Mohammedans subject to their authority than they would dare to do among the inferior ranks of their own countrymen at home, and thus progressively acquire a habit of arrogance and hauteur, of domineering, or, as it is called in India, “bahaudering," at last over their equals, so that quarrels are more quickly excited and more difficult to allay, duels are more frequent, and the exercise of all the angry passions more uncontrolled. The same is the case with
officers trained up as midshipmen and lieutenants in the French, the American, and the British navies; the same with commanders of ships generally, and, in short, of all classes and in all nations, who begin by too early an exercise of an uncontrolled power over others, and grow, as it were unconsciously, to be tyrants, without, however, being able to exercise any restraining dominion over themselves; thus truly has the poet said,
“Man, proud man,
Population of Albany.-Numbers and Classes.-Character of Mr. Van Rensselaer, the
Patroon.-Influence of Dutch Descent on social Manners.—Early Hours, and general Gravity of Deineanour.–Theatres, Concerts, and Balls not Popular.-Opinion of American Writers on Democracy.- Its Influence in producing Mediocrity of Taste. Objections to acknowledge Masters by Servants. Celebration of the National Inde. pendence, 4th of July:-Order of the Processions and Exercises.- Venerable Aspect of the Heroes of the Revolution.- Procession of the Young Men's Association.--Odes and original Poems on the Occasion.--Public Amusements.--Evening Serenade.Order, Sobriety, and Decorum of the Day.--History of the Temperance Reform in Albany.-Character and Labours of Mr. E. C. Delavan.- Opposition of the Rich. Backed by the Clergy:-Wide Field yet open for Temperance Efforts.- Examples of Disaster from Rum and Gunpowder.-Lines in Commemoration of the 4th of July.-Climate of Albany.- Extreme Cold and Heat.--Excessive Heat at all the great Cities. -Ludicrous Effects attributed to this.- Badness of the Pavements in America.- Deficiency of Benevolent Institutions in Albany.- Visit to the Orphan Asylum there.History of its Origin and Funds.--Description of the Establishment.-Successful Ex. periment on Vegetable Diet.- Exercises of the Children in Geography.--Patriotic Speech of one of the Pupils.- Republican Hymn.-Air of God save the King.-Ef. fect of such Exercises on the youthful Mind.-Annual Cost and Weekly Expense of each Orphan.-Unsatisfactory Visit to the Albany Museum.
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The population of Albany was, at the last census of 1830, ascertained to be 28,109; and at present it is estimated to exceed 30,000. Among these there are fewer coloured persons than we had yet seen in any part of America, the domestic servants being mostly Irish, from among the emigrants who pass through this city on their way to the West.
There is also less of inequality in the condition of the families residing here than in the larger cities on the seacoast. There are much fewer who are very rich, and scarcely any who are very poor. The individual of the greatest wealth, perhaps, in the state, it is true, resides here, but he is only one ; the fortunes of most of the other wealthy men here being much more moderate.
This is the celebrated Stephen Van Rensselaer, known by the name of “The Patroon,” a word derived from the Dutch, and corresponding in its meaning, it is said, to our English phrase of " lord of the manor.” This gentleman's ancestor was one of the earliest of the Dutch settlers here, and had a grant of land extending for 24 miles along the banks of the river, and 24 miles inland, at that time an uncleared wilderness, but now a princely domain. This has descended, by the custom of primogeniture, to the present possessor; but a law of the State of New-York, passed some time since, having prohibited such custom in future, the property will, at his death, be divided among his children.
In addition to his territorial and patrimonial wealth, “ The Patroon" some years since was obliged to take, in payment of a bad debt of 50,000 dollars then owing to him, a tract of land near NewYork, and another in the west of this state, which he then con