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ANNIVERSARY OF THE HALF-ORPHAN ASYLUM.
attention was as profound and unbroken at that late hour as in the earliest part of the evening. A collection was made at the close of the whole for the funds of the Society, by which a sum of 3500 dollars was realized, a substantial proof of the sincerity and zeal of those who contributed it.
. The fifth public meeting that I attended was that of the Total Abstinence Society, or that branch of the Temperance Society which recommends the entire abstinence from all intoxicating drinks as a beverage, and avoids the use of wine, beer, or any other drink that can produce intoxication, as much as ardent spirits. This meeting was held in the Methodist Chapel in Green-street, which was filled in every part; and about twenty clergymen, ministers and members of the board or committee, were on the platform. Several speeches were delivered on the subject of temperance, and in the intervals appropriate music was performed ; and one or two odes and hymns, written for the occasion, were sung by the choir. My own effort was reserved for the closing address, as had been done on all the previous occasions of such public meetings; and the effect of the whole was, to add a very considerable number of members to the Total Abstinence Society, by persons coming forward, after the proceedings were over, to enter their names, sign the pledge to abstain
from all that can intoxicate, and contribute to the funds of the institution.
The sixth public meeting at which I assisted was the an, niversary of the Half-Orphan Asylum, which was held at the Stuyvesant Institute on Wednesday, the 10th of January, 1838, at noon. There had existed previous to this an or,
. phan asylum for those unhappy children who had lost both their parents; but many little objects of charity who had lost only one, though that surviving parent should be helpless, were shut out from admission by the terms of its constitution, It was to meet such cases as these that this second institution was formed. Its projectors, supporters, and managers were ladies, and the good they had already effected was suffi, ciently proved by the exhibition of about a hundred little children, of both sexes, who had been saved from certain want, and probable vice and misery, by their benevolent exertions. The funds were supplied wholly by annual subscriptions and voluntary donations; and it was impossible to hear the report read, and witness the amount of benefit se. cured, without being delighted to find how small an amount of money, judiciously applied, will procure a large amount of good; and without being at the same time surprised that
mankind are so slow in learning that the pleasures of benev. olence are at once the cheapest, the most exquisite, and the most enduring that man can enjoy. The meeting was very numerous, though composed almost wholly of ladies; and the proceedings were conducted and addresses made by the chairman, the Rev. Dr. Peters, the secretary who read the report, the Rev. Dr. Hawks, and myself.
The seventh public meeting in which I took a part was held at the Tabernacle on Tuesday, the 16th of January, for the purpose of presenting to the community of New-York the claims which the seamen of the port had on their sympathy and aid, with a view to induce the public to assist in rescuing them from the snares and temptations by which sailors are surrounded and beset on landing, and providing for them comfortable, orderly, and temperate boarding-houses, to be called Sailors' Homes. From the interest I had always taken in the welfare of this deserving but neglected class of beings in my own country, my attention was naturally drawn to their condition here; and I found, on inspection and inquiry, that here, as in England, the sailor is hardly permitted to tread the shore, after his arrival from a long voyage, before he is beset and surrounded with an unprincipled gang of grog-shop keepers, pawnbrokers, procuresses, crimps, and other “ land-sharks," as they are most appropriately called, all anxious to make the unsuspecting victim their prey. He is then decoyed by flattering words, and the offer of money for his immediate wants before his wages are paid, to some low boarding-house, attached to which, or near at hand, are all the vicious allurements of intoxicating drink, gaming, dancing, women, and everything that can draw his money from his pocket; so that by these joint influences he is often drained of the whole earnings of a year of peril and hardship at sea in the short space of a single week, at the end of which he has to embark again upon
ocean, without even the means of purchasing suffi. cient clothes for his voyage, or leaving any provision for his family or kindred behind him.
To remedy this evil, some benevolent ladies had been prevailed on to set the example of establishing a single Sai. lors' Home, which I went with my family to visit on the morning of the day of our meeting. We found it all that could be desired : a good kitchen, well furnished with every requisite; a clean and airy mess-room for eating; a large sitting-room, well provided with plain furniture, and useful and entertaining books for reading; spacious and well
ventilated dormitories, with clean and wholesome beds, and ample room for the sailors' chests and hammocks; and, above all, a "sick bay," as it is called by sailors : a large open room used as a hospital for the men. The establishment was presided over by Captain Gelson, a seaman of ex. perience and good character, assisted by his wife and sister, who managed all the household supplies and arrangements, while he superintended the general discipline. A physician attended the house weekly, or oftener if required, to prescribe for those who needed it; and a chaplain read prayers morning and evening, and conducted public worship on Sundays. The food was simple, but wholesome and am. ple. No spirits, wine, beer, or any other stimulating drink was permitted to enter the establishment; nor was smo. king, the great auxiliary and promoter of drinking, allowed within the walls. The number of sailors at present board. ing here were forty, which was as many as the house would comfortably accommodate; but more than a hundred had been shipped from the house since its establishment, only two months since, captains of ships preferring to take them from hence, as being better assured of their sobriety, only one failure in which had taken place since the house was opened. The sum charged to each of the seamen for board and lodging, with everything in the most comfortable abun. dance, was only three dollars, or about twelve shillings sterling, per week; and this was found to be sufficient to cover all the expenses of the establishment. Thus economy was added to all the other attractions of this home; as, for much worse fare in the ordinary boarding houses, from four to five dollars are charged, independently of the constant drain for drinking, and other vicious indulgences, of all the men's surplus money; while those who live in the Sailors' Home are easily persuaded to put their wages received into the Savings Bank, and thus to accumulate, instead of dissipa. ting and destroying, their hard-earned gains.
The object of this meeting was to present these facts to the community, and appeal to them in support of such insti. tutions; which, with their aid, it would be easy to multiply, first in New York, and then in every other port of the coun. try. It was matter of surprise and regret to me to find that not a single ship-owner or merchant of note was present on the platform of the meeting, though they who amass their fortunes by the enterprise of sailors ought undoubtedly to have taken the lead on such a subject. But the principal supporters of it were the ladies of the New York Bethel
Union, and some ministers of the Gospel and philanthropic laymen wholly unconnected with shipping, commerce, or trade. The meeting was very numerously attended, and addressed by the Rev. Mr. Greenleaf, secretary, and editor of the Nautical Magazine; the Rev. Mr. Elliott, who had been himself a sailor in early life to the age of thirty, and had afterward entered the ministry; and by myself. Great sympathy was manifested and expressed by the audience, which exceeded 3000 persons, and a very liberal collection was made in aid of the fund forming for the purpose of set. ting on foot more such Homes as this, bý paying the first cost of their fitting up and furniture, and so keeping the rate of expense to the seamen below the standard of ordinary boarding houses, and yet sufficiently high to maintain the establishment out of its own weekly receipts, as soon as it had been set up in the manner described.
When all the public institutions that solicited my aid had been thus assisted, at the public meetings held on their be. half, I had hoped to have enjoyed some intervals of repose between the days on which my lectures were announced to be delivered, as I found the labour of public speaking and private visiting every day to be a little more than was congenial to health or comfort. But I was not permitted to enjoy even these occasional intervals of repose, as I was pressed into the service of individual and collective charity, to give some public lectures, first, for the benefit of a family of respectability, who had been well off in England, came here, suffered losses and sickness, and were now in great distress; and, secondly, for the benefit of the poor in a district or quarter of the town where the English and Irish emigrants chiefly reside before they are drained off to the Western States, and where the misery and suffering among these emigrants seemed to me to be equal to anything that I had seen at home.
In addition to those opportunities which my own several courses of lectures and the assisting at those public meetings afforded me of becoming acquainted with the most intelligent and benevolent members of the community, we visited, in company with the directors of the institution themselves, almost all the public establishments of the city connected with moral or social improvement, of each of which an account will be given in its proper place.
I passed an entire day also with the Hon. Daniel Webster, the eminent senator from Massachusetts, in a public visit made by him to his political friends at Newark, one of the
SOCIETY IN NEW-YORK.
principal cities of New-Jersey, about ten miles from NewYork, during which I saw a great deal to admire in the picture which it presented of the people among whom we were placed.
I was taken by several friends to the different pollingplaces of the wards during the exciting election of members for the Legislature, which occurred within the first month of our stay here, and which was said to have agitated the whole country more than any election for many years. In addition to all this, we were invited to dine and pass the evening with so many families in the first circles of society, that we had the opportunity of becoming personally acquainted with all the leading members of the community, and seeing the state of manners in every class and in every variety of aspect.
I was introduced also to the leading members of the legal profession, by being invited to their club, where about fifty of the principal gentlemen of the bench and the bar meet every Saturday evening at the houses of the members in rotation, and thus had an opportunity of becoming acquainted with the greatest number of the judges, the principal barristers, and the most eminent of the attorneys, for some of each class belonged to the club.
The great body of the clergy and ministers of the Gospel were among my most frequent visiters and companions, our labours in assisting at the various public meetings bringing us much together ; besides which, they were among the most constant attendants on my lectures. In addition to this, the Chancellor of the University, the Rev. Dr. Matthews, invited several parties of the most eminent among the scientific professors and literary men of New York to meet me at his official residence. These two classes of soirées, the legal and the clerical, were among the most intellectual and agreeable I ever remember to have met with anywhere, not even excepting the delightful literary soirées of London and Paris ; for, though at these the number and eminence of the distinguished individuals present were always greater than here, yet in the parties of the legal, clerical, and literary men in New-York there was a simplicity of manners and an intensity of interest in the subjects that engaged their attention, which was particularly charming.
At the most moderate calculation that can be made, I think that, during the four months of our stay in New York, I became personally acquainted, by introduction and interchange of calls and visits, with nearly 500 individuals; while those who attended my courses of lectures, delivered in different parts of the city, and formed the audiences of the sev.