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PLACES OF AMUSEMENT.-SQUARES.
Of places of public amusement, in our English acceptation of the term, there are not many in Philadelphia. There are three large theatres, one of which is closed, and the other two but occasionally opened; these are not much frequented by the more opulent or intelligent classes, but are sustained by the middle and humbler ranks. Music is more cultivated and better supported. A society exists called the Musical Fund Society, the hall of which will seat comfortably 1200 persons, and it is as well adapted for musical per. formances as any hall in Europe. Its meetings of members for practising concerts are frequent, and generally well attended. We were present at a concert given here by Ma. dame Caradori Allan, which was very superior to the one given by her at Washington, both in the number and qual. ity of the instrumental accompaniments, and in the character of the vocal selections. The conductor, Mr. Cross, played with great skill and power on the piano; a first-rate violinist, Mr. Keys@, a German, performed exquisitely on his instrument. Mr. Plaff, another German, executed pieces of great difficulty on the corno bassetto. And Madame Caradori herself sang with all her accustomed sweetness and good taste, and with more than her usual power. The audience was not so numerous as might have been expected (about five hundred persons); but the taste of the majority, like that of the assemblage at Washington, was below that of almost any audience of a similar city in England, as the only songs encored by them, among several of great merit and beauty, were the ballads of “Cease your funning,” and “I'm over young to marry yet,” the last of which seems to be an especial favourite with the multitude.
There are more public squares for promenades, and lar. ger and better ones too in every respect, in Philadelphia than in New York or Baltimore. They have been longer laid out, and their grass lawns, large trees, and fine gravelwalks render them most agreeable ; but they are probably less valued here than they would be in almost any other city, from the circumstance of the streets being such agreeable places for walking, so perfectly level, so smoothly paved on the causeways at least, and so agreeably shaded with trees on each side.
Of these squares Franklin Square is the largest, being 632 feet from east to west, and 600 feet from north to south. A much larger square than this was planned by William Penn for the centre of his city, and which still bears his name; but it has been divided into four smaller squares, each of a good size. The square of Penn, indeed, has followed the fate of his city, in being contracted within parrower limits than at first intended; for his original plan is said to have been formed on a scale of three miles for each of its sides, or a square of twelve miles for the whole city; whereas it was subsequently abridged to two miles in length from east to west, and one mile in breadth from north to south, which forms the street limits of the present city, all beyond these limits belonging to the suburbs and liberties.
Independence Square, to the south of the State House, is 470 feet by 398; and Washington Square, near it, is 456 feet by 370 ; while Logan Square and Ruttenhouse Square are hadly inferior in size; and when the trees in each are more fully grown, these will be valuable additions to the means of healthy recreation and exercise for the population.
The newspapers of Philadelphia are as numerous as they are in all the large towns of the United States.
There are seven daily morning papers and two day evening papers; the former are the United States Gazette, the Commercial Herald, the Pennsylvanian, the Inquirer, the Sentinel, the Public Ledger, and the Advertiser; and the latter are the National Gazette and the Philadelphia Gazette. Of all these there is but one, the Public Ledger, which is strictly neutral in politics (this being what is called a penny paper, though selling at one cent, or about a halfpenny per copy, and not more than half the size of the other papers), and one only, the Pennsylvanian, which is Democratic, or in favour of the present administration. All the rest are Whig, or, as we should call them in England, Conservative ; tbat is, anti-Democratic. In point of talent, they are all conducted with more ability and more fairness, as it struck me, than the papers of New York. There is less of personal vituperation and party abuse, and less of puffing and strained at. tempts at extravagance for wit. Their current of thought and tone of feeling are graver and more dignified, and their style of expression more courteous and less dogmatical.
In addition to the daily papers there are some few weekly ones, and three, of large circulation, devoted exclusively to religious articles. Of these the Presbyterian takes the first rank in circulation, and after this the Episcopal Recorder and the Philadelphia Observer. They are each conduct. ed with ability and consistency. The editors and proprietors are ministers and members of the respective sects of Christians to which they belong; and these papers answer here the purpose which monthly religious periodicals do in
CHEAP LITERATURE. MANUFACTURES.
England, and answer it better, because the frequency of their appearance, once a week, makes them fitting vehicles of religious news, which causes them to find their way where books without news would hardly be welcome visit. ers; while their cheapness, ready transmission by the post, and freshness occasion their religious essays to be read by thousands who would not approach them in any other shape.
Though there are two or three extensive publishers in Philadelphia, it is not so literary a city as New York, and still less so than Boston. There was a Quarterly Review published here a few years ago, and well conducted, but it could not be sustained, and it is now merged into some other periodical elsewhere, nor has its place been since supplied. Cheap literature is that which is most in request here; and the two classes of publications which find the readiest sale are cheap theological works of early or of modern date, and cheap reprints of English novels and works of imagination. These are often sold in the same shop, where, over the doorway, may be seen the words “ Theological Bookstore,', and “Catalogues of Religious Books to be had within," while placards in front of the same door announce Byron's "Don Juan,” Lady Bury's "Flirtation," and Bulwer's “ Ernest Maltravers' as among the popular works of the day.
Manufactures, Trade, and Commerce of Philadelphia.--Municipal Government, Mayor,
Aldermen.-- Select and Common Councils.-Legislation.- Population, gradual In. crease from 1790.- Proportion of white and coloured Races.-- Proportion of Males and Females in each. --Proportion of Deaths to the whole Number3.-Classes of So. ciety, Aristocracy of Birth and Wealth.-Middle Class of General Society.- Dinner from the Bar to the Bench of Pennsylvania.--General Appearance of the inhabitants.
- Manners of Philadelphia Society. -Wretched Condition of some latouring Classes. ---Individual Cases of extreme Distress.- Decline in the Spirit of Benevolence.-Altributable to increasing Wealth.--Suggestion of a self-taxing Society.-lustances of munificent Legacies.- Contrast of the Living and the Dying.
Of the manufactures, trade, and commerce of Philadel. phia, more may be said as to its prospects than as to its actual condition. At present there is not nearly so much of either as there might have been, or as there will be a few years hence, when che vast resources of the state come to be more fully developed. The few manufactories now car- .
ried on here are confined to carpets, floorcloth, some hard. ware of a coarse kind, glass, porcelain, and articles of domestic consumption ; but little or nothing is made for er. portation, if we except a very extensive and excellent man. ufactory of steam-engines, conducted on a large scale, and supplying both the cities of the seacoast and the rising towns of the Western waters.
The foreign commerce is almost as limited as the home trade, the shipping of Philadelphia not equalling a fourth of those of New-York, and the shores of the Delaware presenting a striking contrast, in the fewness of the vessels upon it, compared with the forests of masts that line the banks of the East River and the Hudson at the latter city.
That which promises so much for the future, however, is the gradual development of the mineral wealth of Pennsyl. vania. In the interior of this state has been recently discovered beds of coal and iron, sufficiently extensive to afford materials for manufacturing for centuries to come; and these will soon become articles of export to other parts of the country. The communications by railroad and canal every day, extending into the interior, by Harrisburg and Pittsburg, to the Ohio, and thence down the Mississippi, up the Missouri, on by the Arkansas to the Rocky Mountains, and by the Red River to Texas, will facilitate the diffusion of imported as well as domestic manufactured goods, and form a channel for the conveyance of the produce of the countries watered by those rivers to Philadelphia, where the Delaware will form its outlet to Europe, the West Indies, and other parts of the world.
At present, it is true, New-York has got the start of Philadelphia and Baltimore in the internal and foreign trade, by being in advance of both in her enterprising undertakings. But the local position of both these latter cities, aided by internal canals and railroads, is such as to render it more than probable that each may in time attain a position of commercial eminence greatly superior to that which they now enjoy; and every increase of population in the interior must accelerate this period, by the development of the resources of these parts, and by increased means of consumption.
The municipal government of Philadelphia was originally appointed by the proprietary, William Penn, but was grad ually opened to the influence of the community in colonial times, till it was settled upon its present basis soon after the Revolution. In 1789 the mayor was elected out of the muni
cipal body only. In 1796 the select and common councils were included among the electors. And in 1826 the restriction of choosing the mayor from among the aldermen was abrogated, so that ever since that period this officer has been chosen out of the body of the citizens generally. As he is paid a salary of 2000 dollars or £400 a year, and has the patronage of appointing nearly all the officers of the corporation except the city treasurer, it is a place sought after by many; but, unfortunately, in this as in almost every public office down to that of a constable, party politics, rather than the capacity and general qualifications of the individual, are made the test of fitness, and the Whigs and Democrats consider it a party victory or party defeat whenever their candidate is elected or beaten.
The recorder is appointed by the governor of the state, and, acting as a judge, he holds his office during good behaviour. There are fifteen aldermen, who are also appointed by the governor; and as these sit as justices of the peace for trials of suits where the amount does not exceed 100 dollars, they also hold their offices during good behaviour ; that is, for life, unless convicted of wilful neglect or violation of duty after trial. The Mayor's Court, at which the recorder and aldermen sit, has jurisdiction over all criminal offences committed within the city.
Though the recorder and aldermen are thus permanent in office, the legislative power of the municipal body resides in the select and common councils, who are elected by the people generally, and who, in their capacity as councillors, annually elect the mayor. The Common Council consists of twenty members, who are selected from persons qualified to serve as representatives in the State Assembly. The select council is formed of twelve members, chosen from persons qualified to serve as senators in the State Assembly.
These form, in short, the upper and the lower house of city legislation, the lower house being elected annually, and the upper house for three years, one third going out by rotation every year. They sit in separate chambers, and serve without salary, and each body has a negative on the acts of the other, so that no ordinance or regulation can be made law without the consent of both. In practice, this constitution is found to work extremely well.
The population of Philadelphia, at the last census of 1830, was 139,888, of which the proportions were 80,406 in the city, and 59,482 in the liberties and suburbs. The proportion of increase in the decennial periods at which the Vol. I.-Zz