« 이전계속 »
by either forwardness or favouritism. Gentlemen always drank tea with their partners the day after the assembly. Private balls were sometimes given: tea parties were not known by that term, yet by the established modes of visiting, ten or a dozen ladies were often collected, to partake of that pleasant beverage. Christmas was peculiarly the time for dinner parties. Families, and the circle of their intimate friends, invariably took the round of dinners during the holidays; and the meeting was always protracted to a supper. Morning visits were very rare. Hours were, comparatively, very early: the most formal dinner was on the table at two or three, and supper between nine and ten. Of the few practices not to be commended in these primeval days, perhaps it is one, that supper, after tea, was a customary meal in every family. Soc ble visits were then paid, not at night, but in the afternoon. A matron would drink tea with her friend, return home by candle-lighting, tie on her check apron, and put her chil. dren to bed.
As we are not instituting a comparison between the rusticity of our state, whilst we were dependent colonies, and our improvements and conveniences since we become a sovereign nation, we shall simply state the amount of our attainments in the infancy of the city. Marble mantels, and folding doors, were not then indispensably necessary to make a house tenantable—nor sofas, nor carpets, nor girandoles. A white floor, sprinkled with clean sand, large tables, and heavy high-backed chairs of walnut or mahogany, decorated a parlour genteelly enough for any body. Sometimes, a carpet, not, however, covering the whole floor, was seen upon the dining-room. This was a show-parlour up stairs—not used but upon state occasions -and then not to dine in. Although many articles which now minister to our comfort were then unknown, yet our houses were abundantly provided with necessary and substantial furniture. Pewter plates and dishes were in general use: having no trade to China, the porcelain of that country, if seen at all on a dinner-table, was only displayed on great occasions. Plate, more or less, was seen in every family of easy circumstances; not indeed in all the various shapes that have since been invented, but in massive waiters, bowls, tankards, cans, &c. &c. Glass tumblers were but little used; punch, the most common beverage, was drunk by the company from one large bowl of silver or china; and beer, from a tankard of the former metal. Dress was discriminative, and appropriate, both as it regarded the season and the character of the individual. Ladies never wore the same dresses at work and on visits. They sat at home, or went out in the morning, in chintzbrocades, satins, and mantuas, were reserved for evening or dinner parties. Robes, or negligées, as they were called, were always worn in full dress. Muslins were not worn at all. Little misses, at a dancing-school ball—for these were almost the only fêtes that fell to their share in the days of discrimination—were drest in frocks of lawn or cambric. Worsted was then thought dress enough for common days. We should shock the grandfathers, perhaps we might say the fathers, of the present race, if we should tell them, that when boys, they wore long coats and small-clothes! Gentlemen wore light-coloured cloths of every hue :blue, green, drab, blossom, or scarlet. Black was used as mourning only, or as a professional dress.
Boarding-schools for girls were not known in Philadelphia until about the time of the Revolution; nor had they any separate schools for writing and cyphering, but they were taught in common with boys. The ornamental parts of female education were bestowed on them, but geography and grammar were probably thought too abstruse for their flimsy minds—at any rate no one dreamed of making the experiment, until a certain gentleman, named Horton, proposed to teach these sciences to young ladies. He obtained a class of about half a dozen, and the idea being once broached that females had intellects, institutions for their improvement soon multiplied.
But perhaps there is a balance of advantages and disadvantages in every age. In the olden time, domestic comfort was not every day interrupted by the pride and the profligacy of servants. There were then but few hired; black slaves, and German and Irish redemptioners, made up the mass. Personal liberty is unquestionably the inherent right of every human creature; but the slaves of Philadelphia were a happier class of people than the free blacks of the present day, who taint the very air by their vices, and exhibit every sort of wretchedness and profligacy in their dwellings. The former felt themselves to be an integral part of the family to which they belonged; they experienced in all respects the same consideration and kindness as white servants, and they were faithful and contented. Servants, in the days of which we speak, affected no equality with their masters; they knew their places, and they kept
them; nor did they, in either dress or manners, indicate an ambition to rise to the level of their superiors.
It is certainly an evidence of the honesty of our population, previously to the Revolution, that our front doors stood open all day; in pleasant weather they were open also in the evening, at which time people frequently sate in the porches which were appended to every dwelling. By this practice the social intercourse of neighbourhoods was facilitated: neighbours sat together, or walked from door to door, and chatted away a friendly hour. All who lived within the square, and whose rank was nearly the same, had this appellation, and were visited accordingly. It may be proper, here, to inform the reader that Philadelphia then had no influxes of strangers as she now receives from year to year. The inhabitants were the descendants of the first settlers, and were almost all known by name, and a consi. derable part personally, to one another. Of late years, the practice of visiting families who come into your vicinity, has been in a great measure disused; formerly it was a hospitality very seldom omitted.
In submitting these brief notices of Philadelphia as it was, to our readers, we suppose we shall elicit a smile, and perhaps a sneer too, at the rusticity of the early settlers; yet it may not be unamusing. Manners and customs pass away, and new inventions take their places but all are good in their own times—a Christmas turkey was as palatable fifty years ago from a dish of pewter, brightly scoured, as a bouillé is now, from one of French china.
The age of our city does not much exceed a century and
a half. Since the date of our independence, it has increased with such astonishing rapidity, both in extent and opulence. Our new streets approach to patrician splendour, and the old houses, in which our ancestors acquired wealth, are becoming so offensive to our improved ideas in taste, that they are continually disappearing, to make room for a better order of things. We often fear that our venerable state-house, and old Christ church, will start up some of these days in a dress of marble, in accordance with the modern morbid passion for magnificence.
Since then the prevailing temper of the times is to make all things new; and the generation which by personal knowledge, or by tradition, possesses the power of telling of things as they were, is fast passing away,—it is a matter of some interest to collect amongst them, relics of our infant condition. The older inhabitants of our towns and cities can contribute much towards a history of the early settlers in the minor particulars of their customs and habits, far more illustrative of their character, than great events. They can tell how America, by patience and industry, has developed her genius, and advanced from insignificance amongst the nations of the earth, to a station not merely respectable, but greatly to be envied.
Since we commenced these remarks, we have been kindly favoured with the sight of a curious manuscript on the same subject. The writer is a very enthusiast in antiquities, and seems to have laid under contribution all the well-stricken in years within his reach. From the most respectable authorities, he has collected a mass of curious facts and anecdotes, respecting Philadelphia and the neigh