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LETTERS WHILE PASTOR OF DUANE STREET
CHURCH, NEW YORK.
New York, October 4, 1844. I was licensed just nineteen years ago, this day. Last evening I was installed. My father preached. Dr. Potts gave me a good charge, very kind, but somewhat laudatorial. Dr. Krebs charge to the people. Mr. Greenleaf presided. Dr. Spring made the last prayer, in a very memorable manner; it was a prayer of great pathos. The house was full. The presentation to the people was long, wearisome, exciting, but accompanied with such circumstances as cheer and humble me. I slept little and am tremulous with a cup of unwonted coffee. Till advised, address J. W. A., “ Care Hugh Auchincloss & Sons, 49 Beaver
NEW YORK, October 10, 1844. Where shall I begin about this Babel? I ought to begin by expressing my thanks to benignant Providence for the pleasantness of every thing, and especially the warm reception I have had. We are not yet admitted to our new house, but remain with our good friends (the late Mr. Hugh Auchincloss] in Barclay St. We hope to set up our tent this week. I have the back room, 2d story, for my study, which I regard as the chief room in a parson's house. Ours is only a two-story house. From my window I have a constant view of the “ Tombs."
Dr. Alexander preached his first sermon, after the instalment, October Oth, from Psalm li. 12; and in the afternoon from Matthew xi. 16-19.
I preached all day, on Sunday; and Monthly Concert on Monday. Attendance good, but nothing which need cause any resort to the police, as yet. As for myself, the worst I have experienced is bodily fatigue. Running all day, and dead sleep all night. Yesterday I attended my first funeral, and my first clinical case.
In the evening, Mr. Auchincloss took a raft of us to the Tabernacle, to see and hear the Campanologians. They are really Tyrolese, and in costume. It passes belief. They are seven, and the music is as exact as a Geneva box. I wished for Dr. Ewing. Inter alia, they gave the overture to Fra Diavolo, with every rapid and every chromatic passage perfectly, and all the varieties of pianissimo and fortissimo. The bells, on a rough count, are 30-40. Each man has a cluster before him. But they do not stick to this arrangement, but snatch up one another's bells with the rapidity of lightning. At a distance, exactly like common table or hand-bells, the largest about three pints
On examination, the handles are leathern, stiff and elastic, and within are cushions so that no shake but in a certain plane will give a sound. I presume the vibration is checked by a slight twirl of the wrist, such as throws the clapper against the cushion. The audience about 4,000. I saw the Rev. Symmes C. Henry and daughter there. My sexton is a treasure; both intelligent and pious, and withal as humble and “ bid-able" Helot. His name is Peter Tarlsen, from Mandel, near Christiansand, in Norway. Of course his vernacular is Danish; but he has twelve years' worth of English. He is my man Friday, and does all manner of chores for me, being this moment toting my books from the basement. We have the Croton, but no bathroom. Indeed, New York is immeasurably behind Philadelphia in all that concerns neatness &c. E. g. we have no back alley; nor has one house in a thousand. I told you I have the house where Dr. Romeyn once was.
I have found out a number of very agreeable neighbours. We have every thing near. Centre Market is about three Philadelphia squares off; Broadway, seven doors; the Harlaem railway-route, about two squares. The market folk send every thing home for you, and all sorts of trades-people come to one's house, on receiving a note through the Despatch-post. The thing which most strikes me, is the loss of time by the immense distances. For instance, Presbytery met at Chelsea, three miles from the Battery. One hundred guns this afternoon in the park. These are days of general muster. Presented one bag of coffee and one box black tea; one barrel flour, one do. sugar; item, one rocking chair, and one arm ditto. Stolen, one pile of boards from the “stoop.” I wish you to say to my Trenton friends, especially in your street, that, in
the extraordinary hurry of departure, having one house dismantled, and the other unfurnished, I was barely able to say adieu to my Princeton friends ; nay, one or two of them I had to leave ungreeted. The processional politics of New York amounts to a furor. Thousands must be spent on banners and music alone, not to speak of drink and time. I think I have spent half a dollar a day on omnibuses. The weather has been delightful. Unless I err, there is a great desire for real pastoral attention, and for Christian profit.
NEW YORK, October 23, 1844. I verily believe the exchange is against Trenton; but, for an ensample, I write. Last night, or this morning, was allotted [by the “Millerites”] for the day of doom. Some went out and encamped at Harlaem. On Monday evening I heard the Rev. Mrs. Bishop, of the True Israelites persuasion, at the Tabernacle; which is now a house of merchandise." Her delivery, grammar, Scripture-citation, &c., excellent. Her main point was the exaltation of woman. This day has been one of great hubbub: the Young Whigs' celebration. A live eagle; three live coons; procession of trades; cavalcade of some thousands; bands and banners sans number. Nothing gratified my eyes so much as the Boston delegation, amounting to hundreds : fine fellows all. Willis has started a daily; and for New York gossip and idle, but witty badinage, it deserves well. Kirk called yesterday. I have, in my flock, Mrs. Renwick, the “Jane” of Burns: she knew the poet well. The New Yorkers mean to have a new paper: both new and old synods have jumped together in this, and in assaulting the American Tract Society, about Merle's book. I find myself in a very central situation for my charge. The church and lecture room are easy to speak in. Mr. Andrew and two daughters, of my parish, have just arrived from England. Capt. Auchincloss is every day expected from Rio. My friends here have attended very properly to my wants in the grocery line. The fair of the American Institute is worth seeing. Serious talk of a railway in Broadway, to exclude the omnibuses, which peril life every moment. A member of our congregation was killed by an omnibus, some months since. Leeser called on me, on Sunday; he had been supplying the pulpit of Rabbi Lyon in Crosby Street. Rabbi Isaacs lives just round a corner from me; and two synagogues are near.
The omnibuses of the better sort are lined with velvet or plush, spring cushions, some of them having mahogany arms dividing seat from seat. Wainwright and Richmond's edition of the Potts controversy is mean beyond common meanness. The annotator is bold in billingsgate. Our door bell hardly ceases to vibrate. I have laid my people under an injunction to furnish me in writing, with their respective names and number of house. Dr. Potts has not yet élected elders. I hope you will come on very soon; bed and all ready ; the “ Tombs” in the rear ;
1 Dr. Merle d'Aubigné's History of the Reformation, which had been slightly altered in the republication.
I am in the "bloody Sixth Ward.”
Yours most interruptedly.
NEW YORK, October 30, 1844. Last night, after my return from lecture, who should come in but Packard, on his way to Boston. On Saturday night I heard the guns announcing the Great Western; these big things are now quite punctual. Smyth [of Charleston] came in the Western, bringing $1,500 worth of books with him. He was called up, impromptu, in the Farewell Missionary meeting, on Sunday, and made an admirable address. Brown (for China) sailed yesterday. Mr. Masters [an elder of Duane street] is ill with fever. Mr. Auchincloss had a touch of illness on the 28th. Mr. Hinsdale has left us for Brooklyn. Mr. Beers, our only remaining elder, is up the river. On Monday evening I heard Major Mordecai Manasseh Noah, on the Restoration of Israel ; an hour and a half: rain, but full house. Doctrine : the Jews are to be restored to their own land. Inference: Christians should aid, by procuring for Israelites a secure tenure of land in Palestine. He proposed to the Society for Conversion of Jews, to deliver several lectures under their auspices. The outcry against Merle's History as altered by the Tract Society is very absurd. The book is exactly what it was, to all intents and purposes : and its influence is rendered a hundredfold greater by the Society taking it up. I have carefully collated all the passages in question ; and while I think the alterations needless, I would not give one cent for the difference. Certain New School men are bent on awakening a New School sectarism, as against all Union Societies. They mean to have a Publication Board. These jealousies are horrid. I do not wonder that some pastors feel themselves at length constrained to do all their works within their own parish. I cannot but think that spiritual religion is at a low ebb in our churches in this city. Never have I heard, in the same amount of visiting, so little savoury discourse. I believe Puseyism triumphs, (not because Presbyterians fight so little, brag so little, and stickle