Imatges de pÓgina

“What is the use of my voting at all ?" gifted with a finer natural taste for drinking said a graduate of Harvard, “when the and fighting than for work, he, in course last wild Irishman--imported, perhaps, not of time, becomes drafted into the ranks of more than a month ago, and duly invested the “shoulder-hitters” and “repeaters,” or, with all the rights of citizenship by fraudu- in plain English, of those gentry who carry lent naturalisation papers-can walk down to a sublime point their obedience to the to the polls and neutralise my vote? It is precept, “Vote early, and vote often," and, of no use, sir. The educated classes in voting themselves in half a dozen different this city do not stand a chance against the wards during the day, by their ruffianly illiterate mass of adopted citizens; they just demeanour very effectually deter more hang together and carry everything before peaceful citizens from recording their them, so that a white man, unless he can votes at all. boast an 0 or a Mac in front of his name, To these may be added the army of has no more chance of oocupying the roughs, generally the keepers of low ginsmallest position than a nigger."

shops, gaming-houses, and the professional The wide prevalence of such doctrines as thieves, their friends, admirers, and acthese, and the complete lapse of Upperten- complices. The latter, during the leisure dom into pococurantism," bore the fruit hours they can spare from the exercise of that might have been expected, and the their regular profession, devote themselves whole patronage of the city, and the entire vigorously to the pursuit of politics and administration of the city revenues, fell whisky, and many a rascal owes his escape into the hands of the remarkable institu- from justice to the partial feeling of a tion holding its head-quarters at Tammany judge, in whose election the thief or some Hall. The hall, a huge building sur- of his friends had taken a prominent part. mounted by a stone effigy of a colossal Inquiring one day of a worthy merchant, Indian, is situate in Fourteenth-street, in a man of substance, if he knew anything the very centre of New York, and here the of a sprightly young fellow, who appeared chiefs of Tammany were wont to meet and to know everybody, this gentleman gave me decide on the campaign tactics of the the following astounding reply: democratic party.

“ Don't know exactly-guess he is a It may, perhaps, be well to remind the gambler or a politician!" English reader that the democratic is The order wherein the several profesthe conservative party in America, as sions were named, gives a correct idea of opposed to the republican, black republican, the public feeling towards the two classes or abolitionist party, now victorious so far of adventurers. as the central government of the United A certain amount of chivalry is very States is concerned. The democrats, how- absurdly supposed to attach to the "sport" ever, have in many cases retained great or gambler by profession ; his duties are local power, and are distinguished by their arduous, his expenses enormous, he is fresteady adherence to the old-fashioned doc- quently a large speculator in stocks and trine of federalism, and the steady main real estate, and from a hail-fellow-well-met tenance of the obsolete principle of states' point of view, is considered a better sort of rights, a theory propounding the absolute fellow than a "one-horse” politician. The independence and separate sovereignty of more fashionable dress and more polished each individual state. These doctrines manners of the “sport,” also help to mainwere pretty well knocked on the head tain his superiority; he often happens to during the “late misunderstanding," as the have been, at some remote period, a gengreat American war is sometimes desig- tleman, and, although often “ broke,” and nated, but they are still fondly cherished in very much “shattered” in health and rethe democratic bosom, and in few parts of putation, he still retains some slight traces America bave the democrats so long held of his old mode of life; while the rising the reins of power as in the city of New politician is often that most unhappy of York.

wretches, a "cad,” trying his best to appear This party is in no slight degree in- a gentleman, and finding the purple and fine debted for the continuance of its power to linen of newly acquired wealth and imthe ever-increasing element of Irish immi- portance sit as ill on him as did the mantle gration. Every Hibernian is almost, im- in the old ballad on the shoulders of those mediately on his arrival, pounced upon by dames whose reputation was not above " the boys," christened a good democrat, scandal. and made, by hook or by crook, a natural. The low estimate accorded to their craft ised citizen at once. Should the youth be by the public, is not unfrequently a matter



[ocr errors]

of jest among the politicians themselves. At the ontset of life a chair-maker on A short time since two of these worthies no very ambitious scale, nursed in the old were dining together at the Hoffmann volunteer fire department, an intensely House, when, one wishing to “take a rise" political and slightly rowdy organisation, out of his friend, began :

step by step from foreman of his engine “Say, Tom, what have you been doing onward and ever onward, higher and still to the press ? These fellows are calling higher, by ways straight or crooked, unyou more names than would fill a diction- aided except by his own quiet determina

tion and iron will, has this man climbed "Oh!" replied the other, “I don't mind; to his present position. Ostensibly a mere in fact, rather like it! Why only the other commissioner of works, but really a civic day one of the papers compared me to Warwick — a municipal king - maker — he Judas Iscariot” (Eye-scariot he pronounced sets up and pulls down mayors, chamberit), “but I didn't mind !”

lains, comptrollers, collectors. Ever near "No," rejoined his friend, kindly; " you the great sun of the Tammany system is the didn't mind, of course, but—but how about quiet and unobtrusive man who enjoys Judas ?"

the reputation of supplying intellect to the The fashionable season of New York ruling body. This new Carnot, rejoicing extends from November to Lent, and in the initials of Peter B., is dubbed by his during this period a vast number of public friends and foes—Peter Bismarck or Peter balls on a huge scale are organised on Brains Sweeny. He is the great initiator various pretences. The Charity Ball, where of the policy of pseudo-purity, bogus libetwo years ago Prince Arthur was the centre rality, and judicious disinterestedness. He of attraction, is by far the most fashionable is ever preaching to his more voracious col. public ball of the season, and the élite of leagues one invariable doctrine, “Gentlethe city fail not to muster in great force; man, we must disgorge.” Throwing a sop bright gems and brighter eyes may be to Cerberus has ever been his leading idea, counted, not in hundreds but in thousands. and when city chamberlain, he at once Next perhaps in importance is the ball of turned over to the city treasury a huge the Americus Club, an institution of the amount of interest invariably engulfed Tammany “stripe" of politics. At this by preceding chamberlains.

His policy monster gathering the display of diamonds was a sound one, and it redounds some. is perfectly marvellous, the extravagant what to his credit, that, having “got" toilets provoke remark even in the city of enough, he was prepared to “run straight” extravagant expenditure, and among the if the rest of the Ring would have allowed most prominent guests are, or were, the him to do so. chiefs of Tammany.

Chatting to a bevy of fashionablyConspicuous among these is a largely dressed ladies stands Slippery Dick, one framed man,

“ with brawny shoulders of the most popular and best-abused men four foot square ;” huge, heavy-looking, in Gotham. Slippery or not, Dick has but muscular withal; of ungainly aspect managed to accumulate a huge fortune, as to his limbs, labouring under an un- and knows right well how to enjoy it. fortunate incapability of finding gloves Very late in arrival, and very early in delarge enough, or boots creaseless enough, parture; last in the battle, and first in to encompass his vast extremities, but the retreat; is a slender, dapper-looking exulting in a deep chest heaving beneath a gentleman, happy in tlie possession of an snowy expanse of linen decorated with an elegantly trimmed beard, and taking pride immense diamond solitaire. Surmounting in the “ nice conduct” of an eye-glass. His this ungainly body is a massive head step is light and springy, his hand ever crowned with grizzled locks. From be- ready to greet his innumerable friends; he

pair of bushy eyebrows gleam is admirably "fixed” in the bluest of blue bright but sunken eyes, while a heavy “clawhammer” coats, the whitest of vests, beard, streaked with silver, conceals the and the brightest of all possible brass massive jaw and determined chin. This buttons. With jaunty self-possession, with man is indeed a man of mark, the object bright glance overflowing with genial good of many greetings and hand-shakings, humour, he moves briskly among the throng, friendly and servile, for he is a leader of feeling quite at home, and why not? for men; his word is law, his smile is wealth, he is, municipally speaking, the “biggest his frown ruin; he is the great chief, the man" there, and rules, or rather seems to Grand Sachem of Tammany, the Boss of rule, the city according to his own good the Ring.

pleasure. Originally a smart lawyer, then

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

combining that profession with the ardent Mushroom once kept a gambling-house in pursuit of politics and occasional excur- | 'Frisco, and has committed, I guess, about sions into the realms of literature, pleading every crime that wasn't out of his reach.” causes, addressing “fellow-citizens,” and Such is the rage of the celestial soul of editing the New York Leader by turns, he woman at the sight of unattainable jewels. bas made his way


tolerable There is only one slight drawback to these rapidity to the highest municipal position gigantic balls; it is clearly impossible to attainable. Like Warren Hastings and dance, unless a waltz on the area of an other great men, the mayor of New York ordinary chess-board can be denominated is addicted to the composition of feeble dancing. But many who come to dance verses ; but what is this one small speck remain to drink, and at one of these balls upon the face of an "ancillary planet ? my evil star led me among a knot of well

The city judges, some of whom correspond known politicians. These were men known in position with our stipendiary magistrates, to everybody in New York, men whom are in great force. One genial gentleman every one called by their Christian names. is accused on all hands of being kept by Of course the champagne flowed freely: it the managers or mismanagers of the Erie always is flowing freely on some pretence or Railway; near him, gossiping with the other in Gotham. Equally as a matter of gayest group in the house, is the plucky course, every man was formally introduced little judge, “Gunny," who has earned to all the rest, hands were very profusely immense renown by actually daring to in- shaken, and names went very much in at flict severe sentences on several prominent one ear and out at the other. It was a jolly, malefactors. The mere fact of a judge an excessively jolly party. Among the being praised to the skies for doing his lively crowd was one gentleman conspicuous simple duty, affords a singular comment by the bravery of his apparel. Faultlessly, on the general administration of justice. too fanltlessly dressed, booted and gloved Imagine Sir Thomas Henry being compli- to perfection, oiled, curled, waxed, and mented in the Times, and compared to gummed within an inch of his life, he was Chief Justice Gascoigne, for daring to the very bean ideal of a New York dandy. commit Mr. William Sikes for trial ! The diamonds of this Adonis were enormous

Talking in a low tone, and earnestly, to and his thirst prodigious. Suddenly this the “Thunderbolt” of the Sixth Ward, a thing of beauty asserted his intention of mountain of a man, resplendent in new depriving the assembly of the light of his broadcloth, broad smiles, and the inevitable presence. Addressing the little knot of diamonds, is a tall handsome man, not only revellers, and noticing some rather noisy better-looking, but more gentleman-like proceedings in another corner of the room, than most of the greater chiefs. He was for- Adonis opened his month and said with merly—but a few years ago-a clerk in the fine aristocratic disdain: house of A. T. Stewart, but plunging into "I guess this thing is getting rayther the sea of politics his talents have brought mixed—I shall go." And with many

affechim to the top of the wave. Enthusiastic tionate farewells the elegant hero was admirers predict his certain election at the suffered to depart. An inquiry touching next contest for the mayoralty.

the identity of the exclusive gentleman But there is a buzz of excitement. Mrs. elicited the following reply:

" You don't Mushroom's diamonds have just arrived. know him? I

guess you don't know Every one is excited to a violent pitch ; all enough to go in-doors when it rains. That's crowd to obtain a glimpse of the diamonds. the eminent forger, S., just out on bail!" Mrs. Mushroom arrives leaning on her hus- It may easily be imagined that a society band's arm. She is a showy-looking lady, striking its roots so deeply into the slough with a great deal of fair hair more or less of the city, and not disdaining even the authentic. Her toilet is a marvel; heavy state prison as a nursery of voters, must be satins and priceless laces struggle for pre- powerful indeed. Marshalled by old tactieminence; her panier is the biggest, her cians, veterans of many a meeting, men train the longest in the room. But the deeply learned in all the mysteries of axediamonds-oh, the diamonds ! they blaze grinding, log - rolling, and wire - pulling, and glitter, twinkle and dazzle, raising, electing the very judges themselves, it is not meanwhile, storms of envy, hatred, malice, to be wondered at that the forces of Tamaud uncharitableness in the bosoms of fair many have so long proved irresistible. As spectators. One of these last whispers Napoleon held his artillery in his hand, confidentially:

comme un coup de pistolet,” as Mr. Se“She is heavy on diamonds now, but ward during the civil war boasted that the

[ocr errors]





liberty of every citizen was at the mercy ing hymenopteræ. A tiny hill of sand, reof his "little bell,” even so did the Grand cently thrown out, caught his eye. It masked Sachem of Tammany rule the minor the orifice of a deep passage, which he traced slaves of the Ring.

by cautiously working with a spade. Soon The treachery of a discontented confede- he saw sparkling the brilliant wing-cases of rate has at last laid bare to the world the a much-coveted buprestis; soon afterwards history of the most extraordinary system a whole buprestis; and then three and four of fraud and spoliation that blots the page entire buprestes delighted his gaze with of history, and the eyes of Europe are now their emeralds and gold. He could not anxiously watching the efforts of the in- believe his eyes. And that was only the behabitants of the Empire City to free them- ginning of his discoveries. Out of the ruins selves from the thraldom of the fatal Ring, of the mine there crept a hymenopterous which has so long enclosed them in its insect, which he captured as it tried to make circle of corruption.

its escape. In it he recognised the Cerceris

The entomologist's hot blood was up.
DESIGN OR DEVELOPMENT ? It was not enough to have found the

murderer and the victims; he must know In many parts of France the walks and who were the consumers of all this rare alleys in parks and gardens are merely the and valuable prey. It was as if he had natural loam beaten hard, sometimes mixed found a human larder stocked with golden or coated over with road scrapings. In pheasants and birds of paradise. Having wet weather this forms a sticky, slippery exhausted this first buprestiferous vein, surface, so inconvenient as to lead to the which he had followed to the depth of a insertion of a line of small flags or step- foot, he tried other soundings. In less ping-stones along the principal walks, to than an hour he disinterred three cerceris render the passage along them possible dens, and his reward was fifteen whole after heavy rains. But in hot dry seasons buprestes, with the fragments of a still they become hard and smooth, attaining greater number. Here was a perspective the consistency of a compact stucco. In to look forward to! In that locality he this state, their only defect is a tendency could catch in a few hours fifty or sixty to cracking; but as the cracks are never female cerceres on the blossoms of various wide nor deep enough to serve as pitfalls species of garlic. Their nests must be in to the smallest babe, the fault offends the the neighbourhood, provisioned in the same cyo rather than the foot of those who walk luxurious style. In them he would find,

by hundreds, rare buprestes of which he Besides the cracks, these plaster-like had never been able to catch a single in. walks are often perforated with holes, out dividual during thirty long years of assiof which earth has been thrown by some duous hunting. And this dream soon agent within.

By watehing a hole, you became a reality. will see issuing from and entering it, a bee- Some days afterwards, while visiting the like insect, of mild and innocent mien-it estate of one of his friends, in the midst actually feeds itself on the pollen of flowers of forests of maritime pines, he set about —but which provides a store of fresh another cerceris hunt. Their dens were insect-meat for its young, in a way which easily recognised. They were exclusively would make the late Mr. Burke hide his excavated in the principal alleys of the diminished head. A medical man, Doctor garden, where the compact and wellLéon Dufour, discovered the crime, but trodden soil offered the necessary condifailed to detect the real secret of the tions of solidity for the establishment of creature's operations. He calls the culprit the insect's domicile. He examined, in the Cerceris bupresticide-Cerceris, the bu- sweat of his brow, about twenty nests; for prestis-slayer.

the work is not so easy as might be In July, 1840, while going his rounds, a imagined. The treasuries, and patient suffering under some small ailment quently the treasures, are never less than a which few people die of kept him waiting foot underground. The best plan to effect To

pass the time he went into the garden, the burglary is to thrust into the orifice of and took his post in an alley on the look- the mine a straw or a long stem of grass, out for something. But seeing no more to serve as a conducting clue, and then to than Sister Anne did at first, he searched sap round it with a garden spade, so as to the pathway for the habitations of burrow- lift out the central lump of earth in one or

upon them.


two pieces, and then break it up circum- with her quarry between her paws, she spectly on the ground.

alights at the door of her underground Lively were the perspiring huntsman's lodging, and deposits it there for half a transports every time he exposed to view a moment. Entering the gallery backwards, freshcollection of beetles blazing with she seizes the helpless victim in her jaws, copper, emeralds, and gold, and which and drags it to the very bottom. Her glittered all the brighter for the burning visits are not confined to the time of prosunshine. Never, during his long career as viding her family with food. About the a naturalist, had he gazed on such a spec- middle of August, when the buprestes are tacle, or enjoyed such a treat. He knew devoured, and the larvæ are hermetically not which to admire most—the brilliant sealed in their cocoons, the cerceris is coleopteræ, or the wonderful sagacity of seen to enter her gallery without bringing the cerceres who had put them in store. anything with her. It is clear that the Incredible as it may seem, amongst more anxious mother wishes to make sure, by than four hundred individuals so ware- repeated visits, that no enemy or accident housed, the closest investigation could threatens to destroy her progeny. not find the smallest fragment which did But by what inconceivable impulse is the not belong to the genus Buprestis. The cerceris, who feeds herself on nothing but learned collectors, though simple hymen- the pollen of flowers, urged to procure, in opteræ, had not once committed the most spite of a thousand difficulties, a total diftrifling mistake.

ferent diet for descendants whom she will The cerceres show themselves to be no never behold, and to lie in wait on trees so fools, by the way in which they shape and dissimilar as oaks and pines, for the insects stock their subterranean nurseries. We which are destined to become her prey ? have seen that they select hard, solid soil, What entomological tact compels her well beaten, and exposed to sunshine. This strictly to confine herself, in the choice of choice implies an intelligence, or, if you her game, to one single generic group of prefer it, an instinct, which we might feel insects of which she seems the born foe, and inclined to believe the result of experience. all the while capturing species which differ Light or sandy soils would undoubtedly be considerably amongst themselves in length, much easier to perforate, but they would be dimensions, and configuration ? continually apt to give way and cave in. The innate propensity which induces the Our insect digs her gallery by means of her cerceris to construct a 'nest for her young mandibles and her anterior tarsi, which, for deep in the ground, manifests an instinct this purpose, are garnished with teeth, like at once marvellous and sublime. That those of a rake. She makes the entrance depth indicates that the tender larve will wider than the diameter of her body, be- have to pass the winter snug in their cause it has to admit a prey of larger burrows. Her maternal solicitude places dimensions than herself. The gallery is them out of the reach of the inclemency not vertical, which would make it liable to of winter. And yet this careful mother be filled up by the wind and other causes.

see her offspring. Nor has Not far from its origin it makes a bend, experience given her the slightest hint which usually runs, for seven or "eight that such things as winter and its frosts inches from south to north, returning then exist, since she came into the world during to its first direction. Beyond the termina- the great heats of summer, and after tion of this final gallery the careful mother having provided for the future destinies of places her progeny's cradles. These latter her family, she dies before the temperature are five separate and independent cells, is sensibly lowered. How can such facts disposed in a sort of semicircle, hollowed be accounted for by any imaginable prointo the form and size of an olive, polished cess of natural selection or progressive and solid in their interior. Each cell is development? The phenomena are inexlarge enough to contain three buprestes, plicable, except by a belief in Divine Prothe ordinary ration allowed to each larva. vidence and Creative Wisdom. It appears that the mother fly lays one egg The unearthing of the nests of the in the midst of the three victims, and then cerceris reveals a very singular fact. The closes the cell with earth in such a way buried buprestes, though showing no signs that when the provisioning of the whole of of life, are always perfectly fresh, as though the brood is concluded, all communication killed that very day. Their colours are bright with the gallery ceases to exist.

will never

and life-like; their legs, antennæ, and the When the cerceris returns from hunting membranes which unite the segments of

« AnteriorContinua »