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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 placesbut 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, the 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 neighbouring villages-particularly of Germantown. Springs, creeks, groves and copses, which once broke and diversified the ground, now levelled and drawn out into streets, are located and recorded. They are all gone, long since, and forgotten; but this indefatigable inquirer has performed a grateful service to society by rescuing them from oblivion.
The rapid increase of our city being frequently the subject of conversation, gentlemen, not much beyond the middle age, are heard to say, that they have skated on ponds as far east as Seventh, and even Fifth, streets; and many remember lots, inclosed by post and rail fences, in the now most populous and busy streets. But we had not heard of a duck and geese pond near to Christ church, until we found it mentioned in the manuscript just alluded to. The writer of this interesting collection has discovered also the location of a mineral spring, spoken of in Penn's letters; and at least of six others within the city; and particularly a remarkable basin surrounded by shrubs, called “ Bathsheba’s spring and bower.” Many circumstances respecting Philadelphia, not of sufficient importance to be admitted into a regular history, will be found in this book. They will be amusing to our children; and indeed there is much, of which the younger
part of the present generation are entirely ignorant. These things, trifling as they may appear, at first view, are worth preserving; and all who remember the olden time will do well to contribute their mite.
I CAME from ocean's deepest cave,
And near the ruins of a wreck, Snatched this sea garland from a grave,
Whose weeds had overgrown the deck. List-listen to the mermaid's song,
Though shrill her voice, and wild the note; The music of the seas belong
To those that o'er our caverns float.
The spirit of the storm below,
Awakened from his ocean bed, And sent his messenger of woe
To bid the living join the dead. The mirror surface of the sea,
Whose heavy swelling bosom's still As death, when mountain waves shall be
The subject of our Neptune's will.
List, mariners ! the sea-bird screams,
The tempest and the whirlwind's nigh! Now starts, affrighted in his dreams,
The sailor boy, whose visions fly, Like phantoms from the home of bliss
That sailed on fancy's pinions there, To know that in a world like this,
Hope's spirit leaves it in despair.
Look, mariners! yon sable cloud
Is clothed with thunder ! as it forms, Thick darkness gathers like a shroud,
Suspended o'er a sea of storms. List, panic stricken crew! and hear
The peal that ocean's echo brings, That bursts upon the startled ear,
Whilst desolation spreads her wings.
The whirlwind's sporting with my locks
I feel the stormy spirit's breath, That kisses on our coral rocks,
Their mermaid messengers of death. More wildly now my ringlets wave
Destruction's hidden shoals are near; Avoid them as thou would'st the grave,
As hope would shrink fromi panic fear.
I'll leave your crowded ship-farewell;
I seek my coral groves once more, The next high mountain waves that swell,
Shall dash ye on a flinty shore. The Hornet hath my warning heard
If fate should plunge her in the deep, The screaming of the wild sea bird,
Shall ne'er disturb the dreamer's sleep.
The mermaid sunk-the waves arose,
On naked rocks they dashed their foam ; That fatal spot's the grave of those
Who made the Hornet's deck their home. Her gallant crew will rise no more,
Till wakened from their ocean bed; She, anchored 'neath life's bleaky shore, Hath joined the navy of the dead.