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ly ruin of so many more, was necessa- growing facilities of New York for rily detrimental to its social refinement. making commercial fortunes brought It was taking away the high-toned dig forward, and thus, by degrees, was ushnity of the landed proprietors, and sub- ered in—the age of gaudy wealth. stituting in its place the restless aspira- The final blow, indeed, to this stately tions of men who had to make their old society was given by the French fortunes and position, and get forward Revolution. We know how every thing in life. Society lost, therefore, much dignified in society was then swept of its ease and gracefulness. Mrs. Grant, away in the wild fury of democracy, to whose work we have already alluded, but the present generation cannot conwho in her youth had seen New York ceive of the intense feeling which that society as far back as 1760, and lived to event produced in our own country. know what it was after the peace, thus France had been our old ally, England speaks of the change : “ Mildness of our old foe. We must side with the manners, refinement of mind, and all former in her struggles agairfst tyranny. the softer virtues that spring up in the It became a political test. The Repubcultivated paths of social life, nurtured licans adopted it, and insensibly there by generous affections, were undoubted- seemed to grow up the idea that refinely to be found in the unhappy loyalists. ment and courtesy in life were at vari
Certainly, however necessary ance with the true party-spirit. In this the ruling powers might find it to carry way democratic rudeness crept into sotheir system of exile into execution, it cial life, and took the place of the arishas occasioned to the country an irrepa- tocratic element of former days. Gradurable privation. What the loss of the ally it went down into the lower strata Huguenots was to commerce and manu- of society, till all that reverence which factures in France, that of the loyalists once characterized it was gone. was to religion, literature, and amenity The manners of an individual at last in America. The silken threads were became an evidence of his political drawn out of the mixed web of society, views. Goodrich, in his “Recollecwhich has ever since been comparative- tions, speaking on this very point, ly coarse and homely." *
gives an amusing instance of it. A This is somewhat of an exaggeration. clergyman in Connecticut, who was The tone of society was, indeed, im- noted for his wit, riding along one paired, but not lost. There were still summer day, came to a brook, where he enough of the old families remaining paused to let his horse drink. Just to give it dignity, at least for another then a stranger rode into the stream generation. The community could not from the opposite direction, and, as his suddenly become democratic, or throw horse began to drink also, the two men off all its old associations and habits of
were brought face to face. As a writer on that day “ How are you, priest ?" said the says, people were
habituated to take stranger. off their hats to gentlemen who were “How are you, democrat ?" inquired got up regardless of expense, and who the parson. rode about in chariots drawn by four “How do you know I am a demohorses." It took a long while for the crat ?" said one. community to learn to act on the max- “How do you know I am a priest ?" im that “all men are created equal." said the other. Not, indeed, until those were swept “I know you to be a priest by your away who had lived in the days of the dress," said the stranger. Revolution, did this downward ten- "And I know you to be a democrat dency become very evident. Simulta- by your address," said the parson. neously, too, with their departure came Even the dress was made the expoa set of the nouveaua riches, which the nent of party views, as much as it had # " American Lady," p. 330.
been by the Cavaliers and Puritans of
England. As republican principles which characterizes this age. There gained ground, large wigs and powder, was still in New York a reverence for cocked hats, breeches and shoe-buckles, the colonial families, and the prominent were replaced by short hair, pantaloons, political men — like Duane, Clinton, and shoe-strings. It is said that the Colden, Radcliff, Hoffman, and LivingMarquis de Brézé, master of ceremonies ston—were generally gentlemen by birth at Versailles, nearly died of fright at and social standing. The time had not the first pair of shoes, divested of buckles, yet come when this was to be an objecwhich he saw on the feet of a revolu- tion to an individual in a political cationary minister ascending the stairs to
The leaders were men whose a royal levée.
He rushed over to Du- names were historical in the State, and mouriez, then Minister of War. “He is they influenced society. The old famiactually entering,” exclaimed the Mar- lies still formed an association among quis, “with ribbons in his shoes ! themselves, and intermarried one geneDumouriez, himself one of the incen- ration after another. Society was, therediaries of the Revolution, solemnly said, fore, very restricted. The writer re"Tout est fini !"_“The game is up; members, in his childhood, when he the monarchy is gone." And so it was. went out with his father for his usual This was only one of the signs of the afternoon drive, he knew every carriage times. Buckles and kings were extin- they met on the avenues. guished together.
The gentlemen of that day knew each Such being the feelings of the sans other well, for they had grown up toculottes in France, the favorers of Jaco- gether, and their associations in the binism in this country were not slow past were the same. Yet, what friendto imitate them. Jefferson eschewed ships for after-life did these associations breeches and wore pantaloons. He form! How different this from the inadopted leather strings in his shoes in- timacy between Mr. Smith and Mr. stead of buckles, and his admirers trum- Thompson, when they knew nothing of peted it as a proof of democratic sim- each other's antecedents, have no subplicity. Washington rode to the capi- jects in common but the money-market, tol in a carriage drawn by four cream- and never heard of each other until the colored horses with servants in livery. last year, when some lucky speculation All this his successor gave up, and even in stocks raised them from their "low abolished the President's levées, the lat- estate," and enabled them to purchase ter of which were afterwards restored houses“ up-town," and set up their carby Mrs. Madison. Thus the dress, which riages ! had for generations been the sign and There was, in that day, none of the symbol of a gentleman, gradually waned show and glitter of modern times; but away, till society reached that charm- there was, with many of these families, ing state of equality in which it became particularly with those who had retainimpossible, by any outward costume, to ed their landed estates, and were still distinguish masters from servants. John living in their old family-homes, an Jay says, in one of his letters, that with elegance which has never been rivalled small-clothes and buckles the high tone in other parts of the country. In his of society departed.
early days, the writer has been much at In the writer's early day this system the South; has stayed at Mount Vernon, of the past was just going out. Wigs when it was yet held by the Washingand powder and queues, breeches and tons; with Lord Fairfax's family at buckles, still lingered among the older Ashgrove and Vancluse; with the Lees gentlemen-vestiges of an age which in Virginia, and with the aristocratic was just vanishing away. But the high- planters of South Carolina; but he has toned feeling of the last century was never elsewhere seen such elegance of still in the ascendant, and had not yet living as was formerly exhibited by the succumbed to the worship of mammon old families of New York.
Gentlemen then were great diners- ciations of the past, distinguished in out. Their associations naturally led to public life, and a ripe scholar in literathis kind of intimacy, when almost the ture and theology? The old historical same set constantly met together. Giv- names of Jay and Duer and Hoffman, ing dinners was then a science, and a and a few more of colonial times, are gentleman took as much pride in the still upheld among us by their sons, excellence of his wine-cellar as he did who are showing, in the third generain his equipage or his library. This had tion, the high talents of those who had its evils, it is true, and led to long sit- gone before them ; " but what are they tings over the table, and an excess of among so many !" conviviality which modern customs
“Rari nantes in gurgite vasto." have fortunately corrected.
There was a punctiliousness, too, in The influences of the past are fast their intercourse, even among the most vanishing away, and our children will intimate, which formed a strange con- look only to the shadowy future. The trast to the familiarity of modern soci- very rule by which we estimate indiety. Gentlemen were guarded in what viduals has been entirely altered. The they said to each other, for those were inquiry once was, “ Who is he?" Men duelling-days, and a hasty speech had now ask the question, “ Hów much is to be atoned for at Hoboken. Stories he worth ?" Have we gained by the are still handed down of disputes at change ? the dinner-table which led to hostile Is it strange that the writer answers meetings, but which, in our day, would in himself that description in Horacenot have been remembered next morn- “ Laudator acti temporis, me puero ?” ing. In an obituary-sketch of one of As years gather round him; and the this set, published at his death twenty- shadows deepen in his path, he instinctfive years ago, when speaking of the ively turns more and more from the high tone which then characterized so- “living Present" to commune with the ciety, the writer said: “Perhaps the “dead Past.” Many, however, to whom liability, which then existed, of being he has referred in these pages, will be held personally answerable for their to most of his readers only names, while words, false as the principle may have to him they are realities-living and been, produced a courtesy not known breathing men; and, as he thinks of in these days."
them, he believes there is no delusion in One thing is certain—that there was the conviction that, for elegance and a high tone prevailing at that time, refinement, for all the graces which elewhich is now nowhere seen. The com- vate and ennoble life, they have left no munity then looked up to the public successors.
The outward pressure is men with a degree of reverence which now too democratic. Most of the has never been felt for those who suc- prominent men, also, of the present ceeded them. They were the last of a day, want the associations of the past. race which does not now exist. With As Edward IV. stood on the tower them died the stateliness of colonial of Warwick Castle, and saw marching times. Wealth came in and created & through the park below him the mighty social distinction which took the place lost of retainers who, at the summons of family, and thus society became vul- of the great Earl of Warwick, had garized.
gathered round him, and then thought Since this year began we have wit- how powerless, in comparison, were the nessed the departure of one-Gulian C. new nobles with whom he had attemptVerplanck-who was, perhaps, the last ed to surround his throne, he is said to prominent member of the generation have muttered to himself, “ After all, which has gone. Where can we point you cannot make a great baron out of a to any one of those now living, like new lord !” And so we would say, him, surrounded by the elevating asso- You cannot make out of the new millionaire what was exhibited by the gen- many years ago are becoming more tlemen of our old colonial families ! true : Commerce, indeed, is fast taking the
These are not romantic times place of the true old chivalry with all So beautiful in Spenser's rhymes, its high associations. It is impossible,
So dazzling to the dreaming boy;
Ours are the days of fact, not fable, in this country, for St. Germain to hold
of Knights, but not of the Round Table, its own against the Bourse. Money
Of Baillie Jarvis, not Rob Roy.
And noble name and cultured land, getting is the great object of life in
Palace and park, and vassal band, this practical age, and, every month,
Are powerless to notes of hand the words which Halleck wrote so
Of Rothschild or the Barings.
CRABBED AGE AND YOUTH.
Out, out, Old Age! aroint ye!
I would that altogether,
Ah, Youth, sweet Youth, I love ye!