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Walt Whitman to the Editors of The Daily Crescent, 4 August 1848

A considerable portion of "society," has after all, gone, out of town, to ruralize and fashionize, and achieve for themselves more annoyance from the change of habits, living, and every thing else that conduces to comfort, than if they had staid in the city. Many persons go, merely because it is "the fashion." In reality, however, New York, with the myriad channels of communicating with pleasant spots not distant—with Brooklyn, Staten Island, Hoboken, and other delectable retreats within sight—affords about as comfortable quarters as any other place; as good, even, as many fashionable summer resorts. Every body knows that there is just as much hot weather at those resorts as in town. Such is the philosophy with which we, who have to stay in New York, console ourselves, and make out the case in our own favor. The members of the Common Council, do not seem to coincide in this view of the case. Those safe grave men have decided to take a month's suspension from their labors. The great steamer, (her name is to be "the New World,") mentioned in one of my late letters, could not be induced to "slide," yesterday—to which time her launch had been postponed. She was to have been pulled afloat to-day, and probably has, by this time. She is a tremendous craft, the largest on our waters. Thousands were disappointed here yesterday from her not going off.

Among the peculiarities of the season, here, may be mentioned the numerous public pic-nics. Every pleasant day, there are more or less of these. Sunday Schools, Temperance Societies, "Unions," and all sorts of associations, have them. Some go by water, and some by land. Very many are catchpenny affairs; some are crowded to suffocation—as much money being made as possible, and tickets sold without any proportion to the accommodations engaged. It is wonderful that the steamboats hired for these occasions, are not more often the fields of terrible accidents and life-losing. You see these boats, of a morning, with children, women, and men, all clustered over like bees in a swarm—a black mass of humanity, without room to turn about. When they arrive at the appointed place, ten to one but something very important to the general comfort has been neglected. I went on one the other day, crowded in the manner just described, and not a drop of cold water to drink, on board! which, when you consider that two-thirds the passengers were juveniles and females, you may well conceive the awkwardness of. But then the bar-keeper made a capital job out of it. The weather has been warm and dry for the last few days. Some of the journals publish statements of the potato rot, but it is not generally thought, yet, that there is any reason for alarm. All the other crops continue to do well, and to turn out well.

It has got to be quite the fashion among certain of our New York bachelors, to forego the old and pleasant custom of courtship, before matrimony, and seek for a wife by newspaper advertisement. Here, for instance, is a specimen, from this morning's Herald:

MATRIMONY.1—A gentleman of twenty-five, possessed of a superior education, and a more than ordinarily kind and a fortunate natural temperament, would be happy to marry a worthy girl of fair personal appearance, sound health, and respectable education, from seventeen to twenty-five years of age. A lady possessed of some property preferred. For further acquaintance, address J. F. D.,2 Postoffice. The subscriber begs to assure his fair readers, that whatever motives may have prompted matrimonial advertisements in other instances, his own intentions are sincere and honorable; and he earnestly requests that no lady will reply to him with views foreign to this idea. Reliance may be placed upon a strictly confidential treatment of all communications.

The above no doubt is an advertisement in good faith, and it is very likely, will secure the object aimed at. Moreover, you must know that, of late years, there are two or three "matrimonial exchanges" here—offices where bachelors, widows, maids, and widowers, are furnished with husbands and wives, to order!

We are just received the first guns in the way of election returns, from North Carolina. No judgment of the ultimate result can be formed from them. Though, from this moment the ball may be said to have opened. For three months, we shall have plenty of excitement. But then it is both wholesome and necessary. What in other countries, would be thrown off by a revolution, or an attempt at one, exhausts itself here in politics.



  • 1. For this advertisement, see "Matrimony," The New York Herald (August 4, 1848), [3]. [back]
  • 2. As yet we have no information about this person. [back]
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