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in England, seems adapted for a home life. From the severity of the winters, there can be no outdoor amusements during a great portion of the year; but, under any circumstances, there appears to be not much of public life. There are no cafés ; and the nearest approach to any places of public resort, the hotel bar-rooms, are not places where you can sit down, or find any amusement, as an habitué, except that of drinking.
Undoubtedly, out of doors, you see evidences of a public equality, or rather absence of inequality, among all classes, which cannot fail to strike an inhabitant of the Old World. In the streets, the man in the hat and broadcloth coat and the man in corduroys and fustian jacket never get out of each other's way or expect the other to make way for him. In the cars and omnibuses ladies and washerwomen, gentlemen and labourers, sit hustled together without the slightest mutual sense of incongruity. In the shops and from the servants it is your own fault if you are not treated with perfect civility—but with civility as to an equal, not as to a superior. In the bar-rooms there is no distinction of customers ; and as long as you pay your way, and behave quietly, you are welcome whatever your dress may be. No doubt the cause of this general equality is the absence of the classes brutalized by poverty whom you see in all our great cities. There is a great deal of poverty in New York, and the Five Points quarter—the Seven Dials of the city-is, especially on a bitter winter's day, as miserable a haunt of vice and misery as it was ever my lot to witness in Europe, Still, compared with the size of New York, this quarter is a very small one; and poverty there, bad as it is, is not helpless poverty. The fleeting population of the Five Points is composed of the lowest and most shiftless of the recent foreign emigrants; and in the course of a few years they, or at any rate their children, move to other quarters, and become prosperous and respectable. From these causes, and from the almost universal diffusion of education, there is no class exactly analogous to our English idea of the mob. The fact that well-nigh everybody you meet is comfortably dressed seems to disprove the existence of those dangerous classes which always attract the notice of a foreigner in England. There are few beggars about the town, and of those few, all are children. For an Anglo-Saxon population, there is very little drunkenness visible in the streets; and with regard to other forms of public vice it is not for an Englishman to speak severely. The Broadway saloons, with their so-called “pretty waiter-girls,” and the Lager Bier haunts in the low quarters of the town, whose windows are crowded with wretched halfdressed, or undressed women, formed, indeed, about the most shameless exhibition of public vice I have ever come across, even in England or Holland; and I am glad to say that, since I left New York, the State Government, under a republican as opposed to a democratic legislature, has taken means to suppress these social nuisances. But in the streets at night, there are few of the scenes which habitually disgrace our own metropolis.
The great quiet and order of the city are in themselves remarkable. There is an air of unsecured security about New York I never saw equalled out of England. There are no soldiers about, as in a continental capital; and the policemen-nearly as fine a body of men, by the way, as our London police-appear to devote their energies to preserving Broadway from being utterly jammed up by carts, and to escorting ladies across that most treacherous of thoroughfares. The people seem instinctively to keep themselves in order. How a row would be suppressed if there was one, I cannot say; I only know that, during my stay in New York, I never saw anything approaching to a disturbance in any public place or thoroughfare.
But, in truth, everything there is so different from what one would expect it to be in theory. Under a democratic republic like that of New York State, where, practically, the suffrage is universal, one would expect that in all social matters the convenience and interests of the individual would be sacrificed to those of the public. The very contrary is the fact. The principle of vested rights—the power of every individual to consult his own inclinations in defiance of his neighbour's convenience—is carried there to a perfect absurdity. Anybody may build his house after his own fancy, in total disregard of the architectural style of the houses by which it is surrounded. Anybody may stop his cart or carriage where he likes; and I have seen Wall Street in its busiest hours blocked up by a stoppage caused by some brewer's dray, which chose to stand still at the side of the narrow street. Anybody has a right to get into the cars or omnibuses so long as he can squeeze his way in ; and thus the cars—in themselves the most comfortable street conveyances I have ever travelled in-are rendered at times almost insufferable by the fact that the broad space between the seats is crammed with extra passengers, standing on, or in dangerous proximity to, the toes of the seated travellers. Cheap comfortable cabs are the one great luxury in which New York is deficient, and a cab company would probably be the most profitable of speculations ; but the old hackney-coach proprietors, who possess the most rickety of two-horse, tumble-down vehicles, and who charge any price they like, from a dollar upwards, for any distance, have always, by their vested interests, contrived to thwart the introduction of cabs. The illustration, however, of this state of public feeling which most strikes a stranger is the state of the public streets in winter-time. It has been my fortune, or misfortune, in the course of many years of travel, to ride over a good number of bad roads of every kind of badness; but no road I have literally, as well as metaphorically, stumbled across, is to compare with Broadway during last winter's snows. When it froze hard at night, the street next day was a succession of Montagnes Russes, up and down which the carriages slid wildly. Over the pavement lay a coating of some three or four feet of snow, indented with holes and furrows and ridges of most alarming magnitude. Whenever there was a temporary thaw, this mass of ice and snow became a pond of slush-a very slough of despond. Without exaggeration, crossing the main-streets was a work of danger. Falls of foot-passengers were things of constant occurrence, while the struggles of the floundering horses to drag the carriages out of the ruts and crevasses were really painful to witness. I believe the state of the streets was somewhat worse that year than usual ; but every year there is more or less of the same sort of thing. The one cause of all this obstruction is, that the contractor who has undertaken to keep the streets clean has failed to fulfil the spirit, if not the letter, of his contract. Everybody grumbles—just as we do in London when a gas company stops up the Strand for the sake of tinkering its pipes—but nobody proposes to interfere and insist on the nuisance being summarily removed. The vested rights of the individual contractor override the rights of the public.