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´╗┐Title: Greenwich Village
Author: Chapin, Anna Alice, 1880-1920
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Greenwich Village" ***

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    [Illustration: MILLIGAN COURT. A typical, fragmentary survival
    of Old Greenwich.]


                           GREENWICH VILLAGE


                                  By

                           ANNA ALICE CHAPIN

                 Author of "Wonder Tales from Wagner,"
                       "Masters of Music," etc.


                         WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY
                          ALLAN GILBERT CRAM



                               NEW YORK
                        DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY
                                 1925


                          COPYRIGHT, 1917, BY
                     DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY, Inc.



To

VINCENT C. PEPPE

WHO FIRST SUGGESTED THE WRITING OF THIS BOOK, AND WHOSE UNTIRING
EFFORTS HAVE HAD MUCH TO DO WITH THE SUCCESS OF GREENWICH VILLAGE AS A
POPULAR RESIDENCE SECTION,

THIS BOOK IS DEDICATED



CONTENTS

CHAPTER

I.    THE CHEQUERED HISTORY OF A CITY SQUARE

II.   THE GREEN VILLAGE

III.  THE GALLANT CAREER OF SIR PETER WARREN

IV.   THE STORY OF RICHMOND HILL

V.    "TOM PAINE, INFIDEL"

VI.   PAGES OF ROMANCE

VII.  RESTAURANTS, AND THE MAGIC DOOR

VIII. VILLAGERS

IX.   AND THEN MORE VILLAGERS

      A LAST WORD



ILLUSTRATIONS


Milligan Court                         _Frontispiece_

Map of Old Greenwich Village

Oldest Building on the Square

Jefferson Market

The Cradle of Bohemia

Old St. John's

Washington Arch

The Butterick Building

59 Grove Street

Grove Court

The Brevoort House

Grove Street

The Dutch Oven

Patchin Place

Washington Square South

Macdougal Alley

A Greenwich Studio



A FIRST WORD


"'Tis an awkward thing to play with souls,"--and, to my mind,
Greenwich Village has a very personal soul that requires very personal
and very careful handling. This little foreword is to crave pardon
humbly if my touch has not been light, or deft, or sure. There are so
many things that I may have left out, so many ways in which I must
have erred.

And I want to thank people too,--just here. So many people there are
to thank! I cannot simply dismiss the matter with the usual
acknowledgment of a list of authorities--to which, by the bye, I have
tried to cling as though they were life-buoys in a stormy sea of
research!

There are the kindly individuals,--J.H. Henry, Vincent Pepe, William
van der Weyde, J.B. Martin, and the rest,--who have so generously
placed their own extensive information and collected material at my
disposal. And there are the small army of librarians and clerks and
secretaries and so on, who have given me unlimited patience and most
encouraging personal interest.

And finally, beyond all these, are the Villagers who have taken me in,
and made me welcome, and won my heart for all time. Everyone has been
so kind that my "thank you" must take in all of Greenwich.

It is said that hospitality, neighbourliness and genuine cordiality
are traits of any well-conducted village. Then be sure that our
Village in the city is not behind its rustic fellows. For, wherever
you stray or wherever you stop within its confines, you will always
find the latch-string hung outside.



    "Does a bird need to theorise about building its nest, or
    boast of it when built? All good work is essentially done
    that way--without hesitation, without difficulty, without
    boasting.... And now, returning to the broader question, what
    these arts and labours of life have to teach us of its
    mystery, this is the first of their lessons--that the more
    beautiful the art, the more it is essentially the work of
    people who ... are striving for the fulfilment of a law, and
    the grasp of a loveliness, which they have not yet
    attained.... Whenever the arts and labours of life are
    fulfilled in this spirit of striving against misrule, and
    doing whatever we have to do, honourably and perfectly, they
    invariably bring happiness, as much as seems possible to the
    nature of man."

    --JOHN RUSKIN.



CHAPTER I

_The Chequered History of a City Square_

     ... I know not whether it is owing to the tenderness of
     early association, but this portion of New York appears to
     many persons the most delectable. It has a kind of
     established repose which is not of frequent occurrence in
     other quarters of the long, shrill city; it has a riper,
     richer, more honourable look than any of the upper
     ramifications of the great longitudinal thoroughfare--the
     look of having had something of a social history.--HENRY
     JAMES (in "Washington Square").


There is little in our busy, modern, progressive city to suggest
Father Knickerbocker, with his three-cornered hat and knee-breeches,
and his old-world air so homely and so picturesque. Our great streets,
hemmed by stone and marble and glittering plate glass, crowded with
kaleidoscopic cosmopolitan traffic, ceaselessly resonant with
twentieth century activity, do not seem a happy setting for our
old-fashioned and beloved presiding shade. Where could he fall
a-nodding, to dream himself back into the quaint and gallant days of
the past? Where would he smoke his ancient Dutch pipe in peace? One
has a mental picture of Father Knickerbocker shaking his queued head
over so much noise and haste, so many new-fangled, cluttering things
and ways, such a confusion of aims and pursuits on his fine old
island! And he would be a wretched ghost indeed if doomed to haunt
only upper New York. But it happens that he has a sanctuary, a haven
after his own heart, where he can still draw a breath of relief, among
buildings small but full of age and dignity and with the look of homes
about them; on restful, crooked little streets where there remain
trees and grass-plots; in the old-time purlieus of Washington Square
and Greenwich Village!

The history of old New York reads like a romance. There is scarcely a
plot of ground below Fourteenth Street without its story and its
associations, its motley company of memories and spectres both good
and bad, its imperishably adventurous savour of the past, imprisoned
in the dry prose of registries and records. Let us just take a glance,
a bird's-eye view as it were, of that region which we now know as
Washington Square, as it was when the city of New York bought it for a
Potter's Field.

Perhaps you have tried to visualise old New York as hard as I have
tried. But I will wager that, like myself, you have been unable to
conjure up more than a nebulous and tenuous vision,--a modern New
York's shadow, the ghostly skeleton of our city as it appears today.
For instance, when you have thought of old Washington Square, you have
probably thought of it pretty much as it is now, only of course with
an old-time atmosphere. The whole Village, with all your best
imaginative efforts, persists--does it not?--in being a part of New
York proper.

It was not until I had come to browse among the oldest of Manhattan's
oldest records,--(and at that they're not very old!)--those which show
the reaching out of the fingers of early progress, the first shoots of
metropolitan growth, that the picture really came to me. Then I saw
New York as a little city which had sprung up almost with the speed of
a modern mushroom town. First, in Peter Minuit's day, its centre was
the old block house below Bowling Green; then it spread out a bit
until it became a real, thriving city,--with its utmost limits at
Canal Street! Greenwich and the Bowery Lane were isolated little
country hamlets, the only ones on the island, and far, far out of
town. They appeared as inaccessible to the urban dwellers of that day
as do residents on the Hudson to the confirmed city people
nowadays;--nay, still more so, since trains and motors, subways and
surface cars, have more or less annihilated distance for us.

Washington Square was then in the real wilds, an uncultivated region,
half swamp, half sand, with the Sand Hill Road,--an old Indian
trail,--running along the edge of it, and Minetta Creek taking its
sparkling course through its centre. It was many years before Minetta
was even spanned by a bridge, for no one lived anywhere near it.

Peter Stuyvesant's farm gave the Bowery its name, for you must know
that Bouwerie came from the Dutch word _Bouwerij_, which means farm,
and this country lane ran through the grounds of the Stuyvesant
homestead. A branch road from the Bouwerie Lane led across the stretch
of alternate marsh and sand to the tiny settlement of Greenwich,
running from east to west. The exact line is lost today, but we know
it followed the general limit of Washington Square North. On the east
was the Indian trail.

Sarah Comstock says:

     "The Indian trail has been, throughout our country, the
     beginning of the road. In his turn, the Indian often
     followed the trail of the beast. Such beginnings are
     indiscernible for the most part, in the dusk of history, but
     we still trace many an old path that once knew the tread of
     moccasined feet."

[Illustration: MAP OF OLD GREENWICH VILLAGE. A section of Bernard
Ratzer's map of New York and its suburbs, made in the Eighteenth
Century, when Greenwich was more than two miles from the city.]

Here, between the short lane that ran from the _Bouwerij_ toward the
first young sprout of Greenwich, and the primitive Sand Hill (or Sandy
Hill) Trail lay a certain waste tract of land. It was flanked by the
sand mounds,--part of the Zantberg, or long range of sand
hills,--haunted by wild fowl, and utterly aloof from even that
primitive civilisation. The brook flowed from the upper part of the
Zantberg Hills to the Hudson River, and emptied itself into that great
channel at a point somewhere near Charlton Street. The name Minetta
came from the Dutch root,--_min_,--minute, diminutive. With the
popular suffix _tje_ (the Dutch could no more resist that than the
French can resist _ette_!) it became _Mintje_,--the little one,--to
distinguish it from the _Groote Kill_ or large creek a mile away. It
was also sometimes called _Bestavaar's Killetje_, or Grandfather's
Little Creek, but _Mintje_ persisted, and soon became Minetta.

Minetta was a fine fishing brook, and the adjacent region was full of
wild duck; so, take it all in all, it was a game preserve such as
sportsmen love. It seems that the old Dutch settlers were fond of
hunting and fishing, for they came here to shoot and angle, as we
would go into--let us say--the Adirondacks or the Maine woods!

"A high range of sand hills traversed a part of the island, from
Varick and Charlton to Eighth and Green streets," says Mary L. Booth,
in her history. "To the north of these lay a valley through which ran
a brook, which formed the outlet of the springy marshes of Washington
Square...."

And here, on the self-same ground of those "springy marshes," is
Washington Square today.

The lonely Zantberg,--the wind-blown range of sand hills; the cries of
the wild birds breaking the stillness; the quietly rippling stream
winding downward from the higher ground in the north, and now and
then, in the spring of the year, overflowing its bed in a wilderness
of brambles and rushes;--do these things make you realise more plainly
the sylvan remoteness of that part of New York which we now know as
Downtown?

A glance at Bernard Ratzer's map--made in the beginning of the last
half of the eighteenth century for the English governor, Sir. Henry
Moore--shows the only important holdings in the neighbourhood at that
time: the Warren place, the Herrin (Haring or Harring) farm, the Eliot
estate, etc. The site of the Square, in fact, was originally composed
of two separate tracts and had two sources of title, divided by
Minetta Brook, which crossed the land about sixty feet west of where
Fifth Avenue starts today. Westward lay that rather small portion of
the land which belonged to the huge holdings of Sir. Peter Warren, of
whom more anon.

The eastern part was originally the property of the Herrings, Harrings
or Herrins,--a family prominent among the early Dutch settlers and
later distinguished for patriotic services to the new republic. They
appear to have been directly descended from that intrepid Hollander,
Jan Hareng of the city of Hoorn, who is said to have held the narrow
point of a dike against a thousand Spaniards, and performed other
prodigious feats of valour. In the genealogical book I read, it was
suggested that the name Hareng originated in some amazingly large
herring catch which (I quote verbatim from that learned book)
"astonished the city of Hoorn,"--and henceforth attached itself to the
redoubtable fisherman!

The earliest of the family in this city was one Jan Pietersen Haring,
and his descendants worked unceasingly for the liberty of the republic
and against the Tory party. In 1748, Elbert Haring received a grant of
land which was undoubtedly the farm shown in the Ratzer map. A tract
of it was sold by the Harring (Herring) family to Cornelius
Roosevelt; it passed next into Jacob Sebor's hands, and in 1795 was
bought by Col. William S. Smith, a brilliant officer in Washington's
army, and holder of various posts of public office.

There was a Potter's Field, a cemetery for the poor and friendless,
far out in the country,--i.e., somewhere near Madison Square,--but it
was neither big enough nor accessible enough. In 1789, the city
decided to have another one. The tract of land threaded by Minetta
Water, half marsh and half sand, was just about what was wanted. It
was retired, the right distance from town and excellently adapted to
the purposes of a burying ground. The ground, popular historians to
the contrary, was by no means uniformly swampy. When filled in, it
would, indeed, be dry and sandy,--the sandy soil of Greenwich extends,
in some places, to a depth of fifty feet. Accordingly, the city bought
the land from the Herrings and made a Potter's Field. Eight years
later, by the bye, they bought Colonel Smith's tract too, to add to
the field. The entire plot was ninety lots,--eight lots to an
acre,--and comprised nearly the entire site of the present square. The
extreme western part, a strip extending east of Macdougal Street to
the Brook, a scant thirty feet,--was bought from the Warren heirs.

Minetta Lane, which was close by, had a few aristocratic country
residents by that time, and everyone was quite outraged by the notion
of having a paupers' graveyard so near. Several rich people of the
countryside even offered to present the city corporation with a much
larger and more valuable plot of ground somewhere else; but the
officials were firm. The public notice was relentlessly made, of the
purchase of ground "bounded on the road leading from the Bowerie Lane
at the two-mile stone to Greenwich."

When you next stroll through the little quiet park in the shadow of
the Arch and Turini's great statue of Garibaldi, watching the children
at play, the tramps and wayfarers resting, the tired horses drinking
from the fountain the S.P.C.A. has placed there for their service and
comfort, the old dreaming of the past, and the young dreaming of the
future,--see, if you please, if it is not rather a wistfully pleasant
thought to recall the poor and the old and the nameless and the humble
who were put to rest there a century and a quarter ago?

The Aceldama of the Priests of Jerusalem was "the potter's field to
bury strangers in," according to St. Matthew; and in the Syriac
version that meant literally "the field of sleep." It is true that
when they made use of Judas Iscariot's pieces of silver, they twisted
the syllables to mean the "field of blood," but it was a play upon
words only. The Field of Sleep was the Potter's Field, where the weary
"strangers" rested, at home at last.

There is nothing intrinsically repellent in the memories attached to a
Potter's Field,--save, possibly, in this case, a certain scandalous
old story of robbing it of its dead for the benefit of the medical
students of the town. That was a disgraceful business if you like! But
public feeling was so bitter and retributive that the practice was
speedily discontinued. So, again, there is nothing to make us recoil,
here among the green shadows of the square, from the recollection of
the Potter's Field. But there _is_ always something fundamentally
shocking in any place of public punishment. And,--alas!--there is that
stain upon the fair history of this square of which we are writing.

For--there was a gallows in the old Potter's Field. Upon the very spot
where you may be watching the sparrows or the budding leaves,
offenders were hanged for the edification or intimidation of huge
crowds of people. Twenty highwaymen were despatched there, and at
least one historian insists that they were all executed at once, and
that Lafayette watched the performance. Certainly a score seems rather
a large number, even in the days of our stern forefathers; one cannot
help wondering if the event were presented to the great Frenchman as a
form of entertainment.

In 1795 came one of those constantly recurring epidemics of yellow
fever which used to devastate early Manhattan; and in 1797 came a
worse one. Many bodies were brought from other burying grounds, and
when the scourge of small-pox killed off two thousand persons in one
short space, six hundred and sixty-seven of them were laid in this
particular public cemetery. During one very bad time, the rich as well
as the poor were brought there, and there were nearly two thousand
bodies sleeping in the Potter's Field.

People who had died from yellow fever were wrapped in great yellow
sheets before they were buried,--a curious touch of symbolism in
keeping with the fantastic habit of mind which we find everywhere in
the early annals of America. Mr. E.N. Tailer, among others, can
recall, many years later, seeing the crumbling yellow folds of shrouds
uncovered by breaking coffin walls, when the heavy guns placed in the
Square sank too weightily into the ground, and crushed the
trench-vaults.

It would be interesting to examine, in fancy, those lost and sometimes
non-existent headstones of the Field,--that is, to try to tell a few
of the tales that cling about those who were buried there. But the
task is difficult, and after all, tombstones yield but cheerless
reading. That the sleepers in the Potter's Field very often had not
even that shelter of tombstones makes their stories the more elusive
and the more melancholy. One or two slight records stand out among the
rest, notably the curious one attached to the last of the stones to be
removed from Washington Square. I believe that it was in 1857 that Dr.
John Francis, in an address before the Historical Society of New York,
told this odd story, which must here be only touched upon.

One Benjamin Perkins, "a charlatan believer in mesmeric influence,"
plied his trade in early Manhattan. He seems to have belonged to that
vast army of persons who seriously believe their own teachings even
when they know them to be preposterous. Perkins made a specialty of
yellow fever, and insisted that he could cure it by hypnotism. That he
had a following is in no way strange, considering his day and
generation, but the striking point about this is that, when he was
exposed to the horror himself, he tried to automesmerise himself
out of it. After three days he died, as Dr. Francis says, "a victim of
his own temerity."

And still the gallows stood on the Field of Sleep, and also a big elm
tree which sometimes served as the "gallows tree." Naturally, Indians
and negroes predominated in the lists of malefactors executed. The
redmen were distrusted from the beginning on Manhattan,--and with some
basic reason, one must admit;--as for the blacks, they were more
severely dealt with than any other class. The rigid laws and
restrictions of that day were applied especially rigidly to the
slaves. A slave was accounted guilty of heavy crimes on the very
lightest sort of evidence, and the penalties imposed seem to us out of
all proportion to the acts. Arson, for instance, was a particularly
heinous offence--when committed by a negro. The negro riots, which
form such an exceedingly black chapter in New York's history, and
which horrify our more humane modern standards with ghastly pictures
of hangings and burnings at the stake, were often caused by nothing
more criminal than incendiarism. One very bad period of this sort of
disorder started with a trifling fire in Sir. Peter Warren's
house,--the source of which was not discovered,--and later grew to
ungovernable proportions through other acts of the same sort.

As late as 1819, a young negro girl named Rose Butler was hanged in
our Square before an immense crowd, including many women and young
children. Kindly read what the New York _Evening Post_ said about it
in its issue of July 9th:

     "Rose, a black girl who had been sentenced to be hung for
     setting fire to a dwelling house, and who was respited for a
     few days, in the hope that she would disclose some
     accomplice in her wickedness, was executed yesterday at two
     o'clock near the Potter's Field."

And in Charles H. Haswell's delightful "Reminiscences," there is one
passage which has, for modern ears, rather too Spartan a ring:

     "A leading daily paper referred to her (he speaks of Rose)
     execution in a paragraph of five lines, without noticing any
     of the unnecessary and absurd details that are given in the
     present day in like cases; neither was her dying speech
     recorded...."

Thomas Janvier declares that she was accused of murder, but all other
authorities say that poor Rose's "wickedness" had consisted of
lighting a fire under the staircase of her master's house, with, or
so it was asserted, "a malicious intent." One sees that it was quite
easy to get hanged in those days,--especially if you happened to be a
negro! The great elm tree, on a branch of which Rose was hanged, stood
intact in the Square until 1890. I am glad it is gone at last!

Old Manhattan was as strictly run as disciplinary measures and rules
could contrive and guarantee. The old blue laws were stringently
enforced, and the penalty for infringement was usually a sharp one. In
the unpublished record of the city clerk we find, next to the item
that records Elbert Harring's application for a land-grant, a note to
the effect that a "Publick Whipper" had been appointed on the same
day, at five pounds quarterly.

Public notices of that time, printed in the current press, remind the
reader of some of these aforementioned rules and regulations. We read
that "Tapsters are forbid to sell to the Indians," and that
"unseasonable night tippling" is also tabooed; likewise drinking after
nine in the evening when curfew rings, or "on a Sunday before three
o'clock, when divine service shall be over."

I wonder whether little old "Washington Hall" was built too late to
come under these regulations? It was a roadhouse of some repute in
1820, and a famous meeting place for celebrities in the sporting
world. It was, too, a tavern and coffee house for travellers (its
punch was famous!) and the stagecoaches stopped there to change
horses. At this moment of writing it is still standing, on the south
of Washington Square,--I think number 58,--with other shabby
structures of wood, which, for some inscrutable reason, have never
been either demolished or improved. Now they are doomed at last, and
are to make way for new and grand apartment houses; and so these,
among the oldest buildings in Greenwich, drift into the mist of the
past.

And in that same part of the Square--in number 59 or 60, it is
said--lived one who cannot be omitted from any story of the Potter's
Field: Daniel Megie, the city's gravedigger. In 1819 he bought a plot
of ground from one John Ireland, and erected a small frame house,
where he lived and where he stored the tools of his rather grim trade.
For three years he dwelt there, smoothing the resting places in the
Field of Sleep; then, in 1823, a new Potter's Field was opened at the
point now known as Bryant Park, and the bodies from the lower cemetery
were carried there. Megie, apparently, lost his job, sold out to
Joseph Dean and disappeared into obscurity. It is interesting to note
that he bought his plot in the first place for $500; now it is
incorporated in the apartment house site which is estimated at about
$250,000!

There is a legend to the effect that Governor Lucius Robinson later
occupied this same house, but the writer does not vouch for the fact.
The Governor certainly lived somewhere in the vicinity, and his
favourite walk was on Amity Street,--why can't we call it that now,
instead of the cold and colourless Third Street?

I find that I have said nothing of Monument Lane,--sometimes called
Obelisk Lane,--yet it was quite a landmark in its day, as one may
gather from the fact that Ratzer thought it important enough to put in
his official map. It ran, I think, almost directly along North
Washington Square, and, at one point, formed part of the "Inland Road
to Greenwich" which was the scene of Revolutionary manoeuvres.
Monument Lane was so called because at the end of it (about Fifteenth
Street and Eighth Avenue) stood a statue of the much-adored English
general, James Wolfe, whose storming of the Heights of Abraham in the
Battle of Quebec, and attendant defeat of the Marquis de Montcalm,
have made him illustrious in history. After the Revolution, the statue
disappeared, and there is no record of its fate.

With the passing of the old Potter's Field, came many changes. Mayor
Stephen Allen (later lost on the _Henry Clay_), made signal civic
improvements; he levelled, drained and added three and a half acres to
the field. In short, it became a valuable tract of ground. Society,
driven steadily upward from Bowling Green, Bond Street, Bleecker and
the rest, had commenced to settle down in the country. What had
yesterday been rural districts were suburbs today.

In 1806 there were as many as fifteen families in this neighbourhood
rich and great enough to have carriages. Colonel Turnbull had an "out
of town" house at, approximately, Eighth and Macdougal streets,--a
charming cottage, with twenty acres of garden land which today are
worth millions. Growing tired of living in the country, he offered to
sell his place to his friend, Nehemiah Rogers; but the latter decided
against it.

"It is too far out of town!" he declared.

"But you have a carriage!" exclaimed the Colonel. "You can drive in to
the city whenever you want to!"

The distance was too great, however, and Mr. Rogers did not buy.

By 1826, however, the tide had carried many persons of wealth out to
this neighbourhood, and there were more and more carriages to be seen
with each succeeding month. All at once, high iron railings were built
about the deserted Potter's Field,--a Potter's Field no longer,--and
on June 27th of that year a proclamation was issued:

     "The corporation of the city of New York have been pleased
     to set apart a piece of ground for a military parade on
     Fourth Street near Macdougal Street, and have directed it to
     be called 'Washington Military Parade Ground.' For the
     purpose of honouring its first occupation as a military
     parade, Colonel Arcularis will order a detachment from his
     regiment with field pieces to parade on the ground on the
     morning of the Fourth of July next. He shall fire a national
     salute and proclaim the name of the parade ground, with such
     ceremonies as he shall see fit."

This occasion, an anniversary of American independence, seems to have
been a most gorgeous affair, with the Governor, Mayor and other
officials present, and a monumental feast to wind up with. The menu
included, among other dainties, two oxen roasted whole, two hundred
hams ("with a carver at each"), and so many barrels of beer that the
chronicler seems not to have had the courage to record the precise
number!

1827 seems to have seen a real growth of social life around the
Washington Parade Ground. The New York _Gazette_ of June 7th
advertised "three-story dwellings in Fourth Street, between Thompson
and Macdougal streets, for sale. The front and rear of the whole range
is to be finished in the same style as the front of the Bowery
Theatre, and each to have a grass plot in front with iron railings."

This promise of theatrical architecture seems a curious inducement,
but it must have been effective, for many exclusive families came--no,
flocked,--to live in the houses!

In 1830 there was a grand celebration there in joint honour of the
anniversary of the British evacuation and the crowning of Louis
Philippe in France. Everybody sang patriotic French and American airs,
sent off fireworks, fired salutes and had a wildly enthusiastic time.
Incidentally, there were speeches by ex-President Monroe and the Hon.
Samuel Gouveneur. Enoch Crosby, who was the original of Fenimore
Cooper's famous _Harvey Birch_ in "The Spy," was present, and so was
David Williams, one of the captors of Major Andre,--not to mention
about thirty thousand others!

This year saw, too, the founding of the University of the City of New
York, on the east side of the Square,--or rather, the Parade Ground,
as it was then. That fine old educational institution came close to
having its cornerstones christened with blood, for it was the occasion
of the well-known,--shall we say the notorious?--"Stonecutters'
Riots." The builders contracted for work to be done by the convicts of
Sing Sing Prison, and the city workmen, or Stonecutters'
Guild,--already strong for unions,--objected. In fact, they objected
so strenuously that the Twenty-seventh Regiment (now our popular
Seventh) was called out, and stayed under arms in the Square for four
days and nights; after which the disturbance died down.

The next important labour demonstration in the Square was in 1855,
when, during a period of "hard times," eight thousand workmen
assembled there with drums and trumpets, and made speeches in the most
approved and up-to-date agitator style, collecting a sum of money
which went well up into four figures!

In 1833 society folded its wings and settled down with something
resembling permanence upon the corner of the "Snug Harbour" lands,
which formed the famous North Side of Washington Square. Of all social
and architectural centres of New York, Washington Square North has
changed least. Progress may come or go, social streams may flow
upward with as much speed, energy and ambition as they will; the
eddies leave one quiet and lovely pool unstirred. That fine row of
stately houses remains the symbol of dignified beauty and distinction
and an aristocracy that is not old-fashioned but perennial.

Such names as we read associated with the story of Washington Square
and its environs! Names great in politics and patriotism, in art and
literature, in learning and distinction, in fashion and fame and
architecture. Hardly one of them but is connected with great position
or great achievement or both. Rhinelander, Roosevelt, Hamilton,
Chauncey, Wetmore, Howland, Suffern, Vanderbilt, Phelps,
Winthrop,--the list is too long to permit citing in full. Three mayors
have lived there, and in the immediate vicinity dwelt such
distinguished literary persons as Bayard Taylor, Henry James, George
William Curtis, N.P. Willis (_Nym Crynkle_), our immortal Poe himself,
Anne Lynch,--poetess and hostess of one of the first and most
distinguished salons of America--Charles Hoffman, editor of the
_Knickerbocker_, and so on. Another centre of wit and wisdom was the
house of Dr. Orville Dewey,--whose Unitarian Church, at Broadway and
Waverly Place, was the subject of the first successful photograph in
this country by the secret process confided to Morse by Daguerre.

[Illustration: OLDEST BUILDING ON THE SQUARE. On this moment of writing
it is still standing on the south of Washington Square.]

Edgar Allan Poe lived with his sick young wife Virginia, on Carmine
Street, and lived very uncomfortably, too. The name of his
boarding-house keeper is lost to posterity, but the poet wrote of her
food: "I wish Kate our cat could see it. She would faint."

Poor Poe lived always somewhere near the Square. Once in a while he
moved away for a time, but he invariably gravitated back to it and to
his old friends there. It was in Carmine Street that he wrote his
"Arthur Gordon Pym," with Gowans the publisher for a fellow lodger; it
was on Sixth Avenue and Waverly Place that he created "Ligeia" and
"The Fall of the House of Usher." After Virginia's death, he took a
room just off the Square, and wrote the "Imp of the Perverse," with
her picture (it is said) above his desk. It was at these quarters that
Lowell called on him, and found him, alas! "not himself that day." The
old Square has no stranger nor sadder shade to haunt it than that of
the brilliant and melancholy genius who in life loved it so well.

Poe's friend Willis published many of his stories and articles in the
_Sun_, still a newcomer in the old field of journalism. Willis has his
own connection with the tale of the Square, though not a very
glorious one. The town buzzed for days with talk of the sensational
interview between _Nym Crinkle_ and Edwin Forrest, the actor. Mr.
Willis made some comments on Forrest's divorce, in an editorial, and
that player, so well adored by the American public, took him by the
coat collar in Washington Square and exercised his stage-trained
muscles by giving him a thorough and spectacular thrashing.

Somewhere in that neighbourhood, much earlier, another editor, William
Coleman, founder of the _Evening Post_, and Jeremiah Thompson,
Collector of the Port, fought a duel to the death. It was indeed to
the death, for Thompson was wounded fatally. But duels were common
enough in those days; we feel still the thrill of indignation roused
by the shooting of Alexander Hamilton by Burr.

The old University of New York--where Professor Morse conducted his
great experiments in telegraphy, where Samuel Colt in his tower
workroom perfected his revolver, where the Historical Society of New
York was first established and where many of our most distinguished
citizens received their education--was never a financial success. For
a time they tried to make it pay by taking tenants--young students,
and bachelors who wished seclusion for writing or research. Then, in
the course of time, it was moved away to the banks of the Hudson. On
the site now stands a modern structure, where, to be sure, a few of
the old University departments are still conducted, but which is
chiefly celebrated as being the first all-bachelor apartment house
erected in town. It is appropriately called the "Benedick," after a
certain young man who scoffed at matrimony,--and incidentally got
married!

And a few of the families stay beneath the roofs their forefathers
built, watching, as they watched, the same quiet trees and lawns and
paths of the most charming square in all New York: De Forest,
Rhinelander, Delano, Stewart, De Rham, Gould, Wynkoop, Tailer,
Guinness, Claflin, Booth, Darlington, Gregory, Hoyt, Schell, Shattuck,
Weekes,--these, and others are still the names of the residents of
Washington Square North. Father Knickerbocker, coming to smoke his
pipe here, will be in good company, you perceive!

The recollections of many living persons who recall the old Square and
other parts of early New York, bring forcibly to us the realisation of
the speed with which this country of ours has evolved itself. In one
man's lifetime, New York has grown from a small town just out of its
Colonial swaddling clothes to the greatest city in the world. These
reminiscences, then, are but memories of yesterday or the day before.
We do not have to take them from history books but from the diaries of
men and women who are still wide-eyed with wonder at the changes which
have come to their city!

"The town was filled with beautiful trees," says one man (who
remembers Commodore Vanderbilt, with the splendid horses, the fine
manner and the unexampled profane eloquence), "but the pavements were
very dirty. Places like St. John's Park and Abingdon Square were quiet
and sweet and secluded. Where West Fourth Street and West Eleventh
Street met it was so still you could almost hear the grass grow
between the cobblestones! Everything near the Square was extremely
exclusive and fashionable. Washington and Waverly places were very
aristocratic indeed."

Waverly Place, by the bye, got its name through a petition of select
booklovers who lived thereabouts and adored Sir. Walter Scott. It
speaks well for the good taste of the aristocratic quarter, even
though the tribute came a bit late,--about twenty years after
"Waverley" was published!

The celebrated north side of the Square was called, by the society
people, "The Row," and was, of course, the last word in social
prestige. But, for all its lofty place in the veneration of the world
and his wife, its ways were enchantingly simple, if we may trust the
tales we hear. In the Square stood the "Pump With The Long Handle,"
and thence was every bucketful of washing water drawn by the
gilt-edged servants of the gilt-edged "Row"! The water was, it is
said, particularly soft,--rain, doubtless,--and day by day the pails
were carried to the main pump to be filled!

When next you look at the motor stages gliding past the Arch, try,
just for a moment, to visualise the old stages which ran on Fifth
Avenue from Fulton Ferry uptown. They were very elaborate, we are
told, and an immense improvement on the old Greenwich stagecoaches,
and the great lumbering vehicles that conveyed travellers along the
Post Road. These new Fifth Avenue stages were brightly painted: the
body of the coach was navy blue, the running gear white, striped with
red, and the lettering and decorations of gold. A strap which enabled
the driver to open and close the door without descending from his seat
was looked upon as an impressive innovation! Inside, there were oil
paintings on panels, small candles in glass boxes for illumination,
and straw on the floor to keep your feet warm. These luxuries
justified the high rate which was charged. The fare was ten cents!

In very heavy snowstorms the stages were apt to get stalled, so that a
few stage sleighs were run in midwinter, but only in the city proper.
Their farthest uptown terminal was at Fourteenth Street, so they were
not much help to suburbanites!

No single article, or chapter, can even attempt to encompass the
complete story of Washington Square. Covering the entire period of the
city's history, passing through startling changes and transformations,
the scene of great happenings, the background of illustrious or
curious lives,--it is probably more typical of the vertiginous
development of New York than any single section. The Indians, the
Dutch, the English, the Colonials, the Revolutionists, the New
Americans, the shining lights of art, science, fashion and the state,
have all passed through it, confidently and at home. The dead have
slept there; wicked men have died there and great ones been honoured.
Belles and beaux have minced on their way beneath the thick green
branches,--branches that have also quivered to the sound of artillery
fire saluting a mighty nation newborn. Nothing that a city can feel or
suffer or delight in has escaped Washington Square. Everything of
valour and tragedy and gallantry and high hope--that go to making a
great town as much and more than its bricks and mortar--are in that
nine and three-quarters acres that make up the very heart and soul of
New York.

The lovely Arch first designed by Stanford White and erected by
William Rhinelander Stewart's public-spirited efforts, on April 30,
1889, was in honour of the centennial anniversary of Washington's
inauguration; it was so beautiful that, happily, it was later made
permanent in marble, and in all the town there could have been found
no more fitting place for it.

In every really great city there is one place which is, in a sense,
sacred from the profanation of too utilitarian progress. However
commercialised Paris might become, you could not cheapen the environs
of Notre Dame! Whatever happens to us, let us hope that we will always
keep Washington Square as it is today,--our little and dear bit of
fine, concrete history, the one perfect page of our old, immortal New
York!

Father Knickerbocker, may you dream well!



CHAPTER II

_The Green Village_

     God tempers the wind to the shorn lamb down Greenwich
     way!--THOMAS JANVIER.


Did you know that "Greenwich Village" is tautology? That region known
affectionately as "Our Village" is Greenwich, pure and simple, and
here is the "why" of that statement.

The word _wich_ is derived from the Saxon _wick_, and originally had
birth in the Latin _vicus_, which means village. Hence, Greenwich
means simply the Green Village, and was evidently a term describing
one of the first small country hamlets on Manhattan. Captain Sir. Peter
Warren, on whom be peace and benedictions, is usually given the credit
of having given Greenwich its name, the historians insisting that it
was the name of his own estate, and simply got stretched to take in
the surrounding countryside. This seems rather a stupid theory. The
Warrens were undoubtedly among the earliest representative residents
in the little country resort, but by no stretch of imagination could
any private estate, however ample or important, be called a village.
But Greenwich was the third name to be applied to this particular
locality.

Once upon a time there was a little settlement of Indians--the tribe
was called the Sappocanicon or Sappokanikee. Like other redmen they
had a gift for picking out good locations for their huts or
wigwams--whatever they were in those days. On this island of Manhattan
they had appropriated the finest, richest, yet driest piece of ground
to be had. There were woods and fields; there was a marvellous trout
stream (Minetta Water); there was a game preserve, second to none,
presented to them by the Great Spirit (in the vicinity of Washington
Square). There was pure air from the river, and a fine loamy soil for
their humble crops. It was good medicine.

They adopted it far back in those beginnings of American history of
which we know nothing. When you go down to the waterfront to see the
ships steam away, you are probably standing where the braves and
squaws had their forest home overlooking the river.

But their day passed. Peter Minuit--who really was a worth-while man
and deserved to be remembered for something besides his thrifty deal
in buying Manhattan for twenty-four dollars--cast an eye over the new
territory with a view to developing certain spots for the Dutch West
India Company. He staked out the Sappokanican village tentatively, but
it was not really appropriated until Wouter Van Twiller succeeded
Minuit as director general and Governor of the island.

Van Twiller was not one of the Hollanders' successes. R.R. Wilson says
of him, "Bibulous, slow-witted and loose of life and morals, Van
Twiller proved wholly unequal to the task in hand." Representing the
West India Company, he nevertheless held nefarious commerce with the
Indians--it is even reported that he sold them guns and powder in
violation of express regulations--and certainly he was first and
forever on the make. But before he was removed from office (because of
these and other indiscretions) he had founded Our Village,--so may his
soul rest in peace!

Not that he intended to do posterity a favour. He never wanted to help
anyone but himself. But, in the first year of his disastrous
governorship, he got the itch of tobacco speculation. He knew there
was money in it.

He, too, looked over the Indian village above the river, and he, too,
found it good. He made it the Company's Farm Number 3, but he did not
work it for the company. Not he! He worked it for Wouter Van Twiller,
as he worked everything else. He eliminated the Indians by degrees,
whether by strategy or force history does not say. R.R. Wilson says it
was "rum and warfare." Anyway, they departed to parts unknown and Van
Twiller built a farm and started an immense tobacco plantation. As the
tobacco grew and flourished the place became known by the Dutch as the
Bossen Bouwerie--the farm in the woods. It was one of the very
earliest white settlements on the whole island. R.R. Wilson says, "Rum
and warfare had before this made an end of the Indian village of the
first days. Its Dutch successor, however, grew from year to year."

[Illustration: JEFFERSON MARKET. The old clock that has told the hours
of justice for Greenwich Village during many years.]

The names of these first Dutch residents of the Bossen Bouwerie--or
Sappocanican as it was still occasionally called--are not known, but
it is certain that there were a number of them. In the epoch of Peter
Stuyvesant someone mentioned the houses at "Sappokanigan," and in
1679, after the British had arrived, a descriptive little entry was
made in one of those delightfully detailed journals of an older and
more precise generation than ours. The diary was the one kept by the
Labadist missionaries--Dankers and Sluyter--and was only recently
unearthed by Henry Murphy at The Hague. It runs as follows:

     "We crossed over the island, which takes about
     three-quarters of an hour to do, and came to the North
     River, which we followed a little within the woods to
     Sapokanikee. Gerrit having a sister and friends, we rested
     ourselves and drank some good beer, which refreshed us. We
     continued along the shore to the city, where we arrived at
     an early hour in the evening, very much fatigued, having
     walked this day about forty miles. I must add, in passing
     through this island we sometimes encountered such a sweet
     smell in the air that we stood still; because we did not
     know what it was we were meeting."

It is odd that the Dutch names in Greenwich have died out as much as
they have. There is something in Holland blood which has a way of
persisting. They--the old Manhattan Dutch anyway--had a certain
stubborn individuality of their own, which refused to give way or
compromise. I have always felt that the way the Dutch ladies used to
drink their tea was a most illuminating sidelight upon their racial
characteristics. They served the dish of tea and the sugar
separately--the latter in a large and awkward hunk from which they
crunched out bites as they needed them. Now I take it that there was
no particular reason for this inconvenient and labourious method,
except that it was _their way_. They were used to doing things in an
original and an unyielding fashion. I believe a real old-world
_Mevrouw_ would have looked as coldly askance upon the innovation of
putting the sugar _in_ the tea, as she looked at the pernicious
ingress of the devil-endowed Church of England.

In 1664 came the English rule in what had been New Amsterdam and with
it British settlers and a new language. So the Bossen Bouwerie became
Green Wich (later clipped in pronunciation to _Grinnich_), the Green
Village, and a peaceful, remote little settlement it remained for many
a long year.

Now came the rich and great in search of country air, health, rest or
change of scene. Colonial society was not so different from twentieth
century society. They, too, demanded occasional doses of rustic
scenery and rest cures; and they began to drift out to the green
little hamlet on the Hudson where they could commune with nature and
fortify themselves with that incomparable air. Captain Warren, Oliver
de Lancey, James Jauncey, William Bayard and Abraham Mortier all
acquired estates there. The road to Greenwich was by far the most
fashionable of all the Colonial drives.

Greenwich Road ran along the line of our present Greenwich Street, and
gave one a lovely view of the water. At Lispenard's Salt Meadows
(Canal Street) it ran upon a causeway, but the marshes overflowed in
the spring, and soon they opened another road known as the Inland Road
to Greenwich. This second lane ran from the Post Road or Bowery,
westward over the fields and passing close to the site of the Potter's
Field. This, I understand, was the favourite drive of the fashionable
world a century and a half ago.

If anyone wants to really taste the savour of old New York, let him
read the journals of those bygone days. Better than any history
books will they make the past live again, make it real to you with its
odd perfumes, and its stilted mannerisms, and its high-hearted courage
and gallantry.

I know of no quainter literature than is to be found in these very old
New York papers. The advertisements alone are pregnant with
suggestions of the past--colour, atmosphere, the subtle fragrance and
flavour of other days. We read that James Anderson of Broadway has
just arrived from London "in the brig Betsy" with a load of "the best
finished boot legs." Another gentleman urges people to inspect his
"crooked tortoise-shell combs for ladies and gentlemen's hair, his
vegetable face powder--his nervous essence for the toothache, his
bergamot, lemon, lavendar and thyme"--and other commodities.

Sales were advertised of such mixed assortments as the following:

     "For Sale:
     "A negro wench.
     "An elegant chariot.
     "Geneva in pipes, cloves, steel, heart and club, scale
     beams, cotton in bales, Tenerisse wines in pipes, and
     quarter casks."

In several old papers you find that two camels were to be seen in a
certain stable, at a shilling a head for adults and sixpence for
children. The camels were a novelty and highly popular.

Take this item, for instance, from the good old _Daily Advertiser_,
chronicler of the big and little things of Manhattan's early days. It
gives a fine example of old-style journalism. Observe the ingenuity
with which a page of narrative is twisted into the first sentence. The
last two are the more startling in their abrupt fashion of leaving the
reader high and dry. The cow is starred; obviously the man appears a
minor actor:

     "On Thursday afternoon, as a man of genteel appearance was
     passing along Beekman Street, he was attacked by a cow, and
     notwithstanding his efforts to avoid her, and the means he
     used to beat her off, we are sorry to say that he was so
     much injured as to be taken up dead. The cow was afterward
     killed in William Street. We have not been able to learn the
     name of the deceased"!!

Some of the items contain genuine if unconscious humour,--such as the
record of the question brought up before the City Council: "Whether
attorneys are thought useful to plead in courts or not?" Answer: "It
is thought not."

Then there is the proclamation that if any Indian was found drunk in
any street, and it could not be ascertained where he got the liquor,
the whole street was to be fined!

Among the earlier laws duly published in the press was that hogs
should not be "suffered to goe or range in any of the streets or
lands." In 1684 eight watchmen were appointed at twelve-pence a
night. But read them for yourselves,--they are worth the trouble you
will have to find them!

There were many queer trades in New York, and all of them, or nearly
all, advertised in the daily journals. In column on column of yellowed
paper and quaint f-for-s printing, we read exhortations to employ this
or that man, most of them included in the picturesque verse whose
author I do not know:

    _"Plumbers, founders, dyers, tanners, shavers,
    Sweepers, clerks and criers, jewelers, engravers,
    Clothiers, drapers, players, cartmen, hatters, nailers,
    Gaugers, sealers, weighers, carpenters, and sailors!"_

And read the long-winded, yet really beautiful old obituary notices;
the simple news of battles and high deeds; the fiery, yet pedantic,
political editorials. Oh, no one knows anything about Father
Knickerbocker until he has read the same newspapers that Father
Knickerbocker himself read,--when he wasn't writing for them!

The Revolution had passed and Greenwich was a real village, and
growing with astonishing rapidity, even in that day of lightning
development.

In 1807 they started to do New York over, and they kept at it
faithfully and successfully until 1811. Then began the laying out of
streets according to numbers and fixed measurements, instead of by
picturesque names and erratic cow-path meanderings. Gouverneur
Morris, Simeon de Witt and John Rutherford were appointed by the city
to take charge of this task, and, as one writer points out, they did
not do it as badly as they might have done, nor as we are inclined to
think they did when we try to find our way around lower New York
today. The truth is that Greenwich had grown up, and always has grown
up ever since, in an entirely independent and obstinate fashion all
its own. There was not the slightest use in trying to make its twisty
curlicue streets conform to any engineering plan on earth; so those
sensible old-time folk didn't try. William Bridges, architect and city
surveyor, entrusted with the job, mentions "that part of the city
which lies south of Greenwich Lane and North Street, and which was not
included in the powers vested in the commissioners." And so Our
Village remains itself, utterly and arrogantly untouched by the
confining orthodoxy of the rest of the town!

The passing of the British rule was the signal for variously radical
democratic changes, not only in customs and forms, but in nomenclature.
After they had melted up a leaden statue of King George and made it into
American bullets, they went about abolishing every blessed thing in the
city which could remind them of England and English ways. The names of
the streets were, of course, nearly all intrinsically English. A few of
the old Dutch names persisted--Bleecker, Vandam, and so on--but nearly
every part of the town was named for the extolling of Britain and
British royalty. Away then, said New York, with the sign manuals of
crowns and autocracy!

In 1783, when the English evacuated Manhattan, the _Advertiser_
published: "May the remembrance of this DAY be a lesson to princes!" and
in this spirit was the last vestige of imperial rule systematically
expunged from the city. Crown Street was a red rag to the bull of Young
America; it was called Liberty, and thus became innocuous! Queen Street
doffed its ermine and became homely and humble, under the name of Cedar.
King Street was now Pine. King George Street was abolished altogether,
according to the chronicles. One is curious to know what they did with
it; it must be difficult to lose a street entirely! A few streets and
squares named for individual Englishmen who had been friendly to America
were left unmolested--Abingdon Square, and also Chatham Street, which had
been given its appellation in honour of the ever popular William Pitt,
Earl of Chatham; Chatham Square, indeed, exists to this day.

Greenwich was at all times a resort for those who could afford it, an
exclusive and beautiful country region where anyone with a full purse
could go to court health and rest among the trees and fields and river
breezes. It was destined to become the most popular, flourishing and
prosperous little village that ever grew up over night. Those
marvellously healthy qualities as to location and air, that fine,
sandy soil, made it a haven, indeed, to people who were afraid of
sickness. And in those days the island was continually swept by
epidemics--violent, far-reaching, and registering alarming mortality.
Greenwich seemed to be the only place where one didn't get yellow
fever or anything else, and terrorised citizens began to rush out
there in droves, not only with their bags and their baggage, and their
wives and children, but with their business too!

John Lambert, an English visitor to America in 1807, writes:

     "As soon as yellow fever makes its appearance, the
     inhabitants shut up their shops and fly from their homes
     into the country. Those who cannot go far on account of
     business, remove to Greenwich, situate on the border of the
     Hudson about two or three miles from town. The banks and
     other public offices also remove their business to this
     place and markets are regularly established for the supply
     of the inhabitants."

Things went so fast for Greenwich during the biggest of the yellow
fever "booms" that one old chronicler (whose name I regret not being
able to find) declares he "saw the corn growing on the corner of
Hammond Street (West Eleventh) on a Saturday morning, and by the next
Monday Niblo and Sykes had built a house there for three hundred
boarders!"

Devoe says that:

     "The visits of yellow fever in 1798, 1799, 1803 and 1805
     tended much to increase the formation of a village near the
     Spring Street Market and one also near the State Prison; but
     the fever of 1882 built up many streets with numerous wooden
     buildings for the uses of the merchants, banks (from which
     Bank Street took its name), offices, etc."

"'The town fairly exploded,'" quotes Macatamney,--from what writer he
does not state,--"'and went flying beyond its bonds as though the
pestilence had been a burning mine.'"

It was in 1822 that Hardie wrote:

     "Saturday, the 24th of August our city presented the
     appearance of a town beseiged. From daybreak till night one
     line of carts, containing boxes, merchandise and effects,
     was seen moving towards Greenwich Village and the upper
     parts of the city. Carriages and hacks, wagons and horsemen,
     were scouring the streets and filling the roads; persons
     with anxiety strongly marked on their countenances, and with
     hurried gait, were hustling through the streets. Temporary
     stores and offices were erecting, and even on the ensuing
     day (Sunday) carts were in motion, and the saw and hammer
     busily at work. Within a few days thereafter the custom
     house, the post office, the banks, the insurance offices and
     the printers of newspapers located themselves in the village
     or in the upper part of Broadway, where they were free from
     the impending danger; and these places almost
     instantaneously became the seat of the immense business
     usually carried on in the great metropolis."

Bank Street got its name in this way, the city banks transferring
their business thither literally overnight, ready to do business in
the morning.

Miss Euphemia M. Olcott in her delightful recollections of the past in
New York, gives us some charming snapshots of a still later Greenwich
as she got them from her mother who was born in 1819.

     "She often visited in Greenwich Village, both at her
     grandfather's and at the house of Mr. Abraham Van Nest,
     which had been built and originally occupied by Sir. Peter
     Warren. But she never thought of going _so far_ for less
     than a week! [She lived at Fulton and Nassau streets.] There
     was a city conveyance for part of the way, and then the old
     Greenwich stage enabled them to complete the long journey.
     This ran several times a day, and when my mother committed
     her hymn:

    _"'Hasten, sinner, to be wise,
          Ere this evening's stage be run'_

     she told us that for some years it never occurred to her
     that it could mean anything in the world but the Greenwich
     stage."

In further quoting her mother, she tells of Sir. Peter's house
itself--then Mr. Van Nest's--as a square frame residence, with gardens
both of flowers and vegetables, stables and numbers of cows, chickens,
pigeons and peacocks. In the huge hall that ran through the house
were mahogany tables loaded with silver baskets of fresh-made cake,
and attended by negroes.

In our next chapter we are going back to meet this house a bit more
intimately, and find out something of those who built it and lived in
it, that fine gentleman, Sir. Peter Warren and his beautiful
lady,--Susannah.

But let us not forget.

Greenwich was not exclusively a settlement of the rich and great nor
even solely a health resort and refuge. There were, besides the fine
estates and the mushroom business sections, two humbler off-shoots:
Upper and Lower Greenwich. The first was the Skinner Road--now
Christopher Street; the second lay at the foot of Brannan Street--now
Spring. To the Upper Greenwich in 1796 came a distinction which would
seem to have been of doubtful advantage,--the erection of the New York
State Prison. It stood on Amos Street, now our Tenth, close to the
river and was an imposing structure for its time--two hundred feet in
length with big wings, and a stone-wall enclosure twenty feet in
height.

Strange to say the Greenwichers did not object to the prison. They
were quite proud of it, and seemed to consider it rather as an
acquisition than a plague spot. No other village had a State Prison
to show to visitors; Greenwich held its head haughtily in consequence.

A hotel keeper in 1811 put this "ad." in the _Columbia_:

     "A few gentlemen may be accommodated with board and lodging
     at this pleasant and healthy situation, a few doors from the
     State Prison. The Greenwich stage passes from this to the
     Federal Hall and returns five times a day."

Janvier says that the prison at Greenwich was a "highly volcanic
institution." They certainly seemed never out of trouble there. Behind
its walls battle, murder and sudden death seemed the milder
diversions. Mutiny was a habit, and they had a way of burning up parts
of the building when annoyed. On one occasion they shut up all their
keepers in one of the wings before setting fire to it, but according
to the _Chronicle_ "one more humane than the rest released them before
it was consumed."

Hugh Macatamney declares that these mutinies were caused by terrible
brutality toward the prisoners. It is true that no one was hanged in
the jail itself, the Potter's Field being more public and also more
convenient, all things considered, but the punishments in this New
York Bridewell were severe in the extreme. Those were the days of
whippings and the treadmill,--a viciously brutal invention,--of bread
and water and dark cells and the rest of the barbarities which society
hit upon with such singular perversity as a means of humanising its
derelicts. The prison record of Smith, the "revengeful desperado" who
spent half a year in solitary confinement, is probably of as mild a
punishment as was ever inflicted there.

In the grim history of the penitentiary there is one gleam of humour.
Mr. Macatamney tells it so well that we quote his own words:

     "A story is told of an inmate of Greenwich Prison who had
     been sentenced to die on the gallows, but at the last
     moment, through the influence of the Society of Friends, had
     his sentence commuted to life imprisonment, and was placed
     in charge of the shoe shop in the prison. The Quakers worked
     for his release, and, having secured it, placed him in a
     shoe shop of his own. His business flourished, and he was
     prominently identified with the progress of the times. He
     had an itching palm, however, and after a time he forged the
     names of all his business friends, eloped with the daughter
     of one of his benefactors and disappeared from the earth,
     apparently. 'Murder will out' A few years after the forger
     returned to the city, and established himself under an
     assumed name in the making of shoes, forgetting, however, to
     maintain complacency, and thinking that no one would
     recognise him. In a passion at what he considered the
     carelessness of one of his workmen regarding the time some
     work should have been delivered, he told the man he should
     not have promised it, as it caused disappointment. 'Master,'
     said the workman, 'you have disappointed me worse than
     that.' 'How, you rascal?' 'When I waited a whole hour in the
     rain to see you hanged.'"

In 1828 and 1829 the prisoners were transferred to Sing Sing, and the
site passed into private hands and the Greenwich State Prison was no
more. I believe there's a brewery there now.

It is an odd coincidence that the present Jefferson Market Police
Court stands now at Tenth Street,--though a good bit further inland
than the ancient State's Prison. The old Jefferson Market clock has
looked down upon a deal of crime and trouble, but a fair share of
goodness and comfort too. It is hopeful to think that the present
regime of Justice is a kindlier and a cleaner one than that which
prevailed when the treadmill and the dark cell were Virtue's methods
of persuading Vice.

Someone, I know not who, wrote this apropos of prisons in Greenwich:

    _"In these days fair Greenwich Village
      Slept by Hudson's rural shores,
    Then the stage from Greenwich Prison
      Drove to Wall Street thrice a day--
    Now the sombre 'Black Maria'
      Oftener drives the other way."_

But I like to think that the old clock, if it could speak, would have
some cheering tales to tell. I like to believe that ugly things are
slipping farther and farther from Our Village, that honest romance and
clean gaiety are rather the rule there than the exception, and that,
perhaps, the day will sometime dawn when there will be no more need of
the shame of prisons in Greenwich Village.

The early social growth of the city naturally centred about its
churches. Even in Colonial days conservative English society in New
York assembled on Sunday with a devotion directed not less to fashion
than to religion. We must not forget that America was really not
America then, but Colonial England. A graceful militarism was the
order of the day, and in the fashionable congregations were redcoats
in plenty. The Church of England, as represented and upheld by Trinity
Parish, was the church where everyone went. If one were stubborn in
dissenting--which meant, briefly, if one were Dutch--one attended such
of those sturdy outposts of Presbyterianism as one could find outside
the social pale. But one was looked down upon accordingly.

It is not hard to make for oneself a colourful picture of a typical
Sunday congregation in these dead and gone days. Trinity was the
Spiritual Headquarters, one understands; St. Paul's came later, and
was immensely fashionable. Though it was rather far out from Greenwich
the Greenwich denizens patronised it at the expense of time and
trouble. A writer, whose name I cannot fix at the moment, has
described the Sabbath attendance:--ladies in powder and patches
alighting from their chaises; servants, black of skin and radiant of
garment; officers in scarlet and white uniforms (Colonel "Ol" de
Lancey lost his patrimony a bit later because he clung to his!)--a
soft, fluttering, mincing crowd--most representative of the Colonies,
and loathed by the stiff-necked Dutch.

Trinity got its foothold in 1697, and the rest of the English
churches had holdings under the Trinity shadow. St. Paul's (where Sir.
Peter Warren paid handsomely for a pew, and which is today perhaps the
oldest ecclesiastic edifice in the city, and certainly the oldest of
the Trinity structures) was built in 1764, on the street called Vesey
because of the Rev. Mr. Vesey, its spiritual director. The "God's
Acre" around it held many a noted man and woman. Yet, as it is so far
from the ground in which we are now concerning ourselves, it seems a
bit out of place perhaps. But one must perforce show the English
church's beginnings, soon to find a more solid basis in St. John's
Chapel, dear to all New Yorkers even nowadays when we behold it
menaced by that unholy juggernaut, the subway.

St. John's was begun in 1803 and completed in 1807. It was Part of the
old King's Farm, originally granted to Trinity by Queen Anne, who
appears to have done quite a lot for New York, take it all in all. It
was modelled after St. Martin's-in-the-Fields, in London, and always
stood for English traditions and ideals. This did not prevent the
British from capturing the organ designed for it and holding it up for
ransom in the War of 1812. The organ was made in Philadelphia, but was
captured en route by the British ship _Plantagenet_, a cruiser with
seventy-four guns, which was in the habit of picking up little boats
and holding them at $100 to $200 each. Luckily the church bell had
been obtained before the war!

In regard to the organ, the _Weekly Register_ of Baltimore has this to
say:

     "A great business this for a ship of the line.... Now a
     gentleman might suppose that this article would have passed
     harmless."

St. John's Park, now obliterated and given over to the modernism of
the Hudson River Railroad Company, used, in the early fifties, to be
still fashionable. Old New Yorkers given to remembrance speak
regretfully of the quiet and peace and beauty of the Old Park--which
is no more. But St. John's is still with us, "sombre and unalterable,"
as one writer describes it, "a stately link between the present and
the past."

And doubtless nearly everyone who reads these pages knows of St.
John's famous "Dole"--the Leake Dole, which has been such a fruitful
topic for newspaper writers for decades back.

John Leake and John Watts, in the year 1792, founded the Leake and
Watts' Orphan House and John Leake, in so doing, added this curious
bequest:

     "I hereby give and bequeathe unto the rector and inhabitants
     of the Protestant Episcopal Church of the State of New York
     one thousand pounds, put out at interest, to be laid out in
     the annual income in sixpenny wheaten loaves of bread and
     distributed on every Sabbath morning after divine service,
     to such poor as shall appear most deserving."

This charity has endured through the years and is now the trust of St.
John's. I have been told--though I do not vouch for it--that the bread
is given out not after divine service but very early in the morning,
when the grey and silver light of the new day will not too mercilessly
oppress the needy and unfortunate, some of them once very rich, who
come for the Dole.

In 1822 St. Luke's was built--also a part of the elastic Trinity
Parish, and probably the best-known church, next to old St. John's,
that stands in Greenwich Village today.

The prejudices of the English Church in early New York prevented the
Catholics from gaining any sort of foothold until after the British
evacuation. In 1783 St. Peter's, the first Roman Catholic Church, was
erected at Barclay Street, and much trouble they had, if account may
be relied on. The reported tales of an escaped nun did much to
inflame the bigoted populace, but this passed, and today St. Joseph's,
which was built in 1829, stands on the corner of Washington Place and
Sixth Avenue.

It is not far away, by the bye, that the old Jewish cemetery is to be
found. Alderman Curran quaintly suggested that an unwarned stranger
might easily stub his toe on the little graveyard on Eleventh Street.
It is Beth Haim, the Hebrew Place of Rest, close to Milligan Lane. The
same Eleventh Street, which (as we shall see later) was badly
handicapped by "the stiff-necked Mr. Henry Brevoort" cut half of Beth
Haim away. But a corner of it remains and tranquil enough it seems,
not to say pleasant, though almost under the roar of the Elevated.

The Presbyterian churches got a foothold fairly early;--probably the
first very fashionable one was that on Mercer Street. Its pastor, the
Reverend Thomas Skinner, is chiefly, but deservedly, renowned for a
memorable address he made to an assembly of children, some time in
1834. Here is an extract which is particularly bright and lucid:

     "Catechism is a compendium of divine truth. Perhaps,
     children, you do not know the meaning of that word.
     Compendium is synonymous with synopsis"!!!

[Illustration: THE CRADLE OF BOHEMIA. The first and most famous French
restaurant in New York.]

The old Methodist churches were models of Puritanism. In the
beginning they met in carpenter shops, or wherever they could. When
they had real churches, they, for a long time, had separate entrances
for the sexes.

It was after I had read of this queer little side shoot of asceticism
that I began to fully appreciate what a friend of mine had said to me
concerning the New Greenwich.

"The Village," he said, "is a protest against Puritanism." And, he
added: "It's just an island, a little island entirely surrounded by
hostile seas!"

The Village, old and new, _is_ a protest. It is a voice in the
wilderness. Some day perhaps it will conquer even the hostile seas.
Anyway, most of the voyagers on the hostile seas will come to the
Village eventually, so _it_ should worry!

The Green Village is green no longer, except in scattered spots where
the foliage seems to bubble up from the stone and brick as
irrepressibly as Minetta Water once bubbled up thereabouts. But it is
still the Village, and utterly different from the rest of the city.
Not all the commissioners in the world could change the charming,
erratic plan of it; not the most powerful pressure of modern business
could destroy its insistent, yet elusive personality. The Village has
always persistently eluded incorporation in the rest of the city.
Never forget this: Greenwich was developed as independently as Boston
or Chicago. It is not New York proper: it is an entirely separate
place. At points, New York overflows into it, or it straggles out into
New York, but it is first and foremost itself. It is not changeless at
all, but its changes are eternal and superbly independent of, and
inconsistent with, metropolitan evolution.

There was a formative period when, socially speaking, the growth of
Greenwich was the growth of New York. But that was when Greenwich was
almost the whole of fashionable New York. Later New York plunged
onward and left the green cradle of its splendid beginnings. But the
cradle remained, still to cherish new lives and fresh ideals and a
society profoundly different, yet scarcely less exclusive in its way,
than that of the Colonies. It has been described by so many writers in
so many ways that one is at a loss for a choice of quotations. Perhaps
the most whimsically descriptive is in O. Henry's "Last Leaf."

     "In a little district west of Washington Square the streets
     have run crazy and broken themselves into small strips
     called 'places.' These 'places' make strange angles and
     curves. One street crosses itself a time or two. An artist
     once discovered a valuable possibility in this street.
     Suppose a collector with a bill for paint, paper and canvas
     should, in traversing this route, suddenly meet himself
     coming back, without a cent having been paid on account!"

And Kate Jordan offers this concerning Waverly Place:

     "Here Eleventh and Fourth streets, refusing to be separated
     by arithmetical arrangements, meet at an unexpected point as
     if to shake hands, and Waverly Place sticks its head in
     where some other street ought to be, for all the world like
     a village busybody who has to see what is happening around
     the corner."

But what of the spirit of Greenwich? The truth is that first and
foremost Greenwich is the home of romance. It is a sort of Make
Believe Land which has never grown up, and which will never learn to
be modern and prosaic.

It is full of romance. You cannot escape it, no matter how hard you
try to be practical. You start off on some commonplace stroll
enough--or you tell yourself it will be so; you are in the middle of
cable car lines and hustling people and shouting truck drivers, and
street cleaners and motors and newsboys, and all the component parts
of a modern and seemingly very sordid city--when, lo and behold, a
step to the right or left has taken you into another country
entirely--I had well-nigh said another world. Where did it come
from--that quaint little house with the fanlight over the door and the
flower-starred grassplot in front? Did it fall from the skies or was
it built in a minute like the delectable little house in "Peter Pan"?
Neither. It has stood there right along for half or three-quarters of
a century, only you didn't happen to know it. You have stepped around
the corner into Greenwich Village, that's all.

"In spots there is an unwonted silence, as though one were in some
country village," says Joseph Van Dyke. "... There are scraps of this
silence to be found about old houses, old walls, old trees."

Here, as in the fairy tales, all things become possible. You know that
a lady in a mob-cap and panniers is playing inside that shyly
curtained window. Hark! You can hear the thin, delicate notes quite
plainly: this is such a quiet little street. A piano rather out of
tune? Perish the thought! Dear friend, it is a spinet,--a harpsichord.
Almost you can smell pot-pourri.

Perhaps it was of such a house that H.C. Bunner wrote:

    _"We lived in a cottage in old Greenwich Village,
       With a tiny clay plot that was burnt brown and hard;
    But it softened at last to my girl's patient tillage,
       And the roses sprang up in our little backyard;"_

The garden hunger of the Village! It is something pathetic and yet
triumphant, pitiful and also splendid. It is joyous life and growth
hoping in the most unpromising surroundings: it is eager and gallant
hope exulting in the very teeth of defeat. Do you remember John
Reed's--

    _"Below's the barren, grassless, earthen ring
    Where Madame, with a faith unwavering
    Planted a wistful garden every spring,--
    Forever hoped-for,--never blossoming."_

Yet they do blossom, those hidden and usually unfruitful
garden-places. Sometimes they bloom in real flowers that anyone can
see and touch and smell. Sometimes they come only as flowers of the
heart--which, after all, will do as well as another sort,--in
Greenwich Village, where they know how to make believe.

Here is how Hugh Macatamney describes Greenwich:

     "A walk through the heart of this interesting locality--the
     American quarter, from Fourteenth Street down to Canal, west
     of Sixth Avenue--will reveal a moral and physical
     cleanliness not found in any other semi-congested part of
     New York; an individuality of the positive sort transmitted
     from generation to generation; a picturesqueness in its old
     houses, 'standing squarely on their right to be individual'
     alongside those of modern times, and, above all else, a
     truly American atmosphere of the pure kind."

He adds:

     "Please remember, too, that in 1816 Greenwich Village had
     individualism enough to be the terminus of a stage line from
     Pine Street and Broadway, the stages 'running on the even
     hours from Greenwich and the uneven hours from Pine
     Street.'"

You walk on through Greenwich Village and you will expect romance to
meet you. Even the distant clang of a cable car out in the city will
not break the spell that is on you now. And if you have a spark of
fancy, you will find your romance. You cannot walk a block in
Greenwich without coming on some stony wall, suggestive alley, quaint
house or vista or garden plot or tree. Everything sings to you there;
even the poorest sections have a quaint glamour of their own. It
gleams out at you from the most forbidding surroundings. Sometimes it
is only a century-old door knocker or an ancient vine-covered
wall--but it is a breath from the gracious past.

And as you cannot go a step in the Village without seeing something
picturesque so you cannot read a page of the history of Greenwich
without stumbling upon the trail of romance or adventure. As, for
example, the tale of that same Sir. Peter Warren, whose name we have
encountered more than once before, as proper a man as ever stepped
through the leaves of a Colonial history and the green purlieus of Old
Greenwich!



CHAPTER III

_The Gallant Career of Sir. Peter Warren_

      "... Affection with truth must say
      That, deservedly esteemed in private life,
    And universally renowned for his public conduct,
        The judicial and gallant Officer
    Possessed all the amiable qualities of the
        Friend, the Gentleman, and the Christian...."

     --_From the epitaph written for Sir. Peter's tomb in
     Westminster Abbey by Dr. Samuel Johnson._


The sea has always made a splendid romantic setting for a gallant
hero. Even one of moderate attainments and inconsiderable adventures
may loom to proportions that are quite picturesque when given a
background of tossing waves, "all sails set," and a few jolly tars to
sing and fight and heave the rope. And when you have a hero who needs
no augmenting of heroism, no spectacular embellishment as it
were,--what a gorgeous figure he becomes, to be sure!

Peter Warren, fighting Irish lad, venturesome sailor, sometime Admiral
and Member of Parliament, and at all times a merry and courageous
soldier of the high seas, falls heir to as pretty and stirring a
reputation as ever set a gilded aureole about the head of a man.
Though he was in the British navy and a staunch believer in "Imperial
England," he was so closely associated with New York for so many years
that no book about the city could be written without doing him some
measure of honour. No figure is so fit as Sir. Peter's to represent
those picturesque Colonial days when the "Sons of Liberty" had not
begun to assemble, and this New York of ours was well-nigh as English
as London town itself. So, resplendent in his gold-laced uniform and
the smartly imposing hat of his rank and office, let him enter and
make his bow,--Admiral Sir. Peter Warren, by your leave, Knight of the
Bath, Member of Parliament, destined to lie at last in the stately
gloom of the Abbey, with the rest of the illustrious English dead.

He came of a long line of Irishmen, and certainly did that fine
fighting race the utmost credit. From his boyhood he was always
hunting trouble; he dearly loved a fight, and gravitated into the
British navy as inevitably as a duck to water. He was scarcely more
than an urchin when he became a fighting sailor, and indeed one could
expect no less, for both his father and grandfather had been officers
in the service, and goodness knows how many lusty Warrens before them!
For our friend Peter was a Warren of Warrenstown, of the County Meath
just west of Dublin, and let me tell you that meant something!

The Warrens got their estates in the days of "Strongbow," and held
them through all the vicissitudes of olden Ireland. They were a house
called "English-Irish," and "inside the pale," which means that they
stood high in British favour, and contributed heroes to the army or
navy from each of their hardy generations. They had no title, but to
be The Warren of Warrenstown, Meath, was to be entitled to look down
with disdain upon upstart baronets and newly created peers. Sir.
Christopher Aylmer's daughter, Catherine, was honoured to marry
Captain Michael Warren, and her brother, Admiral Lord Aylmer, only too
glad to take charge of her boy Peter later on.

Peter was the youngest of a family, composed with one exception of
boys, and the most ambitious of the lot. When he was nine years old
(he was born in 1703, by the bye), his father, Captain Michael, died,
and three years later the oldest son, Oliver, decided to send Peter to
his uncle Lord Aylmer to be trained for the service. Is it far-fetched
to assume that Oliver found his small brother something of a handful?
If Peter was one-quarter as pugnacious and foolhardy at twelve as he
was at forty, there is small wonder that a young man burdened with the
cares of a large estate and an orphaned family would be not unwilling
to get rid of him,--or at least of the responsibility of him. Their
uncle, the Admiral, apparently liked his little Irish nephew, and
proceeded to train him for a naval career, with such vigourous success
that at fourteen our young hero volunteered for His Majesty's
service,--a thing, we may take it, which had been the high dream of
his boyish life.

And it was real service too. Boys turned into men very quickly in
those days. In Southern and African waters young Peter saw plenty of
action. He had such adventures as our modern boys sit up at night to
read of. For there were pirates to be encountered then,
flesh-and-blood pirates with black flags and the rest of it. And
deep-sea storms meant more in those days of sails and comparatively
light vessels than we can even imagine today. So swiftly did Peter
grow up under this stern yet thrilling education with the English
colours, that after four short years he was a lieutenant. And in
another six, at an age when most young men are barely standing on the
threshold of their life-work, he was posted a full captain and given
his first command!

His ship was H.M.S. _Grafton_, of seventy guns,--no small honour for
a boy of hardly twenty-four,--and it proved to be no empty honour
either. No sooner had he been posted captain than he was ordered into
action. At that time there were signal and violent differences of
opinion between England and other countries,--notably Spain and
France. Gibraltar was the subject of one of them, it may be recalled.
It was to Gibraltar that Captain Warren and his good ship _Grafton_
were ordered. And when Sir. Charles Wager seized that historic bone of
contention, Peter was with the fleet that did the seizing.

From that moment he was in the thick of trouble wherever it was to be
found, like the dear, daredevil young Irishman that he was! Just a
moment let us pause to try to visualise this youthful adventurer of
ours, with the courtly manners, the irrepressible boyish recklessness
and the big heart. Our only authentic descriptions of him are of a
Peter Warren many years older; our only even probable likenesses are
the same. But let us take these, and reckoning backward see what a man
of such characteristics must have been like in his early twenties.

A delightful old print ostensibly representing him at forty, shows him
to have been a round-faced, more or less portly gentleman, with a
full, pleasant mouth and very big and bright eyes. His wig is
meticulously curled and powdered, and he is, plainly, a very fine
figure of a man indeed. Roubilliac's bust of him in Westminster makes
him much better looking and not nearly, so stout. Thomas Janvier, who
has written delightfully about our captain, disturbs me by insisting
that he was a little man,--nay, his insult goes deeper: he says a
little, _fat_ man! I simply will not accept such a distressing theory!

Edward de Lancey, descended from the family of the girl Peter married,
describes him as being "... Of attractive manners, quick in perception
and action, but clear-headed and calm in judgment." And the historian
Parkman declares that at forty-two he had "the ardour of youth still
burning within him." Reverse the figures. What do you suppose that
ardour was like when he was not forty-two but twenty-four?

At the time of our hero's first command and first naval engagement on
his own ship, things were quite exciting for his King and country,
though we have most of us forgotten that such excitements ever
existed. England had a host of enemies, some of them of her own
household. It was even whispered that the American possessions were
not entirely and whole-heartedly loyal! This seemed incredible, to be
sure, but the men in high places kept an eye on them just the same.
Captain Warren's first official post was the station of New York, and
in 1728 he made his first appearance in this harbour.

He was then just twenty-five, and gloriously adventurous. One can
imagine with what a thrill he set sail for a new country, new friends,
new excitements! I wonder if he guessed that the lady of his heart
awaited him in that unknown land, as well as the dear home where, for
all his sea-roving taste, he was to return again and again through
twenty rich years? He was in command of the frigate _Solebay_ then,
and in the old papers we read many mentions of both ship and officer.
From almost the first Peter loved the Colonies and the Colonies loved
him. In between his cruises and battles he kept coming back like a
homing bird, and every time he came he seemed to have won a little
more glory with his various ships,--the sloop _Squirrel_, the frigate
_Launceston_, and the big ship _Superbe_ with sixty guns. It is said
that no man save only the Governor himself made so fine an appearance
as young Captain Warren, and fair ladies vied with each other for his
attentions! Nevertheless, his social successes at this time were
nothing to what was to come, when he had more money to spend!

Two years after his first introduction to New York, the Common Council
of the city voted to him "the freedom of the city," from which one
gathers some idea of his standing in public favour! And in another
year,--of course,--he got married, and to one of the prettiest girls
in the town, Susanna de Lancey!

Janvier says that the marriage did not take place until 1744, but
other authorities place it at thirteen years earlier. It is much more
probable that Peter got married at twenty-eight than at forty-one; I
scarcely think that he could have escaped so long!

Susanna's father was Monsieur Etienne de Lancey, a Huguenot refugee,
who had fled from Catholic France to the more liberal Colonies, and
settled here. He soon changed the Etienne to Stephen, married the
daughter of one of the old Dutch houses (Van Cortlandt) and went into
business. Just what his occupation was is not clear, but later he
acted as agent for Captain Warren in the disposal of his war prizes.
His sons, James and Oliver, were intimate friends of Peter's through
life, and, as will be seen, they worked together most zestfully when
in later years the captain's boundless energies took a turn at
politics.

So gallant Irish-English Peter and lovely French-Dutch Susanna were
married and, we believe, lived happily ever after. They lived in New
York town proper, but I conceive that, like other young lovers, they
made many a trip out into the country, and that it was their dream to
live there one day when they should be rich. Certain it is that as
soon as our hero did get a little money at last he could hardly wait
to buy the farm land far out of town on the river. But that time was
not yet.

Needless to say, Peter's married life, happy as it was, could not keep
him long on shore. We keep finding his name and the names of his ships
in the delicious old newspapers of his day: Captain Warren has just
arrived; Captain Warren's ship has "gone upon the careen" (i.e., is
being repaired); Captain Warren is sailing next week, and so on, and
so on. The New York _Gazette_ for May 31, 1736, states that: "On
Saturday last, Captain Warren in His Majesty's ship the Squirrel
arrived here in eight weeks from England." One perceives that this was
record time, and worth a journalistic paragraph!

Troubles becoming more rife with Spain in 1739, Peter begged for
active service and got it. This probably was the beginning of his
great prosperity, though his wealth did not become sensational until
nearly five years later. Fortunes were constantly being made in prize
ships in those days, and you may be sure that our enterprising
sea-fighter was not behind other men in this or in anything else
calling for initiative and daring! At all events the records seem to
show that he bought his lands in the Green Village,--Greenwich,--about
1740, when he was thirty-seven. Whether he built his house at that
early date is not clear, but he probably didn't have money enough yet,
for when he did build, it was on a magnificent scale. In 1744,
however, came his golden harvest time!

It was a little after midwinter of that year that Sir. Chaloner Ogle
made him commodore of a sixteen-ship squadron in the waters of the
Leeward Islands where there was decidedly good hunting in the way of
prize ships. Off Martinique were many French and Spanish boats simply
waiting, it would almost seem, to be eaten alive by the enemy's
cruisers; and Captain Peter who had the sound treasure-hunting
instinct of your born adventurer, proceeded to gobble them up! In the
four months that rolled jovially by between the middle of February and
the middle of June, the Captain captured twenty-four of these prizes,
one alone with a plate cargo valued at two hundred and fifty thousand
pounds! Ah, but those were the rare days for a stout-hearted seafaring
man, with a fleet of strong boats and an expensive taste!

Captain Warren brought his prizes to New York and handed them over to
his father-in-law's firm,--advertised in the old papers as "Messieurs
Stephen de Lancey and Company,"--who acted as his agents in
practically all of what Janvier disrespectfully styles "his French and
Spanish swag"! Governor Clinton had exempted prizes from duty, so it
was all clear profit. With the proceeds of the excellent deals which
De Lancey made for him, he then proceeded to cut the swathe for which
he was by temperament and attributes so well fitted.

There never was an Irishman yet, nor a sailor either, who could not
spend money in the grand manner. Our Captain was no exception, be
certain! He figures superbly in the social accounts of the day; it is
safe to assert that he set the pace after a fashion, and fair Mistress
Susanna was a real leader of real Colonial dames! He appears to have
been a genuinely and deservedly popular fellow, our Peter Warren,
throwing his prize money about with a handsome lavishness, and
upholding the honour of the British navy as gallantly in American
society as ever he had in hostile waters abroad.

And now for that dream of a country home! Warren had lands on the
Mohawk River and elsewhere, but his heart had always yearned for the
tract of land in sylvan Greenwich. In that quiet little hamlet on the
green banks of the Hudson the birds sang and the leaves rustled, and
the blue water rested tired eyes. Peter at this time owned nearly
three hundred acres of ground there and now that he had money in
plenty, he lost no time in building a glorious dovecote for himself
and Mistress Susanna--a splendid house in full keeping with his usual
large way of doing things.

Stroll around the block that is squared by the present Charles, Perry,
Bleecker and Tenth streets some day, look at the brick and stone, the
shops and boarding-houses,--and try to dream yourself back into the
eighteenth century, when, in that very square of land, stood the
Captain's lovely country seat. In those days it was something
enormous, palatial, and indeed was always known as the Mansion or
Manse. This is, of course, the basis for the silly theory that
Greenwich got its name from the estate. Undoubtedly the Warren place
was the largest and most important one out there, and for a time to
"go out to visit at Greenwich," meant to go out to visit the Manse.
For years the Captain and the Captain's lady lived in this beautiful
and restful place with three little daughters to share their money,
their affections and their amiable lives. Thomas Janvier's description
of the house as he visualises it with his rich imagination is too
charming not to quote in part:

[Illustration: OLD ST. JOHN'S. "Still faces on Varick Street, sombre
and unaltered, a stately link between the present and the past."]

    "The house stood about three hundred yards back from the
    river, on ground which fell away in a gentle slope towards
    the waterside. The main entrance was from the east; and at
    the rear--on the level of the drawing-room and a dozen feet
    or so above the sloping hillside--was a broad veranda
    commanding the view westward to the Jersey Highlands and
    southward down the bay to the Staten Island Hills." The
    fanciful description goes on to picture Captain Warren
    sitting on this veranda, "smoking a comforting pipe after his
    mid-day dinner; and taking with it, perhaps, as seafaring
    gentlemen very often did in those days, a glass or two of
    substantial rum-and-water to keep everything below hatches
    well stowed. With what approving eye must he have regarded
    the trimly kept lawns and gardens below him; and with what
    eyes of affection the _Launceston_, all a-taunto, lying out
    in the stream!"

I have called the description of the house "fanciful," but it is
really not that, since the old house fell into Abraham Van Nest's
hands at a later date, and stood there for over a century, with the
poplars, for which it was famous, and the box hedges, in which Susanna
had taken such pride, growing more beautiful through the years. Not
until 1865 was the lovely place destroyed by the tidal wave of modern
building.

The Captain kept his town house as well,--the old Jay place, on the
lower end of Broadway, but it was at the Manse that he loved best to
stay, and the Manse which was and always remained his real and beloved
home. In 1744 his seaman's restlessness again won over his domestic
tranquillity and he was off once more in search of fresh adventures
and dangers. Says the _Weekly Post Boy_, of August 27th, in that year:

     "His Majesty's ship _Launceston_, commanded by the brave
     Commodore Warren (whose absence old Oceanus seems to
     lament), being now sufficiently repaired, will sail in a few
     days in order once more to pay some of His Majesty's enemies
     a visit."

And it winds up with this burst:

    _"The sails are spread; see the bold warrior comes
    To chase the French and interloping Dons!"_

It was in the following year that he signally distinguished himself in
the historic Siege of Louisbourg, winning himself a promotion to the
rank of Rear Admiral of the Blue, and a knighthood as well! It may
seem a far cry from Greenwich, New York, to Louisbourg, but we cannot
pass over the incident without sparing it a little space. Let me beg
your patience,--quoting, in my own justification, no less a historian
than James Grant Wilson:

     "This Commodore Warren was one of those indefatigable and
     nervous spirits who did such wonders at Louisbourg, and it
     is with particular pride that his achievement should be
     remembered in a history of New-York, as he was the only
     prominent New-Yorker that contributed to Massachusetts'
     greatest Colonial achievement."

The capture of Louisbourg may be remembered by some history readers as
a part of that English-French quarrel of 1745, commonly known as "King
George's War," and also as the undertaking described by so many
contemporaries as "Shirley's Mad Scheme." The scheme _was_ rather mad;
hence its appeal to Peter Warren, who was exceedingly keen about it
from the beginning.

Louisbourg was a strong French fortress on Cape Breton Island,
commanding the gulf of the St. Lawrence. Its value as a military
stronghold was great, and besides it had long been a fine base for
privateers, and was a very present source of peril to the New England
fishermen off the Banks. As far back as 1741 Governor Clarke of New
York had urged the taking of this redoubtable French station, but it
fell to the masterful Shirley, Governor of Massachusetts, finally to
organise the expedition. He had Colonial militia to the tune of four
thousand men, and he had Colonial boats,--nearly a hundred of
them,--and he had the approval of the Crown (conveyed through the Duke
of Newcastle); but he wanted leaders. For his land force he chose
General Pepperrill, an eminently safe and sane type of soldier; for
the sea he, with a real brain throb, thought of Captain Peter Warren.
Francis Parkman says: "Warren, who had married an American woman and
who owned large tracts of land on the Mohawk, was known to be a warm
friend to the provinces." He was at Antigua when he received the
Governor's request that he take command of the "Mad Scheme." Needless
to say, the Captain was charmed with the idea, but he had no orders
from the King! He refused almost weeping, and for two days was plunged
in gloom. Imagine such a glorious chance for a fight going begging!

Then arrived a belated letter from Newcastle in England, telling him
to "concert measures with Shirley for the annoyance of the enemy."
Warren was so afraid that some future orders would be less vague, and
give him less freedom, that he set sail for Boston with a haste that
was feverish. He had with him three ships,--the _Mermaid_ and
_Launceston_ of forty guns each, and the _Superbe_ of sixty. But those
two wretched days of delay! He fell in with a schooner from which he
learned that Shirley's expedition had started without him!

I daresay, being a sailor and Irish, our Captain expressed himself
exhaustively just then; but he recovered speedily and told the
schooner to send him every British ship she met in her voyage; then he
changed his course and beat straight for Canseau, determined to be in
that expedition after all. He certainly was in it, and a brisk time he
had of it, too.

At Canseau they were all tied up three weeks, drilling and waiting for
the ice to break, but they were thankful to get there at all. The
storms were severe, as may be gathered by this account of their
efforts to get into Canseau, written by one of the men: "A very Fierce
Storm of Snow, som Rain and very Dangerous weather to be so nigh ye
Shore as we was; but we escaped the Rocks and that was all."

Pepperrill was thankful enough to see the Captain and his
squadron,--it was four ships now, as the schooner had picked up
another frigate for him,--but the two commanders were destined to rub
each other very much the wrong way before they were through.
Pepperrill was a man who took risks only very solemnly and with
deliberation, and who was blessed with endless patience. Warren took
risks with as much zest as he took rare food and rich wine, and in his
swift, full and exciting life there had never been place or time for
patience! When the siege actually commenced, the poor Captain nearly
went wild with the inaction. He wanted to attack, to move, to do
something. Pepperrill's calm judgment and slow tactics drove him
distracted, and they were forever at odds in spite of a secret respect
for each other. In speaking of the contrast between them, Parkman,
after describing Pepperrill's careful management of the military end,
says: "Warren was no less earnest than he for the success of the
enterprise.... But in habits and character the two men differed
widely. Warren was in the prime of life, and the ardour of youth still
burned within him. He was impatient at the slow movement of the
siege."

The Siege of Louisbourg started by Warren's and Pepperrill's demand
that the fortress surrender, and the historic answer of Duchambon,
the French commander, that they should have their answer from the
cannon's mouth. It is not my purpose to tell of it in detail, for it
lasted forty-seven days and strained the nerves of everyone to the
breaking point. But one or two things happened in the time which, to
my mind, make our Captain seem a very human person. There was, for
instance, his amazing kindness, as unfailing to his captives as to his
own men. When the great French man-of-war _Vigilant_ came to the aid
of the beleaguered fortress, Warren joyously captured the monster, in
full sight of Louisbourg and under the big guns there. It was this
incident, by the bye, for which he was knighted afterwards. The French
captain, Marquis de la Maisonfort, who was Warren's prisoner, wrote in
a letter to Duchambon: "The Captain and officers of this squadron
treat us, not as their prisoners, but as their good friends."

Warren went wild with rage when he heard of the horrors that had
befallen an English scouting party which had fallen into the hands of
a band of Indians and Frenchmen, and hideously tortured. He wrote
stern protests to Duchambon, and it was at this time that he urged
Pepperrill most earnestly to attack. But the more phlegmatic officer
could not see it in that way. Warren then argued with increasing heat
that by this time the French reinforcements must be near, and could
easily steal up under cover of the fog which was thick there every
night. When Pepperrill still objected he lost his temper entirely, and
said and wrote a number of peppery things. "I am sorry," he said,
"that no one plan, though approved by all my captains, has been so
fortunate as to meet your approbation or have any weight with you!"

Pepperrill explained imperturbably that Warren was trying to take too
much authority upon himself. Captain Peter sent him a furious note: "I
am sorry to find a kind of jealousy which I thought you would never
conceive of me. And give me leave to tell you I don't want at this
time to acquire reputation, as I flatter myself mine has been pretty
well established long before!"

And then, as full of temper as a hot-headed schoolboy, he brought out
a letter from Governor Shirley expressing regret that Captain Warren
could not take command of the whole affair,--"which I doubt not would
be a most happy event for His Majesty's service."

Even this could not shake the General's superhuman calm. He was
indeed so quiet about it, and so uniformly polite, that his fiery
associate was simply obliged to cool off. He was of too genuinely fine
fibre to bear a grudge or to make a hard situation harder, and he
consented to compromise, saying truly that at such times it was
"necessary not to Stickle at Trifles!"

At last the time came for action, and on the seventeenth of June they
took Louisbourg, in a most brilliant and stirring manner, and Warren
was so wild with delight that he could not contain himself. He
scribbled a note to Pepperrill which sounds like the note of a
rattle-pated college lad instead of a distinguished naval commander:
"We will soon keep a good house together, and give the Ladys of
Louisbourg a gallant Ball."

He probably gave that ball, too, though there doesn't seem to be any
record of it. He certainly had a beautiful time going about making
speeches to the troops, amid much cheering; and dispensing casks of
rum in which to drink his health and King George's! He was made the
English Governor of the fortress temporarily, and when the news of
their capture reached England both commanders were knighted and Peter
Warren was made Rear Admiral of the Blue.

And in the height of the excitement a ship arrived at Louisbourg one
fine day bearing Susanna herself, who had come in person to see that
the hero of the day was really safe and sound!

A letter written from Louisbourg on September 25th, and published in
the _Weekly Post Boy_, gives this account:

     "... The King has made the General a baronet of Great
     Britain; and 'tis said Mr. Warren will be one also, who is
     recommended by the Lords Justices to the King of Governor of
     this Place, and is made Rear Admiral of the Blue: He hoisted
     his Flag yesterday Afternoon on the Superbe, when he was
     saluted by the Ships in the Harbour, and the Grand Battery."

Soon after,--if we may trust James Grant Wilson's history,--he did
indeed receive the Order of the Bath, and so henceforward we must give
him his title,--Admiral Sir. Peter Warren, no less! After he came home
from Louisbourg, the city of New York was so well pleased with him
that the council voted him some extra land,--which he really did not
need in the least, having plenty already.

At least one more exploit was to be added to the wreath of Peter
Warren's brave enterprises in behalf of his King and country. In 1747
the French again became troublesome. A fleet of French men-of-war
under one La Jonquiere, an able commander, was ordered to go and
retake Louisbourg,--that, at least, among other things. Sir. Peter
went to join the English commander, Anson, off Cape Finisterre,--(the
"End of the Earth") and acquitted himself there so gallantly and
effectively that again his country rang with praise of him,--his
country which then lay on two sides of the sea. America's pride in him
is shown by some of the comments in the New York press, after he had
so brilliantly helped in the capture of La Jonquiere's ships. Here is,
for instance, one letter from an eyewitness which was printed in the
New York _Gazette_, August 31, 1747:

     "I have the Honour to send you some Particulars concerning
     the late Engagement on 3rd Instant off Cape Finisterre;
     which, tho' in the greatest degree conducive to the Success
     of that glorious Day, yet have not been once mentioned in
     the publick Papers.... You may be surpriz'd, Sir, when I
     assert, that out of the formidable English Squadron, but
     seven Ships were engag'd properly speaking. Concerning the
     Gallantry of three of them, which were the Headmost Ships,
     you have already had publick accounts; and my intention by
     this, is to warm your hearts with an Account of the
     Behaviour of two others, the Devonshire, Admiral Warren's
     Ship, and the Bristol, commanded by Capt. Montague."

The letter goes on to describe the battle minutely, telling how Warren
came boldly up to the French Commodore's ship, and attacked her,
"--And, having receiv'd her fire, as terrible a one as ever I saw, ran
up within Pistol-shot and then returned it, and continued a brisk fire
till the enemy struck." Then, he continues, Warren "made up to the
Invincible" and attacked her, later seconded by Montague. Anson, the
commanding Admiral, he adds rather drily, was at least a mile astern.

In the same edition of the paper which prints this letter, we find a
little side light on the way in which Lady Warren spent her days when
her magnificent husband was away at the wars. Between an advertisement
of "Window Crown-Glass just over from England," and "A Likely Strong
Negro Wench, fit for either Town or Country Business, to be sold," we
find a crisp little paragraph:

     "All Persons that have any Demands on the Honourable Sir.
     Peter Warren, are desired to carry their accounts to his
     Lady, to be adjusted, and receive Payment."

Sir. Peter was, as we have seen, not a person who could sit still and
peacefully do nothing. Inactivity was always a horror to him; even
his domestic happiness and his wholesome joy in his wife and daughters
could not entirely fill his life when he was not at sea. His first
naive and childish pleasure in his immense fortune was an old story,
and the King couldn't provide a battle for him every moment. The real
events of his life were war cruises, but in between he began to take a
hand in the politics of New York. He was high in favour with the
English Throne--with some reason, we must admit--and he didn't mind
stating the fact with the candour and doubtless the pride of a child
of nature, as well as--who knows?--a touch of arrogance, as became a
man of the world, and an English one to boot!

His brother-in-law, James de Lancey, was Chief Justice, and at sword's
point with Clinton, the Governor of New York. De Lancey boasted
politely but openly that he and Sir. Peter had twice as much influence
in England as had Clinton, which was probably quite true. Clinton was
desperately afraid of them both. Just when Clinton felt he was making
a little headway Warren was called to London to enter Parliament as
the member for Westminster. This gave him more prestige than ever, and
the Governor moved heaven and earth to discredit him in the eyes of
the Lords of Trade in London. But just then heaven and earth were
personified by the British Crown and Court, and they turned deaf ears
to Clinton and listened kindly to the naval hero who had made himself
so prime a favourite. Clinton firmly expected and fervently feared
that Warren's influence would mean his eventful overthrow and not
until our hero's death did he ever draw a breath that was free from
dread.

After the Revolution some of the De Lanceys lost their lands because
of their loyalty to the Crown, but in Sir. Peter's time the sun shone
for those who stood by the King.

But the day came speedily when Sir. Peter sailed away to return no
more, and I am sure every tree in Greenwich and every cobblestone in
New York mourned him!

It was in 1747 that our hero was summoned to London, to enter
Parliament and from that time on was a bright particular star in
English society. Known as "the richest man in England," he was a truly
magnificent figure in a magnificent day. Lady Warren, who was still a
beauty and a wit, was a great favourite at Court, and writers of the
day declared her to be the cleverest woman in all England. Think of
what golden fortunes fell to the three Warren girls, who were now of
marriageable age!

They made our old friend Peter Admiral of the Red Squadron as well as
an M.P., and Lady Warren so splendidly brought out her daughters that
Charlotte married Willoughby, Earl of Abingdon, and Ann wed Charles
Fitzroy, Baron Southampton. The youngest girl, Susanna, chose a
colonel named Skinner,--and New York, still affectionately inclined
toward the Admiral's daughters, named streets after the husbands of
all three! Our present Christopher Street used to be Skinner Road;
Fitzroy Road ran northward, near our Eighth Avenue from Fourteenth
Street far uptown; Abingdon Road, which was known colloquially and
prettily as "Love Lane," was far, far out in the country until much
later, somewhere near Twenty-first Street. Abingdon Square alone
preserves one of the old family names, and in Abingdon Square I am
certain some of those dear ghosts come to walk.

And still I find that I have not told the half of Sir. Peter's story! I
have not told of his adventures in the Mohawk country, where he
travelled from sheer love of adventure and danger in the first place,
and afterward established a fine settlement and plantation; of his
placing there his sister's young son, William Johnson, later to be a
great authority on matters pertaining to the Indians, and how he sent
him out vast consignments of "rum and axes," to open negotiations
with the Mohawks; how in his letter to his nephew he sounded a note of
true Irish blarney, in cautioning him not to find fault with the
horses supplied by a certain man, "since he is a relation of my
wife's!" I have not told of his narrow escape from the Indians on one
dramatic occasion; nor of his trip to the West Indies as an envoy of
peace; nor of his services in Barbadoes which caused the people
thereof to present him with a gorgeous silver monteith, or punch-bowl;
nor of the mighty dinner party he gave at which the Rev. Mr. Moody
said the historic grace: "Good Lord, we have so much to be thankful
for that time would be infinitely too short to do it in. We must,
therefore, leave it for eternity. Amen." I have said nothing of Sir.
Peter's attack of small-pox, which left his good-looking face badly
marked, if we can believe the likeness modelled by Roubilliac;
nor--but it would take volumes to tell the full and eventful story of
this brave and gallant-hearted man, who died when he was only
forty-eight, in the year 1752. It seems incredible that so much could
have been crowded into so short a life. In death he was honoured quite
as he deserved, for his tomb in the Abbey is a gorgeous and impressive
one, and such men as the great French sculptor, and Dr. Johnson
himself, had a hand in making it memorable in proportion to his
greatness.

In looking over our hero's career we are struck by the absence of
shadows. One would say that so unrelieved a record of success, of
honour, glory, love and wealth, so much pure sunshine, so complete a
lack of all trouble or defeat, must make a picture flat and
characterless, insipid in its light, bright colours, insignificant in
its deeper values. But it is not so. Peter Warren, the spoiled child
of fortune, was something more than a child of fortune, since he won
his good things of life always at the risk of that life which he
enriched; and surely, no obstinately fortuitous twist of circumstances
could ever really spoil him.

His honestly heroic qualities are his passport. He cannot seem smug,
nor colourless, nor over-prosperous: he is too vivid and too vigorous.
His childish vanity is nobly discounted by his childlike simplicity in
facing big issues. The blue and gold which he wore so magnificently
can never to us be the mere trappings of rank: they carry on them the
shadows of battle smoke, and the rust of enviable wounds. Let us take
his memory then gladly, and with true homage, rejoicing that its
record of happiness appears as stainless as its history of honour, and
well satisfied to find one picture in which something of the sunshine
of high gallantry seems caught, and for all time.

Dr. Johnson wrote thirty lines of eulogy of him, with the nicety and
distinction of phrase which one would expect. Perhaps the simple
ending of it is most impressive of all; so let us make it our own for
the occasion:

                   _"... But the ALMIGHTY,
    Whom alone he feared, and whose gracious protection
            He had often experienced,
    Was pleased to remove him from a place of Honour,
            To an eternity of happiness,
            On the 29th day of July, 1752,
            In the 49th year of his age."_



CHAPTER IV

_The Story of Richmond Hill_

     If my days of fancy and romance were not past, I could find
     here an ample field for indulgence!--ABIGAIL ADAMS,
     writing from Richmond Hill House, in 1783.


I had left dear St. John's,--for this time my pilgrim feet were turned
a bit northward to a shrine of romance rather than religion. I
meandered along Canal, and traversed Congress Street. Congress, by the
bye, is about two yards long; do you happen to know it?

In a few moments, I was standing in a sort of trance at that
particular point of Manhattan marked by the junction of Charlton and
Varick streets and the end of Macdougal, about two hundred feet north
of Spring. And there was nothing at all about the scenic setting, you
would surely have said, to send anyone into any kind of a trance.

On one side of me was an open fruit stall; on another, a butcher's
shop; the Cafe Gorizia (with windows flagrant with pink
confectionery), and the two regulation and indispensable saloons to
make up the four corners.

In a sentimentally reminiscent mood, I took out a notebook, to write
down something of my impressions and fancies. But there was a general
murmur of war-inflamed suspicion, and I desisted and fled. How was I
to tell them that there, where I stood, in that very citified and very
nearly squalid environment (it was raining that day too), I could yet
see, quite distinctly, the shadowy outlines of the one-time glorious
House of Richmond Hill?

They were high gates and ornate, one understands. I visualised them
over and against the dull and dingy modern buildings. Somewhere near
here where I was standing, the great drive-way had curved in between
the tall, fretted iron posts, to that lovely wooded mound which was
the last and most southern of the big Zantberg Range, and seemingly of
a rare and rich soil. The Zantberg, you remember, started rather far
out in the country,--somewhere about Clinton Place and Broadway,--and
ran south and west as far as Varick and Van Dam streets.

I had passed on Downing Street one house at least which looked as
though it had been there forever and ever, but just here it was most
commonplace and present-century in setting, and the roar of traffic
was in my ears. But I am sure that I saw Richmond Hill House
plainly,--that distinguished structure which was described by an
eyewitness as "a wooden building of massive architecture, with a lofty
portico supported by Ionic columns, the front walls decorated with
pilasters of the same order and its whole appearance distinguished by
a Palladian character of rich though sober ornament." We learn further
that its entrance was broad and imposing, that there were balconies
fronting the rooms on the second story. The inside of the house was
spaciously partitioned, with large, high rooms, massive stairways with
fine mahogany woodwork, and a certain restful amplitude in everything
which was a feature of most of the true Colonial houses.

Thomas Janvier quotes from some anonymous writer of an earlier day:
"From the crest of this small eminence was an enticing prospect; on
the south, the woods and dells and winding road from the lands of
Lispenard, through the valley where was Borrowson's tavern; and on the
north and west the plains of Greenwich Village made up a rich prospect
to gaze on."

Lispenard's Salt Meadows lie still, I suppose, under Canal Street
North. I have not been able to place exactly Borrowson's tavern. Our
old friend, Minetta Water, which flowed through the site of
Washington Square, made a large pond at the foot of Richmond
Hill,--somewhere about the present junction of Bedford and Downing
streets. In winter it offered wonderful skating; in summer it was a
dream of sylvan loveliness, and came to be called Burr's Pond, after
that enigmatic genius who later lived in the house.

One more description--and the best--of Richmond Hill as it was the
century before last; this one written by good Mistress Abigail, wife
of John Adams, one-time vice-president of the United States, during
their occupancy of the place. Said she, openly adoring the Hill at all
times:

     "In natural beauty it might vie with the most delicious spot
     I ever saw. It is a mile and a half from the city of New
     York. The house stands upon an eminence; at an agreeable
     distance flows the noble Hudson, bearing upon its bosom
     innumerable small vessels laden with the fruitful
     productions of the adjacent country. Upon my right hand are
     fields beautifully variegated with grass and grain, to a
     great extent, like the valley of Honiton in Devonshire. Upon
     my left the city opens to view, intercepted here and there
     by a rising ground and an ancient oak. In front beyond the
     Hudson, the Jersey shores present the exuberance of a rich,
     well-cultivated soil. In the background is a large
     flower-garden, enclosed with a hedge and some every handsome
     trees. Venerable oaks and broken ground covered with wild
     shrubs surround me, giving a natural beauty to the spot
     which is truly enchanting. A lovely variety of birds
     serenade me morning and evening, rejoicing in their liberty
     and security."

The historian, Mary L. Booth, commenting on the above, says:

     "This rural picture of a point near where Charlton now
     crosses Varick Street naturally strikes the prosaic mind
     familiar with the locality at the present day as a trick of
     the imagination. But truth is stranger, and not infrequently
     more interesting, than fiction."

And now go back to the beginning.

A very large section of this part of the island was held under the
grant of the Colonial Government, by the Episcopal Church of the city
of New York--later to be known more succinctly as Trinity Church
Parish. St. John's,--not built at that time, of course--is part of the
same property. This particular portion (Richmond Hill), as we may
gather from the enthusiastic accounts of those who had seen it, must
have been peculiarly desirable. At any rate, it appealed most strongly
to one Major Abraham Mortier, at one time commissary of the English
army, and a man of a good deal of personal wealth and position.

In 1760, Major Mortier acquired from the Church Corporation a big
tract including the especial hill of his desires and, upon it, high
above the green valleys and the silver pond, he proceeded to put a
good part of his considerable fortune into building a house and laying
out grounds which should be a triumph among country estates.

That he was a personage of importance goes without saying, for His
Majesty's forces had right of way in those days, in all things social
as well as governmental. He proceeded to entertain largely, as soon as
he had his home ready for it, and so it was that at that time Richmond
Hill established its deathless reputation for hospitality.

Mortier did not buy the property outright but got it on a very long
lease. Though his first name sounds Hebraic and his last Gallic, he
was, we may take it, a thoroughly British soul, for he called it
Richmond Hill to remind him of England. The people of New York used to
gossip excitedly over the small fortune he spent on those grounds, the
house was the most pretentious that the neighbourhood had boasted up
to that time. Of course the Warren place was much farther north, and
this particular locality was only just beginning to be fashionable.

[Illustration: WASHINGTON ARCH. "... Let us hope that we will always
keep Washington Square as it is today--our little and dear bit of
fine, concrete history, the one perfect page of our old, immortal New
York."]

A friend of the Commissary's, and a truly illustrious visitor at the
Hill, was Sir. Jeffrey Amherst, later Lord Amherst. He made Mortier's
house his headquarters at the close of his campaigns waged against
French power in America. He is really not so well known as he should
be, for in those tangled beginnings of our country we can hardly
overestimate the importance of any one determined or strategic move,
and it is due to Amherst, very largely, that half of the State of New
York was not made a part of Canada. Incidentally, Amherst College is
named for him.

The worthy Commissary died, it is believed, at about the time that
trouble started. On April 13th, in the memorable year 1776, General
Washington made "the Hill" his headquarters, and the house built by
the British army official was the scene of some of the most stirring
conferences that marked the beginning of the Revolution.

At the vitally important officers' councils held behind those tall,
white columns, there was one man so unusual, so brilliant, so
incomprehensible, that a certain baffling interest if not actual
romance attaches itself automatically to the bare utterance or
inscription of his name,--Aaron Burr. He was aide-de-camp to General
Putnam, and already had a vivid record behind him. It was during
Washington's occupancy of Richmond Hill that Burr grew to love the
place which was later to be his own home.

I confess to a very definite weakness for Aaron Burr. Few hopeless
romanticists escape it. Dramatically speaking, he is one of the most
striking figures in American history, and I imagine that I have not
been the first dreamer of dreams and writer of books who has haunted
the scenes of his flesh-and-blood activity in the secret,
half-shamefaced hope of one day happening upon his ghost!

From the day of his graduation from college at sixteen, he somehow
contrived to win the attention of everyone whom he came near. He still
wins it. We love to read of his frantic rush to the colours, guardian
or no guardian; of the steel in him which lifted him from a bed of
fever to join the Canadian expedition; of his daring exploits of
espionage disguised as a French Catholic priest; of a hundred and one
similar incidents in a life history which, as we read it, is far too
strange not to be true.

Spectacular he was from his birth, and even today his name upon a
page is enough to set up a whole theatre in our imaginations. Just one
incident comes to me at this moment. It is so closely associated with
the region with which this book is concerned, that I cannot but set it
down in passing.

The story runs that it was a mistake in an order which sent General
Knox of Silliman's Brigade to a small fort one mile from town (that
is, about Grand Street), known as "Bunker's Hill"--not to be
confounded with the other and more famous "Bunker"! It happened to be
a singularly unfortunate position. There was neither food nor water in
proper quantities, and the munitions were almost non-existent. The
enemy was on the island.

Whether Major Burr, of Putnam's division, was sent under some regular
authority, or whether he characteristically had taken the matter into
his own hands, the histories I have read do not tell. But they do tell
of his galloping up, breathless on a lathered horse, making the little
force understand the danger of their position, pleading with his
inimitable eloquence and advancing the reasons for their retreat at
once. The men were stubborn; they did not want to retreat. But he
talked. He proved that the English could take the scrap of a fort in
four hours; he exhorted and urged, and at last he won. They said they
would follow him. From that moment he took charge, and led them along
the Greenwich Road through the woods, skirting the swamps, fording the
rivers, to Harlem, to safety and to eventual victory.

This was only one of many instances in which his wit, his eloquence,
his good sense, his leadership and his unquestioned personal daring
served his country and served her well.

When Washington moved his headquarters to the Roger Morris house near
the Point of Rocks, a period of comparative mystery descended for a
time upon Richmond Hill. During the ensuing struggle, and before the
formal evacuation of New York, the house is supposed to have been
occupied off and on by British officers. But in 1783 they departed for
good! and in 1789, Vice-president John Adams and Mistress Abigail came
to live there.

We have already read two examples of Mrs. Adams' enthusiastic
outpourings in regard to Richmond Hill. She was, in fact, never tired
of writing of it. A favourite quotation of hers she always applied to
the place:

                     _"In this path,
    How long soe'er the wanderer roves, each step
    Shall wake fresh beauties; each last point present
    A different picture, new, and each the same."_

That entire neighbourhood was rich in game,--we have already seen that
the Dutch farmers thought highly of the duck shooting near the Sand
Hill Road, and that Minetta Brook was a first-class fishing stream.
Birds of all sorts were plentiful, and the Adamses did their best to
preserve them on their own place. But too keen sportsmen were always
stealing into the Richmond Hill grounds for a shot or two. "Oh, for
game laws!" was her constant wail. In one letter she declares: "The
partridge, the woodcock and the pigeon are too great temptations for
the sportsman to withstand!"

And please don't forget for one moment that this was at Charlton and
Varick streets!

The House on the Hill was the home of quite ceremonious entertaining
in those days. John Adams, in another land, would surely have been a
courtier--a Cavalier rather than a Roundhead. John T. Morse, Jr., says
that the Vice-president liked "the trappings of authority." The same
historian declares that in his advice to President Washington, "... he
talked of dress and undress, of attendants, gentlemen-in-waiting,
chamberlains, etc., as if he were arranging the household of a
European monarch."

Gulian C. Verplanck (sometimes known by the nom de plume of "Francis
Herbert"), wrote in 1829, quite an interesting account of Richmond
Hill as he personally recalled it. He draws for us a graphic picture
of a dinner party given by the Vice-president and Mrs. Adams for
various illustrious guests.

After entering the house by a side door on the right, they mounted a
broad staircase with a heavy mahogany railing. Dinner was served in a
large room on the second floor with Venetian windows and a door
opening out onto the balcony under the portico. And then he gives us
these vivid little vignettes of those who sat at the great table:

In the centre sat "Vice-president Adams in full dress, with his bag
and _solitaire_, his hair frizzed out each side of his face as you see
it in Stuart's older pictures of him. On his right sat Baron Steuben,
our royalist republican disciplinarian general. On his left was Mr.
Jefferson, who had just returned from France, conspicuous in his red
waistcoat and breeches, the fashion of Versailles. Opposite sat Mrs.
Adams, with her cheerful, intelligent face. She was placed between the
Count du Moustier, the French Ambassador, in his red-healed shoes and
earrings, and the grave, polite, and formally bowing Mr. Van Birket,
the learned and able envoy of Holland. There, too, was Chancellor
Livingston, then still in the prime of life, so deaf as to make
conversation with him difficult, yet so overflowing with wit,
eloquence and information that while listening to him the difficulty
was forgotten. The rest were members of Congress, and of our
Legislature, some of them no inconsiderable men. Being able to talk
French, a rare accomplishment in America at that time, a place was
assigned to me next the count."

Verplanck goes on to describe the dinner. He says that it was a very
grand affair, bountiful and elaborately served, but the French
Ambassador would taste nothing. He took a spoonful or two of soup but
refused everything else "from the roast beef down to the lobsters."
Everyone was concerned, for that was a day of trenchermen, and only
serious illness kept people from eating their dinners. At last the
door opened and his own private _chef_,--quaintly described by
Verplanck as "his body-cook,"--rushed into the room pushing the
waiters right and left before him, and placed triumphantly upon the
table an immense pie of game and truffles, still hot from the oven.
This obviously had been planned as a pleasant surprise for the hosts.
Du Moustier took a small helping himself and divided the rest among
the others. The chronicler adds, "I can attest to the truth of the
story and the excellence of the _pate_!"

No one doubts the courteous intentions of the Count, but something
tells me that that excellent housewife and incomparable hostess,
Mistress Adams, was not enchanted by the unexpected addition to her
delicious and carefully planned menu!

It is Verplanck, by the bye, who has put in a peculiarly succinct way
one of the most signal characteristics of New York--its lightning-like
evolution.

"In this city especially," he says, "the progress of a few years
effect what in Europe is the work of centuries." A shrewd and happily
tongued observer, is Mr. Verplanck; we shall have occasion, I believe,
to refer to him again.

The Adams' occupancy of Richmond Hill House was, we must be convinced,
a very happy one. It was a house of a flexible and versatile
personality, a beautiful home, an important headquarters of many state
affairs, a brilliant social nucleus. Washington and his wife often
went there to call in their beloved post-chaise, and there was
certainly no dignitary of the time and the place who was not at one
time or another a guest there. In the course of time, the Adamses
went to a new and fine dwelling at Bush Hill on the Schuylkill. And
dear Mistress Abigail, faithful to the house of her heart, wrote
wistfully of her just-acquired home:

     "It is a beautiful place, but the grand and sublime I left
     at Richmond Hill" ...

In 1797, the house went to a rich foreigner named Temple. I quote the
chronicles of old New York, but can give you little information
concerning this gentleman. The only thing at all memorable or
interesting about him seems to have been the fact that he was robbed
of a large quantity of money and valuables while at the Hill, that the
thieves were never discovered and that for this reason at least he
filled the local press for quite a time. His occupancy seems to have
been short, and, save for the robbery, uneventful (if he really was a
picturesque and adventurous soul, I humbly ask pardon of his ghost,
but this is all I can find out about him!)--for it was in that
self-same year that the Burrs came to live at Richmond Hill, and
Temple passed into obscurity as far as New York history is concerned.

Mrs. Burr, that older Theodosia who was the idol of Aaron Burr's life,
had died three years before, and little Theo was now the head of his
household. Have you ever read the letters that passed between these
three, by the bye? They are so quaint, so human, so tender--I believe
that you will agree with me that such reading has more of charm in it
than the most dramatic modern novel. They bemoan their aches and pains
and cheer each other up as though they were all little Theo's age.
"Passed a most tedious night," writes Mrs. Burr, and adds that she has
bought a pound of green tea for two dollars! And--"Ten thousand loves.
_Toujours la votre_ Theodosia."

Burr writes that he has felt indisposed, but is better, thanks to a
draught "composed of laudanum, nitre and other savoury drugs." When
their letters do not arrive promptly they are in despair. "Stage after
stage without a line!" complains Theodosia the mother, in one
feverishly incoherent note. And Theodosia the daughter, even at nine
years old, had her part in this correspondence.

Her father writes her that from the writing on her last envelope, he
thought the letter must come from some "great fat fellow"! He advises
her to write a little smaller, and says he loves to hear from her.
Then he whimsically reproaches her for not saying a word about his
last letter to her, nor answering a single one of his questions:
"That is not kind--it is scarcely civil!"

When little Theodosia was eleven her mother died, and henceforward she
was her father's housekeeper and dearest companion. She is said to
have been beautiful, brilliant and fascinating even from her babyhood,
and certainly the way in which she took charge of Richmond Hill at the
age of fourteen would have done credit to a woman with at least
another decade to her credit.

Burr had a beautiful city house besides the one on the Hill, but he
and Theo both preferred the country place, and they entertained there
as lavishly as the Adamses before them. Burr had a special affection
for the French, and his house was always hospitably open to the
expatriated aristocrats during the French Revolution. Volney stopped
with him, and Talleyrand, and Louis Philippe himself. Among the
Americans his most constant guests were Dr. Hosack, the Clintons, and,
oddly enough, Alexander Hamilton! Hamilton, one imagines, found Burr
personally interesting, though he had small use for his politics, and
warned people against him as being that dangerous combination: a
daring and adventurous spirit, quite without conservative principles
or scruples.

Burr is described by one biographer as being "a well-dressed man,
polite and confident, with hair powdered and tied in a queue." He
stooped slightly, and did not move with the grace or ease one would
have expected from so experienced a soldier, but he had "great
authority of manner," and was uniformly "courtly, witty and charming."
During one of those legal battles in which he had only one rival
(Hamilton) it was reported of him that "Burr conducted the trial with
the dignity and impartiality of an angel but with the rigour of a
devil!"

Gen. Prosper M. Wetmore, who adores his memory and can find
extenuation for anything and everything he did, writes this charming
tribute:

     "Born, as it seemed, to adorn society; rich in knowledge;
     brilliant and instructive in conversation; gifted with a
     charm of manner that was almost irresistible; he was the
     idol of all who came within the magic sphere of his
     friendship and his social influence."

His enthusiastic historians fail to add that, though he does not seem
to have been at all handsome, he was always profoundly fascinating to
women. It is doubtful (in spite of his second marriage at seventy odd)
if he ever loved anyone very deeply after his wife Theodosia's death,
but it is very certain indeed that a great, great many loved him!

Richmond Hill was the scene of one exceedingly quaint incident during
the very first year that Burr and his young daughter lived in it.

Burr was in Philadelphia on political business, and fourteen-year-old
Theo was in charge in the great house on the Hill a mile and a half
from New York. Imagine any modern father leaving his little girl
behind in a more or less remote country place with a small army of
servants under her and full and absolute authority over them and
herself! But I take it that there are not many modern little girls
like Theodosia Burr. Certainly there are very few who could translate
the American Constitution into French, and Theo did that while she was
still a slip of a girl, merely to please her adored father!

Which is a digression.

In some way Burr had made the acquaintance of the celebrated Indian
Chief of the Mohawks, Tha-yen-da-ne-gea. He was intelligent, educated
and really a distinguished orator, and Burr took a great fancy to him.
The Chief had adopted an American name,--Joseph Brant,--and had
acquired quite a reputation. He was en route for Washington, but
anxious to see New York before he went. So Burr sent him to Richmond
Hill, and gave him a letter to present to Theo, saying that his
daughter would take care of him!

The letter runs:

     "... This will be handed to you by Colonel Brant, the
     celebrated Indian Chief.... He is a man of education....
     Receive him with respect and hospitality. He is not one of
     those Indians who drink rum, but is quite a gentleman; not
     one who will make you fine bows, but one who understands and
     practises what belongs to propriety and good-breeding. He
     has daughters--if you could think of some little present to
     send to one of them (a pair of earrings for example) it
     would please him...."

Even the prodigiously resourceful Theo was a bit taken aback by this
sudden proposition. In the highly cosmopolitan circle that she was
used to entertaining, she so far had encountered no savages, and, in
common with most young people, she thought of "Brant" as a fierce
barbarian who,--her father's letter notwithstanding,--probably carried
a tomahawk and would dance a war dance in the stately hallway of
Richmond Hill.

In her letter to her father, written after she had met Brant and made
him welcome, she admitted that she had been paramountly worried about
what she ought to give him to eat. She declared that her mind was
filled with wild ideas of (and she quotes):

    _"'The Cannibals that each other eat,
    The anthropophagi, and men whose heads
    Do grow beneath their shoulders!'"_

She had, she confesses, a vague notion that all savages ate human
beings, and--though this obviously was intended as a touch of grisly
humour,--had half a notion to procure a human head and have it served
up in state after the mediaeval fashion of serving boars' heads in Old
England!

However, she presented him with a most up-to-date and epicurean
banquet, and had the wit and good taste to include in her dinner party
such representative men as Bishop Moore, Dr. Bard and her father's
good friend Dr. Hosack, the surgeon.

When the party was over she wrote Burr quite enthusiastically about
the Indian Chief, and declared him to have been "a most Christian and
civilised guest in his manners!"

There were no ladies at Theo's dinner party. She lived so much among
men, and so early learned to take her place as hostess and woman that
I imagine she would have had small patience with the patronage and
counsel of older members of her sex. That she was extravagantly
popular with men old and young is proved in many ways. Wherever she
went she was a belle. Whether the male beings she met chanced to be
young and stupid or old and wise, there was something for them to
admire in Theo, for she was both beautiful and witty, and she had
something of her father's "confidence of manner" which won adherents
right and left.

Mayor Livingston took her on board a frigate in the harbour one day,
and warned her to leave her usual retainers behind.

"Now, Theodosia," he admonished her with affectionate raillery, "you
must bring none of your _sparks_ on board! They have a magazine there,
and we should all be blown up!"

In 1801, when she was eighteen years old, the lovely Theo married
Joseph Alston, an immensely rich rice planter from South Carolina,
owner of more than a thousand slaves, and at one time governor of his
state. Though she went to the South to live, she never could bear to
sever entirely her relations with Richmond Hill. It is a curious fact
that everyone who ever lived there loved it best of all the places in
the world.

One year after her marriage Theo came on to New York for a visit--I
suppose she stopped at her father's town house, since it was in
spring, and before the country places would naturally be open. At all
events it was during this visit that, fresh from her rice fields
(which never agreed with her), she wrote in a letter:

     "... I have just returned from a ride in the country and a
     visit to Richmond Hill. Never did I behold this island so
     beautiful. The variety of vivid greens, the finely
     cultivated fields and gardens, the neat, cool air of the
     cit's boxes peeping through straight rows of tall poplars,
     and the elegance of some gentlemen's seats, commanding a
     view of the majestic Hudson, and the high, dark shores of
     New Jersey, altogether form a scene so lovely, so touching,
     and to me so new, that I was in constant rapture."

In 1804 came the historic quarrel between Aaron Burr and Alexander
Hamilton. Since this chapter is the story of Richmond Hill and not the
life of Aaron Burr, I shall not concern myself with the whys or the
wherefores of that disastrous affair.

Histories must perforce deal with the political aims, successes and
failures of men; must cover a big canvas and sing a large and
impersonal song. But just here we have only to think of these old-time
phantoms of ours as they affect or are affected by the old-time
regions in which for the nonce we are interested. To Richmond
Hill--with its white columns and shadow-flinging portico, its gardens
and its oak trees and its silver pond--it was of small import that the
master just missed being President of the United States, that he did
become Vice-president, and President of the Senate, and that he was
probably as able a jurist as ever distinguished the Bar of New York;
also that he made almost as many enemies as he did friends. But it was
decidedly the concern of the sweet and imposing old house on Richmond
Hill that it was from its arms, so to speak, that he went out in a
cold, white rage to the duel with his chief enemy; that he returned,
broken and heartsick, doubly defeated in that he had chanced to be the
victor, to the protection of Richmond Hill.

I cannot help believing that the household gods of a man take a very
special interest and a very personal part in what fortunes befall him.
More than any deities of old, they live with and in him; they at once
go forth with him to battle, and welcome him home. I can conceive of
some hushed and gracious home-spirit walking restless by night
because the heart and head of the house was afar or in danger. And a
house so charged with personality as that on Richmond Hall must have
had many a ghost,--of fireside and of garden close,--who wept for
fallen fortunes as they had rejoiced for gaiety and bright enterprise.

Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton were born antagonists: their
personalities, their ideals, their methods, were as diverse and as
implacably divergent as the poles. Hamilton, as a statesman, believed
that Burr was dangerous; and so he was: sky rockets and geniuses
usually are. Hamilton did his brilliant best to destroy the other's
power (it was chiefly due to his efforts that Burr missed the
Presidency), and, being a notably courageous man, he was not afraid to
go on warning America against him.

And so it all came about:--the exchange of letters--haughty,
courteously insolent, utterly unyielding on both sides--then the
challenge, and finally the duel.

I am glad to think that Theo Alston was safe among her husband's rice
fields at that time. She worshipped her father, and everything that
hurt him stabbed her to her devoted heart.

It was in an early, fragrant dawn--Friday the sixth of July,
1804--that Burr and his seconds left our beautiful Richmond Hill,
where the birds were singing and the pond just waking to the morning
light, for Weehawken Heights on the Jersey shore.

At about seven, Burr reached the ground which had been appointed. Just
after came Hamilton with his seconds, and the surgeon, Dr. Hosack. The
distance was punctiliously measured, and these directions read
solemnly to the principals:

"The parties, being placed at their stations, shall present and fire
when they please. If one fires before the other, the opposite second
shall say 1--2--3--fire; and he shall then fire or lose his fire."

Then came the word "Present!" from one of the witnesses. Both
duellists fired and Hamilton dropped. Burr was untouched. He stood for
a second looking at his fallen adversary, and then (as the story
goes), "with a gesture of profound regret, left the ground...."

Back to Richmond Hill and the troubled household gods. Burr was no
butcher, and he did not dislike Hamilton personally. I wonder how many
times he paced the cool dining-room with the balcony outside, and how
many times he refused meat or drink, before he despatched his note to
Dr. Hosack? Here it is:

     "Mr. Burr's respectful compliments.--He requests Dr. Hosack
     to inform him of the present state of General H., and of the
     hopes which are entertained of his recovery.

     "Mr. Burr begs to know at what hour of the day the Dr. may
     most probably be found at home, that he may repeat his
     enquiries. He would take it very kind if the Dr. would take
     the trouble of calling on him, as he returns from Mr.
     Bayard's."

On the thirteenth, the New York _Herald_ published:

     "With emotions that we have not a hand to inscribe, have we
     to announce the death of _Alexander Hamilton_.

     "He was suddenly cut off in the forty-eighth year of his
     age, in the full vigour of his faculties and in the midst of
     all his usefulness."

The inquest which followed presented many and mixed views. Samuel
Lorenzo Knapp, writing in 1835, and evidently a somewhat prejudiced
friend, says that "the jury of inquest at last were reluctantly
dragooned into a return of murder."

Meanwhile, for eleven long black days, Burr stayed indoors at Richmond
Hill. He was afraid to go out, for he knew that popular feeling was,
in the main, against him. Dark times for the household gods! At last,
one starless, cloudy night, having heard of the murder verdict, he
stole away.

His faithful servant and friend, John Swartwout, went with him, and a
small barge lay waiting for him on the Hudson just below his Richmond
Hill estate, with a discreet crew. They rowed all night, and at
breakfast time, he turned up at the country place of Commodore
Truxton, at Perth Amboy.

Haggard and worn, he greeted his friend the Commodore with all his
usual _sang-froid_, and suggested nonchalantly that he had "spent the
night on the water, and a dish of coffee would not come amiss!"

He never went back to Richmond Hill to live again, though he later
returned to New York and dwelt there for many years. He went, for a
time, to Theo in the South, fearing arrest, but as a matter of fact,
verdict or no verdict, the matter of Hamilton's death was never
followed up. Burr came calmly back to the Capitol and finished his
term as Vice-president. In his farewell speech to the Senate he said
he did not remember the names of all the people who had slandered him
and intrigued against him, since "he thanked God he had no memory for
injuries!"

[Illustration: THE BUTTERICK BUILDING. A stone's throw from the site of
the once-glorious house of Richmond Hill.]

The year after the duel he evolved his monstrous and hare-brained plan
of establishing a Southern Republic with New Orleans as Capital and
himself as President. Mexico was in it too. In fact, President
Jefferson himself wrote of the project: "He wanted to overthrow
Congress, corrupt the navy, take the throne of Montezuma and seize New
Orleans.... It is the most extraordinary since the days of Don
Quixote!..."

General Wetmore loyally declares the scheme to have been "a
justifiable enterprise for the conquest of one of the provinces of
Southern America." But no one in the whole world really knows all
about it. The sum of the matter is that he was tried for treason, and
that, though he was acquitted, he was henceforward completely dead
politically. Through all, Theo stood by him, and her husband too. They
went to prison with him, and shared all his humiliation and
disappointment. Affection? Blind, confident adoration? Never was man
born who could win it more completely!

But America as a whole did not care for him any more. Dr. Hosack
loaned him money, and, after his acquittal, he set sail for England,
and let Richmond Hill be sold to John Jacob Astor by his creditors. It
brought only $25,000, which was a small sum compared to what he owed,
so he had another object in staying on the other side of the water: a
quite lively chance of the Debtors' Prison!

Apropos of this, there is one rather human little tale which is
comforting to read, dropped down, as it is, in the middle of so wildly
brilliant a career, so colossally disastrous a destiny.

While Burr was living at Richmond Hill, he was often obliged to take
coach journeys to outside points. One day he was on his way home from
Albany and stopped at a roadhouse at Kingston. While he was eating and
drinking and the horses were being changed, he saw a drawing which
interested him. He asked to see more by the same artist, for he had a
keen appreciation of skill in all lines.

This and the other sketches shown him were the work of a young fellow
called John Vanderlyn, who shortly was summoned to meet the great
Burr. The lad was apprenticed to a wagon-maker, and had absolutely no
prospects nor any hope of cultivating his undoubted talent. Like any
other boy young and poor and in a position so humble as to offer no
opportunity of improvement, he was even afraid of change, and seemed
unwilling to take the plunge of leaving his master and taking his
chance in the great world.

"Very well," said Burr. "When you change your mind, just put a clean
shirt in your pocket, come to New York and asked for Colonel Burr."

Then he dismissed the boy from his presence and the whole episode from
his mind, got into his coach and continued on his way.

Two months later he was at breakfast in the dining-room at Richmond
Hill,--with Theo probably pouring out his "dish of coffee,"--when a
vast disturbance arose downstairs. A roughly dressed lad had presented
himself at the front door and insisted on seeing Colonel Burr, in
spite of all the resistance of his manservant. At last he succeeded in
forcing his way past, and made his appearance in the breakfast-room,
followed by the startled and indignant servant. Burr did not recognise
him in the least, but the youth walked up to him, pulled a shirt--of
country make but quite clean--out of his coat pocket, and held it out.

Immediately it all came back to Burr, and he was delighted by the
simplicity with which the wagon-maker's apprentice had taken him at
his word. No one could play the benefactor more generously when he
chose, and he lost no time in sending Vanderlyn to Paris to study art.
So brilliantly did the young man acquit himself in the _ateliers_
there that within a very few years he was the most distinguished of
all American painters in Europe. In Henry Brevoort's Letters are
references to his commission to paint General Jackson, among others.

And now comes the pleasant part of this little story within a story:

In 1808, Aaron Burr was an exile in London. His trouble with Hamilton,
his mad scheme of empire and trial for treason, his political
unpopularity, had made him an outcast; and at that time, he, the most
fascinating, and at one time the most courted of men, lived and moved
without a friend. And he met Vanderlyn,--once the wistful lad who drew
pictures when his master wanted him to turn spokes. Now Vanderlyn was
a big man, with a name in the world and money in his pocket,
and--Aaron Burr's warm and grateful friend. Burr was living in
lodgings at eight shillings a week at that time, and his only caller
was John Vanderlyn.

In 1812 it seemed safe, even advisable, for the exile to return to
America again, but where was the money to be found? He was penniless.
Well, the money was found quite easily. Vanderlyn made a pile of all
his best canvases, sold them, and handed over the proceeds to his
friend and erstwhile benefactor. And so Burr came home to America.

I think the nicest part of all this is Vanderlyn's loyal silence about
the older man's affairs. It is likely that he knew more about Burr's
troubles and perplexities and mistakes than any other man, but he was
fiercely reticent on the subject. Once a writer approached Vanderlyn
for some special information. It was after Burr's death, and the
scribe had visions of publishing something illuminating about this
most mysterious and inscrutable genius.

"And now about Burr's private life," he insinuated confidentially.

The artist turned on him savagely.

"You let Burr's private life alone!" he snarled.

The author fled, deciding that he certainly would do just that!

Burr came home. But fate was not through with him yet. Dear Theo set
sail without delay, from South Carolina, to meet her father in New
York. He had been gone years, and she was hungry for the sight of him.
Her little son had died, and father and daughter longed to be together
again.

Her boat was the _Patriot_--and the _Patriot_ has never been heard from
since she put out. She was reported sunk off Cape Hatteras, but for many
years a haunting report persisted that she had been captured by the
pirates that then infested coastwise trade. So Theodosia--barely thirty
years old--vanished from the world so far as we may know. The dramatic
and tragic mystery of her death seems oddly in keeping with her life and
that of her father. Somehow one could scarcely imagine Theo growing old
peacefully on a Southern plantation!

Her father never regained his old eagerness for life after her loss.
He lived for years, practised law once more with distinction and
success on Nassau Street, even made a second marriage very late in
life, but I think some vivid, vital, romantic part of him, something
of ambition and fire and adventure, was lost at sea with his child
Theodosia.

And now shall we go back, for a few moments only, to Richmond Hill?

Counsellor Benson (or Benzon) is generally supposed to have been the
last true-blue celebrity to inhabit the famous old house. He was
Governor of the Danish Islands, and an eccentric. Our old friend
Verplanck says that he himself dined there once with thirteen others,
all speaking different languages.... "None of whom I ever saw before,"
he states, "but all pleasant fellows.... I, the only American, the
rest of every different nation in Europe and no one the same, and all
of us talking bad French together!"

It was soon after this that the city began cutting up old lots into
new, and turning what had been solitary country estates into
gregarious suburbs and, soon, metropolitan sections. Among other
strange performances, they levelled the hills of New York--is it not
odd to remember that there once were hills, many hills, in New York?
And right and left they did their commissioner-like best to cut the
town all to one pattern. Of course they couldn't, quite, but the
effort was of lasting and painfully efficacious effect. They could not
find it in their hearts, I suppose, to raze Richmond Hill House
completely,--it was a noble landmark, and a home of memories which
ought to have given even commissioners pause,--and maybe did. But they
began to lower it--yes: take it down literally. No one with an
imaginative soul can fail to feel that as they lowered the house in
site and situation so they gradually but relentlessly permitted it to
be lowered in character. It is with a distinct pang that I recall the
steps of Richmond Hill's decline: material and spiritual, its
two-sided fall appears to have kept step.

A sort of degeneracy struck the erstwhile lovely and exclusive old
neighbourhood. Such gay resorts as Vauxhall and Ranelagh Gardens had
encroached on the aristocratic regions of Lispenard's Meadows and
their vicinity. Brannan's Gardens were close to the present crossing
of Hudson and Spring streets. And--Richmond Hill did not escape! It
too became a tavern, a pleasure resort, a "mead garden," a
roadhouse--whatever you choose to call it. It, with its
contemporaries, was the goal of many a gay party and I am told that
its "turtle dinners" were incomparable! In winter there were sleighing
parties, a gentleman and lady in each sleigh; and--but here is a
better picture-maker than I to give it to you--one Thomas Janvier, in
short:

     "How brave a sight it must have been when--the halt for
     refreshments being ended--the long line of carriages got
     under way again and went dashing along the causeway over
     Lispenard's green meadows, while the silvered harness of the
     horses and the brilliant varnish of the Italian chaises
     gleamed and sparkled in the rays of nearly level sunshine
     from the sun that was setting there a hundred years and more
     ago!"

The secretary and engineer to the commissioners who cut up, levelled
and made over New York was John Randel, Jr., and he has left us most
minute and prolific writings, covering everything he saw in the
course of his work; indeed one wonders how he ever had time to work at
all at his profession! Among his records is this account of dear
Richmond Hill before it had been lowered to the level of the valley
lands. It was, in fact, the last of the hills to go.

After describing carefully the exact route he took daily to the
Commissioners' office in Greenwich, as far as Varick Street where the
excavations for St. John's Church were then being made (1808), and
stating that he crossed the ditch at Canal Street on a plank, he goes
on thus:

     "From this crossing place I followed a well-beaten path
     leading from the city to the then village of Greenwich,
     passing over open and partly fenced lots and fields, not at
     that time under cultivation, and remote from any
     dwelling-house now remembered by me except Colonel Aaron
     Burr's former country-seat, on elevated ground, called
     Richmond Hill, which was about one hundred or one hundred
     and fifty yards west of this path, and was then occupied as
     a place of refreshment for gentlemen taking a drive from the
     city."

In 1820, if I am not mistaken, the levelling (and lowering) process
was complete. Richmond Hill's sad old windows looked no longer down
upon a beautiful country world, but out on swiftly growing city
blocks. In 1831, a few art-loving souls tried to found a high-class
theatre in the old house,--the Richmond Hill Theatre. Among them was
Lorenzo Daponte, who had been exiled from Venice, and wrote witty
satirical verse.

The little group of sincere idealists wanted this theatre to be a real
home of high art, and a prize was offered for the best "poetical
address on the occasion,"--that is, the opening of the theatre. The
judges and contestants sat in one of the historic reception rooms that
had seen such august guests as Washington and Burr, Adams and
Hamilton, Talleyrand and Louis Philippe.

Our good friend General Wetmore can tell us of this at first hand for
he was one of those present.

"It was," he says, "an afternoon to be remembered. As the long
twilight deepened into evening, the shadows of departed hosts and
long-forgotten guests seemed to hover 'round the dilapidated halls and
the dismantled chambers."

The winner of the prize was Fitz-Greene Halleck; and it was not at all
a bad poem, though too long to quote here.

The theatre was never a brilliant success. To be sure, such sterling
actors as Mr. and Mrs. John Barnes and the Hilsons played there, and
during a short season of Italian opera, in which Daponte was
enthusiastically interested, Adelaide Pedrotti was the prima donna.
And one of New York's first "opera idols" sang there--Luciano
Fornasari, generally acclaimed by New York ladies as the handsomest
man who had ever been in the city! For a wonder, he wasn't a tenor,
only a basso, but they adored him just the same.

Somehow it grows hard to write of Richmond Hill--a hill no longer, but
a shabby playhouse, which was not even successful. The art-loving
impresarios spent the little money they had very speedily and there
was no more Richmond Hill Theatre.

Then a circus put up there--yes, a circus--in the same house which had
made even sensible Mrs. Adams dream dreams, and where Theo Burr had
entertained her Indian Chief! In 1842, it was the headquarters of a
menagerie, pure and simple.

In 1849--thank God--its nightmare of desecration was over. It was
pulled down, and they built red-brick houses on its grave and left its
ancient memories to sleep in peace.

     "And thus" [Wetmore once again] "passed away the glories and
     the shadows of Richmond Hill. All that remains of them are
     a few fleeting memories and a page or two of history fast
     fading into oblivion."

For once, I cannot quite agree with him--not when he says that. For
surely the home of so much romance and grandeur and charm and
importance must leave something behind it other than a few fleeting
memories and a page or two of history. Houses have ghosts as well as
people, and if ever there stood a house with a personality, that was
sweet, poignant and indestructible, it was the House on Richmond Hill.

I, who tell you this, am very sure. Have I not seen it sketched in
bright, shadowy lines upon the air above Charlton and Varick
streets,--its white columns shining through all the modern city murk?
Go there in the right mood and at the right moment, and you will see,
too.



CHAPTER V

_"Tom Paine, Infidel."_

     ... These are the times that try men's souls. The summer
     soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis,
     shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands
     it _now_, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman....
     I have as little superstition in me as any man living; but
     my secret opinion has ever been, and still is, that God
     Almighty will not give up a people to military destruction,
     or leave them unsupportedly to perish, who have so earnestly
     and so repeatedly sought to avoid the calamities of war, by
     every decent method which wisdom could invent.--"The
     Crisis."


I want you to note carefully the title of this chapter. And then I
want you to note still more carefully the quotation with which it
opens. It was the man known far and wide as "the infidel,"--the man
who was denounced by church-goers, and persecuted for his unorthodox
doctrines,--who wrote with such high and happy confidence of a fair, a
just and a merciful God Almighty.

Before me lies a letter from W.M. van der Weyde, the president of the
Thomas Paine National Historical Association. One paragraph meets my
eyes at this moment:

     "Paine was, without doubt, the very biggest figure that ever
     lived in 'Greenwich Village.' I think, on investigation, you
     will realise the truth of this statement."

I have realised it. And that is why I conceive no book on Greenwich
complete without a chapter devoted to him who came to be known as "the
great Commoner of Mankind." He spoke of himself as a "citizen of the
world," and there are many quarters of the globe that can claim a
share in his memory, so we will claim it, too!

It is true that Thomas Paine lived but a short time in Greenwich, and
that the long play of his full and colourful career was enacted before
he came to spend his last days in the Village. But he is none the less
an essential part of Greenwich; his illustrious memory is so signal a
source of pride to the neighbourhood, his personality seems still so
vividly present, that his life and acts must have a place there, too.
The street that was named "Reason" because of him, suggests the
persecutions abroad and at home which followed the writing of that
extraordinary and daring book "The Age of Reason." The name of Mme. de
Bonneville, who chose for him the little frame house on the site which
is now about at 59 Grove Street, recalls his dramatic life chapter in
Paris, where he first met the De Bonnevilles. So, you see, one cannot
write of Thomas Paine in Greenwich, without writing of Thomas Paine in
the great world--working, fighting, pleading, suffering, lighting a
million fires of courage and of inspiration, living so hard and fast
and strenuously, that to read over his experiences, his experiments
and his achievements, is like reading the biographies of a score of
different busy men!

He was born of Quaker parentage, at Thetford, Norfolk, in England, on
January 29, 1737, and pursued many avocations before he found his true
vocation--that of a world liberator, and apostle of freedom and human
rights. One of his most sympathetic commentators, H.M. Brailsford,
says of him:

     "His writing is of the age of enlightenment; his actions
     belong to romance.... In his spirit of adventure, in his
     passion for movement and combat, there Paine is romantic.
     Paine thought in prose and acted epics. He drew horizons on
     paper and pursued the infinite in deeds."

Let us see where this impulse of romance and adventure led him; it was
into strange enough paths at first!

He was a mere boy--fifteen or sixteen, if I remember accurately--when
the lure of the sea seized him. It is reported that he signed up on a
privateer (the Captain of which was appropriately called Death!),
putting out from England, and sailed with her piratical crew for a
year. This was doubtless adventurous enough, but young Thomas already
wanted adventure of a different and a higher order. He came back and
went into his Quaker father's business--which was that of a staymaker,
of all things! He got his excitement by studying _astronomy_!

Then he became an exciseman--what was sometimes called "gauger"--and
was speedily cashiered for negligence. Anyone may have three guesses
as to his reported next ambition. More than one historian has declared
that he wished to take orders in the Church of England. This is,
however, extremely unlikely. In any case, he changed his mind in time,
and was again taken on as exciseman. Likewise, he was again dismissed.
This time they fired him for advocating higher wages and writing a
pamphlet on the subject. The reform fever had caught him, you
perceive, and he was nevermore free from it, to the day of his death.

He was a brilliant mathematician and an ingenious inventor. Brailsford
says that his inventions were "partly useful, partly whimsical." They
would be, of course. They included a crane, a planing-machine, a
smokeless candle and a gunpowder motor--besides his really big and
notable invention of the first iron bridge.

[Illustration: 59, GROVE STREET. On the site of the house where Thomas
Paine died.]

But that came later. Before leaving England, in addition to his other
and varied occupations, he ran a "tobacco mill," and was twice
married. One wife died, and from the other he was separated. At all
events, at thirty-seven, alone and friendless, with empty pockets and
a letter from Benjamin Franklin as his sole asset, he set sail for
America in the year 1774.

Of course he went to the Quaker City, and speedily became the editor
of the _Pennsylvania Magazine_, through the pages of which he cried a
new message of liberty and justice to the troubled Colonies. He, an
Englishman, urged America to break away from England; he, of Quaker
birth and by heredity and training opposed to fighting, advocated the
most stringent steps for the consummation of national freedom. In that
clear-eyed and disinterested band of men who conceived and cradled our
Republic, Paine stands a giant even among giants.

Many persons believe that it was he who actually composed and wrote
the Declaration of Independence; it is certain that he is more than
half responsible for it. The very soul and fibre and living spirit of
the United States was the soul and fibre and living spirit of Thomas
Paine, and, in the highest American standards and traditions, remains
the same today.

In 1775 he wrote "Common Sense"--the book which was, as one historian
declares, the "clarion call for separation from England," and which
swept the country. Edmund Randolph drily ascribes American
independence first to George III and second to Paine. Five hundred
thousand copies of the pamphlet were sold, and he might easily have
grown rich on the proceeds, but he could never find it in his
conscience to make money out of patriotism, and he gave every cent to
the war fund.

This splendid fire-eating Quaker--is there anything stauncher than a
fighting Quaker?--proceeded to enlist in the Pennsylvania division of
the Flying Camp under General Roberdeau; then he went as aide-de-camp
to General Greene. It was in 1776 that he started his "Crisis," a
series of stirring and patriotic addresses in pamphlet form. General
Washington ordered the first copy read aloud to every regiment in the
Continental Army, and its effect is now history.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox has written of this:

     "... Many of the soldiers were shoeless and left bloody
     footprints on the snow-covered line of march. All were but
     half-hearted at this time and many utterly discouraged.
     Washington wrote most apprehensively concerning the
     situation to the Congress. Paine, in the meantime (himself a
     soldier, with General Greene's army on the retreat from Fort
     Lee, New Jersey, to Newark), realising the necessity of at
     once instilling renewed hope and courage in the soldiers if
     the cause of liberty was to be saved, wrote by campfire at
     night the first number of his soul-stirring 'Crisis.'"

It was before Trenton that those weary and disheartened
soldiers,--ragged, barefoot, half frozen and more than half
starved--first heard the words that have echoed down the years:

     _"These are the times that try men's souls!"_

They answered that call; every man of them answered Paine's heart cry,
as they took up their muskets again. It was with that immortal
sentence as a war slogan, that the Battle of Trenton was won.

Is it any wonder that in England the "Crisis" was ordered to be burned
by the hangman? It was a more formidable enemy than anything ever
devised in the shape of steel or powder!

A list of Paine's services to this country would be too long to set
down here. The Association dedicated to his memory and honour cites
twenty-four important reasons why he stands among the very first and
noblest figures in American history. And there are dozens more that
they don't cite. He did things that were against possibility. When the
patriot cause was weak for lack of money he gave a year's salary to
start a bank to finance the army, and coaxed, commanded and hypnotised
other people into subscribing enough to carry it. He went to Paris and
induced the French King to give $6,000,000 to American independence.
He wrote "Rights of Man" and the "Age of Reason,"--and, incidentally,
was outlawed in England and imprisoned in France! He did more and
received less compensation for what he did, either in worldly goods or
in gratitude, than any figure in relatively recent history.

America, though--I hear you say!--America, for whom he fought and
laboured and sacrificed himself: she surely appreciated his efforts?
Listen. On his return from Europe, America disfranchised him,
ostracised him and repudiated him, refusing, among other indignities,
to let him ride in public coaches.

So be it. He is not the first great man who has found the world
thankless. Oddly enough, it troubled him little in comparison with the
satisfaction he felt in seeing his exalted projects meet with success.
So that good things were effectually accomplished, he cared not a whit
who got the credit.

In reference to the charges against him of being "an infidel," or
guilty of "infidelity," he himself, with that straightforward and
happy confidence which made some men call him a braggart, wrote:

     "They have not yet accused Providence of Infidelity. Yet,
     according to their outrageous piety, she (Providence) must
     be as bad as Thomas Paine; she has protected him in all his
     dangers, patronised him in all his undertakings, encouraged
     him in all his ways...."

It is true, as Mr. van der Weyde points out in an article in _The
Truth Seeker_ (N.Y.), that a most extraordinary and beneficent
luck,--or was it rather a guardian angel?--stood guard over Paine. His
narrow escapes from death would make a small book in themselves. I
will only mention one here.

During his imprisonment in the Luxembourg Prison in Paris, Thomas
Paine was one of the many who were sentenced to be guillotined at
that period when the moral temperature of France was many degrees
above the normal mark, and men doled out death more freely than
_sous_. It was the custom among the jailers to make a chalk mark upon
the door of each cell that held a man condemned. Paine was one of a
"consignment" of one hundred and sixty-eight prisoners sentenced to be
beheaded at dawn, and the jailer made the fateful chalk mark upon his
door along with the others, that the guards would know he was destined
for the tumbrel that rolled away from the prison hour by hour all
through the night. _But his door chanced to be open_, so that the
mark, hastily made, turned out to be on the wrong side! When the door
was closed it was inside, and no one knew of it; so the guard passed
on, and Paine lived.

It is interesting but difficult to write about Thomas Paine.

The trouble about him is that his personality is too overwhelming to
be cut and measured in proper lengths by any writer. He does not lend
himself, like lesser historical figures, to continuous or
disinterested narrative. The authors who have been rash enough to try
to tell something about him can no more pick and choose the incidents
of his career that will make the most effective "stuff" than they
could reduce the phenomena of a cyclone or the aurora borealis to a
consistent narrative form.

Thus: One starts to speak of Paine's experiences in Paris, and brings
up in New Rochelle; one endeavours to anchor him in Greenwich, only to
find oneself trailing his weary but stubborn footsteps in the war! And
always and forever, Paine himself persists in crowding out the
legitimate sequence of his adventures. No one can soberly write the
story of his life; one can, at best, only achieve a diatribe or an
apotheosis!

Said he:

     "The sun needs no inscription to distinguish him from
     darkness."

This quotation might almost serve as a text for the life of Paine,
might it not? And yet--there are people in the world who wear smoked
glasses, through which, I imagine, the sun himself looks not unlike a
muddy splash of yellow paint upon the heavens!

This is a book about Greenwich Village and not a defence of Thomas
Paine. Yet, since the reader has come with me thus far, I am going to
take advantage of his courteous attention for just another moment of
digression. Here is my promise: that it shall take up a small, small
space.

Small insects sting dangerously; and on occasion, a very trivial and
ill-considered word or phrase will cling closer and longer than a
serious or thoughtful judgment. When Theodore Roosevelt called Thomas
Paine "a filthy little Atheist" (or was the adjective "dirty"? I
really forget!) he was very young,--only twenty-eight,--and doubtless
had accepted his viewpoint of the great reformer-patriot from that
"hearsay upon hearsay" against which Paine himself has so urgently
warned us. Of course Mr. Roosevelt, who is both intellectual and
broad-minded, knows better than that today. But it is astonishing how
that ridiculous and unsuitable epithet--(a "trinity of lies" as one
historian has styled it)--has stuck to a memory which I am sure is
sacred to any angels who may be in heaven!

"Atheist" is a word which could be applied to few men less suitably
than to Paine. From first to last, he preached the goodness of God,
the power of God, the justice and mercy and infallibility of God; and
he lived in a profound trust in and love for God, and a hopeful and
courageous effort to carry out such principles of moral and national
right-doing as he believed to be the will of his beloved Creator.

"If this," as one indignant enthusiast exclaimed, "is to be an
Atheist, then Jesus Christ must have been an Atheist!"

As incongruous as anything else, in the judgment of Paine, is the fact
that he has, apparently, been adopted by the pacifists. The pacifists
and--Paine!--Paine who never in all his seventy years was out of a
scrap! They could scarcely have chosen a less singularly unfit guiding
star, for Paine was a confirmed fighter for anything and everything he
held right. And his militancy was not merely of action but of the
soul, not only of policy or necessity but of spiritual conviction.
When even Washington was inclined to submit patiently a bit longer, it
was Paine who lashed America into righteous war. He fought for the
freedom of the country, for the abolition of slavery, for the rights
of women; he fought for old-age pensions, for free public schools, for
the protection of dumb animals, for international copyright; for a
hundred and one ideals of equity and humanity which today are
legislature. And he fought with his body and his brain; with his
"flaming eloquence" and also with a gun! Once let him perceive the
cause to be a just one, and--I know of no more magnificently
belligerent a figure in all history.

And yet note here the splendid, the illuminating paradox: Paine
abhorred war. Every truly great fighter has abhorred war, else he were
not truly great. In 1778, in the very thick of the Revolution, he
wrote solemnly:

"If there is a sin superior to every other, it is that of wilful and
offensive war.... He who is the author of a war lets loose the whole
contagion of hell, and opens a vein that bleeds a nation to death." (A
copy of this, together with the President's recent message, might
advantageously be sent to a certain well-known address on the other
side of the world!) Yet did Paine, with this solemn horror of war,
suggest that the United States stop fighting? No more than he had
suggested that they keep out of trouble in the first place. Paine
hated war in itself; but he held war a proper and righteous means to
noble ends.

Consistency is not only the bugbear of little minds; it is also the
trade-mark of them. Paine also detested monarchies. "Some talent is
required to be a simple workman," he wrote; "to be a king there is
need to have only the human shape." Of Burke, he said: "Mr. Burke's
mind is above the homely sorrows of the vulgar. He can feel only for a
king or a queen.... He pities the plumage, but forgets the dying
bird."

Yet when he was a member of that French Assembly that voted King
Louis to death, he fought the others fiercely,--even though unable to
speak French,--persistently opposing them, with a passionate
determination and courage which came near to costing him his life.
For, as Brailsford says, "The Terror made mercy a traitor."

Are these things truly paradoxes, or are they rather manifestations of
that God-given reason which can clearly see things as they are as well
as things as they should be, and see both to good and helpful purpose?

In 1802 Paine returned to America, just sixty-five years old. He had
suffered terribly, had rendered great services and it was at least
reasonable that he should expect a welcome. What happened is tersely
told by Rufus Rockwell Wilson:

     "When, at the age of sixty-five, he came again to the nation
     he had helped to create, he was met by the new faces of a
     generation that knew him not, and by the cold shoulders,
     instead of the outstretched hands, of old friends. This was
     the bitter fruit of his 'Age of Reason,' which remains of
     all epoch-making books the one most persistently misquoted
     and misunderstood; for even now there are those who rate it
     as scoffing and scurrilous, whereas its tone throughout is
     noble and reverent, and some of the doctrines which it
     teaches are now recognised as not inimical to religion."

Brailsford, of a more picturesque turn of phrase, says that
"slave-owners, ex-royalists, and the fanatics of orthodoxy" were
against him, and adds:

     "... The grandsons of the Puritan Colonists who had flogged
     Quaker women as witches denied him a place on the
     stage-coach, lest an offended God should strike it with
     lightning."

The state of New York, in a really surprising burst of generosity,
presented him a farm in New Rochelle, and then, lest he imagine the
Government too grateful, took away his right to vote there. They
offered the flimsy excuse that he was a French citizen,--which, of
course, he wasn't,--but it was all part of the persecution inspired by
organised bigotry and the resentful conservative interests which he
had so long and so unflaggingly attacked.

And so at last to Greenwich Village! Though I cannot engage that we
shall not step out of it before we are through.

Thomas Paine was old and weary with his arduous and honourable years
when he came to live in the little frame house on Herring Street, kept
by one Mrs. Ryder.

John Randel, Jr., engineer to the Commissioners who were at work
re-cutting New York, has given us this picture of Paine:

     "I boarded in the city, and in going to the office almost
     daily passed the house in Herring Street" [now No. 309
     Bleecker Street] "where Thomas Paine resided, and frequently
     in fair weather saw him sitting at the south window of the
     first-story room of that house. The sash was raised, and a
     small table or stand was placed before him with an open book
     upon it which he appeared to be reading. He had his
     spectacles on, his left elbow rested upon the table or
     stand, and his chin rested between thumb and fingers of his
     hand; his right hand lay upon his book, and a decanter next
     his book or beyond it. I never saw Thomas Paine at any other
     place or in any other position."

In this house Paine was at one time desperately ill. It was said that
the collapse was partly due to his too sudden abstinence from
stimulants. He was an old man then, and had lived with every ounce of
energy that was in him. The stimulants were resumed, and he grew
somewhat better. This naturally brings us to the question of Paine as
an excessive drinker. Of course people said he was; but then people
said he was a great many things that he was not. When his enemies grew
tired of the monotony of crying "Tom Paine, the infidel," they cried
"Tom Paine, the drunkard" instead.

Which recalls a story which is an old one but too applicable not to be
quoted here.

It is said that some official--and officious--mischief-maker once came
to Lincoln with the report that one of the greatest and most
distinguished of Federal generals was in the habit of drinking too
much.

"Indeed?" said Lincoln drily. "If that is true, I should like to send
a barrel of the same spirits to some of my other generals."

If Thomas Paine did drink to excess--which seems extremely
doubtful--it's a frightful and solemn argument against Prohibition!

Mrs. Ryder's house where Paine lived was close to that occupied by his
faithful friend Mme. de Bonneville and her two sons. Paine was devoted
to the boys, indeed the younger was named for him, and their visits
were among his greatest pleasures. And, by the bye, while we are on
the subject, the most scurrilous and unjust report ever circulated
against this great man was that which cast a reflection upon the
honourable and kindly relations existing between him and Mme. de
Bonneville.

In the first place, Paine had never been a man of light or loose
morals, and it is scarcely likely that he should have changed his
entire character at the age of three score and ten. Mme. de
Bonneville's husband, Nicholas, was a close friend of Paine in Paris,
and had originally intended to come to America with Paine and his
family. But, as the publisher of a highly Radical paper--the _Bien
Informe_--De Bonneville was under espionage, and when the time came he
was not permitted to leave France. He confided his wife and children
to his friend, and they set sail with his promise to follow later. He
did follow, when he could--Washington Irving tells of chatting with
him in Battery Park--but it was too late for him to see the man who
had proved himself so true a friend to him and his.

The older De Bonneville boy was Benjamin, known affectionately by his
parents and Paine as "Bebia." He was destined to become distinguished
in the Civil War--Gen. Benjamin de Bonneville, of high military and
patriotic honours.

I said we couldn't keep to Greenwich--we have travelled to France and
back again already!

You may find the house if you care to look for it--the very same house
kept by Mrs. Ryder, where Thomas Paine lived more than a century ago.
So humble and shabby it is you might pass it by with no more notice
than you would pass a humble and shabby wayfarer. Its age and
picturesqueness do not arrest the eye; for it isn't the sort of old
house which by quaint lines and old-world atmosphere tempt the average
artist or lure the casual poet to its praise. It is just a little old
wooden building of another day, where people of modest means were wont
to live.

The caretaker there probably does not know anything about the august
memory that with him inhabits the dilapidated rooms. He doubtless
fails to appreciate the honour of placing his hand upon the selfsame
polished mahogany stair rail which our immortal "infidel's" hand once
pressed, or the rare distinction of reading his evening paper at the
selfsame window where, with his head upon his hand, that Other was
wont to read too, once upon a time.

Ugly, dingy rooms they are in that house, but glorified by
association. There is, incidentally, a mantelpiece which anyone might
envy, though now buried in barbarian paint. There are gable windows
peering out from the shingled roof. [Illustration: GROVE COURT]

Some day the Thomas Paine Association will probably buy it, undertake
the long-forgotten national obligation, and prevent it from crumbling
to dust as long as ever they can.

The caretaker keeps pets--cats and kittens and dogs and puppies. Once
he kept pigeons too, but the authorities disapproved, he told me.

"Ah, well," I said, "the authorities never have approved of things in
this house."

He thought me quite mad.

Let us walk down the street toward that delicious splash of
green--like a verdant spray thrown up from some unseen river of trees.
There is, in reality, no river of trees; it is only Christopher Street
Triangle, elbowing Sheridan Square. Subway construction is going on
around us, but there clings still an old-world feeling. Ah, here we
are--59 Grove Street. It is a modest but a charming little red-brick
house with a brass knocker and an air of unpretentious, small-scale
prosperity. It has only been built during the last half-century, but
it stands on the identical plot of ground where Paine's other
Greenwich residence once stood. It wasn't Grove Street then; in fact,
it wasn't a street at all, but an open lot with one lone frame house
in the middle of it. Here Mme. de Bonneville brought Thomas Paine when
his age and ill health necessitated greater comforts than Mrs.
Ryder's lodgings could afford.

Here he spent some peaceful months with only a few visitors; but those
were faithful ones. One was Willett Hicks, the Quaker preacher, always
a staunch friend; another was John Wesley Jarvis, the American
painter--the same artist who later made the great man's death mask.

It was Jarvis who said: "He devoted his whole life to the attainment
of two objects--rights of man and freedom of conscience."

And, by the bye, Dr. Conway has declared that "his 'Rights of Man' is
now the political constitution of England, his 'Age of Reason' is the
growing constitution of its Church."

In passing I must once again quote Mr. van der Weyde, who once said to
me: "I often wonder just what share Mary Wollstonecraft had with her
'Rights of Women'--in the inspiration of Paine's 'Rights of Man.' He
and she, you know, were close friends."

Another friend was Robert Fulton of steamboat fame. I have truly heard
Paine enthusiasts declare that our "infidel" was the authentic
inventor of the steamboat! In any case, he is known to have "palled"
with Fulton, and certainly gave him many ideas.

There were, to be sure, annoyances. He was, in spite of Mme. de
Bonneville's affectionate protection, still an object of persecution.

Two clergymen were especially tireless in their desire to reform this
sterling reformer. I believe their names were Milledollar and
Cunningham. Janvier tells this anecdote:

     "It was during Paine's last days in the little house in
     Greenwich that two worthy divines, the Rev. Mr. Milledollar
     and the Rev. Mr. Cunningham, sought to bring him to a
     realising sense of the error of his ways. Their visitation
     was not a success. 'Don't let 'em come here again,' he said,
     curtly, to his housekeeper, Mrs. Hedden, when they had
     departed; and added: 'They trouble me.' In pursuance of this
     order, when they returned to the attack, Mrs. Hedden denied
     them admission--saying with a good deal of piety, and with
     even more common-sense: 'If God does not change his mind,
     I'm sure no man can!'"

Apropos of the two houses occupied by Paine in our city Mr. van der
Weyde has pointed out most interestingly the striking and almost
miraculous way in which they have just escaped destruction. Paine's
"Providence" has seemed to stand guard over the places sacred to him,
just as it stood guard over his invaluable life. A dozen times 309
Bleecker Street and 59 Grove Street have almost gone in the relentless
constructive demolition of metropolitan growth and progress. But--they
have not gone yet!

I have said that the Grove Street house stood in an open lot, the
centre of a block at that time. Just after Paine's death a street was
cut through, called Cozine Street. Names were fleeting affairs in
early and fast-growing New York, and the one street from Cozine became
Columbia, then Burrows, and last of all Grove, which it remains today.

Here let us make a note of one more indignity which the officially
wise and virtuous ones were able to bestow upon their unassumingly
wise and virtuous victim.

The Commissioners replanning New York desired to pay Paine's memory a
compliment and on opening up the street parallel with Grove, they
called it Reason Street, for the "Age of Reason." This was objected to
by many bigots (who had never read the book) and some tactful diplomat
suggested giving it the French twist--_Raison_ Street. Already they
had the notion that French could cover a multitude of sins. Even this
was too closely suggestive of Tom Paine, "the infidel," so it was
shamelessly corrupted to Raisin! Consider the street named originally
in honour of the author of the "Age of Reason," eventually called for
a dried grape!

This too passed, and if you go down there now you will find it called
Barrow Street.

On the 8th of June, 1809, Thomas Paine died.

The New York _Advertiser_ said:

    "With heart-felt sorrow and poignant regret, we are compelled
    to announce to the world that Thomas Paine is no more. This
    distinguished philanthropist, whose life was devoted to the
    cause of humanity, departed this life yesterday morning; and,
    if any man's memory deserves a place in the breast of a
    freeman, it is that of the deceased, for,

    _"'Take him for all in all,
    We ne'er shall look upon his like again.'"_

The funeral party consisted of Hicks, Mme. de Bonneville and two
negroes, who loyally walked twenty-two miles to New Rochelle to see
the last of the man who had always defended and pleaded for the rights
of their pitifully misunderstood and ill-treated race.

To the end he was active for public service. His actual last act was
to pen a letter to the Federal faction, conveying a warning as to the
then unsettled situation in American and French commerce. Just before
he had made his will.

It is in itself a composition worth copying and preserving. Paine
could not even execute a legal document without putting into it
something of the beauty of spirit and distinction of phrase for which
he was remarkable. He had not much to leave, since he had given all to
his country and his country had forgotten him in making up the
balance; but what he had went to Mme. de Bonneville, for her children,
that she,--let me quote his own words, "... might bring them well up,
give them good and useful learning and instruct them in their duty to
God and the practice of morality."

It continues thus:

     "I herewith take my final leave of them and the world. I
     have lived an honest and useful life to mankind; my time has
     been spent in doing good and I die in perfect composure and
     resignation to the will of my Creator God."

Such was the last will and testament of "Tom Paine, Infidel."



CHAPTER VI

_Pages of Romance_

     In the resolute spirit of another Andor Andorra, the Village
     of Greenwich maintains its independence in the very midst of
     the city of New York--submitting to no more of a compromise
     in the matter of its autonomy than is evolved in the
     Procrustean sort of splicing which has hitched fast the
     extremities of its tangled streets to the most readily
     available streets in the City Plan. The flippant
     carelessness with which this apparent union has been
     effected only serves to emphasise the actual separation. In
     almost every case these ill-advised couplings are productive
     of anomalous disorder, which in the case of the numbered
     streets they openly travesty the requirements of communal
     propriety and of common-sense: as may be inferred from the
     fact that within this disjointed region Fourth Street
     crosses Tenth, Eleventh and Twelfth streets very nearly at
     right angles--to the permanent bewilderment of nations and
     to the perennial confusion of mankind.--THOMAS
     JANVIER.


It seems a far cry from the Greenwich of the last century to the
Greenwich of this; from such quaint, garden-enclosed houses as the
Warren homestead and Richmond Hill, from the alternately adventurous
and tranquil lives of the great men who used to walk its crooked
streets long and long ago, to the Studio quarter of today. What tie
between the Grapevine, Vauxhall, Ranelagh, Brannan's, and all the
ancient hostelries and mead houses and the modern French and Italian
restaurants and little tea shops which are part and parcel of the
present Village? So big did the gap appear to your servant, the
author, so incongruous the notion of uniting the old and the new
Greenwich harmoniously that she was close to giving the problem up in
despair and writing her story of Greenwich Village in two books
instead of one. But--whether accidentally or by inspiration, who
knows?--three sovereign bonds became accidentally plain to her. May
they be as plain to you who read--bonds between the Green Village of
an older day and the Bohemian Village of this our own day, points that
the old and the new settlements have in common--more--points that show
the soul and spirit of the Village to be one and the same, unchanged
in the past, unchanged in the present, probably to be unchanged for
all time. The first of these points I have already touched upon in an
earlier chapter--the deathless element of romance that has always had
its headquarters here. Every city, like every brain, should have a
corner given over to dreams. Greenwich is the dream-corner of New
York. Everyone feels it. I found an old article in the _Tribune_
written by Vincent Pepe which shows how the romance of the
neighbourhood has crept into bricks and stone and even the
uncompromising prose of real estate.

     "Each one of these houses in the Village is from
     seventy-five to one hundred years old," writes Mr. Pepe (he
     might have said a hundred and fifty with equal accuracy in a
     few cases), "and each one of them has a history of its own,
     individually, as being one of the houses occupied by someone
     who has made American history and some of these houses have
     produced some of our present great men.

     "New York has nothing of the old, with the exception of
     those old Colonial houses and for this reason we are trying
     to preserve them.... This is the great advantage and
     distinction of Washington Square and Greenwich Village and
     this is what has made it popular and it will be greater as
     the years go by. It will improve more and more with age,
     like an old wine.

     "There is only one old section of New York and that is
     Greenwich Village and Washington Square, and the public are
     also going to preserve this little part of old New York."

Then there is that curious quality about Greenwich so endearing to
those who know it, the quality of a haven, a refuge, a place of
protected freedom.

"It's a good thing," said a certain brilliant young writer-man to me,
"that there's one place where you can be yourself, live as you will
and work out your scheme of life without a lot of criticism and
convention to keep tripping you up. The point of view of the average
mortal--out in the city--is that if you don't do exactly as everyone
else does there's something the matter with you, morally or mentally.
In the Village they leave you in peace, and take it for granted that
you're decent until you've blatantly proven yourself the opposite. I'd
have lost my nerve or my wits or my balance or something if I hadn't
had the Village to come and _breathe_ in!"

Not so different from the reputation of Old Greenwich, is it?--a place
where the rich would be healed, the weary rest and the sorrowful gain
comfort. Not so different from the lure that drew Sir. Peter out to the
Green Village between his spectacular and hazardous voyages; that gave
Thomas Paine his "seven serene months" before death came to him; that
filled the grassy lanes with a mushroom business-life which had fled
before the scourge of yellow fever; not so different from the
refreshing ease of heart that came to Abigail Adams and Theodosia
Alston when they came there from less comforting atmospheres.
Greenwich, you see, maintains its old and honourable repute--that of
being a resort and shelter and refuge for those upon whom the world
outside would have pressed too heavily.

There is no one who has caught the inconsequent, yet perfectly sincere
spirit of the Village better than John Reed. In reckless, scholarly
rhyme he has imprisoned something of the reckless idealism of the
Artists' Quarter--that haven for unconventional souls.

    _"Yet we are free who live in Washington Square,
    We dare to think as uptown wouldn't dare,
    Blazing our nights with arguments uproarious;
    What care we for a dull old world censorious,
    When each is sure he'll fashion something glorious?"_

So we find that the romance of Colonial days still blooms freshly
below Fourteenth Street and that people still rush to the Village to
escape the world and its ways as eagerly as they fled a hundred years
ago. But the third and last point of unity is perhaps the most
striking. Always, we know, Greenwich has refused rebelliously to
conform to any rule of thumb. We know that when the Commissioners
checker-boarded off the town they found they couldn't checker-board
Greenwich. It was too independent and too set in its ways. It had its
lanes and trails and cow-paths and nothing could induce it to become
resigned to straight streets and measured avenues. It would not
conform, and it never has conformed. And even more strenuously has its
mental development defied the draughtsman's compass and triangle.
Greenwich will not straighten its streets nor conventionalise its
views. Its intellectual conclusions will always be just as unexpected
as the squares and street angles that one stumbles on head first. Its
habit of life will be just as weirdly individual as its tangled
blocks. It asks nothing better than to be let alone. It does not
welcome tourists, though it is hospitality itself to wayfarers seeking
an open door. It is the Village, and it will never, never, no _never_
be anything else--the Village of the streets that wouldn't be
straight!

Janvier, who has already been quoted extensively, but who has written
of Greenwich so well that his quotations can't be avoided, says: "In
addition to being hopelessly at odds with the surrounding city,
Greenwich is handsomely at variance with itself."

New York, and especially Greenwich, grew by curious and indirect
means, as we have seen. This fact and a lively and sympathetic
consciousness of it, leads often to seemingly irrelevant digressions.
Yet, is it not worth a moment's pause to find out that the stately
site of Washington Square North, as well as other adjacent and select
territory, was originally the property of two visionary seamen; and
that the present erratic deflection of Broadway came from one
obstinate Dutchman's affection for his own grounds and his
uncompromising determination to use a gun to defend them, even against
a city?

So, lest what follows appears to be a digression or an irrelevance,
let me venture to remind you that the Village has always grown not
only with picturesque results but by picturesque methods and through
picturesque mediums. It is frankly, incurably romantic. Sir. Peter
Warren's estates, or part of them, were sold off in parcels by the
fine old custom of dice-throwing. Here is the official record of that
episode, by the bye:

     "In pursuance of the powers given in the said antenuptial
     deeds the trustees therein named, on March 31, 1787, agreed
     upon a partition of the said lands, which agreement was with
     the approbation and consent of the cestui que trusts, to
     wit: Earl and Lady Abingdon, and Charles Fitsroy and Ann his
     wife, the said Susannah Skinner the second not then having
     arrived at age. In making the partition, the premises were
     divided into three parts on a survey made thereof and marked
     A, B and C; and it was agreed that such partition should be
     made by each of the trustees naming a person to throw dice
     for and in behalf of their respective cestui que trusts, and
     that the person who should throw the highest number should
     have parcel A; the one who should throw the next highest
     number parcel B; and the one who should throw the lowest
     number, parcel C,--for the persons whom they respectively
     represented; and the premises were partitioned accordingly."

Eleventh Street was never cut through because old Burgher Brevoort did
not want his trees cut down and argued conclusively with a blunderbuss
to that effect--a final effect. It never has been cut through, as a
matter of fact, to this day. And by way of evening things up, Grace
Church, which stands almost on the disputed site, had for architect
one James Renwick, who married the only daughter of Henry Brevoort
himself. So by a queer twisted sort of law of compensation, the city
gained rather than lost by what a certain disgruntled historian calls
the "obstinacy of one Dutch householder."

[Illustration: THE BREVOORT HOUSE. "... The atmosphere of chivalry to
women, friendliness to men, and courtesy to everyone, which is, after
all, just the air of France."]

These things are all true; the most amazing thing about Greenwich
Village is that the most unlikely things that you can find out about
it are true. The obvious, every-day things that are easily believed
are much the most likely to be untenable reports or the day dreams of
imaginative chroniclers. You are safe if you believe all the quaint
and romantic and inconsistent and impossible things that come to your
knowledge concerning the Village. That is its special and sacred
privilege: to be unexpected and always--yes, always without
exception--in the spirit of its irrational and sympathetic role. It
needs Kipling's ambiguous "And when the thing that couldn't has
occurred" for a motto. And yet--and yet--like all true nonsense, this
nonsense is rooted in a beautiful and disconcerting compromise of
truth.

Cities do grow through their romances and their adventures. The
commonplaces of life never opened up new worlds nor established them
after; the prose of life never served as a song of progress. Never a
great onward movement but was called impossible. The things that the
sane-and-safe gentleman accepts as good sense are not the things that
make for growth, anywhere. And the principle, applied to lesser
things, holds good. Who wants to study a city's life through the
registries of its civic diseases or cures? We want its romances, its
exceptions, its absurdities, its adventures. We not only want them, we
must have them. Despite all the wiseacres on earth we care more for
the duel that Burr and Hamilton fought than for all their individual
achievements, good or bad. It is the theatrical change from the
Potter's Field to the centre of fashion that first catches our fancy
in the tale of Washington Square. In fact, my friend, we are, first
and last, children addicted to the mad yet harmless passion of
story-telling and story-hearing. I do hope that, when you read these
pages, you will remember that, and be not too stern in criticism of
sundry vastly important historic points which are all forgot and left
out of the scheme--asking your pardon!

The Village, old or new, is the home of romance (as we have said, it
is to be feared at least once or twice too often ere this) and it is
for us to follow those sweet and crazy trails where they may chance to
lead.

Since, then, we are concerned chiefly with the spirit of adventure, we
can hardly fail to note that this particular element has haunted the
neighbourhood of Washington Square fairly consistently.

If you will look at the Ratzer map you will see that the Elliott
estate adjoined the Brevoort lands. It is today one of the most
variously important regions in town, embracing as it does both
Broadway and Fifth Avenue and including a most lively business section
and a most exclusive aristocratic quarter. Andrew Elliott was the son
of Sir. Gilbert Elliott, Lord Chief Justice, Clerk of Scotland. Andrew
was Receiver General of the Province of New York under the Crown and a
most loyal Royalist to the last. When the British rule passed he, in
common with many other English sympathisers, found himself in an
embarrassing position. The De Lanceys--close friends of his--lost
their lands outright. But Elliott, like the canny Scotchman that he
was, was determined that he would not be served the same way.

To quote Mr. J.H. Henry, who now handles that huge property: "He must
have had friends! Apparently they liked him, if they didn't like his
politics."

This is how they managed it: He transferred his entire estate to a
Quaker friend of his in Philadelphia--this was before the situation
had become too critical; then a little group of friendly New Yorkers,
among whom was Alexander Hamilton, bought it in; next it passed into
the hands of one Friedrich Charles Hans Bruno, Baron Poelnitz, who
appears to have been not much more than a figurehead. However, it was
legally his property at the time of the adoption of the Constitution
of the United States, and so it was not confiscated. It probably is
safe to assume that Mr. Andrew Elliott still remained the power behind
the throne, and benefited by the subsequent sale of the land to Capt.
Robert Richard Randall.

Which brings us to a most picturesque page of New York history.

I wonder what there is about privateering that attracts even the most
law-abiding imagination. This ancient, more than half dishonourable,
profession has an unholy glamour about it and there are few
respectable callings that so appeal to the colour-loving fancy. Not
that privateering was quite the same as piracy, but it came so close a
second that the honest rogues who plied the two trades must often have
been in danger of getting their perquisites and obligations somewhat
merged. It would have taken a very sharp judicial mind, or a
singularly stout personal conscience, to make the distinctions between
them in sundry and fairly numerous cases.

Wilson says:

     "In these troublous and not over-squeamish times, when
     commerce was other than the peaceful pursuit it has since
     become, a promising venture in privateering was often
     preferred to slower if safer sources of profit by the
     strong-stomached merchants and mariners of New York.... News
     that piracy under the guise of privateering was winked at by
     the New York authorities spread quickly among the captains
     serving under the black flag."

Now there never was a lustier freebooter of the high seas than Capt.
Thomas Randall, known familiarly as "Cap'n Tom," commander of the
privateering ship _Fox_, and numerous other vessels. This boat, a
brigantine, was well named, for she was quick and sly and yet could
fight on occasion. Many a rich haul he made in her in 1748, and many a
hairbreadth escape shaved the impudent bow of her on those jolly,
nefarious voyages of hers. One of her biggest captures was the French
ship _L'Amazone_. In 1757 he took out the _De Lancey_, a brigantine,
with fourteen guns, and made some more sensational captures. He is
said to have plied a coastwise trade for the most part from New York
to New Orleans, but, to quote Mr. Henry once more, "The Captain went
wherever the Spanish flag covered the largest amount of gold." At all
events he amassed a prodigious fortune even for a privateer. In 1758
he withdrew from active service himself, but still sent out
privateering vessels. Some of them he lost. The _De Lancey_ was
captured, and so was the _Saucy Sally_--the latter by the British ship
_Experiment_. The _De Lancey_ however made some excellent hauls first.
Peter Johnson, a seaman, made a will in 1757, leaving to a friend all
debts, dues and "prize money which may become payable by the cruise of
the _De Lancey_, Captain Randall commanding." The luckless _De Lancey_
was taken by the Dutch off Curacoa and the crew imprisoned. Perhaps
poor Johnson was one of them.

In spite of occasional ill-luck these were good days for the Captain,
because the law, never over scrupulous, allowed him especial license,
the country being at war. Never was there a better era for
adventurers, never a time when fortunes were to be sought under more
favourable stars!

A third quotation from Mr. Henry:

"In those days a man was looked upon as being highly unfortunate if he
had not a vessel which he could put to profitable use!"

He was part owner of the _Snow_ with sixteen guns, full owner of the
_Mary_ and also of the _Lively_. He had a bad time in connection with
the latter. He sent her out with Thomas Quigley for captain. Quigley
took the little schooner down the Jersey coast and stayed there. He
never put out to sea at all. He rode comfortably at anchor near shore
and when he ran out of rum put in and got more. After a while the
mates and crew sent in a round robin to Captain Randall telling him
the story. The _Lively_ was swiftly called in and--what Captain Tom
did to Quigley history does not state!

The jolly piratical seaman did finely and flourished, green-bay like,
in the sight of men. He was not without honours either. When
Washington was rowed from Elizabethtown Point to the first
inauguration, his barge was manned by a crew of thirteen ships'
captains, and he who had the signal distinction of being coxswain of
that historic boat's company, was Cap'n Tom!

Indeed there seems to be abundant proof that the Captain engineered
the whole proceeding. It is certain that it was he who presented the
"Presidential barge" to Washington for his use during his stay in New
York, and he who selected that unusual crew,--practically every noted
shipmaster then in port. On the President's final departure for Mount
Vernon, he again used the barge, putting out from the foot of
Whitehall and when he reached Elizabethtown, he very courteously
returned it as a gift to Captain Randall, and wrote him a letter of
warm thanks.

It is believed that Captain Thomas came from Scotland some time in the
early part of the eighteenth century, but we know nothing of his
antecedents and not much of his private life. He married in America,
but we do not know the name of his wife. We do know that in 1775 his
son, Robert Richard, was a youth of nineteen and a student at
Columbia. This was the same year that the old Captain was serving on
important committees and playing a conspicuous part in public affairs.
Oh, yes! he was a most eminent citizen, and no one thought a whit the
worse of him for what he called his "honest privateering." He was a
member of the Legislature in 1784 and voted in favour of bringing in
tea free--when it was carried by American ships!

And I picture Cap'n Tom as a stout and hearty rogue, with an open hand
and heart and a certain cheery fashion of plying his shady calling,
rather endearing than otherwise (I have no notion of his real looks
nor qualities, but one's imagination must have its fling on
occasion!). After all, there is not such a vast difference between the
manner of Sir. Peter Warren's gains and Cap'n Tom Randall's. You may
call a thing by one name or by another, but, when it comes down to
it, is the business of capturing enemy prize ships in order to grow
rich on the proceeds so different from holding up merchantmen for the
same reason? But we are concerned for the moment with the Randalls,
father and son, and most excellent fellows they appear to have both
been. I should like to believe that Cap'n Tom owned a cutlass, but I
fear it was a bit late for that!

Captain Tom appears to have been generous and kindly,--like most
persons of questionable and picturesque careers. The Silversmith who
left his entire belongings to the Captain in 1796 is but one of many
who had reason to love him. One historian declares that he settled
down, after retiring from the sea, and "became a respectable merchant
at 10 Hanover Street," where he piled up more and more gold to leave
his son Robert Richard. But it is a matter of record that the address
at which he died was 8 Whitehall. On Friday, October 27, 1797, he set
forth on his last cruise,--after seventy-four adventurous years on
earthly seas.

He died much respected,--by no one more than his son, Robert Richard
Randall, who had an immense admiration and reverence for his memory.
It was he who, in 1790, bought the Elliott estate from "Baron"
Poelnitz, for the sum of five thousand pounds--a handsome property of
some twenty-four acres covering the space between Fourth and Fifth
avenues, Waverly Place and approximately Ninth Street. The Elliott
house which has been described as being of "red brick with white" was
clearly a rather pretentious affair, and stood, says Mrs. Lamb, so
that Broadway when it was laid down "clipped the rear porch."

It is a curious fact and worthy of note that the old, original house
stood undamaged until 1828, and that, being sold at auction and
removed at that date, its materials were used in a house which a few
years ago was still in good condition.

Robert Richard Randall was also, like his father, known as "Captain,"
though there is no record of his ever having gone to sea as a sailor.
Indeed he would scarcely have been made an "honourary" member of the
Marine Society had he been a real shipmaster. Courtesy titles were _de
rigueur_ in those days, when a man was popular, and he appears to have
been thoroughly so.

When it came time for him, too, to die, he paid his father's calling
what tribute he could by the terms of his will.

His lawyer--no less a person that Alexander Hamilton himself--called
to discuss the terms of this last document. By the bye, Hamilton's
part in the affair is traditional and legendary rather than a matter
of official record;--certainly his name does not appear in connection
with the will. But Hamilton was the lawyer of Randall's sister, and a
close family friend, so the story may more easily be true than false.

This, then, is the way it goes: Alexander Hamilton was summoned to
make out the last will and testament, or at least, to advise
concerning it. Randall was already growing weak, but had a clear and
determined notion of what he wanted to do with his money. This was on
June 1, 1801. The dying man left a number of small bequests to
friends, families and servants, before he came to the real business on
his mind. His bequests, besides money, included, "unto Betsey Hart, my
housekeeper, my gold sleeve buttons," and "unto Adam Shields, my
faithful overseer, my gold watch," and "unto Gawn Irwin, who now lives
with me, my shoe-buckles and knee-buckles." Adam Shields married
Betsey Hart. They were both Scotch--probably from whatever part of
Scotland the Randalls hailed in the first place.

When these matters were disposed of, he began to speak of what was
nearest his heart. He had a good deal of money; he wanted to leave it
to some lasting use. Hamilton asked how he had made his money, and
Randall explained he had inherited it from his father.

"And how did he get it?" asked the great lawyer.

"By honest privateering!" declared Captain Tom's son proudly.

And then, or so the story goes, he went on to whisper:

"My father's fortune all came from the sea. He was a seaman, and a
good one. He had money, so he never suffered when he was worn out, but
all are not like that. I want to make a place for the others. I want
it to be a _snug harbour for tired sailors_."

So the will, July 10, 1801, reads that Robert Richard Randall's
property is left to found: "An Asylum or Marine Hospital, to be called
'The Sailors' Snug Harbour,' for the purpose of maintaining aged,
decrepit, worn-out sailors."

One of the witnesses, by the bye, was Henry Brevoort.

The present bust of Randall which stands in the Asylum is, of course,
quite apocryphal as to likeness. No one knows what he looked like, but
out of such odds and ends of information as the knee-buckles and so
on, mentioned in the will, the artistic imagination of St. Gaudens
evolved a veritable beau of a mariner, with knee-buckles positively
resplendent and an Admiral's wig. And, though it may not be a good
likeness, it is an agreeable enough ideal, and I think everyone
approves of it.

Robert Richard Randall is buried down there now and on his monument is
a simple and rather impressive inscription commemorating this charity
which--so it puts it--was "conceived in a spirit of enlarged
Benevolence."

Shortly afterwards he died, but his will, in spite of the inevitable
wrangling and litigation of disgusted relations, lived on, and the
Snug Harbour for Tired Sailors is an accomplished fact. Randall had
meant it to be built on his property there--a good "seeded-to-grass"
farm land,--and thought that the grain and vegetables for the sailor
inmates of this Snug Harbour on land could be grown on the premises.
But the trustees decided to build the institution on Staten Island.
The New York Washington Square property, however, is still called the
Sailors' Snug Harbour Estate, and through its tremendous increase in
value the actual asylum was benefited incalculably. At the time of
Captain Randall's death, the New York estate brought in about $4,000 a
year. Today it is about $400,000,--and every cent goes to that real
Snug Harbour for Tired Sailors out near the blue waters of Staten
Island. So the "honest privateering" fortune has made at least one
impossible seeming dream come true.

As time went on this section--the Sailors' Snug Harbour Estate and the
Brevoort property--was destined to become New York's most fashionable
quarter. Its history is the history of American society, no less, and
one can have no difficulty in visualising an era in which a certain
naive ceremony combined in piquant fashion with the sturdy solidity of
the young and vigorous country. In the correspondence of Henry
Brevoort and Washington Irving and others one gets delightful little
pictures--vignettes, as it were--of social life of that day. Mr. Emmet
writes begging for some snuff "no matter how old. It may be stale and
flat but cannot be unprofitable!" Brevoort asks a friend to dine "On
Thursday next at half-past four o'clock." He paints us a quaint sketch
of "a little, round old gentleman, returning heel taps into
decanters," at a soiree, adding: "His heart smote him at beholding the
waste & riot of his dear adopted." We read of tea drinkings and
coaches and his father's famous blunderbuss or "long gun" which he is
presenting to Irving. And there are other chroniclers of the times.
Lossing, the historian, quotes an anonymous friend as follows:

     "We thought there was a goodly display of wealth and
     diamonds in those days, but, God bless my soul, when I hear
     of the millions amassed by the Vanderbilts, Goulds, Millses,
     Villards and others of that sort, I realise what a poor
     little doughnut of a place New York was at that early
     period!"

He goes on to speak of dinner at three--a formal dinner party at four.
The first private carriage was almost mobbed on Broadway. Mrs. Jacob
Little had "a very showy carriage lined with rose colour and a darky
coachman in blue livery."

Mr. and Mrs. Henry Brevoort's house stood on the corner of Fifth
Avenue and Ninth Street--it is now occupied by the Charles de Rhams.
And it chanced to be the scene of a certain very pretty little romance
which can scarcely be passed over here.

New York, as a matter of course, copied her fashionable standards from
older lands. While Manhattan society was by no means a supine and
merely imitative affair, the country was too new not to cling a bit to
English and French formalities. The great ladies of the day made
something of a point of their "imported amusements" as having a
specific claim on fashionable favour. So it came about that the
fascinating innovation of the masked ball struck the fancy of
fashionable New York. There was something very daring about the
notion; it smacked of Latin skies and manners and suggested
possibilities of romance both licensed and not which charmed the
ladies, even as it abashed them. There were those who found it a
project scarcely in good taste; it is said indeed that there was no
end of a flutter concerning it. But be that as it may, the masked ball
was given,--the first that New York had ever known, and, it may be
mentioned, the very last it was to know for many a long, discreet
year!

Haswell says that in this year there was a "fancy" ball given by Mr.
and Mrs. Henry Brevoort and that the date was February 24th. It
certainly was the same one, but he adds that it was generally
pronounced "most successful." This one may doubt, since the results
made masked balls so severely thought of that there was, a bit later,
a fine of $1,000 imposed on anyone who should give one,--one-half to
be deducted if you told on yourself!

Nevertheless, George S. Hellman says that Mrs. Brevoort's ball,
February 24, 1840,--was "the most splendid social affair of the first
half of the nineteenth century in New York."

There was great preparation for it, and practically all "society" was
asked--and nothing and nobody else. It was incidentally the occasion
of the first "society reporting." Attree, of the New York _Herald_,
was an invited guest and went in costume--quite an innovation for
conservative old Manhattan.

Lossing tells us: "At the close of this decade the features of New
York society presented conspicuous transformations. Many exotic
customs prevailed, both public and private, and the expensive
pleasures of the Eastern Hemisphere had been transplanted and taken
firm root. Among other imported amusements was the masked ball, the
first of which occurred in the city of New York in 1840, and produced
a profound sensation, not only _per se_, but because of an attending
circumstance which stirred 'society' to its foundation."

The British Consul in New York at that time was Anthony Barclay,--he
lived at College Place,--who was destined later to fall into evil
repute, by raising recruits here during the Crimean trouble. He had a
daughter, Matilda, who was remarkably lovely and--if we may believe
reports--a very great belle in American society. She had a number of
"suitors," as they were gracefully called in those days, and among
them was one Burgwyne, from South Carolina--very young, and, we may
take it, rather poor.

Lossing says: "There was also in attendance a gay, young South
Carolinian named Burgwyne."

The Consul and Mrs. Barclay disapproved of him strongly. But Matilda
who was beautiful, warm-blooded and wayward did not. She loved
Burgwyne with a reciprocal ardour, and when the masked ball at the
Brevoorts' came on the tapis it seemed as though the Goddess of
Romance had absolutely stretched out her hands to these two reckless,
but adorable lovers.

They had a favourite poem--most lovers have favourite poems;--theirs
was "Lalla Rookh."

There may be diverse opinions as to Thomas Moore's greatness, but
there can scarcely be two as to his lyric gift. He could write
charming love-songs, simple and yet full of colour, and, given the
Oriental theme, it is no wonder that youths and maidens of his day
sighed and smiled over "Lalla Rookh" as over nothing that had yet been
written for them. It is a delightful tale, half-prose and half-poetry,
written entirely and whole-heartedly for lovers, and Burgwyne and
Matilda found it easy to put themselves in the places of the romantic
characters in the drama--Lalla Rookh, the incomparably beautiful
Eastern Princess and Feramorz, the young Prince in disguise, "graceful
as that idol of women, Crishna."

[Illustration: GROVE STREET. Looking toward St. Luke's Church.]

They secretly agreed to go to the masked ball at the Brevoorts' as
their romantic favourites and prototypes. The detailed descriptions in
the book gave them sufficient inspiration. She wore floating gauzes,
bracelets, "a small coronet of jewels" and "a rose-coloured, bridal
veil." His dress was "simple, yet not without marks of costliness,"
with a "high Tartarian cap.... Here and there, too, over his vest,
which was confined by a flowered girdle of Kaskan, hung strings of
fine pearls, disposed with an air of studied negligence."

So they met at the ball and danced together, and I suppose he quoted:

    _"Fly to the desert, fly with me,
    Our Arab tents are rude for thee;
    But, oh! the choice what heart can doubt,
    Of tents with love, or thrones without?"_

Obviously she chose the tents with love, for as the clock struck four
they slipped away together and were married!

As Lossing puts it:

     "They left the festive scene together at four o'clock in the
     morning, and were married before breakfast."

They did not change their costumes, dear things! They wanted the
romantic trappings for their love poem--a love poem which was to them
more enchanting--more miraculous--than that of Lalla Rookh and the
King of Bucharia. I hope they lived happily ever after, like the
brave, young romanticists they were!

In 1835 a hotel was opened on the corner of Eighth Street and Fifth
Avenue, and it was appropriately named for the illustrious family over
the way. The Brevoort House is certainly as historic a pile, socially
speaking, as lower New York has to offer. Arthur Bartlett Maurice says
of it:

     "In the old-time novels of New York life visiting Englishmen
     invariably stopped at the Brevoort."

Of this hotel more anon, since it has recently become knit into the
fabric of the modern Village.

But a scant two blocks away from the Brevoort stands another hostelry
which is indissolubly a part of New York's growth--especially the
growth of her Artist's Colony. It is the Lafayette, or as many of its
habitues still love to call it--"The Old Martin." This, the first and
most famous French restaurant of New York, needs a special word or
two. It must be considered alone, and not in the company of lesser and
more modern eating places.

John Reed says that the "Old Martin" was the real link between the old
Village and the new, since it was the cradle of artistic life in New
York. Bohemians, he declared, first foregathered there _as_ Bohemians,
and the beginnings of what has become America's Latin Quarter and Soho
there first saw the light of day--or rather the lights of midnight.

Jean Baptiste Martin who had been running a hotel in Panama during the
first excavations there--made by the French, as you may or may not
remember--came to New York in 1883. He had been here the year before
for a time and had decided the city needed a French hotel. He arrived
on the 25th of June, and on the 26th he bought the hotel! He chose a
house on University Place--No. 17--a little _pension_ kept by one
Eugene Larru, and from time to time bought the adjoining houses and
built extensions until he had made it the building we see today. He
called it the Hotel de Panama.

But it was not as the Hotel de Panama that it won its unique place in
the hearts of New Yorkers. "In 1886," Mr. Martin says, "I decided to
change the name of my place. 'Panama' gave people a bad impression.
They associated it with fever and Spaniards, and neither were popular!
So it became the Hotel Martin. Then, when I started another restaurant
at Twenty-sixth Street, the 'Old Martin' became the Lafayette."

The artists and writers came to the Hotel Martin to invite their
respective Muses inspired by Mr. Martin's excellent food and drink.
From the bachelors' quarters on the nearby square--the Benedick and
other studio houses--shabby, ambitious young men came in droves. Mr.
Martin remembers "Bob" Chambers, and some young newspaper men from the
_World_--Goddard, Manson and others. From uptown the great foreigners
came down--some of them stayed there, indeed. In 1889, approximately,
it started its biggest boom, and it went on steadily. Ask either Mr.
Martin or its present proprietor, Mr. Raymond Orteig, and he will tell
you, and truthfully, that it has never flagged, that "boom." The place
is as popular as ever, because, in a changing world, a changing era
and a signally changing town, it--does not change.

It was to the Hotel Martin that the famous singers came--Jean and
Edouard de Reszke and Pol Plancon and Melba; the French statesman,
Jules Cambon, used to come, and Maurice Grau--then the manager of the
Metropolitan--and Chartran, the celebrated painter, and the great
Ysaye and Bartholdi. And Paulus--Koster and Bial's first French
importation--to say nothing of Anna Held and Sandow!

A motley company enough, to be sure, and certainly one worthy to form
the nucleus of New York's Bohemia.

Says Mr. Martin: "The most interesting thing that ever happened in the
'Old Martin'? I can tell you that quite easily. It was the blizzard of
1888, when we were snowed in. The horse cars ran on University Place
then, the line terminating at Barclay Street. I have a picture of one
car almost snowed under, for the snow was fully six feet deep. It was
a Saturday night and very crowded. When it became time for the people
to go home they could not go. So they had to stay, and they stayed
three days. They slept on billiard tables, on the floor or where they
could. We did our best, but it was a big crowd. Interesting? It was
most interesting indeed to me, for I could get no milk. I could supply
them with all the wine they wanted, but no milk! And they demanded
milk for their coffee. Oh, that blizzard!"

Mr. Martin, in remembering interesting episodes, forgot that trifling
incident--the Spanish-American War, in 1898. Whether because of his
early connections with Panama (there were countless Spaniards and
Mexicans who patronised the hotel at that time) or whether because of
a national and political misunderstanding, he was justifiably and
seriously concerned as to the feeling of New York for the Hotel
Martin. Many good and wise persons expected France to side with Spain,
and many others watched curiously to see what Frenchmen in New York
would do.

Mr. Martin left them but a short time for speculation. Today, with our
streets aflutter with Allied colours, perhaps we fail to appreciate an
individual demonstration such as this--but at that time there were few
banners flying, and Mr. Martin led the patriotic movement with an
American flag in every one of the fifty windows of the Hotel Martin
and a French flag to top off the whole display! Perhaps it was the
first suggestion, in street decoration, of what has recently proved to
be so strong a bond between this nation and France.

If any of you who read have even begun to peer into Bohemian New York
you have undoubtedly visited the Lafayette as it is today. And, if
you have, you have undoubtedly seen or perhaps even played the
"Lafayette Game." It is a weird little game that is played for drinks,
and requires quite a bit of skill. It is well known to all
frequenters; the only odd thing is that it is not better known.

"Americans are funny!" laughs Raymond Orteig. "When I go abroad and
see something which is new and different from what has been before, my
instinct is to get hold of it and bring it back. If I can I bring it
back in actual bulk; if I were a writer I would bring it back in
another way. But through these years, while everyone has played our
absurd little game, no one has ever suggested writing about it--until
tonight!"

Its name? It is _Culbuto_. That is French,--practically applied,--for
failure! It is, you see, an effort to keep the little balls from
falling into the wrong holes. As it so often results in failure
_Culbuto_ is an ideal game to play for drinks! Someone has to pay all
the time! It is an unequal contest between the individual and the law
of gravity!

But we must not linger too long at the Lafayette, alluring though it
may be. All Greenwich is beckoning to us, a few blocks away. We have
a new world to explore--the world below Fourteenth Street.

Fourteenth Street is the boundary line which marks the Greenwich
Village's utmost city limits, as it marked those of our
great-grandfathers. Like a wall it stands across the town separating
the new from the old uncompromisingly. Miss Euphemia Olcott, who has
been quoted here before, describes the evolution of Fourteenth Street
in the following interesting way:

     "Fourteenth Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues I have
     seen with three sets of buildings--first shanties near Sixth
     Avenue from the rear of which it was rumoured a bogy would
     be likely to pursue and kidnap us.... These shanties were
     followed by fine, brownstone residences.... Some of these,
     however, I think came when there had ceased to be a
     _village_. Later on came business into Fourteenth
     Street...."

And today those never-to-be-sufficiently-pitied folk who live in the
Fifties and Sixties and Seventies think of Fourteenth Street as
downtown!



CHAPTER VII

_Restaurants, and the Magic Door_


I

     What scenes in fiction cling more persistently in the memory
     than those that deal with the satisfying of man's appetite?
     Who ever heard of a dyspeptic hero? Are not your favourites
     beyond the Magic Door all good trenchermen?

     --ARTHUR BARTLETT MAURICE.


It was O. Henry, I believe, who spoke of restaurants as "literary
landmarks." They are really much more than that--they are signposts,
psychical rather than physical, which show the trend of the times--or
of the neighbourhood. I suppose nothing in Greenwich Village could be
more significantly illuminating than its eating places. There are, of
course, many sorts. The Village is neither so unique nor so uniform as
to have only one sort of popular board. But in all the typical
Greenwich restaurants you will find the same elusive something, the
spirit of the picturesque, the untrammelled, the quaint and
charming--in short, the _different_!

The Village is not only a locality, you understand, it is a point of
view. It reaches out imperiously and fastens on what it will. The
Brevoort basement--after ten o'clock at night--is the Village. So is
the Lafayette on occasion. During the day they are delightful French
hostelries catering to all the world who like heavenly things to eat
and the right atmosphere in which to eat them. But as the magic hour
strikes, presto!--they suffer a sea change and become the quintessence
of the Spirit of the Village!

It is 10.20 P.M. at the Brevoort in the restaurant upstairs.
All the world and his wife--or his sweetheart--are fully represented.
Most of the uptowners--the regulation clientele--are going away,
having finished gorging themselves on delectable things; some few of
them are lingering, lazily curious; a certain small number are still
coming in, moved by that restless Manhattanic spirit that hates to go
home in the dark.

Among these is a discontented, well-dressed couple, seen half an hour
before completing their dinner a block away at the Lafayette. The head
waiter at that restaurant explained them nonchalantly, not to say
casually:

"It is the gentleman who married his manicurist. Regard, then--one
perceives they are not happy--eh? It is understood that she beats
him."

Yonder is a moving-picture star, quite alone, eating a great deal, and
looking blissfully content. There is a man who has won a fortune in
war-brides--the one at the next table did it with carpets. There is a
great lady--a very great lady indeed--who, at this season, _should_ be
out of town.

Swiftly moving, deft-handed waiters, the faint perfume of delicate
food, the sparkle of light upon rare wine, the complex murmur of a
well-filled dining-room. It is so far not strikingly different, in the
impression it gives, from uptown restaurants.

But the hands of the clock are pointing to the half-hour after ten.

Hasten, then, to the downstairs cafe,--the two rooms, sunk below the
level of Fifth Avenue, yet cool and airy. If you hurry you will be
just in time to see the Village come in. For this is their really
favourite haunt--their Mecca when their pockets will stand it--the
Village Restaurant de Luxe!

Upstairs are exquisite frocks and impeccable evening clothes; good
jewels and, incidentally, a good many tired faces--from uptown. Down
here it is different. The crowd is younger, poorer, more strikingly
bizarre--immeasurably more interesting. Everyone here does something,
or thinks he does--which is just as good;--or pretends to--which is
next best. There is a startling number of girls. Girls in smocks of
"artistic" shades--bilious yellow-green, or magenta-tending violet;
girls with hair that, red, black or blonde, is usually either arranged
in a wildly natural bird's-nest mass, or boldly clubbed after the
fashion of Joan of Arc and Mrs. Vernon Castle; girls with tense little
faces, slender arms and an astonishing capacity as to cigarettes. And
men who, for the most part, are too busy with their ideals to cut
their hair; men whose collars may be low and rolling, or high and
bound with black silk stocks after the style of another day; men who
are, variously, affectedly natural or naturally affected, but who are
nearly all of them picturesque, and, in spite of their poses, quite in
earnest, after their queer fashion. They are all prophets and seers
down here; they wear their bizarre hair-cuts and unusual clothes with
a certain innocently flaunting air which rather disarms you. Their
poses are not merely poses; they are their almost childlike way of
showing the prosaic outer world how different they are!

Here they all flock--whenever they have the price. That may be a bit
beyond them sometimes, but usually there is someone in the crowd who
is "flush," and that means who will pay. For the Villagers are not
parsimonious; they stand in no danger of ever making themselves rich
and thus acquiring place in the accursed class called the Philistines!

It is beyond question that the French have a genius for hospitality.
It must be rooted in their beautiful, national tact, that gracious
impulse combining chivalry to women, friendliness to men and courtesy
to all which is so characteristic of "the world's sweetheart" France.
I have never seen a French restaurant where the most casual visitor
was not made personally and charmingly welcome, and I have never seen
such typically French restaurants as the Lafayette and the Brevoort.
And the Villagers feel it too. From the shabbiest socialist to the
most flagrantly painted little artist's model, they drift in
thankfully to that atmosphere of gaiety and sympathy and thoughtful
kindliness which is, after all, just--the air of France.

Next let us take a restaurant of quite another type, not far from the
Brevoort--all the Village eating places are close together--walk
across the square, a block further, and you are there.

It is not many years since Bohemia ate chiefly in the side streets,
at restaurants such as Enrico's, Baroni's--there are a dozen such
places. They still exist, but the Village is dropping away from them.
They are very good and very cheap, and the tourist--that is, the
uptowner--thinks he is seeing Bohemia when he eats in them, but not
many of them remain at all characteristic. Bertolotti's is something
of an exception. It is a restaurant of the old style, a survival of
the days when all Bohemian restaurants were Italian. La Signora says
they have been there, just there on Third Street, for twenty years. If
you are a newcomer you will probably eat in the upstairs room, in cool
and rather remote grandeur, and the pretty daughter with the wondrous
black eyes will serve you the more elaborate of the most
extraordinarily named dishes on the menu. But if, by long experience,
you know what is pleasant and comfortable you will take a place in the
basement cafe. At the clean, bare table, in the shadow of the big,
bright, many-bottled bar, you will eat your _Risotta alla Milanese_,
your _coteletti di Vitelle_, your _asparagi_--it's probably the only
place in the city where they serve asparagus with grated
cheese--finally your _zambaione_,--a heavenly sort of hot "flip," very
foamy and seductive and strongly flavoured with Marsarla wine.

If you stand well with the house you may have the honour to be
escorted by the Signora herself--handsome, dignified, genial, with a
veritable coronal of splendid grey hair--to watch the eternal bowling
in the alley back of the restaurant. I have watched them fascinated
for long periods and I have never learned what it is they are trying
to do with those big "bowling balls." They have no ninepins, so they
are not trying to make a ten-strike. Apparently, it is a game however,
for now and then a shout of triumph proclaims that someone has won. He
orders the drinks and they go at it again.

"But, what _is_ it?" I asked the Signora.

"Eh--oh--just a _Giocho di Bocca_," she returned vaguely, "a game of
bowls--how should I know?"

Beyond the bowling alley is a long, narrow yard with bushes. It would
make quite a charming summer garden with little tables for
after-dinner coffee. But the Signora says that the _Chiesa_, there at
the back of it, objects. The _Chiesa_, I think, is the Judson Memorial
Church on Washington Square. Just why they don't want the Signora to
have tables in her own back yard is not clear. She, being a Latin,
shrugs her shoulders and makes no comment. Standing in the darkness,
there is a real freshness in the air; there is also a delicious,
gurgling sound, the music of summer streams.

"How lovely!" you whisper. "What a delightful, rippling sound."

"Yet, it is the ice plant of the big hotel," says La Signora sweetly.

There is, at Bertolotti's one of the queerest little old figures in
all that part of the world, the bent and aged Italian known
universally as _Castagna_ (Chestnuts), because of the interminable
anecdotes he tells over and over again. No one knows his real name,
not even the Signor or the Signora. Yet he has worked for them for
years. He wants no wages--only a living and a home. In the
aforementioned back yard he has built himself a little house about the
size of a dog kennel. It is a real house, and like nothing so much as
the historic residence of the Three Bears. It has a window, eaves,
weather-strips and a clothesline, for he does his own washing. He
trots off there very happily when his light work is done, and, when
his door is closed, opens it for no one. That scrap of a building is
_Castagna's_ castle. One evening I went to call on him, but he had put
out his light. In the gleam that came from the bowling alley behind
me, something showed softly red and green and white against the wooden
door. I put out my hand and touched that world-famous cross. It was
about six inches long, and only of paper, but it was the flag of
Italy, and it kept watch outside the _Casa Castagna_. I am certain
that he would not sleep well without it.

Probably the most famous Bohemian restaurant in the quarter is the
Black Cat. It is not really more typical than the others,--indeed it
is rather less so,--but it is extremely striking, and most
conspicuous. There is, in the minds of the hypercritical, the sneaking
suspicion that the Black Cat is almost too good to be true; it is too
obviously and theatrically lurid with the glow of Montmartre; it is
Bohemianism just a shade too much conventionalised. Just the same, it
is fascinating. From the moment you pass the outer, polite portals and
intermediate anterooms and enter the big, smoke-filled, deafening room
at the back, you are enormously interested, excellently entertained.
The noise is the thing that impresses you first. In most Village
resorts you find quiet the order of the day--or rather night. Even
"Polly's," crowded as it is, is not noisy. In the Brevoort there is a
steady, low rumble of talk, but not actual noise. At the Black Cat it
is one continual and all-pervading roar--a joyous roar, too; these
people are having a simply gorgeous time and don't care who knows it.
It is a wonder that the high-set rafters do not fall--that the lofty,
whitewashed walls of brick do not tremble, and that the little black
cats set in a rigid conventional design around the whole room do not
come to life in horror, and fly spitting up the short stairway and out
of the door!

When you go to the Black Cat you would better check what prejudices
you have as to what is formal and fitting, and leave them with your
coat at the entrance. Not that it is disreputable--Luigi would pale
with the shock of such a thought! It is just--Bohemian! Everyone does
exactly what he wishes to do. Sometimes, one person's wishes conflict
with someone else's, and then there is a fight, and the police are
called, and the rest of the patrons have a beautiful time watching a
perfectly good and unexpected free show! As a rule, however, this
determination on the part of each one to do what he wants to has no
violent results. An incident will show something of the entire liberty
allowed in the Black Cat. A man came in with two girls, and, seeing a
jolly stag party at another table, decided to join them. He promptly
did so, with, as far as could be seen, no word of excuse to his
feminine companions. In a moment two young men strolled up to their
table and sat down.

"Your friend asked us to come over here and take his place,"
explained one nonchalantly. "You don't object, ladies?"

The girls received them amiably. Apparently no one thought of such a
formality as names or introductions. The original host stayed away for
the rest of the evening, but the four new acquaintances seemed to get
along quite satisfactorily without him.

A young married woman from uptown came in with her husband and two
other men. A good-looking lad, much flushed and a little unsteady,
stopped by her chair.

"Say, k-kid," he exclaimed, with a disarming chuckle, "you're the
prettiest girl here--and you come here with three p-protectors! Say,
it's a shame!"

He lurched cheerfully upon his way and even the slightly conservative
husband found a grudging smile wrung out of him.

There is a pianist at the Black Cat--a real pianist, not just a person
who plays the piano. She is a striking figure in a quaint, tunic-like
dress, greying hair and a keen face, and a personal friend of half the
frequenters. She has an uncanny instinct for the psychology of the
moment. She knows just when "Columbia" will be the proper thing to
play, and when the crowd demands the newest rag-time. She will feel an
atmospheric change as unswervingly as any barometer, and switch in a
moment from "Good-bye Girls, Good-bye" to the love duet from Faust.
She can play Chopin just as well as she can play Sousa, and she will
tactfully strike up "It's Always Fair Weather" when she sees a crowd
of young fellows sit down at a table; "There'll Be a Hot Time in the
Old Town Tonight" to welcome a lad in khaki; and the very latest fox
trot for the party of girls and young men from uptown, who look as
though they were dying to dance. She plays the "Marseillaise" for
Frenchmen, and "Dixie" for visiting Southerners, and "Mississippi" for
the frequenters of Manhattan vaudeville shows. And, then, at the right
moment, her skilled fingers will drift suddenly into something
different, some exquisite, inspired melody--the soul-child of some
high immortal--and under the spell the noisy crowd grows still for a
moment. For even at the Black Cat they have not forgotten how to
dream.

Probably the Black Cat inspired many other Village restaurants--the
Purple Pup for instance.

The Purple Pup is a queer little place. It is in a most exclusive and
aristocratic part of the Square--in the basement of one of the really
handsome houses, in fact. It is, so far as is visible to the naked
eye, quite well conducted, yet there is something mysterious about it.
Doubtless this is deliberately stage-managed and capitalised, but it
is effectively done. It is an unexpected sort of place. One evening
you go there and find it in full blast; the piano tinkling, many
cramped couples dancing in the two tiny rooms, and every table covered
with tea cups or lemonade glasses. Another night you may arrive at
exactly the same time and there will be only candlelight and a few
groups, talking in low tones.

Here, as in all parts of the Village, the man in the rolling collar,
and the girl in the smock, will be markedly in evidence. Yes; they
really do look like that. Lots of the girls have their hair cut short
too.

And "Polly's"!

In many minds, "Polly's" and the Village mean one and the same thing.
Certainly no one could intelligently write about the one without due
and logical tribute to the other. Polly Holliday's restaurant (The
Greenwich Village Inn is its formal name in the telephone book) is not
incidental, but institutional. It is fixed, representative and sacred,
like Police Headquarters, Trinity Church and the Stock Exchange. It is
indispensable and independent. The Village could not get along
without it, but the Village no longer talks about it nor advertises
it. It is, in fact, so obviously a vital part of Greenwich that often
enough a Greenwicher, asked to point out hostelries of peculiar
interest, will forget to mention it.

"How about 'Polly's'?" you remind him.

"Oh--but 'Polly's'!" he protests wonderingly. "Why, it wouldn't be the
Village at all without 'Polly's.' It--why, of course, I never thought
anyone had to be told about _'Polly's_'!"

His attitude will be as disconcerted as though you asked him whether
he was in the habit of using air to breathe,--or was accustomed to
going to bed to sleep.

Polly Holliday used to have her restaurant under the Liberal
Club--where the Dutch Oven is now,--but now she has her own good-sized
place on Fourth Street, and it remains, through fluctuations and fads,
the most thoroughly and consistently popular Village eating place
extant. It is, outwardly, not original nor superlatively striking in
any way. It is a clean, bare place with paper napkins and such waits
between courses as are unquestionably conducive to the encouragement
of philosophic, idealistic, anarchistic and aesthetic debates. But the
food is excellent, when you get it, and the atmosphere both friendly
and--let us admit frankly--inspiring. The people are interesting; they
discuss interesting things. You are comfortable, and you are
exhilarated. You see, quickly enough, why the Village could not
possibly get along without its inn; why "Polly's" is so essential a
part of its life that half the time it overlooks it. Outsiders always
know about "Polly's." But the Villager?

"'Polly's'? But _of course_ 'Polly's.'"

There it is. _Of course_ "Polly's." "Polly's" is Greenwich Village in
little; it is, in a fashion, cosmic and symbolic.

Under the Liberal Club, where "Polly's" used to be located, the "Dutch
Oven," with its capacious fireplace and wholesome meals, now holds
sway. The prices are reasonable, the food substantial and the
atmosphere comfortable, so it is a real haven of good cheer to
improvident Villagers.

The Village Kitchen on Greenwich Avenue is another place of the same
sort. And Gallup's--almost the first of these "breakfast and lunch"
shops--is another. They are not unlike a Childs restaurant, but with
the rarefied Village air added. You eat real food in clean
surroundings, as you do in Childs', but you do it to an accompaniment
that is better than music--a sort of life-song, rather stirring and
quite touching in its way--the Song of the Village. How can people be
both reckless and deeply earnest? But the Villagers are both.

One of the oddest sights on earth is a typical "Breakfast" at
"Polly's," the "Kitchen" or the "Dutch Oven," after one of the masked
balls for which the Village has recently acquired such a passion.
After you have been up all night in some of these mad masquerades--of
which more anon--you may not, by Village convention, go home to bed.
You must go to breakfast with the rest of the Villagers. And you must
be prepared to face the cold, grey dawn of "the morning after" while
still in your war paint and draggled finery. It is an awful ordeal.
But "it's being done in the Village"!

Quite recently a new sort of eating place has sprung up in Greenwich
Village--of so original and novel a character that we must investigate
it in at least a few of its manifestations. Speaking for myself, I had
never believed that such places could exist within sound of the "L"
and a stone's throw from drug stores and offices.

But see what you think of them.

[Illustration: THE DUTCH OVEN. One of the favorite eating places of the
Village. Some of the famous breakfasts are given here.]


II

     "I can't believe _that_!" said Alice.

     "Can't you?" the Queen said in a pitying tone. "Try again:
     draw a long breath and shut your eyes."

     Alice laughed. "There's no use trying," she said. "One
     _can't_ believe impossible things."

     "I daresay you haven't had much practice," said the Queen.
     "When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a
     day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible
     things before breakfast."--"Through the Looking Glass."


"But it can't be this!" I said. "You've made a mistake in the number!"

"It is this," declared my guide and companion. "This is where Nanni
Bailey has her tea shop."

"But this is--is--isn't anything!"

Indeed the number to which my friend pointed seemed to indicate the
entrance to a sort of warehouse, if it indicated anything at all. On
peering through the dim and gloomy doorway, it appeared instead to be
a particularly desolate-looking cellar. There were old barrels and
boxes about, an expanse of general dusty mystery and, in the dingy
distance, a flight of ladder-like steps leading upwards to a faint
light.

"It's one of Dickens' impossible stage sets come true!" I exclaimed.
"It looks as though it might be a burglars' den or somebody's back
yard, but anyway, it isn't a restaurant!"

"It is too!" came back at me triumphantly. "Look at that sign!"

By the faint rays of a street light on nearby Sixth Avenue, I saw the
shabby little wooden sign, "The Samovar." This extraordinary place was
a restaurant after all!

We entered warily, having a vague expectation of pickpockets or rats,
and climbed that ladder--I mean staircase--to what was purely and
simply a loft.

But such a loft! Such a quaint, delicious, simple, picturesque
apotheosis of a loft! A loft with the rough bricks whitewashed and the
heavy rafters painted red; a loft with big, plain tables and a bare
floor and an only slightly partitioned-off kitchenette where the
hungry could descry piles of sandwiches and many coffee cups. And
there in the middle of the loft was the Samovar itself, a really
splendid affair, and one actually not for decorative purposes only,
but for use. I had always thought samovars were for the ornamentation
either of houses or foreign-atmosphere novels. But you could use this
thing. I saw people go and get glasses-full of tea out of it.

Under the smoke-dimmed lights were curious, eager, interesting faces:
a pale little person with red hair I recognised instantly as an
actress whom I had just seen at the Provincetown Players--a Village
Theatrical Company--in a tense and terribly tragic role. Beyond her
was a white-haired man with keen eyes--a distinguished writer and
socialist. A shabby poet announced to the sympathetic that he had sold
something after two years of work. Immediately they set about making a
real fiesta of the unusual occasion. Miss Bailey, a small, round,
efficient person with nice eyes and good manners, moved about among
her guests, all of whom she seemed to know. The best cheese sandwiches
in New York went round. A girl in a vampire costume of grey--hooded
and with long trailing sleeves--got up from her solitary place in the
corner. She seemed to be wearing, beneath the theatrical garment, a
kimono and bedroom slippers. Obviously she had simply drifted in for
sandwiches before going to bed. She vanished down the ladder.

An hour later, we, too, climbed down the ladderish stairs, my
companion and I, and as we came out into the fresh quiet of Fourth
Street at midnight, I had a really odd sensation. I felt as though I
had been reading a fascinating and unusual book, and had--suddenly
closed it for the night.

This was one of the first of the real Village eating places which I
ever knew. Perhaps that is why it comes first to my memory as I write.
I do not know that it is more representative or more interesting than
others. But it was worth going back to.

Yet, after all, it isn't the food and drink, nor yet the unusual
surroundings, that bring you back to these places. It's the--well, one
has to use, once in a while, the hard-worked and generally
inappropriate word "atmosphere." Like "temperament" and
"individuality" and the rest of the writer-folk's old reliables,
"atmosphere" is too often only a makeshift, a lazy way of expressing
something you won't take the trouble to define more expressively. Dick
says in "The Light That Failed" that an old device for an unskilful
artist is to stick a superfluous bunch of flowers somewhere in a
picture where it will cover up bad drawing. I'm afraid writers are apt
to use stock phrases in the same meretricious fashion.

But this is a fact just the same. Nearly all the Greenwich Village
places really have atmosphere. You can be cynical about it, or frown
at it, or do anything you like about it, but it's there, and it's the
real thing. It's an absolute essence and ether which you feel
intensely and breathe necessarily, but which no one can put quite
definitely into the concrete form of words. I have heard of liquid or
solidified air, but that's a scientific experiment, and who wants to
try scientific experiments on the Village which we all love?

"But such an amount of play-acting and pose!" I hear someone complain,
referring to the Village with contemptuous irritation. "They pretend
to be seeking after truth and liberty of thought, and that sort of
thing, and yet they are steeped in artificiality."

Yes, to a certain extent that is true--true of a portion of the
Village, at any rate, and a certain percentage of the Villagers. But
even if it is true, it is the sort of truth that needs only a bit of
understanding to make us tender and tolerant instead of scornful and
hard. My dear lady, you who complained of the "play-acting," and you
other who, agreeing with her, see in the whimsies and pretenses in Our
Village only a spectacle of cheap affectation and artifice, have you
lived so long and yet do not know that the play-acting instinct is one
of the most universal of all instincts--the very first developed, and
the very last, I truly believe, to die in our faded bodies? From the
moment when we try to play ball with sunbeams through those
intermediate years wherein we imagine ourselves everything on earth
that we are not, down to those last days of all, when we live, all
furtive and unsuspected, a secret life of the spirit--either a life
of remembrance or a life of imagination visualising what we have
wanted and have missed,--what do we do but pretend,--make
believe,--pose, if you will? When we are little we pretend to be
knights and ladies, pirates and fairy princesses, soldiers and Red
Cross nurses, and sailors and hunters and explorers. We people the
window boxes with elves and pixies and the dark corners with Red
Indians and bears. The commonplace world about us is not truly
commonplace, since our fancy, still fresh from eternity, can transform
three dusty shrubs into an enchanted forest, and an automobile into
the most deliciously formidable of the Dragon Family. A bit later, our
pretending is done more cautiously. We do not confess our shy flights
of imagination: we take a prosaic outward pose, and try not to
advertise the fact that our geese wear (to our eyes) swans' plumage,
and that our individual roles are (to our own view) always those of
heroes and heroines. No one of us but mentally sees himself or herself
doing something which is as impracticable as cloud-riding. No one of
us but dreams of the impossible and in a shamefaced, almost
clandestine, fashion pictures it and lingers over it. All
make-believe, you see, only we hate to admit it! The different thing
about Greenwich is that there they do admit it, quite a number of
them. They accept the pretending, play-acting spirit as a perfectly
natural--no, as an inevitable--part of life, and, with a certain
whimsical seriousness, not unlike that of real children, they provide
for it. You know children can make believe, _know_ that it is make
believe, yet enjoy it all the more for that. So can the Villagers.
Hence, places like--let us say, as an example--"The Pirate's Den."

It is a very real pirate's den, lighted only by candles. A coffin
casts a shadow, and there is a regulation "Jolly Roger," a black flag
ornamented with skull and crossbones. Grim? Surely, but even a
healthy-minded child will play at gruesome and ghoulish games once in
a while.

There is a Dead Man's Chest too,--and if you open it you will find a
ladder leading down into mysterious depths unknown. If you are very
adventurous you will climb down and bump your head against the cellar
ceiling and inspect what is going to be a subterranean grotto as soon
as it can be fitted up. You climb up again and sit in the dim, smoky
little room and look about you. It is the most perfect pirate's den
you can imagine. On the walls hang huge casks and kegs and wine
bottles in their straw covers,--all the signs manual of past and
future orgies. Yet the "Pirate's Den" is "dry"--straw-dry, brick-dry
--as dry as the Sahara. If you want a "drink" the well-mannered
"cut-throat" who serves you will give you a mighty mug of ginger ale
or sarsaparilla. And if you are a real Villager and can still play at
being a real pirate, you drink it without a smile, and solemnly
consider it real red wine filched at the edge of the cutlass from
captured merchantmen on the high seas. On the big, dark centre table
is carefully drawn the map of "Treasure Island."

The pirate who serves you (incidentally he writes poetry and helps to
edit a magazine among other things) apologises for the lack of a
Stevensonian parrot.

"A chap we know is going to bring one back from the South Sea
Islands," he declares seriously. "And we are going to teach it to say,
'Pieces of eight! Pieces of eight!'"

If, while you are at the "Pirate's Den" you care to climb a rickety, but
enchanted staircase outside the old building (it's pre-Revolutionary, you
know) you will come to the "Aladdin Shop"--where coffee and Oriental
sweets are specialties. It is a riot of strange and beautiful
colour--vivid and Eastern and utterly intoxicating. A very talented and
picturesque Villager has painted every inch of it himself, including the
mysterious-looking Arabian gentleman in brilliantly hued wood, who sits
cross-legged luring you into the little place of magic. The wrought iron
brackets on the wall are patches of vivid tints; the curtains at the
windows are colour-dissonances, fascinating and bizarre. As usual there
is candlelight. And, as usual, there is the same delicious spirit of
seriously and whole-heartedly playing the game. While you are there you
are in the East. If it isn't the East to you, you can go away--back to
Philistia.

And speaking of candlelight. I went into the poets' favourite "Will o'
the Wisp" tea shop once and found the gas-jet lighted! The young girl
in charge jumped up, much embarrassed, and turned it out.

"I'm so sorry!" she apologised. "But I wanted to _see_ just a moment,
and lighted it!"

I peered at her face in the ghostly candlelight. It was entirely and
unmistakably earnest.

Just the same, Mrs. Browning's warning that "colours seen by
candlelight do not look the same by day" is not truly applicable to
these Village shrines. Even under the searching beams of a slanting,
summer afternoon sun, they are adorable. Go and see if you don't
believe this.

Then take the "Mad Hatter's." The entrance alone is a monument to the
make-believe capabilities of the Village. Scrawled on the stone wall
beside the steps that lead down to the little basement tea room, is an
inscription in chalk. It looks like anything but English. But if you
held a looking-glass up to it you would find that it is "Down the
Rabbit Hole" written backward! Now, if you know your "Alice" as well
as you should, you will recall delightedly her dash after the White
Rabbit which brought her to Wonderland, and, incidentally, to the Mad
Tea Party.

You go in to the little room where Villagers are drinking tea, and the
proprietress approaches to take your order. She is a good-looking
young woman dressed in a bizarre red and blue effect, not unlike one
of the Queens, but she prefers to be known as the "Dormouse"--not,
however, that she shows the slightest tendency to fall asleep.

On the wall is scribbled, "'There's plenty of room,' said Alice."

The people around you seem only pleasantly mad, not dangerously so.
There is a girl with an enchanting scrap of a monkey; there is a youth
with a manuscript and a pile of cigarette butts. The great thing here
once more is that they are taking their little play and their little
stage with a heavenly seriousness, all of them. You expect somebody to
produce a set of flamingos at any moment and start a game of croquet
among the tiny tables.

Not all of the Greenwich restaurants have definite individual
characters to maintain consistently. Sometimes it is just a general
spirit of picturesqueness, of adventure, that they are trying to keep
up. The "Mouse Trap," except for the trap hanging outside and a mouse
scrawled in chalk on the wall of the entry, carries out no particular
suggestion either of traps or mice. But take a look at the
proprietress (Rita they call her), with her gorgeous Titian hair and
delft-blue apron; at her son Sidney, fair, limp, slim, English-voiced,
with a deft way of pouring after-dinner coffee, and hair the colour of
corn. They are obviously play-acting and enjoying it.

Ask Rita her nationality. She will fix you with eyes utterly devoid of
a twinkle and answer: "I? I am part Scotch terrier, and part Spanish
mongrel, but _mostly_ mermaid!"

Rita goes to the sideboard to cut someone a slice of good-looking pie.
She overhears a reference to the "Candlestick," a little eating place
chiefly remarkable for its vegetables and poetesses.

"If they eat nothing but vegetables no wonder they take to poetry," is
her comment. But still she does not smile. If you giggle, as every
child knows, you spoil the game. They laugh heartily enough and often
enough down in the Village, but they never laugh at the Village
itself,--not because they take it so reverentially, but because they
know how to make believe altogether too well.

Let me whisper here that the most fascinating hour in the "Mouse Trap" is
in the late afternoon, when no one is there, and the ebony hand-maiden in
the big back kitchen is taking the fat, delicious-smelling cakes from the
oven. Drop in some afternoon and sniff the fragrance that suggests your
childhood and "sponge-cake day." You will feel that it is a trap no sane
mouse would ever think of leaving! On a table beside you is a slate with,
obviously, the day's specials:

    "Spice cakes.
    Chocolate cake.
    Strawberry tarts with whipped cream."

And still as you peep through the door at the back you see more and
still more goodies coming hot and fresh and enticing from the oven.
White cakes, golden cakes, delicately browned pies,--if you are
dieting by any chance you flee temptation and leave the "Mouse Trap"
behind you.

It would be impossible to give even an approximately complete
inventory of the representative places of the Village. I have had to
content myself with some dozen or so examples,--recorded almost
haphazard, for the most part, but as I believe, more or less typical,
take them all in all, of the Village eating place in its varied and
rather curious manifestations.

Then there is a charming shop presided over by a pretty girl with the
inevitable smock and braided hair, where tea is served in order to
entice you to buy carved and painted trifles.

And then there is, or was, the place kept by Polly's brother, which
was heartlessly raided by the police, and much maligned, not to say
libelled, by the newspapers.

And then there was and is the "Hell Hole." Its ancient distinction
used to be that it was one of the first cheap Bohemian places where
women could smoke, and that it was always open. When all the other
resorts closed for the night you repaired to the "Hell Hole." As to
the smoking, it has taken a good while for New York to allow its
Bohemian women this privilege, though society leaders have enjoyed it
for ages. We all know that though most fashionable hotels permitted
their feminine guests to smoke, the Haymarket of dubious memory always
tabooed the custom to the bitter end!

The "Hell Hole" has always stoutly approved of cigarettes, so all
honour to it! And many a happy small-hours party has brought up there
to top off the night in peace without having to keep an eye on the
clock.

There is a little story told about one of these restaurants of which I
have been writing--never mind which. A visiting Englishman on his way
from his boat to his hotel dropped in at a certain place for a drink.
He found the company congenial and drifted into a little game which
further interested him. It was a perfectly straight game, and he was a
perfectly good sport. He stayed there two weeks. No: I shall _not_
state what the place was. But I think the story is true.

Personally, I don't blame the Englishman. Even shorn of the charm of a
game of chance, there is many a place in Greenwich Village which might
easily capture a susceptible temperament--not merely for weeks, but
for years!

The last of the tea shops is the "Wigwam," in which, take note, it is
the Indian game that is played. Its avowed aim is "Tea and Dancing,"
and it is exceedingly proud of its floor. It lives in the second story
of what, for over fifty years, has been the old Sheridan Square
Tavern, and its proprietors are the Mosses,--poet, editor and
incidental "pirate" on one side of the house; and designer of
enchanting "art clothes" on the other. Lew Kirby Parrish, no less, has
made the decorations, and he told me that the walls were grey with
Indian decorations, and the ceiling a "live colour." I discovered that
that meant a vivid, happy orange.

The spirit of the play is always kept in the Village. Let us take the
opening night of the "Wigwam" as a case in point.

The Indian note is supreme. It is not only the splendid line drawings
of Indian chiefs, forming the panels of the room--those mysterious and
impressive shades created by the imagination of Lew Parrish--it is the
general mood. Only candles are burning,--big, fat candles, giving, in
the aggregate, a magical radiance.

The victrola at the end of the room begins to play a curious Indian
air with an uneven, fascinating, syncopated rhythm. A graceful girl in
Indian dress glides in and places a single candle on the floor,
squatting before it in a circle of dim, yellow light.

She lifts her dark head with its heavy band about the brows and shades
her eyes with her hand. You see remote places, far, pale horizons,
desert regions of sand. There are empty skies overhead, instead of the
"live-colour" ceiling. With an agile movement, she rises and begins to
dance about the candle, and you know that to her it is a little
campfire; it is that to you, too, for the moment. Something like the
west wind blows her fringed dress; there is a dream as old as life in
her eyes.

Faster and faster she dances about the candle, until at last she sinks
beside it and with a strange sure gesture--puts it out.

Silence and the dark. The prairie fades.... The little dark-wood
tables with their flowers and candles begin to glow again; the next
musical number is a popular one step!...



CHAPTER VIII

Villagers

     Although the serious affairs of life are met as
     conscientiously by the man or woman who has the real spirit
     of the Village, nevertheless each of them assuredly shows
     less of that sordidness and mad desire for money so
     prevalent throughout the land....

     The real villager's life is better balanced. He produces
     written words of value, or material objects that offer
     utility and delight. _He sings his songs. He has a good
     time._--From the _Ink Pot_ (a Greenwich Village paper).


I quoted the above to a practical friend and he countered by quoting
Dickens' delightful fraud, "Harold Skimpole":

     "This is where the bird lives and sings! They pluck his
     feathers now and then, and clip his wings, but he sings, he
     sings!... Not an ambitious note, but still he sings!"

And my friend proceeded heartlessly: "'Skimpole' would have made a
perfect Villager!"

It is hard to answer cold prose when your arguments are those of warm
poetry. Not that prose has power to conquer poetry, but that the
languages are so hopelessly dissimilar. They need an interpreter and
the post is not a sinecure.

I want to try to throw a few dim sidelights on these Villagers whom I
love and whom I know to be as alien to the average metropolitan
consciousness and perception as though they were aboriginal
representatives of interior and unexplored China. They are perhaps
chiefly strange because of their ridiculous and lovely simplicity.

The artistic instinct, or impulse, is not particularly rare. Many
persons have a real love for beautiful things, even a real aptitude
for designing or reproducing them. The creative instinct is something
vastly different. Creative artists,--great painters or sculptors,
great illustrators, and wizards in pencil and pen and charcoal
effects,--must be both born and made; and there are, the gods know,
few enough of them, all told! Until comparatively recent times,
everyone gifted with the blessing of an artistic sense turned it into
a curse by trying to paint, draw or model, while the world yawned,
laughed, turned away in disgust; and the real artists flung up their
hands to heaven and cried: "What next?"

But lately,--in many places, but preeminently in Greenwich
Village,--these folk who love art, but can't achieve great art
expression, have evolved a new sort of art life. They are developing
the embryo of what was the arts-and-crafts idea into a really fine,
useful and satisfying art form. They have left mission furniture and
Morris designs behind. They are making their own models, and making
them well. They are turning their restless, beauty-loving energies
into sound, constructive channels. The girl who otherwise might have
painted atrocious pictures is, in the Village, decorating
delightful-looking boxes and jars, or hammering metals into quaint,
original shapes that embody her own fleeting fancies. The man who
wanted to draw but could never get his perspective right is carving
wood--a work where perspective is superfluous--and achieving pleasure
for others, and comfort and a livelihood for himself, at one and the
same time.

I know of nothing which is so typical or so significant in all the
Village as this new urge toward good craftsmanship, elementary poetic
design,--the fundamentals of a utilitarian, beautiful and pervading
art life apart from clay or canvas.

The capitol of the Village shifts a bit from time to time, as befits
so flexible, so fluid a community. Just at the present writing, it is
at Sheridan Square that you will find it most colourfully and
picturesquely represented. Tomorrow, no man may be able to say whence
it has flitted.

You will find much golden sunshine in Sheridan Square--not the
approved atmosphere of Bohemia, yet the real thing nevertheless. It is
a broad, clean, brazen sort of sunshine--a sunshine that should say,
"See me work! See me shine! See me show up the least last ugliness or
smallness or humbleness, and glorify it to something Village-like and
picturesque!"

When you leave the sunny square, you will enter the oddest little
court in all New York; it has not to my knowledge any name, but it is
the general address of enough tea shops and studios and Village haunts
to stock an entire neighbourhood. The buildings are old--old, and, of
course, of wood. These artist folk have metamorphosed the shabby and
dilapidated structures into charming places.

Following the sign of deep blue with yellow letters which indicates
that this is the place where the Hand-Painted Wooden Toys are made,
you must climb in the sunshine up the outside staircase, which looks
as though it had been put up for scaffolding purposes and then
forgotten. Pausing on the rickety stairway and looking out beyond the
crazy little court and over the drowsy Square, you will have a great
deal of difficulty in believing that you left your cable car about a
minute and a half before. Pass on up the stairs. You may nearly fall
over the black-and-white feline which belongs to no one in any of the
buildings, but which haunts them all like an unquiet ghost, and which
is known by everyone as the Crazy Cat; so to the door of the
studio-workshop where the toys are made.

[Illustration: PATCHIN PLACE. One of the strange little "lost courts"
given over to the Villagers and their pursuits.]

And have you ever seen anything quite like that workshop?

A little light studio full of colour and the smell of paint. On one
side blue-green boxes stacked on shelves; on the other finished sample
toys not ready to be boxed. Shallow dishes of orange and emerald green
and bright pink and primrose and black and vivid blue.

"Yes," says the girl who is working there--she is fair and wears a
pale-green frock and a black work-apron,--"I do this part. Mr.
Dickerman, the artist, makes the pictures or designs, then we have
them turned out by the mill. See"--she shows queer shaped pieces of
wood that suggest nothing to the casual observer--"Then the rest is
done here!"

The room is full of all manner of curious and charming playthings.
Here is a real pirate's chest for your treasures--the young workwoman
is just painting the yellow nails on it--and here is a fierce-looking
pirate with a cutlass for a bookshelf end; here is a futurist
coat-hanger--a cubist-faced burglar with a jaw and the peremptory
legend: "Give me your hat, scarf and coat!" Here is a neatly capped
little waiting maid whose arms are constructed for flower holders;
here are delightful watering-pots, exquisitely painted; wonderful cake
covers, powder-boxes, blotters, brackets;--every single thing a little
gem of clever design and individual workmanship. It is more
fascinating than Toyland or Santa Claus' shop. These "rocking toys"
are particularly fascinating: the dreadnought that careens at perilous
angles, and the kicking mule which knocks its driver over as often as
you like to make it. Shelves on shelves of these wonder-things
complete, and a whole great table laden with them in half-finished
forms. Some of the little wooden figures are set in a long rack to
dry, for after the shellac has hardened each colour is put on and
allowed to dry thoroughly before applying the next. The flesh-coloured
enamel goes on first, then the other lighter shades, leaving the
darker for the last, and the inevitable touches of black to finish off
with.

"This way," says the girl in the black apron (which is really a
smock), taking up a squat but adorable little wooden figure which is
already coloured all over, but has a curiously unfinished aspect
nevertheless. She fills a tiny brush with glittering, black enamel and
begins to apply it in dots and lines. "This long dab is supposed to be
his gun. These two little squares of black make his belt. One line for
his trousers,--now he's done. He's for a blotter."

The little soldier has now taken on character and solidity as though
by magic. He grins at us, very martial and smart indeed, as he is
stood in the rack for the enamel to harden.

No one who has ever been to the workroom of one of those art shops
will ever forget it. Personally I found it more enchanting than any
regular studio I ever visited. There was quite real art there.
Remember, those designs show no mean order of genius and imagination,
and the more mechanical work is beautifully done and is constantly
given a little individual, quaint twist which stamps the toys as
personal works of art. And the whole picture,--I wish I could paint
it! The low-ceilinged room, set high up above the little court; the
sunshine and the golden square outside; the girl in the black smock
and the huge table covered with pots and saucers and jars of every
shape and size; and the vivid splashes of colour in the bright
afternoon light--scarlet and violet and yellow and indigo and
red-brown. And the wall full of strange and brilliant little figures
grinning, scowling and staring down like so many goblins!

Just as you go out of the studio your eye can scarcely fail to fall
upon one particular wooden hanger to be screwed on a door. If you know
the "Rose and the Ring" by heart, as you should, it will give you
quite a shock. It is the image of the Doorknocker into which the Fairy
Blackstick changed the wicked porter Gruffanuff! It is indeed!

You know, if all these toys should come to life some moonlit night
they would make quite a formidable array! Imagine the pirates and the
kicking mules and the cubist burglars all running wild together! And
there is something uncanny about them and their expressions that makes
one suspect that such an event is more than half likely.

Even the advertisements for such a shop could not be commonplace. The
artist in charge proclaims that: "Pirates are his specialty, and that
he will gladly furnish estimates on anything from the services of a
Pirate Crew to a Treasure Island or a Pirate Ship."

On Washington Square is another sort of workshop,--a place where
jewelry is made by hand. The girl who does this work draws her own
designs and executes them, and the results are infinitely quainter
and more beautiful than the things to be bought at jewelry shops. She
buys her copper and silver and the little gold she uses in bulk; her
jewels--semi-precious stones for the most part--come from all over the
world. In her cool, airy workroom with the green trees of the big
Square outside, this little woman heats and bends and bores her metals
and shines her stones in their quaint settings, with a rapt absorption
that is balanced by her steady skill. It is no light or easy work,
this making of hand-made jewelry, and it requires no inconsiderable
gift of delicate fancy and artistic judgment. This girl is an artist,
not the less so because she makes her flowers and dragons and symbolic
figures out of metal instead of canvas and paint; not the less so
because her colours do not come in tubes but imprisoned in the rare,
exotic tints of shimmering gems.

Here is a ring of slightly dulled silver--the design is of a water
lily, fragile and delicate. In the heart of it lies, like a dewdrop, a
pale-green jewel called peridot. Here is the soft, rich blue of _lapis
lazuli_--here the keener azure of turquoise matrix. Here is a Mexican
opal, full of fire, almost blood-red, glowing feverishly from its
burnished-copper setting. What a terrible, yet beautiful ornament!
One would be, I imagine, under a sort of fierce and splendid spell
while wearing it. Here, cool and pale and pure as a moonbeam, is a
little water opal,--set in silver of course. Here is an "abalone
blister," iridescent like mother-of-pearl, carrying in it something of
"the shade and the shine of the sea" from which the mother-shell
originally came. Here is matrix opal, and here are numbers of
strange-hued, crystalline gems with names all ending in "ite." To
model with metal for clay--to paint with jewels for colour! Does it
not sound like very real and very fascinating art?

These are passing glimpses of but two of the art industries of the
Village. There are many others--enough to fill a book all by
themselves. There are the Villagers who hammer brass, and those who
carve wood; who make exquisite lace, who make furniture of quaint and
original design. There are the designers and decorators, whose brains
are full of graceful images and whose fingers are quick and facile to
carry them out. There are, in fact, numbers on numbers of enthusiastic
young people--they are nearly all of them young--who from sunrise to
sunset spend their lives in adding to the sum of beauty that there is
on earth.

The making of box furniture, for instance, sounds commonplace enough, but
it is really fascinating. There are places in the Village,--notably one
on Greenwich Avenue,--where these clever craftsmen make wonderful things
from cubic forms of wood, from boxes and sticks and laths and blocks.
They can make anything from a desk to a tall candlestick, and, softly
coloured, the square, wooden objects make a highly decorative effect. It
is a simple art but a striking one, and the aesthetic sense, the instinct
for balance and proportion and ultimate beauty of line and composition,
has a splendid outlet.

There is, too, the trade of the designer of garments: the word is
advisedly substituted for dresses. The real designer plans and
executes pictures, mood-expressions, character settings. She dreams
herself into the personalities of her clients, also the necessities
and the limitations! Do you think all the artistic costume-creating is
done in the Rue de la Paix? Try the Village!

And the florists! The flower shops of the Village are truly lovely,
one in particular, the Peculiar Flower Shop, which does not look at
all like a shop but like the corner of a country garden. The Village
loves flowers and understands them. Every Villager who can, grows
them. Believe me, you know nothing about flowers in an intimate sense
until you have talked with a flower-loving Villager!

Think of it--you outsiders who imagine that you are exhibiting a fine,
artistic tendency by going to an occasional exhibition, and in knowing
what colours can discreetly be worn together! Here is a small army of
vigourous idealists who live, breathe and create beauty; whose happy,
hard-working lives are filled with the exhilarating wine of art and
artistic expression; who, when night comes, never turn the keys of
their workshops without the knowledge that they have made one more
beautiful thing since dawn, one more concrete materialisation of the
art-dream in man, one more new creation to help to furnish pleasure
for a beauty-loving world!

There is something about those new forms of art work which recalls the
richer and more leisurely past, when good artisans were scarcely less
revered than great artists; when men toiled half a lifetime to fashion
one or two perfect things; when even the commonest utilitarian
articles were expected to be beautiful and were made so by the applied
genius of a race of working artists. It suggests other lands too--the
East where you will hardly ever see an ugly object, and where
everything from a pitcher to a rug is a thing of loveliness; the South
where true grace of line and colour is the rule rather than the
exception in the homeliest household utensils. Primitive peoples have
always stayed close to beauty; it is odd that it has always remained
for civilisation to suggest to man that if a thing is useful it need
not necessarily be beautiful. In a sense, then, our Villagers have
returned to a simpler, purer and surer standard. In shutting out the
rest of Philistia they have also succeeded in shutting out Philistia's
inconceivable ugliness. So the gods give them joy--the gods give them
joy!

Probably no one region on earth has been more misrepresented and
miswritten-up than the Village. Its eccentricities, harmless or
otherwise, are sufficiently conspicuous to furnish targets both for
the unscrupulous fiction-monger and the professional humourist.
Sometimes when the fun is clever enough and true enough no one minds,
the Village least of all; humour is their strong point. But they are
quite subtle souls with all their child-like peculiarities; there is,
in their acceptance of ridicule, a shrewd undercurrent suggestive of
the "Virginian's" now classic warning: "When you call me that,
_smile_!" Hence a novel written not long ago and purporting to be a
mirror of the Village--Village life and Village ideals, or lack of
them--had a peculiar result on the real Village. They knew it to be
untrue--those few who read it, that is--but they scorned to notice it.
They resented it, but to an astonishing extent they ignored it. The
title of it got to mean very little to them save a general term of
cheap and unmerited opprobrium, like some insulting epithet in a
foreign language which one knows one would dislike if one could
understand it. It is necessary to grasp these first simple facts to
appreciate the following episode:

A certain young Villager--I shall not give his name, but he is an
artist of growing and striking reputation, dark-eyed and rather
attractive looking--burst into a friend's studio pale with anger:

"See here, have you a copy of 'The Trufflers'?"

"Not guilty," swore the surprised friend. "Why on earth do you
want--"

But the young artist had dashed forth again, hot upon his quest. A few
houses down the street, he made another spectacular entrance with the
same cry;--at another and still another. One friend frankly confessed
he had never heard of the book, another expressed indignation that he
should be suspected of owning a copy. But not until the temperamental,
brown-eyed artist had visited several acquaintances was he able to
get what he wanted.

When the long-sought volume was in his grasp, he heaved a sigh of
something more emphatic than relief.

"How much did you pay for this thing?" he demanded.

"I didn't. I borrowed it."

"Oh-- See here. Can't you say you lost it?"

"I suppose so, if you want it as much as all that."

The young artist sat down and began seriously to tear the book to
pieces.

"Well, for the love of Mike!" cried the friend. "Do you hate it like
that?"

"I never read more than three pages of it," said the artist, steadily
tearing, "but a slumming creature, a girl from uptown came into the
'Pirate's Den' yesterday where I was sitting, and, after staring at me
fascinatedly for five minutes, leaned over to me and murmured
breathlessly:

"'Oh, tell me, _aren't you a Truffler_?' I couldn't wring her neck,
and so--"

Another handful of torn pages fluttered from his hand.

Of course, there are always the faddists and theorists, who take
their ideals as hard as mumps or measles. Because the Village is so
kind to new ideas, these flourish there for a time.

Here is a little tale told about a certain talented and charming lady
who had a very complete set of theories and wished to try them out on
Greenwich. One of her pet theories was that The People were naturally
aesthetic; that The People's own untutored instinct would always
unerringly select the best; that it was an insult to the noble
idealism of The People to try to educate them; they were, so to speak,
born with an education, ready-made, automatic, in sound working order
from the beginning. Now, anyone almost may have theories, but if they
are wise souls they won't try to apply them. If they have never been
practically tested they can't be proved fallacious and thus may be
treasured and loved and petted indefinitely, to the comfort of the
individual and the edification of the multitude. But this fair
idealist would not let well enough alone. She wanted to put her
favourite theory to the acid test. So this is what she did.

In the one-time roadhouse on Washington Square was a saloon the name
of which suggested an embryotic impulse toward poetry; or perhaps she
picked that particular "pub" at random. At all events she walked into
the bar, put her foot up on the traditional rail and began to converse
with the barkeep.

[Illustration: WASHINGTON SQUARE SOUTH. The studio quarter.]

She asked him if he had ever seen any of Shakespeare's plays, and he
said no. She asked him if he would like to see one. He said sure--he'd
try anything once. She invited him to go to see "Hamlet" with her, and
he said he was game. Lest his sensitive feelings be hurt by finding
himself a humble daw among the peacocks of the rich, gay world, she
bought seats in the balcony and wore her shabbiest gown.

When he called for her she felt slightly faint. He was in evening
dress, the most impeccable evening dress conceivable, even to the
pumps and the opera hat. He, too, looked a little shocked when he saw
her. Doubtless he would have asked her to dine at Rector's first if
she had been properly dressed. They both recovered sufficiently to go
to "Hamlet," and she trembled lest he would not like it. She need not
have worried--or rather she had more cause to worry than she knew.
Like it? He loved it; he shouted with honest mirth from first to last.
And, when it was over--

"Say," he burst out, "that beats any musical comedy show hollow! _It's
the funniest thing I ever see in my life!_"

Henceforward that dear lady did not let her theories out in a cold
world, but kept them safe in cotton wool under lock and key.

There are fakers in the Village--just as there are fakers everywhere
else. Only, of course, the ardour of new ideas which sincerely
animates the Village does lend itself to all manner of poses. And
because of this a perfectly earnest movement will attract a number of
superficial dilettanti who dabble in it until it is in disrepute. And,
vice versa, a crassly artificial fad will, by its novelty and
picturesqueness, draw some of the real thinking people. Such
inconsistencies and discrepancies are bound to occur in any such
mental crucible as Greenwich. And, moreover, if the true and the false
get a bit mixed once in a way, the wise traveller who goes to learn
and not to sit in judgment will not look upon it to the disadvantage
or the disparagement of the Village. Young, fervent and courageous
souls may make a vast quantity of mistakes ere they be proved wrong
with any sort of sound reasoning. If our Villagers run off at tangents
on occasion, follow a few false gods and tie the cosmos into knots, it
is, one may take it, rather to their credit than otherwise. No one
ever accomplished anything by sitting still and looking at a wall. And
it is far better to make a fool of yourself with an intense object,
than to make nothing of yourself and have no particular object at
all!

There are all sorts of fakers--conscious or otherwise. There is the
futurist, post-impressionist _poseur_ who more than half believes in
his own pose. Possibly two small incidents may indicate what the
genuine Villagers think of him.

There was once a post-impressionist exhibition at the Liberal Club,
and a certain young man who shall be nameless was placed in charge of
it. He was a perfectly sane young man and he knew that many of the
"art specimens" hung on such occasions were flagrant frauds. Sketch
after sketch, study after study, was sent in to him as master of
ceremonies until, in his own words, he became so "fed up with
post-impressionism that he could not stand another daub of the stuff!"
The worm turned eventually, and he vowed to teach those "artists" a
short, sweet lesson. He knew nothing about painting, being a writer by
trade, but he had the run of several studios and could collect paint
as he willed. After fortifying himself with a sufficiency of Dutch
courage, he set up a canvas and painted a picture. It had no subject,
no lines, no scheme, no integral idea. It was just a squareful of
paint--and it held every shade and variety of paint that he could lay
his hands on. He says that he took a wicked satisfaction in smearing
the colours upon that desecrated canvas. His disgust with the futurist
artists who had submitted their works for exhibition was one element
to nerve his arm and fire his resentful spirit--another was the
stimulus he had, in sheer desperation, wooed so recklessly. When the
thing was done it was something for angels and devils alike to tremble
before. It meant nothing, of course, but, like many inscrutable and
unfathomable things, it terrified by its sheer blank, chaotic madness.
He hung it in the exhibition. And it was--yes, it was--the hit of the
occasion. This is not a fairy tale--not even fiction. The story was
told me by the culprit--or was it genius?--himself.

And then people began to talk about it and speculate on what its real,
inner meaning might be. They said it was a "mood picture," a "study in
soul-tones" and a lot more like that. They even asked the guilty man
what he thought of it. When he coldly responded that he thought it
"looked like the devil" they told him that, of course he would say so:
he had no soul for art.

Now, he had signed this horror, but (let me quote him): "I had signed
it in a post-impressionist style, so no one on the earth could read
the name."

After a few days an artist came along who was not wholly obsessed
with the new craze. He studied the thing on the wall, and after a
while he said: "Someone is guying you. That isn't a picture. It's a
joke."

The futurist devotees were indignant, but there were enough who were
stung by faint suspicion to investigate. They studied that signature
upside down and under a microscope. After a while they got the
identity of the man responsible for it, and--we draw a veil over the
rest!

Then there was the man--another one--who, by way of a cheerful
experiment, painted a post-impressionist picture with a billiard cue,
jabbing gaily at the canvas as though trying to make difficult screwed
shots, caroms and so on. Having done his worst in this way, he then
took his picture to a gallery and exhibited it upside down. It
attracted much attention and a fair quota of praise.

Stories such as these might discourage one if one did not keep
remembering that even in far deeper and greater affairs of life, "A
hair perhaps divides the false and true." Who are we to improve on
Omar's wise and tolerant philosophy?

I have less sympathy with the girl who wrote poetry, and even
occasionally sold it, at so much a line. Having sold a poem of
eighteen lines for $9.00 she almost wept because, as she ingenuously
complained, she might just as easily have written twenty lines for
$10.00!

Then there is the fair Villager who intones Walt Whitman to music of
her own composition; that is a bit trying, I grant you. And the male
Villager who frequents spiritualistic seances and communes with dead
poets.

One night Emerson presided. And, after the ghosts had departed, the
spiritualistic Villager read some of his own poems.

"And do you know," he declared, enraptured, "everyone thought it was
still Emerson who was speaking!"

Now for him we may have sympathy. He is perhaps a faker, but I am
inclined to believe that he is that anachronism, a sincere faker. He
is on the level. Like two-thirds of the Village, he is playing his
game with his whole heart and soul, with all that is in him. I am
afraid that it would be hard to say as much for a certain class of
outside-the-Village fakers who, from time to time, drift into the
cheery confines thereof and carry away sacks of shekels--though not,
let us hope, as much as they wanted to get!

Have you ever heard, for instance, of the psychoanalysts? They
diagnose soul troubles as regular doctors diagnose diseases of the
body, and they are in great demand. Some of them are alienists,
healers of sick brains; some of them are just--fakers. They charge
immense prices, and just for the moment the blessed Village--always
passionately hospitable to new cults and theories and visions--is
receiving them cordially, with arms and purses that are both wide
open.

None of us can afford to depreciate the genius nor the judgment of
Freud, but I defy any Freud-alienist to efficiently psychoanalyse the
Village! By the time he were half done with the job he would be a
Villager himself and then--pouf! That for his psychoanalysis!

Have you ever read that most enchanting book of Celtic mysticism,
inconsequent whimsey and profound symbolism--"The Crock of Gold"--by
one James Stevens? The author is not a Villager, and his message is
one which has its root and spring in the signs and wonders of another,
an older and a more intimately wise land than ours. But when I read of
those pure, half-pagan immortals in the dance of the _Sluaige Shee_
(the Fairy Hosts) I could not help thinking that Greenwich Village
might well adopt certain passages as fitting texts and interpretations
of themselves and their own lives--"The lovers of gaiety and peace,
long defrauded."

The Shee, as they dance, sing to the old grey world-dwellers,--or
Stevens says they do, and I for one believe he knows all there is to
know about it ('tis a Leprechaun he has for a friend):

     "Come to us, ye who do not know where ye are--ye who live
     among strangers in the houses of dismay and
     self-righteousness. Poor, awkward ones! How bewildered and
     be-devilled ye go!... In what prisons are ye flung? To what
     lowliness are ye bowed? How are ye ground between the laws
     and the customs? Come away! For the dance has begun lightly,
     the wind is sounding over the hill...."



CHAPTER IX

_And Then More Villagers_

     ... A meeting place for the few who are struggling ever and
     ever for an art that will be truly American. An art that is
     not hidebound by the deadening influences of a decadent
     Europe, or the result of intellectual theories evolved by
     those whose only pleasure in existence is to create laws for
     others to obey ... an art, let us say, that springs out of
     the emotional depths of creative spirit, courageous and
     unafraid of rotting power, or limited scope ... an art whose
     purpose is flaming beauty of creation and nothing
     else.--HAROLD HERSEY, in _The Quill_ (Greenwich
     Village).


Someone said today to the author of this book:

"How can you write about the Village? You don't live here. Live here a
few years and then perhaps you'll have something to say!"

It is by way of answer that the following little tale is quoted; it is
an old tale but, after a fashion, it seems to fit.

Once upon a time an explorer discovered a country and set about to
write a book concerning it. Then the people of the country became
somewhat indignant and asked:

"Why should a stranger, who has scarcely learned his way about in our
land, attempt to describe it? We, who have lived in it and know it,
will write its chronicles ourselves."

So the traveller sat down and shut the book in which he had begun to
write and said:

"Well and good. Do you write about your country, the land you have
lived in so long and know so well, and we will see what we shall see."

So the people of the country--or their scribes, a most gifted
company--began the task of describing that which they knew and loved,
and had lived in and with since birth. And after they were through
they took the fruits of their joint labours to an assemblage of kings
in a far-off place.

And the kings said, after they had read:

"This is beautiful literature, but what is the country like,--that of
which they write?"

So one of their chamberlains, who was a plain soul, said sensibly:

"Your Majesties, there is only one fault to find with the book written
by these people about their country, and that is that they know it too
well to describe it well."

Therefore one of the kings said, "How can that be truth? For what we
are close to we must see more clearly than others who view it from
afar."

So the sensible chamberlain took a certain little object and held it
close to the eyes of one of the kings, and cried, "What is this?"

And the king, blinking and scowling, said after a bit:

"It is a volcano!"

The chamberlain answered, "Wrong; it is an inkstand," and showing it
proved that he spoke truth.

Then he held another thing close before the eyes of another king and
cried again, "What is this?"

And this king, puzzled, said, "I think it is a little piece of cloth."

"Wrong," said the sensible chamberlain. "It is the statue of the
Winged Victory."

And this happened not once but many times until at length the kings
understood. And they made a law that no one should stand too close to
the thing he wished to see clearly. And they added their judgment that
only the visitors to a country could see it as it is.

So the traveller dipped his quill in ink once more and started writing
his book. It is not yet known how successful he was.

Travellers make terrible errors, and yet at times they bring back
fragments of truth that the natives of the land have left unheeded
scattered on the soil of the countryside. Sometimes their fragments
prove to be useless and without value, for there are travellers and
travellers, and some will be as stupid and as blind as the rest are
clever. If this book turns out to be written by one of the stupid
travellers--try to be generous, you Villagers--but then the Village is
always generous!

The studio life of Greenwich is really and truly as primitive, as
picturesque, as poverty-stricken and as gaily adventurous as the
story-tellers say. People really do live in big, quaint, bare rooms
with scarcely enough to buy the necessaries of life; and they are
undoubtedly gay in the doing of it. There is a sort of _camaraderie_
among the "Bohemians" of the world below Fourteenth Street which the
more restricted uptowners find it hard to believe in. It is difficult
for those uptowners to understand a condition of mind which makes it
possible for a number of ambitious young people in a studio building
to go fireless and supperless one day and feast gloriously the next;
to share their rare windfalls without thought of obligation on any
side; to burn candles instead of kerosene in order to dine at
"Polly's"; to borrow each other's last pennies for books or pictures
or drawing materials, knowing that they will all go without butter or
milk for tomorrow's breakfast.

If one is hard up, one expects to be offered a share in someone's good
fortune; if one has had luck oneself, one expects, as a matter of
course, to share it. Such is the code of the studios.

Anabel, for example, is sitting up typing her newest poem at 1
A.M. when a knock comes on the studio door. She opens it to
confront the man who lives on the top floor and whom she has never
met. She hasn't the least idea what his name is. He carries a tea
caddy, a teapot and a teacup.

"Sorry," he explains casually, "but I saw your light, and I thought
you'd let me use your gas stove to make some tea. Mine is out of
commission. Just go ahead with your work, while I fuss about. Maybe
you'd take a cup when it's ready?"

Anabel does, and he retires, cheerfully unconscious of anything
unconventional in the episode.

"Jimmy," calls Louise, the fashion illustrator, from the front door,
one day, "I have to have two dollars to pay my gas bill. Got any?"

"One-sixty," floats down a voice from upstairs.

"Chuck it down, please. I'll be getting some pay tomorrow, and we can
blow it in."

So Jimmy chucks it down. Louise is a nice girl, and would merrily
"chuck" him the same amount if she happened to have it. That's all
there is to it.

There is a great deal of nonsense talked about the wickedness or at
least the impropriety of Greenwich Village--and some of the talk is by
people who ought to know better. The Village is, to be sure, entirely
unconventional and incurably romantic and dramatic in its tastes. It
is appallingly honest, dangerously young in spirit and it is rather
too intense sometimes, keyed up unduly with ambition and emotion and
the eagerness of living. But wicked? Not a bit of it!

And the heavenly, inconsequent, infectious, absurd gaiety of it!

The Lady Who Owns the Parrot (Pollypet is the bird's name) appears in
a new hat; a gorgeous, new hat, with a band of scarlet and green
feathers.

"Whence the more than Oriental splendour?" demands in surprise the
Poet from the Third Floor, who knows that the Lady is not patronising
Fifth Avenue shops at present.

"Pollypet is moulting!" explains the Lady of the Parrot, with a laugh.

Dear, merry, kindly, pitiful life of the studios!--irresponsible,
perhaps, and not of vast economic importance, but so human and so
enchanting; so warm when it is bitter cold, so rich when the larder is
empty, so gay when disappointment and failure are sitting wolf-like at
the door.

A rich woman who loves the Village and often-times goes down there to
buy her gifts rather than get them from the more conservative places
uptown, told me that once when she went to a Village gift-shop to
purchase a number of presents, she found the proprietor away. She was
asked to pick out what she wanted, and make a list. She did. Nobody
even questioned her accuracy. The next time she went she had a friend
with her, who was, I imagine, more or less thrilled by the notion of
approaching the bad, bold city,--she was from out of town. The
shopkeeper was out in the back garden dressed in blue overalls and
shirt, hoeing vigorously.

"Is this the heart of Bohemia?" demanded the astonished provincial.

After their purchases were made and done up, they wanted twine. Don't
forget, please, that this was a shop.

"Twine?" murmured the picturesque proprietor gently. "Of course I
should have some; I must remember to get some twine!"

The sympathies are always ready there, the pennies too, when there are
any! A lame man, a sick woman, a little child, a forlorn dog or
cat,--they have only to go and sit on the steps of one of those
blessed studio buildings, to receive pity, help and cheer. And--ye
gods!--isn't the fact well known! And isn't it taken advantage of,
just! The swift, unreasoning charity of these Bohemians is so well
recognised that it is a regular graft for the unscrupulous.

But they keep right on being cheated right and left; thank heaven,
they will never learn to be wiser!

This difference between the Village view and the conventional
standpoint is very difficult to analyse. It really can only be made
clear by examples. As, for instance:

It is fairly late in the evening. In one of the little tea shops is a
group of girls and men smoking. To them enters a youth, who is hailed
with "How is Dickey's neuralgia?"

The newcomer grins and answers: "Better, I guess. He's had six drinks,
and is now asleep upstairs on Eleanore's couch. He'll be all right
when he wakes up."

They laugh, but quite sympathetically, and the subject is dismissed.

Now, there is a noteworthy point in this trifling episode, though it
may appear a trifle obscure at first. There is, to be sure, nothing
especially interesting or edifying in the fact of a young man's
drinking himself into insensibility to dull a faceache; the thing has
been known before. Neither is it an unheard-of occurrence for a
friendly and charitably inclined woman to grant him harbour room
till he has slept it off. The only striking point about this is that
it is taken so entirely as a matter of course by the Villagers. It no
more astonishes them that Eleanore should give up her couch to a male
acquaintance for an indefinite number of night hours, than that she
should give him a cup of tea. It is entirely the proper, kindly thing
to do; if Eleanore had not done it, she would not be a Villager, and
the Village would have none of her.

[Illustration: MACDOUGAL ALLEY.]

It may be further remarked that, if you should go upstairs to
Eleanore's studio, you would find that she takes the presence on the
couch as calmly as though it were a bundle of laundry. She is in no
sense disconcerted by the occasional snore that wakes the midnight
echoes. She works peacefully on at the black-and-white poster which
she is going to submit tomorrow. She does not resent Dickey at all.
Neither does she watch his slumbers tenderly nor hover over him in the
approved manner. Eleanore is not the least bit sentimental,--few
Villagers are. They are merely romantic and kindly, which are
different and sturdier graces.

Toward morning Dickey will wake and Eleanore will make him black
coffee and send him home. And there will be the end of that.

Conceive such a situation on the outside! Imagine the feminine
flutter of the conventional Julia. Fancy, above all, the hungry gossip
of conventional Julia's conventional friends! But in the Village there
is very little scandal, and practically no slander. They are very slow
to think evil.

And this in spite of their rather ridiculous way of talking. They do,
a number of them, give the uninitiated an impression of moral laxity.
Their phrases, "the free relation," "the rights of sex," "suppressed
desires," "love without bonds," "liberty of the individual" do, when
jumbled up sufficiently, make a composite picture of strange and lurid
aspect. But actually, they are not one atom less moral than any other
group of human beings,--in fact, thanks to their unquestionable ideals
and their habit of fearless thinking, they are, I think, a good bit
more so.

"While I lived in the Village," writes one shrewd man, "I heard of
more impropriety and saw less of it than anywhere I've ever been!"

Here is another glimpse:

The casual visitor to one of the basement "shops" climbs down the
steep steps and pauses at the door to look at the picture. It is
rather early, and only two customers have turned up so far. They are
sitting in deep, comfortable chairs smoking and drinking (as usual,
ginger-ale). One of the proprietors--a charmingly pretty girl--is
sweeping, preparatory to the evening "trade." When her husband comes
in she is going to leave him in charge and go to the Liberal Club for
a dance, so she is exquisitely dressed in a peach-coloured gown, open
of neck and short of sleeve. She is slim and graceful and her
bright-brown hair is cropped in the Village mode. She is the most
attractive maid-of-all-work that the two "customers" have ever seen.
When, pausing in her labours, she offers them her own cigarette case
with the genuine simplicity and grace of a child offering sweetmeats,
their subjugation is complete. Though they are strangers in a strange
land--they have only dropped in to find out an address of a friend who
lives in the Village--they never misunderstand the situation, their
hostess nor the atmosphere for a moment. No one misunderstands the
charming, picturesque _camaraderie_ of the Village--unless they have
been reading Village novelists, that breed held in contempt by Harry
Kemp and all the Greenwichers. Anyone who goes there with an open mind
will carry it away filled with nothing but good things--save sometimes
perhaps a little envy.

And, by the bye, that habit of calling at strange places to locate
people is emphatically a Village custom. Or rather, perhaps, it should
be put the other way: the habit of giving some "shop" or eating place
instead of a regular address is most prevalent among Villagers. A
Villager is seldom in his own quarters unless he has a shop of his
own. But if he really "belongs" he is known to hundreds of other
people, and the enquiring caller will be passed along from one place
to another, until, in time, he will be almost certain to locate his
nomadic friend.

"Billy Robinson? Why, yes, of course, we know him. No, he hasn't been
in tonight. But you try some of the other places that he goes to. He's
very apt to drop in at the 'Klicket' during the evening. Or if he
isn't there try 'The Mad Hatter's,'--'Down the Rabbit Hole' you
know;--or let's see--he'll be sure to show up at the Club some time
before midnight. If you don't find him come back here; maybe he'll
drop in later, or else someone will who has seen him."

Of course, he is found eventually,--usually quite soon, for the
Village is a small place, and a true Village in its neighbourliness
and its readiness to pass a message along.

Really, there is nothing quainter about it than this intimate and
casual quality, such as is known in genuine, small country towns.
Fancy a part of New York City--Gotham, the cold, the selfish, the
unneighbourly, the indifferent--in which everyone knows everyone else
and takes a personal interest in them too; where distances are slight
and pleasant, where young men in loose shirts with rolled-up sleeves,
or girls hatless and in working smocks stroll across Sixth Avenue from
one square to another with as little self-consciousness as though they
were meandering down Main Street to a game of tennis or the village
store! Sixth Avenue, indeed, has come to mean nothing more to them
than a rustic bridge or a barbed-wire fence,--something to be gotten
over speedily and forgotten. They even, by some alchemy of view point,
seem to give it a rural air from Jefferson Market down to Fourth
Street--these cool-looking, hatless young people who make their
leisurely way down Washington Place or along Fourth Street. People
pass them,--people in hats, coats and carrying bundles; but the
Villagers do not notice them. They do not even look at them pityingly;
they do not look at them at all. Your true Green-Village denizen does
not like to look at unattractive objects if he can possibly avoid it.

Of course, they do make use of Sixth Avenue occasionally, on their
rare trips uptown. But it is in the same spirit that a country dweller
would take the railway in order to get into the city on necessary
business. As a matter of fact there is no corner of New York more
conveniently situated for transportation than this particular section
of Greenwich. I came across a picturesque real estate advertisement
the other day:

     "If you ever decide to kill your barber and fly the country,
     commit the crime at the corner of Eighth Street and Sixth
     Avenue. There is probably no other place in the world that
     offers as many avenues of flight."

But nothing short of dire necessity ever takes a Villager uptown. He,
or she, may go downtown but not up. Uptown nearly always means
something distasteful and boring to the Village; they see to it that
they have as few occasions for going there as possible.

Anyway, uptown, for them, ends very far downtown! The fifties,
forties, thirties, even the twenties, are to them the veritable
wilderness, the variously repugnant sections of relatively outer
darkness.

Do you remember Colonel Turnbull who had so much trouble in selling
his house at Eighth Street because it was so far out of town? Here is
a modern and quite surprisingly neat analogy:

Two Village women of my acquaintance met the other day. Said one
tragically: "My dear, isn't it awful? We've had to move uptown! Since
the baby came, we need a larger house, but it almost breaks my heart!"

"I should think so!" gasped the second woman in consternation. "You've
always been such regular Villagers. What shall we do without you? It's
terrible! Where are you moving to, dear?"

"--West Eleventh Street!" sobbed the sad, prospective exile.

There are Villagers who while scarcely celebrities are characters so
well known, locally, as to stand out in bizarre relief even against
that variegated background of personalities. There is Doris, the
dancer, slim, strange, agile, with a genius for the centre of the
Bohemian stage, an expert, exotic style of dancing, and a singular and
touching passion for her only child. At the Greenwich masquerades she
used to shine resplendent, her beautiful, lithe body glorious with
stage-jewels, and not much else; for the time being she has flitted
away, but some day she will surely return like a darkly brilliant
butterfly, and the Village will again thrill to her dancing. There is
Hyppolite, the anarchist, dark and fervid; there is "Bobby" Edwards,
the Village troubadour, with his self-made and self-decorated
_ukelele_, and his cat, Dirty Joe; there is Charlie-immortal
barber!--whose trade is plied in sublime accordance with Village
standards, and whose "ad" runs as follows:

     "The only barber shop in the Village where work is done
     conforming to its ideals.... Four barbers in attendance
     supervised by the popular boy-proprietor--CHARLIE."

There is Peggy, the artist's model, who has posed for almost every
artist of note, and who is as pretty as a pink carnation.

There is Tiny Tim--of immense proportions--who keeps the Tiny Tim
Candy Shop; an impressive person who carries trays of candy about the
Village, and who swears that he has sweets to match your every mood.

"If they don't express your character, I'll take them back!" he
declares. Though how he could take them back.... However, in the
Village you need not be too exact. There is "Ted" Peck's Treasure Box.
Here all manner of charming things are sold; and here Florence Beales
exhibits her most exquisite studies in photography.

There is the strong-minded young woman, who is always starting clubs;
there is the Osage Indian who speaks eight languages and draws like a
god; there are a hundred and one familiar spirits of the Village,
eccentric, inasmuch as they are unlike the rest of the world, but oh,
believe me, a goodly company to have as neighbours.

People have three mouthpieces, three vehicles of expression, besides
their own lips. We are not talking now about that self-expression
which is to be found in individual act or word in any form. We are
speaking in a more practical and also a more social sense. In this
sense we may cite three distinct ways in which a community may become
articulate: through its press; through its clubs or associations;
through its entertainments and social life. Greenwich has a number of
magazines, an even larger number of clubs and an unconscionable number
of ways of entertaining itself--from theatrical companies to balls!

Of course the best known of the Greenwich magazines is _The Masses_,
owned by Max Eastman and edited by Floyd Dell. It has, in a sense,
grown beyond the Village, inasmuch as it now circulates all over the
country, wherever socialistic or anarchistic tendencies are to be
found. But its inception was in Greenwich Village, and in its infant
days it strongly reflected the radical, young, insurgent spirit which
was just beginning to ferment in the world below Fourteenth Street. In
those days it was poor and struggling too (as is altogether fitting
in a Village paper) and lost nothing in freshness and spontaneity and
vigour from that fact.

"You might tell," said Floyd Dell, with a twinkle, "of the days when
_The Masses_ was in Greenwich Avenue, and the editor, the business
manager and the stenographer played ball in the street all day long!"

It is, perhaps, symbolic that _The Masses_ in moving uptown stopped at
Fourteenth Street, the traditional and permanent boundary line. There
it may reach out and touch the great world, yet still remain part of
the Village where it was born.

Here is one man's views of the Liberal Club. I am half afraid to quote
them, they sound so heretical, but I wish to emphasise the fact that
they are quoted. They might be the snapping of the fox at the sour
grapes for all I know! Though this particular man seemed calm and
dispassionate. "The Liberal Club Board," he said, "is a purely
autocratic institution. It is collectively a trained poodle, though
composed of nine members. The procedure is to make a few long
speeches, praise the club, and re-elect the Board. Perfectly simple.
But--did you say _Liberal_ Club?" He used to sit on the Board himself,
too!

A visiting Scotch socialist proclaimed it, without passion, a "hell of
a place," and some of its most striking anarchistic leaders, "vera
interestin' but terrible damn fools"! But he was, doubtless, an
eccentric though an experienced and dyed-in-the-wool socialist who had
lectured over half the globe. It is recorded of him that once when a
certain young and energetic Village editor had been holding forth
uninterruptedly and dramatically for an hour on the rights of the
working-man, etc., etc., the visiting socialist, who had been watching
his fervent gesticulations with absorbed attention, suddenly leaned
forward and seized the lapel of his coat.

"Mon!" he exclaimed earnesly, "do ye play tennis?"

Just what is the Liberal Club?

You may have contradictory answers commensurate with the number of
members you interrogate. One will tell you that it is a fake; one that
it is the only vehicle of free speech; Arthur Moss says it is "the
most _il_-liberal club in the world"! Floyd Dell says it is
paramountly a medium for entertainment, and that it is "not so much a
clearing house of new ideas as of new people"!

The Liberal Club goes up, and the Liberal Club goes down. It has its
good seasons and its bad, its fluctuations as to standards and
favour, its share in the curious and inevitable tides that swing all
associations back and forth like pendulums.

There is a real passion for dancing in the Village, and it is
beautiful dancing that shows practice and a natural sense of rhythm.
The music may be only from a victrola or a piano in need of tuning,
but the spirit is, most surely, the vital spirit of the dance. At the
Liberal Club everyone dances. After you have passed through the lounge
room--the conventional outpost of the club, with desks and tables and
chairs and prints and so on--you find yourself in a corridor with long
seats, and windows opening on to Nora Van Leuwen's big, bare,
picturesque Dutch Oven downstairs. On the other side of the corridor
is the dance room--also the latest exhibition. Some of the pictures
are very queer indeed. The last lot I saw were compositions in deadly
tones of magenta and purple. The artist was a tall young man, the son
of a famous illustrator. He strolled in quite tranquilly for a
dance,--with those things of his in full view! All the courage is not
on battlefields.

Said a girl, who, Village-like, would not perjure her soul to be
polite:

"Why so much magenta?"

And said he quite sweetly:

"Why not? I can paint people green if I like, can't I?"

With which he glided imperturbably off in a fox trot with a girl in an
"art sweater."

Harry Kemp says: "They make us sick with their scurrilous, ignorant
stories of the Village. Pose? Sure!--it's two-thirds pose. But the
rest is beautiful. And even the pose is beautiful in its way. Life is
rotten and beautiful both at once. So is the Village. The Village is
big in idea and it's growing. They talk of its being a dead letter.
It's just beginning. First it--the Village, as it is now--was really a
sort of off-shoot of London and Paris. Now it's itself and I tell you
it's beautiful, and more remarkable than people know.

"Uptowners, outsiders, come in here and insist on getting in; and, fed
on the sort of false stuff that goes out through 'novelists' and
'reporters,' think that anything will go in the Liberal Club! They
come here and insult the women members, and we all end up in a free
fight every week or so. All the fault of the writers who got us wrong
in the first place, and handed on the wrong impression to the
world...."

The studio quarters of the Village are located in various places--the
South Side of Washington Square, the little lost courts and streets
and corners everywhere, and--Macdougal Alley, Washington Mews, and
the new, rather stately structures on Eighth Street, which are almost
too grand for real artists and yet which have attracted more than a
few nevertheless. I suppose that the Alley,--jutting off from the
famous street named for Alexander Macdougal,--is the best known.

I remember that once, some years ago, I was hurrying, by a short cut,
from Eighth Street to Waverly Place, and saw something which made me
stop short in amazement. As unexpectedly as though it had suddenly
sprung there, I beheld a little street running at right angles from
me, parallel with Eighth, but ending, like a _cul de sac_, in houses
like those with which it was edged. It was a quaint and
foreign-looking little street and seemed entirely out of place in New
York,--and especially out of place plunged like that into the middle
of a block.

But that was not the oddest part of it. In that street stood talking a
girl in gorgeous Spanish dress and a man in Moorish costume. The warm
reds and greens and russets of their garments made an unbelievable
patch of colour in the grey March day. And this in New York!

A friendly truck driver, feeding his horses, saw my bewilderment, and
laughed.

[Illustration: A GREENWICH STUDIO. Choosing models.]

"That's Macdougal's Alley," he volunteered.

That meant nothing to me then.

"What is it?" I demanded, devoured by curiosity; "the stage door of a
theatre,--or what?"

He laughed again.

"It is just Macdougal's Alley!" he repeated, as though that explained
everything.

So it did, when I came to find out about it.

The Alley and Washington Mews are probably the most famous artist
quarters in the city, and some of our biggest painters and sculptors
once had studios in one or the other,--those, that is, that haven't
them still. Of course the picturesquely attired individuals I had
caught sight of were models--taking the air, or snatching a moment for
flirtation. Naturally they would not have appeared in costume in any
other street in New York, but this, you see, was Macdougal Alley, and
as my friend, the truck driver, seemed to think, that explains
everything!

As for the Mews, they are fixing it up in great shape; and as for
those Eighth-Street studios, they are too beautiful for words. You
look out on Italian gardens, and you know that you are nowhere near
New York, with its prose and drudgery. If for a moment it seems all a
bit too perfect for the haphazard, inspirational loveliness of the
Village, you will surely have an arresting instinct which will tell
you that it is just consummating a Village dream; it is just making
what every Villager lives to make come true: perfect artistic beauty.

As we have seen, dancing is a real passion in the Village. So we can
scarcely leave it without touching on the "Village dances" which have
been so striking a feature of recent times and have proved so useful
and so fruitful to the tired Sunday-supplement newspaperman. There are
various sorts, from the regular pageants staged by the Liberal Club
and the Kit Kat, to those of more modest pretensions given by
individual Villagers or groups of Villagers.

The _Quatres Arts_ balls of Paris doubtless formed the basis for these
affairs; indeed, a description given me years ago by William Dodge,
the artist, might almost serve as the story of one of these Village
balls today. And Doris, who, I believe, appeared on one occasion as
"Aphrodite,"--in appropriate "costume"--recalls the celebrated model
Sara Brown who electrified Paris by her impersonation of "Cleopatra"
at a _"Quatz 'Arts"_ gathering,--somewhat similarly arrayed,--or
should we say decorated?

The costumes,--many of them at least,--are largely--paint! This is not
nearly as improper as it sounds. Splashes of clever red and subtle
purple will quite creditably take the place of more cumberous and
expensive dressing,--or at least will pleasantly eke it out. Colour
has long been recognised as a perfectly good substitute for cloth.
Have you forgotten the small boy's abstract of the first history
book--" ... The early Britons wore animals' skins in winter, and in
summer they painted themselves blue." I am convinced that wode was the
forerunner of the dress of the Village ball!

The Kit Kat, an artists' association, is remarkable for one curious
custom. Its managing board is a profound mystery. No one knows who is
responsible for the invitations sent out, so there can be no jealousy
nor rancour if people don't get asked. If an invited guest chooses to
bring a friend he may, but he is solely responsible for that friend
and if his charge proves undesirable he will be held accountable and
will thereafter be quietly dropped from the guest list of subsequent
balls. And still he will never know who has done it! Hence, the Kit
Kat is a most formidable institution, and invitations from its
mysterious "Board" are hungrily longed for!

Every season there are other balls, too; among the last was the "Apes
and Ivory" affair, a study in black and white, as may be gathered;
then there was the "Rogue's Funeral" ball. This was to commemorate the
demise of a certain little magazine called the _Rogue_, whose
career was short and unsuccessful. They kept the funeral atmosphere
so far as to hire a hearse for the transportation of some of the
guests, _but_--

"We put the first three letters of funeral in capitals," says one of
the participants casually.

The proper thing, when festivities are over, is to go to
breakfast,--at "Polly's," the Village Kitchen or the Dutch Oven,
perhaps. Of course, nothing on earth but the resiliency, the electric
vitality of youth, could stand this sort of thing; but then, the
Village is young; it is preeminently the land of youth, and the wine
of life is still fresh and strong enough in its veins to come
buoyantly through what seems to an older consciousness a good bit more
like an ordeal than an amusement!

And yet--and yet--somehow I cannot think that these balls and pageants
and breakfasts are truly typical of the real Village--I mean the
newest and the best Village--the Village which, like the Fairy Host,
sings to the sojourners of the grey world to come and join them in
their dance, with "the wind sounding over the hill." My Village is
something fresher and gayer and more child-like than that. There is in
it nothing of decadence.

But, as John Reed says--

       _"... There's anaemia
           Ev'n in Bohemia,
    That there's not more of it--_ there _is the miracle!"_

For still the Village is, or has been, inarticulate. Individually it
has found speech--it has expressed itself in diverse and successful
forms. But there remains a void of voices! A community must strongly
utter something, and must find mouths and mouthpieces for the purpose.
It was hard to find, hard to locate, hard to vocalise, this message of
the Village; eventually it came up from the depths and pitched its
tone bravely and sweetly, so that men might hear and understand.

The need was for something concrete and yet varied, which could cry
out alone,--a delicious voice in the wilderness, if you like! There
have been play-acting companies, "The Washington Square Players," "The
Provincetown Players," and others. But something was still wanting.

Sometimes it strikes us that wonderful things happen haphazard like
meteors and miracles. But I believe if we could take the time to
investigate, we would find that most of these miraculous and glorious
oaks grow out of a quiet commonplace acorn.

Richard Wagner once held an idea--perhaps it would better be termed an
ideal--concerning art expression. He declared (you may read it in
"_Oper und Drama_" unless you are too war-sided) that all the art
forms belonged together: that no one branch of the perfect art form
could live apart from its fellows, that is, in its integral parts. He
contended (and enforced in Bayreuth) that all the arts were akin: that
the brains which created music, drama, colour effects, plastic
sculptural effects--anything and everything that belonged to artistic
expression--were, or should be, welded into one supreme artistic
expression. He believed this implicitly, and like other persons who
believe well enough, he "got away with it." In Bayreuth, he
established for all time a form of synthetic art which has never been
rivalled.

Now Wagner has very little apparently to do with Greenwich Village.
And yet this big world-notion is gaining way there. They are
finding--as anyone must have known they would find--a new mood
expression, a new voice. And, wise, not in their generation, but in
all the generations, the Village has seized on this new vehicle with
characteristic energy.

The new Greenwich Village Theatre which Mrs. Sam Lewis is
godmothering, is--unless many sensible and farseeing persons are much
mistaken--going to be the new Voice of the Village. It is going to
express what the Villagers themselves are working for, day and night:
beauty, truth, liberty, novelty, drama. It is going, in its theatrical
form, to fill the need for something concrete and yet various,
something involving all, yet evolved from all; something which shall
somehow unite all the scattered rainbow filaments of Our Village into
a lovely texture with a design that even a Philistine world can
understand.

"Young, new American playwrights first," says Mrs. Lewis. "After that
as many great plays of all kinds as we can find. But we want to open
the channel for expression. We want to give the Village a voice."

And when she says the Village she does not mean just the section
technically known as Greenwich. She means--I take it--that greater
neighbourhood of the world, which is fervently concerned in the new
and thrilling and wonderful and untrammelled things of life. They have
no place to sing, out in the every-day world, but in the Village they
are going to be heard.

And I think the new Greenwich Village Theatre is going to be one of
their most resonant mouthpieces!



A LAST WORD


And after all this,--what of the Village? Just what is it?

"In my experience," said the writing man of sententious sayings,
"there have been a dozen 'villages.' The Village changes are like the
waves of the sea!"

Interrogated further, he mentioned various phases which Greenwich had
known. The studio-and-poverty Bohemian epoch, the labour and anarchy era,
the futurist fad, the "free love" cult, the Bohemian-and-masquerade-ball
period, the psychoanalysis craze; the tea-shop epidemic, the
arts-and-crafts obsession, the play-acting mania; and other violent and
more or less transient enthusiasms which had possessed the Village during
the years he had lived there. Not wholly transient, he admitted.
Something of each and all of them had remained--had stuck--as he
expressed it. The Village assimilates ideas with miraculous speed; it
gobbles them up, gets strong and well on the diet, and asks for more. It
is so eager for novelty and new ideals and new view-points that if
nothing entirely virgin comes along, it will take something quite old,
and give it a new twist and adopt it with Village-like ardour.

Oh, you mustn't laugh at the Village, you wise uptowners,--or if you
laugh it must be very, very gently and kindly, as you laugh at
children; and rather reverently, too, in the knowledge that in lots of
essentials the children know ever so much more than you do!

It is true that changes do come over the Village like the waves of the
sea, even as my friend said. But they are colourful waves, prismatic
waves, fresh, invigourating and energetic waves, carrying on their
crests iridescent seaweed and glittering shells and now and then a
pearl. The Village has its treasure, have no doubt of that; never a
phase touches it but leaves it the richer for the contact.

You, too, going down into this port o' dreams will win something of
the wealth that is of the heart and soul and mind. You will come away
with the sense of wider horizons and deeper penetrations than you knew
before. You will find novel colours in the work-a-day world and a sort
of quaint music in the song of the city. Some of the glowing reds and
greens and purples that you saw those grown-up children in the Village
joyously splashing on their wooden toys or the walls of their absurd
and charming "shops" will somehow get into the grey fabric of your
life; and a certain eager urging undertone of idealism and hope and
sturdy aspiration will make you restless as you follow your common
round. Perhaps you will go back. Perhaps you will keep it as a rainbow
memory, a visualisation of the make-believe country where anything is
possible. But in any case you will not forget.

Many a place gets into your mind and creates nostalgia when you are
far from it. But Greenwich Village gets into your heart, and you will
never be quite able to lose the magic of it all the days of your life.


THE END





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