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Elsie Venner, 509.

Race, The Laws of, 252. Emerson's Conduct of Life, 254.

Ramsay's Reminiscences of Scottish Life and

Character, 638. Harrington, 383.

Roumanille, Lis Oubreto de, 372. Jasmin, Papillôtos de, 372.

Slavery, The Laws of Race as connected with,

252. Latham's Descriptive Ethnology, 506.

Squier's Collection of Rare and Original Doc

uments and Relations concerning the DisMiss Gilbert's Career, 125.

covery and Conquest of America, 122. Mistral, Mirèio, 372. Motley's History of the United Netherlands, Tamburini, G., Il Comento Latino di Benve877.

nuto Rambaldi da Imola sulla Divina Com

media voltato in Italiano da, 629. „Palacio, Don Diego Garcia de, Carta dirigida Terry, Rose, Poems by, 382.

al Rey de España, 122. Panlatinisme, Le, 123.

Veyre, Lés Piaoulats d'un Respetit, 372.
Parton's Life of Andrew Jackson, 381.
Pierre le Grand, Testament de, 123.

Waiz, Anthropologie der Naturvölker, 506.
Politecnico, II, 608.
Prior's Ancient Danish Ballads, 124.

RECENT AMERICAN PUBLICATIONS, 127, 255, Pulpit of the American Revolution, The, 638. 384, 512, 640, 764.

THE

ATLANTIC MONTHLY.

A MAGAZINE OF LITERATURE, ART, AND POLITICS.

VOL. VII. - JANUARY, 1861.-NO. XXXIX.

WASHINGTON CITY.

WASHINGTON is the paradise of para- as to the phrenological bump of locality. doxes, - a city of magnificent distances, Depending upon the hap-hazard start the bat of still more magnificent discrepancies. ignoramus may chance to make, any parAnything may be affirmed of it, every- ticular house or street is either nearer at thing denied. What it seems to be it is hand or farther off than the ordinary hunot; and although it is getting to be what man mind finds it agreeable to believe. it never was, it must always remain what The first duty of the new-comer is to it now is. It might be called a city, if it teach his nether extremities to avoid inwere not alternately populous and unin- stinctively the hypothenuse of the streethabited ; and it would be a wide-spread triangulation, and the last lesson the resvillage, if it were not a collection of hos- ident fails to learn is which of the shortpitals for decayed or callow politicians. cuts from point to point is the least It is the hybernating-place of fashion, of lengthy. Beyond a doubt, the corners intelligence, of vice, — a resort without of the streets were constructed upon a the attractions of waters either mineral cold and brutal calculation of the greator salt, where there is no bathing and no est possible amount of oral sin which dissprings, but drinking in abundance and appointed haste and irritated anxiety gambling in any quantity. Defenceless, are capable of committing; nor is any as regards walls, redoubts, moats, or oth- relief to the tendency to profanity thus er fortifications, it is nevertheless the Se- engendered afforded by the inexcusable vastopol of the Republic, against which nomenclature of the streets and avenues, the allied army of Contractors and Claim- — a nomenclature in which the resources Agents incessantly lay siege. It is a great, of the alphabet, the arithmetic, the names little, splendid, mean, extravagant, pov- of all the States of the Union, and the erty-stricken barrack for soldiers of for- Presidents as well, are exhausted with the tune and votaries of folly.

most unsystematic profligacy. A man Scattered helter-skelter over an im- not gifted with supernatural acuteness, mense surface, cut up into scalene tri- in striving to get from Brown's Hotel to angles, the oddity of its plan makes the General Post - Office, turns a corner Washington a succession of surprises and suddenly finds himself nowhere, simwhich never fail to vex and astonish the ply because he is everywhere, -- being stranger, be he ever so highly endowed at the instant upon three separate streets VOL. VII.

1

and two distinct avenues. And, as a fur- kind by conquering at Ostend even less ther consequence of the scalene arrange

than he has lost at the Executive Manment of things, it happens that the stran- sion. ger in Washington, however civic bis In truth, the list of Washington anombirth and education may have been, is alies is so extensive and so various, that always unconsciously performing those no writer with a proper regard for his military evolutions styled marching to the own reputation or his readers' credulity right or left oblique, - acquiring there would dare enumerate them one by one. by, it is said, that obliquity of the moral Without material injury to the common vision which sooner or later afflicts ev- understanding, a few may be mentioned; ery human being who inhabits this strange, but respect for public opinion would urge lop-sided city-village.

that the enormous whole be summed up So queer, indeed, is Washington City in the comparatively safe and respectful in every aspect, that one newly impress- assertion, that the one only absolutely ed by its incongruities is compelled to certain thing in Washington is the abregard Swift's description of Lilliputia sence of everything that is at all permaand Sydney Smith's account of Australia nent. The following are some of the as poor attempts at fun. For, leaving more obnoxious astonishments of the out of view the pigmies of the former place. place, whose like we know is never found Traversing a rocky prairie infested in Congress, what is there in that Austra- with hacks, you arrive late in the afterlian bird with the voice of a jackass to noon at a curbed boundary, too fatigued excite the feeblest interest in the mind in body and too suffocated with dust to reof a man who has listened to the debates sent the insult to your common-sense imon Kansas? or what marvel is an am- plied in the announcement that you have phibion with the bill of a duck to him who merely crossed what is called an Avenue. has gazed aghast at the intricate anato- Recovered from your fatigue, you ascend my of the bill of English? It is true the steps of a marble palace, and enter that the ignorant Antipodes, with a total but to find it garrisoned by shabby regidisregard of all theories of projectiles, ments armed with quills and steel pens. throw their boomerangs behind their The cells they inbabit are gloomy as dunbacks in order to kill an animal that geons, but furnished like parlors. Their stands or runs before their faces, or skim business is to keep everybody's accounts them along the ground when they would but their own. They are of all ages, but destroy an object flying overhead. And of a uniformly dejected aspect. Do not these feats seem curious. But an accom- underrate their value. Mr. Bulwer has plished “ Constitutional Adviser" can per- said, that, in the hands of men entirely form feats far more surprising with a few great, the pen is mightier than the sword. lumps of coal or a number of ships-knees, Suffer yourself to be astonished at their which are but boomerangs of a larger numbers, but permit yourself to withdraw growth. Another has invented the dead from their vicinity without questioning liest of political missiles, (in their recoil,) too closely their present utility or fushaped like mules and dismantled forts, ture destination. No personal affront to while a third has demolished the Treasu- the public or the nineteenth century is ry with a simple miscalculation. Still intended by the superfluity of their num- . more astonishing are the performances bers or the inadequacy of their capacities. of an eminent functionary who encour- Their rapid increase is attributable not ages polygamy by intimidation, purchases to any incestuous breeding in-and-in redress for national insult by intercept- among themselves, but to a violent seing his armies and fleets with an apology duction of the President and the Heads in the mouth of a Commissioner, and el- of Department by importunate Congressevates the Republic in the eyes of man- men ; and you may rest assured that this

criminal multiplication fills nobody with ton. Content yourself, after a reasonable . half so much righteous indignation and delay for natural wonderment, to leave virtuous sorrow as the clerks themselves. the strange scene. This shipping-like

Emerging from the palace of quill- aspect of the incomplete Departments is drivers, a new surprise awaits you. The only a nice architectural tribute to the palace is surmounted by what appear to fact that the population of Washington is be gigantic masts and booms, economi- a floating population. This you will not cally, but strongly rigged, and without be long in finding out. The oldest inany sails. In the distance, you see other habitants are here to-day and gone topalaces rigged in the same manner. The morrow, as punctually, if not as poetically, effect of this spectacle is painful in the as the Arabs of Mr. Longfellow. A few extreme. Standing dry-shod as the Is- remain, - parasitic growths, clinging teraelites were while crossing the Red Sea, naciously to the old haunts. Like tartar you nevertheless seem to be in the midst on the teeth, they are proof against the of a small fleet of unaccountable sloops hardest rubs of the tooth - brush of Forof the Saurian period. You question tune. whether these are not the fabulous “ Ships As with the people, so with the houses. of State" so often mentioned in the ele. Though they retain their positions, selgant oratory of your country. You ob- dom abandoning the ground on which serve that these ships are anchored in an they were originally built, they change ocean of pavement, and your no longer almost hourly their appearance and their trustworthy eyes search vainly for their uses, - insomuch that the very solids of helms. The nearest approach to a rudder the city seem fluid, and even the stables is a chimney or an unfinished pillar; the are mutable, – the horse-house of last closest resemblance to a pilot is a hod- week being an office for the sale of patcarrying workman clambering up a gang- ents, or periodicals, or lottery-tickets, this way. Dismissing the nautical hypothesis, week, with every probability of becoming your next effort to relieve your perplex- an oyster-cellar, a billiard-saloon, a cigarity results in the conjecture that the pro- store, a barber's shop, a bar-room, or a digious masts and booms may be noth- faro-bank, next week. And here is aning more than curious gibbets, the cross- other astonishment. You will observe pieces to which, conforming rigidly to that the palatial museums for the temthe Washington rule of contrariety, are porary preservation of fossil or fungous fastened to the bottom instead of the top pennen join walls, virtually, with habof the upright. Your theory is, that the itations whose architecture would reflect destinies of the nation are to be hanged no credit on the most curious hamlet in on these monstrous gibbets, and you won- tide-water Virginia. To your amazeder whether the laws of gravitation will ment, you learn that all these houses, be complaisant enough to turn upside thousands in number, are boarding-housdown for the accommodation of the hang- es. Of course, where everybody is a man, whoever he may be. It is not with- stranger, nobody keeps house. It would out pain that you are forced at last to be pardonable to suppose, that, out of so the commonplace belief that these re- many boarding houses, some would be in markable mountings of the Public Build- reality what they are in name. Nothing ings are neither masts nor booms, but can be farther from the fact. These simply derricks, — mechanical contrivan- houses contain apartments more or less ces for the lifting of very heavy weights. cheerless and badly furnished, according It is some consolation, however, to be to the price (always exorbitant, however told that the weakness of these derricks small it may be) demanded for them, and has never been proved by the endeavor are devoted exclusively to the storage to elevate by means of them the moral of empty bottles and demijohns, to large character of the inhabitants of Washing- boxes of vegetable- and flower-seeds, to great piles of books, speeches, and docu- ens you, and prevents you from running ments not yet directed to people who into them and knocking them down. For will never read them, and to an abomi- these people, it is believed, a table is set nable odor of boiling cabbages. This odor in the houses where the boarders proper steals in from a number of pitch-dark flatter their acquaintances that they sleep. tunnels and shafts, misnamed passages It must be so, for the entire male popuand staircases, in which there are more lation is constantly eating in the oysterbooks, documents, and speeches, other cellars. Indeed, if ocular evidence may boxes of seeds, and a still stronger odor be relied on, the best energies of the meof cabbages. The piles of books are traps tropolis are given to the incessant conset here for the benefit of the setters of sumption of “half a dozen raw,” or “ four broken legs and the patchers of skinless fried and a glass of ale.” The bar-rooms shins, and the noisome odors are propa- and eating-houses are always full or in gated for the advantage of gentlemen the act of becoming full. By a fatality who treat diseases of the larynx and so unerring that it has ceased to be wonlungs.

derful, it happens that you can never enIt would appear, then, that the so-call- ter a Washington restaurant and find it ed boarding-houses are, in point of fact, partially empty, without being instantly private gift-book stores, or rather, com- followed by a dozen or two of bipeds mission-houses for the receiving and for- as hungry and thirsty as yourself, who warding of a profusion of undesirable crowd up to the bar and destroy half the documents and vegetations. You may comfort you derive from your lunch or view them also in the light of establish your toddy. ments for the manufacture and distribu- But, although everybody is forever eattion of domestic perfumery, payment for ing oysters and drinking ale in myriads which is never exacted at the moment of of subterranean holes and corners, noits involuntary purchase, but is left to be body fails to eat at other places more surcollected by a doctor, who calls upon prising and original than any you have you during the winter, levies on you with

yet seen.

In all other cities, people eat a lancet, and distrains upon your viscera at home or at a hotel or an eating-house; with a compound cathartic pill.

in Washington they eat at bank. But It is claimed, that, in addition to the they do not eat money,- at least, not in victims who pay egregious rents for board- the form of bullion, or specie, or notes. ing-house beds in order that they may have These Washington banks, unlike those a place to store their documents and demi- of London, Paris, and New York, are johns, there are other permanent occu- open mainly at night and all night long, pants of these houses. As, for example, are situated invariably in the second stoIrish chambermaids, who subtract a few ry, guarded as jealously as any seraglio, moments from the morning half-hour giv- and admit nobody but strangers, - that is en to drinking the remnants of your whis- to say, everybody in Washington. This key, and devote them to cleaning up your is singular. Still more singular is the room. Also a very strange being, pecu- fact, that the best food, served in the liar to Washington boarding houses, who most exquisite manner, and (with someis never visible at any time, and is on- times a slight variation) the choicest ly heard stumbling up-stairs about four wines and cigars, may be had at these o'clock in the morning. Also beldames banks free of cost, except to those who of incalculable antiquity, - a regular al- choose voluntarily to remunerate the lowance of one to each boarding-house,– banker by purchasing a commodity as who flit noiselessly' and unceasingly about costly and almost as worthless as the arthe passages and up and down the stair- ticles sold at ladies' fairs, - upon which ways, admonishing you of their presence principle, indeed, the Washington banks by a ghostly sniffle, which always fright- are conducted. The commodity alluded

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