Here to return to
SCENES AND INCIDENTS.
IF the historian felt no responsibility, and could, without injustice, omit any mention of bad deeds, and record only the just and noble actions of men, his task would be an enviable one. Such opportunities do sometimes occur, as the lives of the most eminent historians prove; and happy indeed were they to shun the evil, and court the good. But even then there could be no such satisfaction as there is in recording “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth,” and yet having little or nothing of wrong or dishonor to say with regard to the people or time about which they write. Thankful are we that the latter task is ours in this chapter, and that there appears no crime to mar its pages, no gross wrong to be condemned.
These incidents are given to the public as we heard them, and after careful investigation that few or none of them were rumors, gossip, or idle tales. In them human nature has shown itself worthy of itself, and the actors an honor to their city.
An act of youthful heroism was performed by a little boy, which deserves a leading place in history. He was the attendant of an old blind man, and was often seen, before the fire, guiding him along Broad Street; the old man having his hand on the boy’s shoulder. It appears that this blind man and his guide lived in a tenement-house just back of Pearl Street, in the Fort-hill district; and when the flames came through the block, from Pearl Street to the tenements, the man and boy were still in their room, or else had gone into the place for some purpose, .and stopped at the landing of the stairs in the second story. All the other people had long before abandoned the block; and it was thought that all were safely out.
The flames were already curling about the window-sash over the door; and occasional puffs of dark smoke came out the doorway. The writer was standing near by at the time, and was called upon to assist in removing a heavy piece of furniture, which had been thrown from the window; but, before he had reached the spot, the fire flashed out of the window, and glared with such heat, that all turned and fled. Just then there came a cry, “There’s a boy in that house! “and immediately several men rushed toward the now smoke-hid doorway, followed by the writer. It was a dangerous undertaking to enter that hall-way in the face of such smoke and such sweltering heat. But the sound of a child’s voice gave nerve, and the desire to save overcame the fear of death; and into that Stygian cloud they rushed, and with a single leap cleared the banisters, and mounted the stairs. Just then, the expanding air burst out the window near the landing of the stairway; and, for an instant, the smoke gave way to the fresh breeze that entered by this new channel. ‘What a sight! Not all the tales of heroes, martyrs, and adventures, we had read or heard, contained a parallel to this. In an open doorway which led into a room already filled with fire, in which it was not possible for a human being to live for a single minute, stood the old blind man, with his hands before his face, attempting to enter that fiery furnace, evidently believing that by that room lay his way into the street. But the little boy stood behind him, with one foot against the casing of the door, and tugged away at the old man’s coat, endeavoring with all his power to pull the blind man back toward the stairway. The little bare-headed, ragged fellow was crying most bitterly, and exclaiming, “Oh, do, do come out! This is the way! Oh, do come out!” But the bewildered dweller in darkness tried not to heed the little hero’s entreaties, and had already taken a step into the blazing apartment when he was seized and borne down the stairway amidst a dense volume of smoke and little spirts of the encroaching fires. Hardly had man and boy been placed in the street before the roof of the adjoining building fell in, crushing the walls, and demolishing the stairway by which they had just escaped. Bystanders gazed upon them as upon persons for whom God had directly interfered; while the boy seized the old man’s hand, and led him down Oliver Street, saying reproachfully, and with tearful eyes, “You orter come with me when I pull you so.”
During Sunday night, the escaping gas from broken pipes penetrated the sewers throughout the neighborhood of the burnt district, particularly at the corner of Washington and Summer Streets: and, notwithstanding the supply had been partially cut off, at an early hour the sewers were full, and by twelve o’clock explosions became quite frequent; and it was decided to cut off the supply entirely.
Consequently, on Monday night, for the only time since the gas-works were established in 1828, our city was left in darkness, which was only lighted by a resort to oil-lamps or candles, principally the latter.
The scene in the dining-saloons was certainly the most amusing. People sat down to the table to eat their suppers; and, instead of the usual cork-stoppers in the pepper-sauce and ketchup bottles, they found candles. Most people took the condition of things as they found them, — as if “nothing had happened.” The loss of light added to public excitement, and compelled the closing of theatres and lecture-rooms. This state of affairs, however, lasted but two nights. On Wednesday the supply of gas was sufficient for all purposes; and in the evening the streets were as bright as ever, and we were “out of darkness into light” again.
This interference with the gas-works caused a large loss, and was a great trouble to the gas company. The difficulty attending the adjustment of their affairs in the burnt district was peculiar. In the first place they lost twelve hundred meters, which were worth twenty dollars apiece, together with the registration of gas used after Oct. 1, as nearly all their customers in this district were quarterly-paying customers. They could not collect any more than the consumers see fit to pay. But the company estimated the consumption up to the date of the fire, and presented the bills, leaving it to the honesty of the consumers to pay or not.
We have no doubt but these gas-bills, like the burned notes and evidences of indebtedness, were paid by all who could. Alas! there were some who could not pay the gas-bill, yet whose notes a week before would have been taken, at any bank in Boston having the money, for two hundred thousand dollars.
The curiosity of the multitude to see the fire wherever they could get access to it was so great, in many instances, as to render them almost indifferent to danger in any form. Even when orders were given for blowing up buildings, the sight-seers frequently lingered much nearer the edifices to be demolished than ordinary prudence ought to have allowed. An instance illustrating this indifference occurred on Milk Street on Sunday forenoon. Directions were issued to blow up a black, and the usual warning was given by the police. This did not have the desired effect in getting the crowd back. Soon one of the insurance protective wagons drove up to the scene. The driver remarked to those near him that they were in danger, and had better retire. One of the bystanders flippantly asked where the danger was. The driver, standing up, and taking bold of the blankets covering his load, shouted out, “There are a thousand pounds of powder in this wagon, and the air is full of sparks!” It is needless to add that the vicinity of that team was cleared of persons as quick as the liveliest locomotion would allow.
In 1866, a one-armed and ragged soldier came into the store of Mr. K—; and was such “a creature of compassion,” that Mr. K— employed him about the store, although there was no necessity for another hand.
At last, Mr. K found that the soldier was of but little service in the store, and secured a minor place for him in the custom-house. After that time the merchant lost all trace of the veteran, and very naturally concluded that he was at work somewhere on small wages and in poor clothes. The fire ruined Mr. K—, notwithstanding his high financial, social, and business position among the princes of the Boston trade.
On the morning after the fire was conquered, when the merchant was standing by the piles of brick and granite which marked the site of the grand edifice he had once occupied, and was sorrowfully considering his overwhelming misfortune, there stepped up to him over the pile of bricks a well-dressed, one-armed man, whom the merchant did not recognize, but who nevertheless offered his remaining hand, and said in a familiar way, “How d’ye do?” The merchant scanned the features of his companion closely, but could not say that they had ever met. But the stranger quietly remarked that he was the soldier to whom Mr. K — had been so kind: and, thinking that Mr. K “might not be flush,” he had “taken a run down “from his paper-mill in New Hampshire; and, if several thousand dollars would be of use to Mr. K—, the cash would be ready the next day. It appears that this occurrence came to the ears of Mr. F— and Mr. W— of Cambridge, both very wealthy men; and they generously concluded to assist Mr. K with sufficient capital to give “him a fair start” (which was a large amount). Many men would consider themselves rich if they had what Mr. K— received as profits during the first month of trade in his new location and on his new capital.
“One of the strangest scenes of the conflagration was in the large open spot of ground still termed Fort Hill, There hundreds of poor people deposited their valuables, taken hastily but carefully from the tenements which seemed doomed, and, wrapped in sheets and blankets, laid them here for a while until the question should be solved when their homes were to be swept away. Women, some of them with little children, sat by their household gods protectingly, keeping watch over what may have been their all. In some cases, men and children were seen asleep under coverings made of bed-clothing and household furniture. The articles seen in the hundreds of piles which covered the territory embraced every thing by which housekeeping is carried on, and considerable merchandise from the neighboring stores. There were boxes, barrels, chairs, mirrors, crockery, glass, beds, bureaus, sofas, scales; plants even: nothing seemed too trivial to be saved. New loads of goods were constantly arriving, over which the watchers took their stations. Nothing could be done until it was seen whether the fire would spend its force before it reached their homes; and, heartsick, they sat there over their chattels all day, waiting, waiting for a solution of the problem. One man, apparently a day-laborer, won the good-will of the crowd by taking a little half-clad girl, perhaps four years old, wrapping her up warmly in a blanket, and kindly holding her and pacifying her until the mother was found. The awful terrors of the fire often affected weak human nature; and cases of fainting were frequently seen, and occasionally instances of loss of reason.”
When the fire reached Hawley Street, Sergeant Weir, of the Hanover-street police-station, was told that there were a number of sewing-machines, belonging to the working-girls, in an upper story. He secured teams after much trouble, and carted away two large loads of these machines. When we consider that each machine was some poor girl’s entire possession, we say of the sergeant, “Well done!”
Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe was among the contributors to the relief fund, as will be seen by her letter: —
OTIS NORCROSS, Esq., — I send enclosed a hundred dollars to the fund for the firemen.
I could wish it were a hundred times that sum; and then it would be inadequate to express my honor and reverence for those brave, devoted men who saved Boston at the risk, and, alas! too often by the sacrifice, of their own lives.
No soldier that died for our common country deserved greater honor, or a more lasting memorial, than did the gallant men whose charred and blackened remains have been borne from the ruins of the fire.
Would that they might be inscribed on an imperishable monument, that those dearest to them might see and feel how much Boston appreciates the preciousness of noble lives freely laid down for her!
With deepest sympathy for all these sufferers, I am truly yours,
H. B. STOWE.
A fair sample of the behavior of several hundred men of whom we heard is seen in the action of a landlord on Washington Street, who, after closing a lease at the same rate he had asked for the building prior to the fire, exclaimed, “I could have got a couple of thousand dollars more; but I guess I’ll feel that amount better if I live a few years.”
Rev. Dr. Samuel Osgood of New York wrote to “The Evening Post “of that city from Boston, saying,
“There is great comfort in the simple fact, that the best treasures of Boston cannot be burnt up. Her grand capital of culture and character, science and skill, humanity and religion, is beyond the reach of the flame. Sweep away every store and house, every school and church, and let the people with their history and habits remain, and they still have one of the richest and strongest cities on earth; and the wealth that they have stored up in every enterprise, and in every land, and on every sea, would soon restore their city to its magnificence. Every true Bostonian is heir to a heritage that cannot be lost; and he is partner in the character of a community, that, for a hundred years, has given the nation its best literature and most substantial patriotism.”
During the first week many relic-hunters were in the burnt district, having in some way eluded the guards, and it often happened that they either went off under arrest or with a broken head, having ventured too near the tottering walls. One day, two well-dressed young men became quite inquisitive as to why several burnt timbers had been placed over an excavation on Purchase Street, and were told by the workmen to “clear out.” They left, firmly believing that there was something underneath which would reward their investigations if they could only get a chance to search. Finally they went back, unobserved as they thought, and, in their haste, fell into a sewer, from which they were taken out in a damp condition by the very men whose orders they had so disregarded. This is only one of the many laughable accidents which befell the searchers for relics. During the week, seven or eight fell into a man-trap, in the shape of a tank of oil, on the corner of Congress and Broad Streets. At this place, the officers, when bothered too much, were able to square accounts with several of these gentlemen of leisure by directing their attention to the elegant relics obtainable on the other side of the tank.
A large amount of property was returned, after the fire, by persons whose consciences would not give them rest until they gave up their booty. In one case, five thousand six hundred dollars were sent back. With a package of shoes came the following note: —
Nov. 12, 1872.
MESSRS., —,— The small shoes were taken from the sidewalk on the night of the fire; the large ones from a store, abandoned, I am confident, by the proprietors, and ready to perish by the flames. I did not, at the time, believe that there was any thing reprehensible in the act. Be that as it may, I now neither like the idea of being classed with thieves and robbers, nor care at such a time to exult over any plunder great or small. I cannot tell from whose store they were taken. They will fit some needy feet, and are at your disposal.
There were several little episodes connected with safes which were quite amusing. One merchant was so scared, that he left his money and papers outside his safe, and went home with the keys in his pocket. A bookkeeper in a store on Broad Street, whose employer lives in Salem, went down to the store to remove the contents of the safe; and the only means of conveyance he could find was a buggy, without any horse, that happened to be standing in the street. With no more ado, he dragged it round to the office, filled it with books and valuable papers, and then pulled the heavy load across the city to Brimmer Street, where it was emptied, and given to a stable-keeper to advertise.
A correspondent speaks of a safe of the E. R. Morse manufacture, where “the chemical action of fire and gilt paint” burned the letters of the maker’s name “deep into the iron, seeming to eat into the sides; while it melted the legs, which ran off as in a blast-furnace. The fire happening to be above it, the contents were saved. But the heat was so intense over the whole region as to melt and destroy all safes which were fully exposed to its fury.” The same correspondent tells of the warping effect of cold water on over-heated safe-doors. One burst open like a cannon; and its contents were at once consumed.
A safe-manufacturer, who refuses to permit the publication of his name, was once a workman in a shop; and, conceiving the idea of starting for himself, he went to a wealthy man for assistance. It appears to have been freely given; and the manufacturer, ten years afterwards, made an “extra safe,” and gave it as a Christmas-present to the merchant who assisted him. In the fire it carried safely through a terrible test over two hundred thousand dollars’ worth of stocks and bonds.
A quantity of silver and gold coins, in the safe of E. C. Dyer, at 158 Devonshire Street, was partially welded together, the silver turned completely black, and the gold spotted with jetty drops, with portions of the edges melted away. The money was contained in a tin tray with two covers, in a japanned tin box, which was enclosed in a thick steel box placed inside the iron safe. The door of the safe was slightly warped by the intense heat, causing the destruction of books and papers, and affecting the coin, triply protected as above stated.
“While the flames were whirling and leaping along the south side of Franklin Street, the proprietors and employés of the great Catholic publishing-establishment, The Pilot’ building, made tremendous efforts to save their stock. But the fire ran so swiftly, — 'flame-footed' indeed, — that they were compelled to relinquish all idea of transporting their goods to a place of safety; and a hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars’ worth of costly altar-services, priestly ornaments, sacramental vessels, crucifixes, representing the pomp and glory of the Catholic Church, were hurled into the streets, or given into the hands of the hundreds who thronged to take them, and were begged to carry them away and keep them, rather than see them sacrificed. Huge collections of books, costly editions of imported works, were heaped upon the holocaust: then the losers ran for their lives. A great sheet of flame swept over the huge block, and licked up with its fiery tongues half a million dollars’ worth of costly printing-material and objects of religious art.”
“The Providence Journal,” while speaking editorially of the fire, uses this truthful language:—
“Boston always was and always will be a puzzle. Macullar, Williams, and Parker, burned out, were and are a very heavy clothing-concern, employing a large number of sewing-women. These women declined to accept their wages for their last week’s work, thinking that the aggregate sum might be acceptable to the firm, considering their heavy losses. The firm turned round to Miss Jennie Collins, and told her to send to them any work-girls, whether heretofore employed by them or not, who might be in need, and they would provide for them; and they further advertised that their pay-roll would be made up on Monday as usual, and requested their employés to come and take their pay. Truly the old Massachusetts grit has not yet run out, despite the statistics. Meanwhile, admiring the self-sustaining spirit and power of the Bostonians, we hold ourselves, as does the country, ready to do what we can for them when they will allow us to do any thing. Our respect for their pluck will not chill our hearts, or restrain our hands.”
A newspaper published two days after the fire speaks of the business-men as they appeared at that time:—
“Everywhere one meets with evidences of the energy and courage of our business-men under circumstances which would justify even Mark Tapley in having a fit of the blues. Few are desponding; and nearly every one takes a cheerful view of the matter. Said one merchant, ‘We’ve had a little fire here, and the whole business-quarter is destroyed: but we are going to build it right up again, and better than before, and in a year or two; and then you’ll see what a splendid city Boston is.’”
“On Monday morning after the fire, the agents for the ‘Etna Insurance Company of Hartford placed a large placard in their window, announcing that that company was all right; and it was worth while to see the pleased policy-holders as they would pass by, and knock on the glass to the agent, who sat inside, and point exultingly to the cheerful announcement, while he would respond with a pleased and confirmatory nod. That spot was the scene of many such pantomimes of delight during the day; and many hearts were made happy.”
When the powder arrived from the Navy Yard, on Saturday night, the officer in charge, true to his military training, touched his hat to Postmaster Burt, and said, “Can you tell me, sir, who is to sign the receipt for this powder?”
Boston subscribed over three hundred thousand dollars towards the relief of the sufferers by the fire.
Among the gratifying examples of self-sacrificing devotion during the night of the fire, it is pleasant to mention the noble conduct of J. H. Pote and Co., the teamsters of the Eastern Railroad, who set at work thirty horses, with carts or wagons, to save goods from the various stores and warehouses, and kept them engaged from two, A.M., on Sunday, until six, P.M., entirely free of charge. In view of the fact that services of this character are generally paid for at an enormous rate, the action of Mr. Pote was a most generous one.
The charges made by some teamsters for drayage, on the night of the fire, were, in some instances, ludicrously large. One man asked a hundred dollars for carrying a painted chamber-set to the Common. Another, after getting a load of dry-goods, refused to move unless given seventy-five dollars in advance for taking the load two blocks. The proprietors left him; and, when the fire drove him away, he took the goods home, was arrested the next morning for theft, and paid seventy-five dollars to be let off.
A young lady was found, one day after the fire, searching among the heaps of hot brick and stone of a former stately structure on Devonshire Street, in the vain hope of discovering a mass of gold which on Saturday represented the coinage of a thousand dollars. She was to have it if she found it.
All of South Boston east of H Street, and particularly between I and L Streets, was directly in the path of the sparks and brands. Flakes of granite from some of the magnificent buildings destroyed, fragments of slate, and even whole sheets of roofing-tin, were borne across the harbor by the strong currents of heated air and smoke, and fell thickly upon the housetops and pavements. There were many narrow escapes from damage by fire in the vicinity of City Point, — more than a mile from the fire. One building near the gas-house on K Street, which was occupied by several families as a dwelling-house, was fired, but fortunately discovered in time to be extinguished. Two or three firebrands a foot or more in length fell upon the roof of a house on Broadway, three or four doors beyond K Street; and one on the roof nearest K, where it burned for several minutes. Both these roofs being slated, no damage was done; though, in the former case, there was a narrow escape from the ignition of the woodwork of several dormer-windows. In both cases, and among nearly all the residents in this vicinity, the owners and occupants of dwellings sat through the night, wrapped in rugs or blankets, upon their roofs, with pails of water at hand; or patrolled the streets and yards, watching the falling missiles, and promptly extinguishing them as soon as possible.
While the fire was raging in the store of Weeks and Potter, Sunday morning, two men, whose names are not known, but who were thought to be connected with the establishment, were struck down, in their efforts to save stock, by the fall of a portion of the side-wall. One was totally buried; but the other was caught only by the legs. He shouted for succor, saying, that, if his legs were extricated, he could get out easily. Several firemen responded by dashing into the doomed building, the front-wall of which was even then tottering, and making frantic efforts to release the poor fellow. Suddenly they were startled by a cry that the massive front-wall was going over. There was a desperate rush for life; and a silent horror seized the spectators as the wall fell with a thundering crash, and it was seen that two of the firemen had shared the fate of those whom they had so nobly tried to save.
As the fire went down, the merchants began to put up signs on their lots, telling where they could be found. Among them were a number which were somewhat laughable. One firm stated very curtly, “We have removed from this place;” another said, “Closed during the heated term;” another, “Gone up; can be seen at No.—;” still another, “Gone to Tophet to get cooled off;” and still another, “These damaged goods to be sold low, and the building thrown in.” In one place there was a dry-goods box, with an eel in it that had been found in the hose-pipe, labelled “Fish-market: stock low in such hot weather.” At one corner was the following sign: “Dash, Blank, and Co. have not removed. They will resume business at the old stand on Tuesday morning. Employés need not stop to open store, but begin cleaning bricks immediately.” One firm quoted 2 Cor., chap. iv., ver. 8, 9.
One of the spiciest daily newspapers (“The Globe”) told the following amusing incidents: “Not the least laughable of the incidents to which we allude was that in which a middle-aged lady played important parts. She was somewhat on the shady side of forty, tall, thin, and bony of aspect. Her sandy hair was screwed up into numberless rigid curls on either side of her face; and a crunched bonnet fluttered defiantly down her back, and was only prevented from falling off by the ribbons by which it was tied about her neck. Her rusty black dress had been evidently hurried on at a moment’s warning, as it was buttoned and hooked in a style of labyrinthine perplexity. She pushed her way through the excited crowds while the fire was raging at its highest, wringing her hands, and shrieking frantically for ‘Clara,’ and implored, wept, stormed, and moaned for Clara,’ enlisting everybody’s sympathy. ‘Will nobody put out a hand to save the poor thing?’ she implored in almost frantic accents. ‘Oh, dear! oh, dear! my little darling will be burnt to death! ‘Even the most hardened felt for the agony that seemed to be urging the poor woman to madness. Firemen stopped their work to ask her where her ‘Clara’ was; and several crowded about her with proffers of assistance if she would only be explicit. But not a coherent explanation could be gained from her. She continued to wring her hands, and to moan, ‘Clara, Clara! my poor Clara!’ In the mean while a thrill of terror went through the multitude at the idea that some human creature was in deadly peril of burning to death, and no intelligence of her whereabouts was to be gained from the half-demented woman before them, who rocked to and fro, sobbing, and refusing to be comforted. Presently, with a wild shriek of joy she darted forward, shouting ‘Clara, Clara! ‘and stooped down. Crouching in a corner was a large white cat, with singed fur, who, with curved back and swollen tail, stood hissing and spitting with fearful energy. As the old lady stooped to pick her darling up, the ungrateful cat flew at her, leaving the marks of her claws on her face, and darted off in mad terror amid the jeers, laughter, and hootings of the crowd; her frantic mistress darting after her, with the bonnet flying ensign downward like a signal of distress.
“Another amusing diversion was created by a tall, well-knit, and rather rugged specimen of humanity, who stood gazing at the fire with the deepest interest. Every now and then he would take a vigorous bite at a large hunk of tobacco, and chew with an energy that knew no flagging, but without taking his eyes from the fire, which appeared to fascinate him. As the flames made headway, he moved uneasily, shifted his weight from one foot to the other, and chewed with renewed animation.
Each new building that fell a prey to the fire seemed to cause him to experience the most poignant despair. His glance was not so strongly marked by sympathy as by anxiety. His sallow jaws seemed to elongate with every fresh building that went down. His dress and appearance did not betoken a man who had any enormous amount of property at stake there; and the general impression among those who observed him was, that his alarm was caused by a prospect of losing his situation. Presently, when the flames seemed as though they would ingulf the whole city, he turned his pale face from the flames, and, addressing a party by his side, exclaimed with no less pride than disgust, ‘Psho! it can’t be done! the place ain’t big enough! The Chicago fire knocked this all to splinters. Yes, it did, I tell you. I was born there, and I ought to know. I tell you, sir, Chicago is bound to be ahead on this fire yet.’ And he walked away, his face glowing with patriotic fervor, and an expression of the most unbounded contempt overspreading his countenance for the miserable failure that was certain to attend all envious attempts of Boston to rival Chicago in the matter of fires.
“The number of tipsy men who were to be seen in the neighborhood of the fire baffles computation. They sprang up without warning in all directions, tumbling into the mud, stepping into man-holes, tripping over obstructions of every description, and picking themselves up again with that sodden indifference to pain and inconvenience that is so characteristic of the enthusiastic devotee at the shrine of Bacchus. One of these had a large bundle wrapped in a white sheet, which he was dragging after him through the mud and mire, and which had the effect of steadying him to some extent, and prevented him from falling. How many people he swept off their feet as he pulled his load after him will never now be known. His progress was suddenly brought to a stand-still by a policeman, who seized him, and began to question him regarding the right by which he kept company with the bundle; but the only reply elicited was a stupid stare from a pair of lack-lustre eyes, a hiccough, and the exclamation, ‘Aive-ri, missur! Big fire down ‘ere. Wha’ll yer take?’ No shaking, hustling, or remonstrance, could win any other answer from him. At length the policeman began to drag him away, bundle and all; when the tipsy idiot loosened his hold on the bundle, and said, ‘Look a-here, missur policeman: if yer goin’ to take me up, yer mayzwell carry mer bunnel too. I’m willing. Mine’s whiskey: wass yourn?’
“During the fire, amusing examples of prudence were visible in every direction. A number of men, being caught, it is presumed, in their Sunday-go-to-meetingers, were so careful as to turn their coats inside out, thus saving the cloth. Where these garments were lined in bright or different colored goods, the effect was peculiar. One man was to be seen with red body-fining and bright yellow sleeves; and of course this made a notable, if not tasty-looking figure. One of the many street-Arabs that were thronging at every corner sang out to a chum, ‘Look out, there, Jake! here comes one of them penitentiary birds. I suppose he’s running for Congress.’
“A laughable instance of how dazed a man can become was seen in the case of a gentleman whose apartments, probably, had to be vacated in haste, and who had attempted to snatch up and carry off the most valuable of his personal effects. In this case it was a chapeau such as usually forms part of a Knight Templar’s uniform.
“One woman, frantic with terror, was seen rushing down Devonshire Street with a cheap but large looking-glass in her arms, which was cracked in all directions, with great gaps where pieces of glass had fallen out. Her face was as full of stony terror as if she had gazed upon the head of Medusa. Every now and then she looked backward over her shoulder: and the sight that met her view seemed to fill her with an additional fear; for she flew along, rather than ran. Suddenly she tripped, and fell squarely on the pavement, with the looking-glass under her. It was crushed into splinters; but she, unheeding, regained her feet, and, seizing the fragments of the frame, hugged them to her heart, and sped on her frantic course like an arrow shot from a bow.
“Many funny scenes occurred at the barriers where the soldiers were stationed to keep off the crowd. At one of these, a man with a good-humored expression of countenance, but evidently a working-man, attempted to pass; when the sentinel challenged him rather roughly, and refused him admission. He gazed at the soldier, who was a mere boy, and exclaimed, ‘Say, sonny: who did you do whitewashing for before your mother bought you that sojer-coat?’ At another barrier a rather well-dressed gentleman attempted to pass, and the sentinel demurred. The former entreated; but the soldier was inexorable in his sense of duty. ‘No, sir,’ he exclaimed: ‘you could not pass here without an order, even if you were President of the United States.’ The gentleman gazed at him for a moment with mock admiration, and replied, ‘Come to my arms! I would rather lose twenty cherry-trees than have one of Napoleon’s Old Guard tell a lie.’ Another person, when he presented himself, was saluted with the stereotyped exclamation, ‘You cannot pass.’ He drew a piece of paper out of his pocket, and, showing it to the sentinel, retorted, ‘I guess I’ll not only pass, but go it alone;’ and, as he went inside the lines on the strength of an order from the chief of police, he winked at the sentinel, and said, ‘Euchred, pard!’”