Home page Jews in the Civil War Jews in the Wild West History of Palestine The Occident Virtual Library Shopping Mall of Zion

בס"ד

 

Correspondence

[From our Washington Correspondent]

To the Editors of the "Jewish Messenger."

According to promise, I will now give you some account of the evening I passed at the President's levee, which was made more than usually entertaining by the good company of my friend, your friend, and in fact everybody's friend, as he delights in styling himself, A. Chootsper, Esq.

At nine o'clock of the evening aforesaid, Chootsper and I found ourselves comfortably seated in a carriage, patiently waiting our chance of having our backs broken, by the pole of the vehicle just in our rear, or what seemed equally probably, a bivouac for the night, then and there without hope of relief. But a better fate awaited us, and after sundry fearful rubs, tiltings, and jerks, together with ejaculations from our driver, more original than select, we were finally popped out like anxious peas from a well filled pod, under the beautiful portico of the President's mansion. Mr. Jehu, as a matter of course, demanded double his lawful fare, but we soon "compromised" the matter, by handing the correct sum, with a trifle over, for the extra wear and tear of his carriage and conscience.

You are aware that the White House is open at all reasonable times for the reception of the public, and at no time is the hospitality go generally availed of, as on the last Levee—as was this—of the season, so we were not surprised to find the impromptu hat and coat room, (ordinarily the vestibule) filled to overflowing. Without ceremony, we fell in with the surging mass, drifting to the right of the entrance, and soon realized what must be the injured feelings of social, but ill used sardines, when under uncomfortable pressure. Moving on at such a very slow pace, gave us a favorable opportunity for examination of persons and dresses, and after Chootsper had ended his five minutes; examination of a shirt collar, immediately in front of us, which he declared would decapitate its owner the very next time he duplicated that bow,— he condescendingly began some running, or rather slow walking, comments, which I will give a meager outline of, and at the same time give you to distinctly understand, that upon Chootsper alone the responsibility, if any, rests.

Do you see that tall, jolly faced Englishman, laughing so heartily with that pretty, merry eyed lady, in yonder corner? Well, that is Her Majesty's able and popular Minister and his companion, a Mrs. Senator, from the State of Camden and Amboy, which, you are aware, is said to receive its support, in no spirit of monopoly, from a public high-way of the same name. —Ah! There's our old acquaintance, who has been studying the "Blue Book" ever since the election, and is, as yet, undecided whether an appointment of Collector of the Customs of some such suburban village as New York, would not be derogatory to his position as the leading man of Shoflesville; probably, the grey-haired, easy mannered gentleman, with a large nose "not to be sneezed at," or if sneezed at, capable of returning the attention with an annoyingly cooling effect—"they say" (who knows everything) he is to be the Premier of the new Administration—probably, he is begging our friend to accept office, for at the North, you know, it is so difficult to find persons willing to give their pure patriotism in exchange for mere dollars and cents.—See that remarkably frisky young lady with angular neckbones, rich jewelry and extravagant dress. She hails from the Quaker City, and has recently united her immense wealth with the high social standing of an attaché of one of the foreign Legations, who, with most of his associates, are becoming round shouldered under the excessive weight—not of responsibility, but—of their gold and silver rosettes and various other "orders" of their country. In this room, for you must know we are going with the crowd through a number of rooms, opening one into another, are a number of "Milingtary" gentlemen, standing as though they were saying a perpetual shemona esray, and smiling lavishly at a host of admiring young ladies, who, like their sex generally, dote on the sons of Mars, strange to say even more than they do on the sons of their Pa's, (Chootsper, bear in mind, is responsible for all this, and I hope you will forgive him, as I have done.)

Imperceptibly we have at last reached the "Green Room," where His Excellency, the host, with hospitable freedom, and head on one side, is lending his hand as a sort of pump handle, and putting the stereotyped question to each stranger particularly presented, "This your first visit to Washington,—have you visited the Patent Office?" and such other laconic sentences as occasion requires. A short distance, further on, stands his niece, Miss Lane, who presides with so much dignity as hostess—a pleasant word and a generous smile she has for all, and I couldn't, for the life of me, see a fault, until Chootsper compelled me, by several energetic pinches in the regions of my coat sleeve, to listen to a criticism being made upon her by our file-leader, in the person of a raw-boned dyspeptic lady, habited in a flounced dress, which bore a striking resemblance to a gaily painted, inverted whip-top, the property of a much shorter member of the family;—but I will not repeat her spiteful allusions. Next we enter the grant "East Room," where a truly elegant sight presented itself!—but as I have already extended this letter longer than I should, and have yet to speak on another subject, I can merely add, as a remarkable fact, that probably no where else could be seen so large and well dressed a company of ladies and gentlemen assembled, where every and any one, without passing through the slightest examination, is free to enter, and where I have yet to hear the first instance of a breach of decorum. How well does this speak for Democracy! At 10 o'clock, the U.S. Marine Band, which had discoursed such spirited music during the entire evening, began the plaintive air of "Home sweet Home," upon which the company, including Chootsper and I, regained our hats and coats, and shivered in the cold until hack 4972 slowly picked itself out of a tight knot, and safely landed us from whence we came.

Last Sabbath, I was so fortunate as to witness the very interesting ceremony of calling to our Holy Law, for the first time, Master Simon, son of our worthy townsman, Mr. Joseph Joseph, who, with a seeming consciousness of the grave duties he had been called upon to fulfill, delivered an address as admirable in manner as in matter, taking for his theme "Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth;" in which he exhorted his young friends to turn their liberal education to good account, by schooling their minds in the belief that all real happiness, here and hereafter, is primarily based on the duty each and every one owes to his God and the Laws, He has, for our good, commanded us to obey. In allusion to our present political troubles, he said in effect, "the tendency of moral influence on political action in our country seems to be continually downward, and if it be not quickly and effectually arrested, it must, ere long, sweep away our free institutions, and bring upon our beloved country, Revolution, Anarchy,—the desolating scourge of Civil war—the iron hand of Despotism. He dared not anticipate the time when licentiousness and violence, stimulated by mad ambition and lust of power, may traverse our country and deluge it in blood, but would rather turn from such a gloomy picture as a mere optical delusion, and look upon a brighter scene." In conclusion, he indulged the hope, that some mighty moral influence, under the fostering hand of a kind Providence, may stay the wicked in their mad career, sustain our Heaven-born Institutions, and save our beloved country.

SEMI-OCCASIONAL

Washington, D.C., March 3, 1861

Letters of "Semi Occasional"