Puslapio vaizdai

ways. Both the Necker and the Ma'sher are children of the soil. Though the Ma'sher may show by his appearance that he is either Irish or Dutch, the real Necker is, as a rule, of the Neck Necky. Thoughtless Philadelphians often confound porkbutchers, a large and respectable class of persons, with Neckers. This is a vulgar error. The Necker is long, lank, yellow, nasal-toned, if he be genuine; a porkbutcher may be anything. Pork-butchers do not inhabit the Neck. They are bourgeois; Neckers raise the pigs which they

slaughter, and, though Neck blood may run in the veins of a pork-butcher, yet it requires much more than that to make him a Ma'sher; he is only a middleman. Though many foreigners inhabit the Neck,-principally Irish, the real Necker is supposed to have Revolutionary blood in his veins; and the word Hessian is often used as a term of reproach,-to express the idea of rogue, as the Necker uses the word "Ledger" to express the general idea of newspaper.

[ocr errors]


The Neck shows many signs of modern improvement since that mythical coachman or horseman first rode along its marshy

shore, when General Howe danced and Major André painted. Oil-refineries are not unknown, and in many places whole plantations of the primeval Jamestownweed have been destroyed by the loads of refuse from the soap-factories that have been cast upon them. But even the evidences of encroaching civilization assume a picturesque aspect in this mural yet rural territory. The spatter-dock may disdain to show its spiky leaves in the rainbow-hued pools that surround the oil-refineries, but the scrub-willow grows in clumps and the James

[graphic][merged small]

town-weed, crushed to earth, raises its ribbed white bugle among heaps of rubbish, though it cannot follow the blue flag into the half-dry ditches by the road-side. An occasional strawberry-leaf shows itself in the fields allotted to grazing, but, though hundreds of boys have engaged in the search, not a solitary strawberry is known to have been found. No wild rose blooms in this desolate expanse; on the greener of the banks purple and white scentless violets grow in the spring, and these the city children eagerly gather and transplant. In the early summer, huge square bare

[merged small][merged small][merged small][graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small]
[merged small][merged small][graphic][merged small]

one hand, slaps a child with the other, sternly commands it "not to be botherin' the pig," and, in answer to our question, gives us directions about getting to the Point Breeze Gas Works.

Southward lies "the loveliest village of the plain "-Martinsville. Martinsville has been confounded by careless geographers with another settlement-Eleven-Gun Battery; it is familiarly known as Frogtown. The The structures that make up this village are in the best style of the architecture in vogue in the Ma'sh. Without superfluous ornament,

street. Stagnant water is everywhere visible; each house seems to have its own pond. Ducks, pigs, children, and the silent frog are happy in the abundant moisture. Dogs abound. They crowd the street; they sit on the steps; they have a look as if they enjoyed the right of suffrage in this village, and they receive you quietly and gravely, as becomes burghers who have the privilege of offering the freedom of the city to him who pleases them. The rear entrances to some of the habitations in Martinsville show that the citizens, like

[graphic][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][graphic][subsumed][ocr errors]

lawn betrays that the owner is more cultivated than the average citizen. A tomatocan placed exactly in the center, and evidently not cast there by a rude or careless hand, in a manner prepares you to believe that the pursuit of the fine-arts is not unknown within this humble cot. The owner, laboring to crush the notes of the "Danube Waltz" from an accordeon, comes forth. He is either Dutch or German-" Yarman," he says at last. He explains that the accordeon is not what it was; he broke it last New-Year's night "out bell snicklin'." This custom is known in other parts of the Neck as "New-Year's shooting." On NewYear's Eve, crowds of men and boys dress themselves in fantastic costumes, and roam through the Neck and lower part of the

city all night. This custom, doubtless a remnant of the old English Christmas "mumming," grows year by year in Philadelphia, and the mummers, becoming bolder, penetrate as far north as Chestnut street. This custom, attributed in New York to the Dutch, is not unknown in Brooklyn, where troops of fantasticals parade on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas, and New-Year's.

Truck-farming in the Neck is not an unprofitable business. The market is near, and the objection which the fastidious make to the manure used in the Neck has not


been found to be insuperable, and some inhabitants have managed, by industry and frugality, to acquire large and valuable truckfarms. Excess of moisture is the greatest enemy to the trucker. In the time of drought which ruins other farmers in less moist localities, he is happy; his esculents bring double prices. It is only in the time of floods that he is in grief.

Along the river, the fields of bearded reeds


wave to and fro; a puff of smoke floating above them at intervals, and the report of a gun, are signs that the sportsmen are out. In a corner of the swamp there is a picturesque cluster of novel houses-" Rudder Granges." It is a hamlet of canal-boats; beyond them lie the tiny boat-houses in which the city sportsmen keep their skiffs and sometimes spend most of the summer and autumn. The tide is low, and it is easy to examine this bizarre hamlet. A row of canal-boats rises from the swamp. The one nearest to us has, like most of the others, a second story added to the boat. A rude balcony is at either end; one of

« AnkstesnisTęsti »