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348 DOUGLASS' MONTHLY. October, 1860 [line] [[3 columns]] [[column 1]] Beneath the polished bell handle contained his name, and on the threshold, smiling with benevolence, our host waited to receive us. - He welcomed us in an easy yet gratified manner, and we passed through a long hall, papered in imitation of granite columns, to a stairway with walnut balustrades. The carpet had been taken up in the hall and parlor, to provide for house renovating, and we saw it nicely folded in a niche beneath the stairway. It was a chaste pattern, of Brussels manufacture. The parlor, in the second story, to which we were summoned, was situated over a furniture store. It was roomy, and papered in a plain, cheerful style. There was an utter absence of everything gaudy, and the glittering trappings, supposed to be so inseparable from the taste of the Ethiop, existed neither in the host nor the hostlery. We sat down to talk. The ultimate destiny of the black man was discussed, our host opening that his struggle for a habitation and a name must be in America. He said that his people were attached to our Republic, notwithstanding many disadvantages imposed upon them, their hope being strong but patience and good citizenship would eventually soften the prejudices of the whites. Tempered as they were to our habits and clime, it would be cruel to place them on a strand but dimly known, where, surrounded by savages, they might become savage themselves. There was to us a real pleasure in our host's discourse. He is one of the leading public men among his people, and has much of the ease and polish peculiar to the well bred Caucasian. He laughed at times, but never boisterously, and in profounder moments, threw a telling solemnity into his tone and expression. When the head was averted, we heard, in well-modulated speech, such as vigorous sentences and thoughtful remarks that the identity of the speaker with the proscribed race was half forgotten; but the biased eyesight revealed only a dusky son of Ham. – On a 'what-not' table were clustered a number of books. Most of them were anti slavery publications, although there were several volumes of sermons, and a few philosophical and historical books. We turned the conversation to literature. He was well acquainted with the authors he had read, and ventured some criticisms, indicative of study. From the earnestness of the man, it seemed that the interests of his race were very dear to him. It is but just to say that he has passed many years in constant companionship with Caucasians. A SOUTH STREET HABERDASHER. We made, by his guidance, a number of calls. Our first visit was to a new and second hand haberdasher's shop just across the way. A man was seated on the pavement in a high-backed chair beneath its bow window. He seemed to be a tall, stoop-shouldered white person, genteelly dressed, and wearing a low-crowned broad-brimmed hat. We shook hands with great gravity, and our guide stated that we had visited the establishment to see how his business was prospering. He led the way quietly into the store and lighted a small lamp. When the flames flashed upon his face we saw that he was of a light-yellow hue. Then we made a hasty review of the store. In the front or main room there were heaped up articles of every conceivable character. Immense piles of dinner-plates and dishes, tinware by the gross, lamps of every pattern, second-hand signs with and without names, pictures and picture-frames, stoves and all culinary utensils, cradles, cushions, old boots and boot-jacks, trunks, old hats, carpets, etc., ad infinitum. We passed into a rear room. Here were tables and chairs, and bureaus and chests, and bed-posts and sofas. We passed into the yard. It was stacked in every quarter with old wagon-wheels and window-sashes, hardware and shingles. A ferocious dog couched beneath a hen-coop. The proprietor ordered him to lie down, and invited us back to see his horse. In a low shed that animal was feeding, and a very likely beast he was, fat [[/column 1]] [[column 2]] and full sinewed. In the yard rested the wagon which was somewhat dilapidated. We passed into the cellar. There lay a wild confusion of wares, which no amount of enumeration could sum up; and yet a little observation detected order in this chaos. It was plain that the proprietor could lay his hand on any article. In a second-story room the same state of things prevailed. It was as though the furniture of a hundred establishments had been confusedly tumbled into one. We asked the proprietor if he sometimes took an account of stock. He said, with a short laugh, that he might do so. He had fifteen children, and smiled when we told him that he could furnish establishments for as many more. He owned his dwelling, for which, with the ground, he gave $4,500. We were likewise assured that he had other property to the amount of a few thousand dollars additional. This man c me from Charleston, S.C., about fourteen years ago. He was the natural son of a wealthy white man, who owned a line of steamers between that city and New York. His father died leaving him free, and his white uncle gave him a passage to the North. He had about ten dollars when he reached Philadelphia, where he at once commenced to labor. He found no difficulty in procuring employment, but for some time laid up no money. At length he started in the second-hand furniture business, and made the commencement of his present extensive establishment. He seemed to have a strong affection for Philadelphia, and spoke of his triumph over difficulties with some tediousness, but much pride. RODMAN STREET. We passed with our guide up South street to Ninth, and thence to Rodman street. – Several fine dwellings, of three and four stories, fronted with white marble, and having doors of carved stone, were exhibited upon those avenues. Rodman street runs parallel with South street; one half square above it. It is peopled almost entirely by colored families. – We gazed with curiosity at its rows of tall, beautiful houses, and salt, with some interest, the clean pavements and street. In some places fine ornamental trees stood upon the side-walks, and in the doorways the families of colored men are seated. By the imperfect moonlight they seems to be neatly dressed. There was no loud laughing or talking; in fact, it seemed to us that we had not remarked for the early evening such general decorum in any street in the city. Our guide said, with some earnestness, 'Streets like this you people never visit. – They wander through Baker, and Bedford, and Spafford streets, to find subjects for ridicule and pity, but never look into these cheerful homes, or speak with these families of our better classes. There is a bright side as well as a dark two hour condition, although some say we are all dark.' He laughed shortly at his own wit, but there was more of thought than of humor in his speech. We passed into one of the Rodman street dwellings, and, while the host was being summoned, looked over a music book which lay upon the piano there was a variety of operatic music, and most of the popular ballads. The colored owner of the establishment referred with some pride, when he made his appearance, to his daughter's accomplishments. She had gone to Cape May with her mother, during the hot season. She was a very good girl, and he had determined to give her what he had often vainly pined for – an education. He spoke for some moments, in his homely way, of his business success and integrity. – We heard him with some pleasure. As we were about going, he pressed us to take some domestic wine – his daughter's 'make' – and we were able, upon trial, to do justice to a small bottle. FASHIONABLE COLORED DWELLING IN SOUTH TWELFTH STREET. We passed up to Twelfth street, near Pine and paused before a magnificent four-story brick dwelling. [[/column 2]] [[column 3]] The sidewalk was shadowed by adult maples, and the white marble steps of the dwelling were guarded by iron railing. A quadroon girl was sitting upon these. She saluted our conductor in a pleasing voice, and led the way through a broad hall. A fine hat-rack sat against the wall, and the vestibule was splendidly papered. The girl gave us seats in the parlor, where we half buried ourselves in a spring ottoman, and went out to seek her mother. We found here, also, a piano; the furniture was of a costly character, and had we been blindfolded, and here regained our eyesight, should have imagined ourselves in some cozy Caucasian home. – Here, as elsewhere we found upon the shelves and tables all varieties of anti-slavery books: Sumner's speeches, Whittier's poems, Parker's sermons, Phillips' orations, etc. Against the wall hung a magnificent engraving of Mrs. Stowe, and on the opposite side of full-length portrait of Frederick Douglass. In a few minutes the hostess came in. She talked familiarly with our guide, while we conversed with the daughter. They were neither forward nor embarrassed. The Miss replied courteously to inquiries about her music lessons and studies. She was an olive complexion, almost white, and had what we conceived to be a winning address. The latter was favored by very mild, dark eyes, and round, white teeth. The mother wore a white lace cape, and a black silk dress. We imagined that the mother and the daughter found each other's society comfortable and said so, whereupon the mother went into an enumeration of her daughter's good qualities, which indicated a fondness not altogether unpleasant. CONVIVIAL SCENES IN THE DWELLING OF A COLORED CATERER. Our next stopping-place was also in Twelfth street, at the house of a noted colored caterer. We found four men seated in a small 'serving-up room' opening on a balcony. Another of the party sat on the balcony outside of the window. He occasionally ducked his head into the room, and upon being observed, ducked back again in a very guilty manner. We could hear him laugh sometimes as if to indicate that he hadn't fallen off, and was paying very wrapt attention. This friendly gathering was regaling itself with cigars and brandy and water. Care was at once taken that we should be provided for. One of the party recognized us instantly as the reporter who had abused a late colored convocation, and held its prominent speakers up to ridicule. He nevertheless treated us in a very genteel manner, and charitably abstained from saying anything of our folly until we had been overwhelmed with kindness, and were on the eve of departure. However, the influence of the cigars soon made the entire party communicative, and we launched into a terrible discussion of the slavery question, in which, to bring out the energies of the party, our associate agitated the re-opening of the slave trade, and we played the part of a fiery Abolitionist. An ebony individual, whom we will call Jinks, nailed us at once by relating his experience. He told his history with so much feeling that he found himself unable to continue. We gathered from a somewhat confused narrative that he had been a slave in Virginia : had labored many years to lay up money wherewith to purchase himself; and in the course of a long and bitter period of toil, he had bought into freedom his wife and children. His mother and sister were sold before could purchase them, and being taken somewhere in the extreme South, he never heard of them again. Another party had, meanwhile, been nervously sipping his brandy, anxious to clinch Mr. Jinks' experience with his own. He was a large mulatto, heavily-built, and carried a large gold-headed cane, with which he frequently rapped his forehead, as if to give activity to his ideas. We understand he was the natural son of a certain judge of one of the counties of western Maryland, who had been treated kindly during his father's life. [[/column 3]]
www.dictionary.com defines "jinks" as "prankish or frolicsome activities".
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