The Dutchman's Dilemma

Amusements and Sports,
page 6 of 12

Also in evidence before the public was one Pachebell, a musician. The following is one of his advertisements in the year 1734:—

“On Wednesday the 21st of January instant there will be a Consort of music, vocal and instrumental for the benefit of Mr. Pachebell, the harpsicord parts performed by himself. The songs, violins and German flutes by private hands. The Consort will begin precisely at six o’clock in the house of Robert Todd vintner. Tickets to be had at the Coffee House at 4 shillings.”

Amateurs often performed for his benefit, and even portions of oratorios were “attempted.” His “consorts” were said to be ravishing, and inspired the listeners to rhapsodic poesy, which is more than can be said of many concerts nowadays. Those who know the “thin metallic thrills” of a harpsichord — an instrument with no resonance, mellowness, or singing quality — can reflect upon the susceptibility of our ancestors, who could melt into sentiment and rhyme over those wiry vibrations.

The favorite winter amusement in New York, as in Philadelphia, was riding in sleighs, a fashion which the Dutch brought from Holland. The English colonists in New England were slower to adopt sleighs for carriages, and never in early days found sleighing a sport. The bitter New England weather did not attract sleighers.

Madam Knights, a Boston visitor to New York, wrote in 1704:—

“Their diversion in winter is riding in sleighs about three miles out of town, where they have houses of entertainment at a place called the Bowery; and some go to friends’ houses, who handsomely treat them. I believe we mett fifty or sixty sleighs one day; they fly with great swiftness, and some are so furious that they turn out for none except a loaded cart.”

An English parson, one Burnaby, visiting New York in 1759, wrote of their delightful sleighing-parties; and Mrs. Anne Grant thus adds her testimony of similar pleasures in Albany:—

“In winter the river, frozen to a great depth, formed the principal road through the country, and was the scene of all those amusements of skating and sledge races, common to the north of Europe. They used in great parties to visit their friends at a distance, and having an excellent and hardy breed of horses, flew from place to place over the snow or ice in these sledges with incredible rapidity, stopping a little while at every house they came to, and always well received whether acquainted with the owners or not.


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