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HENRY WARD BEECHER AND HIS CHURCH.
all the creatures living in the United States enjoy good health, except the human beings, who are nearly all ill ?
When we consider such things as these, we cannot help calling in question a kind of public teaching which leaves the people in ignorance of so much that they most need to know. Henry Ward Beecher is the only clergyman we ever heard who habitually promulgates the truth, that to be ill is generally a sin, and always a shame. We never heard him utter the demoralizing falsehood, that this present life is short and of small account, and that nothing is worthy of much consideration except the life to come. He dwells much on the enormous length of this life, and the prodigious revenue of happiness it may yield to those who comply with the conditions of happiness. It is his habit, also, to preach the duty which devolves upon every person, to labor for the increase of his knowledge and the general improvement of his mind. We have heard him say on the platform of his church, that it was disgraceful to any mechanic or clerk to let such a picture as the Heart of the Andes be exhibited for twenty-five cents, and not go and see it. Probably there is not one honest clergyman in the country who does not fairly earn his livelihood by the good he does, or by the evil he prevents. But not enough good is done, and not enough evil prevented. The sudden wealth that has come upon the world since the improvenent of the steam-engine adds a new difficulty to the life of millions. So far, the world does not appear to have made the best ise of its too rapidly increased surplus. “We cannot sell a twelve-dollar book in this country,” said a bookseller to us the other day. But how easy to sell two-hundred-dollar garments ! There seems great need of something that shall have power to spiritualize mankind, and make head against the reinforced influence of material things. It may be that the true method of dealing with the souls of modern men has been, in part, discovered by Mr. Beecher, and that it would be well for persona aspiring to the same vocation to begin their preparation by mak ing a pilgrimage to Brooklyn Heights.
M HE Staten Island ferry, on a fine afternoon in summer, is one
1 of the pleasantest scenes which New York affords. The Island, seven miles distant from the city, forms one of the sides of the Narrows, through which the commerce of the city and the emigrant ships enter the magnificent bay that so worthily announces the grandeur of the New World. The ferry-boat, starting from the extremity of Manhattan. Island, first gives its passengers & view of the East River, all alive with every description of craft; then, gliding round past Governor's Island, dotted with camps and crowned with barracks, with the national flag floating above all, it affords a view of the lofty bluffs which rise on one side of the Hudson and the long line of the mast-fringed city on the other; then, rounding Governor's Island, the steamer pushes its way towards the Narrows, disclosing to view Fort Lafayette, so celebrated of late, the giant defensive works opposite to it, the umbrageous and lofty sides of Staten Island, covered with villas, and beyond all, the Ocean, lighted up by Coney Island's belt of powy sand, glistening in the sun.
Change the scene to fifty-five years ago : New York was then
town of eighty thousand people, and Staten Island was inhabited only by farmers, gardeners, and fishermen, who lived by supplying the city with provisions. No elegant seats, no picturesque villas adorned the hillsides, and pleasure-seekers found a nearer
* This narrative of the business-life of Commodore Vanderbilt was written immediately after I had heard him tell the story himself. It was written at the request of Robert Bonner, Esq., and published by him in the New York Ledger of April 8, 1865. I should add, that several of the facts given were related to me at various times by members of Mr. Vanderbilt's fainily.
resort in Hoboken. The ferry then, if ferry it could be calleil, consisted of a few sail-boats, which left the island in the morning loaded with vegetables and fish, and returned, if wind and tide permitted, at night. If a pleasure party occasionally visited Staten Island, they considered themselves in the light of bold adventurers, who had gone far beyond the ordinary limits of an excursion. There was only one thing in common between the ferry at that day and this : the boats started from the same spot. Where the ferry-house now stands at Whitehall was then the beach to which the boatmen brought their freight, and where they remained waiting for a return cargo. That was, also, the general boat-stand of the city. Whoever wanted a boat, for business or pleasure, repaired to Whitehall, and it was a matter of indifference to the boatmen from Staten Island, whether they returned home with a load, or shared in the general business of the port.
It is to one of those Whitehall boatmen of 1810, that we have to direct the reader's attention. He was distinguished from his comrades on the stand in several ways. Though master of a Staten Island boat that would carry twenty passengers, he was but sixteen years of age, and he was one of the handsomest, the most agile and athletic, young fellows that either Island could show. Young as he was, there was that in his face and bearing which gave assurance that he was abundantly competent to his work. He was always at his post betimes, and on the alert for a job. He always performed what he undertook. This summer of 1810 was his first season, but he had already an ample share of the best of the business of the harbor.
Cornelius Vanderbilt was the name of this notable youth, — the same Cornelius Vanderbilt who has since built a hundred steamboats, who has since made a present to his country of a steamship of five thousand tons' burden, who has since bought lines of railroad, and who reported his income to the tax commissioners, last year at something near three quarters of a million. The first money the steamboat-king ever earned was by carrying passengers between Staten Island and New York at eighteen cents each.
His father, who was also named Cornelius, was the founder of