Thursday, July 28, 2011

Nature on the Way to Coney Island - 1850

It's summertime, 1850, and the masses are still flocking to Coney...

We made a sortie into the country yesterday afternoon, in the direction of Coney Island, and took full indemnity for another week of toil. There is the spot for those who love a quiet cot with a distant view of the changing sea ; not to speak of roasted clams and cool breezes. There is no truth in the rumor that the rush to the Island has affected the supply of either of these luxuries ; or that the sea girt shore of Rockaway has "caved in" to the mysterious knockings of the ocean. On the contrary, several new clam placers have been discovered, any quantity of sea-breeze is kept constantly on hand, and the beach, although frequently submerged, still holds at bay the further encroachment of the white crested surf. Pleasant it is of a summer's evening to look on that scene--the blue sky and the blue waters blending whitely in the horizon, while flashing sails come and go in the far offing, now growing upon your sight and again fading into the dim distance, like the hops of youth. All the while, the surf is sounding the majestic hymn which it commenced years before either you, reader ! or I was ushered into this mundane sphere and which it will probably continue for some time after we shall have therein given our last kick. To defer that mournful catastrophe to a distant date, go with a friend, or several of them--the more the better--to that charming sandhill and take a tumble in the surf among the porpoises. It is a specific that will wash the outer man from material stains and will renovate the inner almost as well as one of Dr. Beecher's sermons.--Feeling charitably disposed, we commend it in both senses, to the people of the Advertiser.

--Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Monday, July 1, 1850

I would assume they're talking about Henry Ward Beecher. In his sermon "Popular Amusements", book dated 1896, Dr. Beecher condemns certain pleasures like the circus and theater, arguing that God made a world more beautiful and the acts of nations and societies are far more dramatic. More predictably, he also condemns horse racing (and especially that women shouldn't witness it!) and gambling. As a writer I don't really care for his likening the theater to the guillotine (!).

I'd also assume the Brooklyn Advertiser probably said something negative about the path to Coney Island.

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