Chapin writes of the district with great affection and a rather refreshing naivete, with something of the embarrassed exhilaration the conventional man feels on his first introduction to an actress. Yet on the whole it is a friendly accent after the over-featured and over-adjectival publicity of industrious "special story" bandits, who do their best to rob our cities of what bloom is left them, by calling too shrill attention to the happier survivals.
rom the recollection of the Potter's Field. But there is always something fundamentally shocking in any place of public punishment. And,--alas!--there is that stain upon the fair history of this square of which we are writing.
For--there was a gallows in the old Potter's Field. Upon the very spot where you may be watching the sparrows or the budding leaves, offenders were hanged for the edification or intimidation of huge crowds of people. Twenty highwaymen were despatched there, and at least one historian insists that they were all executed at once, and that Lafayette watched the performance. Certainly a score seems rather a large number, even in the days of our stern forefathers; one cannot help wondering if the event were presented to the great Frenchman as a form of entertainment.
In 1795 came one of those constantly recurring epidemics of yellow fever which used to devastate early Manhattan; and in 1797 came a worse one. Many bodies were brought from other burying grounds, and when