SPORTING PLACES IN VALPARAISO
[Transcript of a letter to the Editor of "The New York Clipper", published 25 April 1863]
U. S. Flag Ship "Lancaster",
Bay of Valparaiso, Chile, S. A.,
March 11, 1863.
FRANK QUEEN—Dear Sir: As a few lines from this part of the world may not be uninteresting to many of the numerous readers of your Journal, I shall attempt to give a short account of sporting matters, amusements, etc., as they exist at present in the city of Valparaiso. Immediately after our arrival, general liberty was given to the crew; and a certain number, in their turn receiving a sufficient sum of money, and the best wishes of their ship-mates, departed for a cruise on terra firma. As soon as jolly Jack Tar or fighting Johnny Marine arrives here, he seems to think that the "higher" he gets, the better; and therefore shapes his course for the Fore, Main, and Mizzen tops, which are three large and spacious ball-rooms, or dance houses, each situated upon a hill, a short distance apart, and looking down on each other with all the envy and malice that jealousy and opposition can inspire. Here you meet the beautiful Señorita, who greets you with a "Sea, Beno Americano," and at the same time some Creole maiden will prove her affection towards the Yankee sailor by exclaiming, "Americano mucho Bueno, English mucho malo." Certainly the person thus addressed by such convincing proof of their adoration and liking, must have felt for a moment that he was "a pretty boy with a glass eye."
On passing along the streets and alleys, glaring English signs meet your gaze, such as the "Two Jolly Tars," "Paddy's Goose," "Scouse [reference to Liverpool, England, Ed.] Kettle," "CLIPPER Shades," "Sportsman's Hall," etc. The latter house is a fine establishment, with a spacious barroom, an elegant bowling alley, a first-class sparring room, and rat-pit, with several sets of gloves, dumb-bells, single sticks, etc., always on hand. The proprietor, Ned Rogers, is a jovial fellow, but is considered rather too sharp to retain the confidence or good will of his patrons; his knowledge of the manly art is below par, and although he sports a moustache, still he "can't keep a hotel." I have often thought, both on this and my former visit to Valparaiso, that if one of the many first-class lightweights in the city of New York who are doing nothing, would come here and start a crib, he would meet with decided success.
… I am requested to state in behalf of the crew, as our mails have been detained and we have not received any information from the United States for two months, that if you have a knapsack or a duff-bag full of old letters, you will please forward them to me, and I will guarantee a ready sale, no matter how they are written or what the subject may be; each one will fetch a ten cent postage stamp. The crew present their compliments, through the columns of your journal, to the honorable gentleman who introduced the bill for the abolition of the spirit ration in the navy.
I remain with respect, etc.,
M. A. BREWIN.