The Englishwoman In America By Isabella Lucy Bird
























































































































 -  The Quakers had the credit of
originating them. Being men of peace, they could not bear arms in defence
of - Page 410
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The Quakers Had The Credit Of Originating Them.

Being men of peace, they could not bear arms in defence of their country, and exchanged militia service for the task of extinguishing all the fires caused by the wilfulness or carelessness of their fellow-citizens.

This has been no easy task in cities built of wood, which in that dry climate, when ignited, burns like pine-knots. Even now, fires occur in a very unaccountable manner. At New York my slumbers were, frequently disturbed by the quick-tolling bell, announcing the number of the district where a fire had broken out. These fire companies have regular organizations, and their members enjoy several immunities, one of which I think is, that they are not compelled to serve as jurymen.

They are principally composed of young men, some of them the wilder members of the first families in the cities.

Their dresses are suitable and picturesque, and, with the brilliant painting and highly-polished brasses of their large engines, they form one of the most imposing parts of the annual pageant of the "Glorious Fourth." The fireman who first reaches the scene of action is captain for the night, and this honour is so much coveted, as to lead them often to wait, ready equipped, during the winter nights, that they may be able to start forth at the first sound of the bell. There is sufficient dangerous adventure, and enough of thrilling incident, to give the occupation a charm in the eyes of the eager youth of the cities.

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