Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB
[graphic][ocr errors]

IMPRESSIONS OF NEW ORLEANS.

the novelty of the scene, the noise and con

fusion was so great that I was very glad New Orleans, with its beautiful crescent- when the friend whom I expected to meet formed site, the shipping in the harbour, me made his appearance, and conducted me the ferry-boats, which are very differently to the carriage which was to convey me to constructed from any I ever saw, having the boarding-house selected by him for my the appearance of floating houses-running reception. It being the latter end of Noto and from either side of the river, made vember, and the weather during our passage an impression on me, when viewed for the up the river having been very cold, I had first time, more easy to be imagined than gone on shore enveloped in shawls, but was described. On the levée, which is an em- soon obliged to divest myself of all superbankment fronting the Mississippi from one fluous covering. As we drove through the end of the town to the other, immense streets many of the shops were filled with crowds are assembled to witness the arrival the most beautiful fruit and flowers, and and departure of vessels. A more motley ladies walking on the balconies in light group I never beheld. It seemed composed dresses, enjoying the sunshine, made me, of every nation under heaven. Many of for the moment, think I had, like the dor. them rushed on board the moment our ship mouse, remained torpid all the winter, and touched the landing-place, and appeared to but just returned to consciousness amidst derive much amusement from staring at all the freshness and life of a lovely spring strangers, and asking innumerable questions morning. But the illusion soon vanished, of any who were at all inclined to be com- the climate in the winter season being exmunicative. Although much pleased with tremely variable; and although the trees are

Q

[ocr errors]

never leafless, and snow is unknown, there keepers ; the apartments above opening one some very cold days, which are very trying, into the other with balconies on the outowing to the construction of the houses, side, in many cases all round the houses. which are built to admit as much air as In the suburbs they are generally built of possible.

wood, painted white, with green jalousies, On reaching my destination, which was most of them with pretty gardens leading in one of the principal streets in the French to the house, filled with beautiful half troquarter of the town, I felt the necessity of pical shrubs and flowers. One tree in pardevoting some hours to repose after my ticular attracted my attention at night, fatiguing voyage; but, before retiring, was from having, as I thought then, some briltold not to be alarmed if I heard cries of liant insect fluttering in its branches, the fire, as there was generally one every eve- effect of which I found, on inquiry, was ning: “Forewarned, forearmed,” they say, caused by some of the leaves which produce which was perfectly true in my case: I had such an appearance at that time : its name not been asleep long when I was awoke by is very appropriate, being called the Fire-fly a fearful commotion, and heard cries of tree. Two of the principal streets, which “ Fire! fire !" shouted by a number of separate the municipalities, viz., ' Canalvoices, mingled with the lumbering of street and Esplanade, are wide, handsome engines over the side walks. Finding, avenues, lined with trees after the manner however, they went past the house some of Continental cities. distance, I did not disturb myself; whereas, The majority of the inhabitants being had I not been cautioned, I should most Catholic, the places of worship of that perassuredly have made my appearance en robe suasion preponderate. There are some good de nuit, no doubt to the infinite amusement institutions, amongst which I may mention of the other boarders, who were just com- the Orphan Asylums, where destitute chilmencing the evening. While on the subject dren are supported and well educated, and of fires, I must mention a peculiarity of the situations or trades are provided for them New Orleans people, who, although con- on attaining a certain age. I visited also a flagrations are of nightly occurrence, make Catholic Foundling Hospital on the prina practice of going to see them wherever ciple adopted in France, where the offspring they may happen, or at whatever time. of unfortunate women or unnatural parents Night as well as day, they will dress and are received. I was much pleased with the go in immense crowds, young and old, rich arrangements, and more especially with the and poor, leaving their houses to take care dormitories—scrupuluusly clean; the beds of themselves; the consequence is, that the ranged side by side, according to size, with vagabonds or loafers," as they are called, great neatness; between every four, in the with which the city abounds, and who are rooms appropriated to the younger ones, the only persons who do not visit the scene was a larger bed for the sisters; there was of action, reap a rich harvest by robbing the also a nursery for the infants, in which houses so left.

the elder children assisted; they were all New Orleans is divided into three parts, dressed in pink calico, and presented a called Municipalities. The first and older strong contrast to the Sisters in their sombre portion of the town is almost entirely in- black garments. There was a subdued mehabited by French; their language i spoken, lancholy about them very unnatural to and one mght almost fancy himself in one childhood, which produced on me a most of the sea-port cities of the South of France; painful impression, and one I found difficult the second, chiefly by English and Ameri- | to shake off for some time after my visit. cans; the third, by Spaniards. Lafayette, The public schools, both male and female, which has since been united to New Orleans, are very excellent, and have been greatly and now forms the fourth Municipality, is improved of late by the introduction of chiefly inhabited by Germans, mostly from teachers from the Northern States, who are the South. These last are also very nume- more energetic their system of education rous in the other municipalities; they, how- than the Southern people. There is plenty ever, conform to the habits, and speak the of hotel accommodation in the city, for language, of each. The houses in the city which, however, the stranger has to pay an are constructed of red brick, many of them exorbitant price. handsome and substantial, with large court- The system of boarding-houses which here, yards in the French style. Except in the as well as in all other parts of America, is so hotels and larger boarding-houses, they general, has its advantages, particularly to seldom have more than two stories over the young housekeepers and new-comers. The basements, which are occupied by shop- 1 commissariat department to them is a serious

business. When a servant or help is hired, | avoid making a comparison in my own mind who is pretty sure to be a sister of the between them and men of the same class in Emerald Isle, she makes a stipulation with England, who, however they may be dressed, the mistress that she shall not be sent to or in whatever society you find them, are market; what the reason is I do not know, still workmen ; and no change of circumbut it is a rare thing to get one who can or stances can make them otherwise. will do it. The markets are opened very I tried both housekeeping and boarding, early in the morning, and are thronged with and much prefer the latter, particularly in purchasers and spectators from day-break the summer months, when it is a great until between pine and ten--the heat com- advantage to have nothing to do; the exmeneing about that time, when all is cleared treme heat rendering even the natives, much away until the next day. There are no more Europeans, languid and unfit for any butchers' shops in New Orleans: the meat greater exertion than sitting in a rocking becoming deconiposed a very few hours after chair, with a little negress, if you possess one, it is killed, so that it requires a little judg- by your side, to fan you, and keep of the ment and care on the part of the pur- mosquitoes, which are very numerous. With chaser, which can only be acquired by the first shades of evening these troublesome experience. The markets are well worth a little creatures enter your doors and windows visit, particularly the French one: Sunday in immense swarms, and with their arrival is the time to see it in full perfection. disappear all the anticipations you may have Every known nation on the face of the formed of spending a pleasant evening on earth seems to congregate there. Here the balcony when the heat of the day is over. you see English, Irish, German, French, This is an indulgence which, Creoles* Mexicans, Spaniards, Negroes, buying and seldom or ever think of taking, as they know selling with great eagerness and vivacity. it to be exceedingly dangerous to inhale the The stalls filled with splendid tropical fruits night air; the vapours which arise from the and flowers; the coffee booths laden with river, and the swamps by which the city is all kinds of cakes and confectionery, round surrounded, being very unwholesome, and which merry little groups stand laughing frequently causing disease to unacclimated and talking over their early breakfast; the persons who may expose themselves incauabundance of game and all good things, tiously to these influences. The Creoles present a picturesque and novel scene, retire to rest very early, and are up and out which will amply repay a disciple of Mor- almost with the dawn, which is the only time pheus who will leave his downy nest a little you really can enjoy a walk in the hot seaearlier than he is wont.

son. The air is then beautifully soft, with a It has often surprised me to see the ease fresh breeze from the river, which seems to with which the mistress of a boarding-house invigorate everything vegetable, and animal. will go to the market at six in the morning, The streets then present a more lively apcater for her large family, which in New pearance than at any other time of the day. Orleans is no easy matter (the dishes at the The negro women, in their gay head-dresses, three meals, breakfast, dinner, and supper, which are formed of bright-hued Madras which is taken at six in the evening-being handkerchiefs, which they tastefully, and numerous and varied), see that all is in due the younger ones especially, coquettishly order on her return, and take her seat at arrange, following their employers from table by eight o'clock !

market laden with baskets of beautiful One of the advantages of boarding is a flowers, fruit, and fresh-smelling vegetables, cheerful, though, I must admit, a very and the numbers of delicately beautiful and mixed, society; one feature of which espe- gaily-dressed children, attended by their cially attracted my attention : there is little nurses, who are generally Mulatto-many or no distinction of persons, and throughout of them pretty, with very graceful figuresthe whole community there is a spirit of have a very pleasing effect, and cannot fail independence which cannot fail to please a to interest a stranger. person of liberal mind. The employer and In reference to the treatment of slaves by the employed meet in public on equal terms; their owners, as far as my experience went, and I have frequently met in those houses they were much better treated than I had young men of gentlemanly appearance and

Many Europeans are under the impression that a manners, who, I afterwards learned, were

Creo e must othecessity be a coloured jersen. Geole compositors, printers, and such like; but it is anything native of the place; thus, there are New was impossible to detect the slightest differ- and being naturally acclinatized, they are moe valu

Orleans Ceolc Negroes, Creole mules, Creule eggs, &c., ence between them and their wealthier and able. A Crole negro or a mule can do more work,

fowls thrive better. and butter and eggs pr duced there more aristocratic associates. I could not

keep longer than those brought from other parts.

been led to expect; a few cases of cruelty thought; they felt they were labouring for came under my notice-one in particular, liberty and new life. Some attained their the perpetrator of which, I regret to say, was freedom quicker than others; but in time a lady—a little delicate woman, whom you all the negroes on his plantation were emanwould never have suspected of such 'be- cipated, they having in that time repaid haviour. She owned an aged female slave, their purchase-money. His parsimonious whom she was in the habit of beating most habits contrasted strangely with his genecruelly till the blood streamed from her; rous and deeply-thinking mind, for such a then coolly sending for a coach to take her to one he must have possessed to have conthe Coloured Hospital, from which, when ceived and accomplished so noble an undercured, she was again sent back to her inhu- taking. Much more he would have done, mau mistress to endure the same punishment no doubt, had he not been cut off in the the next time she had the misfortune to midst of his plans. His property, which offend. This was the only case of extreme amounted to some millions of dollars, he left cruelty I witnessed while there. No doubt, to public charities in Louisiana. on the plantations, they have to endure much The worst slave holders are the free hard work, and sometimes great brutality negroes. Instead of sympathising with from the overseers, who, with few exceptions, their unfortunate brethren, they tyrannise are much more tyrannical and cruel than over them to a great extent. The Irish, also, the owners, who never know half the enor- make very bad masters; indeed, between mities committed by these monsters. In them and the black part of the population point of labour, I did not consider them generally there is a very bad feeling existworse off than many of our labouring men ing—they seldom come in contact without in England, who voluntarily adopt the most quarrelling. The Irish labourers are mostly laborious and unwholesome occupations. employed on the levée in rolling bales of Many of the slave owners in New Orleans cotton to the ships loading in the harbourare immensely wealthy, deriving large in- a most laborious, and, in the hot season, comes from the sums paid them by their hazardous occupation. Being of necessity negroes; the men at different trades, and much exposed to the heat of the sun, they the women getting plenty of employment as suffer greatly from its effects, and are someladies' maids, nurses, house servants, laun- times struck dead by its rays. Spirits and dress and stewardesses on the river steam- fruit being very cheap—à half-a-pint of boats. They have each to pay their owners whiskey only costing twopence halfpennya certain sum every month according to the they indulge very freely in those things, lucrativeness of their employment, or their their wages being liberal; and, as a matter capabilities, feed and clothe themselves, and of course, in an unhealthy climate, disease the surplus is in most instances carefully and frequently death ensues. I noticed, hoarded to purchase, after many years, the however, in the Irish female character one long-desired freedom,

very good trait; after they had been in While residing in New Orleans, I met a New Orleans some little time, and were gentleman named Macdonald, a most eccen- earning money, they deprived themselves of tric character; although possessing immense necessaries to be enabled to send means to property, he was miserly in the extreme, their relations in Ireland to join them in denying himself every necessary and leaving the land of plenty. his near relatives to almost perish for want; At the corner of every street in the city yet he conceived the noble idea of emanci- are coffee-houses; why they are called so I pating his slaves, but in such a manner that never could make out, as I believe every they should gain and he be no loser by the beverage but coffee is to be obtained there. transaction. They worked for him five days On entering one of these you see a long in the week for food, clothing, and house-counter filled with glasses and bottles, conroom; on the sixth day he paid them wages taining every kind of spirits, wines, and for work done, and credited them with the cordials. You fill your glass with whatever money thus earned; this was the first year. you please, for which you pay a dime, value The second he paid them two days' wages tivepence, in the first-class houses; and in in the week, provided they conducted them- the second, a picayune, equal to twopenceselves well: the third year, three, and so on halfpenny. At all these places there is until he had reimbursed himself

, when he spread every morning a luncheon, consistgranted their freedom together with a little ing of all kinds of refreshment, 'hot and money to begin life in Liberia, where he cold; people take this à la fourchette, for sent them. His plan was a wise and esti- which nothing is charged-each person paymable one; it gave his slaves energy and I ing for his glass of spirits or wine only. In some of these houses there is a second | rains which happen almost daily during the “spread,” as it is called, in the evening; hot weather, and, although they seldom and in such places as the St. Charles, or the last an hour, nearly inundate the place. St. Louis hotels, where a dime is charged, the One of the annoyances to which the display of provisions is much greater and stranger is subjected, in the hot season, is of better quality. All day long these houses the prickly heat, a small rash which comes are filled with men gambling, playing cards, out all over the body, of the most irritating drinking, and smoking; particularly in description; it is considered a sign of good those of the second class, where scenes of health, but one, I think, every one would violence, and sometimes murder, have oc- most willingly dispense with. Rats, which curred; maddened by the excitement of to me were the greatest nuisance of all, play and drink, quarrels frequently arise, mosquitoes included, literally swarm; and as they do not fight only, but resort to whole troops of them visit the apartments knives and pistols, it is scarely matter of at night, especially the eating-rooms, and surprise if there is hardly a day passes penetrate even to the bed-rooms. They are without something dreadful taking place. of immense size, and I have often seen, Another great source of crime are the walking up the street of an evening, what nightly balls, which are attended by the I at first took to be a kitten or a puppy, lower orders of all nations. Jealousies and which, to my great horror, on examining disagreements are sure to arise, and the more closely, I found to be an enormous evening's amusements winds up with a rat. Still, I believe they are very useful fight, if not something worse. There are in such a place, eating up the refuse, several theatres ; but, throughout the whole and materially lessening the scavengers' city there is a great dearth of intellectual duties. amusement. It is to be found, however, in The people of New Orleans have a saying many private families; but here I noticed that the waters of the Mississippi possesses a very marked distinction of society. In certain charms; that persons taking it will hotels and boarding-houses-all are on an never wish to return to their native land: equality ; but in their domestic circles they but whatever effect it may have produced are very exclusive, and their acquaintance on others, the enchantment failed in my limited. But, on the other hand, there was case, for, although I had met with much one trait in their character which pleased kindness from the inhabitants, and had me very much. Persons of respectability passed many happy hours, I felt no regret once admitted to their friendship, after- when the time arrived for my departure : wards suffering a reverse of fortune, were but, on the contrary, anticipated with much shown even greater courtesy and attention pleasure the prospect of seeing dear Old by those who were more favoured by the England again. Still, with all its dissipafickle goddess. How very different is the tion and disagreeables, any one in search of case in England, where, I am sorry to say, novelty and amusement, with plenty of people are too much estimated by their means at command, may pass a pleasant wealth, frequently to the sacrifice of all winter in New Orleans; and the anticipamoral feeling and integrity.

tions of the writer will be more than There are no regular soldiers in New realised should the foregoing sketch prove Orleans; but the citizens form themselves useful and interesting to those who in into companies with the sanction of the future may be attracted to the great cotton State, each company electing its own mart of the New World. officers. The uniforms and dresses are very varied; the individual taste of the leaders being the only standard.

LITTLE PRESENTS. On looking at the river from any of the streets leading to it, you are struck with LIFE is made up of little things; every the appearance of its being higher than the now and then—and every now and then land, which is the case, the centre of the only is it that we are startled from the town being below the level of the river. usual routine of small events by some great There are no sewers, it being impossible to thing happening to us. Small grains make dig two feet without coming to water; the great mountains, and there is a value in drainage, as a matter of course, is very bad, little things to which many large ones can the gutters which run down each side of never attain. How cheering to the downthe streets emitting at times a most dis- cast mind is even the bright smile, or the agreeable effluvia, and would no doubt be passing sunbeam, and just such cheerful much worse if it were not for the heavy I visitants are little presents. We have a

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »