« AnteriorContinuar »
Detention in New Orleans.-Insalubrity of the Climate.—Great Mortality among Irish Labourers.-Precautions against Yellow Fever. Why New Orleans is called the Wet Grave.Sepulchres.-Gambling.- Population. Commerce.-Wagroad from the Atlantic to the Pacific.-Duelling in the Western States.-A Monster at large. Contrast between the Eastern and Western States.-Rival Undertakers.-A Hearse recommended.-Stores of ready-made Coffins.--Reasonable charges.-Bals de Bouquet.-Another Hurricane.The Texas Territory.-Nature of Inquiries regarding it.The Boundaries and Area.-Americans desirous of possessing it.-Americans and Mexicans not on good terms.—Emigration.-Colonel Austin's and De Witt's Settlements.— Improper persons introduced into Texas.-Slaves.-Anticipated Conquest.-The Face of the Country.- Mountain Ranges. Prairies. Rivers. The climate. - Timber. — Mines.-Productions.-Government.- Towns.- Concluding
remarks on Texas.
I HAD been in close contact with yellow fever at Jamaica and at Havannah, and now I was in the midst of it at New Orleans. I began to be ashamed of myself for "tempting Providence" so long. We are but frail creatures the strongest of us, easily overset with all our precautions, and "the pitcher that goes often to the well is at last broken." Therefore, though I acknowledged with lively gratitude my preservation through countless dangers and difficulties, yet I was well aware that
INSALUBRITY OF THE CLIMATE.
it was fool-hardy to put myself in the way of such a formidable enemy as the yellow fever longer than I could help, and therefore was anxious to leave the city; but I could not get a steam-vessel to convey me up the river, so I was obliged to submit to my destiny, and, as we say in the East, "to smoke the pipe of patience on the carpet of resignation.'
Though New Orleans is rapidly increasing in size and commercial importance, as the emporium of the rich valley of the Mississippi must necessarily continue to do, yet no improvement has taken place in the climate and in the salubrity of the atmosphere, and even acclimated whites are afraid to remain when a greenish scum of vegetable matter begins to appear on the shallow pools in August. It is distressing to record the fact, that on an average, six hundred Irish perish yearly in and and about New Orleans, who come in search of employment and high wages (a dollar a day), from New York and Charleston, to the ungenial clime of Louisiana. They are commonly employed trenching in the country, and digging the foundations of houses in towns, inhale deadly vapours, and more deadly rum, have none to advise or guide them, and perish miserably.
It may not be intrusive to state in this place, the precautions I took to guard against the formidable malady. I slept in an upper story, performed my ablutions as regularly as a Hindoo, ate animal food only once a day, and in small
NEW ORLEANS THE WET GRAVE.”
quantities, (farinaceous substances form the natural food of man,) drank no spirits, but two or three glasses of wine per day, took three or four hours' active exercise, kept the mind employed, took once or twice a little precautionary quinine, and avoided the night air, which crept insidiously through the dull streets loaded with pestilential effluvia from the slimy banks of the river, and from the creeks and cypress swamps, the haunts of loathsome alligators and snakes.
On the 1st of September, the thermometer at eight P.M. was about 84°, without a breath of air, but myriads of mammoth musquitoes.
New Orleans is called the "Wet Grave," because, in digging" the narrow house," water rises within eighteen inches of the surface. Coffins are therefore sunk three or four feet, by having holes bored in them, and two black men stand on them till they fill with water, and reach the bottom of the moist tomb. Some people are particular, and dislike this immersion after death; and, therefore, those who can afford it have a sort of brick oven built on the surface of the ground, at one end of which, the coffin is introduced, and the door hermetically closed, but the heat of the southern sun on this "whited sepulchre," must bake the body inside, so that there is but a choice of disagreeables after all. The plan on which penitentiaries are built, has suggested to the Louisianians a new plan for interment: a broad brick wall is built with rows of cells on each side,
and in these the dead are laid to wait for the awful blast of the angel Gabriel, when the dead shall burst the cerements of the tomb, and come forth to judgement.
"What is death? 'tis to be free!
No more to live, or hope, or fear-
All, all alike are humbled there.
Back from the tomb
No step has come;
There fix'd till the last thunder's sound
Though it was the season of disease and death, yet the gamblers still continued to reap their harvest in the city. Night after night I was kept awake by the roulette table in the neighbouring house; and it is said that a revenue of thirty-five thousand dollars a year is derived by the city from licensed gambling-houses, which sum supports an hospital. Cock-fighting is a favourite amusement with both whites and coloured, and vice in every shape seems to hold high carnival in this city of the great valley. However, let no one judge of America from New Orleans, for it is altogether sui generis; and above all let no future traveller visit it in autumn, unless he wishes "to shake off this mortal coil," and save the coroner some trouble.
The population of New Orleans was
This increase is quite astonishing, especially when we consider that the population of the whole state of Louisiana under the French in 1763 was only eleven thousand. The whites are said to be at present two hundred and twenty thousand, and the slaves about one hundred and nineteen thousand in the State.
In 1822 there were exported from the Port of / New Orleans 167,742 bales of cotton; and in this year 417,413. In 1822, 26,233 hogsheads of tobacco; and in this year 31,933. Sugar and molasses, in 1829, 56,566 hogsheads and 2,511 barrels of the former, and 20,940 hogsheads and 8,245 barrels of the latter. This season, 52,142 hogsheads and 2,650 barrels of sugar; and 22,872 hogsheads and 14,794 barrels of molasses. Commerce will be facilitated by another canal from the city to Lake Pontchartrain, to be commenced next year; and I travelled from the city to the lake four miles on a rail-road, on which there are now locomotive engines. The citizens seem determined to avoid the one hundred and ten miles of river navigation.
I may here notice the new and seemingly very feasible scheme for passing the isthmus of Darien with merchandize. Last year goods were sent from New Orleans to Chagres (Darien), and transported on mules to the shores of the Pacific, and then shipped to Manilla. This year a company has been formed at Panama, and proposals have been made in England to form a waggon-road,