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FIRST NIGHT ON SHORE.
the street before it. It was built in the Spanish style, namely, that of a hollow quadrangle, with galleries round the interior paved court. I was almost the only inmate of the house for a fortnight, though it contained one hundred and twenty apartments, single-bedded and double; and the dining-room accommodated, in the bustling months of November, December, and January, two hundred and fifty guests. Being free to range over such a large house, I chose first one apartment and then another. I cannot pass over the comforts of the first I selected.
The heat when I retired to rest was upwards of 80° in the end of August; and forced to keep the door and window open for air, though a breath sufficient to agitate the gossamer did not stir, mammoth musquitoes (according to the American phraseology,) rushed into the dreary apartment, and made such a buzzing about my ears, that it resembled the noise of the wind among the cordage of a vessel. I took refuge under the sheet, when two or three dozen of rats, pursued by dogs, "scurried" round and round the room, and attempted to invade my bed, and this recreation continued at intervals during the night, accompanied with squeaking, barking, and worrying. As if that were not enough to prevent sleep, a party of noisy roulette players, occupying a room of an adjoining empty house, loudly betted and disputed in French for the better part of the night; then dogs howled portentously, first afar
NEW ORLEANS TONSOR.
off, then their ill-omened cry was repeated by their brethren nearer; and finally, when sinking to sleep at early dawn, a wild turkey in the yard commenced such a tormenting and complaining noise, that sleep was entirely banished from my eyelids, and I got up and refreshed myself by performing my ablutions.
I went out before breakfast to find a barber, and certainly had my hair dressed in better style than I ever had before by a mulatto. He seated me in a high chair, with a foot stool, and an upright fixed in the back, with a cross piece of wood on which the head rested, so that the operator had the cranium completely under command to work his will upon it, without being obliged to stoop awkwardly to his work. He cut and trimmed most minutely, used large hard brushes and soft small brushes, curled and oiled after the most approved manner, and all for the reasonable charge of two bits, or fourteen pence.
I then visited the markets, but, of course, at this season there was a poor display of meat, vegetables, and fruit; mulattoes, free blacks, and slaves, kept the stalls, and French was generally spoken. I next visited the Catholic cathedral, built in the style of that at Havannah, with a heavy gable front, a tower, a clock in centre, and turrets on each side; the interior was whitewashed, and a few stiff paintings of Saints were near the altar. Here, on the 8th of January, Te Deum is annually sung, in commemoration of the
A DUEL-THE LEVEE.
unsuccessful attack of the British in 1815. The cathedral stands in a pleasant square; the Plaza de Armas, having the city-hall and presbytery on each side of it, with handsome façades.
Whilst I was walking home, I heard of a duel that had just taken place, after the most approved Backwoods fashion, with rifles and buckshot; but Frenchmen were combatants, and a married lady the cause of the quarrel. Both had boasted of her favours, and the stronger of the two had severely beaten the other in a corridore for his presumption, but the aggrieved party swore that he would not be satisfied without battle à la mort. Pistols and swords were both proposed and rejected, and rifles were at last fixed upon; the duellists stood at the distance of thirty paces, back to back, the loaded weapons in their hands; the word was given, "Ready, fire," they turned, aimed, and fired simultaneously. A shot from the lesser hero grazed the stomach of the other, but merely drew blood, and the rifles were again loaded. At the second fire the back bone of the bully was touched-he fell and became very sick; the lesser then exacted a promise from him, that he would not in future render his carrying arms to defend himself at all times necessary; and thus the affair terminated, but the lady preferred the wounded lover.
I wandered down to breathe a little air (I cannot call it fresh,) on the Levee, and saw specimens of the different vessels which navigate the great
river; the square flat-bottomed boats, loaded with fruit and Indian corn; the long Kentucky keel boats, with whisky and flour barrels; and lastly, the handsome steam-vessels, moving hotels of two stories, with elegant saloons, carpeted floors, mirrored and gilt walls, and comfortable sleepingberths, opposite to each of which was a small window. But, alas! none of these vessels were to proceed up the river for several weeks, they were all laid up in ordinary, and the only chance I had was a yellow-fever captain, that is, an enterprising fellow, who ventures down the river from Cincinnati, or St. Louis, in the fall, to see if he can pick up a few stray passengers or freight at a time when others are afraid to venture.
I saw on the Levee a battle between a mulatto and a negro; the mulatto threatened to jump down the other's throat, on which the negro, as if to anticipate the threat, brought his head to bear on his antagonist like that of a ram, and making a rush at him, threw him violently on his back with a punch on the stomach; but, the mulatto catching the ears of the negro with both hands, bit and gnawed away at his head, when a strapping fellow, a Kentuckian, ran at them, and flogged them unmercifully with a heavy cartwhip till they separated.
The place of meeting in the evening, in New Orleans, is not a reading-room, but a coffee-house, with a sanded floor, and some indelicate pictures on the walls. Here, after sun down, the merchants
EVENING RESORT-THE GAOL.
who lingered about this silent city, congregated to talk of cotton and sugar, new banks, speculations in canals and rail-roads, and, above all, of elections. Most of them wore striped jackets, cocked their hats on one side with an air of defiance, and swung a sword-stick between their extended legs. Up-stairs there were billiard and roulette tables with closed doors; the players scowled at me as I entered. Hard by there was the cockpit; neither the American nor French theatre was open, though they are well attended in the healthy months; and masked balls are then given, which in all other cities of the Union are unknown.
I visited the gaol, which is small, and though crowded with prisoners of all colour, yet it is never known to have yellow fever within its walls; there was no classification of prisoners, who are turned out daily in gangs to work on the streets; they passed my window every day, marching two and two, with hoes, spades, and pickaxes on their shoulders, and chained loosely together; the whites led, then the mulattoes, and then the negroes. Among the former, a white man was pointed out who was condemned to twenty years' imprisonment and hard labour for murdering his mother.
Though, in point of religion and morals, the generality of the inhabitants of this singular city cannot be praised-(as a proof of their indifference to religion, there are only four churches among fifty thousand inhabitants); yet there are many