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St. John, after sailing through Lake Borgne and Lake Portchartrain. These meadows, with the numerous herds of cattle which were grazing in them, had a more English appearance than any views we have yet seen; the absence of a rich green surface, clear of wood, being to us one of the most constant peculiarities of the American scenery through which we have yet passed. The prairies were the nearest approach to our home views. It was not until I had crossed the city, that I first caught a glimpse of the noble Mississippi. It was in flood, rising and flowing rapidly, but majestically, to the ocean. I cannot describe my sensations when I found myself actually on the banks of a river which had so long and so powerfully impressed my imagination. At dinner we had the water of the river in the decanters; and, muddy as it was till it had deposited its copious sediment, I -looked at it with no common interest, and was elated with the idea that I was drinking water from a stream which, rising in the northern regions in the same Table-lands from which more wintry currents flow to Hudson's Bay and Niagara, and actually freezing near its source on the bottom of the canoes in the middle of summer, traverses this western continent for nearly 3000 miles, and after watering the orange groves and sugar plantations of Louisiana, and spreading itself far and wide over an immense delta of alluvion, falls into the Gulph of Mexico under nearly the same latitude as the waters of the Nile.
After perambulating the city, my former unpleasant impressions returned in their full force, and were confirmed by every day's residence. The first thing which struck me was the French names of most of the streets, an old French theatre, and an old French or Spanish fort. The advertisements on a large proportion of the shops were in French: many of the shopkeepers spoke French only; and the dress of the
ladies was French altogether. The population is of every complexion from the most beautiful white and red, through all the various shades of brown and yellow to jet black. Indeed, perhaps no city in the world exhibits a more miscellaneous collection of inhabitants ;-Americans from every State from Maine to Georgia; English, French, Spanish, Creole, Indian and African ;— and it is not always, as you will readily believe, the best of their respective nations who have chosen to place themselves on the forlorn hope in this pestilential region. My stay was too short to authorize me to pretend to describe the state of society. I will only say therefore, that the impressions which I carried with me from England and the northern States, were by no means effaced by the opportunity of actual observation.
I took up my abode at Madame
-'s, where there were several gentlemen whom I knew, Judge
General, and a Captain of the American Navy, whose liberal sentiments, general information, and gentlemanly manners, would have done no discredit to the captain of a British frigate. My quarters, therefore, might have been very agreeable, if my landlady, who keeps by far the best boardinghouse in New Orleans, had been of a different character. Unfortu nately, my room adjoined hers; and I heard her at four or five o'clock in the morning calling for her cowskin to square the preceding day's account with her Negroes. She was in bulk like a large English landlady; and I have heard the heavy blows of her brawny arm and the piercing cries of the wretched slave succeed each other till she was completely exhausted. Had I had reason to believe that I should avoid such disgusting occurrences by removing, I would have left immediately; but such exhibitions were too general to be escaped.
I have no doubt, however, that the moral aspect of the town is im
others from the western country. At the boarding-house I found the Governor of the state; a worthy old gentleman of handsome property, and of a highly respectable family in Virginia. He took his meals at the common table, where there was a promiscuous assemblage of merchants, agents, and clerks; and I kept my letter of introduction to him in my pocket two days, little aware that I was in his company. I mention the circumstance, as a trait of the manners of this part of the country, which surprized me a little, as I had met at Washington Governors of other States, with far less solid titles to personal and he reditary respectability, aristocratical enough in their behaviour. When I had delivered my letters to him, he insisted on sending his servant and horses with me in my calls on some of the principal planters in the neighbourhood, for the roads through the forests are intricate, and you seldom meet any one to set you right, if you take a wrong direction.
Our boarding house is near the Mississippi, which is now falling a foot every day; the spring flood having reached its height while I was at New Orleans; but the flood from the Missouri has not yet arrived. Nearly opposite the windows of the room in which I am writing, the river takes one of its noblest sweeps under what are called the Bluffs, from which you look down over it upon a dense forest, which stretches to the horizon, and in which the sun seems to extinguish his latest rays. On these Bluffs I generally take my evening walk, and please myself with the idea that a few hours previously you may have been watching the setting of this glorious luminary behind our favourite hills; for in
"These lands, beneath Hesperian skies, Our daylight sojourns till your morrow rise."
Indeed there is something in the vicinity of Natchez which perpe
tually reminds me of home. The thick clover, the scattered knolls with their wood-crowned summits, differing only from those most familiar to me in the magnificence of the foliage with which they are shaded, and the neat husbandry of the intervening plantations, give the whole country the appearance of an English park. An Irishman with whom I was riding last night remarked, that the roads strongly resemble those through the large domains in Ireland. I leave you to make due allowance for our anxiety to trace every little resemblance to our native land. At this distance from home we are not solicitous by too accurate a discrimination to dispel an illusion, if it be one, which affords us so much pleasure. You remember Humboldt's beautiful observation: "If amid this exotic nature, the bellow of a cow or the roaring of a bull were heard from the depth of a valley, the remembrance of our country was awakened suddenly at the sound. They were like distant voices resounding from beyond the ocean, and with magical force transporting us from one hemisphere to the other." But the gigantic plane and maple trees, a large proportion of the seventy or eighty different species of the American oak, theSassafras, the Hiccory, the Pride of India, the Catalpa, the Liquid Amber Styraciflua, the Liriodendron Tulipifera, above all, the Magnolia Grandiflora, one hundred feet high, with its deep green leaves and broad white flowers expanded like a full-blown rose, remind us that we are far from home, while at night the brilliancy of the stars, the delicious fragrance of the surrounding woods, and especially the fireflies which sparkle on every side, seem almost to transport us into the regions of eastern romance. We are also often gratified with the sight of many beautiful birds which are strangers to us, and sometimes catch a glimpse of the wild deer. A day or two since, I rode close past a rattlesnake in the woods
which we afterwards killed, and cut off its rattle. It was about four and a half feet long.-There is much in the plain friendly manners of many of the planters in this neighbourhood with which I have been greatly pleased; and if slavery were banished from their domestic and agricultural economy, I should envy their retired, unostentatious, and independent mode of existence. The men are generally hospitable and well informed as respects the common concerns of life, and the women modest and obliging, although cold in their manners at first acquaintance. Many persons with incomes of 2000l. to 3000l. per annum, live something in the style of our second and third rate farmers; the White joiners and artificers whom they may be employing eating with them, and forming part of the family. If you take them by surprize they make you welcome, but offer no apology for their common fare. They generally, however, offer you a bed; and if you remain till the next day, assiduously furnish you with a most plentiful table. I visited an old couple who had settled nine children in their neighbourhood (a term which here often comprizes a large district), giving each of them about 1000 acres of land and a stock of Negroes, and retaining for themselves only just sufficient for their wants, and to supply a little occupation, In the higher ranks of the plain planters, you find a state of society which I think must strongly re semble that of our second rate country gentlemen or yeomanry seventy or eighty years since; the females being brought up strictly, with little knowledge, and great attention to personal neatness and propriety, and the men filling alternately the situation of soldiers, justices, and planters. There are, however, some families in the neighbourhood of Natchez, who live much in the style of the higher classes in England, possessing polished manners, and respectable literary acquireCHRIST. OBSERV. No. 252.
ments. Their houses are spacious and handsome, and their grounds are laid out like a forest park. In the society of some of these families I passed a few days very agreeably ; and while listening to some of our own favourite melodies on the harp and piano forte, I could have fancied myself on the banks of the Lune or the Mersey, rather than on those of the Mississippi.
The younger branches of many of these families have been educated, the young men at the colleges in the northern and eastern States; and the young ladies at boarding schools in Philadelphia; and some of them have formed matrimonial connections with northern families. The tastes and feelings, as well as the accomplishments and literature, of the north, are thus gradually introduced into these southern regions; and one happy consequence is a degree of repugnance to the slave system on the part of some of the younger members of the community, and a growing desire to mitigate its severities on the part of others. Indeed, it is impossible that, assimilated as many of them must be in mental habits and moral feelings to the society in which they were educated, and in which slavery is an object of abhorrence, they should become reconciled at once to the violation of the natural rights of an unoffending class of their fellow-creatures, or capable of witnessing, without horror, the dreadful scenes occasionally exhibited here. The other day I passed a plantation whose owner a few months before had shot one of his slaves; and I conversed with a mild young planter, I think not 22 years old, who had also shot a slave within a year. The offence, in both cases, was stated to be running away, and no notice whatever was taken of either of the murders. A friend of mine who has resided here some time, told me that calling one morning on a most respectable planter, a man of eminently humane and amiable manners, 5 н
he was surprised to see him sit ting in his virandah with his gun in his hand, earnestly watching a slave in the court, who was looking up at him with great emotion, as if meditating an escape. By and bye the overlooker came and took the slave away. My friend turned to the planter, and asked him what was the matter. He replied, "While I was at breakfast, that Negro came and delivered himself up, telling me that he had run away from my plantation, to avoid a threatened flogging, but that, as he had returned voluntarily, he hoped I would intercede with the overseer and get him excused. I told him I seldom interfered with the overseer, but would send and inquire into the circumstances. I sent for him, but the Negro in the mean time, appre hending the result, looked as if he would dart off into the woods. I ordered my gun, and if he had attempted to stir, I should have been obliged to shoot him dead; for there is no other way of enforcing obedience and subordination."
A very short time since, a cruel wealthy planter tried to work his slaves half the night as well as the whole of the day. They remonstrated with the overseer and became refractory, on which the planter undertook to controul them. He took his seat on the trunk of a tree to inspect them, with his gun in his hand to shoot the first who should shrink. About twelve o'clock at night he fell asleep. The slaves seized his gun, shot him, and burnt him to ashes on the fires which he was compelling them to make at midnight, of the wood they were employed in clearing. The case was so glaring, and the planter's cruelty so notorious, that the matter was hushed up as well as it could be, and the slaves were not punished; though while at Charleston I saw an account of a young Negro woman being burnt to death in South Carolina the week before, for murdering her master. An acquaintance of mine told me he was staying at
the time at an inn in the neighbourhood, from which many of the company went to see the horrid spectacle. On so serious a subject as this, I am particularly guarded in mentioning to you nothing for which I have not unquestionable authority. The following fact rests on the evidence of my own senses. At a dining party of five or six gentlemen, I heard one of the guests, who is reputed a respectable planter, say, in the course of conversation, that he shot at one of his slaves last year with intent to kill him for running away; that on another occasion finding that two runaway slaves had taken refuge on his plantation, he invited some of his friends out of town to dinner and a frolic; that after dinner they went out to hunt the slaves, and hearing a rustling in the reeds or canes in which they believed them to be concealed," they all fired at their game, but unfortunately missed." Does not your blood curdle? Yet he did not appear to be sensible that he was telling any thing ex traordinary, nor to understand the silence of astonishment and horror. I could extend this sad recital; but why should I harrow up your feelings? No incident could supply, indeed imagination could scarcely conceive, a more striking and decisive proof than is afforded by the last anecdote of the degree to which the Negro is degraded in the public estimation. If any place is allotted to him in the scale of humanity, it is so low, and so distant from that occupied by his White brethren, as for the most part to exclude him from their sympathy. Experience proves, what reason would anticipate, that it is impossible to regard the same objects one moment as merchandize or cattle, and the next as fellowmen. The planter whom example and habit have led to believe, that he must render the Negro industrious by the use of the lash, and obedient by shooting the refractory, acts as you and I should probably
have acted under similar circumstances; but is not that a horrible system which can so eradicate from men of education and liberal attainments all fellow-feeling for their kind? Nothing but familiarity with the degradation and sufferings of the Negroes could induce their White masters, many of whom are respectable, liberal, and humane in the ordinary relations of life, to tolerate the constant use of the lash. You continually see the overseer stalking about with his long lash whip, while the poor slaves are toiling with little rest or respite from morn to night-for here I observe they seem to work many hours longer than in Carolina. A friend told me, that while walking on the Levée at New Orleans, he has distinctly heard the successive lashes on the back of a poor slave on the other side of the Mississippi, which is half a-mile across. Another friend, who was riding with me here, told me, that one evening lately spending a night at the house of a planter who was from home, the planter's wife said how glad she was to see him, as she was just going to flog one of her slaves, and he would be kind enough to save her the trouble. My friend, however, who was from the north, had not been accustomed to the office of executioner, and did not choose to take the hint, broad as it was. The lady resumed the subject before supper, and again as soon as the cloth was drawn, when my friend told her he could not think of complying with her wishes. She was extremely offended, and evinced her displeasure so openly, that had there been another house within a few miles, my friend would have withdrawn. Before bed time, however, another traveller arrived, to whom the lady complained aloud of the ungentlemanly conduct of her first guest, who in common courtesy undertook to lacerate Cato's back, without inquiring into his offence. You will not wonder, after these details, that a White man
considers it a degradation to eat with a Black one; and that if you take a White servant to a planter's or an inn, he is obliged to have separate meals; and, where it is practicable, an apartment separate from the Black servants. I remember that as the mail stopped in Virginia and Carolina, I generally saw a little White boy stuffed in one corner; and for a long time without being particularly struck with the circumstance. At last, something leading me to inquire into the cause, I found there was a law prohibiting the mail bags being entrusted to a Black man. Now, as the coachmen were Negroes, this little lad was stuffed in, as a matter of form, as the nominal White guard of the United States' mail bags.
And who are these fellow-creatures who are thus degraded below the level of their kind; and what is the crime which is visited with the atrocious cruelties I have detailed? Are they cannibals, who have invaded these peaceful regions to massacre and devour its inhabitants? monsters whom no bonds of amity can restrain from rapine and devastation, whose hand is against every man, and every man's hand, therefore, of necessity and in self-defence against them? No, my friend : they are the simple, docile, unof fending natives of a distant land, whose colour is their crime, and who have been torn from their kindred and their country by stratagem and force. They are the people of whom Mungo Park observes, after alluding to those traces of our general depravity which are to be found among the Negroes as much as in every other branch of the human family; "It is impossible for me to forget the disinterested charity and tender solicitude of many of these poor heathens, from the sovereign of Sego to the poor women who received me at different times into their cottages when I was perishing with hunger, sympathized with me in my sufferings, relieved my distresses, and contri