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LIBRARY

OF THE
UNIVERSITY

OF
CALIFORNO

THE SOUTH WEST.

XXIV.

Characteristic scenery of the Mississippi-Card-playing—Sabbath on board a steamboat-An old sinner-A fair VirginianInquisitiveness of Yankee ladies—Southern ladies-A generalEllis's cliffs-Mines--Atala-Natchez in the distance-Duelling ground-Fort Rosalie-Forests—A traveller's remark.

The rich and luxuriant character of the scenery, which charms and attracts the eye of the traveller as he ascends the Mississippi from New Orleans to Baton Rouge, is now changed. A broad, turbid flood, rolling through a land of vast forests, alone meets the eye, giving sublime yet wild and gloomy features to the scene. On looking from the cabin window, I see only a long, unbroken line of cotton trees, with their pale green foliage, as dull and void of interest as a fog-bank. The opposite shore presents the same appearance; and so it is, with the occasional relief of a plantation and a “landing place,” comprising a few buildings, the whole distance to Natchez. A wretched cabin, now and then, varies the wild appearance of the banks-the

VOL. II.-B

10

WESTERN GAMBLERS.

home of some solitary wood-cutter. Therefore, as I cannot give you descriptions of things abroad, I must give you an account of persons on board.

There are in the cabin about forty passengers, of both sexes.

Two of the most genteel-looking among them, so far as dress goes, I am told, are professed “black-legs;” or, as they more courteously style themselves, “sporting gentlemen.”— There is an organized body of these ci-devant gentry upon the river, who have local agents in every town, and travelling agents on board the principal steamboats. In the guise of gentlemen, they "take in” the unwary passenger and unskilful player, from whom they often obtain large sums of money.

I might relate many anecdotes illustrative of their mode of operating upon their victims; but I defer them to some future occasion. As the same sportsmen do not go twice in the same boat, the captains do not become so familiar with their persons as to refuse them passage, were they so inclined. It is very seldom, however, when they are known, that they are denied a passage, as gambling is not only permitted but encouraged on most of the boats, by carrying a supply of cards in the bar, for the use of the passengers. Even the sanctity of the Sabbath is no check to this amusement : all day yesterday the tables were surrounded with players, at two of which they were dealing “faro;" at the third playing“ brag.” And this was on the Sabbath! Indeed the day was utterly disregarded by nearly every individual on board. Travelling is a sad demoralizer. My fellow-passengers seemed to have adopted the

AN INVOLUNTARY CRIME.

11

sailors' maxim, “no Sunday off soundings." Their religion was laid by for shore use. One good, clever-looking old lady, was busily engaged all the morning hemming a handkerchief; when some one remarked near her, “ This time last Sunday we made the Balize."_“ Sunday! to-day Sunday !" she exclaimed, in the utmost consternation, “ Is today Sunday, sir ?" "It is indeed, madam."

Oh, me! what a wicked sinner I am! O dear, that I should sew on Sunday !"--and away she tottered to her state-room, amidst the pitiless laughter of the passengers, with both hands elevated in horror, and ejaculating, “Oh me! what a wicked sinner! How could I forget !!? In a short time she returned with a Bible; and I verily believe that she did not take her eyes from it the remainder of the day, unless it might be to wipe her spectacles.-Good old soul! she was leaven to the whole lump of our ungodly company.

There are several French gentlemen; one important looking personage, who bears the title of general, and seems amply to feel the dignity it confers ; three or four Mississippi cotton planters, in large, low-crowned, broad-brimmed, white fur hats, wearing their clothes in a careless, half sailor-like, half gentleman-like air, dashed with a small touch of the farmer, which style of dressing is peculiar to the Mississippi country gentleman. They are talking about negroes, rail-roads, and towing shipping. There is also a travelling Yankee lawyer, in a plain, stiff, black coat, closely buttoned up to his chin,

12

TRAVELLING VARIETIES.

strait trowsers, narrow hat, and gloves—the very antipodes, in appearance, to the non chalant, easy, care-for-nothing air of his southern neighbours. A Methodist minister, in a bottle-green frock coat, fancy vest, black stock, white pantaloons and white hat, is sitting apart by the stove, deeply engaged upon the pages of a little volume, like a hymn-book.

. Any other dress than uniform black for a minister, would, at the north, be deemed highly improper, custom having thus so decided; but here they wear just what Providence sends them or their own taste dictates. There are two or three fat men,

in

gray and blue--a brace of bluff, manly-looking Germans -a lynx-eyed, sharp-nosed New-York speculatorfour old French Jews, with those noble foreheads, arched brows, and strange-expressioned eyes, that look as though always weeping—the well-known and never to be mistaken characteristics of this remarkable people. The remainder of our passengers present no peculiarities worth remarking. So I throw them in, tall and short, little and big, and all sorts and sizes, to complete the motley “ensemble" of my fellow-travellers.

Among the ladies, besides the aged sinner of the pocket-handkerchief, are a beautiful, dark-eyed, dark-haired Virginian, and an intelligent, young married lady from Vermont, accompanied by her only child, a handsome, spirited boy, between four and five

The little fellow and I soon became great friends; in testimony whereof, he is now teasing me to allow him to scrawl his enormous pot-hooks over my sheet, by way of assisting

years

of age.

THIRST FOR INFORMATION..

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me in my letter. An apology for his rudeness, by his mother, opened the way for a conversation; during which I discovered that she possessed a highly cultivated mind, great curiosity, as a stranger in a strange land, and her full share of Yankee inquisitiveness. She was always upon the “guard,” resolved that nothing worthy of observation should escape her inquiring eye. She was a pure NewEngland interrogative. So far as it was in my power, it afforded me pleasure to reply to her questions, which, as a stranger to southern scenery, manners and customs, it was very natural she should put to any one. With a southerner I might have journied from Montreal to Mexico, without being questioned so often as I have been in this short passage from New Orleans.

But unless we can answer their innumerable questions, (which, by the way, are most usually of a strongly intelligent cast), travelling Yankee ladies are certainly, unless young and pretty, a little annoying. I mean, always, the

I , inquisitive ones; for there are some who are far from being so. When a northerner is not inquisitive, the fact may generally be ascribed to intellectual dullness, or an uncultivated mind: in a southerner, to constitutional indolence and love of quiet, which are enemies to one jot more corporeal or mental exertion than is absolutely requisite to enable them to glide through existence. I do not rank my fellow-traveller in the class of the troublesome inquisitives—though full of curiosity, compared with the “ daughters of the sun,”—but she is no more so

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