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Life On The Mississippi, Complete by Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)

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'Serious? I certainly am.'

The captain glanced up at the pilot-house and said--

'He wants to get off at Napoleon!'

'Napoleon ?'

'That's what he says.'

'Great Caesar's ghost!'

Uncle Mumford approached along the deck. The captain said--

'Uncle, here's a friend of yours wants to get off at Napoleon!'

'Well, by ---?'

I said--

'Come, what is all this about? Can't a man go ashore at Napoleon if he
wants to?'

'Why, hang it, don't you know? There ISN'T any Napoleon any more.
Hasn't been for years and years. The Arkansas River burst through it,
tore it all to rags, and emptied it into the Mississippi!'

'Carried the WHOLE town away?-banks, churches, jails, newspaper-offices,
court-house, theater, fire department, livery stable EVERYTHING ?'

'Everything. just a fifteen-minute job.' or such a matter. Didn't
leave hide nor hair, shred nor shingle of it, except the fag-end of a
shanty and one brick chimney. This boat is paddling along right now,
where the dead-center of that town used to be; yonder is the brick
chimney-all that's left of Napoleon. These dense woods on the right used
to be a mile back of the town. Take a look behind you--up-stream--now
you begin to recognize this country, don't you?'

'Yes, I do recognize it now. It is the most wonderful thing I ever
heard of; by a long shot the most wonderful--and unexpected.'

Mr. Thompson and Mr. Rogers had arrived, meantime, with satchels and
umbrellas, and had silently listened to the captain's news. Thompson put
a half-dollar in my hand and said softly--

'For my share of the chromo.'

Rogers followed suit.

Yes, it was an astonishing thing to see the Mississippi rolling between
unpeopled shores and straight over the spot where I used to see a good
big self-complacent town twenty years ago. Town that was county-seat of
a great and important county; town with a big United States marine
hospital; town of innumerable fights--an inquest every day; town where I
had used to know the prettiest girl, and the most accomplished in the
whole Mississippi Valley; town where we were handed the first printed
news of the 'Pennsylvania's' mournful disaster a quarter of a century
ago; a town no more--swallowed up, vanished, gone to feed the fishes;
nothing left but a fragment of a shanty and a crumbling brick chimney!

Chapter 33 Refreshments and Ethics

IN regard to Island 74, which is situated not far from the former
Napoleon, a freak of the river here has sorely perplexed the laws of men
and made them a vanity and a jest. When the State of Arkansas was
chartered, she controlled 'to the center of the river'--a most unstable
line. The State of Mississippi claimed 'to the channel'--another shifty
and unstable line. No. 74 belonged to Arkansas. By and by a cut-off
threw this big island out of Arkansas, and yet not within Mississippi.
'Middle of the river' on one side of it, 'channel' on the other. That
is as I understand the problem. Whether I have got the details right or
wrong, this FACT remains: that here is this big and exceedingly valuable
island of four thousand acres, thrust out in the cold, and belonging to
neither the one State nor the other; paying taxes to neither, owing
allegiance to neither. One man owns the whole island, and of right is
'the man without a country.'

Island 92 belongs to Arkansas. The river moved it over and joined it to
Mississippi. A chap established a whiskey shop there, without a
Mississippi license, and enriched himself upon Mississippi custom under
Arkansas protection (where no license was in those days required).

We glided steadily down the river in the usual privacy--steamboat or
other moving thing seldom seen. Scenery as always: stretch upon stretch
of almost unbroken forest, on both sides of the river; soundless
solitude. Here and there a cabin or two, standing in small openings on
the gray and grassless banks--cabins which had formerly stood a quarter
or half-mile farther to the front, and gradually been pulled farther and
farther back as the shores caved in. As at Pilcher's Point, for
instance, where the cabins had been moved back three hundred yards in
three months, so we were told; but the caving banks had already caught
up with them, and they were being conveyed rearward once more.

Napoleon had but small opinion of Greenville, Mississippi, in the old
times; but behold, Napoleon is gone to the cat-fishes, and here is
Greenville full of life and activity, and making a considerable flourish
in the Valley; having three thousand inhabitants, it is said, and doing
a gross trade of $2,500,000 annually. A growing town.

There was much talk on the boat about the Calhoun Land Company, an
enterprise which is expected to work wholesome results. Colonel Calhoun,
a grandson of the statesman, went to Boston and formed a syndicate which
purchased a large tract of land on the river, in Chicot County,
Arkansas--some ten thousand acres--for cotton-growing. The purpose is to
work on a cash basis: buy at first hands, and handle their own product;
supply their negro laborers with provisions and necessaries at a
trifling profit, say 8 or 10 per cent.; furnish them comfortable
quarters, etc., and encourage them to save money and remain on the
place. If this proves a financial success, as seems quite certain, they
propose to establish a banking-house in Greenville, and lend money at an
unburdensome rate of interest--6 per cent. is spoken of.

The trouble heretofore has been--I am quoting remarks of planters and
steamboatmen--that the planters, although owning the land, were without
cash capital; had to hypothecate both land and crop to carry on the
business. Consequently, the commission dealer who furnishes the money
takes some risk and demands big interest--usually 10 per cent., and
2{half} per cent. for negotiating the loan. The planter has also to buy
his supplies through the same dealer, paying commissions and profits.
Then when he ships his crop, the dealer adds his commissions, insurance,
etc. So, taking it by and large, and first and last, the dealer's share
of that crop is about 25 per cent.'{footnote ['But what can the State do
where the people are under subjection to rates of interest ranging from
18 to 30 per cent., and are also under the necessity of purchasing their
crops in advance even of planting, at these rates, for the privilege of
purchasing all their supplies at 100 per cent. profit?'--EDWARD

A cotton-planter's estimate of the average margin of profit on planting,
in his section: One man and mule will raise ten acres of cotton, giving
ten bales cotton, worth, say, $500; cost of producing, say $350; net
profit, $150, or $15 per acre. There is also a profit now from the
cotton-seed, which formerly had little value--none where much
transportation was necessary. In sixteen hundred pounds crude cotton
four hundred are lint, worth, say, ten cents a pound; and twelve hundred
pounds of seed, worth $12 or $13 per ton. Maybe in future even the
stems will not be thrown away. Mr. Edward Atkinson says that for each
bale of cotton there are fifteen hundred pounds of stems, and that these
are very rich in phosphate of lime and potash; that when ground and
mixed with ensilage or cotton-seed meal (which is too rich for use as
fodder in large quantities), the stem mixture makes a superior food,
rich in all the elements needed for the production of milk, meat, and
bone. Heretofore the stems have been considered a nuisance.

Complaint is made that the planter remains grouty toward the former
slave, since the war; will have nothing but a chill business relation
with him, no sentiment permitted to intrude, will not keep a 'store'
himself, and supply the negro's wants and thus protect the negro's
pocket and make him able and willing to stay on the place and an
advantage to him to do it, but lets that privilege to some thrifty
Israelite, who encourages the thoughtless negro and wife to buy all
sorts of things which they could do without--buy on credit, at big
prices, month after month, credit based on the negro's share of the
growing crop; and at the end of the season, the negro's share belongs to
the Israelite,' the negro is in debt besides, is discouraged,
dissatisfied, restless, and both he and the planter are injured; for he
will take steamboat and migrate, and the planter must get a stranger in
his place who does not know him, does not care for him, will fatten the
Israelite a season, and follow his predecessor per steamboat.

It is hoped that the Calhoun Company will show, by its humane and
protective treatment of its laborers, that its method is the most
profitable for both planter and negro; and it is believed that a general
adoption of that method will then follow.

And where so many are saying their say, shall not the barkeeper testify?
He is thoughtful, observant, never drinks; endeavors to earn his salary,
and WOULD earn it if there were custom enough. He says the people along
here in Mississippi and Louisiana will send up the river to buy
vegetables rather than raise them, and they will come aboard at the
landings and buy fruits of the barkeeper. Thinks they 'don't know
anything but cotton;' believes they don't know how to raise vegetables
and fruit--'at least the most of them.' Says 'a nigger will go to H for
a watermelon' ('H' is all I find in the stenographer's report--means
Halifax probably, though that seems a good way to go for a watermelon).
Barkeeper buys watermelons for five cents up the river, brings them down
and sells them for fifty. 'Why does he mix such elaborate and
picturesque drinks for the nigger hands on the boat?' Because they
won't have any other. 'They want a big drink; don't make any difference
what you make it of, they want the worth of their money. You give a
nigger a plain gill of half-a-dollar brandy for five cents--will he
touch it? No. Ain't size enough to it. But you put up a pint of all
kinds of worthless rubbish, and heave in some red stuff to make it
beautiful--red's the main thing--and he wouldn't put down that glass to
go to a circus.' All the bars on this Anchor Line are rented and owned
by one firm. They furnish the liquors from their own establishment, and
hire the barkeepers 'on salary.' Good liquors? Yes, on some of the
boats, where there are the kind of passengers that want it and can pay
for it. On the other boats? No. Nobody but the deck hands and firemen
to drink it. 'Brandy? Yes, I've got brandy, plenty of it; but you
don't want any of it unless you've made your will.' It isn't as it used
to be in the old times. Then everybody traveled by steamboat, everybody
drank, and everybody treated everybody else. 'Now most everybody goes by
railroad, and the rest don't drink.' In the old times the barkeeper
owned the bar himself, 'and was gay and smarty and talky and all jeweled
up, and was the toniest aristocrat on the boat; used to make $2,000 on a
trip. A father who left his son a steamboat bar, left him a fortune. Now
he leaves him board and lodging; yes, and washing, if a shirt a trip
will do. Yes, indeedy, times are changed. Why, do you know, on the
principal line of boats on the Upper Mississippi, they don't have any
bar at all! Sounds like poetry, but it's the petrified truth.'

Chapter 34 Tough Yarns

STACK ISLAND. I remembered Stack Island; also Lake Providence,
Louisiana--which is the first distinctly Southern-looking town you come
to, downward-bound; lies level and low, shade-trees hung with venerable
gray beards of Spanish moss; 'restful, pensive, Sunday aspect about the
place,' comments Uncle Mumford, with feeling--also with truth.

A Mr. H. furnished some minor details of fact concerning this region
which I would have hesitated to believe if I had not known him to be a
steamboat mate. He was a passenger of ours, a resident of Arkansas
City, and bound to Vicksburg to join his boat, a little Sunflower
packet. He was an austere man, and had the reputation of being
singularly unworldly, for a river man. Among other things, he said that
Arkansas had been injured and kept back by generations of exaggerations
concerning the mosquitoes here. One may smile, said he, and turn the
matter off as being a small thing; but when you come to look at the
effects produced, in the way of discouragement of immigration, and
diminished values of property, it was quite the opposite of a small
thing, or thing in any wise to be coughed down or sneered at. These
mosquitoes had been persistently represented as being formidable and
lawless; whereas 'the truth is, they are feeble, insignificant in size,
diffident to a fault, sensitive'--and so on, and so on; you would have
supposed he was talking about his family. But if he was soft on the
Arkansas mosquitoes, he was hard enough on the mosquitoes of Lake
Providence to make up for it--'those Lake Providence colossi,' as he
finely called them. He said that two of them could whip a dog, and that
four of them could hold a man down; and except help come, they would
kill him--'butcher him,' as he expressed it. Referred in a sort of
casual way--and yet significant way--to 'the fact that the life policy
in its simplest form is unknown in Lake Providence--they take out a
mosquito policy besides.' He told many remarkable things about those
lawless insects. Among others, said he had seen them try to vote.
Noticing that this statement seemed to be a good deal of a strain on us,
he modified it a little: said he might have been mistaken, as to that
particular, but knew he had seen them around the polls 'canvassing.'

There was another passenger--friend of H.'s--who backed up the harsh
evidence against those mosquitoes, and detailed some stirring adventures
which he had had with them. The stories were pretty sizable, merely
pretty sizable; yet Mr. H. was continually interrupting with a cold,
inexorable 'Wait--knock off twenty-five per cent. of that; now go on;'
or, 'Wait--you are getting that too strong; cut it down, cut it down--
you get a leetle too much costumery on to your statements: always dress
a fact in tights, never in an ulster;' or, 'Pardon, once more: if you
are going to load anything more on to that statement, you want to get a
couple of lighters and tow the rest, because it's drawing all the water
there is in the river already; stick to facts--just stick to the cold
facts; what these gentlemen want for a book is the frozen truth--ain't
that so, gentlemen?' He explained privately that it was necessary to
watch this man all the time, and keep him within bounds; it would not do
to neglect this precaution, as he, Mr. H., 'knew to his sorrow.' Said
he, 'I will not deceive you; he told me such a monstrous lie once, that
it swelled my left ear up, and spread it so that I was actually not able
to see out around it; it remained so for months, and people came miles
to see me fan myself with it.'

Chapter 35 Vicksburg During the Trouble

WE used to plow past the lofty hill-city, Vicksburg, down-stream; but we
cannot do that now. A cut-off has made a country town of it, like
Osceola, St. Genevieve, and several others. There is currentless water
--also a big island--in front of Vicksburg now. You come down the river
the other side of the island, then turn and come up to the town; that
is, in high water: in low water you can't come up, but must land some
distance below it.

Signs and scars still remain, as reminders of Vicksburg's tremendous war
experiences; earthworks, trees crippled by the cannon balls, cave-
refuges in the clay precipices, etc. The caves did good service during
the six weeks' bombardment of the city--May 8 to July 4, 1863. They
were used by the non-combatants--mainly by the women and children; not
to live in constantly, but to fly to for safety on occasion. They were
mere holes, tunnels, driven into the perpendicular clay bank, then
branched Y shape, within the hill. Life in Vicksburg, during the six
weeks was perhaps--but wait; here are some materials out of which to
reproduce it:--

Population, twenty-seven thousand soldiers and three thousand non-
combatants; the city utterly cut off from the world--walled solidly in,
the frontage by gunboats, the rear by soldiers and batteries; hence, no
buying and selling with the outside; no passing to and fro; no God-
speeding a parting guest, no welcoming a coming one; no printed acres of
world-wide news to be read at breakfast, mornings--a tedious dull
absence of such matter, instead; hence, also, no running to see
steamboats smoking into view in the distance up or down, and plowing
toward the town--for none came, the river lay vacant and undisturbed; no
rush and turmoil around the railway station, no struggling over
bewildered swarms of passengers by noisy mobs of hackmen--all quiet
there; flour two hundred dollars a barrel, sugar thirty, corn ten
dollars a bushel, bacon five dollars a pound, rum a hundred dollars a
gallon; other things in proportion: consequently, no roar and racket of
drays and carriages tearing along the streets; nothing for them to do,
among that handful of non-combatants of exhausted means; at three
o'clock in the morning, silence; silence so dead that the measured tramp
of a sentinel can be heard a seemingly impossible distance; out of
hearing of this lonely sound, perhaps the stillness is absolute: all in
a moment come ground-shaking thunder-crashes of artillery, the sky is
cobwebbed with the crisscrossing red lines streaming from soaring bomb-
shells, and a rain of iron fragments descends upon the city; descends
upon the empty streets: streets which are not empty a moment later, but
mottled with dim figures of frantic women and children scurrying from
home and bed toward the cave dungeons--encouraged by the humorous grim
soldiery, who shout 'Rats, to your holes!' and laugh.

The cannon-thunder rages, shells scream and crash overhead, the iron
rain pours down, one hour, two hours, three, possibly six, then stops;
silence follows, but the streets are still empty; the silence continues;
by-and-bye a head projects from a cave here and there and yonder, and
reconnoitres, cautiously; the silence still continuing, bodies follow
heads, and jaded, half smothered creatures group themselves about,
stretch their cramped limbs, draw in deep draughts of the grateful fresh
air, gossip with the neighbors from the next cave; maybe straggle off
home presently, or take a lounge through the town, if the stillness
continues; and will scurry to the holes again, by-and-bye, when the war-
tempest breaks forth once more.

There being but three thousand of these cave-dwellers--merely the
population of a village--would they not come to know each other, after a
week or two, and familiarly; insomuch that the fortunate or unfortunate
experiences of one would be of interest to all?

Those are the materials furnished by history. From them might not
almost anybody reproduce for himself the life of that time in Vicksburg?
Could you, who did not experience it, come nearer to reproducing it to
the imagination of another non-participant than could a Vicksburger who
did experience it? It seems impossible; and yet there are reasons why
it might not really be. When one makes his first voyage in a ship, it
is an experience which multitudinously bristles with striking novelties;
novelties which are in such sharp contrast with all this person's former
experiences that they take a seemingly deathless grip upon his
imagination and memory. By tongue or pen he can make a landsman live
that strange and stirring voyage over with him; make him see it all and
feel it all. But if he wait? If he make ten voyages in succession--what
then? Why, the thing has lost color, snap, surprise; and has become
commonplace. The man would have nothing to tell that would quicken a
landsman's pulse.

Years ago, I talked with a couple of the Vicksburg non-combatants--a man
and his wife. Left to tell their story in their own way, those people
told it without fire, almost without interest.

A week of their wonderful life there would have made their tongues
eloquent for ever perhaps; but they had six weeks of it, and that wore
the novelty all out; they got used to being bomb-shelled out of home and
into the ground; the matter became commonplace. After that, the
possibility of their ever being startlingly interesting in their talks
about it was gone. What the man said was to this effect:--

'It got to be Sunday all the time. Seven Sundays in the week--to us,
anyway. We hadn't anything to do, and time hung heavy. Seven Sundays,
and all of them broken up at one time or another, in the day or in the
night, by a few hours of the awful storm of fire and thunder and iron.
At first we used to shin for the holes a good deal faster than we did
afterwards. The first time, I forgot the children, and Maria fetched
them both along. When she was all safe in the cave she fainted. Two or
three weeks afterwards, when she was running for the holes, one morning,
through a shell-shower, a big shell burst near her, and covered her all
over with dirt, and a piece of the iron carried away her game-bag of
false hair from the back of her head. Well, she stopped to get that
game-bag before she shoved along again! Was getting used to things
already, you see. We all got so that we could tell a good deal about
shells; and after that we didn't always go under shelter if it was a
light shower. Us men would loaf around and talk; and a man would say,
'There she goes!' and name the kind of shell it was from the sound of
it, and go on talking--if there wasn't any danger from it. If a shell
was bursting close over us, we stopped talking and stood still;--
uncomfortable, yes, but it wasn't safe to move. When it let go, we went
on talking again, if nobody hurt--maybe saying, 'That was a ripper!' or
some such commonplace comment before we resumed; or, maybe, we would see
a shell poising itself away high in the air overhead. In that case,
every fellow just whipped out a sudden, 'See you again, gents!' and
shoved. Often and often I saw gangs of ladies promenading the streets,
looking as cheerful as you please, and keeping an eye canted up watching
the shells; and I've seen them stop still when they were uncertain about
what a shell was going to do, and wait and make certain; and after that
they sa'ntered along again, or lit out for shelter, according to the
verdict. Streets in some towns have a litter of pieces of paper, and
odds and ends of one sort or another lying around. Ours hadn't; they
had IRON litter. Sometimes a man would gather up all the iron fragments
and unbursted shells in his neighborhood, and pile them into a kind of
monument in his front yard--a ton of it, sometimes. No glass left;
glass couldn't stand such a bombardment; it was all shivered out.
Windows of the houses vacant--looked like eye-holes in a skull. WHOLE
panes were as scarce as news.

'We had church Sundays. Not many there, along at first; but by-and-bye
pretty good turnouts. I've seen service stop a minute, and everybody
sit quiet--no voice heard, pretty funeral-like then--and all the more so
on account of the awful boom and crash going on outside and overhead;
and pretty soon, when a body could be heard, service would go on again.
Organs and church-music mixed up with a bombardment is a powerful queer
combination--along at first. Coming out of church, one morning, we had
an accident--the only one that happened around me on a Sunday. I was
just having a hearty handshake with a friend I hadn't seen for a while,
and saying, 'Drop into our cave to-night, after bombardment; we've got
hold of a pint of prime wh--.' Whiskey, I was going to say, you know,
but a shell interrupted. A chunk of it cut the man's arm off, and left
it dangling in my hand. And do you know the thing that is going to
stick the longest in my memory, and outlast everything else, little and
big, I reckon, is the mean thought I had then? It was 'the whiskey IS
SAVED.' And yet, don't you know, it was kind of excusable; because it
was as scarce as diamonds, and we had only just that little; never had
another taste during the siege.

'Sometimes the caves were desperately crowded, and always hot and close.
Sometimes a cave had twenty or twenty-five people packed into it; no
turning-room for anybody; air so foul, sometimes, you couldn't have made
a candle burn in it. A child was born in one of those caves one night,
Think of that; why, it was like having it born in a trunk.

'Twice we had sixteen people in our cave; and a number of times we had a
dozen. Pretty suffocating in there. We always had eight; eight
belonged there. Hunger and misery and sickness and fright and sorrow,
and I don't know what all, got so loaded into them that none of them
were ever rightly their old selves after the siege. They all died but
three of us within a couple of years. One night a shell burst in front
of the hole and caved it in and stopped it up. It was lively times, for
a while, digging out. Some of us came near smothering. After that we
made two openings--ought to have thought of it at first.

'Mule meat. No, we only got down to that the last day or two. Of course
it was good; anything is good when you are starving.

This man had kept a diary during--six weeks? No, only the first six
days. The first day, eight close pages; the second, five; the third,
one--loosely written; the fourth, three or four lines; a line or two the
fifth and sixth days; seventh day, diary abandoned; life in terrific
Vicksburg having now become commonplace and matter of course.

The war history of Vicksburg has more about it to interest the general
reader than that of any other of the river-towns. It is full of variety,
full of incident, full of the picturesque. Vicksburg held out longer
than any other important river-town, and saw warfare in all its phases,
both land and water--the siege, the mine, the assault, the repulse, the
bombardment, sickness, captivity, famine.

The most beautiful of all the national cemeteries is here. Over the
great gateway is this inscription:--

TO 1865"

The grounds are nobly situated; being very high and commanding a wide
prospect of land and river. They are tastefully laid out in broad
terraces, with winding roads and paths; and there is profuse adornment
in the way of semi-tropical shrubs and flowers,' and in one part is a
piece of native wild-wood, left just as it grew, and, therefore, perfect
in its charm. Everything about this cemetery suggests the hand of the
national Government. The Government's work is always conspicuous for
excellence, solidity, thoroughness, neatness. The Government does its
work well in the first place, and then takes care of it.

By winding-roads--which were often cut to so great a depth between
perpendicular walls that they were mere roofless tunnels--we drove out a
mile or two and visited the monument which stands upon the scene of the
surrender of Vicksburg to General Grant by General Pemberton. Its metal
will preserve it from the hackings and chippings which so defaced its
predecessor, which was of marble; but the brick foundations are
crumbling, and it will tumble down by-and-bye. It overlooks a
picturesque region of wooded hills and ravines; and is not unpicturesque
itself, being well smothered in flowering weeds. The battered remnant of
the marble monument has been removed to the National Cemetery.

On the road, a quarter of a mile townward, an aged colored man showed
us, with pride, an unexploded bomb-shell which has lain in his yard
since the day it fell there during the siege.

'I was a-stannin' heah, an' de dog was a-stannin' heah; de dog he went
for de shell, gwine to pick a fuss wid it; but I didn't; I says, "Jes'
make you'seff at home heah; lay still whah you is, or bust up de place,
jes' as you's a mind to, but I's got business out in de woods, I has!"'

Vicksburg is a town of substantial business streets and pleasant
residences; it commands the commerce of the Yazoo and Sunflower Rivers;
is pushing railways in several directions, through rich agricultural
regions, and has a promising future of prosperity and importance.

Apparently, nearly all the river towns, big and little, have made up
their minds that they must look mainly to railroads for wealth and
upbuilding, henceforth. They are acting upon this idea. The signs are,
that the next twenty years will bring about some noteworthy changes in
the Valley, in the direction of increased population and wealth, and in
the intellectual advancement and the liberalizing of opinion which go
naturally with these. And yet, if one may judge by the past, the river
towns will manage to find and use a chance, here and there, to cripple
and retard their progress. They kept themselves back in the days of
steamboating supremacy, by a system of wharfage-dues so stupidly graded
as to prohibit what may be called small RETAIL traffic in freights and
passengers. Boats were charged such heavy wharfage that they could not
afford to land for one or two passengers or a light lot of freight.
Instead of encouraging the bringing of trade to their doors, the towns
diligently and effectively discouraged it. They could have had many
boats and low rates; but their policy rendered few boats and high rates
compulsory. It was a policy which extended--and extends--from New
Orleans to St. Paul.

We had a strong desire to make a trip up the Yazoo and the Sunflower--an
interesting region at any time, but additionally interesting at this
time, because up there the great inundation was still to be seen in
force--but we were nearly sure to have to wait a day or more for a New
Orleans boat on our return; so we were obliged to give up the project.

Here is a story which I picked up on board the boat that night. I insert
it in this place merely because it is a good story, not because it
belongs here--for it doesn't. It was told by a passenger--a college
professor--and was called to the surface in the course of a general
conversation which began with talk about horses, drifted into talk about
astronomy, then into talk about the lynching of the gamblers in
Vicksburg half a century ago, then into talk about dreams and
superstitions; and ended, after midnight, in a dispute over free trade
and protection.

Chapter 36 The Professor's Yarn

IT was in the early days. I was not a college professor then. I was a
humble-minded young land-surveyor, with the world before me--to survey,
in case anybody wanted it done. I had a contract to survey a route for
a great mining-ditch in California, and I was on my way thither, by sea
--a three or four weeks' voyage. There were a good many passengers, but
I had very little to say to them; reading and dreaming were my passions,
and I avoided conversation in order to indulge these appetites. There
were three professional gamblers on board--rough, repulsive fellows. I
never had any talk with them, yet I could not help seeing them with some
frequency, for they gambled in an upper-deck stateroom every day and
night, and in my promenades I often had glimpses of them through their
door, which stood a little ajar to let out the surplus tobacco smoke and
profanity. They were an evil and hateful presence, but I had to put up
with it, of course,

There was one other passenger who fell under my eye a good deal, for he
seemed determined to be friendly with me, and I could not have gotten
rid of him without running some chance of hurting his feelings, and I
was far from wishing to do that. Besides, there was something engaging
in his countrified simplicity and his beaming good-nature. The first
time I saw this Mr. John Backus, I guessed, from his clothes and his
looks, that he was a grazier or farmer from the backwoods of some
western State--doubtless Ohio--and afterward when he dropped into his
personal history and I discovered that he WAS a cattle-raiser from
interior Ohio, I was so pleased with my own penetration that I warmed
toward him for verifying my instinct.

He got to dropping alongside me every day, after breakfast, to help me
make my promenade; and so, in the course of time, his easy-working jaw
had told me everything about his business, his prospects, his family,
his relatives, his politics--in fact everything that concerned a Backus,
living or dead. And meantime I think he had managed to get out of me
everything I knew about my trade, my tribe, my purposes, my prospects,
and myself. He was a gentle and persuasive genius, and this thing
showed it; for I was not given to talking about my matters. I said
something about triangulation, once; the stately word pleased his ear;
he inquired what it meant; I explained; after that he quietly and
inoffensively ignored my name, and always called me Triangle.

What an enthusiast he was in cattle! At the bare name of a bull or a
cow, his eye would light and his eloquent tongue would turn itself
loose. As long as I would walk and listen, he would walk and talk; he
knew all breeds, he loved all breeds, he caressed them all with his
affectionate tongue. I tramped along in voiceless misery whilst the
cattle question was up; when I could endure it no longer, I used to
deftly insert a scientific topic into the conversation; then my eye
fired and his faded; my tongue fluttered, his stopped; life was a joy to
me, and a sadness to him.

One day he said, a little hesitatingly, and with somewhat of diffidence--

'Triangle, would you mind coming down to my stateroom a minute, and have
a little talk on a certain matter?'

I went with him at once. Arrived there, he put his head out, glanced up
and down the saloon warily, then closed the door and locked it. He sat
down on the sofa, and he said--

'I'm a-going to make a little proposition to you, and if it strikes you
favorable, it'll be a middling good thing for both of us. You ain't
a-going out to Californy for fun, nuther am I--it's business, ain't that
so? Well, you can do me a good turn, and so can I you, if we see fit.
I've raked and scraped and saved, a considerable many years, and I've
got it all here.' He unlocked an old hair trunk, tumbled a chaos of
shabby clothes aside, and drew a short stout bag into view for a moment,
then buried it again and relocked the trunk. Dropping his voice to a
cautious low tone, he continued, 'She's all there--a round ten thousand
dollars in yellow-boys; now this is my little idea: What I don't know
about raising cattle, ain't worth knowing. There's mints of money in it,
in Californy. Well, I know, and you know, that all along a line that 's
being surveyed, there 's little dabs of land that they call "gores,"
that fall to the surveyor free gratis for nothing. All you've got to
do, on your side, is to survey in such a way that the "gores" will fall
on good fat land, then you turn 'em over to me, I stock 'em with cattle,
in rolls the cash, I plank out your share of the dollars regular, right
along, and--'

I was sorry to wither his blooming enthusiasm, but it could not be
helped. I interrupted, and said severely--

'I am not that kind of a surveyor. Let us change the subject, Mr.

It was pitiful to see his confusion and hear his awkward and shamefaced
apologies. I was as much distressed as he was--especially as he seemed
so far from having suspected that there was anything improper in his
proposition. So I hastened to console him and lead him on to forget his
mishap in a conversational orgy about cattle and butchery. We were lying
at Acapulco; and, as we went on deck, it happened luckily that the crew
were just beginning to hoist some beeves aboard in slings. Backus's
melancholy vanished instantly, and with it the memory of his late

'Now only look at that!' cried he; 'My goodness, Triangle, what WOULD
they say to it in OHIO. Wouldn't their eyes bug out, to see 'em handled
like that?--wouldn't they, though?'

All the passengers were on deck to look--even the gamblers--and Backus
knew them all, and had afflicted them all with his pet topic. As I moved
away, I saw one of the gamblers approach and accost him; then another of
them; then the third. I halted; waited; watched; the conversation
continued between the four men; it grew earnest; Backus drew gradually
away; the gamblers followed, and kept at his elbow. I was uncomfortable.
However, as they passed me presently, I heard Backus say, with a tone of
persecuted annoyance--

'But it ain't any use, gentlemen; I tell you again, as I've told you a
half a dozen times before, I warn't raised to it, and I ain't a-going to
resk it.'

I felt relieved. 'His level head will be his sufficient protection,' I
said to myself.

During the fortnight's run from Acapulco to San Francisco I several
times saw the gamblers talking earnestly with Backus, and once I threw
out a gentle warning to him. He chuckled comfortably and said--

'Oh, yes! they tag around after me considerable--want me to play a
little, just for amusement, they say--but laws-a-me, if my folks have
told me once to look out for that sort of live-stock, they've told me a
thousand times, I reckon.'

By-and-bye, in due course, we were approaching San Francisco. It was an
ugly black night, with a strong wind blowing, but there was not much
sea. I was on deck, alone. Toward ten I started below. A figure issued
from the gamblers' den, and disappeared in the darkness. I experienced a
shock, for I was sure it was Backus. I flew down the companion-way,
looked about for him, could not find him, then returned to the deck just
in time to catch a glimpse of him as he re-entered that confounded nest
of rascality. Had he yielded at last? I feared it. What had he gone
below for?--His bag of coin? Possibly. I drew near the door, full of
bodings. It was a-crack, and I glanced in and saw a sight that made me
bitterly wish I had given my attention to saving my poor cattle-friend,
instead of reading and dreaming my foolish time away. He was gambling.
Worse still, he was being plied with champagne, and was already showing
some effect from it. He praised the 'cider,' as he called it, and said
now that he had got a taste of it he almost believed he would drink it
if it was spirits, it was so good and so ahead of anything he had ever
run across before. Surreptitious smiles, at this, passed from one rascal
to another, and they filled all the glasses, and whilst Backus honestly
drained his to the bottom they pretended to do the same, but threw the
wine over their shoulders.

I could not bear the scene, so I wandered forward and tried to interest
myself in the sea and the voices of the wind. But no, my uneasy spirit
kept dragging me back at quarter-hour intervals; and always I saw Backus
drinking his wine--fairly and squarely, and the others throwing theirs
away. It was the painfullest night I ever spent.

The only hope I had was that we might reach our anchorage with speed--
that would break up the game. I helped the ship along all I could with
my prayers. At last we went booming through the Golden Gate, and my
pulses leaped for joy. I hurried back to that door and glanced in.
Alas, there was small room for hope--Backus's eyes were heavy and
bloodshot, his sweaty face was crimson, his speech maudlin and thick,
his body sawed drunkenly about with the weaving motion of the ship. He
drained another glass to the dregs, whilst the cards were being dealt.

He took his hand, glanced at it, and his dull eyes lit up for a moment.
The gamblers observed it, and showed their gratification by hardly
perceptible signs.

'How many cards?'

'None!' said Backus.

One villain--named Hank Wiley--discarded one card, the others three
each. The betting began. Heretofore the bets had been trifling--a
dollar or two; but Backus started off with an eagle now, Wiley hesitated
a moment, then 'saw it' and 'went ten dollars better.' The other two
threw up their hands.

Backus went twenty better. Wiley said--

'I see that, and go you a hundred better!' then smiled and reached for
the money.

'Let it alone,' said Backus, with drunken gravity.

'What! you mean to say you're going to cover it?'

'Cover it? Well, I reckon I am--and lay another hundred on top of it,

He reached down inside his overcoat and produced the required sum.

'Oh, that's your little game, is it? I see your raise, and raise it
five hundred!' said Wiley.

'Five hundred better.' said the foolish bull-driver, and pulled out the
amount and showered it on the pile. The three conspirators hardly tried
to conceal their exultation.

All diplomacy and pretense were dropped now, and the sharp exclamations
came thick and fast, and the yellow pyramid grew higher and higher. At
last ten thousand dollars lay in view. Wiley cast a bag of coin on the
table, and said with mocking gentleness--

'Five thousand dollars better, my friend from the rural districts--what
do you say NOW?'

'I CALL you!' said Backus, heaving his golden shot-bag on the pile.
'What have you got?'

'Four kings, you d--d fool!' and Wiley threw down his cards and
surrounded the stakes with his arms.

'Four ACES, you ass!' thundered Backus, covering his man with a cocked

Down went the anchor, rumbledy-dum-dum! and the long trip was ended.

Well--well, it is a sad world. One of the three gamblers was Backus's
'pal.' It was he that dealt the fateful hands. According to an
understanding with the two victims, he was to have given Backus four
queens, but alas, he didn't.

A week later, I stumbled upon Backus--arrayed in the height of fashion--
in Montgomery Street. He said, cheerily, as we were parting--

'Ah, by-the-way, you needn't mind about those gores. I don't really
know anything about cattle, except what I was able to pick up in a
week's apprenticeship over in Jersey just before we sailed. My cattle-
culture and cattle-enthusiasm have served their turn--I shan't need them
any more.'

Next day we reluctantly parted from the 'Gold Dust' and her officers,
hoping to see that boat and all those officers again, some day. A thing
which the fates were to render tragically impossible!

Chapter 37 The End of the 'Gold Dust'

FOR, three months later, August 8, while I was writing one of these
foregoing chapters, the New York papers brought this telegram--



'NASHVILLE, Aug. 7.--A despatch from Hickman, Ky., says--

'The steamer "Gold Dust" exploded her boilers at three o'clock to-day,
just after leaving Hickman. Forty-seven persons were scalded and
seventeen are missing. The boat was landed in the eddy just above the
town, and through the exertions of the citizens the cabin passengers,
officers, and part of the crew and deck passengers were taken ashore and
removed to the hotels and residences. Twenty-four of the injured were
lying in Holcomb's dry-goods store at one time, where they received
every attention before being removed to more comfortable places.'

A list of the names followed, whereby it appeared that of the seventeen
dead, one was the barkeeper; and among the forty-seven wounded, were the
captain, chief mate, second mate, and second and third clerks; also Mr.
Lem S. Gray, pilot, and several members of the crew.

In answer to a private telegram, we learned that none of these was
severely hurt, except Mr. Gray. Letters received afterward confirmed
this news, and said that Mr. Gray was improving and would get well.
Later letters spoke less hopefully of his case; and finally came one
announcing his death. A good man, a most companionable and manly man,
and worthy of a kindlier fate.

Chapter 38 The House Beautiful

WE took passage in a Cincinnati boat for New Orleans; or on a Cincinnati
boat--either is correct; the former is the eastern form of putting it,
the latter the western.

Mr. Dickens declined to agree that the Mississippi steamboats were
'magnificent,' or that they were 'floating palaces,'--terms which had
always been applied to them; terms which did not over-express the
admiration with which the people viewed them.

Mr. Dickens's position was unassailable, possibly; the people's position
was certainly unassailable. If Mr. Dickens was comparing these boats
with the crown jewels; or with the Taj, or with the Matterhorn; or with
some other priceless or wonderful thing which he had seen, they were not
magnificent--he was right. The people compared them with what they had
seen; and, thus measured, thus judged, the boats were magnificent--the
term was the correct one, it was not at all too strong. The people were
as right as was Mr. Dickens. The steamboats were finer than anything on
shore. Compared with superior dwelling-houses and first-class hotels in
the Valley, they were indubitably magnificent, they were 'palaces.' To a
few people living in New Orleans and St. Louis, they were not
magnificent, perhaps; not palaces; but to the great majority of those
populations, and to the entire populations spread over both banks
between Baton Rouge and St. Louis, they were palaces; they tallied with
the citizen's dream of what magnificence was, and satisfied it.

Every town and village along that vast stretch of double river-frontage
had a best dwelling, finest dwelling, mansion,--the home of its
wealthiest and most conspicuous citizen. It is easy to describe it:
large grassy yard, with paling fence painted white--in fair repair;
brick walk from gate to door; big, square, two-story 'frame' house,
painted white and porticoed like a Grecian temple--with this difference,
that the imposing fluted columns and Corinthian capitals were a pathetic
sham, being made of white pine, and painted; iron knocker; brass door
knob--discolored, for lack of polishing. Within, an uncarpeted hall, of
planed boards; opening out of it, a parlor, fifteen feet by fifteen--in
some instances five or ten feet larger; ingrain carpet; mahogany center-
table; lamp on it, with green-paper shade--standing on a gridiron, so to
speak, made of high-colored yarns, by the young ladies of the house, and
called a lamp-mat; several books, piled and disposed, with cast-iron
exactness, according to an inherited and unchangeable plan; among them,
Tupper, much penciled; also, 'Friendship's Offering,' and 'Affection's
Wreath,' with their sappy inanities illustrated in die-away mezzotints;
also, Ossian; 'Alonzo and Melissa:' maybe 'Ivanhoe:' also 'Album,' full
of original 'poetry' of the Thou-hast-wounded-the-spirit-that-loved-thee
breed; two or three goody-goody works--'Shepherd of Salisbury Plain,'
etc.; current number of the chaste and innocuous Godey's 'Lady's Book,'
with painted fashion-plate of wax-figure women with mouths all alike--
lips and eyelids the same size--each five-foot woman with a two-inch
wedge sticking from under her dress and letting-on to be half of her
foot. Polished air-tight stove (new and deadly invention), with pipe
passing through a board which closes up the discarded good old
fireplace. On each end of the wooden mantel, over the fireplace, a
large basket of peaches and other fruits, natural size, all done in
plaster, rudely, or in wax, and painted to resemble the originals--which
they don't. Over middle of mantel, engraving--Washington Crossing the
Delaware; on the wall by the door, copy of it done in thunder-and-
lightning crewels by one of the young ladies--work of art which would
have made Washington hesitate about crossing, if he could have foreseen
what advantage was going to be taken of it. Piano--kettle in disguise--
with music, bound and unbound, piled on it, and on a stand near by:
Battle of Prague; Bird Waltz; Arkansas Traveler; Rosin the Bow;
Marseilles Hymn; On a Lone Barren Isle (St. Helena); The Last Link is
Broken; She wore a Wreath of Roses the Night when last we met; Go,
forget me, Why should Sorrow o'er that Brow a Shadow fling; Hours there
were to Memory Dearer; Long, Long Ago; Days of Absence; A Life on the
Ocean Wave, a Home on the Rolling Deep; Bird at Sea; and spread open on
the rack, where the plaintive singer has left it, RO-holl on, silver
MOO-hoon, guide the TRAV-el-lerr his WAY, etc. Tilted pensively against
the piano, a guitar--guitar capable of playing the Spanish Fandango by
itself, if you give it a start. Frantic work of art on the wall--pious
motto, done on the premises, sometimes in colored yarns, sometimes in
faded grasses: progenitor of the 'God Bless Our Home' of modern
commerce. Framed in black moldings on the wall, other works of arts,
conceived and committed on the premises, by the young ladies; being grim
black-and-white crayons; landscapes, mostly: lake, solitary sail-boat,
petrified clouds, pre-geological trees on shore, anthracite precipice;
name of criminal conspicuous in the corner. Lithograph, Napoleon
Crossing the Alps. Lithograph, The Grave at St. Helena. Steel-plates,
Trumbull's Battle of Bunker Hill, and the Sally from Gibraltar. Copper-
plates, Moses Smiting the Rock, and Return of the Prodigal Son. In big
gilt frame, slander of the family in oil: papa holding a book
('Constitution of the United States'); guitar leaning against mamma,
blue ribbons fluttering from its neck; the young ladies, as children, in
slippers and scalloped pantelettes, one embracing toy horse, the other
beguiling kitten with ball of yarn, and both simpering up at mamma, who
simpers back. These persons all fresh, raw, and red--apparently skinned.
Opposite, in gilt frame, grandpa and grandma, at thirty and twenty-two,
stiff, old-fashioned, high-collared, puff-sleeved, glaring pallidly out
from a background of solid Egyptian night. Under a glass French clock
dome, large bouquet of stiff flowers done in corpsy-white wax.
Pyramidal what-not in the corner, the shelves occupied chiefly with
bric-a-brac of the period, disposed with an eye to best effect: shell,
with the Lord's Prayer carved on it; another shell--of the long-oval
sort, narrow, straight orifice, three inches long, running from end to
end--portrait of Washington carved on it; not well done; the shell had
Washington's mouth, originally--artist should have built to that. These
two are memorials of the long-ago bridal trip to New Orleans and the
French Market. Other bric-a-brac: Californian 'specimens'--quartz, with
gold wart adhering; old Guinea-gold locket, with circlet of ancestral
hair in it; Indian arrow-heads, of flint; pair of bead moccasins, from
uncle who crossed the Plains; three 'alum' baskets of various colors--
being skeleton-frame of wire, clothed-on with cubes of crystallized alum
in the rock-candy style--works of art which were achieved by the young
ladies; their doubles and duplicates to be found upon all what-nots in
the land; convention of desiccated bugs and butterflies pinned to a
card; painted toy-dog, seated upon bellows-attachment--drops its under
jaw and squeaks when pressed upon; sugar-candy rabbit--limbs and
features merged together, not strongly defined; pewter presidential-
campaign medal; miniature card-board wood-sawyer, to be attached to the
stove-pipe and operated by the heat; small Napoleon, done in wax;
spread-open daguerreotypes of dim children, parents, cousins, aunts, and
friends, in all attitudes but customary ones; no templed portico at
back, and manufactured landscape stretching away in the distance--that
came in later, with the photograph; all these vague figures lavishly
chained and ringed--metal indicated and secured from doubt by stripes
and splashes of vivid gold bronze; all of them too much combed, too much
fixed up; and all of them uncomfortable in inflexible Sunday-clothes of
a pattern which the spectator cannot realize could ever have been in
fashion; husband and wife generally grouped together--husband sitting,
wife standing, with hand on his shoulder--and both preserving, all these
fading years, some traceable effect of the daguerreotypist's brisk 'Now
smile, if you please!' Bracketed over what-not--place of special
sacredness--an outrage in water-color, done by the young niece that came
on a visit long ago, and died. Pity, too; for she might have repented of
this in time. Horse-hair chairs, horse-hair sofa which keeps sliding
from under you. Window shades, of oil stuff, with milk-maids and ruined
castles stenciled on them in fierce colors. Lambrequins dependent from
gaudy boxings of beaten tin, gilded. Bedrooms with rag carpets;
bedsteads of the 'corded' sort, with a sag in the middle, the cords
needing tightening; snuffy feather-bed--not aired often enough; cane-
seat chairs, splint-bottomed rocker; looking-glass on wall, school-slate
size, veneered frame; inherited bureau; wash-bowl and pitcher, possibly
--but not certainly; brass candlestick, tallow candle, snuffers. Nothing
else in the room. Not a bathroom in the house; and no visitor likely to
come along who has ever seen one.

That was the residence of the principal citizen, all the way from the
suburbs of New Orleans to the edge of St. Louis. When he stepped aboard
a big fine steamboat, he entered a new and marvelous world: chimney-tops
cut to counterfeit a spraying crown of plumes--and maybe painted red;
pilot-house, hurricane deck, boiler-deck guards, all garnished with
white wooden filigree work of fanciful patterns; gilt acorns topping the
derricks; gilt deer-horns over the big bell; gaudy symbolical picture on
the paddle-box, possibly; big roomy boiler-deck, painted blue, and
furnished with Windsor armchairs; inside, a far-receding snow-white
'cabin;' porcelain knob and oil-picture on every stateroom door; curving
patterns of filigree-work touched up with gilding, stretching overhead
all down the converging vista; big chandeliers every little way, each an
April shower of glittering glass-drops; lovely rainbow-light falling
everywhere from the colored glazing of the skylights; the whole a long-
drawn, resplendent tunnel, a bewildering and soul-satisfying spectacle!
In the ladies' cabin a pink and white Wilton carpet, as soft as mush,
and glorified with a ravishing pattern of gigantic flowers. Then the
Bridal Chamber--the animal that invented that idea was still alive and
unhanged, at that day--Bridal Chamber whose pretentious flummery was
necessarily overawing to the now tottering intellect of that hosannahing
citizen. Every state-room had its couple of cozy clean bunks, and
perhaps a looking-glass and a snug closet; and sometimes there was even
a washbowl and pitcher, and part of a towel which could be told from
mosquito netting by an expert--though generally these things were
absent, and the shirt-sleeved passengers cleansed themselves at a long
row of stationary bowls in the barber shop, where were also public
towels, public combs, and public soap.

Take the steamboat which I have just described, and you have her in her
highest and finest, and most pleasing, and comfortable, and satisfactory
estate. Now cake her over with a layer of ancient and obdurate dirt,
and you have the Cincinnati steamer awhile ago referred to. Not all
over--only inside; for she was ably officered in all departments except
the steward's.

But wash that boat and repaint her, and she would be about the
counterpart of the most complimented boat of the old flush times: for
the steamboat architecture of the West has undergone no change; neither
has steamboat furniture and ornamentation undergone any.

Chapter 39 Manufactures and Miscreants

WHERE the river, in the Vicksburg region, used to be corkscrewed, it is
now comparatively straight--made so by cut-off; a former distance of
seventy miles is reduced to thirty-five. It is a change which threw
Vicksburg's neighbor, Delta, Louisiana, out into the country and ended
its career as a river town. Its whole river-frontage is now occupied by
a vast sand-bar, thickly covered with young trees--a growth which will
magnify itself into a dense forest by-and-bye, and completely hide the
exiled town.

In due time we passed Grand Gulf and Rodney, of war fame, and reached
Natchez, the last of the beautiful hill-cities--for Baton Rouge, yet to
come, is not on a hill, but only on high ground. Famous Natchez-under-
the-hill has not changed notably in twenty years; in outward aspect--
judging by the descriptions of the ancient procession of foreign
tourists--it has not changed in sixty; for it is still small,
straggling, and shabby. It had a desperate reputation, morally, in the
old keel-boating and early steamboating times--plenty of drinking,
carousing, fisticuffing, and killing there, among the riff-raff of the
river, in those days. But Natchez-on-top-of-the-hill is attractive; has
always been attractive. Even Mrs. Trollope (1827) had to confess its

'At one or two points the wearisome level line is relieved by bluffs, as
they call the short intervals of high ground. The town of Natchez is
beautifully situated on one of those high spots. The contrast that its
bright green hill forms with the dismal line of black forest that
stretches on every side, the abundant growth of the pawpaw, palmetto and
orange, the copious variety of sweet-scented flowers that flourish
there, all make it appear like an oasis in the desert. Natchez is the
furthest point to the north at which oranges ripen in the open air, or
endure the winter without shelter. With the exception of this sweet
spot, I thought all the little towns and villages we passed wretched-
looking in the extreme.'

Natchez, like her near and far river neighbors, has railways now, and is
adding to them--pushing them hither and thither into all rich outlying
regions that are naturally tributary to her. And like Vicksburg and New
Orleans, she has her ice-factory: she makes thirty tons of ice a day.
In Vicksburg and Natchez, in my time, ice was jewelry; none but the rich
could wear it. But anybody and everybody can have it now. I visited one
of the ice-factories in New Orleans, to see what the polar regions might
look like when lugged into the edge of the tropics. But there was
nothing striking in the aspect of the place. It was merely a spacious
house, with some innocent steam machinery in one end of it and some big
porcelain pipes running here and there. No, not porcelain--they merely
seemed to be; they were iron, but the ammonia which was being breathed
through them had coated them to the thickness of your hand with solid
milk-white ice. It ought to have melted; for one did not require winter
clothing in that atmosphere: but it did not melt; the inside of the
pipe was too cold.

Sunk into the floor were numberless tin boxes, a foot square and two
feet long, and open at the top end. These were full of clear water; and
around each box, salt and other proper stuff was packed; also, the
ammonia gases were applied to the water in some way which will always
remain a secret to me, because I was not able to understand the process.
While the water in the boxes gradually froze, men gave it a stir or two
with a stick occasionally--to liberate the air-bubbles, I think. Other
men were continually lifting out boxes whose contents had become hard
frozen. They gave the box a single dip into a vat of boiling water, to
melt the block of ice free from its tin coffin, then they shot the block
out upon a platform car, and it was ready for market. These big blocks
were hard, solid, and crystal-clear. In certain of them, big bouquets of
fresh and brilliant tropical flowers had been frozen-in; in others,
beautiful silken-clad French dolls, and other pretty objects. These
blocks were to be set on end in a platter, in the center of dinner-
tables, to cool the tropical air; and also to be ornamental, for the
flowers and things imprisoned in them could be seen as through plate
glass. I was told that this factory could retail its ice, by wagon,
throughout New Orleans, in the humblest dwelling-house quantities, at
six or seven dollars a ton, and make a sufficient profit. This being the
case, there is business for ice-factories in the North; for we get ice
on no such terms there, if one take less than three hundred and fifty
pounds at a delivery.

The Rosalie Yarn Mill, of Natchez, has a capacity of 6,000 spindles and
160 looms, and employs 100 hands. The Natchez Cotton Mills Company
began operations four years ago in a two-story building of 50 x 190
feet, with 4,000 spindles and 128 looms; capital $105,000, all
subscribed in the town. Two years later, the same stockholders increased
their capital to $225,000; added a third story to the mill, increased
its length to 317 feet; added machinery to increase the capacity to
10,300 spindles and 304 looms. The company now employ 250 operatives,
many of whom are citizens of Natchez. 'The mill works 5,000 bales of
cotton annually and manufactures the best standard quality of brown
shirtings and sheetings and drills, turning out 5,000,000 yards of these
goods per year.'{footnote [New Orleans Times-Democrat, 26 Aug, 1882.]} A
close corporation--stock held at $5,000 per share, but none in the

The changes in the Mississippi River are great and strange, yet were to
be expected; but I was not expecting to live to see Natchez and these
other river towns become manufacturing strongholds and railway centers.

Speaking of manufactures reminds me of a talk upon that topic which I
heard--which I overheard--on board the Cincinnati boat. I awoke out of a
fretted sleep, with a dull confusion of voices in my ears. I listened--
two men were talking; subject, apparently, the great inundation. I
looked out through the open transom. The two men were eating a late
breakfast; sitting opposite each other; nobody else around. They closed
up the inundation with a few words--having used it, evidently, as a mere
ice-breaker and acquaintanceship-breeder--then they dropped into
business. It soon transpired that they were drummers--one belonging in
Cincinnati, the other in New Orleans. Brisk men, energetic of movement
and speech; the dollar their god, how to get it their religion.

'Now as to this article,' said Cincinnati, slashing into the ostensible
butter and holding forward a slab of it on his knife-blade, 'it's from
our house; look at it--smell of it--taste it. Put any test on it you
want to. Take your own time--no hurry--make it thorough. There now--
what do you say? butter, ain't it. Not by a thundering sight--it's
oleomargarine! Yes, sir, that's what it is--oleomargarine. You can't
tell it from butter; by George, an EXPERT can't. It's from our house.
We supply most of the boats in the West; there's hardly a pound of
butter on one of them. We are crawling right along--JUMPING right along
is the word. We are going to have that entire trade. Yes, and the hotel
trade, too. You are going to see the day, pretty soon, when you can't
find an ounce of butter to bless yourself with, in any hotel in the
Mississippi and Ohio Valleys, outside of the biggest cities. Why, we are
turning out oleomargarine NOW by the thousands of tons. And we can sell
it so dirt-cheap that the whole country has GOT to take it--can't get
around it you see. Butter don't stand any show--there ain't any chance
for competition. Butter's had its DAY--and from this out, butter goes to
the wall. There's more money in oleomargarine than--why, you can't
imagine the business we do. I've stopped in every town from Cincinnati
to Natchez; and I've sent home big orders from every one of them.'

And so-forth and so-on, for ten minutes longer, in the same fervid
strain. Then New Orleans piped up and said--

Yes, it's a first-rate imitation, that's a certainty; but it ain't the
only one around that's first-rate. For instance, they make olive-oil out
of cotton-seed oil, nowadays, so that you can't tell them apart.'

'Yes, that's so,' responded Cincinnati, 'and it was a tip-top business
for a while. They sent it over and brought it back from France and
Italy, with the United States custom-house mark on it to indorse it for
genuine, and there was no end of cash in it; but France and Italy broke
up the game--of course they naturally would. Cracked on such a rattling
impost that cotton-seed olive-oil couldn't stand the raise; had to hang
up and quit.'

'Oh, it DID, did it? You wait here a minute.'

Goes to his state-room, brings back a couple of long bottles, and takes
out the corks--says:

'There now, smell them, taste them, examine the bottles, inspect the
labels. One of 'm's from Europe, the other's never been out of this
country. One's European olive-oil, the other's American cotton-seed
olive-oil. Tell 'm apart? 'Course you can't. Nobody can. People that
want to, can go to the expense and trouble of shipping their oils to
Europe and back--it's their privilege; but our firm knows a trick worth
six of that. We turn out the whole thing--clean from the word go--in our
factory in New Orleans: labels, bottles, oil, everything. Well, no,
not labels: been buying them abroad--get them dirt-cheap there. You
see, there's just one little wee speck, essence, or whatever it is, in a
gallon of cotton-seed oil, that give it a smell, or a flavor, or
something--get that out, and you're all right--perfectly easy then to
turn the oil into any kind of oil you want to, and there ain't anybody
that can detect the true from the false. Well, we know how to get that
one little particle out--and we're the only firm that does. And we turn
out an olive-oil that is just simply perfect--undetectable! We are doing
a ripping trade, too--as I could easily show you by my order-book for
this trip. Maybe you'll butter everybody's bread pretty soon, but we'll
cotton-seed his salad for him from the Gulf to Canada, and that's a
dead-certain thing.'

Cincinnati glowed and flashed with admiration. The two scoundrels
exchanged business-cards, and rose. As they left the table, Cincinnati

'But you have to have custom-house marks, don't you? How do you manage

I did not catch the answer.

We passed Port Hudson, scene of two of the most terrific episodes of the
war--the night-battle there between Farragut's fleet and the Confederate
land batteries, April 14th, 1863; and the memorable land battle, two
months later, which lasted eight hours--eight hours of exceptionally
fierce and stubborn fighting--and ended, finally, in the repulse of the
Union forces with great slaughter.

Chapter 40 Castles and Culture

BATON ROUGE was clothed in flowers, like a bride--no, much more so; like
a greenhouse. For we were in the absolute South now--no modifications,
no compromises, no half-way measures. The magnolia-trees in the Capitol
grounds were lovely and fragrant, with their dense rich foliage and huge
snow-ball blossoms. The scent of the flower is very sweet, but you want
distance on it, because it is so powerful. They are not good bedroom
blossoms--they might suffocate one in his sleep. We were certainly in
the South at last; for here the sugar region begins, and the
plantations--vast green levels, with sugar-mill and negro quarters
clustered together in the middle distance--were in view. And there was
a tropical sun overhead and a tropical swelter in the air.

And at this point, also, begins the pilot's paradise: a wide river hence
to New Orleans, abundance of water from shore to shore, and no bars,
snags, sawyers, or wrecks in his road.

Sir Walter Scott is probably responsible for the Capitol building; for
it is not conceivable that this little sham castle would ever have been
built if he had not run the people mad, a couple of generations ago,
with his medieval romances. The South has not yet recovered from the
debilitating influence of his books. Admiration of his fantastic heroes
and their grotesque 'chivalry' doings and romantic juvenilities still
survives here, in an atmosphere in which is already perceptible the
wholesome and practical nineteenth-century smell of cotton-factories and
locomotives; and traces of its inflated language and other windy
humbuggeries survive along with it. It is pathetic enough, that a
whitewashed castle, with turrets and things--materials all ungenuine
within and without, pretending to be what they are not--should ever have
been built in this otherwise honorable place; but it is much more
pathetic to see this architectural falsehood undergoing restoration and
perpetuation in our day, when it would have been so easy to let dynamite
finish what a charitable fire began, and then devote this restoration-
money to the building of something genuine.

Baton Rouge has no patent on imitation castles, however, and no monopoly
of them. Here is a picture from the advertisement of the 'Female
Institute' of Columbia; Tennessee. The following remark is from the
same advertisement--

'The Institute building has long been famed as a model of striking and
beautiful architecture. Visitors are charmed with its resemblance to
the old castles of song and story, with its towers, turreted walls, and
ivy-mantled porches.'

Keeping school in a castle is a romantic thing; as romantic as keeping
hotel in a castle.

By itself the imitation castle is doubtless harmless, and well enough;
but as a symbol and breeder and sustainer of maudlin Middle-Age
romanticism here in the midst of the plainest and sturdiest and
infinitely greatest and worthiest of all the centuries the world has
seen, it is necessarily a hurtful thing and a mistake.

Here is an extract from the prospectus of a Kentucky 'Female College.'
Female college sounds well enough; but since the phrasing it in that
unjustifiable way was done purely in the interest of brevity, it seems
to me that she-college would have been still better--because shorter,
and means the same thing: that is, if either phrase means anything at

'The president is southern by birth, by rearing, by education, and by
sentiment; the teachers are all southern in sentiment, and with the
exception of those born in Europe were born and raised in the south.
Believing the southern to be the highest type of civilization this
continent has seen, the young ladies are trained according to the
southern ideas of delicacy, refinement, womanhood, religion, and
propriety; hence we offer a first-class female college for the south and
solicit southern patronage.'

{footnote (long one) [Illustrations of it thoughtlessly omitted by the

KNOXVILLE, Tenn., October 19.--This morning a few minutes after ten
o'clock, General Joseph A. Mabry, Thomas O'Connor, and Joseph A. Mabry,
Jr., were killed in a shooting affray. The difficulty began yesterday
afternoon by General Mabry attacking Major O'Connor and threatening to
kill him. This was at the fair grounds, and O'Connor told Mabry that it
was not the place to settle their difficulties. Mabry then told O'Connor
he should not live. It seems that Mabry was armed and O'Connor was not.
The cause of the difficulty was an old feud about the transfer of some
property from Mabry to O'Connor. Later in the afternoon Mabry sent word
to O'Connor that he would kill him on sight. This morning Major O'Connor
was standing in the door of the Mechanics' National Bank, of which he
was president. General Mabry and another gentleman walked down Gay
Street on the opposite side from the bank. O'Connor stepped into the
bank, got a shot gun, took deliberate aim at General Mabry and fired.
Mabry fell dead, being shot in the left side. As he fell O'Connor fired
again, the shot taking effect in Mabry's thigh. O'Connor then reached
into the bank and got another shot gun. About this time Joseph A. Mabry,
Jr., son of General Mabry, came rushing down the street, unseen by
O'Connor until within forty feet, when the young man fired a pistol, the
shot taking effect in O'Connor's right breast, passing through the body
near the heart. The instant Mabry shot, O'Connor turned and fired, the
load taking effect in young Mabry's right breast and side. Mabry fell
pierced with twenty buckshot, and almost instantly O'Connor fell dead
without a struggle. Mabry tried to rise, but fell back dead. The whole
tragedy occurred within two minutes, and neither of the three spoke
after he was shot. General Mabry had about thirty buckshot in his body.
A bystander was painfully wounded in the thigh with a buckshot, and
another was wounded in the arm. Four other men had their clothing
pierced by buckshot. The affair caused great excitement, and Gay Street
was thronged with thousands of people. General Mabry and his son Joe
were acquitted only a few days ago of the murder of Moses Lusby and Don
Lusby, father and son, whom they killed a few weeks ago. Will Mabry was
killed by Don Lusby last Christmas. Major Thomas O'Connor was President
of the Mechanics' National Bank here, and was the wealthiest man in the

One day last month, Professor Sharpe, of the Somerville, Tenn., Female
College, 'a quiet and gentlemanly man,' was told that his brother-in-
law, a Captain Burton, had threatened to kill him. Burton, t seems, had
already killed one man and driven his knife into another. The Professor
armed himself with a double-barreled shot gun, started out in search of
his brother-in-law, found him playing billiards in a saloon, and blew
his brains out. The 'Memphis Avalanche' reports that the Professor's
course met with pretty general approval in the community; knowing that
the law was powerless, in the actual condition of public sentiment, to
protect him, he protected himself.

About the same time, two young men in North Carolina quarreled about a
girl, and 'hostile messages' were exchanged. Friends tried to reconcile
them, but had their labor for their pains. On the 24th the young men met
in the public highway. One of them had a heavy club in his hand, the
other an ax. The man with the club fought desperately for his life, but
it was a hopeless fight from the first. A well-directed blow sent his
club whirling out of his grasp, and the next moment he was a dead man.

About the same time, two 'highly connected' young Virginians, clerks in
a hardware store at Charlottesville, while 'skylarking,' came to blows.
Peter Dick threw pepper in Charles Roads's eyes; Roads demanded an
apology; Dick refused to give it, and it was agreed that a duel was
inevitable, but a difficulty arose; the parties had no pistols, and it
was too late at night to procure them. One of them suggested that
butcher-knives would answer the purpose, and the other accepted the
suggestion; the result was that Roads fell to the floor with a gash in
his abdomen that may or may not prove fatal. If Dick has been arrested,
the news has not reached us. He 'expressed deep regret,' and we are told
by a Staunton correspondent of the PHILADELPHIA PRESS that 'every effort
has been made to hush the matter up.'--EXTRACTS FROM THE PUBLIC

What, warder, ho! the man that can blow so complacent a blast as that,
probably blows it from a castle.

From Baton Rouge to New Orleans, the great sugar plantations border both
sides of the river all the way, and stretch their league-wide levels
back to the dim forest-walls of bearded cypress in the rear. Shores
lonely no longer. Plenty of dwellings all the way, on both banks--
standing so close together, for long distances, that the broad river
lying between the two rows, becomes a sort of spacious street. A most
home-like and happy-looking region. And now and then you see a pillared
and porticoed great manor-house, embowered in trees. Here is testimony
of one or two of the procession of foreign tourists that filed along
here half a century ago. Mrs. Trollope says--

'The unbroken flatness of the banks of the Mississippi continued
unvaried for many miles above New Orleans; but the graceful and
luxuriant palmetto, the dark and noble ilex, and the bright orange, were
everywhere to be seen, and it was many days before we were weary of
looking at them.'

Captain Basil Hall--

'The district of country which lies adjacent to the Mississippi, in the
lower parts of Louisiana, is everywhere thickly peopled by sugar
planters, whose showy houses, gay piazzas, trig gardens, and numerous
slave-villages, all clean and neat, gave an exceedingly thriving air to
the river scenery.

All the procession paint the attractive picture in the same way. The
descriptions of fifty years ago do not need to have a word changed in
order to exactly describe the same region as it appears to-day--except
as to the 'trigness' of the houses. The whitewash is gone from the negro
cabins now; and many, possibly most, of the big mansions, once so
shining white, have worn out their paint and have a decayed, neglected
look. It is the blight of the war. Twenty-one years ago everything was
trim and trig and bright along the 'coast,' just as it had been in 1827,
as described by those tourists.

Unfortunate tourists! People humbugged them with stupid and silly lies,
and then laughed at them for believing and printing the same. They told
Mrs. Trollope that the alligators--or crocodiles, as she calls them--
were terrible creatures; and backed up the statement with a blood-
curdling account of how one of these slandered reptiles crept into a
squatter cabin one night, and ate up a woman and five children. The
woman, by herself, would have satisfied any ordinarily-impossible
alligator; but no, these liars must make him gorge the five children
besides. One would not imagine that jokers of this robust breed would be
sensitive--but they were. It is difficult, at this day, to understand,
and impossible to justify, the reception which the book of the grave,
honest, intelligent, gentle, manly, charitable, well-meaning Capt. Basil
Hall got.

Chapter 41 The Metropolis of the South

THE approaches to New Orleans were familiar; general aspects were
unchanged. When one goes flying through London along a railway propped
in the air on tall arches, he may inspect miles of upper bedrooms
through the open windows, but the lower half of the houses is under his
level and out of sight. Similarly, in high-river stage, in the New
Orleans region, the water is up to the top of the enclosing levee-rim,
the flat country behind it lies low--representing the bottom of a dish--
and as the boat swims along, high on the flood, one looks down upon the
houses and into the upper windows. There is nothing but that frail
breastwork of earth between the people and destruction.

The old brick salt-warehouses clustered at the upper end of the city
looked as they had always looked; warehouses which had had a kind of
Aladdin's lamp experience, however, since I had seen them; for when the
war broke out the proprietor went to bed one night leaving them packed
with thousands of sacks of vulgar salt, worth a couple of dollars a
sack, and got up in the morning and found his mountain of salt turned
into a mountain of gold, so to speak, so suddenly and to so dizzy a
height had the war news sent up the price of the article.

The vast reach of plank wharves remained unchanged, and there were as
many ships as ever: but the long array of steamboats had vanished; not
altogether, of course, but not much of it was left.

The city itself had not changed--to the eye. It had greatly increased
in spread and population, but the look of the town was not altered. The
dust, waste-paper-littered, was still deep in the streets; the deep,
trough-like gutters alongside the curbstones were still half full of
reposeful water with a dusty surface; the sidewalks were still--in the
sugar and bacon region--encumbered by casks and barrels and hogsheads;
the great blocks of austerely plain commercial houses were as dusty-
looking as ever.

Canal Street was finer, and more attractive and stirring than formerly,
with its drifting crowds of people, its several processions of hurrying
street-cars, and--toward evening--its broad second-story verandas
crowded with gentlemen and ladies clothed according to the latest mode.

Not that there is any 'architecture' in Canal Street: to speak in
broad, general terms, there is no architecture in New Orleans, except in
the cemeteries. It seems a strange thing to say of a wealthy, far-
seeing, and energetic city of a quarter of a million inhabitants, but it
is true. There is a huge granite U.S. Custom-house--costly enough,
genuine enough, but as a decoration it is inferior to a gasometer. It
looks like a state prison. But it was built before the war.
Architecture in America may be said to have been born since the war. New
Orleans, I believe, has had the good luck--and in a sense the bad luck--
to have had no great fire in late years. It must be so. If the
opposite had been the case, I think one would be able to tell the 'burnt
district' by the radical improvement in its architecture over the old
forms. One can do this in Boston and Chicago. The 'burnt district' of
Boston was commonplace before the fire; but now there is no commercial
district in any city in the world that can surpass it--or perhaps even
rival it--in beauty, elegance, and tastefulness.

However, New Orleans has begun--just this moment, as one may say. When
completed, the new Cotton Exchange will be a stately and beautiful
building; massive, substantial, full of architectural graces; no shams
or false pretenses or uglinesses about it anywhere. To the city, it will
be worth many times its cost, for it will breed its species. What has
been lacking hitherto, was a model to build toward; something to educate
eye and taste; a SUGGESTER, so to speak.

The city is well outfitted with progressive men--thinking, sagacious,
long-headed men. The contrast between the spirit of the city and the
city's architecture is like the contrast between waking and sleep.
Apparently there is a 'boom' in everything but that one dead feature.
The water in the gutters used to be stagnant and slimy, and a potent
disease-breeder; but the gutters are flushed now, two or three times a
day, by powerful machinery; in many of the gutters the water never
stands still, but has a steady current. Other sanitary improvements
have been made; and with such effect that New Orleans claims to be
(during the long intervals between the occasional yellow-fever assaults)
one of the healthiest cities in the Union. There's plenty of ice now
for everybody, manufactured in the town. It is a driving place
commercially, and has a great river, ocean, and railway business. At
the date of our visit, it was the best lighted city in the Union,
electrically speaking. The New Orleans electric lights were more
numerous than those of New York, and very much better. One had this
modified noonday not only in Canal and some neighboring chief streets,
but all along a stretch of five miles of river frontage. There are good
clubs in the city now--several of them but recently organized--and
inviting modern-style pleasure resorts at West End and Spanish Fort.
The telephone is everywhere. One of the most notable advances is in
journalism. The newspapers, as I remember them, were not a striking
feature. Now they are. Money is spent upon them with a free hand. They
get the news, let it cost what it may. The editorial work is not hack-
grinding, but literature. As an example of New Orleans journalistic
achievement, it may be mentioned that the 'Times-Democrat' of August 26,
1882, contained a report of the year's business of the towns of the
Mississippi Valley, from New Orleans all the way to St. Paul--two
thousand miles. That issue of the paper consisted of forty pages; seven
columns to the page; two hundred and eighty columns in all; fifteen
hundred words to the column; an aggregate of four hundred and twenty
thousand words. That is to say, not much short of three times as many
words as there are in this book. One may with sorrow contrast this with
the architecture of New Orleans.

I have been speaking of public architecture only. The domestic article
in New Orleans is reproachless, notwithstanding it remains as it always
was. All the dwellings are of wood--in the American part of the town, I
mean--and all have a comfortable look. Those in the wealthy quarter are
spacious; painted snow-white usually, and generally have wide verandas,
or double-verandas, supported by ornamental columns. These mansions
stand in the center of large grounds, and rise, garlanded with roses,
out of the midst of swelling masses of shining green foliage and many-
colored blossoms. No houses could well be in better harmony with their
surroundings, or more pleasing to the eye, or more home-like and

One even becomes reconciled to the cistern presently; this is a mighty
cask, painted green, and sometimes a couple of stories high, which is
propped against the house-corner on stilts. There is a mansion-and-
brewery suggestion about the combination which seems very incongruous at
first. But the people cannot have wells, and so they take rain-water.
Neither can they conveniently have cellars, or graves,{footnote [The
Israelites are buried in graves--by permission, I take it, not
requirement; but none else, except the destitute, who are buried at
public expense. The graves are but three or four feet deep.]} the town
being built upon 'made' ground; so they do without both, and few of the
living complain, and none of the others.

Chapter 42 Hygiene and Sentiment

THEY bury their dead in vaults, above the ground. These vaults have a
resemblance to houses--sometimes to temples; are built of marble,
generally; are architecturally graceful and shapely; they face the walks
and driveways of the cemetery; and when one moves through the midst of a
thousand or so of them and sees their white roofs and gables stretching
into the distance on every hand, the phrase 'city of the dead' has all
at once a meaning to him. Many of the cemeteries are beautiful, and are
kept in perfect order. When one goes from the levee or the business
streets near it, to a cemetery, he observes to himself that if those
people down there would live as neatly while they are alive as they do
after they are dead, they would find many advantages in it; and besides,
their quarter would be the wonder and admiration of the business world.
Fresh flowers, in vases of water, are to be seen at the portals of many
of the vaults: placed there by the pious hands of bereaved parents and
children, husbands and wives, and renewed daily. A milder form of
sorrow finds its inexpensive and lasting remembrancer in the coarse and
ugly but indestructible 'immortelle'--which is a wreath or cross or some
such emblem, made of rosettes of black linen, with sometimes a yellow
rosette at the conjunction of the cross's bars--kind of sorrowful
breast-pin, so to say. The immortelle requires no attention: you just
hang it up, and there you are; just leave it alone, it will take care of
your grief for you, and keep it in mind better than you can; stands
weather first-rate, and lasts like boiler-iron.

On sunny days, pretty little chameleons--gracefullest of legged
reptiles--creep along the marble fronts of the vaults, and catch flies.
Their changes of color--as to variety--are not up to the creature's
reputation. They change color when a person comes along and hangs up an
immortelle; but that is nothing: any right-feeling reptile would do

I will gradually drop this subject of graveyards. I have been trying
all I could to get down to the sentimental part of it, but I cannot
accomplish it. I think there is no genuinely sentimental part to it.
It is all grotesque, ghastly, horrible. Graveyards may have been
justifiable in the bygone ages, when nobody knew that for every dead
body put into the ground, to glut the earth and the plant-roots, and the
air with disease-germs, five or fifty, or maybe a hundred persons must
die before their proper time; but they are hardly justifiable now, when
even the children know that a dead saint enters upon a century-long
career of assassination the moment the earth closes over his corpse. It
is a grim sort of a thought. The relics of St. Anne, up in Canada, have
now, after nineteen hundred years, gone to curing the sick by the dozen.
But it is merest matter-of-course that these same relics, within a
generation after St. Anne's death and burial, MADE several thousand
people sick. Therefore these miracle-performances are simply
compensation, nothing more. St. Anne is somewhat slow pay, for a Saint,
it is true; but better a debt paid after nineteen hundred years, and
outlawed by the statute of limitations, than not paid at all; and most
of the knights of the halo do not pay at all. Where you find one that
pays--like St. Anne--you find a hundred and fifty that take the benefit
of the statute. And none of them pay any more than the principal of what
they owe--they pay none of the interest either simple or compound. A
Saint can never QUITE return the principal, however; for his dead body
KILLS people, whereas his relics HEAL only--they never restore the dead
to life. That part of the account is always left unsettled.

'Dr. F. Julius Le Moyne, after fifty years of medical practice, wrote:
"The inhumation of human bodies, dead from infectious diseases, results
in constantly loading the atmosphere, and polluting the waters, with not
only the germs that rise from simply putrefaction, but also with the
SPECIFIC germs of the diseases from which death resulted."

'The gases (from buried corpses) will rise to the surface through eight
or ten feet of gravel, just as coal-gas will do, and there is
practically no limit to their power of escape.

'During the epidemic in New Orleans in 1853, Dr. E. H. Barton reported
that in the Fourth District the mortality was four hundred and fifty-two
per thousand--more than double that of any other. In this district were
three large cemeteries, in which during the previous year more than
three thousand bodies had been buried. In other districts the proximity
of cemeteries seemed to aggravate the disease.

'In 1828 Professor Bianchi demonstrated how the fearful reappearance of
the plague at Modena was caused by excavations in ground where, THREE
HUNDRED YEARS PREVIOUSLY, the victims of the pestilence had been buried.
Mr. Cooper, in explaining the causes of some epidemics, remarks that the
opening of the plague burial-grounds at Eyam resulted in an immediate
outbreak of disease.'--NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW, NO. 3, VOL. 135.

In an address before the Chicago Medical Society, in advocacy of
cremation, Dr. Charles W. Purdy made some striking comparisons to show
what a burden is laid upon society by the burial of the dead:--

'One and one-fourth times more money is expended annually in funerals in
the United States than the Government expends for public-school
purposes. Funerals cost this country in 1880 enough money to pay the
liabilities of all the commercial failures in the United States during
the same year, and give each bankrupt a capital of $8,630 with which to
resume business. Funerals cost annually more money than the value of the
combined gold and silver yield of the United States in the year 1880!
These figures do not include the sums invested in burial-grounds and
expended in tombs and monuments, nor the loss from depreciation of
property in the vicinity of cemeteries.'

For the rich, cremation would answer as well as burial; for the
ceremonies connected with it could be made as costly and ostentatious as
a Hindu suttee; while for the poor, cremation would be better than
burial, because so cheap {footnote [Four or five dollars is the minimum
cost.]}--so cheap until the poor got to imitating the rich, which they
would do by-and-bye. The adoption of cremation would relieve us of a
muck of threadbare burial-witticisms; but, on the other hand, it would
resurrect a lot of mildewed old cremation-jokes that have had a rest for
two thousand years.

I have a colored acquaintance who earns his living by odd jobs and heavy
manual labor. He never earns above four hundred dollars in a year, and
as he has a wife and several young children, the closest scrimping is
necessary to get him through to the end of the twelve months debtless.
To such a man a funeral is a colossal financial disaster. While I was
writing one of the preceding chapters, this man lost a little child. He
walked the town over with a friend, trying to find a coffin that was
within his means. He bought the very cheapest one he could find, plain
wood, stained. It cost him twenty-six dollars. It would have cost less
than four, probably, if it had been built to put something useful into.
He and his family will feel that outlay a good many months.

Chapter 43 The Art of Inhumation

ABOUT the same time, I encountered a man in the street, whom I had not
seen for six or seven years; and something like this talk followed. I

'But you used to look sad and oldish; you don't now. Where did you get
all this youth and bubbling cheerfulness? Give me the address.'

He chuckled blithely, took off his shining tile, pointed to a notched
pink circlet of paper pasted into its crown, with something lettered on
it, and went on chuckling while I read, 'J. B----, UNDERTAKER.' Then he
clapped his hat on, gave it an irreverent tilt to leeward, and cried

'That's what's the matter! It used to be rough times with me when you
knew me--insurance-agency business, you know; mighty irregular. Big
fire, all right--brisk trade for ten days while people scared; after
that, dull policy-business till next fire. Town like this don't have
fires often enough--a fellow strikes so many dull weeks in a row that he
gets discouraged. But you bet you, this is the business! People don't
wait for examples to die. No, sir, they drop off right along--there
ain't any dull spots in the undertaker line. I just started in with two
or three little old coffins and a hired hearse, and now look at the
thing! I've worked up a business here that would satisfy any man, don't
care who he is. Five years ago, lodged in an attic; live in a swell
house now, with a mansard roof, and all the modern inconveniences.'

'Does a coffin pay so well. Is there much profit on a coffin?'

'Go-way! How you talk!' Then, with a confidential wink, a dropping of
the voice, and an impressive laying of his hand on my arm; 'Look here;
there's one thing in this world which isn't ever cheap. That's a coffin.
There's one thing in this world which a person don't ever try to jew you
down on. That's a coffin. There's one thing in this world which a
person don't say--"I'll look around a little, and if I find I can't do
better I'll come back and take it." That's a coffin. There's one thing
in this world which a person won't take in pine if he can go walnut; and
won't take in walnut if he can go mahogany; and won't take in mahogany
if he can go an iron casket with silver door-plate and bronze handles.
That's a coffin. And there's one thing in this world which you don't
have to worry around after a person to get him to pay for. And that's a
coffin. Undertaking?--why it's the dead-surest business in Christendom,
and the nobbiest.

'Why, just look at it. A rich man won't have anything but your very
best; and you can just pile it on, too--pile it on and sock it to him--
he won't ever holler. And you take in a poor man, and if you work him
right he'll bust himself on a single lay-out. Or especially a woman.
F'r instance: Mrs. O'Flaherty comes in--widow--wiping her eyes and kind
of moaning. Unhandkerchiefs one eye, bats it around tearfully over the
stock; says--

'"And fhat might ye ask for that wan?"

'"Thirty-nine dollars, madam," says I.

'"It 's a foine big price, sure, but Pat shall be buried like a
gintleman, as he was, if I have to work me fingers off for it. I'll have
that wan, sor."

'"Yes, madam," says I, "and it is a very good one, too; not costly, to
be sure, but in this life we must cut our garment to our clothes, as the
saying is." And as she starts out, I heave in, kind of casually, "This
one with the white satin lining is a beauty, but I am afraid--well,
sixty-five dollars is a rather--rather--but no matter, I felt obliged to
say to Mrs. O'Shaughnessy--"

'"D'ye mane to soy that Bridget O'Shaughnessy bought the mate to that
joo-ul box to ship that dhrunken divil to Purgatory in?"

'"Yes, madam."

'"Then Pat shall go to heaven in the twin to it, if it takes the last
rap the O'Flaherties can raise; and moind you, stick on some extras,
too, and I'll give ye another dollar."

'And as I lay-in with the livery stables, of course I don't forget to
mention that Mrs. O'Shaughnessy hired fifty-four dollars' worth of hacks
and flung as much style into Dennis's funeral as if he had been a duke
or an assassin. And of course she sails in and goes the O'Shaughnessy
about four hacks and an omnibus better. That used to be, but that's all
played now; that is, in this particular town. The Irish got to piling
up hacks so, on their funerals, that a funeral left them ragged and
hungry for two years afterward; so the priest pitched in and broke it
all up. He don't allow them to have but two hacks now, and sometimes
only one.'

'Well,' said I, 'if you are so light-hearted and jolly in ordinary
times, what must you be in an epidemic?'

He shook his head.

'No, you're off, there. We don't like to see an epidemic. An epidemic
don't pay. Well, of course I don't mean that, exactly; but it don't pay
in proportion to the regular thing. Don't it occur to you, why?'



'I can't imagine. What is it?'

'It's just two things.'

'Well, what are they?'

'One's Embamming.'

'And what's the other?'


'How is that?'

'Well, in ordinary times, a person dies, and we lay him up in ice; one
day two days, maybe three, to wait for friends to come. Takes a lot of
it--melts fast. We charge jewelry rates for that ice, and war-prices
for attendance. Well, don't you know, when there's an epidemic, they
rush 'em to the cemetery the minute the breath's out. No market for ice
in an epidemic. Same with Embamming. You take a family that's able to
embam, and you've got a soft thing. You can mention sixteen different
ways to do it--though there AIN'T only one or two ways, when you come
down to the bottom facts of it--and they'll take the highest-priced way,
every time. It's human nature--human nature in grief. It don't reason,
you see. Time being, it don't care a dam. All it wants is physical
immortality for deceased, and they're willing to pay for it. All you've
got to do is to just be ca'm and stack it up--they'll stand the racket.
Why, man, you can take a defunct that you couldn't GIVE away; and get
your embamming traps around you and go to work; and in a couple of hours
he is worth a cool six hundred--that's what HE'S worth. There ain't
anything equal to it but trading rats for di'monds in time of famine.
Well, don't you see, when there's an epidemic, people don't wait to
embam. No, indeed they don't; and it hurts the business like hell-th, as
we say--hurts it like hell-th, HEALTH, see?--Our little joke in the
trade. Well, I must be going. Give me a call whenever you need any--I
mean, when you're going by, sometime.'

In his joyful high spirits, he did the exaggerating himself, if any has
been done. I have not enlarged on him.

With the above brief references to inhumation, let us leave the subject.
As for me, I hope to be cremated. I made that remark to my pastor once,
who said, with what he seemed to think was an impressive manner--

'I wouldn't worry about that, if I had your chances.' Much he knew about
it--the family all so opposed to it.

Chapter 44 City Sights

THE old French part of New Orleans--anciently the Spanish part--bears no
resemblance to the American end of the city: the American end which lies
beyond the intervening brick business-center. The houses are massed in
blocks; are austerely plain and dignified; uniform of pattern, with here
and there a departure from it with pleasant effect; all are plastered on
the outside, and nearly all have long, iron-railed verandas running
along the several stories. Their chief beauty is the deep, warm,
varicolored stain with which time and the weather have enriched the
plaster. It harmonizes with all the surroundings, and has as natural a
look of belonging there as has the flush upon sunset clouds. This
charming decoration cannot be successfully imitated; neither is it to be
found elsewhere in America.

The iron railings are a specialty, also. The pattern is often
exceedingly light and dainty, and airy and graceful--with a large cipher
or monogram in the center, a delicate cobweb of baffling, intricate
forms, wrought in steel. The ancient railings are hand-made, and are
now comparatively rare and proportionately valuable. They are become

The party had the privilege of idling through this ancient quarter of
New Orleans with the South's finest literary genius, the author of 'the
Grandissimes.' In him the South has found a masterly delineator of its
interior life and its history. In truth, I find by experience, that the
untrained eye and vacant mind can inspect it, and learn of it, and judge
of it, more clearly and profitably in his books than by personal contact
with it.

With Mr. Cable along to see for you, and describe and explain and
illuminate, a jog through that old quarter is a vivid pleasure. And you
have a vivid sense as of unseen or dimly seen things--vivid, and yet
fitful and darkling; you glimpse salient features, but lose the fine
shades or catch them imperfectly through the vision of the imagination:
a case, as it were, of ignorant near-sighted stranger traversing the rim
of wide vague horizons of Alps with an inspired and enlightened long-
sighted native.

We visited the old St. Louis Hotel, now occupied by municipal offices.
There is nothing strikingly remarkable about it; but one can say of it
as of the Academy of Music in New York, that if a broom or a shovel has
ever been used in it there is no circumstantial evidence to back up the
fact. It is curious that cabbages and hay and things do not grow in the
Academy of Music; but no doubt it is on account of the interruption of
the light by the benches, and the impossibility of hoeing the crop
except in the aisles. The fact that the ushers grow their buttonhole-
bouquets on the premises shows what might be done if they had the right
kind of an agricultural head to the establishment.

We visited also the venerable Cathedral, and the pretty square in front
of it; the one dim with religious light, the other brilliant with the
worldly sort, and lovely with orange-trees and blossomy shrubs; then we
drove in the hot sun through the wilderness of houses and out on to the
wide dead level beyond, where the villas are, and the water wheels to
drain the town, and the commons populous with cows and children; passing
by an old cemetery where we were told lie the ashes of an early pirate;
but we took him on trust, and did not visit him. He was a pirate with a
tremendous and sanguinary history; and as long as he preserved
unspotted, in retirement, the dignity of his name and the grandeur of
his ancient calling, homage and reverence were his from high and low;
but when at last he descended into politics and became a paltry
alderman, the public 'shook' him, and turned aside and wept. When he
died, they set up a monument over him; and little by little he has come
into respect again; but it is respect for the pirate, not the alderman.
To-day the loyal and generous remember only what he was, and charitably
forget what he became.

Thence, we drove a few miles across a swamp, along a raised shell road,
with a canal on one hand and a dense wood on the other; and here and
there, in the distance, a ragged and angular-limbed and moss-bearded
cypress, top standing out, clear cut against the sky, and as quaint of
form as the apple-trees in Japanese pictures--such was our course and
the surroundings of it. There was an occasional alligator swimming
comfortably along in the canal, and an occasional picturesque colored
person on the bank, flinging his statue-rigid reflection upon the still
water and watching for a bite.

And by-and-bye we reached the West End, a collection of hotels of the
usual light summer-resort pattern, with broad verandas all around, and
the waves of the wide and blue Lake Pontchartrain lapping the
thresholds. We had dinner on a ground-veranda over the water--the chief
dish the renowned fish called the pompano, delicious as the less
criminal forms of sin.

Thousands of people come by rail and carriage to West End and to Spanish
Fort every evening, and dine, listen to the bands, take strolls in the
open air under the electric lights, go sailing on the lake, and
entertain themselves in various and sundry other ways.

We had opportunities on other days and in other places to test the
pompano. Notably, at an editorial dinner at one of the clubs in the
city. He was in his last possible perfection there, and justified his
fame. In his suite was a tall pyramid of scarlet cray-fish--large ones;
as large as one's thumb--delicate, palatable, appetizing. Also deviled
whitebait; also shrimps of choice quality; and a platter of small soft-
shell crabs of a most superior breed. The other dishes were what one
might get at Delmonico's, or Buckingham Palace; those I have spoken of
can be had in similar perfection in New Orleans only, I suppose.

In the West and South they have a new institution--the Broom Brigade. It
is composed of young ladies who dress in a uniform costume, and go
through the infantry drill, with broom in place of musket. It is a very
pretty sight, on private view. When they perform on the stage of a
theater, in the blaze of colored fires, it must be a fine and
fascinating spectacle. I saw them go through their complex manual with
grace, spirit, and admirable precision. I saw them do everything which a
human being can possibly do with a broom, except sweep. I did not see
them sweep. But I know they could learn. What they have already learned
proves that. And if they ever should learn, and should go on the war-
path down Tchoupitoulas or some of those other streets around there,
those thoroughfares would bear a greatly improved aspect in a very few
minutes. But the girls themselves wouldn't; so nothing would be really
gained, after all.

The drill was in the Washington Artillery building. In this building we
saw many interesting relics of the war. Also a fine oil-painting
representing Stonewall Jackson's last interview with General Lee. Both
men are on horseback. Jackson has just ridden up, and is accosting Lee.
The picture is very valuable, on account of the portraits, which are
authentic. But, like many another historical picture, it means nothing
without its label. And one label will fit it as well as another--

First Interview between Lee and Jackson.

Last Interview between Lee and Jackson.

Jackson Introducing Himself to Lee.

Jackson Accepting Lee's Invitation to Dinner.

Jackson Declining Lee's Invitation to Dinner--with Thanks.

Jackson Apologizing for a Heavy Defeat.

Jackson Reporting a Great Victory.

Jackson Asking Lee for a Match.

It tells ONE story, and a sufficient one; for it says quite plainly and
satisfactorily, 'Here are Lee and Jackson together.' The artist would
have made it tell that this is Lee and Jackson's last interview if he
could have done it. But he couldn't, for there wasn't any way to do it.
A good legible label is usually worth, for information, a ton of
significant attitude and expression in a historical picture. In Rome,
people with fine sympathetic natures stand up and weep in front of the
celebrated 'Beatrice Cenci the Day before her Execution.' It shows what
a label can do. If they did not know the picture, they would inspect it
unmoved, and say, 'Young girl with hay fever; young girl with her head
in a bag.'

I found the half-forgotten Southern intonations and elisions as pleasing
to my ear as they had formerly been. A Southerner talks music. At least
it is music to me, but then I was born in the South. The educated
Southerner has no use for an r, except at the beginning of a word. He
says 'honah,' and 'dinnah,' and 'Gove'nuh,' and 'befo' the waw,' and so
on. The words may lack charm to the eye, in print, but they have it to
the ear. When did the r disappear from Southern speech, and how did it
come to disappear? The custom of dropping it was not borrowed from the
North, nor inherited from England. Many Southerners--most Southerners--
put a y into occasional words that begin with the k sound. For instance,
they say Mr. K'yahtah (Carter) and speak of playing k'yahds or of riding
in the k'yahs. And they have the pleasant custom--long ago fallen into
decay in the North--of frequently employing the respectful 'Sir.'
Instead of the curt Yes, and the abrupt No, they say 'Yes, Suh', 'No,

But there are some infelicities. Such as 'like' for 'as,' and the
addition of an 'at' where it isn't needed. I heard an educated gentleman
say, 'Like the flag-officer did.' His cook or his butler would have
said, 'Like the flag-officer done.' You hear gentlemen say, 'Where have
you been at?' And here is the aggravated form--heard a ragged street
Arab say it to a comrade: 'I was a-ask'n' Tom whah you was a-sett'n'
at.' The very elect carelessly say 'will' when they mean 'shall'; and
many of them say, 'I didn't go to do it,' meaning 'I didn't mean to do
it.' The Northern word 'guess'--imported from England, where it used to
be common, and now regarded by satirical Englishmen as a Yankee
original--is but little used among Southerners. They say 'reckon.' They
haven't any 'doesn't' in their language; they say 'don't' instead. The
unpolished often use 'went' for 'gone.' It is nearly as bad as the
Northern 'hadn't ought.' This reminds me that a remark of a very
peculiar nature was made here in my neighborhood (in the North) a few
days ago: 'He hadn't ought to have went.' How is that? Isn't that a
good deal of a triumph? One knows the orders combined in this half-
breed's architecture without inquiring: one parent Northern, the other
Southern. To-day I heard a schoolmistress ask, 'Where is John gone?'
This form is so common--so nearly universal, in fact--that if she had
used 'whither' instead of 'where,' I think it would have sounded like an

We picked up one excellent word--a word worth traveling to New Orleans
to get; a nice limber, expressive, handy word--'lagniappe.' They
pronounce it lanny-yap. It is Spanish--so they said. We discovered it at
the head of a column of odds and ends in the Picayune, the first day;
heard twenty people use it the second; inquired what it meant the third;
adopted it and got facility in swinging it the fourth. It has a
restricted meaning, but I think the people spread it out a little when
they choose. It is the equivalent of the thirteenth roll in a 'baker's
dozen.' It is something thrown in, gratis, for good measure. The custom
originated in the Spanish quarter of the city. When a child or a servant
buys something in a shop--or even the mayor or the governor, for aught I
know--he finishes the operation by saying--

'Give me something for lagniappe.'

The shopman always responds; gives the child a bit of licorice-root,
gives the servant a cheap cigar or a spool of thread, gives the
governor--I don't know what he gives the governor; support, likely.

When you are invited to drink, and this does occur now and then in New
Orleans--and you say, 'What, again?--no, I've had enough;' the other
party says, 'But just this one time more--this is for lagniappe.' When
the beau perceives that he is stacking his compliments a trifle too
high, and sees by the young lady's countenance that the edifice would
have been better with the top compliment left off, he puts his 'I beg
pardon--no harm intended,' into the briefer form of 'Oh, that's for
lagniappe.' If the waiter in the restaurant stumbles and spills a gill
of coffee down the back of your neck, he says 'For lagniappe, sah,' and
gets you another cup without extra charge.

Chapter 45 Southern Sports

IN the North one hears the war mentioned, in social conversation, once a
month; sometimes as often as once a week; but as a distinct subject for
talk, it has long ago been relieved of duty. There are sufficient
reasons for this. Given a dinner company of six gentlemen to-day, it
can easily happen that four of them--and possibly five--were not in the
field at all. So the chances are four to two, or five to one, that the

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