BY N. PARKER WILLIS.
S-/ 60 87
Entered according to Act of Congress in the year 1853, by
in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the
Southern District of New York.
R. CBAIOHEAD, PRINTER,
53 Vesey st., N. Y.
THIs volume would hardly represent truly the
health-trip of which it is the chronicle, unless
fragmented, as it is, with the interruptions of ill-
ness. There were intervals when the depression
of disease overpowered both the enjoyment of
what was around and the faculty to describe it.
But the intermediate scenes and sensations were
of unexpected novelty and pleasureableness-so
much so, that, even without the stimulus of an
habitual literary profession, I should feel called
upon to record them for invalid cheering and
guidance. The trip is, at least, a delightful
opiate and recreation within easy reach. By
what I enjoyed and described, those interested
may judge of what the other parts of this tropi-'
cal pilgrimage might be, to themselves. I have
other notes, made as brokenly, which I may yet
write out and publish-but, these being sufficient,
thus far, to form a volume, I give them out in the
hope that here and there a sufferer may benefit
by them, at the same time claiming the kind in-
dulgence of the reading public for their frag-
mented character. N. P. WILLIS.
IDnLEWD, on the Hudson, Sept., 1853.
LETTER No. I.
June and geraniums in March-Intelligence for Invalids-Gulf-stream
atmosphere and its effect on a cough-Bermuda an isle of conva-
lescence-Town of St. George's, where Tom Moore was once cus-
tom-house officer-Negro pilot-Red-coated sentinels keeping guard
amid wild scenery-Groups of officers under ennui-John Bull's
permanent qualities-Two women to one man in Bermuda-Curi-
ous streets-Gardens-Shops and stores without signs-People idle
and happy-Tom Moore's opinion of Bermudian women-Tradi-
tion as to the island's having been settled by Lovers of quiet-Per-
manent type of English, etc., etc. 11
LETTER No. II.
English landlady at Bermuda-One public vehicle on the island-Gov-
ernment road of forty miles-Fashion of economizing here-Ar-
row-root native to Bermuda-No springs nor wells-no wild ani-
mals, and few birds-English and negro habits in contrast-Com-
pliment to American liberality-Re-embarcation for St. Thomas-
Getting into warm latitudes-First effect on invalids-Luxurious
idling in sailing in these tropical seas-Briefer twilights and brighter
stars-Running on a reef, etc., etc. .
LETTER No. III.
Becalmed with a broken propeller-Taken off by a Norwegian Captain
in his sail-boat-Kind treatment on board-Ten-mile course to St.
Thomas-Norwegian bread and cheese-French steamer towing up
the Merlin-Distant aspect of the Virgin Islands-Transparency of
atmosphere and curious effect on perspective-Hills like a shelf of
sugar-loaves-Harbour like a mountain sea reached by balloon ships
-Danish guns, not cannibals, to receive us--I ocoa-nut grove on the
wharf-Super-luxuriant tree-Negro loafers like black Don-Ceasar.
De-Bazans-Physiognomies untouched by care-Happiness as a
growth of the Tropics, etc., etc. .
LETTER No. IV.
The proper name of St. Thomas "-Earthquake season just now-
Heavy portmanteau carried on the head- The hotel and its pecu-
liarities-Windows without sashes or glass-Mulatto child's bath-
Tropical indifference to observation-Walk through the principal
street during the town's siesta-New wrinkle of enterprise in
"drumming "-Signs by which they know Americans-Negro fu-
neral-Chairs in mourning-Sorrow at intervals-White gowns and
black shoulders-un-African cast of feature-Reason for tendency
towards the white man's look-Curious tribute of admiration for
virtue, paid by an 4frican Prince to a good man-Burials-Effects
of the climate on European health, etc., etc.
LETTER No. V.
Two mornings a day, and two dinners-Description of West-Indian Ho-
tel-No privacy in this latitude-Negro familiarity-Danish castle,
and ruins of Bluebeard's tower-View from Hotel verandah-Dis-
tinct types of beauty at St. Thomas-Six races of coloured people
-Blood of all nations concentrated at St. Thomas-Grecian no-
ses and Spanish delicacy of feature grafted on negro stock-Nature's
exceptions-Beauties ignorant of alphabet and stockings-Curious-
ly caused pride and stateliness of demeanour-Picturesque dress of
women-Lovely shoulders and horrible feet-Suggestion to artists
to come and arrest types of beauty that are passing, and may die
out with higher civilization, etc., etc. .
LETTER No. VI.
Lobster cockroaches and gridiron spiders-Good climate for insects, bad
for man-Sunrise excursion to mountain-top Taking a walk, with
apony to do the walking-Coffee to encourage early rising-Beauty
of light on mountain-tops only-Louisen-hoi, a mountain-villa-Soil
incapable of quiet grass-Trees of passionate and spasmodic growth
Air-plant that gives the traveller a cup of water-Effect of strange
and new vegetation on the mind- Enquiry into the perpetual youth of
tropical plants-Whether youth, middle-age and old age, all in one,
is an enviable concentration of experience-Women do all the hard
work in the tropics-Loads of stone carried on the head ny a pro-
cession of girls-No laying down, out of doors-Insects and vermin
-Vampire lizards-Tropical sharks eat negroes, but do not eat pel-
icans-Views from the two sides of the summit-Hanging architec-
ture of St. Thomas, etc.
LETTER No. VII.
Second earthquake since arrival-Drive to see a sugar plantation-
Mammoth cotton-tree-Magnificent white beard on an old black
man-Sucking sugar-stick-Pay of black labourers-Nakedness in
tropical climates-Ebony babies un-diapered-Expensively dress-
ed coloured belles with bare feet-Emancipated shoulders-Odd
way of carrying a sheep-Village of sugar-cane labourers-Woman
with spare toe-Old man happy while being eaten by ants-Black
girl taking a siesta in the dirt-Curious plum--Natural sherbet,
LETTER No. VITT.
Predominating society at St. Thomas-Invariable type of German me-
diocrity in classes-Style of dances-Negro use of the voice-
Drowned baby, and key for the tuning of coloured horror-Sunday
and church-Whole congregation of Madras turbans-Females do
all the repenting-Effect of such a gorgeously dressed multitude of
black worshippers-Works in marble and works in ebony as reli-
gious ornaments-Reverie in Catholic church-Indispensable arti-
cle of furniture which every negress carries with her--Danish offi-
cer's politeness-Hot uniforms of soldiers from a cold climate-
Otaheitan flowering tree-Arrival of English steamer-Rush of pas-
sengers to the Hotel for iced drinks-News of the death of Tom
Moore-Poem as to the sins of genius-Promise of smooth water
ocean-sailing along the Antilles, etc.
LETTER No. IX.
Tide of English travel from Southampton, touching at St. Thomas-John
Bull out of place in the tropics-Nature's two journeymen at moun-
tain-making, and their different style of work-Two heavens neces-
sary for the Carib and the Englishman-English colonial islands all
alike, as to houses and inhabitants-Dame Nature atmospherically
dressed or undressed-Climate too clear for the distance that lends
enchantment to the view "-Nights excepted and stars wondrously
bright and beautiful-The Southern Cross-The French Islands
have rivers, the English islands none-Amazing prodigality of fo-
liage at Guadaloupe-English ecstacies modified by fear of humbug
-Frenchmen coming on board at Guadaloupe-Close contact, even
in these climates, never assimilating the French and English, etc.
LETTER No. X.
Alterations in punctuation by ants-Probable etymology of "Antilles"
-Alteration in plans-Preference of Martinique to Barbadoes-
Empress Josephine's birth-place-Martinique the "Fifth Avenue"
of the Antilles-Going ashore with an unusual lap-full-Jersey Fer-
ry outdone-Note on Negro language-Loss and re-capture of bag-
gage-Custom-House Vexations-Reception at Hotel-Uses of per-
severance-Apparition of Creole beauty-The good star of woman's
kindness-Negro manners after four years of emancipation-Inso-
lence after being overpaid-Landlord pitching a negro.Hercules
down stairs, etc.
LETTER No. XI.
Tropical persuader for early rising-The business-doing sex, and the
prayer-doing sex going in opposite directions-The Martinique Ri-
alto-Picturesqueness of no wharves-Resemblance of St. Pierre to
the structure of a theatre-Air of careless elegance about the black
and white merchants-Tropical slovenliness of costume-General air
of the gentlemen-Negroes dressed in two pocket-handkerchiefs-
Curious accompaniment to the surf-anthem-Description of coasting
boats and crews-Streets of St. Pierre at seven in the morning-
Venerable buildings-Bright river in every street-Return to break-
fast-Installed in Madame Stephanie's boudoir and bed-room-Res-
ignation to our calamities-Tropical breakfast with Parisian cook-
ery-structure of hotel and position of eating-room-Negro guests
in the house, and their politeness-Beauty of our Carib waiter-
Courses of dishes-The unusual addition to our breakfast-Descrip-
tion of Madame Stephanie Roque, our Creole landlady-Her hus-
band, etc.. etc.
LETTER No. XII.
Dull ink, insensible to climate-Poetry descriptive of tropical delicious-
ness-Tom Moore a custom-house officer on the island which was
the scene of "The Tempest "-Difficulty of realizing Ariel and Mi-
randa, at Mrs. Tucker's Tavern "- Horseback ride in the suburbs
of St. Pierre. Martinique-Garden of plants- Precipices with beards
-Air plants and their human counterpart-Young ladies on horse-
back with a negro footman, on foot, carrying their parasols-De-
scription of Martinique country.houses-Trepical habits of ladies
and gentlemen-Climate rendering comfort unnecessaay-Science
of comfort a result of Northern lack of pleasure out of doors-
Question as to comparative results of climate-Charming incident
of Creole hospitality-Yankee lumber-yard-Madame Stephanie's
kind influence-Chateau Perrinel-Negro soldiers and their varia-
tions from white soldiers, before and behind-Useful fact for Gen-
eral Morris, etc., etc. .
LETTER No. XIII.
Introduction to a black belle who goes into society in Martinique-
Reason why she has no surname-Negro passion for changing
their names-Mademoiselle Juliette the friend of our hostess-De-
scription of her colored beauty-The splendid gold ornaments
peculiar to the Martinique negresses, cinq-clous-ear-rings. etc.-
The dark belle's reception of us-Her manners-Her love of fun,
and her amusement at the New-York distinctions of propriety-
Exchange of keepsakes with her, and adieu-Comparative social
position of blacks and whites on the island-Distinctions of color
giving way-Both colors alike invited to the balls and festivities of
Fort Royal, the seat of government-More reluctant amalgamation
at St. Pierre, the large capital-Society checked by negro hostility
at this-Admission of black female pupils to the aristocratic school
of the convent-Curious scandal and its result-Mons. Bissetti, the
colored representative, and his history-The negro love of change-
Law to check his fickleness-His passion for wives away from home
-Interesting extracts on negro character, etc., etc.
LETTER No. XIV.
Good feature of the Catholic religion-Hour of reverie in the Cathedral
-Girls crowding to the Confessional-Swallows nestling behind the
pictures of the Virgin-A negro woman's prayer probably answer-
ed-Sunday morning mass in Lent-The fashionable Creaoes in Pa-
risian toilettes-The Negresses in full dress-Affectionateness of
French people toward matrons-Negress's substitute for woolly
head-Madras kerchiefs painted every week-Cascade of turbans
pouring down the steps of the cathedral-Description of Martinique
female dress-Bust left to itself-Ungraceful manner of hitching up
the petticoat-No stockings on black feet, but patent leather shoes
thought elegant-Fortune in gold ornaments-Families and neigh-
bours seated in the streets-No in-door life-Negress and her
orange-The frangipane, a wonderfully beautiful flowering tree-
Politeness of French gentlemen met in a walk-The difference of
these suburbs from ours, and the various new sights seen in the
first mile or two out of St. Pierre, etc.. etc.
LETTER No. XV.
Nuns nursing sick soldiers-Description of military hospital--Beauty of
beards in bed-Visit to Freemason's Lodge-Curious vine-Coffee.
plant and Nature's law of fruit-bearing-New way to carry a child
-Temporary marriages and the manner of breaking off-Fashion
for gentlemen's hair, in Martinique-The shops with no display out
of doors-Market for brilliant handkerchiefs-Female clerks-Ne-
gro families in mourning and their singular costume-Long skirts in
the street-Results of emancipation on the few and on the many-
Black man beating a woman-Negro journalism-Periods of waking
and sleeping in warm climate-Unhealthy just before dawn-Inci-
dent of politeness-Sugar, in the mud on one's boots, etc., etc. 136
LETTER No. XVI.
Experiences in approaching Mammoth Cave-The tavern at Bear-wal-
low, and its accommodations-A carriage in reduced circumstances
-Splendours of a Kentucky wilderness-Description of Mammoth
Cave hotel-Breakfast party and their underground experiences-
The lost bridegroom and his restoration-Jenny Lind's Guide, Ste-
phen-Description of this picturesque Charon-His intentions as a
slave-The uniform provided for entering the cave-Suggestion of
something more pictorial-History of the ownership of the cave-
Its extent and that of the estate above ground- Farms which it pro-
bably runs under-Attempt to make it a pulmonary hospital-The
two wives who buried themselves in the cave with their consump-
tive husbands- Terror of a death in the cave-The lost traveller-
County underground not represented-Scenery for poems, etc., etc. 146
LETTER No. XVII.
Descent into Mammoth Cave-Chance companions, and their correc-
tion of each other's impressions-The guide's basket with its aids to
enthusiasm-Funny look of party in mustard-coloured costume--
Entrance to the Cave-Realized value of the day to be lost-First
half mile-Strange atmosphere and dreary loss of smell of vegeta-
tion- First disappointment overcome-Gorin's Dome--urious im-
mortalizing of a master by his slave-Wonders of rock drapery-
Embarrassment of multiplied objects of admiration-Strange im-
pression made on the fancy by the Mammoth Cave-Its architect-
ural character-An antediluvian Herculaneum-Difficulties of the
way-The Styx-Lethe and its boat-Place for adieu, etc., etc. 168
LETTER No. XVIII.
Passage down the subterranean river of Oblivion -A bride backing out,
on the brink-Niches for disappointed politicians-Wonderful
echoes and vicinity of Purgatory-Firing a pistol near the Infernal
Regions-Landing on the other side of the Styx-Ole Bull's per-
formance in the Cave-The crowning of our companion, the Danish
Professor-Fatigues of the eighth mile-Blessed stop to dine-Rel-
ics of former visitors-Modesty of Stephen the guide, and our re-
monstrance-Clarel and its taste under ground, etc., etc. 170
LETTER No. XIX.
Splendour of Kentucky's basement story-What an earthquake might
do for somebody-Suggestion of a Mammoth Cave Ball-Effect like
getting a first view of a new planet-Process of disfiguring the Cave
by vulgar visitors-" Rocky Mountains and "Dismal Hollow,"
and the character of the latter place-Stephen's alleviatory mus-
tache-Last hall of all at the extremity of the Cave-Golden Fleece
overhanging the altar-Sketch of the party and reverie at the end-
Mother Eve, and our feeling alike as to the sun and moon-Suggest-
ed inscription from Milton for the end of the cave-Hesitation as to
confessing to the romantic effect of the last mile-Return, eyeless
fish, etc., etc. 180
LETTER No. XX.
Nine miles to daylight-Fatigue of walking with horizontal spine-Fish
without eyes-Organs dying with disuse-Consumption cured with
danger to nose-Lesson in taking things easy-Caution to ladies fond
of dark rooms-Quoted descriptions of church and temple-Oak
pole for suspending corpses-The mummy lady and her sarcopha-
gus-Description of her dress, posture, ornaments, etc.-The cus-
tom of stopping to muse at this mummy tomb-Mammoth relics-
Return to daylight- Delight of once more breathing air with the per-
fumes of vegetation-Kentucky's advantage in an attraction for the
intelligent of all nations, etc., etc. 191
LETTER No. XXI.
New article to pack in a trunk-Killing theeyeless fish by putting him
in spirits-To Mumfordsville from Mammoth Cave, by private ve-
hicle, and adventures by the way-Portrait of a backwoodsman-
Western Colloquial attitude-Kentucky handiness at expedient-
Mending a broken wheel with hickory withes-Comment on back-
woods life-Cheerful fire at the tavern in a June evening-Habit of
Western gentlemen to frequent the taverns-Curiosity as to stran-
gers-Attempt to dodge enquiries-Landlord, and his manner of
conversing and waiting on table-F.ducation in open air, and its re-
sults-Western character, and its formation-High station of land-
lords and stage-drivers at the West-Distinction between Western
gentlemen and rowdies, etc., etc. 0
LETTER No. XXII.
Cities and places approaching us by railroads-The over-trumpeting
of some watering places-Agreeable disappointment on arriving at
Harrodsburg Springs-English park around the Hotel--Notes de-
scriptive of the mineral waters-Favourite haunt for wealthy West.
ern families-Dr. Graham and his character-Deficiency in English
language-The Doctor's horse and his embarrassing habits-The
Doctor's many accomplishments-Hydropathic addition to the Ho-
tel-Doctor Houghton and his excellent knowledge and care-Town
of Harrodsburg-Salt River, etc., etc. 217
LETTER No. XXIII.
An omnibus in the woods of Kentucky-Its uses as a stage-coach- -Four
men and a fighting-cock as travelling companions-Ignominious
treatment of the warrior-His diet before fighting-Gentleman lend-
ing his pocket-comb to the company-Dislike of large land owners-
Indian Creek, and a cliff's resemblance to a lady's foot-Naming it
after the foot of a celebrated Kentucky belle of twenty years ago-
Wonderful scenery of Kentucky River comparatively unknown-
The ferryman at Brooklyn-Shaker village and a sight of Elder
Bryant-Description of the features of their village and property-
Speculations as to community and celibacy, etc. 2 28
LETTER No. XXIV.
Remedy for one great nuisance in Slavery-Northern cities disfigured
by their suburbs-Summer's evening in Kentucky-Lexington like
old North-End in Boston-Families passing the evening on the door-
steps-Regrets that had been unnecessary as to falling off in West-
ern beauty-Aristocratic mould of republican belles-Sudden ter-
mination of principal street in open' country-Look at a children's
party over a fence-A negro at my shoulder enjoying the same sto-
len pleasure-First visit to Ashland by moonlight-Mr. ('lay's love-
ableness-His residence classic ground, even before his death-De-
scription of house and grounds-Crazy wanderer whom I met in
the grove-Curious monamania of autobiography, etc., etc. 236
LETTER No. XXV.
Adventures on cross-road in Kentucky-Account of the Devil's Pul-
pit "-Early start-Philosophy of Driving--Reasons why Kentuck-
lans cannot yet drive, though great horsemen- Mode of female con-
veyance when going out to tea-Dr. Graham's accomplishments but
his mode of using the reins-Stumps and earthquakes-Singular
locality of King's Mills-The bridge over Dick's River and its indif.
ferent toll-keeper-Attention to trout and to strangers-The black-
smith-Majesty of primitive woods and the lack of this charm on
the Hudson-Log school-house in the wilderness, etc., etc. 2
LETTER No. XXVI.
Cross-road experiences in Kentucky-The log school-house-Apparent
uselessness of world wisdom, so far away from the world-Pic-
turesque interior-Older and younger girls and their looks and atti-
tudes-Picture of a lovely child-Eden still around us if we knew
its time and places-The boys and their employments-Structure
of a school-house-The Master and his dignity-The biggest boy
and his politeness and manly civilities-Way to the Devil's Pulpit-
A backwoodsman and his farm-Character of new clearings-
American facilities for getting on, etc., etc. 263
LETTER No. XXVII.
HAYI, &. 280
LETTER No. XXVIII.
HAYTI, AND THE CORONATION OF ITS EMPEROR 287
LETTER No. XXIX.
HAVANA, &. .. 278
LETTER No. XXX.
CONTINUATION OF DESCRIPTION OF MILITARY MASS, &0. 286
LETTER No. XXXI.
DEPARTURE FROM HAVANA-FLORIDA, &c. 294
LETTER No. XXXII.
Tropical May Morning-Florida's good fortune in names of places-Re-
turn of invalid pilgrims with Spring, and the loveliest returning too
soon Savannah River and its rice-fields-Pulaski House, and the
Republican system as seen in our hotel system-Tall stature of
Southerners, etc., etc. 804
LETTER No. XXXIII.
Caution to invalids-Climate of Savannah-First view of Savannah by
moonlight-Curious effect of city wholly buried in trees-Remark-
able stillness of Savannah-Contrast between the city's habits and
those of Havana-No poor people's residences- Effects of beau-
ties of nature on character, etc., etc. 811
LETTER No. XXXIV.
Want of Broadway in Savannah-Query as to shopping and its attend-
ant uwes-The unfurnished apartments of this world-Curious
second-hand machinery on roof of public building-Seeing twelve
o'clock struck-Savannah cemetery strangely peculiar and beauti-
ful, etc., etc. 317
LETTER No. XXXV.
SAVANNAH, &. .
LETTER No. XXXVI.
Blood-horses in Charleston-Respectful manners of negroes-Slow pac6
of inhabitants-Pine-plank drive-Rail-road across pine-barrens-
Prairie of pond-lilies-South Carolina marked character-Savannah
River and arrival in Georgia-Augusta and its general physiognomy
-Northern air-Curious specimen of master in shirt-sleeves and
negro carrying his coat-Unappropriated magnificence-The Geor-
gia "cracker." 888
LETTER No. XXXVII.
NEWORLEANS, &c. 389
LETTER No. XXXVIII.
DRINKING SALOONS AT NEW ORLEANS, &. 846
LETTER No. XXXIX.
NEW ORLEANS. &c. .
NEW ORLEANS, &c. 382
LETTER No. XLI.
CLASSES AT NEW ORLEANS, &c. . 370
LETTER No. XLII.
NEW ORLEANS, &c. 380
LETTER No. XLIII.
NEW ORLEANS PIQUANCES. .
DESULTORY NOTES AND. INFORMATION PICKED UP ON
THE WAY. 394
JUNE AND GERANIUMS IN MARCH-INTELLIGENCE FOR IN-
VALIDS--GULF-STREAM ATMOSPHERE AND ITS EFFECT ON
A COUGH-BERMUDA AN ISLE OF CONVALESCENCE-TOWN
OF ST. GEORGE'S, WHERE TOM MOORE WAS ONCE CUSTOM-
HOUSE OFFICER-NEGRO PILOT-RED-COATED SENTINELS
KEEPING GUARD AMID WILD SCENERY-GROUPS OF OF-
FICERS UNDER ENNUI-JOHN BULL'S PERMANENT QUALI-
.TIES-TWO WOMEN TO ONE MAN IN BERMUDA-CURIOUS
STREETS--GARDENS--SHOPS AND STORES WITHOUT SIGNS
-PEOPLE IDLE AND HAPPY-TOM MOORE'S OPINION OF
BERMUDIAN WOMEN-TRADITION AS TO THE ISLAND'S
HAVING BEEN SETTLED BY LOVERS OF QUIET-PERMAN-
ENT TYPE OF ENGLISH, ETC., ETC.
Bermuda, March 12, 1852.
DEAR MORRI :-
I date, you see, from the vexed Bermoothes," though
I write in the same cabin in which you left me at the
wharf of Jersey City-a change of locality it would be
as difficult for me to realise as for you, perhaps, had I
not just now come off from shore, laden with the flow-
12 HEALTH TRIP TO THE TLoPICS.
ers and foliage of this eternal summer, and were not
the ship-chandlery-atmosphere of my state-room over-
powered, for the present, by the orange blossoms and
geraniums which I plucked over the garden-walls in to-
day's rambles. I am enjoying June, though my date
Of our voyage hither, there is little to chronicle, ex-
cept for the invalids whose thronged pilgrimage this
route is likely to become. The long aisle of snow,
through which the pilot led us to Sandy-Hook and the
ocean, promised coldly; but the air of the open sea was
mild, and the quick arrival at the borders of the Gulf-
Stream gave us a temperature to our mind. It is sur-
prising what a balm for lungs is in the air of this warm
channel from the tropics. After having coughed for
the greater part of every night for months, I slept the
night through, in the Gulf-Stream, as if stilled by an
opiate. The sharper breath of the Atlantic, as we once
more got out of the floating sea-weeds and warm wind,
gave me back my cough, but it manifestly softens with
the more genial atmosphere of Bermuda, and, for most
pulmonary patients, I am told, this climate is a cure,
without going to the more Southern Islands.
The trip from New-York to Bermuda will be easily
made within three days by the new steamer which Cu-
nard is building for the route; but our little propeller,
the Merlin, made four days of it. We left you on Mon-
HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS.
day, and on Friday forenoon we ran up the inlet which
forms the access to the pretty town of St. George's.
The pilot who had boarded us was a very handsome
negro, and the air of natural authority with which he
ordered the white sailors about, divided my attention
with the winding shores through which he was our guide.
A saucy looking fort gave us its tacit permission to
pass, at the entrance of the inlet, and there was here and
there a fortification on the way to our anchorage; but,
with the exception of these military sharp angles, and
the red-coated sentinels, so needlessly keeping guard
over these desolate hills with their shouldered muskets,
the scenery was like the wilder parts of Roxbury and
Dorchester. Cedars and low bushes seemed the only
vegetation, and the soil did not look very promising.
Nearer the town, where it is more sheltered, the cactus
made its gayer appearance.
Arrived opposite the pier, we were a long time warp-
ing up to the landing, and, by the groups of officers who
had lounged down to have a look at the strangers, it
was evident that events are a scarce commodity on the
island. John Bull does not Bermuda-fy. He looks
just as he does at home. Under a delicate bright sky,
and with dry walking, he wears his weather-proof shoot-
ing jacket and double-soled shoes-the officers out of
uniform looking (till you get a close look at their faces)
like laborers waiting about the pier for a job. Setters
14 HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS.
and spaniels were in unusual plenty. Negro men, wo-
men and children idled about, as if work were a thing
I will anticipate a little by giving you a statistic or
two, from a Bermuda almanac for 1852, which we
bought at one of the shops in our ramble. It will tell
you, better than I can otherwise do, what population
we were about to see. Montgomery Martin states that
"there are twice as many females as males in the Ber-
muda Islands," and yet matrimony seems unpopular.
Of the colored males in the Parish of St. George, my
almanac says, 90 are married, 326 unmarried-of the
females, 101 are married, 523 unmarried; of the whites,
117 men are married, 241 unmarried-1 14-married wo-
men, 265 unmarried; 273 dwelling-houses accommodate
all these. The entire population of the Bermuda group
of islands is about 11,000. They are scattered in nine
parishes, and the seat of Government is at Hamilton, a
port on the west side of the main island, fifteen miles
from where lay our steamer. A Vice-Admiral (Sir
GFeorge Seymour, in command of Her Majesty's Fleet
on this side the Atlantic) makes Bermuda his station,
and Captain Charles Elliott, pleasantly known to Amer-
icans, is the Governor.
We got ashore about eleven o'clock, and immediately
started for a ramble through the town. After a turn or
two, it seemed to me as if we were walking through un-
HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS.
roofed catacombs, the stone walls were so close, on ei-
ther side, and the windows of the houses so small and
dark. The stillness of the town added to the effect, as
there are no wheels to be heard-a vehicle being a rare
exotic on the island. Garden-walls, and the walls of
houses, were all built of the same stone, the testaceous
base of the Bermudas, which is cut with a saw, like
blocks of wood, and hardens with exposure to the air-
so that the whole town of St. George's looks as if it
might easily be a labyrinth of excavated vaults and al-
leys. Occupying the hollow of a curve under a hill of
soft stone, this is doubtless true of parts of it.
Fresh from New-York, where every business street
seems broken out in a raging scarlatina of signs, it was
odd to walk through streets, and look in upon stores
and shops, through unornamented and plain doors and
windows. The Bermudians seem to trust their goods
to speak from the shelves only. Getting away from this
part of the town, we wound away through long and crook.
ed alleys between walls which shut in gardens, and here
the negro population abounded. They appeared to Be
not only perfectly idle but perfectly happy. Every man
and woman saluted us with bow and smile, and every one
whom we looked at a second time had something to say.
They were all out of doors, sitting, lounging, gossipping
across the enclosures, idly looking at the troops of chil-
dren playing in the dirt; and, of labor, there was little
16 HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS.
or no sign in the grounds and court-yards. The garden-
walks were overgrown with grass, and the beds of
vegetables with weeds. The lemon and orange groves
were in fruit and flower, but they looked ragged and
neglected, and the geraniums and roses, in full bloom on
the walls, were overgrown and untrimmed. Life looked
everywhere easy, superfluous and happy. It was the
remark of my companion as well as myself, that a look
of care and eagerness of pursuit was suddenly missing
from the physiognomy around us-seen last, that is to
say, in New-York and Jersey. While I write, by the
way, one of my fair fellow-passengers has called my at-
tention to a remark that Tom Moore (who, it will be
remembered, was, for some time, in office here) makes,
as to the physiognomy of the island. "The women of
Bermuda," he says, though not generally handsome,
have an affectionate languor in their look and manner,
which is always interesting. What the French imply by
their epithet aimante, seems very much the character
of the young Bermudian girls-that pre-disposition to
loving, which, without being awakened by any particu-
lar object, diffuses itself through the general manner in
a tone of tenderness that never fails to fascinate. The
men of the island are not very civilized," etc. It is a
query whether Moore made any distinction of color in
this remark, as all the white inhabitants are as English
as the English are at home.
HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS.
On the upper streets of the town we found cottages
built after the fashion of the suburbs of London, and
met here and there a lady walking, with no mitigation
of woolen shawl from the March wear in England-
June-like as were the sky and temperature. I was pre-
pared to see something that should look Bermudian, in
the costume. Tradition says that the islands had no
original population, but that Madoc, son of the Prince
of Wales, "got with him such men and women as de-
sired to live in quietness," and made the first settlement
here. The desire" seems to have remained in tolera-
ble force, but of the Welsh cap or kirtle there is no
sign. All is Woolwich-y and Portsmouth-y, even to
the stick of crooked hawthorn in the hand of every
walking gentleman. I write, not admiringly, however,
of this permanency and definableness. English officers
are, at least, all they look or assume to be, and they are
to be prized, as the world goes, for adhering to their
type, in all latitudes.
I cannot get out of Bermuda in one letter, I believe,
so adieu for the present.
LETTER No. 2.
ENGLISH LANDLADY AT BERMUDA-ONE PUBLIC VEHICLE ON
THE ISLAND--GOVERNMENT ROAD OF FORTY MILES-
FASHION OF ECONOMIZING HERE-ARROW-ROOT NATIVE TO
BERMUDA-NO SPRINGS NOR WELLS-NO WILD ANIMALS,
AND FEW BIRDS-ENGLISH AND NEGRO HABITS IN CON-
TRAST-COMPLIMENT TO AMERICAN LIBERALITY-RE-EM-
BARCATION FOR ST. THOMAS-GETTING INTO WARM LATI-
TUDES-FIRST EFFECT ON INVALIDS-LUXURIOUS IDLING
IN SAILING IN THESE TROPICAL SEAS-BRIEFER TWILIGHTS
AND BRIGHTER STARS-RUNNING ON A REEF, ETC., ETC.
Bermuda, March 13, 1852.
DEAR MORRIS :-
"Mrs. Tucker" hangs out no sign, though any one
who should by chance see her standing at her own
door, would know the house for an Inn. Her smile is
habitual, her eyes sharp, her person amplitudinous, and
her cap of the half-mourning respectability which land-
ladies wear. Her parlor received us with the usual
welcome of furniture for an English public house-
HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS.
conch-shells and glass cases of artificial flowers on the
mantel-piece, Albums on the centre-table, and a chintz-
covered sofa. She had offered us dinner at two, and
we had promised ourselves some luxury that should tell
of the Atalantides-grapes or fruits that should ac-
knowledge the seven hundred miles we had left behind
us-but it was England's mutton and pudding, and nei-
ther orange nor fresh fig, neither pine-apple nor banana.
The town having but one public vehicle, the ladies of
our party had been accommodated first, and had taken
their drive, while we were taking our walk, before din-
ner. The red-whiskered carrier of Her Majesty's mails
between St. George and Hamilton, for whom such oc
casional livery-jobs were a perquisite of office, waited
for us at the door, and we were soon out from the nar-
row streets, and winding among the green hills of Ber-
muda. The road, which looks as if a wheel did not
pass over it once in three months, was as smooth as a
floor, and, being a Government work, is laid out and
constructed with the taste and completeness of a park.
There are forty miles of it altogether, and it seems de-
signed only to develop and give access to the beauties
of view and scenery. It coquets, in and out, among the
hills which line the shore, and the glimpses of this won-
derfully brilliant blue sea, with the foreground of lavish
vegetation, and the distant foam upon the coral reefs
which encircled the island, are beautiful indeed. Such
20 HEALTH TRIP TO -THE TROPICS.
roads and scenery, with such perpetually fine weather
for driving, are an unknown combination of luxuries to
the English at home, and yet there is scarce such a
thing as a private pleasure-vehicle on the island. Our
driver explained it by saying that nobody came to Ber-
muda for anything but to economize."
Arrow-root is here at home. Seeing some negroes
at work, digging in a field, we stopped to look at it-
owing the compliment of a call to the long-tried and nu-
tritious friend of our children and invalids. It is a long
root, and grows wrong-end upwards, like a carrot, with
ready prodigality. In this genial clime thrive also cof-
fee, indigo, tobacco, and every fruit and vegetable of
the tropics, and we saw plants and foliage rare to us at
every turn-the walls edged with prickly pear, and, by
the road-side, geraniums flowering wild, cactusses and
palmettos, orange, lemon and fig-trees. The voyage
seemed short which had brought us from bare trees,
cold wind and snow, to such summer air and perennial
Bermuda has no fresh water, except what comes from
the clouds; and quite a feature of the island is the
whitewashed slope of the tank, which everywhere sup-
plies the house. Perhaps it is owing to this want that
there are no wild animals, and very few birds upon the
On our return towards the town, at five or six o'clock,
HEALTH TRIP'TO THE TROPICS.
we met the officers and ladies on their afternoon prome-
nade, a mile or two from home-their bright, untropical
complexions showing that they were well repaid for
preserving their national habits of exercise. Their tea-
tables probably assembled them afterwards, for there
was no sign of an evening promenade, even to listen to
the military band. The merry negroes alone seemed
enough enamoured of the climate to stay out of doors
without an errand. I understand, by the way, that this
is a sort of black man's paradise-the usages, indul-
gences, standards of conduct, habits and easy means of
subsistence, combining, with the respect which John
Bull pays to the dark skin, to make life in Bermuda
very much to Cuffee's mind. Few who leave it stay
long away. They are certainly, as seen in the streets
of St. George's, the most happy, saucy, careless and
good-for-nothing looking population I ever saw.
We found, on getting on board, that the Admiral,
Sir George Seymour, had paid his respects to the name
that sent out the Arctic Expedition, by leaving his card
for Mr. Grinnell. Five of our passengers had left us,
two English Army-Captains, a Bermuda lawyer and his
wife, and one invalid; and thirteen of us remained for
the voyage Southward. We got under way the next
morning at nine, and with our black pilot to see us safely
through the reefs, put out from the green inlet into the
smoothest of summer seas. Sea-sickness pretty well
22 HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS.
over, the wind fair, the air upon deck delicious, our pro-
pellor ensuring us six miles in the hour, and the breeze
three or four. more, we are all content to see the Mer-
lin's beak pointed steadily for the Tropics, and care lit-
tle for the ground-swell of the ocean.
March 15.-We cannot find clothes thin enough
to-day. The thermometer by the open port-hole in my
state-room, on the cool side of the ship, ranges from
seventy-eight to eighty. The trade wind has brought
us along very steadily, and we are now, in our third day
from Bermuda, hoping to reach St. Thomas by mid-
night. The heat of these tropical seas is singularly de-
bilitating. A sense of unsuppliable gone-ness is com-
plained of by every one. For me, it has somewhat loos-
ened my cough, but brain and limb seem saturated with
utter helplessness. Food gives no strength, and sleep
only seems to exhaust and weaken. What health is to
be found in so prostrating a clime, I shall know, per-
haps, when it has wrought its changes upon me-but
for the present, I feel sailing towards an equator of in-
Our company on board is as agreeable a variety of
people as often chances together. We have two ladies
who would be the charm of any society, bound on a
voyage of health; a couple of courteous Virginians on
the same errand; a Barbadoes merchant and his Creole
HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS
lady; two or three young gentlemen of the ornamental
class, and one or two well-matured citizens of the world
-an every-day breakfast and dinner party, with which
one would compromise to summer or winter. We lounge
all day on our cushions under the awning, wanting only
a little steady grass under us, and a little more ener-
getic atmosphere above us, to make it pass for a three-
dayfete champetre, of the Boccacio quality.
* r *
The sudden twilight, which drops over the day in this
latitude like a stage curtain, interrupted my letter;
and after an hour or two of gazing with new eyes upon
the old constellations, which burn so much brighter for
these seas than for ours, I went to bed. A heavy crash,
and a continued bang of something against the bottom
of the vessel awoke me, and my more watchful com-
panion came down below with the news that we had
run upon a reef, in approaching St. Thomas, and our
propeller was disabled. The passengers, who were
mostly on deck, were somewhat alarmed, but the night
was fortunately calm, and the sails sufficed to take us off
from the shore we had shaved a little too closely. We
are at present becalmed some ten miles from St. Tho-
mas, and have breakfasted on board very much against
our will. A row-boat has been sent up to the town
with the mails, and we hope for a breeze to follow it.
24 HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS.
An old sea-captain happened to be among our passen-
gers, and two gentlemen who have made many voyages,
and passed their lives in pursuits of commerce; and they
have volunteered a letter to Captain Cope exonerating
him from blame in the matter, and attributing it partly
to defective charts, and partly to the neglect of the man
on the forward look-out. It is the agreeablenews of every
ten minutes, at present, that "she don't leak," though,
with a higher sea and a different wind, she would have
knocked a hole in her bottom with the descent upon the
reef that broke only the propeller. This being the
great sea for sharks, we should probably have been di-
gested, by this time.
News of a sail-boat coming off. Adieu for the present.
LETTER No. 8.
BECALMED WITH A BROKEN PROPELLER-TAKEN OFF BY A
NORWEGIAN CAPTAIN IN HIS SAIL-BOAT-KIND TREATMENT
ON BOARD-TEN-MILE COURSE TO ST. THOMAS-NORWEGIAN
BREAD AND CHEESE-FRENCH STEAMER TOWING UP THE
MERLIN-DISTANT ASPECT OF THE VIRGIN ISLANDS-TRANS-
PARENCY OF ATMOSPHERE AND CURIOUS EFFECT ON PER-
SPECTIVE-HILLS LIKE A SHELF OF SUGAR-LOAVES-
HARBOUR LIKE A MOUNTAIN SEA REACHED BY BALLOON-
SHIPS-DANISH GUNS, NOT CANNIBALS, TO RECEIVE US-
COCOA-NUT GROVE ON THE WHARF-SUPER-LUXURIANT
TREE--NEGRO LOAFERS LIKE BLACK DON-CAESAR-DE-BAZANS
-PHYSIOGNOMIES UNTOUCHED BY CARE-HAPPINESS AS A
GROWTH OF THE TROPICS, ETC., ETC., ETC.
St. Thomas, March 19, 1852.
The sail that bore down upon us yesterday, as we lay
becalmed with our broken propeller, had a cool-looking
cockswain in the stern-a gentleman in white grass
jacket and trousers, and a straw hat, who was in odd
contrast with you, the last man I had seen at the port
26 HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS.
I had come from, buttoned up to the throat in your
pilot-cloth overcoat. I mentally put you two, and the
two climates together. He turned out not to be a
" Virgin-Islander," however. It was Captain Peterson,
of the ship Christian, of Copenhagen, who, hearing of
our disaster by the boat we had sent on shore, had done
as his countryman Ole Bull would have done-manned
his boat to come off and bring up the delayed passen-
gers to St. Thomas. He ran alongside, and his offer
was gladly accepted. The baggage was passed down;
.but as the ladies were preparing to embark a steamer
was observed coming from the direction of the port, and,
on the probability that it was one which had just ar-
rived and was coming to tow up the Merlin before let-
ting off her steam, they concluded to remain.
Three of us took our seats with the manly-looking
Norwegian, in the stern of his jolly-boat, and, putting
.up his helm he ran off upon a side-wind for St. Thomas.
The light breeze took a small craft along very buoy-
antly, and we were soon smelling the shore, and begin-
ning to be found again by open-air appetites. An hour
after leaving the ship's side, the captain ordered aft a
capacious basket which one of his men had under charge,
and gave us a most acceptable specimenof hospitality-
under the Norwegian flag-a bottle or two of Sauterne,
with some jugs of Seltzer water; a loaf of sweet rye
bread, baked on board hisship, with deliciousold chese,
HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS.
and some excellent butter; and a glass of the purest of
Cogniac, for a chasse-tout afterwards. Even Blue Beard,
the pirate, (along whose caves upon this his island we were
skimming so swiftly,) never relished lunch more. Our
friend spoke English very well, and was the model of a
frank, agreeable, open-hearted sailor; and upon that
three-hours' sail my companions agreed with me that we
should always look, as one of those chance pleasures
that overbalance the misfortune they grow from.
For the latter part of our course the wind was ahead;
and while we tacked in to the harbor, our steamer pass-
ed us, towed by a French steamer of war. We did not
arrive quite as soon as we should have done by staying
on board, though we had seen the coast of the island
to much more advantage, and were otherwise well re-
conciled to our delay. I studied the look of the St.
Thomas islands very constantly on our approach. Un-
clad in any visible atmosphere, their edges from a dis
tance, look as sharp as cut pasteboard; and, as you
near them, their bald round tops, without vegetation,
remind you of the shaved heads of a group of patients
in a lunatic asylum. It is strange to a northern eye,
and like a new sight, to see so far and so clear. We
could count the leaves of the cactuses on both sides of
the harbor, as we ran in, and perspective seemed sud-
denly abolished, so equally near seemed every house
along miles of receding shores.
28 HEALTH 'TRIP TO THE TROPICS.
An ant, taking a walk on a shelf of sugar-loaves, and
stopping in an open space where one had been taken out
would have nearly the same relative geography around
him, as a boat in the centre of the harbor of St. Thomas.
It really looks as if you might stand on the summit of any
one of the half dozen hills around, and toss a number
of the Home Journal (sealed up for the mail) on board
any ship in the harbor. The fifty or sixty sail at anchor
lie very close, their many colored flags of all nations
giving them a very gay appearance, and the numberless
boats, plying constantly between them, enlivening the
scene exceedingly. Coming from that most unshaded
and unoccupied spot on earth, the open sea, we seemed
suddenly to have slid into a mountain market-place,
with a basin of water in its deep-down bottom, and
vessels that must have come thither as balloons. It is a
harbor with a strangely mountainous physiognomy.
The guns of His Majesty of Denmark's Moorish-
looking castle gave us a stare as we passed before them,
and the sentries on the walls, pacing backward and for-
ward, in the hot cloth caps and uniforms of a northern
clime, gave us the comfortable assurance that the Caribs
were driven out and no cannibal was expecting to sup
upon us. A few rods from the shore, we found our-
selves in the range of an avenue of most wonderfully
luxuriant foliage, new to my eye, which our steersman
informed us was a cocoa-nut grove; and this shades
HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS.
the two sides of St. Thomas's principal wharf. Never
eat cocoa-nut again without a sigh to the memory of its
mother! It is the most prodigally beautiful tree that
gives its children milk under the sun. The fruit clings
near the trunk in clusters, and over it bends, in an em-
erald so vivid and brilliant as to look newly created that
hour, the broad and expanded plume-leaves-as super-
fluous as a mother's heart in their overladen luxuriance.
For a similitude of anything more beautiful than was
strictly called for, speak of the leaf of the cocoa-nut.
I give it to you for your next song, my dear Morris.
A dozen boats met us, twenty yards from the pier,
manned by clamorous negroes, eagerly begging to be
engaged to carry baggage to the Hotel; and the end
of the wharf was packed with a close crowd of them,
all competitors for the same job. Their efforts to es-
tablish something to be recognized by, were drolly in-
genious. Crooks of the finger over the nose, twists of
the mouth, grimaces, appealing looks, and pantomimic
gestures of every description, were offered to us as mne-
monics on which to hook a promise. I was agreeably
disappointed in their physiognomies. They were most-
ly of the small and delicate Spanish features-like well-
descended Castilians with black skins-and there was
nothing African, or plebian in their aspect or demeanor.
Hat, shirt and trousers were their only articles of
dress; and, with their slight forms and small waists,
30 HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPIC.
their white rags, relieved by the black skins which
they enveloped, were far from inelegant. By the ex-
pressions of their faces, their hearts, like their teeth,
seemed exempt from the ordinary human liabilities;
and they seemed, dirty and in tatters as they all
"come from a happy land
Where care is unknown."
I set foot on the shore with a feeling that the climate
might give something of this, even to the stranger. In
the two days I have now been here, it has grown upon
me, and I fancy that to-be-happy-without-asking-ques-
tions may be a plant indigenous to the island. I smell
it in the perfume that comes out from these near hills
at night-fall. You shall have a seed, if I can get it.
The schooner Mary Emeline, a fast schooner, sails in
twenty minutes for New York. Mr. Wetmore, her
owner, has kindly permitted me to write, up to the last
moment of her stay, with a promise to bag my letter
without fail. The time is so nearly up that I must say
adieu, adding only that we sail probably for Martinique,
Guadaloupe and Barbadoes, to-morrow or day after.
My friend, Mr. G., says my cough is backing out
from this warm climate, and I quote him, for I have
found other things more agreeable to keep the run of.
Yours, thermometer at eighty.
LETTER No. 4
THE PROPER NAME OF ST. THOMAS "-EARTHQUAKE SEA-
SON JUST NOW-HEAVY PORTMANTEAU CARRIED ON THE
HEAD-THE HOTEL AND ITS PECULIARITIES-WINDOWS
WITHOUT SASHES OR GLASS-MULATTO CHILD'S BATH-
TROPICAL INDIFFERENCE TO OBSERVATION-WALK THROUGH
THE PRINCIPAL STREET DURING THE TOWN'S SIESTA-
NEW WRINKLE OF ENTERPRISE IN "DRUMMING --
SIGNS BY WHICH THEY KNOW AMERICANS-NEGRO FU-
NERAL-CHAIRS IN MOURNING-SORROW AT INTEVALS-
WHITE GOWNS AND BLACK SHOULDERS-UN-AFRICAN CAST
OF FEATURES-REASON FOR TENDENCY TOWARDS THE WHITE
MAN'S LOOK-CURIOUS TRIBUTE OF ADMIRATION FOR VIR-
TUE, PAID BY AN AFRICAN PRINCE TO A GOOD MAN-
BURIALS--EFFECTS OF THE CLIMATE ON EUROPEAN HEALTH,
St. Thomas, West Indies, March 20, 1852.
I should date my letter more properly Charlotte
Amalia "-that being the Danish designation of the
town inr which I write-or "Tappus," which, in old
32 HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS.
times, was its more vulgar designation-St. Thomas be-
ing about as authentically the name of it, as Manhat-
tan" is the name of New-York. There seems but one
reason why St. Thomas is the better name. No spot
on earth has ever suffered so frequently from hurricanes
and earthquakes, (of the latter of which, this month, by
the way, is the particular season.) To live here with
any comfort, one must be incredulous that hurricane or
earthquake will ever happen again-and St. Thomas
was the unbelieving Apostle. The news of this morn-
ing is, that there was an earthquake last night which
asted 42 seconds. So, St. Thomas be it!
To begin where my last letter left off-with our land-
ing on the cocoa-tree pier. The negro who had suc-
ceeded in making me smile, (and to whose rights, there-
upon, to my acquaintance and custom the rest of the
sable crowd quietly yielded,) had my large portmanteau
placed on the top of his head, took my carpet-bag in
his hand, and started for the hotel. What with books
and summer and winter clothing, the weight on the
spine of that fellow was at least one hundred pounds;
yet he walked easily under it, while my chief affliction,
at the moment, was the oppressiveness of my winter
hat! I should have been flattened, under what he car-
ried, like the ashes of a pastille.
At the other end of the cocoa-grove stood our Ho-
tel-an irregular Moorish-looking structure, apparently
HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS.
all arches, corridors and verandas-but kept by a
Frenchman, and said to be the best public house in the
West Indies. No room to be had," was our first sal-
utation; but they finally crammed Mr. G. and myself
into a narrow cell on the ground floor, with a window
upon a paved court-the court being the lively home
of all the spare black females of the establishment, their
children, their parrots and their dogs. As I finished
my last letter to you, a large negress brought out an
earthen vessel of water, and proceeded to strip and
wash her daughter, (a pretty mulatto child of ten years
of age,) in the open court, within six feet of my ink-
stand-the two scolding and complaining so vociferous-
ly, all the while, that you will easily understand any
lack of harmony in my grammar or cadences. Glass
windows seem to be considered a superfluity in this
climate. We have only a green blind with immovable
open slats, and no means of shutting out either .the
night air or the observation of the curious. Our fair
fellow passengers, two ladies from Boston, whose win-
dows open upon the thronged veranda of the hotel, have
pinned up shawls and dresses on the inside of their
blinds, thus securing a little privacy at a serious expense
of light and air. I notice, however, in the manners,
habits and faces of all the inhabitants, an apparently en-
tire unconsciousness of being visible to the naked
eye, which I suppose must be an opiate effect of the
34 HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS.
torrid zone on the sensibilities. I will inquire of the
Consul how long it takes to become acclimated in this
We had arrived at three in the afternoon, and white
skins were out of the sun, enjoying their siesta. There
was a shady side to the principal streets, which stretch-
ed away from the door of our hotel; and as the ne-
groes seemed to be abroad in multitudes, I was tempted
to take a stroll in preference to a nap before dinner.
The street was narrow, and it was evident that a wheel
went over it very rarely. The shops were low, and
looked like rough warehouses, plastered and white-
washed; and, by the signs, I saw that most of the
merchants were Germans. Their shelves of goods, in-
deed, reminded me of Leipsic Fair, for, nowhere else
have I seen the same marvellous parade of cheap trifles
and gaudy toys and eye-traps. Ready-made clothes
and Panama hats seemed the next most abundant sup-
ply. There was but one apothecary, apparently, in all
St. Thomas, and but one bookstore-a small demand
less wonderful as to the pills than the literature. A
clerk beckoned me in to one of the variety stores as I
went, and expressed his modest hope that he had some-
thing for my money; and, on my sauntering return, I
was spoken to by several of the shop-keepers, with ques-
tions about the news in America, followed by a recom-
mendation of their goods-a drumming' at the door,
HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS.
which even the enterprise of Maiden Lane has not yet
equalled. I found afterwards, that they know all strang-
ers, in lumps of separate arrivals by the steamers, and
that they distinguish Americans from English by our
sharper eyes and invariable newness of hat.
A negro funeral was passing the door of the hotel as
I re-entered. I could not understand, at first, why two
chairs, with backs and legs draped in white crape,
should be carried in advance by two women-but they
stopped presently, and set them down to receive the
coffin and rest the bearers. This was also, apparently,
a breathing time for the sorrow of the mourners. I no-
ticed that the staid gravity of sadness with which the
twenty couples followed the body when in motion, was
instantly laid aside when it stopped, and they fell to
laughing and chatting like people at a pic-nic. The
only men were the four bearers. The others were ne-
gresses in Madras turbans and white gowns-as pictur-
esque a troop, with their black shoulders and arms
in such strong relief, as could well be imagined. I look-
ed in vain, in this procession as among the blacks on
the pier, for the African features. There was no thick
lips nor flat nose. A slight and elegant mould of fea-
tures seemed almost universal. It is true they were of
the various shades of mixed color, and the African gives
a good will as well as a ready consent to a white graft up-
on the blood. There is an amusing historical record of
36 HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS.
this, by the way, in the History of St. Thomas" just
published by our friend Scribner. The writer speaks
of the agents sent out to Guinea by Christian V. of
Denmark, to purchase slaves for this island. These
agents were described by Abbe Raynal as men of atro-
cious cruelty. But, says the writer, the good Abbe
mentions one noble exception to these agents. Such
was his character for probity and philanthropy, that he
was almost an object of worship. People came three
hundred miles to see him; and an old prince, living at
that distance, sent his favorite daughter, with abundance
of gold and diamonds, that the thrice worthy Schilde-
ross (or agent) might give him a grandson."
The book from which I have quoted is an in-
valuable one to invalids who think of seeking this cli-
mate, and a most careful and well written work, ex-
tremely interesting to the general reader. It is written
by a clergyman of the Dutch Reformed Church of this
place. On the subject of Burials, and on the sanit-
ary advantages of the island, I find passages which 1
will add in a postscript to my letter, and then bid you
adieu for the present.
"Burials generally take place within twelve hours after death,
the funerals being ordered at 5 P. M Government derives a
small revenue from all graves opened. The Jews and Moravians
have graves of their own. The poor are buried at the expense of
the country treasury. Government has a burying-ground lying
in the northeast of the town, in a romantic spot, for its officers
and soldiers; others than these are sometimes buried there by
HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS.
special favor. The keeping of hearses is a monopoly granted by
Government to a single individual; and only the rich, or those
in good circumstances, can pay for their use. This monopoly en-
tails a severe burden on the poor. They are obliged to convey
the dead by bearers, who are not even allowed a hand-bier; which,
owing to the distance of the grave-yards from the main body of
the town, proves a serious inconvenience. In consequence it is
difficult with the poor very often to procure a sufficient number
of bearers." *
Whilst foreigners who have taken up their residence in St.
Thomas enjoy a good degree of health, as a general thing, and
some have remained perfectly well during a protracted abode, yet
the great majority find an occasional change to more northern
latitudes absolutely necessary to restore the tone and vigor of
their constitutions. The continued heat of summer and winter,
even with the most careful and temperate, ultimately debilitates
the system, and induces disease- either intermittent fever, or,
more especially, bowel complaints. There are very few exceptions
to this, and we believe the remarks apply to all the West India
Islands. Hence European and American residents are continu-
ally leaving the island for a short sojourn of a few months, dur-
ing summer or winter, in their native countries. They almost
invariably return with improved health to remain a few years,
a-d then repeat the change. If this change of climate can be en-
joyed every three or four years, we believe there is no place of re-
sidence in any country more delightful and healthy than St. Tho-
mas. provided temperance be observed, and care taken to avoid
LETTER No. 5.
TWO MORNINGS A DAY, AND TWO DINNERS-DESCRIPTION
OF WEST-INDIAN HOTEL-NO PRIVACY IN THIS LATITUDE
-NEGRO FAMILIARITY-DANISH CASTLE AND RUINS OF
BLUEBEARD'S TOWER-VIEW FROM HOTEL VERANDAH-
DISTINCT TYPES OF BEAUTY AT ST. THOMAS-SIX RACES
OF COLORED PEOPLE-BLOOD OF ALL NATIONS CONCEN-
TRATED AT ST. THOMAS-GRECIAN NOSES AND SPANISH
DELICACY OF FEATURE GRAFTED ON NEGRO STOCK-NA-
TURE'S EXCEPTIONS-BEAUTIES IGNORANT OF ALPHABET
AND STOCKINGS-CURIOUSLY CAUSED PRIDE AND STATELI-
NESS OF DEMEANOR-PICTURESQUE DRESS OF WOMEN-
LOVELY SHOULDERS AND HORRIBLE FEET-SUGGESTION TO
ARTISTS TO COME AND ARREST TYPES OF BEAUTY THAT ARE
PASSING, AND MAY DIE OUT WITH HIGHER CIVILIZATION,
St. Thomas, West Indies, March 22, 1852.
DEAR MORRIS :-
We have two mornings a day, in this climate-the
second one, at 3 P. M. after the siesta, just now begin-
ning. I resisted these noon indolences, at first, but
HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS.
have given in. From 5 A. M. to 1 P. M. is as long a
day as even a healthy man can do justice to, in an at-
mosphere so steeped in lassitude. The inhabitants
eat two dinners in the twenty-four hours. Coffee and
bread and butter are brought to one's bed a little be-
fore sunrise, and at 10 in the forenoon there is precisely
such a dinner on the hotel table as is served at 6 in the
evening-a bottle of claret to every man's plate, and
meats, fruits and coffee, in regular succession. All the
boarders assemble at this meal most punctually, and it
is quite as long, conversational and hearty as dinner
I wish I could give you an idea of the out-of-doors-y
and free and easy character of this "crack hotel" of
the West Indies. It has but two public apartments, a
vast billiard-room and a vast dining-room. These occu-
py about two-thirds of the second story; but the other
third is a marble-paved veranda, fronting on the bay, and
this last serves the purposes of Ladies' Drawing-room,
Gentleman's Parlor, Smoking-room and Bar. The la-
dies are receiving company in one group, while sherry
cobblers are being drank in another; ices served here,
coffee there, and cigars in all directions. The choice is
between this publicity and a very small bed-room; and
the preference for the former is unanimous. It seems
to be an element of a tropical climate that nobody can
intrude. Privacy seems as much forgotten and out of
40 HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS.
its latitude at St. Thomas as are muffs and tippets
While our lady fellow-passengers were at breakfast this
morning, two young gentlemen were promenading to and
fro in the dining-room, with their hats on, smoking and
looking at the strangers, as if wholly invisible themselves.
It is impossible not to overhear the conversation of the
different groups of young men on the veranda. With no
sashes nor glass to the windows, there is no shutting out
sounds; and the most delicate of invalids must lie on
her pillow, listening to the rattle of billiard balls, the
shaking of ice in glasses, the laughter and jokes of the
drinkers, and, loudest of all, the eternal and vociferous
chatter of the negroes-merry, undeferential and omni-
present. The man who waits on me came in to my
room last night, after I had been two or three hours
abed, and woke me to say that a steamer had arrived.
The black laundresses talk French to me, as I sit writing
at my window, opening on their court yard. Every ne-
gro in the street will speak to you if you look at him.
Your neighbors at table converse with you. Nobody
is stranger to anybody. The equator seems to be not
only an astronomical, but a moral and social, equalizer.
Our hotel is next door to the Danish castle or fort,
which commands the Bay-or rather there is only the
Governor's garden between us-and the chivalric struc-
ture, with its bastions, battlements and barbican, flag
flying, and sentries pacing between the towers, forms a
HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS.
corner to our view from the veranda, than which nothing
could be more picturesque. High on a hill to the east
of it, stand the ruins of a castle, called ." Bluebeard's
Tower," looking feudal enough; and in front of us lies
the bright bay, walled in with hills like a well, and with
an opening like a broad gate to the sea. With all these
romantic-looking surroundings, and with the lazy and
loose climate and its habits, it is agreeable to find such
a careful and modern exotic as a good French cook-
but such is our felicity. The Hotel de Commerce is
kept by a very polite and gentlemanly Frenchman; and
his two dinners a day are cooked and spread with a sci-
ence and variety worthy of a table d'hote of Marseilles
or Havre. He seats about fifty persons at a meal-no
extra charge for claret, finger-glasses and coffee.
Artists know very well that the original and distinct
types of human beauty and expression are few and rare.
In all the engravings of female heads, in France and
England, there are not a dozen. The others are varia-
tions of these, more or less slight, but all traceable. In
St. Thomas, during the four or five days that I have
rambled through its streets and markets, I have sur-
prisingly enriched my knowledge of how Nature can
vary these priceless gifts of individuality. Faces, cu-
riously different from any I had ever before seen, met
me at every turn; and it was not till I had reasoned a
little upon the origin and habits of the people, and made
42 HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS.
some inquiries as to their races and combinations, that
I could at all understand it.
My surprises, I should tell you, were all among the
colored population, though of the African physiognomy,
(as we know it,) with flat nose and thick lips, you hard-
ly see a specimen at St. Thomas. They are mostly of
crossed races, and the inhabitants have six general classi-
fications, defining more or less of white blood:-the Ne-
gro, the Sambo, the Mulatto, the Mustis, the Castis, and
the Pustis. The Spanish occupancy of these islands,
and the neighborhood of Mexico, have largely distrib-
uted Spanish eyes and fine-cut regularity of feature, and
it is in these two particulars that the dark Thomasians
mainly vary from persons of color elsewhere. But,
when you remember what a nucleous of voyages radi-
ating from all the nations of the world this port is-
what marked natural qualities the bad boys" usually
have who turn out sailors because too wild to live at
home, the almost entire absence of virtue among this
colored population, and their preference for the white
man though entirely barred from marriage with him-
you will easily see how the world will scarce have a
type of feature or character that is not likely to be im-
printed in vigorous relief on this sable ground. The
variations are startling. A soft blue eye with long
black lashes, such as I saw yesterday over a pair of
tawny lips curved with the Alhambra's own model of
HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS.
Castilian scorn, looks strangely contradictory; and the
singular persistence of Nature in preserving faultless
teeth and raven hair to the dark Hebe, whatever other
variation of feature she may have, makes them all com-
paratively beautiful. We think we must go to Athens
or Napoli to see the straight Grecian nose, with its thin
nostril, in perfection; but no sculptor could better
mould one, than from the models of tan and orange
which he could beckon to him from every corner of St.
Thomas. The short upper lip of high descent, and the
delicate small oval of the chin, are equally common.
And these gifts, priceless to princesses, are here held in
careless unconsciousness by fruit girls, subject to none
but municipal laws-the Mustis and Pustis, whose mer-
ry eyes never saw alphabet, and whose brown ankles
never knew stocking.
Before closing this chapter on colored beauty, by the
way, I must mention one other peculiarity of these Vir-
gin-Islanders. Every female is trained, from childhood,
to carry burthens upon the head. From a tea-cup to a
water-pail, everything is placed on the small cushion at
the top of the scull. The absolute erectness of figure
necessary to keep the weight where it can best be sup-
ported by the spine, the nice balance of gait to poise it
without being steadied by the hands, the throwing for-
ward of the chest with the posture and effort that are
demanded, the measured action of the hips, and the de-
44 HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS.
liberateness with which all turning round or looking
aside must be done, combine to form an habitual de-
meanor and gait of peculiar loftiness and stateliness.
A prouder-looking procession than the market-women,
as they come and go with their baskets on their heads,
across the square below our veranda, could not be found
in the world. They look incapable of being surprised
into a quick movement; and are, without exception,
queenly of mien-though it come, strangely enough,
from carrying the burthens of the slave.
In dress, these tropical Cleopatras have but one or
two ideas, but those are in character, and effective.
The Mandras turban is universal. The gown is inva-
riably white-of some degree of cleanliness-and worn
with no illusions, either before or behind. The neck is
about as much decollete as a fashionable young lady's at
a ball, and the fat back, and plump dark shoulders,
certainly come out from the white drapery with consid-
erable artistic effect. Although the gown is oftenest
flounced with lace, the feet are usually bare; and I
must record, here, the most detracting and almost inva-
riable exception to their beauty-feet large, and unnat-
urally flattened with the unshod carrying of burthens.
A sight of their projecting heels, corded insteps, and
outspread toes, is a sad damper to the stranger's admi-
I will close my letter with suggesting, to some artist
HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS 45
who is a philosopher of physiognomy, the value of a
visit to these latitudes, and the collecting of such types
of feature and beauty as will necessarily be transient
with the advance of civilization and morality, but which
now might be collected in a portfolio of unequalled
novelty and interest. This is the world's laboratory for
experiments in the chemistry of blood, and the results
are worth recording. Name it to Darley and Rossitur.
Yours, under a very hot sun.
LETTER No. 6.
LOBSTER COCKROACHES AND GRIDIRON SPIDERS-GOOD CLI-
MATE FOR INSECTS, BAD FOR MAN-SUNRISE EXCURSION TO
MOUNTAIN-TOP-TAKING A WALK, WITH A PONY TO DO THE
WALKING-COFFEE TO ENCOURAGE EARLY RISING-BEAU-
TY OF LIGHT ON MOUNTAIN-TOPS ONLY-LOUISEN-HOI, A
MOUNTAIN-VILLA-SOIL INCAPABLE OF QUIET GRASS-
TREES OF PASSIONATE AND SPASMODIC GROWTH-AIR-
PLANT THAT GIVES THE TRAVELLER A CUP OF WATER-
EFFECT OF STRANGE AND NEW VEGETATION, ON THE MIND
-ENQUIRY INTO PERPETUAL YOUTH OF TROPICAL PLANTS
-WHETHER YOUTH, MIDDLE-AGE AND OLD AGE, ALL IN ONE,
IS AN ENVIABLE CONCENTRATION OF EXPERIENCE-WOMEN
DO ALL THE HARI) WORK IN THE TROPICS-LOADS OF STONE
CARRIED ON THE HEAD, BY A PROCESSION OF GIRLS-NO
LYING DOWN, OWT OF DOORS-INSECTS AND VERMIN-
VAMPIRE LIZARD-TROPICAL SHARKS EAT NEGROES BUT DO
NOT EAT PELICANS-VIEWS FROM THE TWO SIDES OF THE
SUMMIT-HANGING ARCHITECTURE OF ST. THOMAS, ETC.
St. Thomas, West Indies, March, 1852.
DEAR MORRIS :-
The English steamer, from which our Barbadoes
packet waits to take the mail, is now three days behind
HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS.
her time; afid till she arrive, we are making the most
of latitude 17 30. Seeing the other tenants of our bed-
rooms-cockroaches that have pretensions to be lob-
sters, and spiders on which you might lay a beefsteak,
mistaking it for a gridiron-you would perhaps fancy
we might feel the effect of so thrifty a clime, and grow,
as do the insects, with nothing better to do. But I
think, on the contrary, that I grow perceptibly thin.
These nights, like twelve-hour vapour-baths, and days
when the putting of two thoughts together amounts to
a perspirative, are not stuff upon which I feel a tendency
either to fatten or strengthen. They tell me it is so
with all whites from the temperate latitudes. We wane,
as the negroes wax under a tropical sun-and, if one is
better for coming here, it must be as he is better for a
depletive, with little of it. And, perhaps, an ordinary
prescription is aided by following also the poet's genial
"In tropic climes, live like the tropic bird;
And, if a spice-fraught grove invite thy stay,
Be not by cares of colder climes deterred," etc.
With our kind Consul for a guide, Mr. G. and I
made a sunrise excursion, yesterday morning, to the
summit mountain ridge which gives a view of both
slopes of the island. My companions went on foot; but,
with an invalid's privilege, I was allowed to take the
walk with a horse under me, (promenade a cheval)-a
48 HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS.
difference, which, I find, very much assists the admira-
tion of scenery. Coffee, brought to the bedside, to open
our eyes with-we contrived to be getting up hill a
little earlier than the sun; and nothing could well add
more to the beauty of the landscape, than to see the
hill-tops first touched with gold, and the harbor below
still lying in expectant shadow.
A romantic Dane built the charming villa of Louisen-
hoi, on the summit of the ridge, and named it after his
wife; and the winding road which reaches it is mainly
of his making-a sort of staircase, up the side of the
precipitous hill, which nothing but the pony of the coun-
try could safely travel with a rider. I was surprised,
on the way, to see that this volcanic soil, though rich in
coarse weeds and shrubs, produces no grass. The
ground is bare around the stems of the wild oleanders
and cactuses. The trees have the peculiarity of ap-
pearing to seek nourishment rather from the air than
the earth, as their roots are generally quite out of the
ground; and, on most of them, there are parasite plants,
which are fed by the atmosphere, and seem to require
only a standing-place where they can inhale the breeze.
Our friend showed us one of these, which is called the
air-plant, and which catches and retains water in the
cup of its flower, giving to thirsty man a drink, valua-
ble enough on an island where stream or spring is a
rarity almost unknown.
HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS.
It curiously enlarges one's world to be surrounded
with an entirely new multitude of trees and flowers.
We stopped at every turn of the road to pluck some
new leaf, and admire some new beauty, or some new
fragrance. Everything grows differently from the ve-
getation in our climate. The branches oftenest seem to
have put forth with passionate irregularity, and are
wholly without the orderly symmetry which Nature
maintains at the North.
I have taken some pains, by the way, to enquire
into the perpetual youth of the foliage of the tropics.
Coming from bare trees and frozen grounds so recently
as we did, it hardly seemed natural to find everything
as blooming and verdant as in spring or midsummer.
I find it is not unusual. There are trees which seem to
rest for a month-dropping most of their leaves and
putting forth no blossoms in that time. There are"
others which the hurricane season finds weak, and strips
suddenly, by its first tornado, though they were appa-
rently as green as ever. There are several, however,
whose youth, freshness and beauty know no repose and
no winter-the cocoa-tree, the citron, the orange, the
banana-beautiful creatures, .every one, which bud,
flower and bear fruit, all in one prodigal confusion of
experience. Are they to be envied by us, with our de-
tailed progression of existence, or not ?
The women do all the monotonous and hard labor in
50 HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS.
this climate. The negroes are even the chambermaids,
as well as the boatmen, drivers and tide-waiters; but
the negresses bear the heavy burthens out of doors.
They unlade coal-vessels by a troop of women, who
carry baskets, of the incredible weight of two hundred
pounds, upon their heads, the men only lifting their bas-
kets for them, and working the windlass which hoists
the lading from the hold. As we approached Louisen-
hoi, the road was undergoing some -repairs, and the
stone, which was taken loose from the soil, was to be
used in a wall some fifty feet above. Two men were
overseeing the job-one, who seemed to be the path-
master, and stood looking on; and another, who direct-
ed the loading of the heads of seven negresses, with
fragments of rock, and then walked before them in slow
procession to the place of deposit. The poor barefooted
girls, straight as arrows, and as deliberate as priestesses
in their gait, were submissively patient and grave; and
I thought, as I looked at them from a little distance,
that you would have to explain, to a new visitant to
this planet, that they were not nobler, in their employ-
ment and demeanor, than the merchants walking hur-
riedly and ungracefully about the market-place below.
No man lies down under a tree, in this climate. The
ants, lizards, toads and snakes, are in previous posses-
sion. On almost every tree, one sees an ant-house, as
.large as a half-bushel basket: and the lizards, accus-
HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS.
tomed to be well-treated by man, coolly and deliberately
walk off from any branch you may direct your hand to,
but show no haste or apprehension of violence. The
Consul told us there was a kind of lizard, however, of
which the natives are very much afraid. Its first im-
pulse, when surprised, is to spring to the human hand,
and fasten its teeth and claws into the flesh; and, in pro-
portion as this vampire is resisted or terrified, it deepens
its hold, never loosing its clutch till it is cut in pieces.
Of this awkward customer we fortunately saw no
We found the lady of Louisen-hoi rumbling about
the grounds with her children, and, when the Consul
presented us, she led us to the verandahs of the villa,
from which we could see the ocean on both sides of the
island. A most lovely bay makes in under the height,
and here swam troops of pelicans-though, why the
sharks, which deter the negroes from swimming in these
waters, do not gobble up these nice-looking birds, as well,
I could not definitely ascertain. For me, the pelican
would be the better eating of the two.
I did not enjoy the two views of the ocean the less,
because I cannot describe them to you. Life has plea-
sures, and the world has beauties, which cannot be put
on paper. I may mention, however, that there was
great contrast between the two views, from the differ-
ence in the foregrounds-on one side, the wilderness of
152 HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS.
a volcanic island, and, on the other, a crowded town
with its ruined castles, its sentinelled strong-hold, and
busy harbor, thronged with row-boats and shipping.
Most of the features of this latter picture were entirely
new. The houses of the town-hung against the pre-
cipices like bird-cages against a wall, and with their yel-
low walls and red roofs-looked like the innovations of
yesterday, in strange contrast with the crumbling forti-
fications of old time. There is a look of renaissance
about St. Thomas-the castles old enough for the time
of Columbus, and the dwellings new enough for Staten
Island or Newport. To give you an idea what singu-
larly hanging architecture is the fashion here, I may
mention one new house we noticed, where the earthy
bank of precipice towered twenty feet above the chim-
neys, while a wall sustained the basement, twenty feet
below the foundations. And to this-a three-story
house-there is no access, except by climbing thither on
foot, or, in case of illness, being borne up or down on a
hand-barrow. With the exception of one street along
the water, and one or two in the bottoms of the glens,
all St. Thomas is thus hung on precipices.
In riding down, my stirrups, of course, were clatter-
ing against the sides of my pony's bit, and I was a most
lengthwise demonstration, as to his body, with the ef-
fort to sit upright; but, taking it for granted that he
knew the country and its accidents better than I, I threw
HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS. 53
away my whip of twisted cocoa-leaf and gave him the
reins; and he dropped himself safely at my hotel door,
and restored me, undamaged, to level footing. People
are usually very much tired with this walk; and possi-
bly, my pony was tired with his-but I was unfatigued,
and I recommend, to all invalids at least, no ascent of
mountain, in this debilitating clime, without a quadru-
ped under the spine.
My letter is getting long. Adieu.
LETTER No. 7.
SECOND EARTHQUAKE SINCE ARRIVAL-DRIVE TO SEE A SU-
GAR PLANTATION-MAMMOTH COTTON-TREE-MAGNIFICENT
WHITE BEARD ON AN OLD BLACK MAN-SUCKING SUGAR-
STICK-PAY OF BLACK LABORERS-NAKEDNESS IN TROPI-
CAL CLIMATES-EBONY BABIES UN-DIAPERED--EXPENSIVELY
DRESSED COLORED BELLES WITH BARE FEET-EMANCI-
PATED SHOULDERS-ODD WAY OF CARRYING A SHEEP-
VILLAGE OF SUGAR-CANE LABORERS-WOMAN WITH SPARE
TOE-OLD MAN HAPPY WHILE BEING EATEN BY ANTS-
BLACK GIRL TAKING A SIESTA IN THE DIRT-CURIOUS PLUM
-NATURAL SHERBET, ETC., ETC.
St. Thomas, West Indies, M-arch, 1852.
DEAR MORRIS :-
I write on terra firma" I believe, though we had
an earthquake last night-the second since our arrival
on this volcanic island. What little rocking the town
gets, with these throes of nature, does not wake me, I
find, though the inhabitants have a quick perception of
one, and, with great precision, give you the exact num-
HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS.
ber of seconds that it lasted, as the news of the morning.
Strangers have usually a dread of these phenomena;
but I have no presentiment of the earth's opening for
me, except by spade and pickaxe.
We drove out, a mile or two along the coast, to see a
sugar plantation, this morning-our vehicle an Ameri-
can carry-all, which is the wonder of this precipitous
island, and our driver a talkative mulatto, who proudly
mentions his indebtedness to one of the most distin-
guished lawyers of Philadelphia, for what white blood
is in him. On our way, we stopped to see a cotton-
tree, which is considered the largest subject of His Ma-
jesty of Denmark; and which perhaps would shade
comfortably a Jenny-Lind audience of Tripler Hall.
My friend took its measure, and found the circumfer-
ence of the trunk, at ground level, forty feet. The cot-
ton pods, just open, seemed making a million offers, each
one of just enough cotton for an ear-ache. It was, al-
together, a superfluous extravagant tree, with a great
many unnecessary branches-a vegetable spendthrift,
in fact, upon which, with my experience, 1 could not
look but with a feeling of compassion. I took a speci-
men of what he produces, however, and am only sorry
it will not shape, like my superfluities, into an article for
the Home Journal.
Allow me to note one thing which I saw on the road,
and which will be lippreci'tble. perhaps. only by artists
56 HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS.
-the blackest of negroes with the whitest of beards.
This tableau-vivant was a pauper, of about ninety, ap-
parently, entirely black-bald, and with nothing on him
except certain remainders of a pair of trousers, and a
part of a shirt, his tawny chest entirely bare, and his
snowy beard descending over it in waves-the effect,
snowy mustache and all, worthy of the highest high-
priest of an Egyptian temple. He was one of a crowd,
coming from the morning mass of a Catholic chapel,
and everybody jostled and passed him disregardfully-
a popular unconsciousness of his extraordinary beauty,
which really seemed brutal and unnatural. His face
was that of a man who had dignified on animal experi-
ence only-(no reason why not, perhaps !)-and if he
could have been framed, and hung up, in a drawing-
room, I would have given $5000 for him, to re-sell to
somebody who could afford to own him as a picture.
Black old age is more picturesque than ours.
We passed through fields of sugar-cane-the plant
resembling very much our Indian corn in full growth-
and alighted at a mill, not just then in operation. Its
principle is a general one not confined to St. Thomas,-
the sweetness got out by squeezing. Our semi-Phila-
delphian driver cut a sugar-stick for us, and sharpened
the end for us to suck. With nothing better, I could
fancy it very palatable. There are no fences at the fields
HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS.
and anybody may cut stick and suck--so that starva-
tion in this country is purely a matter of choice.
While my friend was inquiring into the statistics of
sugar, I took a ramble through the village of huts which
the plantation sustains. The negroes seemed to have
as few wants, and to be about as unconsciously com-
fortable, as snails and caterpillars. Each family had
two huts, built of sticks and thatched with straw-one
for cooking and one for sleeping. I stopped at the door
of one where the old woman looked communicative.
She began by showing me, with some apparent pride,
an extra toe which pointed like a raised finger from
the centre of one of her feet, and ended by complaining
that they had no bread. Her family, then present, con-
sisted of seven persons, who slept altogether in about
the space of a hotel's double bed-two grandfathers
among them, and one very pretty girl of about seven-
teen. I have mentioned that there is no grass in this
climate. The girl I speak of, lay flat on her back, on
the earth at the side of the cottage, with her well-turned
ebony arm over her head and only a ragged petticoat
over her limbs, as entirely unmoved by a stranger's
presence and observation as if she had been a statue
of black marble. The immovableness of one of the
grandfathers was still more remarkable, however. He
sat on a rough wooden bench, with a pleasant and ha-
bitual smile on his face-a decrepit old man-and, of
58 HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS.
his two feet, which were half buried in the loose dirt,
one was literally rotten. His toes were covered with
sores, and the ants were upon them in hundreds--yet
he leaned with his elbows on his knees, giving me a
slow and tranquil look as I stopped before him, and
seemed no more unhappy than a cheese with its mag-
gots. Do we not give ourselves unnecessary trouble,
with our diseases, after all ?
I learned, afterwards, that these pauper laborers got
half a dollar a week, for wages, and huts to live in;
and have two holidays in the week, Saturday and Sun-
day. The old and disabled are supported by the young
Nakedness, I find, is, to a certain degree, a matter of
climate. Modesty makes no note of anything under six
years of age. Black babies go conveniently bare, to
the end of life's first chapter. With the same fitness
and adaptation to the latitude, shoes and stockings are
dispensed with; and the young black girls, with ear-
rings worth two or three hundred dollars, chemises
edged with lace, and skirts of brilliant colors, parade in
stately deliberateness, protruding, at each step, five
shining toe-nails uncompressed by morocco. I must
own that I think they walk more gracefully for this.
White feet might not do so well, not being so independ-
ent of the dirt-but feet that are neatly blacked by na-
ture are certainly as cleanly without leather or pru-
HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS.
nella," and vastly more elastic and stately. Two ebony
shoulders, un-liable to tan, enjoy the open air by the
same philosophy; and they shine along the street, as
these black swans sail past, with a luxuriance of effect
unknown on the sidewalks of temperate latitudes.
We met a negro walking whistling along the road,
with a sheep tied round his neck like a kicking cravat,
the feet in a bow-knot in front-the struggles of the ani-
mal not disturbing his tranquility at all. Half a dozen
others we saw, with their long knives, on their way to
cut the sugar-cane, and all looking considerably hap-
pier than any white people I ever saw on their way to
a place of amusement. I am inclined to think, heathen
as they are, that these black and happy ignoramuses
would only be educated into a consciousness of things
to be troubled about.
I have spoken of the prodigality of this climate, in the
c "Bud, flower and fruit together rise,
And the whole year in gay confusion lies."
but it is a climate capable of simplifying matters as
well. There is a plum, native to this island, which dis-
penses with the school and college of leaf and flower,
and ripens immediately from the bark of its tree-ma.
turity its first stage and its last. There is also a fruit
that would be interesting to Thompson-the anana, or
60 HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS.
sour-sop, which has a deliciously flavored pulp, as pluck-
ed from the tree, and requires only icing, to surpass the
choicest of sherbets in flavor and richness. A slight
squeeze, as you hold this fruit to your lips, gives you its
sweetness with a delicacy beyond the spoon of the con-
I fancy I have told you of new things enough for one
Adieu for the present.
LETTER No. 8.
PREDOMINATING SOCIETY AT ST. THOMAS-INVARIABLE TYPE
OF GERMAN MEDIOCRITY IN CLASSES-STYLE OF DANES-
NEGRO USE OF THE VOICE-DROWNED BABY, AND KEY FOR
THE TUNING OF COLORED HORROR-SUNDAY AND CHURCH
-WHOLE CONGREGATION OF MADRAS TURBANS--FEMALES
DO ALL THE REPENTING-EFFECT OF SUCH A GORGEOUSLY
DRESSED MULTITUDE OF BLACK WORSHIPPERS--WORKS IN
MARBLE AND WORKS IN EBONY AS RELIGIOUS ORNAMENTS
-REVERIE IN CATHOLIC CHURCH-INDISPENSABLE ARTICLE
OF FURNITURE WHICH EVERY NEGRESS CARRIES WITH HER
-DANISH OFFICER'S POLITENESS-HOT UNIFORMS OF SOL-
DIERS FROM A COLD CLIMATE--OTAHEITAN FLOWERING
TREE-ARRIVAL OF ENGLISH STEAMER-RUSH OF PASSEN-
GERS TO THE HOTEL FOR ICED DRINKS-NEWS OF THE
DEATH OF MOORE-POEM AS TO THE SIN OF GENIUS-
PROMISE OF SMOOTH WATER OCEAN-SAILING ALONG THE
St. Thomas, March, 1852.
DEAR MORRIS :-
Your namesake, our consul here, (Wm. Morris, of
Pennsylvania,) has kindly accompanied us in our excur-
62 HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS.
sions, and I could give you, from his lips, a very minute
account of the trees, plants and insects of the Antilles.
He is a close observer, and studies well what is around
him. Though most interesting to see, however, such
matters are not very interesting to read about, and so I
spare you. But, with your earliest "pulmonary com-
plaint," come and see, smell, and examine them.
The predominating society, at St. Thomas, is German.
The wealthiest merchants are of that nation, and the
largest shops are curiously faithful copies of the booths
of Leipsic Fair. Nature having no caprices in central
Europe, (German tradesmen never, by any accident,
looking like anything but German tradesmen,) the male
portion of the best society of St. Thomas is not ve-
ry ornamental. There seem to be no Danes, (Danish
though be the Government,) except military men and
public officials; but these have been voted, by our fair
travelling companions, a remarkably handsome and dis-
tinguished-looking set of men. There are but six
American families, and as few English.
The voice seems to be the great escape-valve for all
manner of excitement, among the negroes. I rushed to
the window, this morning, thinking from the sudden
screaming of one or two hundred women, that the town
must have been cracked open by an earthquake. The
street was full of people, and, for half an hour, I watch-
ed the negresses vociferating, like furies, at each other,
HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS.
and with looks that I should have interpreted to indi-
cate a quarrel between every two. One of the hotel
waiters came up, after a while, and explained the cause
of so much vehement talking. A new-born black baby
had been found drowned in the harbor, and was laid
out, for recognition, at the Police-office, a few doors
above. In any other population, it seems to me, the
horror inspired by such a sight would have been ex-
pressed by a hush, or an undervoiced interchange of
feeling. Here it made a clamor, pitched at the highest
possible key. Turn over the philosophy of the differ-
ence, at your leisure.
Sunday-and I have been to church. Following the
tide of the Madras turbans flowing past the door of
the hotel, I found myself at matins in a crowded Catho-
lic chapel, the candles burning before the Virgin, and
chant and prayer pouring zealously forth-but myself,
apparently, the only male or white worshipper in the
congregation. The females of the colored race seem to
do all the repenting, and to do it devoutly, whatever be
their share of the sinning. You can scarcely conceive
the magnificent effect of such a multitude of turbans,
each one combining the most brilliant possible colors,
assembled under one roof before an altar. When the
chant recommended, and all rose to their feet, it was
like an acre of tulips rising up to pray. The whitest
of chemises lay loose around every pair of black shoul-
-64 HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS.
ders; and, pendant on both sides of every draperied
head, hung enormous ear-rings of gold, in strong relief
upon the circles of black skin, and glittering in the im-
perfect light; and, altogether, the spectacle was-what
shall I say ?-more tropical than religious, perhaps, but
artistically most impressive. Well! We are called up-
on to find hallowed associations in the work of man's
hand in marble, on the capital of the Corinthian col-
umn-why not find a hallowed magnificence added to
a church by the presence of a thousand works of God's
hand in ebony, and these, too, all making responses to
every appearance devout and reverential ? Hours of
reverie in Catholic churches. are remembered, by most
travellers, among the luxuries of foreign lands. I have
no reason to thank St. Thomas of the Antilles less than
St. Peter of Rome, for the equality before God with
which I went in, as one of a crowd of fellow-sinners,
and delivered myself over tothe influence of the place.
I was tranquillized and liberalized, certainly-edified,
I notice a little personal convenience, which the ne-
gresses almost invariably carry with them-a small
wooden cricket. Whenever they meet an acquaintance,
or wish to stop and rest, down goes the cricket in the
street, and they are seated and comfortable, in a trice
With their brilliantly gay dresses, it looks rather odd to
see them sitting anywhere about, on the crowded
HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS.
squares or walks, but they have no idea of dirt on natu-
ral earth or on well-swept pavement. If they stop to
rest, when alone, they oftenest throw themselves upon
the ground, in a reclining position, and place the cricket
.under the elbow or in the hollow of the arm.. Mr. G.
and I stopped to admire a spacious black Venus, yes-
terday, who was lying in this way on the loose sand of
the pier, as elegant in her pose and drapery as if she
had been modelled by a Grecian sculptor.
We were strolling around the castle, last evening,
when a very tall and fair-haired Danish officer, who
chanced to be on duty, stepped out and invited us into
his quarters. He had a large room overlooking the
bay, and hung round with the engraved portraits of the
distinguished men of his native land, and his centre-
table was covered with books, reviews and newspapers,
showing a taste for reading which a soldier sometimes
contrives to do without. After a little conversation, he
showed us the interior of the castle, the barracks, guard-
rooms, etc., and took us up to the parapets, which beau-
tifully command views of the town and harbor. The
cleanliness and order of the Danish soldiers, and their
quarters and equipment, were admirable, but they
looked a little pale upon the climate. Their small cloth
caps and tightly buttoned cloth uniforms looked like
positive inflictions in this thin-jacket atmosphere. Scrib-
nor's newly published book on St. Thomas mentions
66 HEALTH TRIP TO THE TOPICS.
that the trenches of this castle were formerly defended
only by the cactus, whose prickly thorns would keep out
any intruder unless in a coat of mail: but, at present
the fortifications are all of stone and mortar complete-
ness. In one of the cultivated corners of the grounds,
by the way, I stopped to admire a fine tree, bearing a
gorgeous crimson flower; and this, our courteous
friend informed us, was an Otaheitan product. There
is taste as well as discipline among the Danish govern-
mentals. We parted from our friend while the sentry
presented arms, very much indebted for his spontaneous
and polite kindness.
24th.-The English steamer has arrived, at last-five
days behind her time, and twenty-two days from South-
ampton. Yet this boat, (the Thames) is considered one
of the finest and fastest of the line. The passengers
have just come ashore, and six or eight of them are
seated on the verandah of our hotel, perfectly rabid
over sherry cobblers-the first Transatlantic product
jointly and severally thought of and called for. They
pronounce ice, as found in the Tropics, a luxury ce-
In a copy of the London Times, brought ashore by
one of these gentlemen, I find the announcement of the
death of MOORE. I little thought, in looking up his
" calabash tree," at Bermuda, the other day, and writ-
ing gayly about him, that he was dead at the time. So
HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS. ot
passes a poet from this troubled planet! Honor to his
memory I saw, by the way, in the same paper, a po-
etical remonstranee against the fanatical prejudice that
denied to Byron a corner in Westminster Abbey, and
would now deny it to Moore-for their sins. It was
dated at the Athensum Club," and, of course, was
written by a man whose opinions would be respected.
I copied one verse, the doctrine of which I thought
might interest you:-
In our holiest shrine there is but one corer,
Fit shrine to deposit his honored remains,
Not saved for the sinless, but due, tell the corner,
To genius whose brightness extinguished its stains."
There will be interesting biographies written of Moore.
The society in which he moved is full of anecdotes of
him. He was a man whose every action seemed like a
trait of character. His pulse beat integers, not ciphers.
But, I am forgetting that the subject is probably over-
written upon, by this time, in New-York.
Our steamer, the Derwent, has waited only for the
mails by the Thames, and we start, this afternoon, to
pay our respects to islands nearer the equator. I un-
derstand that we run under the lee of islands nearly all
the way, and that the sailing is as smooth as from Ho-
boken to Undercliff-so I may write you a description
or two from under the awning of the deck, daguerreo-
LETTER No. 9.
TIDE OF ENGLISH TRAVEL FROM SOUTHAMPTON, TOUCHING AT
ST. THOMAS-JOHN BULL OUT OF PLACE IN THE TROPICS-
NATURE'S TWO JOURNEYMEN AT MOUNTAIN-MAKING, AND
THEIR DIFFERENT STYLE OF WORK-TWO HEAVENS
NECESSARY FOR THE CARIB AND THE ENGLISHMAN-ENG-
LISH COLONIAL ISLANDS ALL ALIKE, AS TO HOUSES AND IN-
HABITANTS-DAME NATURE ATMOSPHERICALLY DRESSED OR
UNDRESSED-CLIMATE TOO CLEAR FOR THE DISTANCE
THAT LENDS ENCHANTMENT TO THE VIEW "-NIGHTS EX-
CEPTED AND STARS WONDROUSLY BRIGHT AND BEAUTIFUL-
THE SOUTHERN CROSS-THE. FRENCH ISLANDS HAVE
RIVERS, THE ENGLISH ISLANDS NONE-AMAZING PRODI-
GALITY OF FOLIAGE AT GUADALOUPE-ENGLISH ECSTACIES
MODIFIED BY FEAR OF HUMBUG--FRENCHMEN COMING ON
BOARD AT GUADALOUPE-CLOSE CONTACT, EVEN IN THESE
CLIMATES, NEVER ASSIMILATING THE FRENCH AND ENG-
In taking the steamer for the Southern Antilles, at
St. Thomas, we fell upon the tide of English Colonial
travel--officers on their way to join their regiments at
HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS.
Barbadoes and Demerara, chaplains and civil function-
aries, governesses, nurses, and mercantile agents, all
talking unmitigated English-and, with ears so full of
London, I have really found it difficult, for the last day
or two, to realize that my eyes were full of the tropics.
John Bull does not seem to me to belong here. Refined
and intelligent as the company on deck is, (and there
are two or three remarkably beautiful women among
them,) their accent, dress, character and deportment, all
seem out of harmony with the climate and scenery.
Try to make a vase for a bouquet of magnolias, by ty-
ing one of your own particularly stiff and white shirt-
collars around them, my dear friend, and you will see a
faint type of the contrast I refer to.
We have been gliding along for a day or two, under
the shores of these isles of eternal summer, the sea as
smooth, (except here and there where the swell of the.
Atlantic has a chance between two of them,) as the
Hudson among the Highlands. They are ranges of
mountains in the sea. You have no idea of their out-
line, because you only know mountains as made by the
Deluge. Nature has another journeyman, however-
the Volcano-and he did the job for the Tropics; and
very different are the mountains of his making. They
look, indeed, like Apennines in stacks, waiting for an
earthquake to distribute them. The Catskills and Alle-
ghanies are arranged, and in their places. The waves
70 HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS.
and eddies of the Deluge shaped their summits grace-
fully, and proportioned them with proper bases and
approaches, by slopes and plains. But here are moun-
tains piled up like clouds, at angles with which the law
of gravitation seems to have had nothing to do-some
lying on their sides, and some bottom upwards, preci-
pices leaning the wrong way, and ravines of the most
unaccountable abruptness, one Alp rolled down upon
the beach, and half a dozen placed toppling on the edge
of what would elsewhere have been a summit range by
itself-it really seems as if the rest of the world were
made by some tamer standard, to accord with more re-
gular laws of beauty, gentler tastes and passions less
tumultuous. The Carib and John Bull would never be
comfortable together in the same heaven, I am quite
sure, if this scenery and that of England are fair types
of their respective natures.
Of St. Eustatia, St. Kitts and Nevis we had only
this ranging view, taken from the sea as we coasted
along. The English towns, where we stopped to leave
the mails, are all alike, angularly built, and looking very
unpicturesque. They have no wharves, and, to land
you must run your boat upon the beach. With the
wonderful rarity of the atmosphere, you can read the
signs almost as Well from your anchorage in the Bay as
from the sides of the streets, and the West Indians who
were on board told us that nothing was gained by go-
HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS.
ing on shore, excepting of such other Englishmen and
negroes as were not standing on the quay. Having
seen the Britisher in one colony you have seen him in
all-there being no beginning of a shading in to the
negro type or habits, notwithstanding the strong eman-
cipation talk against distinctions of blood.
At Guadaloupe, the French island, we found Dame
Nature once more with a little drapery on-mists on
the mountain tops, and a visible atmosphere in the val-
leys-and we suddenly realized how unbecoming had
been her absolute nudity during the week gone
by. For days and days we had seen no atmosphere
-no such thing as distance-no such charm as per-
spective. Everything looked strangely bare and
near, and over all the mountains there was a mono-
tone of tint which would have driven a painter
to despair. As to the horizon, it seems so near, that, if
you were washing your hands on deck, you might try
to throw the slops over it, as you would over the ship's
side. The sun goes down, as it were, next door. Fan
cy comes back discouraged, from any attempt to leave
the spot you stand upon. I should except only, that
the night is made beautiful, by this wondrous clearness.
The stars are intensely brilliant. Our fellow-passenger,
the English clergyman, told me, that, when the moon
was not up, (which it is now, and full,) they could al-
ways see their shadows on the ground, cast by the eve-
72 HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS.
ning star. What with this startling brilliancy, and the
change in the places of the planets and constellations
with our change of latitude it seems as one lies on his
back on deck, like looking up to a strange sky, in some
" brighter and better world." If I had time to get my-
muse into training, I should certainly write some poe-
try to this glorious Southern Cross, that gleams over
the Equator like an illuminated crucifix. For my self-
denying prose, just now, heaven reward me I
Dress one mountain in leafy June, and let all the
mountains around be stripped for leafless November,
and you have a fair similitude of Guadaloupe in con-
trast with the islands we had passed before coming to
it. St. Thomas, St. Kitts, St. Eustatia, Nevis, and
Montserrat, are comparatively bare. They are volcanic
islands without rivers, their inhabitants depending on
the rains for water. But Guadaloupe is plentifully
coursed with rivers that start from its mountain-tops,
and, as you approach-it from the other islands, it is, to
the eye, like a sudden plunge into mid-summer. Of the
prodigality of leaf upon its tropical trees, no language
can give you any idea. Like velvet of three pile," it
is a June thrice heaped-a group of the loveliest-
shaped mountains, burthened three Junes deep with
foliage. From the time we began to distinguish this is-
land, somewhere about seven in the morning, until we
liad passed its southernmost point, a little after noon,
HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS
the passengers on board were as much absorbed with it
as an audience with a play. It was like a panorama of
Nature idealized. The families of the English officers, the
chaplain and his wife, the merchants and others, all
stood in wonder at the railings of the quarter-deck, ex-
pressing their surprise and delight with London's most
emphatic though most unpoetical exclamations. Gua-
daloupe's "cheeks must have burned "-that is, if an
island can know when it is sitting for its picture.
We rounded to, off Guadaloupe, as at the other is-
lands, to deliver mails and take and leave passengers,
and received quite an accession to our company in a
number of Frenchmen, bound to the other French is-
land of Martinique, which we were to reach, farther on.
The white kid gloves of these polite gentlemen, their
shirts with ruffled sleeves, and their very ornamental
manners, made a strong contrast with the studiously in-
elegant travelling costumes, and laboriously un-hum-
bugy-y manners of the English passengers. How
these nations do stay dissimilar, to be sure! Here is
Guadaloupe, between two English Islands, Antigua a
few hours North, and Dominica one hour South, and
yet no symptoms of assimilation between its inhabitants
and their neighbors. The distinctions of that Babel
business have lasted a great while!
But I must to my berth. Good night.
LETTER No. 10.
ALTERATIONS IN PUNCTUATION BY ANTS-PROBABLE ETYMOLO-
GY OF ANTILLES"-ALTERATION IN PLANS--PREFERENCE
OF MARTINIQUE TO BARBADOES-EMPRESS JOSIPHENE'S
BIRTH-PLACE-MARTINIQUE THE FIFTH AVENUE" OF THE
ANTILLES-GOING ASHORE WITH AN UNUSUAL LAP-FULL-
JERSEY FERRY OUTDONE-NOTE ON NEGRO LANGUAGE-
LOSS AND RE-CAPTURE OF BAGGAGE-CUSTOM-HOUSE VEXA-
TIONS-RECEPTION AT HOTEL-USES OF PERSEVERANCE-
APPARITION OF CREOLE BEAUTY-THE GOOD STAR OF
WOMAN'S KINDNESS-NEGRO MANNERS AFTER FOUR YEARS
OF EMANCIPATION-INSOLENCE AFTER BEING OVERPAID-
LANDLORD PITCHING A NEGRO HERCULES DOWN STAIRS,
Martinque, April, 1852.
My date, just written, is a little illegible, and I take
the opportunity to beg you to guard the printer against
the alterations made in my manuscript by the omnipre-
HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS.
sent ants of this teeming climate.* I called my friend's
attention, just now, while I counted to him thirteen, who
were running up and down on the quill with which I
was writing. They are all over my table and paper.
The pitchers and washbowls are full of them. You
clean your teeth with ants and water-wash in ants and
water-sleep on ants and a mattrass-all well enough,
if they were not attracted by fresh ink as well as by
other moisture. They do not sip, either. They first
ioalk through the liquid of which they intend to taste,
and hence you see my tribulation. They turn my pe-
riods into commas, my semicolons into notes of admira-
tion, my quotation-marks into stars, etc., etc. Perhaps
it never occurred to you before, why these Islands are
called the Antilles"-a corruption of the plain English
word ant-hills, if my experience goes for anything.
Finding Guadaloupe so beautiful, and so much more
To show you that others have found tropical insect life as
"6 teeming" as I have, read the following passage from a work on
these islands, written by Henry N. Breen, who was thirteen years
a resident here:-
The most remarkable insects are the scorpion, woodslave, an-
nulated lizard, locust, tarantula, centipede, wasp, blacksmith,
musquito, bat, cockroach, fly, chigre, beetle, fire-fly, spider, wood-
ant, butterfly, bete-rouge, caterpillar, grasshopper, cricket and
bee. Of these, the scorpion and centipede are the most danger-
ous, the ant and wood-ant the most destructive, the musquito the
most troublesome, and the cockroach the most repulsive. The
destruction caused by the ant is generally confined to plants and
flowers; but the depredations of the wood-ant extend to the
houses, furniture, and even clothes of the inhabitants : and the
76 HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS.
picturesque in its architecture and cultivation than the
English Islands, and hearing that Martinique was still
more beautiful and interesting, we were induced to make
a little alteration in our plans. Barbadoes, where we
had intended to make a short stay, was described to us,
by the intelligent clergyman on board who resided there,
and we gathered that it was merely a very large and
prosperous colony, peculiarly English, and with nothing
either of scenery or society that would be to us any-
thing of a novelty. Martinique, on the contrary, (which
we were about to pass in the night time, unseen,) was
described as a garden of romantic beauty, more con-
servatively French even than the old towns of France,
peopled with a charmingly graceful and courteous
Creole population, (of whom the Empress Josephine,
as you will remember, was one,) antique in its
mischief they occasion is no less incredible than the promptitude
with which it is accomplished. The following humorous remarks
appeared some years ago in the Edinburgh Review :-The bete-
ronge lays the foundation of a tremendous ulcer. In a moment
you are covered with ticks : flies get into your nose, you eat flies,
drink flies, breathe flies. Lizards, cockroaches and snakes get
into your bed; ants eat up the books; scorpions sting you on the
foot. Everything bites, stings or bruises; every second of your
life you are wounded by some piece of animal life. An insect
with eleven legs is swimming in your tea-cup; a nondescript
with nine wings is struggling in the small-beer, or a caterpillar,
with several dozen eyes in its belly, is hastening over the bread
and butter. All nature is alive, and seems to be gathering her
entomological hosts to eat you up, as you are standing, out of your
coat, waistcoat and breeches."
HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS.
buildings and habits, and isolated from the poetry-
killing mediocritizing of the times. The name by which
the island goes, in France-" The Faubourg St. Germain
of the Tropics"-was, in itself, a stimulus to our cu-
The steamer's jolly-boat had twenty-four passengers
to take ashore at Martinique-all French with the ex-
ception of ourselves. It was close stowing. I sat in
the stern, next the middy" at the rudder, and in my
lap sat a broad-based pyramid of a negress, while, in
her lap, was her baggage, viz: a well-packed basket,
and the article of crockery without which a French wo-
man seldom commits herself to the chances of travel.
The glorious moon in the heavens had seldom looked
down upon so much flesh and blood, (and its baggage,)
in so limited a compass. The bay was smooth, how-
ever. Half a mile or less was not far to carry even such
a lap-ful of emancipation as mine. We were safely
pulled ashore, and debarqued into a confusion and
clamor of negroes which promised very little for the
comfort of the place. Of this, our premier accueil, I
must still further describe the annoyances; because,
though I have to commend Martinique as probably the
most delightful of all the world's neglected spots, I
should frankly prepare the traveller for a first arrival
that is a little discouraging.
78 HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS.
Deposited with our trunks and carpet-bags upon a
narrow frame-work, or bridge, without railing, that juts
out from the beach as a landing for canoes and row-
boats, we had half an hour's struggle with innumerable
negroes, to keep our baggage together, and ourselves
from being crowded and knocked overboard-a strug-
gle which amounted, at a moderate estimate, I should
say, to about seven Jersey-Ferry experiences condensed
into one. The screaming jargon of the almost naked
wretches was, to me, wholly unintelligible. I rescued
my heavy portmanteau repeatedly from the tops of
woolly heads upon which it had magically mounted,
determined not to make a start without my friend, who
had been missing from the first moment. I was seized
hold of, by two furious baboons at a time, who had
crowded me to the corner of the platform, and fought
with fist and tongue for the possession of me. There
was no light except the moon's, nobody to give the
slightest intelligible hint of whom to trust or where to
go. I should have liked to make some inquiry for my
lost companion-but, to keep my identity together,
trunk, carpet-bag and owner, required my full presence;
and, in the deafening tumult of unintelligible language, I
tried in vain to make myself understood. The name of
the principal hotel-which I learned from the lady in
my lap, while coming on shore-was the only syllable
HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS.
they seemed to recognize :-" Hotel des Bains !" Oui,
massa, oui !"
As the other passengers and their luggage thinned
away, my friend became visible at the shore end of the
bridge, and we succeeded in coming together, and getting
our respective effects mounted upon the woolly summits
of two emancipated spines-it being the understanding
among them, apparently, that on one negro head could
be placed all that could possibly belong to any one
traveller. We followed on-as we supposed, to our
hotel. They crossed a broad avenue of trees, that look-
ed like a public promenade, turned off to a side alley,
and suddenly entering a narrow vault, paved with round
stones, and walled in like a dirty cellar, they made a de-
The writer from whose description of these islands I have al-
ready quoted, says of the dialect which I found so incomprehen-
"The negro language is a jargon formed from the French, and
composed of words, or rather sounds, adapted to the organs of
speech in the black population. As a patois, it is even more un-
intelligible than that spoken by the negroes in the English col-
onies. Its distinguishing feature consists in the suppression of
the letter r' in every word in which it should be used, and the
addition of' ki's' and ka's' to assist in the formation of the tenses.
It is, in short, the French language, stripped of its manly and dig-
nified ornaments, and travestied for the accommodation of chil-
dren and toothless old women, The less you know of French,
the greater aptitude you have for talking negro. I can say for
myself, that although possessing an extensive knowledge of the
French language, acquired during a sojourn of five years in
France, I have failed in obtaining anything like an adequate no-
tion of this gibberish, during a residence of nearly fifteen years
in St. Lucia and Martinique." "
80 HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS.
posit of our baggage. We were' made to understand
directly that this was the custom-house. Our passports
and keys were demanded by officers in a sort of uniform,
and, while one of them examined nose, chin and eyes,
to see if they answered the description which was sign-
ed by Daniel Webster, two others undertook the over-
haul of the portmanteau.
In all the custom-houses of the world-and I have
been in most of them-I never saw such needless and
minute official impertinence. It was probably a merely
wanton gratification of their own curiosity and that of
the crowd of negroes who had followed us from the
landing--but not an article in my trunk escaped dis-
play and examination. With no ventilation in the nar-
row horse-stall of a place, a hundred odoriferous blacks
packed round us like cigars in a bundle, and the ther-
mometer at 82, it was a little trying. The cut of my
shirts was looked into, and the patterns of my cravats.
Boxes were opened, cough-medicines carefully smelt of,
coats held up, boots stethescoped, squeezable things
squeezed and hollow things shaken. And, when every-
thing was flung back, pell-mell, into the portmanteau,
how to get lid and bottom parallel again was a warm
problem. My friend had his negro audience, as I had
mine. We were both completely exhausted and used
up with this rude and needless ordeal of official imper-
tinence. Yet he looked very little like a smuggler, and
HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS.
I, I should hope, not overmuch. How is it that travel-
lers, for pleasure or health, with only ordinary baggage,
meet with this kind of reception, on landing at the po-
litest of the French islands ? I ask the question-as I
have written the description-in the hope of bringing
it to the eyes of the chief of the black and white Police
of St. Pierre, and thus suggesting a remedy of the evil
for which other travellers and invalids may be obliged
to me. The custom-house of Martinique is, at present,
a very dirty gate to a very bright little strangers' para-
At the risk of being tedious, perhaps, I must give
you, in this letter, the remainder of that evening's expe-
riences-the next morning's sun having risen on mat-
ters describable only in a less complaining key.
From the custom-house to the hotel was a traverse
through several dark and narrow streets-half-past ten,
not a soul abroad, nor a light in a window on the way.
To rise at day-break, as they do in these climates, they
must needs lengthen the night at the other end. The
city seemed abed. Our barefooted conductors dodged
at last, into the low door of a building without a sign,
and we found ourselves in the presence of several mar-
ble tables and a comptoir-the inseparable belongings
of a French cafe. The landlord made his appearance
with a candle, a handsome man whose fine condition
spoke volumes for the cooking that could do it, and
82 HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS.
staggered us with the intelligence that he had not a
bed to spare. He would go up stairs, however,
and see if there was any possibility of accommodating
us. As our baggage was still on the negroes' heads,
I motioned to them to follow, and, on the floor of
a corridor in the second story, I ordered them to unload
-quite sure that this was the best hotel of the town,
and bent on making a lodgment if perseverance could
Each of our herculean black porters had two or
three followers; and, while these were chattering like
frantic monkeys-night-caps visible through inquiring
doors-wo pleading and the landlord protesting-
a new and interesting feature was added to the scene.
A plump and graceful female figure, rather above
the middle height, glided indolently towards us from the
end of the corridor, with candle in hand, and eyelids
still heavy with sleep that had at least been thought of.
A long, primrose-colored peignoir, without a girdle,
seemed her only article of dress, except a gorgeous-Ma-
dras turban half loosened from her head; but, withal,
she was draped magnificently, and, to her Creole com-
plexion, dark eyes and snowy teeth, the faint yellow of
the robe was in relievo most becoming. To my
surprise-(for, noisy negroes and all, we were not a
very desirable-looking group for a lady to approach)
-she quietly seated herself on my portmanteau, and,
HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS.
with the most unconscious expression of dreamy curi-
osity, listened in silence to the arguments and chatter.
She was to be the arbitress of our fate. Her quiet
study of us and our troubles for five or ten minutes
ended in our favor; and, with a word or two to the
landlord, she gave him an idea for an arrangement.
There was an unfurnished saloon in another part of the
house. If we would accept of mattresses, for the night,
upon the floor of this saloon, she would give us her own
room in the morning. Our good star-for that island
-shone in the dark eyes of Madam Stephanie.
We were not yet rid of our sable convoy, however.
They were to be paid-and they looked more like Ca-
ribs waiting for a cutlet, than like porters waiting for
their money. The leading man, particularly, was the
ideal of a soulless herculean brute; and, remembering
that the neighboring island of Guadaloupe was, at that
moment, under martial law from a suppressed insurrec-
tion, and that a massacre was still fresh in the history
of Martinique, I looked at the manners of the two-
legged savage and his followers with some curiosity.
No one of them, I observed, showed the least deference
to the presence of our host and hostess. There they
lounged, in the saloon, with their hats on, strolling about
the room and conversing with an air of confident inso-
lence together, and only changing their look, when they
spoke to the white man, by putting on a scowl of dog-
84 HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS.
ged dislike. Not understanding their language or pri-
ces for labor, I had given the landlord a gold piece, and
requested him to pay them for us; he did so, and giv-
ing them about twice as much as would have been
asked by a New York carman for the same porterage.
But, such a hurricane of vociferation and gesture as
followed this, I had never before witnessed. The sput-
ter of gibberish, the hoppings about the floor, the vio-
lent gesticulations, were like the frenzy of a half dozen
exasperated baboons. It was hard to realize that these
animals were represented, color and opinions, in the
National Assembly at Paris. Our handsome landlord
was evidently used to this sort of thing, however. He
stood the colored threats and eloquence for about five
minutes very coolly, merely pointing the black leader
to the door. This being repeated once or twice, and no
attention paid to it, he advanced a step, and quietly
asked the man whether he would go out of the door or
out of the window. The next moment he had seized
him by the shoulder, spun him round two or three times
by a dexterous twirl, and when his face was rightly di-
rected, gave him an impetus which sent him headlong
down the steps into the entry. My friend and I stood
looking on with no little interest-travellers seldom re-
ceiving such active service from their host-but ex-
pecting somewhat that it would end in a general metee.
The negro did not return, however. His brother ges-
HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS. 85
ticulators and vociferators were suddenly silenced, and
followed him as if they preferred to help themselves to
an exit, rather than give the landlord the trouble; and
so ended our arrival at Martinique." As it was quite
a melodrama, taken all together, you will allow me to
drop the curtain.
LETTER No. 11.
TROPICAL PERSUADER FOR EARLY RISING-THE BUSINESS-DO-
ING SEX AND THE PRAYER-DOING SEX GOING IN OPPOSITE
DIRECTIONS-THE MARTINIQUE RIALTO-PICTURESQUENESS
OF NO WHARVES-RESEMBLANCE OF ST. PIERRE TO THE
STRUCTURE OF A THEATRE-AIR OF CARELESS ELEGANCE
ABOUT THE BLACK AND WHITE MERCHANTS-TROPICAL
SLOVENLINESS OF COSTUME-GENERAL AIR OF THE GENTLE-
MEN-NEGROES DRESSED IN TWO POCKET-HANDKERCHIEFS
-CURIOUS ACCOMPANIMENT TO THE SURF-ANTHEM-DE-
SCRIPTION OF COASTING-BOATS AND CREWS-STREETS OF
ST. PIERRE AT SEVEN IN THE MORNING-VENERABLE
BUILDINGS-BRIGHT RIVER IN EVERY SPREET-RETURN TO
BREAKFAST-INSTALLED IN MADAME STEPHANIE'S BOUDOIR
AND BED-ROOM-RESIGNATION TO OUR CALAMITIES-TRO-
PICAL BREAKFAST WITH PARISIAN COOKERY-STRUCTURE
OF HOTEL AND POSITION OF EATING-ROOM-NEGRO GUESTS
IN THE HOUSE, AND THEIR POLITENESS-BEAUTY OF OUR
CARIB WAITER-COURSES OF DISHES-THE UNUSUAL AD-
DITION TO OUR BREAKFAST-DESCRIPTION OF MADAME
STEPHANIE ROUGE, OUR CREOLE LANDLADY-HER HUS-
BAND, ETC., ETC.
St. Pierre, Capital of Martinique, April, 1852.
I was up as early as your five o'clock, this morning--
being about one hour on the other side of a New-York
HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS. 87
sunrise-and, by the tall silver flagon of chocolate and
two cups of exquisite china, which were there to en-
courage us out of bed, I saw we had awaked to be
well treated. We were to take the morning walk, (our
first in Martinique,) and come back to find ourselves in-
stalled in the quarters kindly relinquished to us by our
As sunrise is the hour to be on 'Change," in the
Tropics, we bent our steps first toward the Martinique
Rialto, to see the business-doing sex of the place,
though, as it was also the hour for matins, we encoun-
tered a current of the prayer-doing sex, going the
other way, the other way "-a reproof for our earliest
morning errand, which we should have heeded, proba-
bly, but that we could take the more pious walk in the
evening. There are no vespers in business.
The Wall street" of St. Pierre is a beautiful ave-
nue of tamarind and mango trees, extending along the
beach of the harbor, and edged on one side by a row
of old and picturesque stone buildings, and on the other
by the white surf of the sea. Some of the larger trees
are protected from the chance roll of a sugar-hogshead
by a triangular seat of solid masonry; and, along un-
der the inner line of trees, facing the sea, are benches
at short intervals, with sloping backs, mostly occupied,
at the moment of our first seeing them, by lounging and
half-naked negroes. There are no wharves, except a
88 HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS.
short projection at one end of the promenade, where
heavy freight is rolled, by a railway of a few feet, into
scows or lighters; and the vessels lying in port are, of
course, at anchor in the Bay-leaving the clean beach
of sand comparatively unobstructed, and adding as
much to the picturesqueness as it subtracts from the
convenience of the harbor. When I add that a hemi-
sphere of mountains closes around this spot, almost as
erectly and abruptly as the galleries close in the pit of
a theatre-the Rialto promenade extending across it
like the row of foot-lights, and the city located behind
it like the seats of the parterre-you will get a very
correct similitude by which to judge of its shape and
position. As these high and forever-green mountains
are on the east side, of course the shops, the business-
promenade, and the churches, enjoy an hour or two of
the most refreshing and protecting shade in the morn-
ing, which makes the first dawn the most active and
stirring hour of the day.
The first general novelty which struck us, in the look
of the crowd upon the promenade, was the universally
elegant and insouciant indolence of gait, look and ges-
ture. Black and white gentlemen merchants strolled
up and down, or stood in groups and couples under the
trees, conversing, as the French do, with abundant ac-
tion, but with no approach to an angular movement, or
any of that sharp and sudden impatience of glance, or
HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS.
change of posture, which would characterize a business
dialogue in Wall street. Every man had a cigar in his
mouth, and every man smoked indolently. There was
a certain slovenliness in the costume of the climate-the
slouching straw hat, the loose coats and pantaloons, and
the careless cravats-but, withal, there was an air of
Creole grace and laisser-aller in the ensemble, which har-
monized well with the make and movement of the men;
and well with the climate, to which they looked native-
born and related. They seemed to me considerably
above the average height of the French race, generally
very thin, and of sallow complexion. The air of grave
courtesy in the countenance, and in the manner of ac-
costing and parting, was very different from that of bu-
siness crowds in most places, and very attractive to a
The beach was a very busy scene. Numberless
boats with their prows run high upon the sand, were
lading and unlading-the black crews half the time in
the surf, and working with a headlong vehemence and
want of mechanical contrivance that threw away a great
deal of their strength. Their dress amounted, gener-
ally, to two pocket-handkerchiefs, one around the head-
and the sweat rolled down their broad black backs and
ebony legs with the profuseness of a summer shower
To heat and the sun they seemed altogether insensible.
Their merry joking, and most noisy and unceasing
90 HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS.
chatter, kept their white teeth in perpetual display, and
gave their work the appearance of a game for fun.
The deliberate and solemn thunder of the surf upon
the beach, and the curiously superficial and un-impregna-
ted cadences of the negro voice, were in singular con-
tradiction. To the eternal Thus far shalt thou go
and no farther," there seemed a reply of baboon
The "coasting boats" that were coming to town
from the villages on the Southern shore, (and which
come up with oars against the trade-wind, and go back
with sails,) were very picturesque. They are long
crafts, with about six oarsmen on a side; and these
dozen propellors lessen their labor by the principle of
gravitation- rising to their full height with the dip of
the oar, and falling flat on their backs to make the pull
by their inclining weight. It was"a curious sight to see
a boat moving ahead by the action of a sort of sponta
neous quarter of a wheel, whose paddles were six naked
negroes on a side.
From the thronged quay we passed into the streets,
scarcely less thronged at seven in the morning, and fed
our eyes upon forms, costumes and manners, of which I
will speak, by and by, with more study and better
knowledge. The look of the town is romantic, in all its
features; and peculiarly unlike American cities, as well
as unlike the other island towns of this Tropical Archi-
HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS.
pelago. The trashy temporariness of the architecture
elsewhere is not found here. An English writer apolo-
getically says:-" The French colonists, whether Creoles
or French, consider the West Indies as their country;
they cast no wistful looks towards France; they mar-
ry, educate and build, in and for the West Indies, and
for the West Indies alone. In English colonies it is
different; they are considered more as temporary lodg-
ing-places, to be deserted so soon as they have made
money enough by molasses and sugar to return home.
It was delightful to my eye to see no sign of fresh
paint, white, red, or green. Every building is of vener-
able stone, antique in structure and windowed with
deepest jalousies and massive outside shutters, the
doors unprojecting beyond the smooth wall, and the
overhanging roof frowning with moss covered tiles.
The streets are narrow, as the climate requires; but, as
there are no carriages, and the pedestrian has only to
make way for the occasional rider on horseback, they
are broad enough for convenience; while the closeness
of the dark walls to each other makes a dim light along
the pave, which is a timely relief from the glare of a
But I have saved for a separate paragraph the men-
tion of the great charm and peculiarity of the capital
of this lovely island. It is built on a declivity, at the
foot of a range of mountains, and a bright rivulet of
92 HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS.
the most sparkling water courses rapidly down the centre
of every street. The pavements being everywhere ad-
mirable, and sloping toward the centre, and the beds
of these sparkling currents being well-laid flat stones,
there is no dirt except what is thrown out from the
houses on the way; and, with the perpetually swift
flow and the large quantity of water, this carrying off
of the city's daily rubbish is quite imperceptible. It
is a continually bright stream, running before every
door and filling the town, night and day, with its plea-
sant music. The little naked black children sit in it,
up to the waist, and play. The women come out and
wash their dishes in it, or sit and sew by its side as by
a brook in the country. The rider stops to let his horse
drink at it. The loaded burthen-carrier, with the
enormous weight upon her head, stands in it for a min-
ute or two, bathed up to the knees and refreshed and
cooled, without stooping. It is an inestimable bless-
ing to the inhabitants, and one originally provided at
great enterprise and cost. The mountain rivers are
brought down through aqueducts contrived with the
finest of engineering science, crossing ravines and
rounding precipices, and built with a solidity which will
defy accident and decay. In the present state, Marti-
nique would be far from undertaking or accomplishing
such a work-but it was done in days when the Sim-
HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS.
plon was designed and achieved, and when the colonies
were the California of France.
We were to breakfast at eleven-the hungry hour in
these latitudes-and we returned from our long ram-
ble to make a preparatory toilet in the new quarters
provided for us. We found our baggage removed into
the luxurious bed-room of Madame Stephanie; and, af-
ter the close and unsavory berths and cabins in which
we had been, for some weeks, cribbed and confined, it
was, indeed a contrast to enjoy. Like all French con-
jugal sleeping-rooms, this was furnished with two large
beds, of richly-laced pillows and immaculate curtains
and linen. There was a dressing-room at the side. The
mirrors and furniture-(for it served the fair Creole as
both boudoir and bed-room)-were of the most tasteful
costliness and luxury. A library of French books oc-
cupied one corner, and, with wardrobes and easy-
chairs, and the heavy bronze coffrefort, which, like
every French wife, she kept, in her character as family
Treasuress, the room was just sumptuously crowded.
My friend and I looked around us, and while we tied
our cravats by the broad mirror, forgave, with all
our hearts, the disasters which had enlisted the
sympathies of the lovely occupant we had dislodged.
It would not have been impossible, perhaps, to pray
for more annoyances-at the same rate of compen-
94 HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS.
Of the breakfast which followed I must try to give
you a picture-not for its luxury merely. Cookery
more exquisite was never tasted in Paris-so exquisite,
indeed, that, if I had not a companion innocent of poe-
try, to affidavy to the truth of my chronicle, I should
scarce venture to locate such a breakfast in an isle of
the Caribbean Sea. The surroundings and accompani-
ments, however, belonged to the climate-and these, per-
haps in contrast with the Parisian delicacy of our dishes
may make so sensuous a matter as a meal worthy of defi-
nite description. The invalid, at least, (who may make
up his mind, at my recommendation, to try Marti-
nique,) will thank me for detailing, with some par-
ticularity, how his "daily bread" will be ministered
The hotel is built round an open court; and our eat-
ing-room, on the second story, faces the kitchen-to
which messages are sent, not by bell or servant, but by
a call more or less vociferous from the window. Of
course, in this clime of perpetual summer, there are no
sashes of glass, and this, like every apartment in the
house, is open to all the sounds of savory directions,
fault-findings, etc., and to the responses and conversa-
tion of the chef de cuisine and his chattering menials.
The room itself is a large hall with bare floor, and
without an article of furniture iu it, except the chairs
and tables at which we eat. It-is also the passage-way
HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS.
to the sleeping-chambers-and this, by the way, secures
to us a polite bow from every guest of the house as he
passes to or from his room, and, among others, from
two very well-bred and well-dressed black gentlemen,
strangers in town like ourselves, who remove their hats
and give us the "good morning" or "good evening"
with the courtesy of la veille court. The public cafe and
the large and sumptuous billiard-room are on the floor
below; and, of the visitors to these resorts, we see no-
thing-our more private salle a manger being for the
guests of the house exclusively.
The small round table set for Mr. G. and myself, is
attended by two ragged and bare-footed waiters, in only
shirt and pantaloons-one a negro, and the other a
cross between the Carib and the Spaniard-so hand-
some and so unconsciously picturesque a fellow, and,
withal, so proudly and fiercely majestic in his attitudes
and demeanor, that his likeness would be worth preser-
ving, if only as a type of the now nearly extinct race
of his mother. He seems to have no beard except a
long mustache of lustreless and ashy black, which draws
lines of singular expressiveness across his oval and
leaden-colored cheek. His features are of Spanish fine-
ness and regularity, his nostrils thin and open, and his
chin as beautifully moulded as Apollo's-while his lux-
uriant flakes of massive straight hair, and the attitude
of folded arms with which he stands, bending his large
96 HEALTH TRIP TO THE TROPICS.
and never-winking eyes upon us while waiting for our
orders, make me feel, now and then, as if the usurping
race were his inferior, after all, and as if we should be
waiting on him, not he on us. I have said almost as
much to him, (since making the pencil memoranda of
which my letter is the inking over,) and his only answer
was a request to be taken as a servant to America-a
proposition to which his proud mien was even a greater
objection than his speaking only the French language.
House, horse and servant may easily look too splendid
for their master.
Our three or four dishes of meats cooked with Paris-
ian science, are flanked by the numberless vegetable
novelties of the tropics, and followed, both at breakfast
and dinner, by a course of game-the wild birds of
these islands-which are truly of unsurpasable flavor.
Then comes a course of fruits, of which this climate is
an open-air-museum-the five kinds of banana, the
strange alligator-pear, pineapples of various kinds, and
others of which the mere naming would only tantalize
you-and, with these, the delicate wines whose true
gusto can only be tasted in the air of these latitudes;
and all followed by unsurpassable French coffee, and
(for my friend) a cigar. You see, (dear invalid reader!
for I write this with you in my eye,) how your appe-
tite (and consumptive patients have proverbially good